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, September 27, 2011

And then...

And then...

...I ran 18m on Sunday with Tara and it was okay. I whimpered a bit at the end. I wanted to cry. We finished strong.

...I realized that the odd twingey-bit in my right leg was not going away and was ITB pain so I dusted off my foam roller. (I didn't dust off the ground, though, so it was still pretty nasty and there was dog hair everywhere.) Also, I whimpered a bit at the end. I wanted to cry. I may have cried.

...I registered for a half marathon in a month. There is a Dairy Queen in that town. And a castle nearby. And two more seats in our zipcar if anyone else wants in.

...I'm contemplating buying a bib for Marine Corps. I've actually been contemplating this for weeks, but the transfer period ends Friday and so now we're down to the wire and I have to decide what I'm going to do.

...I realized I have to take the next few days off from blogging so I can, you know, do things like run and work and have non-running fun. I'll be back - Monday?

Any thoughts or advice on any of these points?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Fifth Avenue Mile: Race Report

I guess I do remember how to run a mile.

On Saturday, I ran the Fifth Avenue Mile and I finished in 7:37, or 16 seconds faster than last year. I'll take it. I really didn't think that I could run anything sub-8, given my lack of speedwork. Now I'm thinking that next year I'll try for a 7:2x. My sister wants me to try for a 6:xx. Hahaha! Dream big. That would make me feel, like, legit.

Just think: if I keep improving by 16 seconds a year, I'll be setting the world record in barely more than a decade!

At the end of the race, I was spent but not so spent that I couldn't turn around and run 18m on Sunday. I didn't even feel like I wanted to throw up when I was done! Now, all I have to do is maintain that mile pace for another 25.2 miles and I can register for Boston - in the second wave of registrants! Hell, if I could only maintain that pace for another 2 miles I'd achieve my goal of going sub-25 on a 5k. But I don't think I could have maintained that pace for another 400m.

In the finish area, I ran into Ms. Duffy. She had the best possible hook-up: she knew where a Belgian waffle truck was parked, near the finish. Of course, I had already started eating my waffle before I thought to take a picture. That's one of the MANY reasons that I'm not a food blogger.

This is a delicious waffle with nutella and banana on it. For the potassium, natch.
Both this year and last, I felt the same way about the Fifth Avenue Mile. I was pleased with myself after the race, I wondered whether or not I could have done better if the weather/my training/the crowds were different, and I am excited to try it again next year. But... here's my curiosity:

Why would you wear a camelbak or a real backpack or a fuel belt or headphones or a fleece jacket (with temps in the 70s) for a 1m race?

That is a serious question. I mean, what would you even put on your 1 mile playlist? I finished mid-pack, and my soundtrack was 7 and a half minutes of my own voice in my head going "RUN FASTER, TRACY, FOR GOD'S SAKE, RUN FASTER" on repeat.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Random stuff

First off, Ellen's write-up of our run with Lance Armstrong. She did scare me. And the bathrobes the club goers were wearing were odd.

Next, Beth has a follow up on the IAAF's decision to make their new rules regarding world records being set only at women's only marathons retroactive. Paula Radcliffe no longer holds the women's world marathon record. Instead, the record is now held by... Paula Radcliffe.

Here's an awesome take on the IAAF's decision from the Chicago Tribune.

Here's a new one: plastic surgery to correct "runner's face." I will say, years of running without sunscreen can age a person, badly. Dudes can pull it off. Women look older. That said: wear sunscreen, don't get plastic surgery! Oddly enough, the article defines "runner's face" as "looking too thin and gaunt."

I'm not the only one studying the wear patterns on my soles to justify new shoes. New Balance did it in order to create a new shoe.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How do I run a mile?

Saturday is the Fifth Avenue Mile. I ran this race last year in a blistering 7:53. I would say my fitness last year was roughly comparable to my current fitness, except that this year, I have done no speedwork. A few 10k pace tempo runs and one or two hill workouts are not adequate preparation to race a mile - especially when I'll be competing against the likes of Jenny Barringer Simpson.*

I'm not even sure that my legs remember how to run a mile. The splits are marked at 400m, but I don't know that I have any muscle memory for my 400 pace, either. Last year, my only goal was to break 8 minutes, so I stuck to a 2:00 split for the 400s and came in just ahead of it thanks to a slight downhill at the end (tempered by a slight uphill at the beginning). I remember feeling okay about the race. The first 400 was a touch fast, the middle 800 was just me hanging on, and the last 400 was painful. Good painful.

Now, I know that the stupidest thing in the world would be to go out and do some speedwork in preparation, right? Today is Thursday, a scheduled rest day for me. I was intending to run tomorrow, but easy. Should I throw a couple 800s in there?

What do I do?

This totally happened and is not me copying one photo into another.
*So Jenny Simpson will be in a different heat than me and will finish several minutes faster than me. Next you're going to tell me that I was not competing against Catherine Ndereba when we both ran the 2002 Chicago Marathon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My weak defense of why I *need* those Brooks

Ed (22 Jan 2012): I'm getting quite a few hits to my blog from people googling the Brooks Ravenna 3. What follows is a relatively boring post about how the Ravenna 3 seems to encourage a midfoot strike - for me - as compared to the motion control shoe I wear for longer runs (Saucony Omni). Personally, I love the Ravenna 3. I find it different from the Ravenna 2 (and this is completely non-scientific, and I no longer have the Ravenna 2 to compare side-by-side) in that the Ravenna 3 seems to have a slightly less prominent heel. It also seems quite durable - again, ymmv. I've put ~200m on mine at this point and the shoes feel springy and new still.

Fwiw, I like the PureCadence quite a bit, too.

I have basically talked myself into getting the Brooks PureProject PureCadence. You know, the ones that yesterday I said I was in love with.

Hear me out, hear me out!

I'm a heel striker, I know this. And I've never truly experimented with minimalist shoes/barefoot running (unless you count wearing Nike Frees and Saucony Hattoris for casual wear as experimentation, but I call that "fashion"). When I briefly switched to the Nike LunarGlide, I got shin splints. Those shin splints didn't go away until I got rid of every shoe that was not the Saucony Omni.

Until... I got the Brooks Ravenna 3, and I fell in love with it. They call it a "guidance" shoe. I call it "slightly lighter weight, super squishy, and much more fun to run in."

The other day when I was putting the Ravennas on, I noticed a wear pattern that looked slightly unusual to my eye. Bear with me while I geek out for a few paragraphs here. I compared two shoes: one, the Ravenna 3, and the other, the Saucony Omni. Both shoes have almost exactly 150 miles on them (I usually get around 300 miles on a pair of shoes). Forgive me, as I realized too late that the photos would have been MUCH better had I used a better camera, in better lighting.

I'm used to a predictable wear pattern on my shoes. Specifically, the outer edge of the back of the sole of the shoe wears down noticeably on my shoes, as you can see on the Saucony:

The Brooks, on the other hand, are not worn down like the Saucony:

Here's a side-by-side comparison of the heels of the two shoes:

The heel of the Brooks (above in this photo) is barely worn - in sharp contrast with the Saucony (on the bottom), which shows nearly no wear. Where the Brooks are most obviously worn is in the midfoot:

The Saucony is worn in the midfoot, too but not nearly as badly. The Brooks is really just flattened completely.

What does it all mean? Probably it has more to do with the construction of the shoe and with my mild overpronation than anything else. However, I'm using it as rationale for why it's okay for me to get a minimalist shoe that markets itself as a guidance shoe. (Come to me, PureCadence!).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I have shoe envy

I want this shoe. I want it bad.
Brooks PureCadence

Logically, it is a bad idea for me to get this shoe. Every time I start messing around with different shoes, I get shin splints. I need to stick to what works.

Plus, I'm not into minimalist shoes. Props to you if they work for you, but they're not my thing.

So why does this shoe appeal to me? Honestly, I have no idea. I haven't even tried it on. I just like it. I like the color (most important criteria in picking a running shoe), I like the look (second most important), and it just speaks to me. I'm listening, PureCadence, I hear you calling!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Run Like Hell

I didn't run Yonkers. You all gave me great advice (most of which was "run it"), and I wanted to. I really wanted to. But then, I wanted to sleep in Sunday more, and it was glorious. What a perfect, wonderful day after an awesome night of sleep. Yonkers would have meant waking up around 5 to get the train; instead, I woke up hours later and ran 11.5m with Tara. We ran into Ali, and you should totally buy one of her I (heart) Sweat shirts if you haven't already. True: I wore mine today and got three compliments on it. Also true: one of those three was Ali, and only one of those three was potentially creepy (that one was not Ali).

Then, Sunday evening, I ran with Lance Armstrong. Well, sort of. I mean, I was there, Lance was there, and after an amazing and astounding 90 minute wait, we ran.

Is that Lance?
Or maybe that's Lance?
The organizers of the event had some problems, namely that Lance was flying into NYC and his plane was late (or so they told us, but only after the run started). In the meantime, we all just stood around, cold, acting like Lance Armstrong was worth waiting for.

Once Lance arrived with an entourage and loads of fanfare, we had a police escort to the West Side Highway. Sort of. They had told us to expect pace groups from 7 to 12 minute miles. I finished the 3.7m run with solid 10 minute miles and there were only two or three people behind me - and certainly no pacers. I saw the police escort for but a brief few seconds before I was on my own. (Not actually on my own: I had some lovely company in two new friends, Ellen and Juliana.)

These banners lined the course.

I'll admit; I was irritated that Lance made me wait 90 minutes. I haven't waited that long for a brief celebrity sighting since the Spice Girls were in Chicago in 1998 and I stood outside to see them ride past in their bus (do the math and you'll discover that I was much too old to be chasing the Spice Girls in 1998). The organizers probably could have kept us better informed about the situation, but hey: free is free, and you get what you pay for.

Or more than what you pay for, as the case may be. The run ended at a club where we drank fancypants juice drinks while consuming tasty appetizers. They even gave us a shirt - and it was nice! Dri-fit with a cute logo of a running Empire State Building.
Oh, the irony. Listening to Lance Armstrong talk about diabetes prevention while I reach for my third coconut milk drink to wash down a slider, chicken fingers, and fried wontons. Happy birthday, Lance, and thanks for the party!

Friday, September 16, 2011

What should I do?

One of these days I'm going to get around to reading the Runner's World article on Frank Shorter. I've already checked out the pictures - more than once, actually - but I've been warned that the article is pretty heavy and that I should be prepared for it.

In the meantime, I'm doing the Yonkers Half Marathon on Sunday. Right? Right? I am, aren't I? I mean, I'm registered for it... Well, technically I'm registered for the full, but I shouldn't have any problems downgrading to the half, especially since I would be much slower than the 5hr cut-off and it's a two-loop course (just try to force me to run a second loop).

But here's my question: should I even do the race? I'm feeling overwhelmed with work this week and I'm not excited about this race. At all. I have this feeling like something has got to give to preserve my sanity, and this race might be the easiest obligation to walk away from. 

Still, I need to run, and I may as well get a t-shirt for it, right? Or not right?

Not actually me. Just feels like me most days.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two small things

When it comes to feminism, I'm more second wave than third wave. But the NYCM begs to differ and has me firmly in the third wave:

Who else is rocking the third wave with me? Anyone?

Next, this Sunday night I will evidently be running 2m with Lance Armstrong. Or running 2m and then going to an event that he will also be attending:

I'm not too fancy-like with my ability to link, but here's the RSVP site if you'd like to join me. (Let me know if you do sign up!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I quit my gym two weeks ago, effective 1 October. The gym is nothing special, although it is convenient to my apartment and has branches all around the city (I really can't actually use any of those branches due to draconian policies that charge me for using a gym that's not my primary gym during off-peak hours).

When I gave some thought to my membership, I realized that I had gone to the gym maybe 4 or 5 times all summer. At $65 a month, that means that I paid about $39 per visit. Also, I realized that I absolutely hate the treadmill. TIME TO QUIT!

Of course, ironically I had one of the best treadmill runs of my life last night. Short, hard, sweet.

But then, as I was walking home from the gym and getting all melancholy while replaying a reel of "my greatest moments at the gym" in my head (inexplicably, the Dawson's Creek soundtrack was playing), my shin started aching.

No regrets.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

For once, I have no opinion!

I got a very interesting comment the other day on my post about the women's marathon record and the IAAF decision. Looseyfur* asked me what I think about running cruises and camps and vacations and the like.

I was stumped.

I thought about it all weekend. I tried to formulate an opinion. But I couldn't.

To be honest, the only thing I really know about these types of vacations comes from a Runner's World article I read a few months ago. It was kind of a gimmicky embarrassment for a magazine that pretends to cater to a running demographic: silly non-runner goes on a running cruise to Alaska, running a progressive marathon as part of the trip. I'm not sure why Runner's World thinks that it would appeal to, say, me to read that this guy who hadn't run in 12 years trained by "hurrying a couple blocks to grab a couple of slices before  [his] neighborhood pizza joint closed."

(Don't get me started on the "progressive marathon," where you total 26.2 with your mileage over a set period of time. What if Pheidippedes had run 3m at at a time? A marathon is an event, not a series of events. Run a 5k or a 10k and bask in the glory of still being better than other people! If someone asks you your marathon time, do you say, "3:04... by which I mean, 3 weeks, 4 days"?)

Let me start by saying: I've never been on one of these trips. I've seen a few different varieties of events advertised that seem to fit this category, though. There are getaways that cater to runners, maybe with a destination race thrown in to cap the experience. There are camps that tailor to runners looking to work with a coach and improve their form. And then there are running vacations - like, trips where running is the main attraction.

And why not? We all struggle with running on vacation - fitting running clothes in our suitcases, waking up early to accommodate sightseeing schedules - why not just make the vacation all about running? I can see the appeal: maybe you're looking to go on a cruise to possibly meet a special someone, but you know you want him/her to be a runner. Here you go, a boat full of runners. I guess I'd have two concerns: one, the price; and two, the fact that I don't always travel alone, and I don't always travel with other runners.

So, then, what do you think about them? Any opinions? Anyone actually ever been on one?

*by the way, you'll be happy to hear that I've learned by reading her blog that that is not her real name!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Weekend wrap-up

The good: 17 miles done on a beautiful Sunday and, miraculously, I passed the shower test with no chafing! (Almost) fall weather... I love it.

More good: I set out with Tara and Emily to run in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. I'd been looking for a change of scenery, and I tweeted Jonathan to see if he had any ideas for courses.


Jonathan sent a detailed description of the course he suggested, including maps and his phone number to call in case we got lost. Even more than that, he offered to meet us at the park, and on top of that he ran us much of the way to mark the course and make sure we made the right turns.

The bad: I slept funny Saturday night and seem to have pinched a nerve in my lower back. In good news, I didn't feel it at all while I was running.

The ugly: That was my second (and last) run for the week. Everything else got in the way this past week, and I let it get in the way. Two runs. That's all. And the other one was something like 5 miles.

I'll be better this week. I will run at least four times this week. Yes. I will.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Not unlike Hilary Duff, I am a pop sensation and actress who is married to a hockey star I have fat arms. Or so I've come to believe: at the same exact moment that I discovered arm warmers, I also discovered the existence of the arm muffin top.

So when I told you a few weeks ago that I had gotten a package from Running Skirts and I mentioned that I would review the arm warmers later, I was bluffing. Yes, it was too warm for the arm warmers. But also, in a size medium, they were too tight on me.* I sent Running Skirts back the arm warmers with a note asking for a size large. In exchange, they sent me compression socks. (I guess they were out of arm warmers? Their communication hasn't been stellar, although I have no complaints about getting free stuff.)

Not even maybe my legs. Their picture.
I'm pretty picky about my compression socks. I like them tight. Very tight. (If I was the crude sort, I would imagine there was a joke in there. But I'm classy.) I can rarely find compression socks tight enough for me to feel like they're doing anything. I was leery about these from the get-go, given that they don't come in sizes. Perhaps needless to say, my fat arms also come along with calves that are, ahem, ample. Muscular, right? Right. Ahem. But if these socks were too small, they'd just be tighter, right?

So how were they? I'm mixed. I didn't really notice anything, to be honest. I put them on after a hard 15m (I didn't run it hard, mind you, it's just that I'm weak). Would the soreness have been worse without the socks? I don't know. I would be afraid that they wouldn't be tight enough for people with thin calves.

I'll wear them. But I prefer my C.E.P. socks.

*I can give you a preliminary review: I'm not sure I like the fabric, as it has next to no give. I definitely do not like what I can only describe as a reverse thumbhole. Instead of having a hole for your thumb, they have a protective casing for your thumb. Not only does this leave your hand exposed to the elements (whereas a thumbhole allows your hand to be mostly covered and thus warm), but it was also snug on me - and I don't have fat thumbs, thankyouverymuch - inhibiting being able to push them up on your arm or take them off easily. So... I'm mixed. If you want to be very twee and have your skirt match your arm warmers, go for it.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Runs like a girl

Women only marathons: good or bad?

The only women's-only race I've done is the NYRR Mini-10k. It was... aight. Didn't do much for me. I don't really have an opinion on women's only races - too many of them have girly gimmicks (Disney princesses!) that detract for me. (Although I will do the Nike Women's Marathon someday for the Tiffany necklace.)

But this today isn't about me - it's about the IAAF. Specifically, the rule they passed at their last meeting that women's marathon world records can only be achieved in women's only races. If it's applied retroactively, then Joan Benoit Samuelson currently holds the women's world record for the marathon at 2:24, set in 1984. (As the article says, there are "women's world bests," too.)

The reason for this, as you probably know, is the male pacers. Women racing with/behind faster men might be pushed harder than women who are running against other women. It's the same reason why Nike stood behind their decision that Arien O'Connell was not the winner in the 2008 marathon even though she ran the fastest time. They ran different races, Nike said; by not starting with the elites, the elites didn't have her as competition to push them harder. As a letsrun commenter said, the equivalent to women having male pacers is men having pacers on motorcycles.

I'm going to say something here - and I very well might be wrong and you should completely disagree with me if you want in the comments even though I'll just think to myself "whatever, it's MY blog" - but I have to wonder what the demographic composition of the IAAF Congress is. Mainstream running has a history of being not all that eager to embrace women's running - who amongst us who has seen the photos can forget Kathrine Switzer being pulled off the Boston course?

Not just sexist, but also elitist: we all remember the near-controversy when Meb won the NYCM but was not considered American enough for the naysayers, who saw him only as one of those genetically gifted Africans. Distance running recently has become the sport of affluent white men.

Is it possible that members of the Congress felt threatened by the narrowing gap between men's and women's world records? In 1992, an article in Nature predicted that, given the rate at which women's records were progressing against men's, women would surpass men. Soon. Their work has since been refuted, mostly, but the legacy is there.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My weekend was better than yours.

Or maybe my weekend wasn't better than yours. It's not a contest. But my weekend had some highlights, and here they are.

For this blog post, I did my weekend up legit blogger style with a bajillion pictures that only have meaning to me and are posted to show you how awesome I am and that I will now dump in this blog with as few words as I can. Added bonus: at least one of the WORST PICTURES EVER TAKEN OF ME.

15m run with Emily. Finally! A long run longer than 13m!

Mere moments after we laughed about how many running blogs have more photos than miles run, I made her take my picture. For irony, you understand:

But we have no blog photo skills, so the photo was dark. Emily offered to run with her DSLR next time.

Did you know that Manhattan has a monument to the Irish potato famine? They do. And I made Emily take a photo of me standing in it.

A lot of bloggers seem oddly keen on taking photos with their Starbucks. Emily offered to take one of me. I look ridiculous. I'm laughing at the absurdity.

Then we went for brunch. This being NYC, a film crew walked into the diner and started talking to an older couple. We asked the waiter who they were with and he said that the restaurant didn't know - they just came in and did their thing.

I'd been looking forward to Sunday for some time - my former training partner Tamara was in town from Canada! Tam is more than a training partner. Imagine spending the first hour of your day talking to someone, nearly every day for two years. When you meet someone and click with them as training partners and friends like we did, it's amazing. It had been far too long, and we had a lot of major life changes to catch up on over 6m.

Aren't we cute?

What you're not seeing above is the first two pictures I took, which looked like this:

The funniest part is that I was subtly trying to sneak out my camera to ask her if I could take a photo when she insisted that we do. She wanted to be on my blog!

Random trivia: she and I actually met on the internet, but way back in the prehistoric early 21st century.

Because this is a vanity post, here's another photo taken after the run/walk (...should have been a run, totally my fault), shamelessly stolen from her facebook page.

Labor Day.

I did almost nothing. Oh, yes, unless you count kayaking in the East River as nothing!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Maybe it's time to invest in some specialty laundry detergent

On Monday, Tara and I ran 13m after work. This was a bad idea. Not the run; just the timing. Our run took us into Central Park after dark - and half the street lights were out post-Hurricane Irene.

During the run, Tara kept commenting on how badly her running capris smelled. I didn't notice any scent at all, which I kept telling her. I'll admit: even as I was not smelling anything, in my head I was thinking, "Um, gross! Like, seriously. You say you washed your capris, but if you washed them, they wouldn't smell as badly as you say they do!"

And then... last night. I had grabbed a clean shirt and clean skirt out of my laundry pile, but the second the "clean" shirt got sweaty, it was like the moisture reactivated YEARS of stink. My god. I've never smelled anything like me in that shirt last night. Foul. Truly foul.

This is the shirt in question:

We had to take another photo of the protesters' rat because they've added an ape to the mix! I don't really understand it. But I did take the suggestion of pretending like the drummers were cheering me up the hill instead of annoying the crap out of me, and that mile was my fastest.

Two different people told me they liked my skirt while I was running (one a stranger, the other my friend Jenny whom we ran into on the path - get it? ran into her?).

Also? Not going to lie. I would eat this. You might even say I will eat this:

I know it's disgusting. But it's mac and cheese and a burger. Two delicious things made into one potentially more delicious thing. You can't go wrong. (I would forego the fries.) Anyone up for some Denny's this weekend? My treat. Serious offer.*

*Denny's must be accessible from NYC via public transportation or you must provide a ride for me.