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"

Monday, December 31, 2012

Nobody but You Loves Your Year in Review Post!!!

I did stuff. Other stuff, I didn't do. Still more stuff, I declared that I would do.

Some of it was good; some of it was bad; some of it was neutral.

Some of it involved running. Most of it did not. There was even some drama.

See you on the flipside.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winners (and not-so-winners)

First, a loser: ME. I want to run with Frank Shorter, badly. So I entered the contest I mentioned last week. If you go here, you can see my sad little picture in 11th place (as of right now).

The picture is this one, created for me by my friends Samantha and Jules:

If you're so inclined, would you mind voting for me? You do have to install an app via facebook, but it's an innocuous one, I promise.

At the time when I decided to enter, the winner was somewhat stagnant at ~1k votes. Now she's above 2k and gaining rapidly. Still, despite having little statistical chance of winning, I don't want to lose. You can vote every day. As we say in my hometown, vote early and vote often.

And then, a winner: The winner (ahem, and only entry: take note, runningskirts.com) of my contest last week is Run, Chelle, Run. Email me your address and I'll send the "bra" to you! (My email is on the right side of my blog.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

What is wrong with this picture?

I got this email yesterday morning from someone named "Summerfest Rock 'N Sole Run." I don't know about you, but I get these things with some regularity. This one caught my eye, though.

Do you notice anything missing from this advertisement? Like, for instance, the location of the race? Is this an oversight? Do they assume we'll just know (from the Daniel Hoan Memorial Bridge)? Or are runners just so desperate for races that we'll register for anything, anywhere, and travel if we have to?

In tiny print at the bottom amongst the sponsors there's mention of Milwaukee, so I'm assuming that's where the race is being held (it is; I checked). Strange fact: I have never run a race in Milwaukee. I have never run a race in Wisconsin. I have never even signed up for and then DNS'd a race in Wisconsin. I have run races in Chicago, which is about 90 minutes from Milwaukee. And the race starts at 7am - have fun waking up by 4 if you're intending to drive up from Chicago...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas comes early!

I've never given anything away on my blog before, I don't think, but today only I have two special offers for you.

The first: the women at runningskirts.com were super kind enough to send me a package yesterday. In it was a skirt capri combo (expect photos soon), a pair of compression socks (those bad boys will grace my legs on my next flight for sure), and a Thing.

The Thing is classified as a sportsbra on the website, but it's... not really. I may not be pin-up model endowed, but I do need some support, especially while running. On top of that, I have a huge preference for the uniboob smooshed down look in my sports bras. Now, commenters on their site swear that it's got more support than it appears. However, what is a dealbreaker for me - but maybe you're totally into this - is that it's hugely padded. Gel-like pads. And we know how I feel about padded sportsbras.

One commenter intriguingly says, "I do not have a flat stomach so I put the Strappy Tank over it. (I removed the pads from the Strappy Tank)." Is it stomach support? That comment confuses me.

Not me.
It's a size medium and if you think you'd like it, let me know by leaving a comment. If more than one of you would like it (what are the chances?), I'll give it to the person who leaves the funniest joke in the comments. It will go out in the mail on or around the 27th. Or whenever I next notice it cluttering up my bedroom and decide that I need to get rid of it. If no one wants it, I'll put it in my closet and maybe wear it to a yoga class every now and then before giving it to Goodwill the next time I move.

Let me say, for the record: it was awesome of them to send me this stuff and I'm super grateful, and it's because I'm super grateful that I'd like to find it a loving home. (Oh, and just so you know: I didn't even so much as try it on. What you are getting is a new-with-tags Thing. I took it out of its plastic bag (which it will come to you in) and felt the pads and promptly put it back in its plastic bag.)

The second giveaway: my Christmas card. If you'd like one, send me an email with your address and I'll drop one in the mail for you (probably not until after Christmas, but I swear you'll get it eventually - and it only says "Happy Holidays" and not "Merry Christmas," so let's go with Orthodox Christmas as our deadline).

I'm not going to ruin the surprise and tell you what the card looks like, but you'll appreciate it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

It's like I have to do this.

But I don't really know how. I mean, I have photos of me running, but I don't really think they're the sort of thing that could get people to vote for me (they're looking for the most inspirational photo; not a how-not-to).

The other option is to "Submit a picture of the most creative display/placement of the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon logo." I thought about photoshopping their logo onto one of my myriad photos from my semi-exotic travels, but then I realized... a) I don't have photoshop, and b) isn't that cliche?

I'll let you in on a secret: I am not a creative person. And the lead entrant already has over a thousand votes. Could I possibly still win this if I entered? Any suggestions on how?

And yes, I did angrily tweet on Saturday that I was giving up marathoning. But like a true junkie, maybe just one more will be okay...

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I need advice.

As you might remember, I'm currently registered for the Goofy Challenge in January. Plane tickets are booked, hotel is reserved, and I've even conned a Disney-loving friend into coming with me.

But as you might have guessed, my training for this race is lagging.

Call me a slacker (I know you're thinking it anyway), but I'm okay with this. You can look at this one of two ways: either I'm a lazy-ass whose running ego is stronger than her legs can maintain, or (insert some bullshit healthy living blogger line about striking a balance between exercising and drinking). I could also complain about races that require you to sign up months in advance, well before training even begins, but I've beaten that horse to death.

Thing is, I've been running as much as I've wanted to this fall and I've felt really good about that. Last fall when I ran three marathons in 22 days, I didn't have a life. I was unhappy; I was quite literally running away from a bad situation in my personal life. I needed running to give me some structure in my life and some respite from how unhappy I was. Now, while running is still a crucial part of my life, I'm also enjoying not training for anything. I'm enjoying running when I want to and how far I want to and not feeling like I need to get a certain mileage in. Before last week's two turkey trots, I hadn't pinned a race bib on myself in months - and that was an amazing feeling.

Sometimes I like the rigidity that training gives me. Other times I like being more flexible. The past few months at work have been harder than usual, and I've gotten more satisfaction out of socializing than running. I've recently discovered that my demographic tends to socialize in ways that aren't conducive to 6am training runs (in other words, I'm staying out too late too often). And it's fun. This staying out late thing is a phase for me. Running's not.

Troof: I ran the Disney Marathon once before, in 2004.
This is me at the start. It was cold.

Get to the point, Tracy. When I signed up for Goofy, I thought I would be over my non-training phase  and I'm not. Currently, I'm solid with long runs to about 14m meaning I'd still have enough time to half-ass training for the full. If I try to do both the half and the full, I maybe maybe could physically do it but it would be ugly.

So what do I do? Here are my choices, as I see it:
  1. Do Goofy (the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday); understand that it will be fugly and my marathon time will likely be 6+ hours. (I have a good sense of my pain/injury threshold and I'm not really at risk for injuring myself.)
  2. Do only the full on Sunday; accept that I'm half-assing another marathon and be okay with a slow time. Get to spend Saturday in the parks (further compromising my marathon time).
  3. Do only the half; potentially have an okay half time, but know that I'm disappointing the friend I'm traveling with and that I just invested a crapload of money in running a Disney Half Marathon. Get to spend Saturday afternoon/evening in the parks.
  4. Other?
I'm legit torn between the options. I would love any suggestions or insight. One note: Disney is what it is. I'm not a Disney fangirl but I do appreciate the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Don't judge.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Race insurance! Is this a Thing? I hope so!

Evidently I should be reading Slowtitch/triathlon forums! (Forums? Fora? Whatevs.) I got an email last week, directing me to this article about a new feature that Active is offering: race insurance.

For $7, your race entry fee is insured. Their policy states that:

“With Registration Protector, a participant who misses an event for a covered reason such as an injury, illness, job loss, transportation delays, military/family/legal obligations, and more can get their registration fees reimbursed.”

I love it. Compared to the fact that you're already paying Active's fees, this is literally a small price to pay - I couldn't find a chart of Active's fees, but I think they start around $3 and go up from there depending on the cost of the race registration. It's unclear what proof they'll need for "family obligations," but in the case of an illness, all they require is a letter from one's doctor (can that letter say that my "injury" is a failure to train, hm?). I will happily pony up the $7 for insurance on the more expensive races if it means peace of mind that I might get my race registration fee back if I can't run.

If you ask me, and I get that you didn't, the race registration system as it currently exists is broken. The "no refunds" policy of race directors, coupled with races that sell out months in advance, creates a system that doesn't fully benefit either runners or race organizers, and we need a new system. My theory, if you were curious, is that it's a model that worked well in the '80s and '90s, when racing was less popular. Runners didn't have to register months in advance for races. The tiered pricing structure gave a financial incentive to register in advance to the runners, and that gave much needed cash upfront to the race directors.

That said, right now demand outstrips supply (at least in NYC), and there's no incentive for a race director who can easily fill his races to change the registration model to make it more runner-friendly. I mean, here in NYC, we have 250 runners registered for a marathon with no set date.