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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Chicago Marathon Registration Part Two: this time it's MCM

Tell me I can't have something, and it will only make me want it more.

So, yeah. After 75 minutes of sitting at my computer, desperately hitting refresh while texting one friend and tweeting another, I was finally through. $99 to MCM and $4 to Active later.

Speaking of that $4... that brings me to a very good question:

Why on earth does anyone use active.com?

Yes, that's rhetorical. Active Network is terrible. Runners use it because we have no choice if we want to participate in races that are using active. Race directors use it because it's easier to use active's system (and pass the costs on to runners) than to create and manage their own, especially now that online registrations are the norm (did you hear that, Dipsea? Online registrations are the norm).

And yet Active is terrible. There, I said it. And I stand behind it. Their fees are outrageous; their website is not user friendly; their technical malfunctions are foreseeable and preventable. MCM sold out in 2.5 hours last year, and anyone who was paying attention knew that would suggest increased demand this year. Active had a test run with the Chicago Marathon last month and they absolutely, positively blew it. They swore they had things worked out for today and they didn't.

30,000 people registered for MCM in a period of 2.5 hours. That means that active.com made $120,000 for two hours of internet mayhem. (And that doesn't include the opportunity cost of 30,000 people spending 1-2 hours on average at their computer, unproductively, in the middle of the day.)

This girl isn't worried about registering.
She's just happy to be running, and
sorry that she screencapped this photo.
Active is now officially the Ticketmaster of road running. And when I say officially, I mean it: after receiving funding from Ticketmaster early on, Active has since recruited Ticketmaster's CEO for their board of directors.

As a company, they're slipping. I'd highly encourage you to read this article for one perspective on their company and its valuation as of last fall, which includes some suggestion that the company's financial statements are "misleading at best, fabricated at worst." In short, instead of selling race registrations to the public, Active seems to have begun buying race registrations from race directors. This change is good for the race directors, in that is gives them an influx of cash with which to plan their events - and it allows Active to record the purchase of the registrations as 'net registration revenue' instead of 'gross revenue,' inflating revenue growth in their metrics. Race directors are happy with their monies and Active (on paper) appears to be doing well... except that, unfortunately, they can only barely afford to maintain this system. They're essentially doing the home budget equivalent of not only living paycheck-to-paycheck but also considering taking out payday loans. (A few days after the article was written, Active stock dropped significantly.)

The long and short of it for us runners seems to be that if you don't like it, you shouldn't race. Remember: when you register for a race through Active, you are not the customer. They do not care about your business. Why should they, when there are tens of thousands more just like you willing to pay their $4... or more?

The debacle was so bad that MCM apologized.
And then my sister's friend Jeff made some bad jokes on their fb page.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Marine Corps Marathon registration opens tomorrow. I ran it in 2011 and liked it.

Philadelphia Marathon registration opens Monday. I've never run the marathon (I ran the 8k a bunch of times), but I lived there many years - and liked it.

Should I...
a) register for MCM?
b) register for Philly?
c) register for BOTH?
d) use that money to buy some more ice cream?

Please answer in the comments.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Oh, hey, blogiverse, what's up?

So, if you guessed that my radio silence lately has been because I haven't been running, you're right. It's true, I'm not bothered by it, I'll start running again soon, there's no good reason for it, yes I'm getting fatter, it's just way too cold and I don't want to, any other questions?

I haven't been totally lazy, though. I mean, I've been mostly lazy, but this past weekend I did something physical and interesting. IN BED. Just kidding. I mean, maybe I'm kidding, maybe I'm not, but I don't blog to talk about that sort of stuff.

After I blogged about my terrible ski trip, Samantha emailed me and suggested that we challenge ourselves. Push our limits. Thus the slacklining class, and the (soon to be aborted?) attempt at crossfit. Then this past weekend, she suggested aerial yoga at Om Factory. Yay! Sounds awesome!

Totally my class HAHA JK AGAIN

What's aerial yoga, you ask? In short, the class we took was a standard vinyasa class that incorporated silk "hammocks" that hung from the ceiling. (NB: they're not real silk. I find the touch of silk to be totally skeevy. This silk was all synthetic.) Some of the poses involved using the silks as props to get deeper into the poses; other poses involved using the silks for floating/hanging/inverting.

We were a few minutes early to the class and had some time to sit and swing in the hammocks. This provided my first indication that I might not love the class: the hammocks weren't like normal swings, traveling back and forth along a single plane. No, they spun, and moved sideways, and moved with little to no effort. The ideal positioning of the hammock was to have the bottom roughly even with your pelvis, meaning that your feet did not touch the ground when sitting in it.

And I started to feel a little queasy.

And the queasiness got worse as the class moved on. By the time we were at the "relaxing" part of the class, doing inversions, I full on felt like I might throw up. This wasn't a "push through the discomfort, Tracy!" situation. This was a "get your feet on the ground or you WILL be puking" thing.

I think, at first, the instructor thought I was struggling with completing the poses. She brought me some blocks and suggested a blanket. But by the time we got to the inversions, she must have noticed that I was kind of green and she suggested I spend the rest of the class on the floor. THANK GOD. Evidently aerial savasana is just laying in the hammock, with the option for the instructor to come around and give you a little push for some extra swing. From my safe space on the ground, my stomach churned to hear that.

I'd never realized how much I like the feeling of being grounded when I do yoga. A lot. I like it a lot.

So, bottom line is that I tried aerial yoga. It's not for me, and I feel okay about that. I left the yoga studio and promptly bought myself a new running dress that helped me forget all about the dizzy queasiness that was that class.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The end of the world is near

A few strange things have happened lately:

1) Google decided to cancel Google Reader as of this summer. HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO ME?? Don't they realize how much more productive I'll have to be without having bunches of blogs to read each day? (I mention this not as an off-topic whine, but as a PSA to those of you who also use Google Reader, although I'm sure you've seen the mean pop-up message already if you do...)

We can make it through this. We will find another RSS reader. Suggestions?

2) I took a slack line yoga class and actually kind of enjoyed it. No, I won't be running off to join the circus any time soon, but I'd do it again. I went with two friends, both of whom were much more gifted at it than I and both of whom also enjoyed it.


Blurry but yes it's me floating on that slack line
3) I kinda maybe agreed to do a Crossfit foundations class series with another friend. It sounds like the timing/logistics of it may not end up working out, but if you know my stance on Crossfit (hint: I'm against it), you'd realize that very, very strange things are indeed afoot for me to even contemplate Crossfit. This doesn't represent a change of heart; I'm still anti-Crossfit. I'm just contemplating a "know your enemy" type strategy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The things I do for you.

Have you ever had it happen where you've seen a product and said to yourself, "I'm very curious about that, but I would like an objective review the likes of which only Tracy can give"? No? Oddly enough, that happened to two of my friends/blog readers.

Specifically, in the past couple of weeks, two (different!) people asked me if I'd be willing to request a Simple water bottle and a pair of Zaggora Hot Pants. So I did! And they were sent to me!*

I haven't used either yet, but I will this week and I'll write about both.

Evidently you tuck the bottle into
the back of your pants.
With the water bottle, I'll try it out on a couple of runs and let you know. It could be great - a hands-free option for carrying water? That said, it could be awkward. Specifically I'm wondering if it can hold enough fluids to make it worthwhile, if it's comfortable, and if the fluids will either make my back quite cold or (more likely) adapt to my body temperature quickly and be warm and yucky to drink.

The pants are supposed to make you lose weight by
sweating more. Martin Lawrence, anyone?
With the pants... well, I'm skeptical. I'll leave it at that before I offer a full review, but just to be fair to Zaggora, I will be doing their 2-week challenge:

Yes, I do realize that the key to success here is not in the pants but instead in moving every day and that any weight I lose will be water weight that I sweat out. And no, I will not be doing Zumba. But expect loads of awkward photos anyway, and a pair of smelly pants by the end of the two weeks. (I'm just going to use my weight as a gauge. I don't own a tape measure and I have no interest in facing my measurements.)

*Yes, both of these things were sent to me free by the companies. At my request.** I didn't make any promises that I would blog about them (although I will), and I certainly will not write an overly glowing review just because I got them for free.
**Call me a blog sell-out if you wish. I didn't start a blog to get free stuff, and I don't regularly abuse the fact that I have a blog to get free stuff. I'm just dedicated to my reader(s), you see, and they genuinely wanted me to test these things.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I'm either going to die, or I'm going to be perfectly fine

On Friday, my next door neighbor died.

Well, I should say, on Friday, the police discovered my next door neighbor's body. They estimated that he'd been dead for a week or a week and a half (in bed, with no signs of foul play). It was all very NYC: the police knocked on his door, then my door, then they crawled through my fire escape into his bedroom. The rest of the day was a blur of paramedics, more police, and a terrible smell as they aired the apartment out. Now there's a police notice taped over the door.

And then, because I'm a terrible person, I live tweeted the whole thing while peering out my front door (and trying to peer into his).*

So it was rather ironic that I woke up Saturday morning not feeling very well. Specifically, I had bad joint pain, the likes of which I'd never before experienced. Thinking back on my week, I had been exhausted all week. And there were two days of splitting headaches. And I nearly fainted at work on Thursday. But that was just low blood pressure, right? Dr. Google quickly confirmed what I suspected: lupus. Or rheumatoid arthritis. Or maybe HIV. (I've been tested for all three of these fairly recently and I don't have any of them, for what it's worth.)

By Saturday afternoon, walking up stairs was difficult. By Sunday morning, I needed to hold on to the bathtub to lower myself onto the toilet seat. There was pain involved. And a strange, guttural groaning/grunting combination that would have embarrassed me had it not been completely involuntary.

I contemplated urgent care, but I knew that blood tests would be involved and they'd just send me to my primary care physician for a check up. Uh, except I'm in between doctors right now - or, in the lingo of the career seeker, I'm transitioning into a new doctor. Thank you, ZocDoc, for getting me an appointment Monday afternoon with a new doctor.

She wasn't very reassuring. She said, and this is nearly a direct quote: "It could be lymphoma, or vasculitis. At your age? Lupus is a real concern. Or it could be a virus. Hm, let's hope for a virus." She drew some blood, pointed out that I was dehydrated, and sent me on my way with the typical "no news is good news" doctor send-off.

Point being, I'm not running at present. BUT! I'm going to be better soon. Or I could die. Probably I'll get better. Betting on my health, I signed up for a race and a fitness class-cum-comedy spectacle: on 26 May, I'll be doing the Dirty German Trail race (again) and this Sunday, I'll be taking a slacklining class at Brooklyn Boulders (NB: I can barely walk across a balance beam).

*What can I say? Real estate is a thing in NYC. Point in case: by noon the next day, I had an email from a friend asking for my landlord's information for when that apartment came up on the market.