Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy New Year!

Well, another year is in the hatch, and with it, at least more than a full year of blogging--I started this blog last December, and what a year it's been...please help me to make a better blog of meanderings, deep thoughts, and occasional quirky humor by telling me what your favorite blog was. These are the ones that I think of fondly, for one reason or another:

#1: Last Run Before Monday...
#2: Derry Play-by-Play
#3: Divine 9? Not Really.
#4: 18 = Divine 9 x 2 (look ma, I can do math)
#5: Boston Strikes a Low Blow Against NYC
#6: Marathon Monday Recap
#7: Running to...the Altar?
#8: In One Fell(s) Swoop
#9: A Multitude of Runs, and Southie's Top 10
#10: Just When You Think the Worst Can't Happen...The Worst Happens.

What was your favorite blog post?
#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
#8
#9
#10
pollcode.com free polls

So much can change in a year. Here's a thought--in 2007, I ran, as far as I can tell, 407.25 miles. In 2008, despite taking a rather ridiculous amount of summer days of, I ran, again, as far as I can tell, about 763 miles. Strangely, the highest mileage month was January, with 110.8; the lowest? July, where I'm pretty sure I barely ran 20 miles, and blogged only two of the runs.

Tell me also--what do you like, hate, enjoy, etc. about the blog? What can I do better?

Thanks, and Happy New Year to all--I leave you with this, a photo of two fellow runners--B, a fellow marathoner, and JRod, my beloved, on New Year's Eve.

11.7 Miles Saturday + 3 More on Sunday = An Excuse for A Big, Cheesy Pizza

Having sweet-talked my beloved into logging some more miles with me--at least until DFMC is back on after the group run holiday hiatus--I was looking forward to getting in a solid long run on Saturday. We mapped out a long run,* just shy of 12 that would take us from our apartment, over the river to Boston, around the Public Garden and Common, past the Garden (Yeahh...C's!), over another bridge, past the Museum of Science (Mythical Creatures Exhibit looks pretty great, and now on my list of things to do), back to the river until Mass Ave, from Mass Ave to our street, then an additional little bump from home to Davis Square--ending us at 12 miles at the local Starbucks. Ah, bliss.
So here's what really happened.

After commenting on what looked to be a threatening and potentially rainy sky, Jared ventured onto the front stoop to take a quick temperature read--relatively balmy. Clad in capri tights, a non-turtleneck Under Armour, sneaks, and fuel belt loaded with Gu, I scampered out behind him.

Within a block or two, a light sprinkling of cold rain began sluicing onto us. By the Mass Ave bridge, we were talking science, and barely noticed the increase of water streaming from a gray and ever more ominous-looking sky. At the Garden, we ventured a look up at what had become a steady downfall, and commented on the likeliness of it abating soon.

By the Museum of Science, we'd settled into a comfortable pace, running easy and smooth despite the still heavy rain. Despite teasingly commenting--multiple times--that he must love me a lot to be out there in those conditions--Jared seemed to be enjoying our gliding gait along the chilled, windy river.

As we reached Mass Ave for the last long leg of our run (about 3.5 miles to go), the rain picked up in intensity. Abandoning all pretense of avoiding puddles in our entirely too sodden state, we began racing for home, striding past MIT and Central Square, bolting around the few raincoat-clad pedestrians near Harvard, dashing across streets, and sloshing through the deepening puddles along sidewalks, street corners--with nary a single other runner spied.

With a mile to go, Jared pointed out what I'd been refusing to admit to myself--that if we ran to the Starbucks, we'd either end up walking home in the cold, heavy rain, or running with our coffees in hand, always a little awkward.** I agreed and suggested that we run to Rindge Ave, a couple blocks past our apartment, then back home, to get into the necessary distance.

As we neared the corner of our street, I realized that one more block wouldn't quite get us to 12. I mentioned this to Jared, who merely looked at me, water streaming down one side of his nose, unchecked by a drenched bandanna. We arrived home after our trip to Rindge and back (discretion did seem the better part of valor here--after all, the man did run more than eleven and a half miles with me in the rain, a week after running 9 in a blizzard on his own birthday). Despite our sodden shoes and clothing, we couldn't help but laugh out our own state, and at the elation of having had a good run in poor conditions.

An easy 3 today helped to ease out most lingering aches and pains, and we are both convinced that a pizza tonight should dispel the rest.

*Note: This was the route we'd attempted to do last week, in the midst of a blizzard, before ultimately crapping out at around 9 miles.
**But known to happen, with coffee, apple cider, ice cream, and once, two pizzas.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas 6, and a Holiday Tune

Christmas day dawned bright, sunny, and happily, warm. Despite a bit of grumbling, Jared slid into some shorts and joined me as I all but pranced out the door for an early Christmas Day run on the nearly empty streets of Cambridge. The loop was standard, but the day unique--in fact, I think this is the first time I've ever run on Christmas. In honor of that, Jared and I composed this little holiday ditty (the tune may be familiar):

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Twelve cars a-driving
Eleven snowbanks melting
Ten people walking
Nine piles of dog poop
Eight Jared complaints
Seven dogs a-walking
Six miles running
Five chu-urch bells...
Four open coffeeshops
three Indian restaurants
Two Tom & Jerry's
And a lone marathoner in the street...

Post-run, we headed home to make brunch, coffee, and Tom & Jerry's, and opened presents and watched part of A Miracle on 34th Street, before heading to a friend's place, then off to see Marley & Me.

Surprisingly tough/fast 4 at the Gym

On Monday, knowing I need to run, but hesitant to do it in the still-cold outdoors, I headed for the gym for the Tuesday scheduled mileage of 4-6 miles--my early workday Tuesday prevents morning runs, and Jared had gotten us tickets to a local theater's performance of "A Christmas Carol" (which, by the way, was excellent!).

At the gym, I lifted, then headed for a treadmill upstairs while Jared taped another basketball playoff game. Settling in on an incline of 2, at a pace of 9-something, I chugged away, running and running, but never getting anywhere. This is the problem with treadmills--they're boring. There is nothing to distract you from the difficulty of running. No clean air to pull into your nostrils, no changing sites or smells to tinker into your subconscious, allowing your mind to stretch and lazily browse around in a multitude of topics. On a treadmill, you are only moving forward--while strangely never actually moving forward.

By the time I hit a mile, I'd realized that this was one of those days where there was nothing to do it but get it over with. I took very little enjoyment out of this run, and increased the pace a bit to be done. Ultimately, I'm happy to have slugged out four miles in a little over 37 minutes, respectable enough. Though it may not have been an enjoyable four, these are the kinds of runs that make me appreciate the other kind--the ones that are alive and fresh, and leave my spirit soaring with the realization of the limitless possibilities of the human body and spirit.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Say NO! to Running on Sunday

I'm sorry, fellow runners, readers and supporters of my blog, but yesterday, after shoveling out my car while Jared did his and the sidewalk, I said "To hell with this," and headed out for a hot coffee instead.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just Shy of an EXTREME! 9 Miles

Though we'd hoped Saturday would break with a halt to the snowy, stormy weather of Friday, we awoke to a world cloaked in white...and only getting more so. Still, Jared and I had agreed to get in the allotted mileage (8-12), and had mapped a route from our apartment. The route ran down Mass Ave, across the bridge to the Boston side, left down Comm Ave, then the long way looping around the Public Garden and Common, sidled through Government Center and Downtown Crossing, before crossing back to the Cambridge side on the Museum of Science bridge. It then beelined along the river, back to Mass Ave, where we'd then meet up with a portion of the original route and head back home.

We bundled up, layered, and gloved ourselves, then headed down Mass Ave, planning to run a plethora of errands on the way--necessary, given the mountains of snow our cars were buried under. First a couple blocks to CVS to drop off a prescription. Next, a half mile to Marathon Sports for running gloves for me (I already lost the ones I bought last month at City Sports.)

Errands completed, we ducked our heads into the windy, snowy day, and aimed for the river, gasping when we at last hit the bridge. The turn onto Comm Ave was only worse, as what at first appeared a long, relatively sheltered straightaway morphed into a frigid wind tunnel, sucking the air out of our lungs. Pockets of slushy ice water added an element of adventure, as we leaped over them, tracked around them, and climbed snow banks to avoid them. By the time we reached the Garden, after 4+ miles of arduous obstacle-course running in frigid, wet weather, our faces burning and shoes dripping, we agreed we'd had enough...loop around the Garden be damned. We turned ourselves toward home, backtracking the way we'd came.

In a shocking twist, heading over the unplowed or shoveled Mass Ave bridge back to Cambridge was even worse than the first time, with the cold air forcing itself into our lungs, snatching at our very breath. With Jared charging ahead of me, I ducked my head, tucked my chin to one side and sucked at every breath of air the biting wind would let me. With every inch of exposed flesh stinging, we at last finished the bridge, to hear a runner ahead of us shout "I thought we were the only dumb ones today!" Nope, fellow runner.

By the time we'd slogged through the continuing snow into Harvard Square, we'd begun discussing whether we could justify stopping for a burger and warmup. Opting out, we continued toward home, wanting only to be done with the run I repeatedly referred to as "a HORRIBLE idea..."

We did however, cave, as by the time we reached the Starbucks down the street from our apartment, we'd both just had enough. Faces burning, noses running, gloves dripping, and limbs shaking, we ordered a couple of lattes and warmed up before walking to pick up the prescription and grab some groceries.

The rest of the day, Jared's birthday, was spent as it should have, with sweatpants, movies, baking (a pecan cheesecake for the birthday boy), and consumption of scotch (he) and Tom & Jerry's (she). Brenda swung by later, after her own cold 12 miles, and joined us for some much needed hot food and drink.

Today, after shoveling out my car in the continuing blizzard, I immediately rejected my earlier notion of getting in a couple miles. Now, drinking tea and sitting on the couch with my beloved, able to see the STILL-FALLING snow...I'm going to chalk this weekend up as a victory for getting any miles at all in, and be happy with the week's 21 total.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

6 Lonely Miles...and the Miseducation of Abigail

Thursday morning at 5:00 a.m., the alarm clock rang...and rang. I didn't even have the motivation to nudge Jared awake, after we'd both stayed up much too late the night before. So it rang...and rang. And finally, we decided to call a spade a spade, and reset it for 6:30.

Jared had a busy day planned, with school, then straight to volunteer at Children's Hospital, then from there to film a basketball game for the gym. With B out of town, and Kate having logged some morning miles, there was no one left to run Thursday night but me...

So, iPod in tow, and Jared's gloves on my less-than-femininely-sized paws, I head out, around, and along the 6.1-mile route that we'd planned to do that morning. With a few to go, I realized it was me against the dying iPod battery.

In hope of saving enough juice to get me home, I stopped shuffling, and just went with whatever came on--Jared' mix for me, what he called a melting pot of songs he knew I liked, and those he called "educational"--strange, educational seems to be a lot of Metallica and Trivium.

As I chugged in the last 1/2 mile at a sharp clip, the screaming guitars fading in my eardrums, I had to admit that it wasn't half bad...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

6 Miles On the River, and Responsible Abby

Monday, the day I'd allotted myself as a "day of rest" after running 14 miles in 24 hours, was unseasonably warm--near 60 degrees in fact! Tuesday, a running day, was cold. Damn the luck.

I scooted out of work right on time, and booked it to the CAC, the gym both Jared and are gainfully employed at in return for our membership, and, ironically, what ultimately caused us to meet. We bundled up at the gym, and headed out for SUPER!loop around the river.

"A SUPER!loop?" you say? Well, a SUPER!loop is when the original loop is just too short for the sheer boundless exuberance and athletic feat you've planned, and you're forced to add some extraneous running on at the end to hit your mileage.

Jared and I looped the river, up to the Mass Ave bridge, then back along the other side to cross again at the Museum of Science bridge. Back near the gym, we hadn't hit the targeted 6 miles yet, so we ambled back down to Mass Ave and back again. Happy to be done, we then entered the lovely warm gym, and, responsibly, stretched.

Yes, it's true. There was stretching.

Today we met at the gym after work again, this time with me bearing sandwiches. While Jared wrote out his next blog, I hoped on the stationary bike.

Yes, it's true. I cross-trained.

30 minutes later, we both got in a quick lift, before settling in to eat some Italian sandwiches on a thick crusty bread in the gym lobby. (Jared had to film the basketball league finals 30 minutes later, hence the brought dinner.) We followed up with a tasty trail mix, delicately sprinkled with the occasional delicious M&M.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2 Days, 14 Miles, and 'Tis the Season!

SATURDAY:
Saturday morning saw me lurking under the covers, listening to Jared bustle around in the bathroom as he got ready for a morning volunteering at the first Dana-Farber run of the 2009 training season. At long last, knowing full while that he was hardly going to go without his runner fiance, I dragged myself out of bed and into two layers of tights, Under Armour turtleneck, thermal fleece, hat, and the borrowed gloves of my beloved, having lost my new pair after only two chances to wear them...

Upon arriving at the Mount Auburn gym we were set to run from, I was thrilled to see several familiar faces--fellow Midwesterner Laura, on- and off-road buddy B, Larry, with almost 20 marathons under his belt, and one of the first DFMC'ers I met last year, and an assortment of other runners I hadn't seen in more than six months.

How different this first run of the season was this time around. Last year, I was filled with a mix of emotions--50% glee at starting the training for my first marathon, 50% trepidation at the prospect of running for the next 4 months with a group of strangers, and 50% total and utter terror--at the knowledge that I might have bitten off more than I could chew.

This year, I came back with a whole different set of emotions--happiness to be back at it, comfort at running a now-familiar course, and a smidgeon of practical fear--this time I KNOW how hard the months of training will be, and how the marathon itself will suck at the marrow of energy and strength. I also know, however, that my body and mind are far more capable than I'll ever realize, and that they can go on much longer and farther than I know.

B advised me immediately that she planned to set a bruising pace in the cold weather. I admit I'd hoped for some slow, casual miles, but I wasn't about to do them by myself, so I tucked in with her, figuring that at some point, I'd lag behind as she bolted ahead.

At just over three miles, we crested the first big hill, decelerating to the first water stop, where I was rewarded for my work with a cup of Gatorade and a smooch from my obviously excited beloved. The break over, we continued our run, loping down more hills along the late portion of the marathon course, turning around 1/2 mile after the second water stop at 5 miles. We logged our miles back, kicking on a couple of superbad hills, realizing halfway up Heartbreak Hill where we were, in the following conversation:

Abby: [gasp] Is...this...Heartbreak? [pant pant]
Brenda: Umm...no, it can't be...[pant]...wait...It HAS to be.
Abby: Yup...[gasp]...definitely Heartbreak.
Brenda: Never gets easier...[pant pant]...does it?

Nope. It won't, either. But, as my grandfather would say about cottage cheese, it'll put hair on your chest.

Happily, I had another reward at three miles to go, as we came upon the last water stop. Jared jumped out into the middle of the road, hugged us both tightly, told us we looked great, and that he loved me.

We finished the 11-mile run strong and happy, if a little chilled from the headwind of the last half mile. Jared joined us a few minutes later, and we headed out as quickly as we'd arrived, on our way to brunch and a Santa-themed pub crawl.

After our early morning, though, coupled with my long run angry belly, we ended up dressed up at the first bar, and stayed there after everyone left for a relaxing brunch, before heading home for a three-hour nap.

SUNDAY:
Still stiff from Saturday's exertion (and my utter lack of stretching after it), I was in no mood to log any more miles today. We'd signed up for the annual Jingle Bell, a 5K fun run through Cambridge, in which runners were given monstrously ugly Christmas-themed t-shirts, and jingling bells to tie into their shoelaces.

The race start was only a few blocks from our apartment, a fortuitous circumstance when halfway there we realized we'd remembered to dress up festively and warmly, but had not remembered our chip timers or race numbers...back home we ran to get them, making it to Davis Square with time to spare as the start got moving late.

The next three miles were stiff, but hugely entertaining, as locals were out in their finest. Red and green abounded, with hats topped by antlers, ornaments, and white fringe on red. Runners wearing full Santa suits earned our pity, as the day turned surprisingly warm. Girls in shimmering gold and silver tights brought awe as we marveled over where one could even buy that sort of thing. Laughter was reserved for the top costume of the day, a tall gingerbread man running stiff armed and legged past us near 2.5 miles. And everywhere, bells.

All in all, a fun 5K, and just what was needed to start a day of Christmas shopping off right.

All this work, however, makes a couple of runners thirsty, and it must be time for Tom & Jerry's for two...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Quotable Moments from my Other Half

Two quotable moments this week from my beloved...

1. While running last week, he suddenly demanded, "Where are we running? I mean, who's chasing us? After this, we just have to run more. We never get where we're going!"

2. Abby (referring to the stick muscle roller), "I want to get a roller today."
Jared's response: "Hellz yeah! Then I can make my scones, bitches!"

(To be fair, we'd also discussed buying a rolling pin earlier that day to do some baking.)

5 Miles of Turning Left, and Why Jeans May Be Good Workout Gear After All...

On Monday, fellow marathoner Caitlin invited me to join her at a local speed workout--to be done on an indoor track.

Rushing around my apartment, I found myself faced with a dilemma:
1. Put my favorite soft sweatpants over my running shorts, acknowledging that the recent snow might make the cuffs wet and dirty, thereby destroying any chance I had to wear them at home post-shower that night.
2. Put an old pair of baggy jeans on top of my running shorts, acknowledging that I'd show up to a speedster workout looking like an extra from Good Will Hunting.

I opted for the second, knowing that nearly any amount of embarrassment is worth having soft, warm sweatpants at the end of the night.

Upon arriving at the track, I faced anther dilemma, when I realized that the 1.5-mile warmup was to take place outside--in just over 20-degree night air. My choices?
1. Take off my jeans, and run in my little green running shorts, hoping and praying that the movement would be enough to keep my bare legs warm.
2. Leave on my jeans for the 1.5 mile warmup, acknowledging that I'd look like a later, baggier version of Rocky Balboa, and understanding that first impressions often stick--did I want to be the woman that jogged in jeans?

I opted for the first.

After the tingling in my frozen thighs had subsided, we arranged ourselves into groups (I jumped in the target marathon of 4:00 to 4:20--a bit ambitious of me, as I'll be happy with a 4:30) and completed the track workout portion--an interval workout. Each interval was 9 laps, the first lap at 10K pace (63 seconds per lap), the second at half marathon (67 seconds per lap), the third at marathon pace (70 seconds per lap), then repeated twice more for a total of 9 laps. Then three minutes rest, and repeat. Then three minutes left, and repeat, this time backwards, so that we ran 70-67-63 x3.

Overall, it was a great experience, and with the warmup and cooldown, I think we got about 5 miles in.

The next morning (yesterday) I awoke a bit sniffly, but ready to face the day. By 4:00 p.m. though, I was on the road home, snotty, stuffy, sneezing, and lamenting my shorts decision of Monday night. Today, I find myself at home from work, a box of Kleenex nearby, and some Theraflu just consumed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rock(y)ing a Weekend Workout

Yesterday, I hit the gym. Plagued by the gremlin gnawing on the inside of my left knee cap (albeit somewhat gently), I opted for...discretion. (They say it's the better part of valor, you know.) So, in the company of my beloved, I headed to the gym, via "THAT WAY." We started off our workout by pumping some iron, he lifting weights in his own manner, and I in my mine--a 2 x 12 circuit workout of lunges, squats, leg curls, push ups, and planks.

While Jared headed for some pickup hoops, I headed for the elliptical, dead set on getting my long run miles in (7-10) before physically running them at next week's first official group run. On the elliptical for 97 grueling minutes, I read the Glamour magazine kindly provided by the woman who cut my hair that morning, then last month's Runner's World. At this point, having been increasing both the incline and the level of difficultly with every 10 minutes, I ducked my head, gritted my teeth, cranked up the volume on the iPod, and dug in for another 35 minutes of rotating. With 2 minutes to go, Jared arrived fresh off the courts to check out my progress. Grimacing, panting, and dripping sweat from every pore, I grinned and told him my body felt like I'd gone for a long run--but with no joint pain. Success!

We stretched, showered, and headed off to Pemberton Market, a little local place down the street from our apartment, for gooey, cheesy, Sicilian-style sandwiches, thick with prosciutto, provolone, and lettuce.

Later, I thought about my workout at the gym, and how I could best describe it to readers of my blog. Unfortunately, there is only way to do so. Thus, I've hired Sylvestor Stallone of 1985 to do a semi-accurate representation of my cross-training efforts of Saturday. (Note: Though I asked Sly to wear performance gear, he insisted on tight black jeans and a leather jacket. But to each their own...)



Yeah, that's right. Boston (as represented here by Russian phenom "Drago"), you'll be my bitch come April.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Voter Results!

The past week has been a bit ho-hum in terms of running...I played some hoop on Tuesday, after a sluggish Monday run. (We lost, by the way, ending the HDR dreams of finishing in the middle of the pack.) I'm taking some time now to take care of a sore left knee, in hopes that some good sense now will leave me logging some happy long miles with the DFMC at next weekend's first group run. So it's some quality miles on an arc trainer for me...ick.

Luckily, I have the promise of more Tom & Jerry's to keep me smiling, coupled with the cookies the other half and I are planning to bake tonight. Even luckier--the voters have spoken, and I have received familial approval to share the Tom & Jerry recipe. So without further ado...

TOM & JERRY'S


8 eggs
Lots of powder sugar
just a tich of baking soda
Rum (oh yum)
Brandy (oh, what a good wife she would be)
HOT water (Perrier is forbidden given the family history)
Nutmeg (occasionally she is)

(*Note: As there's only two of us, we've been making a 1/4-batch, which makes four Tom & Jerry's, or two each...just enough to get me slightly pickled.)

THE BATTER:
Separate the eggs (one in the living room, one in kitchen, one in garage, etc)

Beat the whites without being a racist. (Should look almost like meringue.)
Beat the yolks old country fogey style.
Make sure the beatings are thorough... like old school whuppin'.

Combine the beaten duo and add powder sugar to taste. Your goal here is a nice light and sweet batter. It is essential to poke a finger in and test a few times. I have always found one shot of rum sharpens the taste buds nicely.

At this time the tich of baking soda comes in. It is optional whether you whip it into the batter or toss it over your left shoulder. Whichever it is, you must say with gusto... "To preserve the batter!"

THE CUP
Fill the cup aboot 1/2 full with batter while remembering thy roooots.
Pour in one shot rum and one shot brandy (1/2 shot brandy if you prefer but it strikes me better to be balanced).
Add HOT water until 1.384567" below the rim.
Stir nicely with your favorite spoon.

Add more batter to fill the cup and you MUST drizzle a bit down the side (options A and B):
Option A. Drizzle... on the premise that many people spill anyway and just get it over with.
Option B. Drizzle... some people who are neat freaks need to walk on the wild side (help them).
A light nutmeg sprinkle to finish with that little special flourish (supposedly my grandmother used to call it happy dust).

Enjoy. Repeat. Repeat. Repeatfshjdhhbkvc.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Running builds character, and to share...or not to share?

Running while its raining only builds wet character.

I logged a surly 5 miles with Jared today, my stiff muscles (honestly, who works out all four days of Thanksgiving weekend?) protesting through mile 3, the gremlin in my kneecap gnawed through mile 4, and with the last mile, the Dizzle Squizzle Starbucks in sight (that's right, on a weeknight--lushes, the both of us), the universe decided to add insult to injury--with a previously balmy night suddenly overtaken by frigid rain.

Bolting home, our coffees in hand, I could only reflect on the rewards to come. I've found that sometimes, in order to get myself out the door, like tonight, I have to promise myself a reward--in this case, a hot, steaming dark roast, with just a dash of half & half.

This past weekend, the joy of a lusciously foamy Tom & Jerry was my sweet reward for logging some long, hilly miles. Last night, I shared the goodness with fellow runner, B, who of course asked for the recipe...necessitating some debate with my family regarding whether or not the recipe should be shared.

Please, family, friends, and utter and complete strangers in need of a hot, boozy winter pick-me-up--vote.
Should the secret family recipe for Tom and Jerry's be made public?
Yes! Please! I beg of you! Change my hot toddy of choice!
No, I prefer not to imbibe in the spririt of Christmas.
Maybe? I'm not sure if I'm ready to learn to fish.
(Unequivocal) YES! The fate of the free world rests on the cup rim of Tom and his good friend Jerry.
No, you barbarian traitor to your own family.
Don't Care--I'm a vegan.
  
pollcode.com free polls

Sunday, November 30, 2008

8.6 Miles and Two State Borders

Yesterday my beloved and I set off for Woodstock, Vermont--for no other reason than for a new place to run, a "destination run," if you will...it's been months since we've done one of these, and I admit to having missed the adventure part of seeking out and finding a new and scenic place to run.

With I in my thermal capri pants, Under Armour, and hat, and Jared in brand-spanking new tights (you read correctly--tights), hat, and a couple warm layers on top, we were prepared for some cold Northern weather. Luckily, though, we were blessed with a balmy, sunshine-filled day, that create dappled, tree-lined roads, the light sprinkling of snow in the fields bordering the road only making the beautiful day all the more miraculous.

On the first leg of our out-and-back course, we made note of miscellaneous interesting and/or entertaining sites--the first mile tripped above the road along a narrow gravel path, edged by a low rock wall. The second mile began with a strong smell of cow, as we reached and gamboled past a large farm. The third mile took us up and around low, rolling hills, past the "Suicide Six." The fourth looped along more hills, past a babbling river, and onto a silent, peaceful stretch, culminating at a large fir.

These sites greeted us along the cruising miles back, as we settled into what has become the standard, faster second half of our runs together--as we pushed ourselves and each other a little further and a little faster, our legs protesting, we joked about the poor choice to play three hours of hoops the day prior.

After logging our miles, we cooled down with a couple of hot (and hard) ciders at the local watering hole, along with a tasty shared lunch of chilliburger (he) and French Onion Soup (she), and fries (we), before heading to a little shop across the street for a cinnamon bun and a gift for my mother.

Later, on the drive home, we both blogged, happy at what may seem to many as a bit of a ridiculous trip--a 2.5 hour drive, to run less than two hours, then drive home--but what was for us an opportunity to get out of the city and appreciate the world and its nature beyond the Massachusetts' state border. This run had it all--beautiful, empty paths, an empty road to run on, friendly drivers who slowed or moved aside to let us pass, a light dusting of snow hinting of holidays to come, hills to challenge our legs and spirits, mountains jutting into a cerulean sky, and everywhere, tiny bridges looking like delicate sculptures over crystal clear brooks and streams. And of course, good company. A run such as this, on a day such as this, is all the better shared with a loved one--I can never put into words exactly how I felt at a moment of loveliness or sheer vitality experienced when running.

Luckily, though, I didn't have to, as my beloved was there to share it all. :)

Now, its off to decorate the Christmas tree, and to have what is surely the best post-run treat in the universe--and perhaps the best treat, period--a Tom & Jerry.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble...and the case of the bad gravy

This year, I, along with my other half, opted to spend the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays in Boston--primarily due to the horrendous cost of flying, but also partly due to my procrastination in looking at ticket prices.

At the urging of B, we'd agreed to run the Gobble, Gobble, Gobble, a 4-mile road race starting and ending in Davis Square, only a five-minute walk from our humble abode. As luck would have it, yet another running pal, Kate, was also running the race.

We wandered over to Davis to pick up our numbers around 7:45 a.m., and in a happy quirk, ran into B on the way--we planned to meet her at the local water hole in a few minutes pre-race. (Note: We never did see Brenda again, though--there were over 2,000 runners, and it apparently was not meant to be.)

After picking up our race numbers, along with a snazzy maroon long-sleeve T-shirt, we realized we had 40 minutes to kill until race time, and we needed somewhere warm to spend it--where else but Starbucks? At 10 minutes to racetime, Kate walked in the door, noting, "I had a feeling I'd find you two here..." Too true.

The race started as a bit of a mess, with people clustering about the start line in a mad melee to begin the bolting course, which had no official start that was apparent--no gun, no shouted "Go!", no pad for the supposed "chip time" start. The first half was primarily uphill, and starting late in the pack, the three of us lost some time warming up and dodging around turkey-suited, feathered runners, climbing the hills to a passable 20:35(ish) at 2 miles. By 2.5, we'd each loosened up, and were coasting down long hills, climbing the few short ones left, and stretching warm limbs in a more than respectable pace, finishing the course in a mad dash around 37 minutes.

After Jared and I managed to seduce Kate back to the apartment for a cup of coffee, we went out to do our day-of Thanksgiving meal shopping. Six hours of cooking and a collective four Tom & Jerry's (wheee!) later, we sat down to enjoy our first Thanksgiving meal together, just the two of us, with a delicious, crispy-skinned turkey, some tasty potatoes lightly flavored with paprika, stuffing replete with celery and bits of more turkey, noodle "stewp" (a saucy, brothy noodle concoction created by Jared), and a thick, viscous substance that could have, in another life, become gravy. But I have no one to blame but myself for that last one...

Post-dinner, in the mood for pie, but short the pack of gelatin needed to make the pumpkin cheesecake we'd planned on, we headed for the open road--and found ourselves enjoying something only the city of Boston has to offer--a shared cappuccino and chocolate-chip canoli in the North End on Thanksgiving.

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Wish I was a little bit taller...

What? I know, it seems a strange thing to say--taller? Me? But recent events have come to shed new light on my so-called height--none of which I was originally planning to admit. But last night's basketball game at the CAC, the last game of the regular season (We lost. Badly. Again.), got me to thinking about this song, a favorite of a high school buddy.

As I go into this week's Tuesday playoff game, I admit to being torn: on the one hand, I'm ready to focus on running...and the Sunday/Tuesday random game night has been wearing on my poor attempts at scheduling. I'm ready to remove basketball, and replace it with true cross-training and strengthening--last year's attempts to play basketball two nights a week as cross-training having lead to a full week's hiatus from running as I rested an aching knee. On the other hand...I feel like kicking a little ass. This conflicts with my desire to (of course) get to the gym an hour early to get in a quick loop around the river and some lunges and push-ups. (Note to self: Remember that pushups before games lead to even more airballs than usual.)

In any event, wish the Hoosier Daddy Remastered team luck in tomorrow's game--playing one of several stacked teams in the league, we'll have our work cut out for us.

Back to the original topic. In high school, playing hoops, I was the tallest girl on my team. In my high tops (you know we all wore them, me with mascot-emblazoned knee socks--which I wore to work today under my slacks, ironically), I stood perfectly between 5'11" and 6'0". My coach usually left it up to me what height I wanted to be on the game program. I imagine that the girls I'd been playing against for four years wondered how it was I suddenly shrank an inch my senior year.

Two years ago, I went for my annual checkup, and was told...that my supposed long legs only took me up to 5'10". WHAT?! All my life, I had been living a lie! Later I calmed down enough to realize that one measurement was certainly not conclusive evidence that I was in fact shrinking. I could sleep again, secure in the knowledge that there had surely been an error.

Until last year, when I was told--again--that I was only 5'10". Dammit.


Slowly, though, through the power of running, at last snatching up my mate, and overconsumption of alcohol, I came to terms with my newfound short stature.

Most would agree it could hardly get worse, but it did--as only two weeks ago, I had my exam, and found out that not only had my blood pressure gone up, I had shrunk again--as was only about 5'9-1/2". And I may have rounded up to get that 1/2".

Crap. At this rate, I'll be knee high when my gigantic children reach puberty.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An unexpected 9.5-10 miles at Ponkapoag

Ok, I admit it, I've been slacking again...but I HAVE been running, with 5 last Thursday, 8 on Monday with Jared, and then...a couple days of actual slacking--but only in running! I did play basketball two of the four days!

But today...today I planned to get myself out to run on my favorite trail, Ponkapoag, for a nice, solitary 8-miler. With the weight of the work world, et. al, crushing down on me the past week or two, I knew myself to be in dire need of some rejuvenation via a solitary run in the woods.

I was off, after kissing my beloved goodbye--he planned to go for a solitary hike on Mount Monadnock. Clad in thermal capri pants, an Under Armour turtleneck, hat, and gloves, I shied from bring along my thermal fleece, and began happily running the first of the two loops I planned to complete. I shambled along in a lazy manner, careening around corners, eying the skimpy-cloaked trees, now bare without their manes of leaves; I gazed at the cold, clear water of the bog sparking between the tree bones, and inhaled deeply the smell of campfire as I slowed down, passing the youth camps. I smiled at strangers, with bundled-up babies, and romping dogs (including one German Shepherd that I saw twice--both times holding tight to a green tennis ball), and inhaled the cold, brisk air. I laughed and apologized profusely to a woman with a black lab for startling her in passing. I shivered a time or two, wondering if I ought to have worn my fleece, but was committed to running fast enough to stay warm, and happy to be outside and healthy enough to know I could do it.

And then I saw it. A giant, silvery, chain-link fence, blocking my route. The good news is that this renovation appears to be a buildup of the part of the path that seems to flood at the slightest amount of rain, meaning I won't have to plan for different routes if the weather is or has been inclement. The bad news is that for now, the path is off limits--meaning a detour.

Those who know me well know that there are many things I'm good at--and many things I'm not. Sadly, keeping my sense of direction falls in the latter category.

I followed the detour at first, a little grumpy, my zen run having been thrown a loop with this detour. Still, running down an uninhabited, grassy golf course green, I decided to try to see this as an adventure.

I looped left at the bottom of the green, following the neon green flags tied to trees along the way, until suddenly...I ran out of flags. Looking at the two possible options, both uphill, I opted for the right branch. I ran up the hill, reaching the top, then immediately deciding I'd made the wrong decision, and turned around. Back at the bottom, I searched in vain again for the continuation of the green flags, then headed back up the hill. I crested the top of the hill again, and found myself at another branch. This time, I was positive. I headed back down the way I came. Luckily at the bottom I saw the woman I'd startled earlier--headed down a third path that I hadn't seen...one with neon green flags marking the trees.

I felt a little stupid, but kept on, running now with the thought that maybe one loop, if one could be made, would be sufficient. At the next detour, I could make neither heads nor tails of the detour signs, and found myself running through the golf course itself. With no trees to protect me any more, I realized I. WAS. COLD.

At the entrance to the golf course, I asked directions from a very nice woman who offered me a ride (being a goldarned athlete, I politely refused), and some directions. After having asked for directions once more, from an elderly man who continued to wave merrily at me through his car window as I motioned for him to roll the window down (Really, did he think I had an encyclopedia set hidden behind me, available for only 10 payments of $24.99??), I realized I had committed to running...the wrong direction. The fastest way to my car was the Interstate, hardly a safe place (not to mention, I think its actually illegal) for a runner, even a cold one.

It's entirely possible there was a way to get to my car from where I was, but at that point, I was tired of getting lost...and decided the best course of action was to simply head back the way I came from.

Happily, once I got back on some familiar terrain, I was able to get back to enjoying my run. The beauty of being out in the cold is that there are very few people out there with you--and those that are, are usually there for the same reasons--to enjoy the solitude, and the stark beauty of nature hibernating for the year.

I like to think of winter as a chance for nature to do what I was doing today--to rejuvenate, and to prepare for a rebirth. Today for me was a chance to rediscover some of myself, the pieces of me that are easy to lose in the mad dash that is life--but also the pieces that are really the most important to my overall health and happiness. The truth is that this is therapy, and therapy that was much needed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Say Hello to Captain Crankypants

Let me just say this--I'm tired today. Tired of getting up early, making the long drive to work. Tired of picking up slack and cleaning up messes. Tired of being asked to do more than one person can do, and tired of my seeming inability to come out and say so.

I'm tired of coming in early for Tuesday meetings that start before my workday begins. I'm tired of staying late for Tuesday meetings because of a time change on another end. I'm tired of rushing out, only to sit in the car another hour before I can see the man I love, or do the things I love. I'm tired of parking tickets from the City of Cambridge fascists, and I'm tired of dog poop in the back yard.

As I ran the normal route around the Charles, at last with my beloved, accompanied by the now-familiar dull ache of my right buttcheek and hamstring and an ominous scraping in my left knee, I thought about the basketball game I'd surely be late for. I thought about my shitty day, and the aches in my body from Sunday's half marathon. I thought about whether my body was prepared to take on the Boston Marathon again, and even knowing that it was, how I'd find the time to train. I thought about all of the emotional crankiness my beloved has had to put up with these last couple weeks (though he's 100% wonderful about it).

The truth is I am stretched too thin. And I'm tired of it. I know that tomorrow brings more deadlines at work, that I've yet to finish a fundraising distribution list, let alone send a letter, that I've been reading the same book for two weeks and magazines are piling up. I know that there is no easy fix, and that sometimes we have to grit our teeth and ride it out. But, oh, right now I am just plain exhausted, mentally and psychologically.

Tonight, though, I will try to put this out of my head. I'll focus on the smell of long grain rice, and revel in the knowledge that Jared has steaks on the grill, that there is hummus in the fridge, and a Sam Adams in my hand.

I like to think of many things like this:
When you can't sprint, run. When you can't run, walk. When you can't walk, crawl. If it takes the force of your will alone to do it, it can still be done. And remember that this too shall pass.
And sometimes, take a break and have a cold beer.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Seacoast Half Recap

Today, the cramming came to an end, as team "Rock(y)ing the Coast" completed its inaugural half marathon.

In that crew, we had the following (see photo, from left to right):
Jared: 1st half marathon
Shane: 1st half marathon
Abby: 3rd half marathon, one marathon completed
Tony: 2nd (?) half marathon
Kate: 5th (?) half marathon, one marathon completed
Tara (see below): Several half marathons, at least one marathon to her credit
Kristin (not shown): 1st half marathon

Of this crew, we each ran our own race, and of course, I can only tell you about mine--but before I get into that, take a moment to consider the HUGE accomplishment the two first-times achieved today. Not only did Kristin and Jared complete the farthest distance either of them has ever run before, but both of them finished strong in a difficult race. Congratulations to both of you!

Now for my story...

Having (again) gotten up too early, Jared and I arrived early at the Portsmouth H.S., and snagged a clutch parking spot near the entrance--not such a big deal before the race...but, oh, after...it is a little treat to only walk a short way to the car for the trip home.

Teammate Tara Kelly (see photo at right, center) happened on us as we lounged in the school entrance, ostensibly stretching. There, she regaled us with tales of what seems to be her utter awesomess--Tara, a very small, pretty woman, is also into lacrosse, and mixed martial art. Like Jujitsu.

Good God.

We weren't able to run into any other teammates before or after the race, but we did happen across the stellar fan base three times--once taking our leave of them with the sweet strains of "Eye of the Tiger" blaring at us.

The first miles were hard and fast, as I was chomping at the bit, yearning to stretch my legs on the course. Jared reminded me a few times, and finally at about four miles, I listened to his honest comment--the pace I had set wouldn't hold for long, and I was cruising for an early burnout.

It was this realization that saved me, I think. We churned through another mile, me keeping myself in check. At 5 miles, Jared mentioned he'd loosened up. I agreed, and we found ourselves cruising along at a comfortable pace for the next several miles.

True to form...at around 9 miles, it got harder. I'm not sure what it is about this mileage. Give me 8, even 8.5, and I am happy. Tired, but happy, and floating on my runner's high. The fickle, fickle high, however, seems to abandon me between 9-11 miles EVERY TIME...and Sunday was no different, as it took all of my effort and the gentle haranguing of my beloved to keep me moving and motivated.

Still, with 2 miles to go, we were maintaining a comfortable cruise, and were nearing the last two, beautiful mile markers...

Less than one to go, and I looked up at Jared's comment to see it--a hill. A big hill. My Everest, and Jared's Mass Ave bridge. He put the screws to it, leaning into the hill like a lover, while I attached it angrily as a foe. We both reached the top, and as we rounded the corner, I saw the clock, ticking along at 2:01, the second invisible to me. I grabbed Jared's arm, and urged him to run, knowing we were so close to the thin, scraping edge of a PR, and unsure if we would make it.

He didn't question at all, taking off like a shot. I gritted my teeth, forcing myself to hold pace with my other half, as we pushed each other across the finish line in 2:01.36--about a minute faster than my last half. Next time, we plan to destroy the 2-hour barrier. Jared's caught the bug now, I think, and there'll be no stopping him...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Solitary 5.25

There's something wonderful about running with others, be it a friend or a lover...the reasons for this are myriad, and none of us are a stranger to them:

* Companionship: There is something great about spending time doing something difficult and/or de-stressing with a partner, someone also reaping the benefit of the run.

* Conversation: I can't deny it--I'm guilty of asking leading questions to get my running partner(s) to jabber away, thereby allowing me to save my breath for the effort of a run. Then again, I'm also guilty of shamelessly rambling away, having horded any news of interest, prepared only to share it while running.

* Competition: It would be too far to say that I am "racing" my running buddies. That aside, no one wants to be the first to back down, to say, "Do you...[gasp]...mind if we...slow down...[wheeze]for a bit?" Running with someone else pushes me further than I necessarily want to go, and I know that I am giving back the same.

But...ah. There is another kind of bliss in the solitude of running. A kind of bliss in the only sounds magnified in your lonely ears--cars cruising by, snatches of passing conversation, trees rustling in the wind, and the slap-slap of sneakers on pavement, road, and ramp.

I listened to these noises, to the chirping of the Walk sign that seems to take 5 minutes to come around, then is gone again before I can sprint across the intersection; to the rush of cars along Mass Ave. as I cruised along, slap-slapping my sneaks along; the excited yammering bark of two dogs, pulling at their leashes near my turnaround point, the Starbacks near the Rt. 60 intersections. I tuned in to car doors opening and closing, the sound of a woman's high heels in front of me, the popping crunch of her date's shoes as he bounded up the curb to walk at her side.

And then I was distracted--by smell. The smell of garlic, roasting meat, and all kinds of delicious, to be exact.

As I rounded the last curve, surprised to find myself at home so quickly, I mopped away the rivulet of sweat pooling along the bow of my upper lip.

Running alone is a gift, a wonderful thing, in that you again notice the details--the sounds, smells, feeling of speeding along. You notice the hitch in a random step, and can tune completely into your body, seeking with mental tendrils along each limb for sore muscles or joints, weak points, hot spots.

Is it so strange to think that each makes me appreciate the other all the more? That running with others makes me see anew the wonder of a solitary run? That running alone makes me yearn at the same time for company, for someone to share each step and moment with? It's an enigma. But it's a good one.

Side note: This Monday was the kickoff Dana-Farber meeting. Soon I'll be running on a weekly basis with friends of last year, and at last--I won't be one of the rookies.

See below for the official (and very large--do banks even take those?) check from the 2008 DFMC runners.

I know. It's tough to see. Let me help you.

The check says $4.65 million.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

11 Miles by the Numbers

Yesterday's long run was disgustingly tough....and I hate to get too into detail about tough runs. Instead, I will give you this run--by the numbers.

2: Weeks in a row we've seen our favorite blue heron sitting on the bank, staring out at the Charles. We've decided that, given our ever increasing level of relationship, we shall call him "George."

11: Long and slogging miles we ran yesterday. (Seriously, some days running is just so hard.)
53: Ceramic, concrete, porcelain, or metallic frogs observed and counted in yards.

1: Blocks the aforementioned frogs were observed in.

46: Frogs counted in one yard alone.

1: Singing/yodeling goat, as presented by an elderly British lady walking by Jared, whilst I was counting frogs.

3: Different Starbucks runs have ended at, in the same number of weeks.

2: Movies watched in our underwear after said 11-mile run (The Happening and Casino Royale).

6: Days until the Seacoast Half Marathon...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Well-Earned Rest

Friday: short run (3 miles) with Jared
Saturday: FitGirls event with Brenda and Sarah (more to come on that later)--probably not really a legitimate day of exercise.
Sunday: 9 miles with Jared
Monday: short run (3 miles) with Jared
Tuesday: hoops

And on the fifth, sixth, and yes, seventh day, she rested....

Off to bolt through 11 with my beloved now, though. Seems the eighth day is the charm:)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Run, Run, Run: Just Over 9 Miles Today, and Two Weeks to Seacoast

This morning, Jared and I slept sleeping an extra 45 minutes--the bonus of the day's planned mileage being with your other half is the undeniable wonderfulness of knowing that you CAN sleep that extra little bit--there's no one, outside of your own bed, that's waiting on you.

We were on the road by 9:15, walking the half block to turn left onto Mass Ave, where we began the run, Jared with a NetFlix mailing packet (28 Weeks Later) in hand, running in wait of the first mailbox.

We gamboled left down Rindge Ave, passing Jared's school, banking left again* up and over the Alewife Brook Parkway. A third turn (at last a right!) took us onto Concord Ave, merging into Fresh Pond Parkway, from which, for a short bit, we could see the fenced-off pond in question.

From there, we continued on Fresh Pond clear through to the Charles River, pausing periodically at stop lights or as needed to stretch. (I continue to be besieged by some light RAP early in the runs, though it shakes itself off by mile 3, and Jared is committed to ensuring his knee remains healthy and ITB trouble free.) At the Charles at last, we realized we'd achieved a nice, comfortable clip, with both of us running happy and strong. Around Harvard Square we evaded the Sunday morning pajama-clad couples, bicyclists, and fair-weather runners (flailing arms and legs everywhere) by crossing over a bridge to the Boston-side of the river, where we met with sites both wondrous and astonishing.

The first interesting avian sight was a giant stork-like bird, sitting stock-still just below the path. When I grabbed his shirt to point, Jared told me was a blue heron. The second sight of interest was another bird--a very large duck that seemed to have no head. (It was sleeping with its head tucked under a wing--it peeked up at us inquisitively after we stopped to stare, as if daring us to continue with our rude interruption of its well-earned rest.)

A quick dash up the Mass Ave bridge ramp (one of my favorite parts of running over there is speeding around the corners as though I am on a track), another pause to stretch some late kinks, and we were bolting off down Mass Ave toward home. And I do mean bolting--somewhere around MIT, we realized we'd picked up the pace. Significantly.

By Harvard Square, we were turning, dashing, angling to race around, in front of, next to the assorted denizens of Cambridge in a Frogger-like pattern. As we sprinted through the assorted square of Cambridge, we both realized we'd let loose the throttle, and were pushing and pulling each other along at full-stride--no small thing when you take into account that we combine into 12 feet 2 inches of running bodies.

At long last, Jared noted he could see Starbucks, a ten-minute walk from home, and the pre-planned end of today's run. We increased our speed even further, giving up any futile attempts at conversations as we pounded the pavement harder still, leaning into the pace, loving the pace, and secure in the happy knowledge that we wouldn't have to maintain it much longer.

Panting, legs aching, we skidded to a stop in front of the coffee shop. I noticed the eyes of a coffee drinker look through the glass windows at us, as we high-fived, and guzzled down Gatorade and water from my fuel belt's pockets. As we stood in the long line inside, I looked around and thought to myself that here were dozens of people who were just starting their days. I thought to myself again what a pleasure it is to run, what a perfect, perfect thing it is to feel the strength and speed of the human body, what a truly joyful thing it is to push and pull with someone else to challenge limits that only exist in the mind. And what a delicious, heady thing it is to treat yourself to a slow walk home with a hot coffee in your hand, next to the one you love.

Two weeks now to the Seacoast Half Marathon, where Team "Rock(y)ing the Coast" makes its debut. One more long training for Jared and I, with 11 next week--the longest he'll have ever run. Keep a hopeful, lucky thought out for us, that Jared's knee holds strong as it has so far, and that we have a great race in Portsmouth on November 9!

*They say two wrongs don't make a right. But three lefts does.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Two fairly standard runs this week with my beloved, as we careened around the river, at times startling the young and old with our sporadic turns and laughter. Jared's philosophy of bolting the last 1/4 mile+ across the Longfellow initially came as a surprise, complete with my gasping lungs as I heaved and dashed across the bridge, forced to extend to my full stride just to keep him within sight.

The first time this happened, I was baffled--why? Why is he kicking it in?! Last night was the second time, though, and I could feel my legs and lungs preparing as we neared the bridge. I mentioned to Jared that some days "It [running] just works." Somedays I can feel myself becoming stronger, can feel the blood thrumming under my skin, can feel the muscles of my legs lengthening with each stride, straining in anticipation of speed. It is as though there is an invisible fence pressing against my chest, and I am pushing against it. It is bound to break, and then I will bolt for freedom. (Unfortunately right after I told this to Jared I tripped over a tiny hill in the path--turns out the fence wasn't invisible, just very small.)

What I'm getting at is that I at last am READY TO RUN. I am ready to move, to turn my legs over, to force myself through the cold winter months and their long miles.

Today I meet with Fit Girls, a charity run by Sarah Nixon, a fellow DFMC'er--though able to (easily!) qualify for Boston every year, with her blistering pace. Fit Girls is
A fitness program for girls in 4th and 5th grade that uniquely combines training for a 5k race with reading and community outreach.

From what I've gathered after talking to Sarah, the books usually involve strong female heroines.

This brings me to the second major point of this blog--ladies, be a strong female heroine. We all have it in us--we are all able to lead by example, able to present the best of ourselves to the young women and girls of tomorrow, and show them that being a woman doesn't mean being weak, being feminine doesn't mean you can't be strong, mentally and physically.

I keep the statistics and write game reviews for a Thursday night women's basketball league. (In return, I receive a free gym membership, and my own league fees are paid for.) For the most part, the women that play there are great--they are classy, strong women with an obvious love of the game. This week, however, was different, with complaints about the reffing from both teams, and ultimately two technicals and a player being ejected from the game.

It was horribly depressing. I'm not trying to say I've never lost my temper playing ball (I have) or that I've never snapped off something at another player (I have), but I can honestly say I've never taken it to the level of personal insult. (Ex. "Hey, stop pushing me around so much" doesn't need to become, "You're ugly.")

Its our responsibility to be the role models of today, to teach the young what is, and is not, acceptable behavior on and off the court, on and off the track.

Just something to keep in mind.

Me? I plan to play the strong heroine, complete in winter performance tights and sneakers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why I Love Running Through Davis Square...

At 8:00 a.m. this morning, the alarm began its angry bleating, urging me to get myself and Jared up for a planned 7-miles.

Yes, the plan to cram for Seacoast on November 9 continues...

About to head over to the river, we realized we'd neglected to take into account today's other events on the Charles--most notably, the Head of the Charles--a two-day regatta featuring some of the best crew teams in the U.S.

Change of plans. I mapped a quick route, using my go-to site--the google pedometer hack. The route, a slight modification on Wednesday's 5.25(ish)-mile run with Brenda, took us through Davis Square...to a Starbucks.


Oh. Sweet. Black. Gold.

By the time the halfway point of the run came around, I realized we'd made a tactical error--even after warming up, it was cold. Cold like the middle of October tends to be, cold that reminds me of the sheer joy of a hot shower after a long run.

We finished with a bit of a push, the Starbucks in our sights.

A Pike's Place for me, a non-fat latte for Jared, and we enjoyed our 1/4-mile cool down with our hot drinks.

I leave you with this nugget of happiness from my day:

The Way I See It:
Love and Passion are the only things that you need to survive--the love and passion you feel to achieve something, to change the world, to "make things work." There are too many people who will try to tell you that there is more to it than this--that there is work to be done, people to appease, and plans to make. They are missing the core--love and passion. If you have something or someone that inspires these emotions, and I am lucky to have both of these, then you already have achieved more than many people will in their lifetime.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Learning A Thing Or Two...

Today, Sunday's delayed posting date...but at long last, I am sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee, and the time to tell about the last two runs.

Wednesday brought a crisp, cool night and a plan to run "5-ish" miles with Brenda. She arrived around 7:00 p.m. Jared, immersed in some work things, looked as though he was longing to join us as we headed out.

B and I started slow (she was stiff from ripping a ridiculous 1:52 at last week's BAA half marathon, I was just out of shape), before setting a nice cruising pace for the majority of the run. Chatting topics ranged from the mistakes of the past (both sad and hilarious) the romances of the present (also, strangely, often hilarious), and the assorted events of the future (one can only hope).

We cruised home through Dizzle Squizzle (see below), and bumped back out towards Porter to pick up some tasty libations--SmuttyNose Pumpkin Ale. I convinced B to stay for a brew, while we wait for Jared to return--he'd finished up and succumbed to the siren call of new sneakers and an open road. Upon arriving back home, he joined us for a delicious, cold beer.

And now, the things I learned on Wednesday's run, in the order I learned them:

1. Dizzle Squizzle (n.): Davis Square (For additional reference, see the Snoop Translator).

2. Rogue Ass Pain (RAP)--apparently I'm not alone in occasionally suffering from the affects of RAP--B also has often wondered where the strange pain in the can region originates from. I'm convinced that its worse after faster runs, thereby the cure is an obvious one--run slower:) Brenda agrees, but seems to be a dissenter regarding the cure. Ah well. I suppose I can keep my pace up and hope it goes away...sigh.

3. Garbage fart (n.): A fart of extreme rankness, i.e., a stink bomb of epic proportions. (Note: no one experienced one of these on the run; it simply came up in conversation. Seriously.)

4. Covered wagon (n.): The term used for when one party of a couple farts in bed, then pulls the covers over the head of his or her partner, thereby trapping said partner in a fart-filled cocoon. Often incorrectly referred to as the "Dutch Oven"--though those of Dutch ancestry KNOW that a Dutch Oven is, in fact, a large soup pan.)

5. A shocking fact about my heavy-metal-loving fiance:
He is a Prince superfan. Complete with the full lyrics and hipthrust.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Return of Dr. E-Lamp

A quick and dirty four with JRod last night, through the rough and tumbling 'hoods of Cambridge.

BUT. This came after a sly and sneakily worded (ok, sheer beggary) request to my favorite cousin to write another guest blog, before he heads into Marathon #2 this coming Sunday.

The Return of Dr. E-Lamp (Guest Blog #2)

Hey there, it’s me again! I was invited back to this blog because I am about to run the Denver Marathon on Sunday, October 19 (7am MT). This is my second marathon in five months. While that is a very long break for hardcore marathoners, it is a lot for intermediate runners like me.


I will be lucky to have a great support group for this marathon, and I’ve decided that should be the theme of this post. First of all, my parents will be driving 14 hours from North Dakota to cheer me on. An aunt and uncle will drive down 5 hours from Wyoming to see my parents and the run. I think my beautiful girlfriend Angie will come from Boulder to watch with her parents. Finally, I am hopeful that some of my local friends and family will brave the drive to downtown Denver.

For most people, competing in a marathon is the end result of months (or more) of preparation, dedication, and sacrifice. Some people can say that about any competitive race. In that way, I find it comparable to being recognized for an award, graduating, getting married, or performing. What else do these have in common besides perseverance? They mean more when shared with loved ones, especially those that shared in the preparation.

It is important to have people there when accomplishing something. That’s why I am guilty of sending out emails and text messages to dozens of people to entice them into coming. Even if 20 people are unable to make it, it means a lot to have the 4 people there who can.

In my last marathon, the course was closed until mile 17. After about 5 miles, I started a countdown to the point where I’d be able to see my parents on the course. The countdown was about all I was thinking about from mile 10 on until I saw them. I bet the other 2,999 entrants all had similar thoughts.

The things I am looking forward to most Sunday: 1) being done; 2) seeing my family and giving my mom and Angie sweaty hugs during the run; 3) eating at Rodizio afterward.

I’ll end with this: go watch a run. Even if you don’t personally know the athletes. To the runners, everyone alongside the course is there for them. I recommend a marathon, of course, the perfect balance of being grueling yet short enough to actually attend (at the risk of undermining everything else I wrote, even spouses don’t want to sit through an ultra). Besides, entrants in grueling events need the most support.

Great to be here again!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Putting My Man to Work

After a lovely Friday night of wild dateliness (Cheescake Factory for dinner, then Burn After Reading move--weird, but entertaining), we'd agreed to go for a 6-mile run first thing Saturday.

But come 7:30 Saturday morning, the alarm seemed a shrill and terrible beast, incarnate with screaming evil. I did what I usually do in these cases, and turned the alarm off, snuggling back into the warm cocoon of covers. By 8:30, we were up, and the tasks of the day still waiting. By 9:00, Jared was off to fix a coworker's Internet while I read romance over two and a half cups of coffee. (It was gripping. He was an assassin, about to retire from his playboy ways. She was a feisty redhead who happened to own a funeral home.) By noon, I was painting more of our yellowish house trim (thankfully done at last) and moping about whether the run was, after all, to be, while he dug the backyard up and laid each heavy patio tile. By 4:00, he'd laid all but one tile that hadn't survived the trip from Home Depot.

Next up? Apple picking and pumpkins. Our mission turned into apples and one glorious pumpkin from a scenic roadside stand, where I voiced my disappointment about the lack of trees holding the apples. Jared, stoic, nodded, and gently reminded me he'd given me a full preview of the farmstand.

Back to Home Depot for a tile, plus a $20 splurge on a tiny (but scarily efficient) vacuum cleaner. Home, where I painted one baby blue window a clean shade of white, while Jared dug up dirt to lay the last tile.

My tired man at last inside-- still sweet as pie and wanting me to be happy, changing into his running clothes, despite cramped hands and a stiff back.

We parked at Shaws, knowing there was still work to do--a birthday present (luckily nearby Pier 1 was open until 9:00 p.m., just enough time to squeeze in some miles) and groceries. While smoking the run, we discussed...what else? Food. And Beer.

Upon arriving back at Pier 1 after what turned out to be more like 4.5 miles, Jared headed to the liquor store to grab a six-pack while I shopped for a birthday present for a friend. After wandering about the store for at least 30 minutes (and making several inappropriate jokes about underage children workers in foreign factories, I began to suspect that my beloved had headed to the grocery store without me.

Not so. I found him in the parking lot, taking a much-deserved rest. Sitting in the car approximately one block from home. Drinking a cold Harp.

What's a girl to do but join?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

An Early Thursday with B, and the New Blog Look

I've decided that even though it stinks, there's something to be said about getting up before dawn to get your run in--you're essentially done for the day. The problem is that if you get a late start, you can't run as far, as you have a timeline for the day already. Also, once you're up that early, you don't want to "waste" having lost all that glorious sleep--meaning even if the weather is crappy you'll run in it.

That's basically how my run with Brenda went on Thursday morning. A late start in the rain meant just over 3 miles rather than 5, in soggy, drizzly weather. Kudos to B, though, who didn't complain as we bumbled our way through my dark and mysterious new neighborhood, as I used babble to keep her from noticing our meandering course.

Still, we made it home in one piece, after some quality conversation. I promise I'll actually map a route next time...

Next up, 6 (or so) with Jared as we start a post-vacation cram for the Seacoast Half in November...

In another news, you've surely noticed the "new look" of See Abby Run! I thought a new marathon year deserved a bit of a makeover, but would love to hear your thoughts--check on the poll in the left sidebar, and please leave a comment letting me know how you think things could be improved!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Shoes, shoes, and shoes

Though I admit to being passionate about many things (books, running, doing a job well, JRod, cheese, zombie movies, 30s love songs, hoops, Sam Adams Octoberfest...oh, how the list goes on), there is one item that my tomboy/girl self adores, especially at this time of year.

Shoes.

My gleaming new Nike AirMax Moto 5's (yes, its my third pair of this shoe) are, quite simply, a delicious treat. The soothing blue detailing has been replaced with a zesty near-red pink. That's right. Pink. And I'm not ashamed. (With a new pair of red laces, they're seriously bad ass, anyway.)

More exciting, I am using this pair as a test--sans orthotics, that is. The short history: A nasty case of plantar fascitis my sophomore year of college began with me dreading the foot pain getting out of bed, going up stairs, playing ball, and well, walking a whole lot. At the end of the year I started wearing corrective orthotics, which helped, though likely not nearly as much as my hard-won acceptance and understanding that the body if a machine--like any other, sometimes it breaks down. Unlike modern machines though, the body is self-healing, and if you listen to it, even just a little, it will tell you what it needs. Understanding this affects my running, and the rest of my life today, and allows me to stay healthy and happy.

Shoes...

But back to the shoes. Two pairs ago (my first Air Max's, and the shoes I trained for the 2008 marathon in), a nice salesman at Marathon Sports was watching me walk around the store, and suddenly asked "Why the orthotics?" He went on to say that if I'd ever had a foot imbalance it appeared to have corrected itself.

Still, fear prevailed, and I kept wearing my increasingly worn set (this was not the original set from college, of course).

This time, on new, neutral, cushiony shoes, I'm easing myself into it. A toe in the water if you will--just over 2 miles on Sunday, a little over 3 on Monday--and so far, so good. I am FREE!

Shoes?

The second shoes referred to in the title are my beloved's. Having caved to my good influence, Jared began running as I tapered for the marathon. He was promptly rewarded with ITB Syndrome, and near the middle of the summer, after weeks of PT, rolling, and stretching, was forced to give up running. After six weeks, he was raring to come back, after purchasing himself a new pair o' shoes. He joined me on the two aforementioned short runs--and for him also, so far, so good. (In fact, he one-upped me by banging out a quick 2 miles today, whereas I drove home from work and ate half a chocolate bar.) Again, though--new shoes=new freedom. Freedom to be active an agile, and more importantly, gain back some confidence.

These shoes rule...

Shoes #3: Every year, I buy myself a birthday gift, a ridiculously overpriced, completely impractical pair of shoes. They may be snakeskin stilettos (2006), frilly black dancing-style shoes (also 2006; a good year), or houndstooth-patterned heels (2007), or they may be an as-yet unpurchased pair of halfboots. This is the lone pair of shoes, per year, that I buy whatever catches my eye. Ridiculously high and obviously going to be uncomfortable and tough to walk in? Doesn't matter if they're pretty. Doesn't match with anything I own? My lust for them only increases.

I mention this now because my birthday is a little over a month away. Which means its time to start window-shopping for the perfect pair.



This year, I'm seriously considering plaid. Or something in the electric color family. Hmm...must discuss this with Brenda during tomorrow's early morning 5.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Running to...the altar??


This past week, a week of vacation in a tropical paradise, was a momentous one, full of firsts:

My first:
Trip to Puerto Rico
Chance to swim in the azure waters of the Caribbean
Time snorkeling
Chance to meet Jared's friends Jose and Elisabeth
Sailing expedition
Swim in a bioluminescent bay, every drop of water sparkling like a diamond

But the most important thing of this past week, a first and only, and by far the most exciting--Jared and I got engaged last Saturday :D

No plans to set a date, so no actual "running to the altar," but this was far too exciting a development not to broadcast it all about the blue nowhere and phone lines (and once to a checkout girl at the grocery store, who obviously didn't speak English).

And also very exciting (though I admit it to be secondary to the first, something for which I think I can be forgiven), today received the news that I'll be back at the Boston Marathon in 2009.

See you there, fellow runners. I'll be the one in running shoes, still smiling ear to ear with my incredible luck at landing such an incredible man.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Once a runner? Or something...


Though many of you may already know this, there are surely some who don't--and I delight in telling you. The truth is...in my past life, I was not a runner (at least not in the sense that I use the term now), I was...a basketball player.

Lately, my parents have been cutting out clippings from the local newspaper, notes and blurbs on my past glory days--that's right, from the "10 Years Ago Today!" Sports section. Sigh...I have become that woman. I can't quite decide if I am painfully aged and decrepit, or feel just a little bit badass for having made the highlights a few times. (Totally the second, by the way.)

Saturday, I banged out a solid 12 miles with Brenda--her quest to train for the BAA half continues, as my penchant for self-abuse, it seems, as I am, quite simply, doing the training work, without nary a race scheduled until November.

Sunday, my regular womens' basketball league, a scrappy affair that began at 7:30. The post player? Well, let's just say that it was easier for me to push back when I was less a runner, and more a basketball player--with the extra 20 pounds of muscle to prove it.

BUT. It was a feisty, uber-competitive guard who took to the halfcourt floor with me in teh second half. End result? Well, I think I got the ball. I KNOW I got one massive bruise on my right knee, and some serious floor burn on my left. )Seriously. It's a rec league. What the hell was I thinking?!)

Jared arrived just after the opening minutes, and snapped some soon-to-be-classic images of the epic battle in the wall ball arena. In the end, we got the game, and I got a high-five from my sweetheart, plus a home-cooked meal after.

SIDE NOTE: One of the girls on the other team, Tara Kelly, is also running the Seacoast Half in November. Looks like I'm not the only basketball player come runner.