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.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Q: Does one far, slow run coupled with one short, fast run a week make you faster?

A: Totally beside the point. Running for me is about pleasure. Sure it's hard (REALLY hard), but it's also soothing, calming, and somehow invigorating. Don't ask me how--it's the great paradox.

Today's Blog, a Q&A.

Saturday's fresh cool morning began with me sneaking away from my warm and slumbering JRod--off to meet Brenda for 11 at 7...that is, 11 miles, beginning at 7:00 a.m. En route to my car (the poor, dilapidated Green Monster, complete with new AC Compressor, dome light, and brake lights), I realized I had spent nearly every cent to my name on said car.

Q: What's a runner to do, when faced with the knowledge that sheer calamity, in the form of an unfilled parking meter, faces her?
A: Use the spare key given to her by warm, slumbering (and thankfully unconscious) JRod to gain entry to his treasure-filled ashtray--a veritable cache of quarters.

$2.25 richer, pocket jingling merrily, I continued on to Brenda's, snagging a great parking spot right on the running route. By tucking the extra quarter, plus one from the Green Monster's cupholder, into my hidden shorts pocket, I was ready for the loop past the car--in case the run went slow, and more than 2 hours in length.

Brenda and I regaled each other for miles--her telling me about work, romance, and life in general, me blathering on about the ongoing battle to paint our apartment trim.

Q: Can trim possibly be a worse color than an aged white turned pale vanilla custard by the passage of time?
A: Yes. (As exhibited by our baby blue bedroom windows and floorboards.)

While running the flat miles of Judith's 5:30 a.m. route, I reflected on how we remember the people that others tell us about. I have very clear pictures of people in Jared's life that I have never met--take Jared's mentor Shelia, who is going to be honored next month at the college that Jared went to. Keep in mind, I have never met this woman--and Jared's never described her physical appearance to me. However, I can picture her in my mind--she is a woman who Jared describes as changing his life, turning him around, helping him to find a purpose, to find himself. I picture her as a lover of books (she IS the director of the University Library and Media Center, as well as a professor, after all), maybe with spectacles. I picture her as a woman of fierce intellect, with a keen gaze, but a soft heart. I hear her voice with an edge of wit, and touch of quirky humor. Do I know if any of this is actually no? Nope. (LATE ADDENDUM: Jared found this picture for me. Turns out she's blond, no glasses. See woman in middle. Note, however, that there are in fact books all about!)

Q: When my friend starts seeing someone, and mentions us running together a lot, what would be the easiest, most prevalent way that he remembers me?
A: The "girl who pooped in the pizzeria." (Note: Brenda didn't actually TELL him this. Apparently my reputation, via blogger, preceded me.)

The first 7-mile-ish loop completed, we fed the Monster's meter and carried on toward the Museum of Science, for the next 4+ miles. It was a beautiful day for running, and by now, even before 9:00 a.m. on a weekend, the people of Boston had begun venturing out on the Charles, walking, running, and shambling next to dogs.

Q: When you've decided you really want a dog, but you really can't afford one at the moment, and you aren't sure what breed you want, what do you do?
A: You make a list of breeds, plan to research them, and plan to window shop them for a year. You do not change your mind every time you see the next breed, and fall in love with it. (Sorry, Jared. I just like them all.)

Q: When you've discovered you have that sort of temperament, what's the worst that could happen?
A: You run across three beautiful specimens of their respective breeds, thereby throwing your inner self into turmoil.

11 miles, a fawn-colored Great Dane (ignore strange woman above--she came with the dog, compliments of Google images), a gorgeous, primarily black German Shepard, and one slightly chubby Burmese Mountain Dog later, I'd picked up Jared.

Q: What's the best course of action when your beloved immediately teases you about having raided his quarter stash?
A: Mentally damning his random morning errand to the car, smile sweetly, give him a kiss, and tell him you brought him a latte.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Running Hair and There

This past Thursday, I trotted out for a quick run (total mileage somewhere between 4 and 4.5).

With an ulterior motive.

Having moved to Cambridge recently, and having already decided that the hike to Andover for a definitively overpriced coif was bordering on ridiculous, I was faced with a momentous decision--a new salon. It needed to be many things--a salon where the following requirements were meet (Ladies, I know you'll agree):

1. The stylist to cut my hair must have her (or his) own, at least somewhat dashing cut. (And no strange highlighting.)
2. The prices must be reasonable--we've all been there--the trim for $65...
3. It needed to be walking distance from my house. (If possible, at least!)
4. The stylist need to be understanding, and perhaps somewhat visionary, as she/he was to be faced with an Amazon blond/brunette with wildly overgrown hair and no sense of what to do with it. Possession of pruning shears perhaps a plus.

And free beverages and/or fruit/cookies would be a definite bonus.

Thus I set out in my tired Nike Motos, trotting up and down Mass Ave, in search of a salon.

The first I ran into, out of breath, sweaty, and my irascible mop covered with the trusted, if faded, Red Sox cap, was Novita Salon. A woman with nicely arranged blond hair (layered, and full-bodies, but not big, as humidity is known to make my own) looked at me in slight confusion, until I panted " I just moved to the neighborhood..." She quickly sized up the situation, and announced, "I would LOVE to cut your hair. Here's my card." Good woman.

Card in trusty inside running shorts pocket, I continued on down the street. The next salon I found was entitled simply "M". Immediately upon entering, I wondered if I had fallen into a special kind of hell--the kind reserved for sorority girls and women who'd at one time or another made fun of another woman's haircut. Several older women with short, spiked haircuts stood inside, along with one shorter man in a very tight, sleeveless red t-shirt--I assume to be the obligatory salon 'mo. The ladies were, however, very nice, and dug a card from a dusty box below the counter. As I left, I noticed a giant sparkling fairy in the corner of the window.

A few doors down, I stumbled into Floyd's Barbershop. I knew by the blunt, dyed black bangs and messy bun of the first stylist I saw (is that a studded bracelet?) that I had officially ventured too close to Harvard Square. I snatched a card, and scurried out.

Acknowledging that any salons further from home would likely be too hip for this jive cat, I turned around to check the other side of the street. Sadly, only one salon on that side--Judy Jetson hair. I can't say that I took in too much of this salon. After shoving my way past the heavy castle dungeon style door (lift with the legs, Helga!), I was too tired to do more than glance around.

The next day, I made the call--and at 3:45 p.m. yesterday, I sauntered back home with my snazzy new 'do--courtesy of the fabulous Susan at Novita. Here is a photo of the full effect upon immediately waking up this morning. Be aware that it may not be entirely accurate, as I did go to sleep with it wet.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...Part Deux

Ok, I cracked.

I'm filling out the marathon application for Dana-Farber now.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

Ok, I admit it.

Last week I received email notification that its time to do or die--to sign up for the 2009 Boston Marathon.

And I hate to say it, folks, but I've decided to pass this year.

I know, I know. All this talk. But I've decided to spend the spring banging out several halfs, and the Derry Boston Prep, a 16-miler often equipped with horrendous January weather. I am also leaning toward a fall marathon--preferably local. Maybe Marine Corps in D.C.? Might be a lot of fun to run by the monuments with a bunch of Marines shouting encouragement...

All of this said, the thought remains in me that I'll be missing out on a lot of things--the camaraderie, the sense of doing something great. So I'll leave you with this, patient and forgiving blog readers, please, please, continue to donate your time and any charitable $$ to the cause of your choice, and continue to be a part of something greater. We CAN make a difference. A small contribution on the parts of many can change the world.

And if Dana-Farber is your charity of choice, please check out Brenda's marathon blog at marathonbrenda.blogspot.com. She should have a link up to donate to Dana-Farber sometime around mid-October. You can also follow her quest to run a faster marathon as she raises money to continue the fight to find a cure.

Running Like a Girl

Yesterday, rain nipped my plan to join Kate for 14-mile jaunt...the downpour continued most of the day. With time constraints, and a hectic day planned, I squeezed in nothing more than a ripping 2 miles on a treadmill. Hey, at least it was a fast 2 miles...

Today was supposed to be more of the same. But the gods of running and football granted us a clear, cool-ish morning.

Brenda picked me up at 7:30, and we were off to Carlisle, MA, for the Montrail Run Like a Girl 8K--about five miles, in case you'd rather not do the math (4.97, to be exact). Over the river, and through the woods, up and down some short, steep hills we ran, tripping through rooted, rocky areas, sliding occasionally in the mud...and for me at least, loving every minute.
There is something about the way my body reacts to trail running that is sheerly euphoric. I am fatigued, out of breath, concentrating mightily on every step, careful not to trip, slide, roll, or fall, dodging rocks, roots, and once, a fallen tree. There is something about running in these conditions, the lingering smell of rain clinging to the trees, that makes me feel alert and alive, like my body is a thrumming, living, breathing machine--that I am strong, and agile, like a gazelle loping along a wide plain in long-legged strides, or a huntress after prey.

We finished a very tough course in a thoroughly respectable 48:50. With my grace 5 seconds (we started behind the finish line), that puts us at a 9:48 split.

Pretty damn good for a tough, hilly trail course. I'll take it at least. :)