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 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.


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.


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!


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.