Category Archives: Observations

Marshmallow teeth tooth apple treats

What time is it? Tooth hurty.

Marshmallow teeth tooth apple treats

Do these horrify you as much as they do me?

Oh, the irony, it almost kills.  Last night while eating an apple, I cracked my tooth.  This morning I had my first (but probably not last) root canal, and I need to get a crown asap.  In the meantime, the tooth-doctor said not to eat any crunchy foods (no nuts, no carrots, no crunchy salads even), stick to soft foods (rice, eggs, pasta), and to chew on the good side of my mouth as much as possible (although she said it’s surprisingly difficult).  Drinking Nutella straight from the jar is a-ok!

 

Then I was the weirdo patient and asked if I could eat pizza while running tomorrow.  To her credit she took my question seriously (almost too seriously), and gave me the ok to eat pizza tomorrow but not to attempt it “competitively.”  (I felt like I became a “crazy patient” story with this question, and that maybe she only took it deadly seriously to make me feel even crazier.)

 

So, on the eve of the Pizza Run, I am mouth injured.  MOUTH INJURED.  I never thought it could happen to me.  If there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s eating, and if there’s another thing I’m good at, it’s injuring myself, but I never thought I was better at injuring myself than eating.  But I will soldier through this like the patriot I am, and I will eat that pizza (not competitively), and I will finish those two miles and three slices, even if I have to run on one foot and chew on one side of my mouth!

 

As for those marshmallow peanut butter apple treats pictured above, basically I was looking for a picture of a tooth to include for the post, then I found this “recipe,” and since it’s almost Halloween I thought I’d share it instead of boring clipart of a tooth.  You’re supposed to use mini-marshmallows but I didn’t have those, and red apples for the “lips,” but I didn’t have those either, so my version is even more horrific than it’s supposed to be.  Plus it reminds me of the devil that cracked my tooth in the first place, so it’s horrifyingly full circle.

 

This cracked tooth thing is totally a true story, even though it sounds like I made it up to cover any eating inadequacies.  The further truth is I had no eating inadequacies until this very moment, but I still would have finished back-of-the-pack in the Pizza Run due to running inadequacies, of which I have many.  Share your dental problems in the comments!

Good run bad run

Race Theory #2 – Good Race, Bad Race

Good run bad run

At least this ends on a happy note.

Yesterday I shared with you my Race Theory #1.  Today I share with you my second race theory – that races (or significant runs) alternate between good and bad.  That is, if you have a really good race or long training run, your next race or run will be bad, and vice versa.

 

The theory seems to be intuitive in the sense that if you push hard during a run, by going fast or long or both, your next effort might not be as successful since you’re still recovering.  But I’ve found that it goes beyond what it should in terms of recovery.  If I have a really lame last long run before a marathon, even with a three-week taper afterwards, the marathon will go more smoothly than when my last long run is perfect.  It seems to be true whether the reason for my lame run is due to heat or digestive issues or something more serious like injury or fitness.

 

One reason I might feel like I cycle good-bad is that simply having this theory will make me notice these things, but I also think it’s because I have a very short-term memory for running.  If I have a bad, hard run, the next run will seem easy and good by comparison.  Then for the next run I’ll only remember that good run and I’ll feel like this particular run is a real slog, and why can’t I seem to ever catch my breath?  Then the next run I’ll expect to feel like an overheated sloth, but it’s actually not so bad, actually this is really great, this is why I run!  And then the next run I’ll head out all cheery until I’m faced with the specter of death after only half a mile and jesus why is this so hard and does the air feel extra heavy today?  Wash, rinse, repeat.

 

I shared this theory with a couple friends several months ago, and I think I’ve almost semi-convinced them of this good race/bad race theory.  Now we’re all looking to tank a run or race before our next big effort, and tanking a run is something at which I’m pretty expert.  My heartburn run this past weekend is clearly preparing me for the Pizza Run this Saturday, and I’m sure to have an extra-Blerchy run before Beat the Blerch.  What sort of terrible run will I have before Chicago?  Or does all of 2014 count?

 

Do you have any race theories?  Will you be watching the Men’s Final of the US Open tonight?  Are you still enjoying the Song of the Summer “Fancy” in September?  Share in the comments!

6 8 13 16 26.2

Race Theory #1 – 2, 4, 6, 8, What Do We Appreciate? Running!

6 8 13 16 26.2

Logic.

I have a couple of weird race theories (literally two).  The first concerns the distance I need to be able to run to be able to finish a marathon.  It goes:  If I can run 6 miles, I can run 8.  If I can run 8, I can run 13.  If I can run 13, I can run 16.  And if I can run 16, I can finish a marathon.  Using the transitive property I learned in high school math, one can conclude that if I can run 6 miles I can run a marathon.

 

Ok, I don’t really believe that.  But I do feel like if I simply hit those target numbers in-between (8, 13, 16), I can finish a full marathon.  Emphasis on finish, since I’m not talking about speed or time goals or anything.  I never aim to only hit those numbers, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually only hit those numbers (e.g., I don’t think I’ve ever only done 4 weeks of training for a marathon), but those are my psychological milestones.  Eighteen miles is definitely the icing on the cake, but I don’t know if I’ll be hitting 18 this time, and I’ve run a couple of marathons without ever hitting 18 (but hitting 16 more than once).

 

Last week (actually this Tuesday morning) I ran 8 of the slowest, sweatiest miles of my life.  Today I ran 10 miles, almost as slowly but not as agonizingly hot.  That means that I think finishing the half at Beat the Blerch should be completely do-able, and Chicago is looking pretty good (knock wood).  Luckily, the next race on my book is the Pizza Run this Saturday, in which you run about 2 miles and eat 3 slices of pizza – my kind of race.  Unluckily, I suffered from some serious heartburn during my run today, which was really strange because I didn’t eat anything particularly unusual beforehand (multiple ice cream treats and chocolates is not unusual, ok?), and I never, ever get heartburn, so maybe it was just my body getting me ready for any potential problems at the Pizza Run.  I better practice eating pizza this week just in case.

 

 

I’ll share my second race theory tomorrow.

 

 

As always, never base your training on my terrible example, unless you’re using it as what not to do.  At any rate, how’s your training/recovery going?  Do you think we’ve reached the pinnacle of reality dating TV shows this summer?  Are you disturbed that the hottest weather we’ve gotten this year has been in September?  Share in the comments!

50 States Marathon Club hat and countdown shirt

Race Shirts, 50 States Gear, & Haircuts

50 States Marathon Club hat and countdown shirt

My 50 States Marathon Club gear arrived!

Last night was “wear your race shirt to class” night at NYRR’s running class.  Well, not really, but it seemed like over half of the room was wearing some type of race shirt, from last weekend’s 10K in Central Park to Hamptons Marathon shirts, it was like a fashion show for race sponsors.

 

I had to make a tough decision last night – Continue reading

Being a Runner (Again)?

Lancaster soft caramels

I fell victim to the incessant Lancaster caramel ads on the TV.  Now I have a big bag of sticky caramels and no boy in a stairwell to whom I can feed them.

After weeks and months of injury and Polar Vortices and general laziness, I finally ran multiple times this week (for multiple miles each time), and I finally feel like a runner again.*

 

When did you start calling yourself a runner?  Was it when you could run over a mile without stopping?  After your first 5K race?  When you consistently ran a couple times a week?  When you bought your first “running outfit”?  When other people started calling you a runner?  Or do you still not call yourself a runner?

 

I can’t remember the exact moment I started calling myself a runner, but I think it was well after my first marathon.  Even while I was training for that marathon, I wasn’t really a runner, I was just somebody training for a marathon.  And even after I completed those 26.2 miles, I was still just somebody who ran for an inadvisably long time one day – I wasn’t a real runner.

 

My friend who ran my first marathon with me downplayed her own accomplishment, too.  Not long after finishing our race, I called her a marathoner.  She quickly said no, that she was just someone who ran a marathon, not a real marathoner.  A real marathoner, she explained, was someone who has run at least three marathons.  I thought about her words often in the years that followed, and the day I completed my third marathon I was so excited to join the “real marathoner” club.

 

But when I don’t run for a while, even if it’s because I injured myself running, I feel like I can’t call myself a runner anymore (nor, oftentimes, can I actually run).  So identifying myself as a runner is a delicate thing, a phrase usually followed by a knock on wood.

 

Identifying myself as a runner in a group of people that might include someone who used to or currently can run much faster than me is also fraught with anxiety.  Does that person who used to run cross country in high school silently mock my current 11 minute mile pace?  Can that dude who just ran a 5K last weekend in 17 minutes even comprehend why it would take me 35 minutes to run the same distance?  And how could I possibly call myself a runner if I am so terrible at said activity that I’m almost a “brisk walker,” and so much fatter than a typical runner that it looks like I may have just eaten one?

 

Calling yourself a runner, whether it’s just in your head or proudly announced to the world, is a brave, potentially fleeting thing.  (Certainly more fleeting than me running…)  I encourage everyone to self-identify as a runner, size and speed be damned.  Because runners are the best, and who wouldn’t want to be in such a cool club?  There aren’t a lot of sports that specifically design food to be eaten during the actual sporting activity.  Plus you get to justify shopping at Lululemon and taking naps, because hey, you ran at some point this month.  And don’t worry about your speed, I’ll bring up the rear.

 

P.S. Those caramels are just ok.  The ad made me think I’d be blowing glitter off records, kicking my striped stocking feet over the top of my couch, and dancing with my hipster friends in skinny jeans, but they’re actually just really sticky soft caramels that taste like so-so caramels, and my jeans are still just jeans… but maybe feel tighter?  Nevermind, it works!

 

*Unless you are faster than me, or run more often than me, in which case you might disagree.  I know how to knit, but I wouldn’t call myself a knitter, either.  Also, congrats to all of you who just finished the LA Marathon!  Share your tales of woe and triumph in the comments!

Little Rock Marathon weather prediction 2014

Little Rock Forecast Doesn’t Look Good

Little Rock Marathon weather prediction 2014

Temps in the 20s to 50s with an 80% chance of rain and thunder? I don’t like those odds…

Lest you think the winter weather gods aren’t out to get us all, they’re expected to bring rain and thunder to Little Rock for Sunday’s marathon.  I’ve been closely watching the forecast since Monday, repeatedly refreshing my weather.com page in hopes it will suddenly change to “partly cloudy with no chance of terrifying thunder and icy rain,” but to no avail.

 

If I don’t cancel the hotel reservation within 48 hours of my stay, I’ll incur a fee, so basically I have to decide tonight if I’m willing to risk walking 26.2 miles (potentially unsuccessfully) in the rain to knock off Arkansas and claim my 2.5 pound medal.  If I were healthy and trained, it would be a no-brainer.  I survived 26 miles of rain in Vermont last year (although it was in late May instead of yucky February), but there was no thunder and not (too) much walking.

 

Putting the physical strain and time considerations aside, I’ve been mostly considering the financial loss involved.  If I don’t go, I’ll have wasted the entry fee ($90 plus $25 for VIP pavilion) and airfare ($340).  If I go and don’t finish the marathon, I’ll have wasted that plus taxi fare (times four – to and from both airports, estimated at $150 total), hotel fees ($430 – yes, I’m staying at a fancy hotel), meals (estimated $125 total), and the inevitable thing or things I buy at the expo or airport (anywhere from $10 to $200 if I’m insane).  Oh, but I will get that free t-shirt for flying out there and picking it up.

 

But, after many days of deliberation, I’ve decided to go ahead and go to Little Rock this weekend.  Will I finish the marathon?  Maybe, maybe not.  But at the very least I’ll come back with a story to tell, even if that story is I pulled the plug after 4 miles and ate chocolates in a fancy hotel room.

 

Would you go to Little Rock under these conditions?  Do you know anyone who could do a reasonable impersonation of me on race day?  What candy bar goes best with wet misery?  Share in the comments!

New Garmin 620 & Weekend at Mount Snow

20140224-123645.jpg

This picture sums up the overall ambiance of the Snow Lake Lodge at Mount Snow, Vermont.

Just got back from a fun, non-running weekend at Mount Snow, Vermont. Although the hotel at which we stayed (pictured above) was less than luxurious, my friend and I met a lot of great people and I did not injure myself with my terrible snowboarding, so overall the weekend was a solid win.

 

Today I went for a 5-mile “long” run in Central Park with my new Garmin 620 (!!), and despite some worrisome knee pain that cropped up after a walk break at mile 2.5, I managed to finish the lower loop without much problem and with a big smile on my face by the end.  It was so nice to be outside in the sunshine, running in my favorite park, especially after such a long absence.  I’m stretching and knocking on wood that I’ll feel ok the rest of the week, and that I’ll manage to pull off the seemingly impossible this weekend and finish the Little Rock Marathon despite persistent injuries & essentially zero training (13 total miles logged in the last 9 weeks, including today’s 5 miles).

 

More on the Garmin 620 later, but my first impression is super positive.  It found the satellites almost instantly (astonishingly faster than my old Garmin 110, which didn’t start tracking me until over 1/3 of a mile had passed) and its touchscreen was very responsive (with or without my gloves).  I look forward to learning more about its features and live-tracking abilities.  If you’d like to learn more about the Garmin 620 or 220, check out this crazily detailed review here.

 

Were you also in Vermont this past weekend?  Are you enjoying the brief break from the Polar Vortex?  Are you interested in a gently used, perfectly functional Garmin 110?  Share in the comments!

Hey baby, slow down so I can pick you up - NYC Marathon sign

Watching the NYC Marathon

Hey baby, slow down so I can pick you up - NYC Marathon sign

The “winning” sign of my three signs.

Congratulations to all the NYC Marathon finishers today – you looked great out there!

 

Geoffrey Mutai and Stanley Biwott leading the race at mile 21.5

Geoffrey Mutai and Stanley Biwott leading the race at mile 21.5.  Mutai went on to win!  Also, they are as fast as they look.

After watching the first couple hours of coverage on TV, I put on every article of hot pink clothing I could and made my way to the course with my three giant signs and 8 bags of candy.  I arrived between miles 21 and 22 just after the lead women ran by, but I got settled in time to see the elite men fly past… and then 5 hours of everyone else.

 

Yep, I cheered for 5 full hours and passed out all 8 bags of candy and a giant baggie of cut up bagels.  By the time I pulled the plug, my hands were cramped and I couldn’t feel my toes.  But it was great!  The best moments were when I could see a serious runner read my sign and then smile with the realization.  I also had several runners (usually women) say I was a lifesaver because of the chocolate and bagels.

 

Show us your Tata Consultancy Services sign

I really liked my “risque” pun sign, but people didn’t seem to get the joke. Maybe I jumped the gun and people will get it next year when TCS is the named sponsor?

I was worried security would prevent me from getting close enough to the course but it was fine.  The entire course was lined with blue “do not cross – police line” tape, but you could push up against it as long as you were still on the sidewalk and not on the course.  The police were definitely present, but they did not hassle me as I passed food to the runners (I purposely did not carry a backpack today).  Happily, the experience was not much different from what it was 7 years ago.  I do recommend watching along a less-congested area of the course (like Harlem) if you want more personal interaction with the runners and an easy front-row spot.  Next time, however, I will wear warmer clothing and bring even more food (and buy Halloween candy before Halloween, since drugstores don’t seem to stock enough for sales anymore).

 

I also got to see three of my five friends who were running today (only because they called out to me – it’s a lot easier to tell people where you’ll stand and what you’ll wear rather than find the runner in a sea of 47,000 runners).  I’m sorry I missed you other two!  I’ll try again next year if you do!

 

Today reminded me how fun it is to cheer for a marathon.  I definitely would (and will) cheer again even if I don’t know anyone running.  A marathon is a really happy atmosphere, and doubly happy when you’re a spectator and don’t have to run the thing.  During most of the MDI Marathon I was looking forward to my chance to stand still and hold a bowl of candy as my next marathon participation.

 

Now I’m almost feeling a post-race letdown as if I actually ran it.  Luckily I have a real marathon in less than a week, so I can funnel any longing to run into that.  I have only run twice since MDI – three miles the Friday after the race, and three miles yesterday – so it’s an understatement to say I’m not prepared, but I’m changing my approach to the race so it’ll still be enjoyable (I hope).  I’ll post more about that later.  For now, I’m going to relish the steam heat in my apartment and eat the candy I stashed away before the race.  Congrats again to everyone involved in the NYC Marathon!

 

Did you run or watch the NYC Marathon today?  Share in the comments!  Subscribers, visit the site for three more photos, if you’re curious.  

Finished Ragnar ADK – Update on the Finish from the Road

Where's the finish of Ragnar ADK

Found the finish of Ragnar ADK

Team Breaking Ragnar just finished our first Ragnar relay, and boy are our arms tired. Some brief thoughts before I pass out (more from a peanut M&M coma than fatigue right now).

 

  • It wasn’t as exhausting as I thought it would be. Granted, I never had to drive or do any heavy navigating (forever bless my teammates hearts for doing those jobs), but right now, after running 18 miles over 31 hours, I’m fairly amped up, and even when I had to wake up at 3 am to get ready to run again (after closing my eyes after midnight), I wasn’t groggy or feeling too terribly bad. It might all hit me tomorrow after I do get some sleep tonight, but for now I feel surprisingly great.
  • I never wanted to take a shower. I thought my skin would be literally itching for one, but I never was dying for a shower. I always changed immediately after my runs (using the magical “Chawel” changing towel – more on that in future posts), and I used a lot of baby wipes, but once I was in dry clothes I felt refreshed and had no desire to subject myself to school gym showers between running legs. Since van 1 has finished, however, I have already taken two showers and noticed some pretty bad chafing/skin irritation on my neck and arms, so I’m not sure if that’s only from my ill-fitting reflective vest (which rubbed my neck) and heat rash from the Breaking Bad-themed yellow hazmat suit I wore at the finish (very, very, very warm and 100% not breathable) or if it was a lack-of-shower thing, but the next time I do a Ragnar without those two things I’ll find out!
  • I already want to do another Ragnar. I had such a good time this weekend running, cheering for my team and other teams, eating junk food, seeing beautiful scenery, and chatting the ear off my van-mates, plus learning so much about how to more comfortably do a Ragnar (including the fact that 70% of the “must pack” items were totally unnecessary – I’ll tell you which ones in a future post), that I’m ready to sign up for my next one today. We’ll see what the real damage was to my body tomorrow, so it might just be a temporary insanity sleep-deprived desire right now, but I really loved (almost) every minute of it. Now if I can just convince the rest of my team…
  • The race was extremely well-organized and all the volunteers and staff deserve a standing ovation while we can still give them one. It has yet again raised the bar on my race expectations and standards, so good luck to future marathons – I’ll be judging how you organize a measly 26.2 miles (compared to almost 200) with an even more critical eye now.
  • I’m so glad we had a fun theme for our team – it totally made my weekend to see people taking pictures of our van (and our underwear-clad Walter White) and smile and laugh (and very occasionally squeal with delight) as we passed out bags of “blue meth.” Not everyone got it, of course, but making even a few people happier and even more excited for Sunday’s finale was great. And if there were an individual prize for costume at RagnarADK, it would have to go to our Walt. Three legs (including the toughest “Ragnar” hill leg) in the same button-down and underwear and he didn’t even smell bad. Magic, I tell ya.
  • I don’t think I had any cell service for about 80% or more of the course. The best for RagnarADK seemed to be Verizon, followed by T-Mobile, then AT&T, and then very distantly in a “my phone only works as a camera” type way, was my carrier, Sprint. All too often, none of our phones worked. Obviously it’ll depend on where you do your Ragnar, but I’d make sure your team has people with multiple carriers (including one of each kind in each van), or invest in some incredibly high-powered walkie-talkies that work over miles instead of line-of-sight. I had no way to communicate with my team for basically the entire race, but luckily other people were able to coordinate between vans, otherwise exchanges would have been chaos (our estimated times were way off). And luckily I never had an accident or needed to call in anything during my runs, because again my phone only worked as a camera (which I did use, stopping to take pictures during my legs, much to the chagrin of my van-mates).

 

Ok, this was supposed to be brief but as you can see I’m clearly still on a sugar high, but I’ll close things off for now. I’ll do a full race recap later, plus an update to the essential packing list and other tips and advice for those running a Ragnar. Till then, I’ll just say I’ve had more fun this weekend than I expected or hoped, and I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow with locked knees, covered in a rash. Because that would cut into my Ragnar-running time.

 

For all my Ragnar ADK coverage, find my on the road posts here and finishing post here, recaps of Leg 1Leg 2, and Leg 3,  my original Ragnar packing list, and my updated Ragnar Packing List.   If you just want a one-page, unannotated Ragnar Packing list in PDF, you can find it here.

 

Want to run the next Ragnar with me? Share in the comments!

Ragnar ADK – Update from the Road

Ragnar ADK Starting line

Ragnar ADK Starting Line

Van 1 of team Breaking Ragnar just finished our first leg(s) and have successfully handed off to Van 2. Some quick thoughts about my first leg and the experience so far –

  • Time is flying – I thought there would be downtime between runners but basically we just race to support the runner and then the next exchange.
  • Everyone is running their legs faster than anticipated because we’re all so excited
  • It’s beautiful up here this time of year
  • Road kill smells really really bad up close
  • Other teams are very friendly and overall it’s been a lot of fun so far
  • It’s a constant battle to keep the van clean/organized
  • Radio stations in upstate NY tend to be all country
  • I thought I’d want a shower by now but baby wipes and changing into clean clothes has made shower dreams distant. But ask me after my second leg.
  • It’s about 50/50 on people who know the show (or rather details about the show) – but those who do seem to love our theme and especially our very brave runner who is running all his legs as Walt White/Heisenberg in tighty-whities, green button down, and glasses

More to come later!

 

For all my Ragnar ADK coverage, find my on the road posts here and finishing post here, recaps of Leg 1Leg 2, and Leg 3,  my original Ragnar packing list, and my updated Ragnar Packing List.   If you just want a one-page, unannotated Ragnar Packing list in PDF, you can find it here.