December 11 is Take a Blogger to Lunch Day!

I’m making up this national holiday on the spot! Because I think we bloggers should take the time to a) actually meet in person and b) treat each other to a tasty and nutritious lunch.

On December 11 I will be meeting up with Pigtails Flying (whom I feel lucky to now count as a flesh and blood friend, but who started out as a “virtual friend” in the most tenuous and potentially useless sense of the term) and, dammit, I’ve decided that I’m going to treat her to lunch. Because I like her and would like to show my appreciation in this way.

December 11th’s a good day for this, incidentally, because that’s also National Noodle Ring Day. Just one of hundreds of bizarre American holidays.

Let’s all make the blogging world a friendlier, realer and more delicious place. What fellow blogger will you take to lunch next month?

Okay, okay, I’ll consult with an expert

I posted recently about how I’ve stopped weighing myself. Many moons ago, I posted about being a fat, fast runner. I thought I could live with my situation, but I’ve decided I can’t. Why? Because over the past month I’ve put on a ton of muscle from the increased frequency (and loads) of weight work, and also from all the pool running. But, as per usual, I have lost little to no fat in the process.

Don’t get me wrong. I am more or less happy with the way I look. Although now my clothes are starting not to fit anymore, which was the catalyst for doing a Google search. I’m actually getting bigger. I now have both fat and muscular bulk to contend with. You know what people say about not worrying that if you’re a woman you’ll bulk up when you do resistance training? Well, I’m bulking up.

I will be going to see a woman with lots of degrees who specializes in working with endurance athletes. She’s a triathlete herself. At least in our initial emails, I gather that the issue may not be one of “calories in vs. out” but rather “what kinds of calories and when.” Her fees are not outrageous. Her CV is impressive. It’s worth it to me to find out if I’m just metabolically screwed by nature of my genes or if I can actually do something about this situation. At the very least, going to see her for a few months will be cheaper than buying an entire new wardrobe.

And let’s scratch Napa while we’re at it…

I’m bagging the plans to run the Napa Marathon. It’s just way too close. Even if I am able to start training hard again on the roads in a few weeks, that only gives me about 11 weeks to train. I am wary of reinjuring myself — or extending healing of the current injury — by rushing things.

I’ve already flown all the way out to the West Coast to run two horrible marathons. If I do it a third time, then I am officially an idiot. I am also much more likely to give up.

Now I’m looking for an early-to-mid-April race that isn’t Boston. No race is going to be perfect in terms of course and conditions, so I’m going to stop looking for it. I’ll pick what looks like the best race available during that time period, train for the course, and hope for decent weather.

Noteworthy Blogs: Well, I’m TRYING to run…

The sometime commenter (and author of my highlighted quote over to the left), Cris/Darkwave, has started a blog. For now, it’s chronicling her journey as an injured runner. Seriously injured. Meaning no running at all. She’s an even more impressive pool runner than I, clocking runs of up to three hours in the pool.

I’ve come to know Cris virtually over the past year+ through a weekly training thread on LetsRun.com. I’ve never met her in person, but I hope to one day. Her blog offers her trademark intelligence, good humor and athletic determination. It’s also chock full of tips and observations on being an injured runner who’s relegated to running in water for the time being.

Check it out here: Well, I’m TRYING to run…

Snappy dialogue

Warning: Only Vaguely Tangentially Running-Related Post

When more conventional people learn that Jonathan and I work together all day, their unimaginative response is usually something along the lines of, “Ugh. How can you stand spending all that time together? I’d kill my <wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend> if I had to see <her/him/it> all day long.”

I find this kind of attitude unfathomable. The fact of the matter is, I love the fact that we are together for the vast majority of the time. For one thing, we don’t need cell phones. That saves at least $60 a month. Plus we really like each other.

Years ago, before I convinced Jonathan to torpedo whatever meager professional prospects he had in favor of going the self-employment route with me, I hated the way we lived. We got up at an unholy hour, fought over the bathroom, ironed things, went on some miserable commute to jobs we didn’t like, worked into the evening, commuted home, wolfed down either a substandard dinner (remember the horrible vomit-in-a-jar product Chicken Tonight, the one with about 8,000 milligrams of sodium per serving? We ate a lot of that) or something that took so long to cook that we were eating at 9:30 PM, spent a few waking hours with each other zoned out in front of the television, then collapsed and did it all over again.

It was terrible. It was, alas, how many, many people live. I couldn’t accept it. Now things are different and better.

Although we’re in the same room for hours a day, we can go for many of those hours not interacting except to request that the other person make tea or see if the cat wants to come in or find out what UPS just dropped on the doorstep.

We go together to the gym for cross-training, although we don’t train together much, except for the pool. I always enjoy the drive there and back together; sometimes we talk a lot and sometimes we don’t talk at all. Today we went on a half hour run. Although once we’re both running normally again, we won’t run together much anymore. Our paces are usually different plus I worry that I’m too distracted a running partner, and I like the alone time. But while it’s a struggle I like having a running compadre.

Are we freaks to enjoy one another’s company to such a great extent? I don’t think so. I think we’re incredibly lucky. One reason is because we get to engage in dialogue like this on a daily basis. I’d be forced to have amusing conversations with myself if we didn’t. Jonathan would probably forget how to speak altogether.

———-

“Your quads are getting really muscular.”

“What? How can you tell? You’re in back of me.”

“I can see them flaring out when you walk.”

“I have bell-bottomed quads.”

———-

“Can you take out chicken thighs to defrost while you’re downstairs?”

“One or two?”

“One or two what?”

“Is a package of chicken for one of us?”

“No. One package is one meal.”

“One person’s meal?”

“No. One meal for both of us! Jesus.”

———-

“That’s a cute sweater. You should wear it more often.”

“Does it make you want to have sex with me?”

———-

Concluding a work-related mater in the evening…

“Okay, that’s all I needed. You can go downstairs and start drinking or whatever you were planning on doing now.”

[Other person takes a sip of original commenter's beer.]

“Not my beer! I said ‘go’ and drink. Not ‘stay and drink my drink.’”

———-

“I have on my to do list ‘clean out gutters.’”

“Darling, I have just one criterion for when to clean out the gutters. And that is when the leaves have stopped falling.”

“I notice that you often call me ‘darling’ when you’re about to say something stroppy.”

———-

If you’ve met either of us for more than 15 minutes, it’s pretty easy to guess who’s who in these bits of dialogue. Which is why I didn’t bother labeling them.

Obligatory tangential running comment: we ran 3 miles today at a glacial (10:30-11:00) pace. On pavement.  I had some adductor and hamstring pain toward the end, but it went away within a half an hour post-run. Jonathan’s foot is in better shape than my pelvis is, so he can run for an hour.  I am hoping to be up to an hour, on pavement, about a week from now. But he can feel scar tissue in his foot and thinks he needs to go back to Ortho 1 to get it broken up. Big drag. Y dinero grande.

I felt like crap on the run, but I think that’s owing to eating pizza, PMS and having done weightwork and a significant bike workout yesterday afternoon. I also just feel huge these days — not fat, but muscular. That’s because I am. I still have my stubborn layer of fat, but underneath it is concrete. The concrete is expanding. Nothing fits anymore, not even my sports bras, such is my aggressively spreading girth of musculature. It’s annoying to haul around. I think I should seek work as a bouncer or mob enforcer.

Going horizontal for the holidays

Warning: Non-Running Post

Well, I am fried. It’s Thanksgiving and I’m glad I’m not going anywhere this year, or making anything. This week has featured multiple bouts of insomnia, computer problems, lots of boring exercise and stressful attempts to get some major work done on our crumbling domicile.

I embark on a major home improvement project an average of once every 7 years. That’s the level of frequency I can stand. Jonathan generally handles “repairs” (meaning hiring people to fix the minor things in our house that break or otherwise cease to function); we’ll team up for “maintenance” (tree trimming and branch-crashed-on-roof removal is a good example); I generally handle “improvements.” The repair and maintenance jobs are more frequent, but typically small. The improvement jobs are big and expensive.

In the past I have gone about pursuing a home improvement project like the overachieving responsibility whore that I was until quite recently: I would research at least three outfits, have them all come over, ask for bids from each that featured a “range of options,” get multiple references from each and actually check them. Then make the agonizing decision about whom to hire. It took forever.

I don’t do that anymore. Now I go on Service Magic and Angie’s List and look for people who aren’t obviously total screwups. I make a list of three. I invite one over and talk to them. I tell them what I want and make clear that I’m not made of money. I don’t involve Jonathan if at all possible. This is because, inevitably, the moment he turns up I cease to exist. I think the sexism is probably unconscious, but it’s there and it’s annoying as hell. Then he ends up dealing with the improver from that moment on. Resentment is fomented, through no fault of my own. So he generally stays upstairs while I handle the negotiation, contracts and scheduling. If I don’t like the improvement outfit after talking with them, I move on to the second one.

Our house has 16 aluminum windows that are approximately 20 years old. Half of them have broken mechanisms, meaning they behave like guillotines if you try to open them. Some don’t even close properly at the top, so we have cold air flowing in and warm air flowing out. Our energy bills are no joke.

I knew that buying replacement windows would be challenging. I don’t know how I knew this — it just seemed logical. Windows are a commodity, like cars or appliances, so a zillion companies are competing to get the most they can from me, the buyer of their commodity. My goal in this purchase was basically not to get ass raped, figuratively speaking. I just want windows that aren’t crap installed by people who won’t damage my house. I know — really high expectations. They should be easy to meet!

Salesguy shows up yesterday with his samples, special deals, binders with cross-section illustrations of window products, positive surveys from recent customers, blah blah blah. Was he any worse than any of the other window salesguys? I doubt it. Another one who was scheduled to show up two hours after his appointment (and they were in danger of meeting each other, so long did this sales transaction threaten to take…) has declared bankruptcy. Another company gave me a ridiculously low quote over the phone, no details. Fuck it. I hired this guy’s company. The official measurer comes by tomorrow to remeasure and place the window order. Then the windows take two days to install. I just want this done before we’re in the deep freeze of January and February.

The other project is a redoing of our front walk, front step, metal railings and porch roof supports, and resurface our back patio. This was a project I didn’t expect to be as awful as the window experience. That’s because my experience with the more “craftsmeny” projects has generally been good. I find that guys (and they are always guys: come on, girls of today, go into the trades! I should have.) who actually do the work themselves (electricians, plumbers and now, in this case, masons) are into it and want to do a good job. They are also careful about pricing things since the ramifications of getting things wrong are not good — pissed off customer, possibly canceled contract, and (I think this is most significant) direct conflict with the customer. A self-employed craftsman does not have the Teflon assholishness of your average salesperson or customer service person, who will generally not give two shits if you are unhappy.

So I think I found a good guy on the masonry front. I’m awaiting details and numbers concerning the the railing situation. He needs to contract that out — another thing I liked about him: he sticks to his set of core competencies, which is very narrow, and has other specialists (in this case an ironworks company) handle the things he doesn’t do.

Now I’m lying on the couch, watching Tivo’d episodes of “What Not To Wear,” a show I watch with no small measure of hateful fascination. They choose the same outfits for everyone: polyester slacks, print shirt, chunky jewelry, thin leather jacket, pointy toed heels and an over-sized leather satchel the color of baby diarrhea. When the women with low self-esteem meet with Ted the hair guy, treacly piano music plays. At the big Look At Me Party, the screaming freak friends talk about how the subject is “exuding and celebrating a new feminine energy that is powerful and beautiful.” Plus I think Carmindy is actually a tranny.

Today may hold a trip to the gym, but I’m reserving judgment on that until a little later in the morning. I have to go out to buy booze, though, so I may as well hit the gym. Such is my lifestyle. Conflicted much? I have lots of interesting things to read. Our pizzerias are open for business this evening. I think it’s going to be a good holiday!

I am thankful that I am not going to be climbing in the car to go sit in traffic. I am thankful that I am not cooking a 20 lb. anything today. I am thankful that I am not being felt up at the airport; I can stay at home for that.

Anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope you’re doing what you want to be doing today, because I sure am.

Road Tested: Yurbuds

The nice people at Yurbuds.com offered to send me free Yurbuds in exchange for a review. In fact, they offered to send me two. I gave the freebie code to a friend who spends enormous amounts of time with earbuds jammed into her ears. She says she’s using them, so I’m guessing they’ve worked out. She’s also a runner, although I don’t know if she’s tried running with them or not.

What are Yurbuds? They are in-ear headphones (“earbuds”) which include rubberized covers that are designed to hold the earbuds in place. The Yurbuds people send you earbuds to go with the rubberized covers, but you can remove those and slip them over your favorite earbuds easily enough.

I’ve worn them twice so far. First for my epic bike workout and then again today on a run. In both cases, they did the job — they stayed in place despite jostling. You have to put them in a certain way, though. You sort of jam them into your ear canals, then twist the headphones so the cords are at a 45 degree angle, pointing toward your chin. Maybe they’d get slippery when very wet, but I doubt it. I like to think they might offer some measure of water resistance if I got caught out in the rain.

I would describe these as “semi-customized.” While they are not molded to your particular ears, the company does make an attempt to send you the appropriate size. They do this by having you take a picture of your own ear (just one will do), send it to them, and they pick your size and send you a pair. I am a 5, the smallest size. I guess I have tiny ears.

I can’t see these things wearing out and I figure that when my current earbuds eventually die, I can just move the Yurbuds to the next set. After the Pearl Izumi XC shoes, the Yurbuds are the best blogger freebie I’ve received yet.

Fear the bike. Respect the bike.

Coach Sandra sent me a series of stationary bike workouts about a month ago that she says she got from Joan Benoit-Samuelson. Joanie used these back in the 1980s when she was just starting to establish her status as Patron Saint of Injured Marathoners. Now I’m trying to schedule an interview with Ms. Samuelson so I can 1) talk to her about how she trains today by comparison to back then and 2) actually share these workouts if she’ll give the okay.

I was given a free issue of Running Woman — or Women’s Running(?) — magazine. I can’t remember the name, but it was bland and featured an equally bland, heavily photo-retouched non-runner model on the cover with huge tits and it’s downstairs and I am upstairs and don’t feel like walking downstairs for reasons I’m getting to. In that issue was an article by Joanie about tempo runs. In it, she states exactly how to do the various runs. So I’m hoping she won’t have a problem with sharing these workouts with the world.

So, back to those workouts (and the reason I don’t want to go downstairs again today). I received three workouts. Two of them are what I could call reasonable. I was not worried about them, having done similar stuff on my own already. But the third one I was actually afraid to try. It takes about 96 minutes, 40 of which consist of the warm-up and cool-down. I’ll leave it at that.

I did the workout yesterday. The spin bikes at the gym only allow you to “program” an hour. So I had to do two 50 minute sessions, ending the second one 4 minutes early. A guy got on the bike next to me when I was 35 minutes into my first session, then looked mildly alarmed when I finished that one and sweatily punched in another 50 minutes. I could hear his thoughts: “Head case.” He left long before I was done. He probably thinks I’m still there.

It was hard, but not as bad as I thought it would be. At least not until today, 24 hours later. I did lower body weight work for an hour this morning. That was hard, but okay. Then I got into the pool to do a 45 minute session (this is now considered a short session for me, but we had a meeting with a client later on so I had to keep things brief). My plan was to do 15 minutes of half-pool length intervals (you “run” all out for about 30 seconds, then rest on the turns for about 10-15 seconds). I warmed up for 15 minutes and launched into my first interval. My legs were dead. I have started doing pool runs after weight work, so I don’t expect them to be peppy. But this was different. I could not do anything hard. I gave up and just ran easy for another 10 minutes and wrote off the workout.

That was one sneaky bike workout. It took 24 hours to show just what a pummeling it packed.

I will try again in the pool tomorrow morning. But I would not be surprised if I have trouble. My legs are still fatigued now, 36 hours later. I run again tomorrow afternoon, on grass, for 30 minutes. I’m sure I can manage that. I think.

In other news, Joe Garland is making a noble effort to revive the Ekiden in New York (his older post about that is here; old dreams die hard, it seems). I am trying to help, since for all my bitching about the More Marathon, I still love the idea of people racing multiple loops in the park. Just not 9,000 people. I think 150 or so is a good number.

I am also attempting to plan some good shows for the Runners Round Table podcast in the new year. My first planned show is a January 5 hour on eating disorders and exercise addiction. I’m no expert, but the people I’ve invited on are. I have other ideas for shows, but I want to see how they pan out in terms of getting good guests before I blather about them here.

Impossible. Possible.

The Joe Kleinerman 10K is closed. I wouldn’t be able to run it anyway. Still, damn, even the winter NYRR races fill up quickly now.

The next possibility for me is the Ted Corbitt 15K. This used to be call the Hot Chocolate 15K, but I like that they reclaimed this one to honor the father of ultrarunning.

I am in no shape to race, but I need to run like a normal runner again soon. I am running 2-3 times a week around a soccer/baseball field right now. It takes about 2 minutes to circle it. Running for 30 minutes, well, do the math. I’ll run Tuesday and Friday of this week, then move to every other day starting next. Provided I have no lingering pain or other obvious problems, I want to be back running every day by around December 12th.

I just want to throw on some tights and run around the park on December 19th. No racing because, frankly, I’m afraid of recracking my pelvis or reinflaming my adductor tendon with 9.3 fast miles on hilly pavement. But an easy run around the park, with people, not caring about pace but just running because I can — I would like that very much. This is truly all I want for Christmas.

The slacker marathon

Here’s a brand new race: The Thanksgiving Marathon. It’s a trail run in Van Cortlandt Park on Thanksgiving morning. You can run a 10K, a half marathon, a marathon, a marathon relay. Or whatever. No one cares. No one’s timing you. You will have no bib. There are no winners. There are no awards. The course is marked with flour. It’s totally free.

If you finish, you’ll get a commemorative fork to use later in the day.

How fucking awesome it this? It’s pretty fucking awesome.

Please run this race so they do it again next year. Because I really want to run it next year.

It's forking awesome.

In other areas of New York racing, we had a lively discussion this evening on the NY Running Podcast. Among other topics, Steve of NYCRuns told us about a boutique marathon in Brooklyn that he’s helping to organize. We pondered the pros and cons of a second New York Marathon in the spring. Many of us plugged the amazing (and less crowded, and often cheaper) racing scene available outside of Manhattan, in Rockland, Northern Westchester, New Jersey, Long Island and Connectiticut. And Joe of RunWestchester proposed a club-based Ekiden in Central Park. This last idea is something I could get behind. Who’s in?

This podcast is for you, New York area runners. We’re aiming to make it a weekly thing (although we’re taking next week off for the holiday). Help us make it interesting and relevant by lending your ideas and voices.

Links:

NY Running on TalkShoe

The New York Running Podcast Page

Discussion thread for upcoming NY Running podcast topics on NYCRuns

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