Thursday, March 31, 2005

Girl on the wing

Distance: 3 miles
Speed: 11 minutes/mile
Weight: 120 lbs.
Music: Oh, Inverted World by The Shins

After enjoying the great outdoors on Tuesday, running on the treadmill seemed like a chore. I got bored really quickly, and I felt like it was more difficult to find my natural pace than it was on Kelly Drive. I think treadmills with all of their buttons and measurements can make you more likely to try to force yourself to run at a predetermined speed rather than "listening to your body." I hate how new-agey that sounds, but it's true. Sort of like weight/body image -- it's better to go by how you feel, how your clothes fit, etc., than by the number on the scale.

Which brings me to the number on the scale. I know I've said before that I'm not running to lose weight, and I'm really not. I'm doing it because I want to be physically fit, because I want to take preventive measures against health problems that have plagued my family, and because in some weird way, I'm starting to enjoy it. That said, WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH GAINING A POUND?

I'm more active now than I've been in years, possibly ever. I know genetics are working against me. I'm short, pear-shaped, and come from a long line of Italian and German women whose love of pasta and potatoes have made them more closely resemble Kate Smith than Kate Hudson. And I am the first to admit that while I try to stick to a relatively healthy diet most of the time, I definitely consume my share of fries, cheese, and beer. But I'm also running between 10 and 12 miles a week, I walk to and from work every day, and I live in a house that forces me to run up and down a godforsaken spiral staircase to go from room to room. What gives?

I'm glad I'm doing something to benefit my overall health. But improving my resting heart rate doesn't make my ass fit into my jeans any better.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I hate Blogger.

I wrote a nice, long post about my first run in a week, complete with dramatic stories about potential abductions and flowery descriptions of the Philly skyline at night, but the always craptastic Blogger deleted it when I tried to publish it.

I can't bring myself to retype it. Sorry.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

And it feels like I've got something to prove.

Distance: 5 miles
Speed: 12 minutes/mile
Weight: 119 lbs.
Music: Whip-Smart by Liz Phair

I somehow forced myself to run for an hour straight today. It felt strangely euphoric, but that may just be the lack of oxygen. Whatever it is, it's cheaper than beer, so I'm all for it. Not that I'm giving up beer any time soon. Anyway, I'm halfway to my 10 mile goal. Jinkies!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Gravity rides everything.

Distance: 3 miles
Speed: 10.48 minutes/mile
Weight: 119
Music: The Moon & Antarctica by Modest Mouse

Our wedding vows didn't include the "honor and obey" part, but maybe they should have had something in there saying, "Listen to your husband's advice once in a while. He's sometimes right."

On the Higdon plan, Thursday's run is always 3 miles. Since it's a shorter run (compared to 4 miles, anyway), I thought I'd be able to pick up the pace a bit. Todd warned me not to try to increase my speed too quickly. I didn't listen and decided there was no reason I couldn't bump my speed from 5.5 mph (my average 3 mile speed) to 6.0 mph. No big, right?

Wrong. After barely making it through the first mile at 6.0 mph, I had to decrease my speed to 5.7 and then eventually to 5.5. Turns out Todd isn't just another pretty face.

Happy St. Patrick's day, you drunken fools.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

We are all all we've done.

Distance: 4 miles
Speed: 11.30 minutes/mile
Weight: 119
Music: Analphabetapolothology by Cap'n Jazz

Awwwwwwwwww kitty kitty. Today was my second 4-mile run this week, and I was a little apprehensive about it. To my surprise, it went super smoothly (smoovly?). In fact, it went so smoothly that I had enough energy to do sprint work for the last 3 minutes. That makes me feel a little less freaked out about having to run 5 miles on Sunday. My pal Hal says I can do it, so I guess I can.

Which brings me to my biggest revelation about running thus far: anyone (barring a serious physical ailment) can do it. It's true. I am so not a runner. At just over 5' with short legs and a love of cheese and beer, I'm not even built for running. But all of those hokey inspirational sayings you saw on middle school bulletin board posters are true, at least as far as running is concerned. It really does come down to making your brain make your legs move even when your brain thinks your lungs are going to explode. I mean if Niki and Patrice's bodies are capable of giving birth, mine should at least be able to run a measly 10 miles, right?

Our hot water has returned. I will never ever take a hot shower for granted again.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Just to keep ourselves at least enough to carry on

Distance: 4 miles
Speed: 11.54 minutes/mile
Weight: 118 lbs.
Music: In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

Four miles is the farthest I've ever run in one... run. Since I struggled with one mile when I first started running, I almost can't believe I was able to run four today. For the first time, finishing the BSR seems like it might be feasible.

On a less elated note, I had a nightmare last night in which I was running down Broad Street completely by myself, because everyone else had finished the race hours before. The official word from the BSR website is:

"An agreement with the City of Philadelphia and its Police Department requires that all participants run a sub-15 minute per mile pace to allow the City to reopen Broad Street in a timely manner. All runners not keeping this pace will be directed to the sidewalks to allow traffic to re-open."

So to all of you who've been preaching slow and steady, I'll be expecting you to wait around for me until noon waving giant foam hands as I shuffle my way down the sidewalk to the Naval Yard. Thanks.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bottle of Smoke

Distance: 3.25 miles
Speed: 10.77 minutes/mile
Weight: 119 lbs.
Music: If I Should Fall From Grace With God by The Pogues

It's been a full week since my last run, so I feared the worst. Surprisingly, it went okay. Not great, but I was able to add a quarter mile and increase my speed without feeling like I was going to die at the end of the run, so hooray for progress, however minimal.


1. While talking about running during dinner at the New Wave, Todd suggested that I shouldn't try to increase my speed just yet. Apparently, I should focus on mileage until I get to 5 miles, and then slowly work on getting faster. Where's the fun in that?

2. I have to acknowledge the possibility that I may not be able to run 10 miles by May 1st. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop training or even consider not participating in the race; it just means I'm going to try to be realistic, so I'm not completely deflated if things don't go the way I hope.

3. If no one is around, and any Rocky movie happens to be on TV, I will watch it.

On my way back from the gym, I saw my neighbor Heather standing in her doorway. She also shares a wall with Van's place (the scene of Sunday's fire), and her house sustained significant smoke damage. Her walls and all of her belongings are covered in soot, and the smell is bad enough that she's staying with her brother while her home is being cleaned. Talking with Heather made me feel very lucky (again) that no one was hurt and that Todd and I didn't have any real damage to our place.

Thanks to all of you who sent emails expressing concern for our well-being. Now go out and buy yourself an emergency escape ladder and batteries for your smoke detector, and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Fire! Flood! Famine!

Distance: 0 miles
Speed: N/A
Weight: ?
Music: Smoke alarms, jackhammers, grumbly bellies

I'm ashamed to admit that I've now missed two scheduled runs in a row, but I feel I have some pretty good excuses. Here's the scoop:

In the wee hours of Sunday morning (5:30 a.m., to be exact), I woke up with a wicked cough. After trying the usual trick of rolling over onto my other side and hoping it would go away with no success, I decided to grab a glass of water from the bathroom (which is now on the same floor as our room, since we swapped the bedroom and the office -- whee!) and swung my legs out of bed. At that exact moment I heard a loud beeping noise and opened my puffy eyes to find that the room was full of smoke.

After a five-second panicked pause, I jumped up and shook Todd awake. After a few more moments of panic, we determined that A) there was definitely a fire and B) we needed to get the hell out of there. Since we live in a trinity (if you're not from Philly, a trinity is a tiny house consisting of one room on each of three floors joined by a small, winding staircase, although most have a fourth floor -- the dreaded basement kitchen, so I guess it's a bit of a misnomer), we needed to run down the spiral staircase to get out, which was a little scary since the smoke was thick, and we had no idea where the fire was. I peeked up to the top floor, and seeing that it wasn't ablaze, grabbed my coat. Todd checked out the first floor and the kitchen and also saw no flames. Confused, scared, and groggy, we stumbled outside and down the narrow pathway that leads from our house to the street.

Once we got out there we saw firemen, police, and several of our neighbors. We also saw that Van's house, which shares a wall with ours, was on fire. Turns out that if one rowhome is on fire, all the adjoining ones can fill with smoke. Who knew? In any case, the firemen managed to contain the fire relatively quickly, and since it was the front wall of Van's house that was on fire, we didn't sustain any damage. More importantly, Van is a cab driver who doesn't usually get home from his shift until 6:30 a.m. or so and therefore wasn't home. Long story short, no one was injured, and the damage could have been a lot worse.

Aside from fires being scary and potentially deadly and whatnot, it seems my hyper-sensitive sinuses didn't take well to inhaling smoke for however brief a period, so I spent all of Sunday congested, sneezing, and with a killer sinus headache. Our house also smelled like a camp fire and not in a good way, so Jen and Jon were kind enough to let us camp out at their place. Needless to say, my Sunday run didn't happen.

Which brings us to Monday. Since our kitchen is in our basement, a leaky basement is a bigger deal for us than it would be if we only used it for storing random junk. This is especially true, since the water has caused lovely spots of mold to form on our walls. Eew. After contacting several waterproofing companies who upon seeing our tiny house on our tiny street, somehow never managed to call us back, we finally found a company who agreed to do the job for less than a billion dollars. Unfortunately, the job is installing a French drain on two walls, and that entails removing everything on said walls, including our washer, dryer, hot water heater, and refrigerator. Since the work was scheduled to begin Tuesday, we drained the hot water heater (a sloooooooow process) Monday night. So on top of our house smelling like a BBQ pit, we haven't had hot water since Monday evening. Good times.

I worked from home Tuesday so I could be on hand while the B-Dry boyz did the job, and it was an eye-opening experience, to say the least. As is the nature of trinities, I could hear every word they said (along with the drywall sawing, jackhammering, and clomping up and down the stairs), even though I was two stories above them. Not only did they sing along with everything that came on the radio (from classic rock to Celine Dion), but they also bitched at length about our house, the staircase, the snow, and the "weird fireplace smell." Don't get me wrong -- these guys work REALLY hard, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to haul dozens of buckets of dirt and rock up our spiral staircase, but when I offered to shovel the steps outside, they informed me that I'd just be in the way. Fine.

Anyway, the job which was supposed to be finished yesterday turned out to be bigger than they anticipated, so around 3 p.m. they informed me that they'd have to come back to finish today. Fine. So they left, and I went down to survey the damage. The fact of the matter is that our kitchen is completely inaccessible for the time being. All of the appliances, the table, and everything else are pushed to one side and covered with a giant tarp. There's what looks like a muddy moat around the perimeter of the two sides of the kitchen from which all the appliances, the table, and everything else were moved, and there are assorted jackhammers, buckets, and shovels filling what little space is left. Fine.

They came back this morning saying it should only take a few more hours to finish the job. I heaved a huge sigh of relief thinking we'd have our kitchen, laundry, and hot water back tonight. Then the burly gentleman went on to say that the concrete would take about three days to dry and that we couldn't move anything on top of it until then. WHAT??? Three days? Are you frigging kidding me?

He wasn't. So it looks like we'll have to suck it up until Saturday or Sunday. I keep trying to remind myself that in the general scheme of things, this isn't a big deal, that there are people who don't even have hot water or a washer and drier or a kitchen or food. That thought made me feel a little better as I walked to Tamar's house in 25° weather at 7 a.m. this morning to take a shower.

Thursday, it's back to the running schedule. Unless, of course, a swarm of locusts infests our house. In that case, all bets are off.

Friday, March 04, 2005

I give up.

Distance: 3 miles
Speed: 10.95 minutes/mile
Weight: 120 lbs.
Music: MUSH by Leatherface

Just kidding. Today's* run went well, and MUSH has been my favorite running CD so far. The gym was pretty empty, aside from the squeaking, groaning man, who was there squeaking and groaning with great abandon. Looking forward to Sunday's run.

*This was actually supposed to be Thursday's run, but Jen O.'s birthday festivities got a little out of hand Wednesday night. Or maybe I got a little out of hand. In any case, whiskey happened. Enough said.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

5, 4, 3, 2, 1... let's run.

Distance: 2 miles
Speed: 10.94 minutes/mile
Weight: 119 lbs.
Music: Doolittle by The Pixies

Does anyone else remember "Let's Run" from Sesame Street? It was a short bit that showed all of these kids running with that song in the background. Anyone? Bueller?

Back in the saddle today. It felt good. I improved my speed again, in spite of not getting my favorite treadmill. And I saw Julia at the gym. Julia's swell, but I'm jealous of her iPod. Really jealous.

If you're reading this on March 2nd, you should visit Jen's blog and post a happy birthday comment. Happy birthday, Jenny O.!