Thursday, September 30, 2010

Go for a spin

Tonight I went to spinning class at the gym for the first time. I don't know why I had never tried it before now, but it's really fun. The music was a little loud and sometimes I couldn't understand what the instructor was saying, but it was a great workout and I think I'll go again sometime. My favorite part was the standing up, out-of-the-saddle position - it felt like running but without all the pounding. Next time I'm sitting on the side not facing the clock though. An hour of running goes by in no time, but an hour on a stationary bike in a small room seemed a lot longer.

Lyric of the moment: "What you want, you are, you always were..."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Rare moments of social normalcy

I turned 23 on October 23, 2004 and somehow I got the idea to make a list of 23 things I wanted to do while I was 23. That list, and especially #23: take a big risk, was the start of the crazy and ridiculous adventure that has lead me to where I am today. At the time, I was painfully awkward and shy (and arguably still am, to some extent), so the biggest risk I could think of was to move in with strangers. I had no qualms about skydiving, riding in a hot air balloon or the other random craziness on the list, but moving in with people I had never met scared the crap out of me. So of course, it turned out to be one of the best things I had ever done. Ok, so there were inevitably some sucktastic moments. Life isn't all unicorns and ice cream cake. But overall, the awesome far outweighed the awful. The whole experience forever shaped my life philosophy. And I still keep an informal and ever-expanding list of things I want to do, time and money permitting.

I was never one of those people who simply "knew" they wanted to be a doctor or lawyer or actor or whatever. I never had a clear vision of my future. And honestly, I still have no idea where I'm going or what I'm doing. But I realized that I wanted to have a life full of new experiences, challenges and travels, and once I set about trying to make that happen, my life took off in unexpectedly hilarious and infinitely amazing ways.

Incidentally, it was Jeff, one of the strangers I ended up moving in with, and then living with for 4 years after that, who gave me the nickname Robot. Shortly after I moved in, Jeff said he had never seen me eat anything besides ice cream and I asked so many questions (several of which have become infamous, including "What is in quiche?" and "How much is the tuition at Hogwarts?") that he thought I was a robot  from space, fueled by sugar and sent here to learn about humans. All of Jeff's friends started calling me Robot, and some didn't even know my real name for a long time. I thought it was hilarious.

It seemed oddly appropriate. I have always felt out of the loop when it comes to many human social behaviors. I don't drink or smoke or belong to any religious group. I don't eat meat or fish (Jeremy is a vegetarian and after we started dating 3 years ago, I naturally ate less meat, found I didn't miss it, and later gave it up completely). I may never get married and I don't want to have kids. I don't understand why anyone would want to ban gay marriage or go to war or wear socks with sandals. So basically, I fall outside of many social norms and, as a result, I am used to getting a lot of "are you some kind of robot?" looks when such topics come up in conversation. I will happily come to your wedding and listen to stories about your children while you eat a steak wrapped in bacon and drink beer, it's just that none of it appeals to me personally.

But don't worry, I'm not one of those robots Sam Waterston warned about on SNL...

"Robots are everywhere, and they eat old people's medicine for fuel. Well, now there's a company that offers coverage against the unfortunate event of a robot attack, with Old Glory Insurance. You need to feel safe. And that's harder and harder to do nowadays, because robots may strike at any time. And when they grab you with those metal claws, you can't break free, because they're made of metal, and robots are strong."

Still, I need to keep working on reducing my social awkwardness.

Also, I need to stop reading books about ultramarathoners. My brain is getting ideas that my body can't accomplish.
Lyric of the moment: "Binary solo! 00000010000001100000011100001111..."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Barktoberfest 5 mile race

Today, Jeremy, Lucky and I went to Barktoberfest at Lollypop Farm, which is the shelter where we adopted Lucky last year. I ran the 5 mile race and Lucky did a lot of sniffing and peeing.

The race course was a nice mix of trails and roads, with a few hills in the middle but a nice downhill to the finish. My time (37:56) was faster than my first 5 mile race in July, but the hip pain is still nagging me and the rest of my body feels a little worn out too. Sigh.

I really don't want to but I'm going to take this week off from running and do cross training instead. All my bones and muscles and inside parts performed like champs this summer, taking me farther and faster than I ever expected, so they've definitely earned a little rest time. Hopefully my body will heal itself and I can get back to running soon. I want to keep running for the rest of my life, so I should probably factor in some rest and relaxation time occasionally.

Lyric of the moment: "Some of us are different. It's just something in our blood. There's no need for explanations, we're just dogs on the run..."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Win some, lose some, awesome

Not awesome:
VIBRAM FIVEFINGERS SPRINT SHOE - MENS - 45 - RED/BLACK/BLACK*I wanted to get a pair of Vibram Five Fingers but unfortunately they won't fit my feet due to my freakishly webbed toes. There's always that one dude at every race who runs in the Five Fingers or barefoot. I want to be that dude! Sadly, it seems it's not meant to be.
*I randomly got stung on my knee the other day. It was so not the bee's knees.
*I went to a sports medicine doctor, who said I don't have bursitis but my right hip muscles are weak. At least that's what I think he said. He spoke in William Shatner-like bursts of phrases that I only semi-understood. He sort of demonstrated some strengthening exercises that I could do, so I will have an attempt at those. Whatever is wrong with me, I just want it to go away and never return.

Dear body, please heal yourself as soon as possible. If you let me do all the awesome things I want to do, I promise not to think mean thoughts about you ever again. Infinity of thanks.

*Apparently I am now 5'7'' tall. I always thought I was 5'6'' so either I have recently grown an inch or I am finally standing up straight. I think my feet got longer too because some of my shoes from last year feel too small now. Weird.
*Pumpkin bars are back at Wegmans. They're like pumpkin pie but with walnuts and better crust. A deliciously good time.
*I transferred a little more money into my savings account, or as I like to think of it, my "moneys for awesome adventures" account. Little by little, I will get there. Hopefully.
*This picture of me fighting the Brobdingnagian (fantastic new word I learned that means "gigantic, enormous, of excessive size") squirrel sticker on the side of The Nut House on Monroe Ave.

Lyric of the moment: "Ain't nothing gonna break my stride. Nobody's gonna slow me down, oh-no, I got to keep on moving..."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Random reflections on the run

I was sort of in a daze on Sunday after the half marathon. A few times I even caught myself pulling a Lucky, staring off into space at nothing in particular. I don't think I've ever been so tired (or so happy about it).

But now that I can form thoughts again, I wanted to record some of them.

I feel like a bit of an ass for saying this, but hearing your name called as you cross the finish line is seriously awesome. Getting a medal for finishing is pretty sweet too.

Not to mention the ridiculous assorted swag that was in our race packets: A long sleeve t-shirt, 2 kinds of toothpaste, arthritis rub, men's deodorant, Red Bull, a package of craisins, assorted coupons and flyers, and a box of Success rice (which Jeremy and I ate last night for dinner).

During the half I found myself thinking "Seriously? You want to run a full marathon someday? As in, 2 of these! In a row!" But some part of me is still all "Yes, yes I do." At group training on Saturdays, we would all run the first loop together, then the half marathoners would be done, but the full marathoners would go back out on an extra loop to get in their additional miles. Half of me was glad I got to go home and shower, but the other half, like the little kid who wants to sit at the grown-ups' table at Thanksgiving, wanted to go the extra miles too.

I wish I could find a way to zone out during races. I can do it during training runs, but on race day I can't seem to focus on anything other than the task at hand (or foot, as the case may be). I suppose it's nice to be totally in the moment like that. During the half marathon, since I couldn't distract myself from the race, I just went with it and started thinking "You're doing it! You're running a half marathon!" over and over.

I wish I could figure out how to drink water out of a cup while running. I'm great at getting water all over my face and down my shirt, but in my mouth, not so much. Apparently I'm not the only one who has trouble with this. At one of the water stops during the race, I heard the guy running next to me say "Oof, that went up the nose." I hear you, dude.

It's funny how running is both a communal and solitary sport. You're surrounded by a crowd of almost 2000 other runners, and yet you're really only in a race with yourself (and sometimes the clock). Sometimes I wish I had friends to run with, but sometimes I enjoy the alone time.

There seems to be a strange sort of automatic intimacy among runners. You may barely know someone's name before you find yourself in a conversation about dietary habits and nipple chafing and bathroom talk. It's oddly amusing.

And last but certainly not least, infinity of thanks to all the race volunteers and spectators! I don't know why you'd want to get up at the crack of dawn on a rainy Sunday morning and spend hours outside cheering and handing out water, but thank you, thank you, thank you!

Lyric of the moment: "Run, running all the time. Running to the future, with you right by my side..."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Half marathon race day!

I ran my first half marathon today!

MVP Healthcare Rochester Half Marathon
September 12th, 2010 - Rochester, NY
1838 Total Finishers (787 Male, 1051 Female)

I was hoping to get under 2 hours, but I finished way faster than I expected: 1:43:22 (182nd place). It's the farthest and fastest I've ever run, so even though most of my body hurts right now, I feel awesome!

Lyric of the moment: "And I'll run in the rain 'til I'm breathless, when I'm breathless I'll run 'til I drop..."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Able to run 7.5 miles in a single hour

I ran the Fleet Feet Summerfest 12K race at Mendon Ponds Park yesterday. With the strong winds and the 7.5 mile hilly course (seriously, the course was a like a roller coaster with all the rolling hills), it was definitely a tough workout.

Like an idiot, I forgot to take an Ibuprofen before the race, but my hip didn't really bother me while I was running. I definitely felt it afterwards though. When my watch read 8:15 at the first mile, I thought I went out too fast and should relax on pace a little bit, but evidently my body heard, "Let's go faster" because I finished in 59:33 (average pace of 7:59 per mile, #61 out of 232).

This was my favorite kind of race, in that it felt like hard work, but not impossible, so I tried to stay relaxed and just keep going. I felt strong the whole way through, and I think this may quite possibly be my best race ever (I'm pretty sure I even beat my Lilac 10K time at the 10K mark of this race). I hope I feel this good or better during the half marathon next week.

Training has a lot to do with it of course (as does eating more), but I think for me personally, the most important factor is that my attitude towards running has changed since my high school and college cross country days. I'm way more positive and upbeat now. Instead of thinking "I can't do this," my attitude has become more of a "Well, I've never done this before, but sure, I'll give it a try."

Now I actually enjoy running, even racing to some extent, and everything just seems more humorous somehow. When my stomach felt a little off around mile 3, I thought "Ok Stomach, throw up or shut up." (Thankfully, it chose shut up.) Just as I was thinking how peaceful the 12K course was through the country roads, I came upon mile 5 and the overwhelming stink of manure. Classic. And then I saw a dog riding on a tractor and passed by 3 horse drawn carriages with riders in old timey clothes, the absurdity of which lent a surreal, almost dream-like quality to the race. After I crossed the finish line, a guy from running group gave me a hug and exclaimed "You're a machine!" Fabulous! 

Lyric of the moment: "In the place where I make no mistakes, in the place where I have what it takes..."

Friday, September 3, 2010

More powerful than a loco motive

I have a 12K race coming up tomorrow and the half marathon next weekend, so I thought it'd be a good time for some robot race philosophy:

This is not a race. This is but one leg of a journey, step by step, mile by mile, to see how far you can go. Whatever happens, you will emerge better, stronger, happier. No worries, just relax and keep going. Remember to eat (fuel), drink (hydrate) and be merry (smile). After all, this is fun, right?

Yeah, something like that.

Lyric of the moment: "With your chrome heart shining in the sun, long may you run..."