Monday, April 30, 2012

Flower City Half Marathon

Looking terrible in race photos, as usual.
Of all the races in Rochester, the Flower City Half is by far my favorite course. I love running past the ladies at the Susan B. Anthony House, by the drummers in Highland Park, through Mount Hope cemetery, along the river, over the bridge and back towards downtown. It's like a mini sightseeing tour of Rochester with a couple thousand other crazy awesome runners.

This year though, I was a little despondent about the race. My training hasn't been where I want it to be and my body forced me into an early taper against my will. The tendons, muscles and I have been feuding lately and I feel like I'm on the losing side. I had a mini meltdown (ok a full on meltdown) on Friday night, one of those I'm-not-any-of-the-things-I-want-to-be, not-good-at-anything kind of days. Totally lame. Mike gave me some hugs, reminded me that our lives are pretty fantastic and told me I'll be fine. Then I got a text at midnight from a number I didn't recognize. It was someone who apparently saw my doppelganger in Las Vegas and sent me her picture. I'm still not sure who sent me the picture, but it did look like me so it must be someone I know. It remains a random and funny mystery for now. Or maybe a sign that Vegas should get a visit from the real Jen Pratt.

I didn't get much sleep Friday night but woke up on Saturday determined to chill out. I bought a new shirt for race day with a sweet pocket in the back for my jelly beans. Conventional wisdom says not to wear a new article of clothing on race day or make any changes to your usual routine, but what can I say, I live dangerously. I figured what the hell. It's just a race. Whatever happens, happens. I can be afraid of failing or I can show up, have fun and enjoy the adventure.

So I tried to do that. And I ended up running my fastest half marathon to date in 1:42:56 (329th out of 2252 finishers. It's not a huge improvement - last year I ran it in 1:45:28 - but it's progress nonetheless). It was also the best I've ever done at drinking water out of paper cups while running. I managed to get 60% of the water in my mouth as opposed to on my shirt and up my nose. Usually the ratio is more like 30% in mouth/70% on self. A big thanks to Eric for running with me. This was the first race I've been able to run with a friend the whole way and it was more fun than being out there on my own. And it was so awesome to be there to see Eric, Sheila, John, Dan and other running friends score some major PRs! Epicness all around!
During the race, I felt as good as can be expected. I always feel some level of discomfort, but I take it as an indication that I'm running as best I can that day. I still get anxious before races, and there's a point in every race where the doubts creep in and I really want to stop, but I've gotten better at maintaining a positive attitude mid-run. This race, I was just grateful to be running again after 2 weeks away from it. My ankle felt great on Saturday and didn't bother me much during the race, but afterwards it started hurting again and today I'm definitely sore. Evidently I'm not completely healed. It's so frustrating that I've gotten so close to where I want to be in my training mentally, but now I'm failing physically. I don't much care for rest. I know it's important. It's supposed to make me feel refreshed, but more often than not just leaves me feeling lazy. Maybe this is life's way of reminding me about balance. If I want to work hard and play hard, I have to get better at resting easy. I can't compare myself to what other people are doing or how they train. I have to listen to my body and do my best to give it what it needs.

Lyric of the moment: "Oh all the days that I have run, I sought to lose that cloud that's blacking out the sun..."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Happy moments

Sitting front row at Jersey Boys. Last week Mike's parents took us to dinner and to see Jersey Boys at the Auditorium Theater and we had a great time. Prior to seeing the show, I didn't know anything about Frankie Valli or the Four Seasons, but I did recognize most of the songs, especially Can't Take My Eyes Off You, which is one of my favorites, though I'm partial to the Fugees version. I didn't know anything about the guys' delinquent youths in New Jersey or that Joe Pesci was the one who introduced Bob Gordio to the rest of the band. Too funny. I also loved the program's warning that the show contains "authentic Jersey language not suitable for children under 12."

Seeing The Artist at the Cinema Theater. I love the vintage feel of the Cinema and the fact that it's an easy walk from my house. The Artist was adorable and I fell in love with the 1920s era costumes, the silent film style acting and the main character's dog.

Saturday morning spin class. I was a little bummed to miss my usual Saturday long run, then I woke up to a cold, gray, rainy morning. Why hello there, silver lining. I went to the gym for an hour of spin class and an hour on the elliptical. I kept cracking up at the funny instructor and his jokes and was happy to discover that my ass no longer hurts after class. But my quads and calves were a little sore the next day, which I'm hoping is a sign that it was a good workout. Maybe I will not totally suck at my upcoming half and full marathons. Maybe.

Yotality, a new frozen yogurt shop in Pittsford. I learned of its existence on Saturday and of course had to make a pilgrimage immediately. Best frozen yogurt I've ever had. And that's saying something because I've eaten a lot of frozen yogurt in my day.

Saturday night dinner/UFC fight. Mike's cousins came over for dinner and to watch the UFC fight. I will never understand the appeal of UFC and I have zero desire to watch guys beat the crap out of each other, but nice people + good food + funny stories = good times.

Ye olde ankle is feeling better. Fingers crossed that all is well.

Lyric of the moment: "My head keeps spinning, I go to sleep and keep grinning. If this is just the beginning, my life's gonna be beautiful..." (because it's a funny old song and I kept hearing it in random places this weekend)

Friday, April 20, 2012


If mucus were gold, I'd be as rich as Scrooge McDuck, swimming in my vault of cash moneys and flying around in my helicopter. Alas, the only thing I could fill a vault with right now is dirty tissues and curse words. Nothing is seriously wrong with me and I'm thankful for that, but I'm tired of being only 75% healthy. I want to be 100%.  It's making me intensely frustrated, which is only exacerbating the situation. So instead of fighting it I'm going to accept it. I got my last 20 mile run in on Saturday at a fairly decent pace, even though the last few miles were rough. I'm hoping that after this week's sessions with the chiropractor, a lot of ice, stretching and ibuprofen, and taking as many days off running as I can (I hate this part, but it has to be done), I'll be in decent enough shape for my races.

In the meantime, or in case all that fails, I'm trying to have a better attitude about it.


*If I add up all the days I felt less than 100% over the course of my life, it would be maybe a few months worth out of 30 whole years. Not bad, cells, not bad. And 75% health is better than 50% and far better than dead.

*Usually, when things happen that I think are bad, I end up realizing a) they are only temporary, b) I am better/stronger for having gone through them and c) there is a pretty sweet silver lining.

*I tend to think of pain as a bad thing, but it's really more like a helpful messenger. A messenger usually bringing bad news, but still helpful in that it's a not so subtle reminder to pay attention and address the situation before it turns calamitous. Of course, it would be more helpful if my muscles communicated in English instead of achiness, but I'm grateful that most of the time they take me where I want to go with little to no complaints.

*I am becoming quite fond of the stair machine at the gym. I like looking down at the end of my workout to see that I have climbed 250 floors or 5 miles of stairs. I imagine that I've climbed to the top of a skyscraper and am enjoying the view. In reality, I am only 4 feet off the ground and the view is comprised primarily of the sweaty backs of other gym goers, but it's more scenic in my head.

*These are not real problems. They are minor annoyances at best. Life is infinitely good. I wake up every day next to someone I love in a house that I worked hard to buy all by myself, I go to a job that makes me laugh and I get to be friends with some funny, smart, amazing people.

Lyric of the moment: "worry is wasteful and useless in times like these..."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Internal compass

I find myself starting to want things I never wanted before. It's a strange feeling. Am I changing? Were these things I secretly always wanted but thought were unrealistic and unworthy of serious consideration? Or am I succumbing to the lure of conformity?

I don't think it's the latter. I freely admit to being a wanderer through life, for the most part going with the flow, but I usually have a good sense of what's right for me and I tend to do things in my own way and time. Still, it seems like a good idea to check the internal compass occasionally to make sure I'm headed where I want to go and not simply following the path of least resistance.

Yesterday I came across this quote on this website: "Have a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing." It's a good reminder.
Lyric of the moment: "Is it ever gonna be enough?"

Friday, April 13, 2012

Black and blue point of view

At the moment I am somewhat of a disaster. Giant band-aid on my hand, scrapes on my arms and black and blue knees from Sunday's fall. Slight limp from favoring the ankle that hurts. And this morning I woke up feeling like I'd spent the night swallowing swords. Seriously, this sore throat is like that cat who came back the very next day. I thought it was a goner, but it keeps coming back and it just won't stay away.
And yet, I am feeling optimistic. I may look like a hot mess, but I am still an unstoppable force. I hope. So I put on a black and blue skirt to match my black and blue knees, made myself a carrot and orange juice smoothie (I want to eat more vegetables but I have the taste-buds of a 5 year old so sometimes I need to trick myself into it), and headed out to make this a lucky Friday the 13th. Since bad things seem to happen in threes and my body has already suffered three bad things this week, it must be time for some awesomeness to ensue.

Things that are awesome:

*Mike and I plan to spend this Friday the 13th night eating Chipotle while watching Psych and Psycho...

*On the new couch which is getting delivered today! And which is way more conducive to stretched out lounging than the old couch. I am a master of stretched out lounging. I'm only 5'6'' (5'7'' if I stand up straight which I never do), but I can take up a whole queen sized bed in my sleep.

*The aforementioned black and blue skirt that I bought for $6 at the thrift store and was hemmed to perfection by my awesome mom.

*Having bruises makes me feel tough. And adventurous. Adventurous people are always getting bruised, right? From all their hardcore adventuring? I mean, it's hard to get black and blue knees from sitting on your couch all day. Though if anyone could do it, it would be me. I once kicked myself in the knee whilst getting out of bed (I like the word whilst. It sounds fancy and old timey). Maybe I am more clumsy than tough.

*The chiropractor that some running friends recommended to me. He is helping my ankle tendons get back to being awesome.

*Becky's wedding tomorrow at Artisan Works. Impending good times!

*This email I received from one of my candidates at work: "Thanks. Enjoy your weekend. I certainly will (bday weekend...shots shots shots)." Definitely the kind of professional email you want to send to someone who's trying to help you get a job.

*This quote from the movie Jeff, who lives at home: "Everyone and everything is connected, everything has a reason and a purpose, and all of it is leading us to our destiny." ~Jeff

Lyric of the moment: "I tried to do handstands for you. But every time I fell for you. I'm permanently black and blue, permanently blue for you..."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fall down 7 times, stand up 8

Saturday morning I ran 15 miles at under 9 minute pace and felt great. Sunday morning I ran 6 miles of trails and fell on my face. So it goes. On the bright side, my knee is now a lovely shade of purple (way to get in the Easter spirit, knees) and the knee pain made me forget about my ankle tendon pain. And all the Easter candy and ice cream cake made me forget about the knee pain.

With trail running, my fear has always been that I'll fall and injure myself. I wasn't expecting to face that fear head on in quite so literal a fashion, but now my first official trail running fail is out of the way. It wasn't so bad. A few scrapes, a little blood, a lot of dirt. Fall down, get back up, keep running.

Lyric of the moment: "Falling's not the problem. When I'm falling I'm in peace. It's only when I hit the ground it causes all the grief..."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fortune Chicken

As a lover of prognosticating animals, I was excited to discover the The Fortune Chicken. I ordered one last November, but they were out of stock, then the next available shipment was lost somewhere, and I didn't get my chicken until February. The instructions read "Smash this chicken in times of confusion or great despair." By the time the chicken arrived on my doorstep, the original confusion/despair that had prompted me to purchase it was irrelevant. Perhaps that was part of its modus operandi. Most of the things I worry about never come to pass or end up working themselves out for the best. So Fortune Chicken has been sitting on the dining room table since then, and I've been waiting until the time seemed right or until curiosity got the best of me. That happened yesterday.

So I smashed the Fortune Chicken. Or I tried to smash it. That mother clucker was hard to break. First I went at it with a hammer, which was stress relieving, but also made a mess. I cleaned up the mess, then decided to take the chicken outside and throw it on the ground. I was expecting a satisfying smash, but only a  few little chunks flew off. I'm not sure what it's made of, but it had the consistency of really dense chalk. And it left me covered in chalk dust and laughing at my losing battle with a chicken figurine. I have to say, whoever invented this Fortune Chicken is a genius. It's really hard to feel anything except comically ridiculous when you're smashing a chicken with a hammer and throwing it around your front yard. Well played, chicken.

Finally I managed to chisel away enough chicken to get to the fortune inside.

****drum roll****

Fortune Chicken says: "Eat more tomatoes, hug more people!"

That sounds about right. Especially if the tomatoes are in the form of burritos or pizza.

Lyric of the moment: "Heaven is a place on earth where you tell me all the things you want to do..." (I am in serious love with this song)

Impossible things: ice cream for breakfast

If I could, I'd eat ice cream for breakfast every day. Ice cream is such a celebratory food, and what better way to start the day than with a celebration? Sadly, it's not a very nutritionally sound idea. And being stricken with anemia or scurvy or a muffin top would put a serious damper on the celebration. So ice cream for breakfast has remained a dream. Until I came across this post on frozen yogurt dots.

All you need is some yogurt (I used Oikos Greek Vanilla), a sandwich bag, a cookie tray and a freezer. I added a monkey cup and blueberries for extra awesomeness.

Scoop the yogurt into the sandwich bag, cut off one corner of the bag to form a makeshift pipette and squirt the yogurt into dots on the cookie sheet. Freeze overnight and voilĂ ! The dream has become a reality. Frozen yogurt dots are as delicious as ice cream, but also have protein, calcium, probiotics and other good stuff to keep your insides healthy and happy. Now that's a cause for celebration.

Lyric of the moment: "Your love is better than ice cream, better than anything else that I've tried..."