Tuesday, December 20, 2011
This brief feline interlude has been brought to you by a very stressful little thing called Moving in December. 'Tis the season for overcommitment! I know it doesn't rhyme, but I don't have time to agonize over syntax right now (or to wonder if I used the word syntax correctly).
As you can see from the way she's clutching the drawer, Fatty could care less that there are moving boxes in one corner of the apartment and piles of clothes heading to Beacon's all over the bed. Petey, on the other hand, has been even more fidgety than usual and will occasionally let out a harrowing wail as he paces from one end of the apartment to the other. He's taken to laying all over the boxes in a very obvious display of denial.
Long story short, our landlord is coming home to her apartment in January, and our sublet in the stodgy but oh so well located co-op is over. Our next step? Moving down the hall. Seriously. There's an empty apartment that is available for sublet and after much stalling and nail biting, we should receive the keys sometime* today. I'm leery of telling the whole story here on the interwebs, otherwise known as naked land where everything is permanent and accessible to prying eyes. Basically, it did not need to be this drawn out and ridiculously close to not happening in time for both christmas and the end of our lease. Certain parties involved wanted certain things that they should not have been entitled too, but they negotiated their way into what they wanted at the expense of my sanity. Yes, we could have tried harder to find another rental that wouldn't have involved such waiting and lack of control, but who wouldn't want to move down the hall? to a brighter apartment? and pay the same rent? and live in exactly the same location that you were depressed about leaving? So I suppose it was worth it.
*I say sometime because, in keeping with all other communication with these people, we have not been told when the owner is planning to stop by today.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The next 16 miles were long and lonely. I felt mixed about leaving Charrow in the hands of volunteers, but I knew as soon as she said she was quitting that I really wanted to finish the race. She dropped out a little ways before the half marathoners split off towards their finish, so I had about a mile with a moderate crowd, but at the split things thinned out considerably. Part of what makes a marathon manageable is distraction, be it through a running partner, music (live or otherwise), podcasts, whatever. When you're running alone, you have everyone around you to act a surrogate partner, but when the field consists of a speed-walker and a distant trickle of other runners, you get bored quickly. Boredom equals time to focus on other things, like how much you hurt. Thankfully it took a long time for that feeling to settle in (mile 22 to be exact), but I was definitely sad to be out there doing this huge thing on my own (oh, co-dependency, how you thwart me). Granted, I was not nearly as sad as Charrow, but hey, this is my blog so I can cry if I want to.
Miles 13-18 were pretty dismal in terms of scenery. The musicians scattered along this part of the route were obviously getting bored and the roadside attractions included cement mixing factories and storage facilities. The weather was holding steady at a 100% chance of gray and a 20% chance of drizzle. I plugged along, care of my 8 song playlist that I whipped up just in case I decided not to listen to podcasts. That's right, 8 songs, over and over and over. Hey, when they're all your favorites, it's okay to hear them 20 times while you wonder what in the world you got yourself into.
As required by all sadistic marathon course planners, mile 18 marked the beginning of a very long, very steep hill heading up to the St. Johns Bridge. I do love me some bridges, but after 18 miles, I would have been happy to stick with something a little less dramatic (I know, I just complained about being bored, but bridges don't slake boredom when they come with hills). I suppose it was worth the effort because this was the view from the top.
Somewhere around mile 22 the pain kicked in. My knees started to feel like they were being squeezed by rose stems and my feet were under the impression that I had filled my socks with Nerds. But I followed my old guy and put "Dog Days Are Over" on repeat to keep me going. It's a fantastically motivational song, but if you listen too closely to the words when you're feeling swamped by exhaustion, it may cause you to cry, which I almost did like 5 times between mile 22 and the finish.
Eventually I passed my beacon, which was both triumphant and kind of sad because he was really keeping me good company. I picked another secret friend and followed her to the end because that's what you do -- you just keep going. It didn't really occur to me stop. I managed a feeble kick as I rounded the last corner and made it across the finish line without falling on my face.
Stay tuned for the Aftermath.
Fair warning to other runners planning to do Portland:
- If you run slowly, you will miss most of the music acts in the second half of the course. Race planners should consider hiring 2 sets of music acts so that the people at the back of the "pack" have some entertainment. Bring a friend, your nerves of steel, or an ipod to keep you company!
- The Portland course was significantly drearier than the Philadelphia course, regardless of the weather. It was very friendly in terms of walkers and slower runners (hugs!), but don't do it for the scenery unless industrial is the cream in your wheat.
- There are some amazing post-race snacks. All I have to say is white pizza.
- There are tons of water stations and a decent number of bathroom stops. I brought water with me, but I barely made a dent in it.
- Same goes for the bluegrass band that was still going full steam when I passed them around mile 21. Those guys were awesome, and it took some willpower to run away from them.
*all pictures from the race were taken with a plastic fisheye camera (thanks steve & liala). I should have considered my destination a little more carefully because I used 100 speed film for a city that is notoriously gray. oh well.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I think marathons may cause brain damage. That's the only logical explanation for running two of them in a span of 6 weeks. The first one must have knocked some important decision making cells ajar. Perhaps the jostling screwed up their inhibitory and excitatory reactions so that instead of saying, "maybe running another marathon so soon isn't the smartest idea," my brain said "do it! run another one! you're made of cogs and wheels, and it won't hurt."
Let's step back for a second and paint a clearer picture of the crazy. It's been awhile since I've written anything so maybe you're confused. Or maybe you're new to this little splotch of awkward in the internet abyss.
On October 9th, Charrow and I were slated to run the Portland Marathon together. The day before the race, Charrow wasn't feeling great, but it didn't seem worthy of too much concern. We figured an early bedtime and lots of water should do the trick. Sometime in the middle of the night, she morphed into a squirming, stomach-burning, vomiting, explosive mess. When I woke up at 5:30 to get ready for the insanity, she was doubled over on the bed and couldn't stand straight. After two panicked phone calls (one to each of our respective mothers) and a botched attempt to eat, we decided that she would just give it a shot. If she had to drop out, at least she would know that she tried. And she gave it a valiant effort. She went from walking with a noticeable lurch to running 10 miles before she called it quits. Her inability to eat and drink water are what finally made it unsafe. If you can't eat, you can't run. Too much water on an empty stomach while incinerating calories equals major disaster. So we stopped at an aid station that had medical staff and explained the problem. I asked her about 17 times if it was okay for me to leave her there and she said yes every time, so I took her at face value and walked away. It felt incredibly wrong, and I'm still torn about whether it was the right decision.
The rest of the run deserves its own post, but long story short, I finished the marathon at glacial speed without causing bodily harm to myself or anyone else. Considering my inability to walk straight after it was over, the second half of that sentence counts as a feat.
Charrow was absolutely miserable when I got back to the hotel (for multiple reasons, some of which will be explained in the "how I survived my first marathon" post). At some point during the day, she heard from her sister that the Philadelphia Marathon was still open. Charrow was determined to have her mulligan, and the minute she said she was running Phillie, I firmly said "Well you're running it alone because I can't do that again."
Apparently the neurological injuries don't present until several weeks after the incident.
About a week before Charrow's race (November 20th) we were out for a routine run in Prospect Park, when I felt this surge of optimism (first sign of serious injury). I said to Charrow, "what if instead of running a section of the race with you, I just run the whole thing??" She didn't talk me out of it. And she repeatedly said that I wasn't going to steal her thunder if I ran with her, so when we got home from our run I did a little craigslist search and found someone to buy a race bib from. We agreed to keep it under wraps so everyone would be excited for Charrow and not get distracted by my decision to be psychotically supportive and somewhat selfish (because I partially just wanted to see if I could do it).
And that is how I ended up next to the Schuykill River this past Sunday with Charrow and about 25,000 other people who decided to traipse through Philadelphia for several hours. Pictures and details to follow after a short and sweet Thanksgiving visit with the Charrow clan.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
If you're not one of those people who can scamper out of the house and go for a 20 mile jaunt because it's just the natural distance your body wants to go (yes, these people do exist), you should consider NOT doing any of the following before you plan on running 17 miles for the first time ever:
1. hiking 5.5 miles on a 100 degree day with less than adequate amounts of water & food
2. spend 4 hours floating down a scenic river on another 100 degree day with less than adequate amounts of food & water
3. plan to return home around 9pm the night before your run and then have to make all of your neurotic running preparations at a time when you should be banking extra sleep
I survived the 17 mile plod yesterday, but it was quite possibly one of the hardest runs I've ever experienced. Harder than that one time I ran 12 miles down a country road and completely ran out of water and had to ask an old man mowing his lawn if I could trouble him for something to drink. Not quite as hard as that one time I ran 10 miles in rolling West Virginia hills and then proceeded to spend the next 3 hours in and out of the bathroom with horrible stomach cramps.
Here's what I saw at the start of the run in central park:
Needless to say, I should have started earlier. Please see the aforementioned list for reasons that made waking up before 6 am seem like more than I could handle. Things went okay for the first 10 miles. And by okay, I mean I didn't feel like I would keel over, but I also noticed that the heat was making life much harder than it needed to be.
Around mile 6, I stopped for an overpriced popsicle and spent a luxurious 5 minutes walking while I ate it. But before the stick ever hit the side of the trash can, I felt like I'd never even heard of popsicles. Do you remember that feeling of infinite running misery that I mentioned? It descended not long after I finished the popsicle and continued to ride on my shoulders for the remainder of the run. At any given point after mile 7, I could not imagine ever being done. I tried to busy myself with podcasts, but I was so distractible that I can barely remember what I heard. I do know that Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me has the perfect hodgepodge of information and fast-paced antics to keep me interested for more than 2 minutes at a time. This American Life: forget it. I love you Ira Glass, but you were not meant for torturous situations.
My intended route for the last 6 miles was to circle the reservoir for 3 laps then return to the main park drive for another mile and a half back to Columbus Circle. I couldn't face the rolling hills on the drive, so before I even got to mile 11 (right before hitting the reservoir for the 2nd set of laps around the shell track) I decided to just hunker down for an extra lap and forget about attempting anything than even closely resembled an ascent. Things that made this a wise decision: extremely flat surface, guaranteed bathroom (that I didn't end up needing), 2 water fountains, 80% shade, and a nice breeze coming off the water.
But even a view like that can feel like purgatory when it seems like you're running on a combination of hot coals and crushed glass. Okay, that's slightly dramatic, but my feet were really unhappy by mile 13, and I slowed from my respectable crawl to a miserable shuffle for the last 4 miles. I maintained my 4 minutes of running, but the walk breaks* went from 1:45 minutes to 2 and sometimes 3 minutes.
As I hobbled through the last 20 yards, I passed tourists eating ice cream sandwiches on a bench, and it was all I could do not to rip the ice cream out of their hands and smear it all over my face. The thought of eating anything made me sick to my stomach (which was actually a problem for the last hour because I had a hard time forcing down any food; can we say heat exhaustion?), but I could have really gone for a frozen facial. Instead, I huffed my way over to a vendor and squeaked out my order of a vitamin water and a popsicle. I paced** and forced down my snack and tried to keep myself from laying flat on my face in the grass.
The only down side to running in central park is that when it's all over, you have to get on a train with other people (unless you happen to have an endless supply of taxi funds). All you want to do is sit down, but so does everyone else, so you end up sitting next to people. I can only imagine how lovely an experience that was for everyone around me. I was covered in black dust from the shins down, there was a peanut butter explosion on my water pack that I hadn't had the energy to clean up, and I'm sure I smelled like roses soaked in hobo juice. But I consider the ride a success because I got a seat for every leg of the trip, no one actively moved away from me, AND I didn't puke or explode in any other way. Small victories, my friends. Teeny, tiny, graceless victories. That's how you train for a marathon.
*long story short, we're doing a run/walk program of 4 min running with roughly 1:30 min walking.
**I saw a t-shirt that said "marathons only hurt when you stop." Gospel, I tell you.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
At the end of last weekend's long run, we were faced with not one, but two of the best food trucks camped out right next to each other. I'd tucked a $20 bill in the pocket of my running shorts for just such an encounter with the promised land. I was actually so blinded by the Yogo truck that I didn't notice the dumpling truck until we were standing in line for frozen yogurt. Charrow and I gave each other a conspiratorial look and decided that we should probably split an order of savory dumplings to go with our sweet treat. It's all about balance, right?
The combination actually made me feel a little sick when it was all said and done, but I would totally do it again. I would just wait about 30 minutes before eating any of said treats.
Also seen on our run: boat loads of balloons, most of which were pink.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
There's comes a point in every long run when I can't imagine ever being done. All I can think about is how many more times I have to put one foot in front of the other and how many more beads of sweat there are left to sweat. For last weekend's 11 mile run, that point came as I crested the hill near the Grand Army entrance of Prospect Park for the second time. Rounding off the 7th mile meant that I only had 4 more to go, but that kind of math doesn't really comfort the soles of my feet.
The course I mapped took me past the botanic gardens and the Brooklyn Museum where I took a pit stop to snap some photos of the fountain. I don't know if it was the extended break or the mesmerizing cascades of water, but when I started the next stint* of running, I felt less overwhelmed. I sank into a comfortable plodding rhythm and even managed to laugh out loud at Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me.
But somewhere around mile 10 I was faced with two long, gradual hills before the last quarter mile descent (I knew about one hill, the other one was a nasty little surprise), and the feeling of eternal running doom returned. The thing about running in Brooklyn versus training in Atlanta is that there are public transportation options everywhere along the route. This is both comforting and horribly tempting. Thankfully, there were no viable options for the last 15 minutes of the run. I don't know what it would take for me to stop running (besides the obvious answer of injury), but sometimes it's best to not even have the option of quitting.
After 2 full episodes of Peter Sagal** and company, I decided to cap off the end of the run with an episode of the Moth aptly entitled "Sloth." Sadly there was no frozen yogurt truck camped out along Prospect Park West. I was really hoping to drown myself in granola and natural tart, but alas, all I had to look forward to was a smooze in the freezer at home and a bagel concoction that looked something like this (peanut butter & jelly on one side. butter on the other. because I'm indecisive):
*we're doing the Jeff Galloway run/walk program. more on this in a separate post.
** Peter Sagal is a frequent Runner's World contributor so it felt appropriate to listen to him for almost the entire run. Plus, he's hilarious.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
So we're doing it. We're running a marathon. Specifically, the Portland Marathon. We decided to do the Portland race because there are volunteers that hug you at every mile marker, they give you free sparrow tattoos at the water stations AND, wait for it... there are rivers of coffee that run through the city.
Okay, so maybe there are no coffee rivers, but I bet there are hugs!
I don't know exactly how Charrow contracted the marathon itch, but when the runner's world issue with the top 10 marathons came out, she asked me if I wanted to run Portland because it was touted as a good beginner marathon and neither of us have ever been to visit. Blinded by the promise of donuts, specialty coffee, and the potential for visiting a good friend that I haven't seen in years, I agreed.
And that's why I have to run (and by run, I mean shuffle) 11 miles tomorrow. Who's excited?
To be fair, I, too, have the marathon itch (although I do not have the Boston hives), but ever since our half marathon experience that resulted in a foot injury, I figured marathons were just not on my dance card. But we're giving it a go and so far things are fine. My feet are sore from working at the Very Successful Coffee Shop (henceforth known as "the shop" because that's a long nickname), so I'm doing my best to run on days that I don't work, and I'm icing the crap out of my feet whenever I can. In fact, I'm sitting in an ice bath right now.
Okay, I'm not, but I will be tomorrow after the slog.
*today's picture is an example of how I plan to look after we finish the insanity and have gorged ourselves on donuts and greasy food.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Does anyone ever take their own advice?
This week I have given 2 people advice to revive forgotten blogs and yet here mine sits, unattended and vying for attention like a certain orange cat that I know. It's amazing how much mental space something can take up. I think about the blog often. I think about how I don't know what to write, and then I think about how I don't have anything to say (unless a cat juices on my face, and then I'm here to shout from the top of Google mountain), but when does anyone have anything to say*, so why don't I just go ahead and say nothing already?
So here I am. Ready to talk about soup, or not talk about soup, all day. Or at least part of several days a week. Prepare yourself for snippets and tidbits of a not so salacious existence in the big city.
I know what you're thinking. This all sounds so familiar. You read 4 other blogs today that said "I'm going to post more often! I've been so busy!" Well, add another one to the list, but keep checking back because I might just surprise both of us.
*gross generalization intended to sooth insecurity. disregard.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
This past Sunday I had to work at the Very Successful Coffeeshop. On my break, I ate my apple and peanut butter snack, and after I finished the apple, I started eating a fig, but I couldn't figure out where to put the fig while I checked my phone for new text messages, so I stacked it on top of the apple core. Look at that! A snack stack! With knee-jerk swiftness, I snapped a picture on my new pocket internet machine and uploaded the silliness to Facebook. It wasn't until the train ride home that I realized I had broken a cardinal screen free sunday rule: no Facebook allowed.
And that in a nutshell is how my screen free sundays have been going. It is incredible how much conscious effort it takes to stay away from the internet. I fared better that afternoon: we went for a run, and I kept my computer usage* to financial information only (I'm obsessed with Mint and keeping track of my bank account), but I did catch myself staring absentmindedly at Charrow's computer as she sat next to me scrolling through the cavernous time suck that is the Face. Does that count as cheating? It felt pretty wrong as my eyes continuously wandered back over to her screen.
This coming Sunday I don't have to work and I can't paint because the client will be home, so my willpower is definitely going to be put to the test. How will I resist the siren call of My So Called Life on netflix instant play?? I may have to lock myself in the bathroom with a toothbrush and some baking soda paste (it's magical for cleaning tile grout, fyi). Or I could do the sane thing and leave the apartment.
*yes, I'm still turning my computer on, so technically I'm not completely "free" of the screen. maybe at some point down the line I will wean myself off of even the non-media related screen gazing, but I wanted to be realistic about this and avoid bingeing, so I'm allowing myself to check things like bank accounts and to watch one tv show for dinner. judge me if you dare (or even care).
Monday, February 28, 2011
My first attempt at screen free sundays was a resounding failure. The morning started off well. I chipped away at the epic scientology article from last week's new yorker while I ate breakfast and drank my third attempt at making a hario pour over* without a gram scale. Then I cooked several things for this week's homemade eating crusade, but somewhere in the midst of chopping onions and grinding almonds, charrow suggested we go see black swan before the oscar award ceremony, and it all went downhill from there. I had to fire up the computer to check movie times. Then we sat for 2 hours in front of a screen larger than all the screens in my life combined while natalie portman's skin flashed with the nubbles of her avian transformation.
After we were sufficiently depressed and discombobulated by both the movie and the off-kilter people at the theater, we rode home and gathered our things for a bike ride** to williamsburg for a red-carpet-oscar-viewing-shrimp & grits-cream-puff-extravaganza. What can I say? I'm weak and the oscars don't come around every sunday, so I made plans to watch it with friends. A social fall from grace is better than sitting at home in my house pants overdosing on the A-list.
Measure of success: I didn't check facebook or any other blog or social media type mental gadget the entire day.
Measure of failure: I spent a combined total of 5.5 hours watching television.
*analogous task for those of you that are unfamiliar with a pour over, which is a relatively precise coffee brewing method: trying to thread a needle using your phone as a flashlight on a bumpy bus ride in the dark. It can be done, but it's not pretty
**three cheers for tolerable biking conditions!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Ways I would not like to spend my evenings: smoking lucky strikes, eating a banana and drinking corner store coffee (or who knows what) out of a styrofoam cup.
The morning of our first full day in Copenhagen, we were met with this sight as we left the hostel to go on a coffee expedition. It was simultaneously nauseating* and captivating (hence the need to record it).
We left this lovely scene and went to the Coffee Collective, which is an incredible shop in the Norrebro neighborhood that just happened to be within walking distance of our hostel. The baristas were friendly and made great coffee (I think we had at least 3 drinks a piece every time we went there). We lurked for so long that I'm sure we overstayed our welcome (sorry Annastina! and also sorry if I spelled/got your name wrong). It was hard to force ourselves to visit other shops in the city because we knew just how good the coffee would be at the Coffee Collective.
Eventually I will blather about non-coffee related vacation activities. I promise.
*sorry, smoker friends. I can't and don't usually hide it. I hate cigarette smoke, but I have reasons.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The other night at a dinner party, a friend asked me if I wanted to borrow a book, and instead of reflexively saying yes! which I am wont to do whenever this friend recommends a book, I respectfully declined because I actually have too many other things to read right now. When I revealed that those other things included 2 weeks worth of old newspapers, someone else scoffed and said "why? they're irrelevant!" (here's a tip: if you want to make people feel good about themselves and enjoy spending time with you, don't tell them their goals are irrelevant)
You know what? I don't read the news every day. I don't even read the news every other day. Those 2 weeks of newspapers are actually really informative for me, and I have no intention of pitching them into the recycling bin unread. I understand if all of you horrified news hounds decide to leave this blog in the dust and move on to more informed pastures.
All of this is to say that I am instituting Screen Free Sundays in an effort to avoid piles of blue plastic bags filled with prehistoric information. No blog reading. No blog posting. No email checking. No work hub checking. No picture posting. Nothing. Nada. Analog only, with the exception of using my phone, which now has a pretty sizable screen because I finally upgraded to a smartphone, and my ipod because life with a soundtrack is just more enjoyable sometimes.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I have yet to discuss any of our trip to Europe last fall. I took copious notes in a little black book provided by the wonderful Ester, and I took tons of pictures, but I never figured out a good (and not overwhelming) way to share the experience beyond posting pictures to flickr. I still don't have a concrete idea of what I want to do, so I'm just going to periodically post a picture and a short description because something is better than nothing.
Today's picture was taken at Cafe CK in Berlin. It was a beautiful morning and we rode across the city* to the coffee shop to have breakfast and amazing coffee before heading off to do yet another Fat Tire Bike Tour. We went to Cafe CK 3 mornings in a row because the baristas and the owner were so nice and the coffee was some of the best we had during that leg of the trip.
Two other great shops to try if you ever find yourself in Berlin: The Barn (tasty food, exceptional coffee and Ralf, the owner, is beyond friendly) and Bonanza Coffee Heroes (I'm guessing they just go by Bonanza).
*note to self: do not stay in West Berlin when most of your planned activities are in East Berlin. It's a sprawling city (especially compared to New York) and while public transportation is great, we were attempting to rely on bikes with tires the width of a basset hound, which was not a pleasant experience. We finally gave up and turned our bikes in for the comfort of the train.
I find cryptic "exciting or strange things are afoot, but I can't reveal them right now!" updates to be exasperating, so I'm just going to lay it all out there with some points of necessary obscurity.
Large Event Number One: I am now employed by a Very Successful Coffee shop that also employs Charrow*. The job is fast-paced (although I'm told it's usually even faster-paced), engaging, educational, and menial all in one brown-stained package. It feels good to be out in the world, interacting with people and getting my hands dirty (but washing them before helping another customer, of course).
Large Event Number Two: I'm painting for one of the owners of said coffee establishment. It's a huge job that involves kitchen cabinets, high ceilings, and more trim that I can fit into a week's worth of nightmares, but it will look good in the end. If I ever get to the end of it.
Large Event Number Three: is waiting in the wings for now. I've put my website development and dog training business on temporary hiatus. Events number one and two are consuming most of my physical energy, leaving me with fumes to scrape together a functional household, a regular exercise routine, and maybe, just maybe enough mental energy to revive this here blog. I know there is no perfect time to start a business (or have a baby, so I'm told) but I need to get into a working routine and finish the painting job before I jump headfirst into the world of dogs and self-promotion. There may be some behind the scenes brainstorming when the brain has enough juice to storm, but the major creative activities will happen down the road a bit.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find a way to get this primer off of my elbows before I head to the coffee slinging.
*yes, we work in the same shop, and no it's not weird or causing any problems. It's actually pretty fun. I get to hang out with someone I really like while giving people coffee that they really like and there are jars filled with money at the end of the day!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
It's snowing. AGAIN.
In an effort to self delude, I'm posting a picture from last summer's apple picking expedition. We spent the morning sweating and eating our way across the picking area and then we took a fortuitous trip down Skunk Lane where we found this beachside park on Little Peconic Bay.
Today's mantra: it's summer somewhere, damn it.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Is it possible to fall in love with chicago in the dead of winter? Maybe it was all of the legal stimulants I consumed. Maybe it was the good company. Or maybe it's just an awesome city with an unfortunate climate.