Thursday, May 29, 2008

Um . . .

I kinda-sorta have a half-marathon to run in less than 36 hours! Yeah. All time goals are officially out the window . . . I'm just shooting to have fun with it, and enjoy hanging out with the 'rents and some of my bestest college friends (ON THE 50 YARD-LINE OF NOTRE DAME STADIUM!!). Our flight leaves for Chicago at 9:40 tomorrow morning, and the weather is supposed to be crap . . . so pray we get out okay! I'll be back from South Bend on Sunday with a race report for you all. Wish Wilson and me luck (although something tells me I'll need it more than he will)!!

Stockholm Calling - Part II

Okay, before I continue with Part II of Stockholm Calling, I first wanted to answer a couple of Meg’s fantastic questions:

1. Dan and Dean are actually members of our lovely Finance/billing team; not attorneys (ha, although I would not put that kind of behavior past some of our attorneys, to be quite honest).

2. The tournament is held every two years, and from what I understand, we WILL be sending a women’s team in 2010 . . . in addition, interest has really grown for the event amongst my female co-workers (most likely as a result of the fact that we kicked ASS). We’re thinking they may actually have to hold try-outs for the 2010 women’s team!

Also, I forgot to mention the fact that we tried to convince our bus driver to stop at a liquor store on the way back to the hotel from the soccer fields . . . no such luck. It turns out all of the liquor stores close really early on Saturdays in Stockholm . . . the best we could’ve done is the same 3.5% alcohol beer we’d been drinking at the tourney—apparently that’s the limit for what can be consumed in public there; and anything higher has to be purchased in a specialty store (which was closed by 5:00 p.m.).

Now back to Part II. My teammates and I loaded into a bus around 6:00 p.m. to head up to the site of the football dinner/banquet, Solliden Restaurant. This restaurant could be found in Skansen, a huge and beautiful area with museums, a zoo and lots and lots of park areas. When we arrived, we unloaded from the buses, and stepped out to find all of our fellow footballers standing around outside, sipping on champagne. I have to admit, I LOVE LOVE LOVE champagne. I took a glass and my teammates and I relaxed and chatted while waiters walked around constantly re-filling our glasses. It was really, really fun.

After about a half-hour, we moved inside to the restaurant, and were immediately accosted by half a dozen restaurant employees who INSISTED we check our coats. I was extremely hesitant to do so, as I had my blackberry, my passport and a great deal of cash in my coat pockets, but these people were serious . . . they refused to let us up into the dining room unless we checked our coats. Let’s just say that this probably should have been the first sign that I should run far, far away!

For some reason, my New York teammates and I had been under the impression that we would get to sit together at dinner; so we could rehash the details of the tournament and just enjoy hanging out together. No, no. Why would my firm do that, when they could instead choose to TORTURE US! We stepped inside the dining room, and a man handed us a piece of paper with a number on it. Yep, you guessed it. That number indicated the table we had to sit at. I felt like I had been slapped up the side of the head; I was just dumbfounded that they would do this at an event where there were language barrier issues! Still, I figured I should at least give it a try . . .

I headed over to table 36 and saw an empty chair near the end of the table. “Is this seat taken?” I asked. Nobody responded. Instead they carried on with the conversation. Not knowing what to do, I finally decided to just sit. After all, there was a dude going around with bottles of wine and I was in dire need of a glass right about then! I sat down and was immediately bummed to learn that my half of the table was speaking French, a language I am very unfamiliar with. I sat quietly, reading the place card that explained a little about the restaurant and posted the menu for the evening’s meal. I played with my bracelet. I took a sip of wine. I took a sip of water. I played with my bracelet some more. I read the place card again. FINALLY, the guy sitting across from me asked me a question in English, while the rest of the table carried on in French. We talked for maybe five minutes, and then he went back to the group conversation.

I waited. I fiddled. I drank. Finally, there was a break in the conversation and I decided to make an effort at being social; I asked my half of the table which office they all came from (duh). Shockingly (or not), every single one of them came from the Paris office. Hmm, something tells me it was not just a coincidence that the entire Paris office ended up at table 36 . . . Yup. That’s right, folks. MORE EUROPEAN CHEATERS! Well, it didn’t take long before the French conversation picked back up. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t help but think of every French stereotype I’ve ever heard! Thus, I decided to excuse myself to go use the restroom. When I got back to the dining room, I noticed a group of my NY teammates gathered in a corner of the room . . . I immediately joined them and told them of my horrible, horrible seating situation. Luckily, there was an empty seat over at Dean’s table, right next to him . . . so he invited me over to join them. THANK THE LORD!

The only problem was . . . I’d forgotten my coat check ticket over at my table! Thus started the great debate . . . to recover the coat check ticket or to not recover the coat check ticket? I finally decided I would at least go over there and give everyone one last shot, and if it was still miserable, I would grab the ticket and go. I walked over to my table, paused . . . and everyone COMPLETELY ignored me. That was it. I was done. I grabbed my coat check ticket (no longer caring at all if they would be offended by my act of leaving the table), and all but sprinted back over to Dean’s table. Once there, I actually had a really wonderful time! There were a lot of really friendly, interesting people sitting over there. I met and chatted with a couple people from the London office, one from Stockholm, one from the Milan office and one from Lisbon—all SO nice! I was definitely very happy with my decision to switch tables!

After dinner had been served, the awards ceremony was held (Cue lots of pissed off New York girls). Medals and a team trophy were presented to both the winners and the runners up for the men’s and women’s tourneys. They also announced a tournament MVP for both tournaments. Ha, as they were announcing the women’s MVP, my entire team was chanting my name—it made me feel pretty good. Of course, a semi-senior attorney from the London office won (she has made quite a name for herself through her play in past tournaments—but honestly, she’s not THAT good), but I still felt very appreciated nonetheless!

The awards ceremony concluded, and soon thereafter an open bar sprung up and a band took the stage, prompting people to drink a lot and dance. The whole thing was very wedding-like, but if you let yourself get down with the cheesiness, it was a lot of fun. As the dancing was starting, the sun was just starting to set . . . and we had a gorgeous view of the city below from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room. It was absolutely beautiful! But let me tell you, it sure didn’t take long for people to get inappropriately drunk . . .

I wish I could find the words to describe how inappropriate the entire situation became . . . it was honestly worse than most of the college parties I went to in my time. People were falling down drunk, making out, groping, etc., and apparently I was the only person who was uncomfortable with this! At one point in time, I began dancing with a "nice" guy from the London office, in what seemed like a very innocent manner . . . ha, there were like 3-feet of space separating us. Then, all of a sudden, he simultaneously pushed me into a corner, pulled me in right next to him and tried to kiss me! I was so grossed out! Luckily, my reflexes are pretty quick (and he was pretty tall—so it took him longer to get down to me!). I turned my face to the side, and he ended up kissing the side of my head.

I backed away from him, and started looking around at the scene surrounding me. There were broken glasses and bottles everywhere. There were people so drunk they were falling down (because that obviously mixes really well with broken shards of glass all over the floor). There was a couple lying on top of each other on a table in the corner of the room. I was seriously disturbed. I was also the only person in the room by that point who wasn’t completely hammered. (I’ve taken an overseas flight hungover once, in college—and I assure you, that will NEVER happen again—NOT fun!)

I looked at the clock, and saw that it was 1:45 a.m. The next bus would be coming to pick people back up at 2:00 (the buses shuttled people back and forth every half-hour or so). I headed towards the exit, stopping at coat check on my way out (where I immediately checked the pockets of my coat to make sure everything was still there!) The bus showed up shortly before 2, and I got on, not knowing what was in store for me. Almost immediately, some drunk idiot took over the microphone for the bus PA and started singing at the top of his lungs. It didn’t take long before the entire bus full of drunken idiots joined in. It was absolutely horrible—so loud and obnoxious. I spent the entire 45 minute bus ride praying that people would stop singing, and also that nobody would puke on me. While I wasn’t so lucky with the first one (the singing continued for pretty much the entire ride), I did manage to escape being vomited on. So I guess I shouldn’t really complain.

I headed to bed around 3:30 a.m., after I had packed and made sure my drunk roomie was home safe-and-sound (other than getting her flip-flop-clad foot stomped on by somebody’s heeled shoe, and falling off of the stage a couple times—ha). Of course the late/early hour meant that it was already starting to turn light outside. Luckily, I didn’t really mind, as I had to get up at 6:15 a.m. to catch my flight—and I was hoping (again) to be tired enough to sleep straight through it.

The alarm went off, I got up and showered, collected my belongings and then met the two other New Yorkers who were flying back Sunday morning in the hotel lobby (most people stayed until Monday, because of the long weekend—but being the good little runner I am, I wanted to be sure I got a long run in at some point during the weekend, and figured my best chances would be coming home on Sunday). We shared a cab, said our goodbyes (they were on a different flight) . . . and I was finally alone. It was absolutely wonderful!

In a rare stroke of good luck, my flight back to NY was practically empty. Still, did I sleep? Nope. Couldn’t sleep. Again. The flight was overall pretty uneventful . . . I watched a movie, read a little, dozed when I could, listened to my ipod. And before I knew it, I was back in NYC, a mere 65 hours after I’d left! Wilson was a saint, and met me at Newark Airport, since he’d been at his father’s house in New Jersey for the weekend . . . we headed back into the city together, grabbed some Wendy’s for lunch (I got to use my book!) and then headed home for a day of relaxation (and by relaxation, I mean poor Wilson had to listen to me talk/whine incessantly about my trip and how I wished I was still in Stockholm!)

Anyway, while I definitely didn’t get to spend as much time in Stockholm as I would’ve liked, it was a really fun and interesting weekend—well worth the sleep I was forced to miss out on! I don’t know why, but I am honestly just completely enamored with Stockholm and the entire country of Sweden. The people are so nice, the language is pretty, the setting is absolutely gorgeous! And like I mentioned before, the air is just so clean and crisp. It made me really wish I had time to get a nice run in! Someday, I plan on returning to Stockholm and spending a lot more time exploring the city! Until then, I’m just going to talk incessantly about how much I love the place.

Photos to follow in “Stockholm Calling – Part III!” (including photos of Dan’s “artwork”—I know you must be excited!)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Stockholm Calling - Part 1

Okay, so I've seriously been a negligent blogger . . . again. But holy whoa was the past week a whirlwind of craziness! This is going to be a super long post, so you might want to get yourself a snack, something to drink, and a blanket (just in case it takes you until mid-winter to finish reading this).

As you may recall, I have briefly mentioned the city of Stockholm, Sweden in various of my posts over the past month or so. Um, apparently I never actually bothered to explain WHY I was going to Stockholm --or for that matter, even to confirm that I was, in fact, going to Stockholm. Well, you see, global law firms (as soul-crushing as they may be) are generally unable to resist throwing mini "World Cup" soccer tournaments, and thus bringing teams from their many international offices together for a weekend of drinking, playing soccer . . . and more drinking. I'm telling you, they spend RIDICULOUS amounts of money on these events (our NY office paid for 20 people to fly direct to/from Stockholm and stay for two nights in a pretty darn nice hotel)

This year--for the first time ever--the NY office allowed us to bring a women's team along. The women's tournament has existed for a while, but I guess the interest just hasn't been there. Luckily, after a strong showing by myself and several other females at our annual NY office indoor soccer tourney, one of our secretaries was able to convince the folks in charge that we should send a women's team as well. When I discovered that this event was taking place, and I was allowed to participate (sometimes law firms will limit participants to just the attorneys), I jumped right on it. While I figured I might be at serious risk of being maimed by large German and/or Eastern European women, I simply couldn't pass up the offer of a gratis trip to a city I otherwise might never have visited. So I signed myself up.

At the first practice I attended, I noticed something a bit disturbing: our team was absolutely abismal! Many of the girls had little to no competitive soccer experience--and didn't even know the most basic rules of soccer. After that first practice, I definitely had a moment of "What on earth have I gotten myself into?!" But a co-worker, Liz, and I decided to dedicate ourselves to making the most of what we had. We started holding more and more practices in the months leading up to the tourney. Liz also managed to convince the office to pay the registration fee for a co-ed Chelsea Piers indoor soccer league, thus giving our men's and women's teams the chance to come together and get some competitive game action in. I have to admit, our women's team had really improved significantly since the first practice; but still, I was a bit concerned about how we would fare when taking on the other offices come May 24.

At any rate, this trip SERIOUSLY crept up on me. I've just been so busy lately that, before I knew it, it was almost time to leave. As (un)luck would have it, last week turned out to be one of the busiest yet for me. I spent Monday thru Wednesday working until after midnight every night, and just barely managed to find a few minutes around 1 a.m. Thursday morning to pack. I got myself into the office really early on Thursday, and seriously worked my ass off at such a frenetic pace, I literally thought my heart might burst. I kept this up until the second we left the office for our flights to Stockholm (around 2:30 that afternoon), and I cannot even begin to describe the feeling of freedom I felt as I left the building. There had been a chance that I'd be forced to stay back if I didn't get enough work done prior to my departure, and it was just such a relief to know that I had done enough to finally be on my way.

Somehow, it turned out that our firm's travel coordinator thought it would make sense to throw me on a flight with two of my rowdiest New York teammates--two British lads (Dan and Dean), who made a point of renaming our flight the "Vodka Express." Yeah. While I generally love those two, somehow it didn't seem like their intentions quite meshed with my plans of sleeping through the entire flight. But it was obviously a little late to make alternate plans. Our car got to the airport about two hours before our flight, and as we checked in, we realized our flight was delayed 3 hours. What else was there to do but hit up one of the airport bars?! I figured, "if you can't beat 'em, join them!" After all, it had been a very rough week, and it just felt kind of rebellious to be drinking pint after pint while everyone else was still working (ha, I'm such a rebel!)

5 rounds later, we realized our flight was about five minutes from boarding . . . and we still had to get through security. We paid off our tab (ouch), rushed through security, and got to the gate with seconds to spare--or so we thought--as the flight didn't actually end up boarding until about 20 minutes after it was supposed to. Dan and Dean used the extra time to stock up on amenities in the duty-free shop. They then proceeded to empty about 6 bottles of sprite, and refill them with vodka. So sneaky, those two!

As we finally boarded the plane, I offered my seat (which was next to Dan) to Dean . . . and took Dean's original seat, which was one row back. Thank goodness I did this, as it saved me from becoming a canvas for Dan's artistic side. What do I mean by this? Dan wrote/drew ALL OVER Dean's face, arms, and even chest while he was sleeping. Now one might wonder why Dean didn't wake up while Dan was recklessly covering his body in ink . . . the answer to that would be a liter of gin plus a heavy duty sleeping pill. Needless to say, he was OUT!

As this was going on, I was trying to sleep myself, but failing miserably. I just can't sleep on planes for whatever reason. I'd doze off for a few minutes, and awake to Dan giggling uncontrollably about his latest and greatest doodle (so mature). Finally, about 6 hours into the flight, Dean woke up, and quickly realized the damage that had been done. He immediately headed for the bathroom and spent a good 20-30 minutes attempting to scrub off Dan's artwork. I'm betting he probably had to scrub off a few layers of skin in order to finally come clean!

We arrived in the airport around 9:45 a.m. Stockholm time (aka 3:45 a.m. NY time) . . . headed to baggage claim, and suddenly realized we had no idea what our hotel was called. We tried to get in touch with one of our other teammates (whose flight had arrived about an hour earlier), but had no luck whatsoever. Luckily, it took us about 3 years to collect our luggage, and by the time we were ready to go, we'd managed to gather the info we needed.

Our cabbie was super cool, and put up with Dean and Dan's antics with saintly patience. He taught us a little bit of Swedish, which was fun . . . and taught us quite a bit about the Stockholm area. I have to say, the 40-minute drive from the airport (Arlanda) to the hotel (Scandic Ariadne) was GORGEOUS. It was so scenic and natural . . . definitely a welcome change from the dirty streets of Brooklyn!

We arrived at our hotel, only to realize we still had three hours to go before we could check in; thus, we reverted back to Dan and Dean's favorite past-time . . . we hit up the hotel bar. Well, to be fair, our original plan was just to eat lunch, but as players from other offices showed up, we sat and had pints with them . . . as a sign of good sportsmanship, of course! This lasted until check-in time at 3 p.m., when I realized I simply couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. I laid down to nap for a couple hours, got up and showered, and then met the rest of my teammates back in the hotel bar, so that we could all venture out to dinner.

Doing so was easier said than done! It was a Friday evening, pay-day in Stockholm, and we were trying to feed a group of 20! Somehow we ended up at a lovely restaurant by the name of Naglo, after trying at least a dozen other restaurants. When we arrived, we were shocked (and a bit freaked) to discover that we were the only patrons in the entire place! As it turned out, though, the food was AMAZING, the location (downtown, right next to the Opera House) was beautiful, and the service was absolutely brilliant. I enjoyed a lightly pan-fried breast of duck, served over a spinach salad with apple and walnuts . . . and the waiter even brought me a complimentary appetizer of smoked salmon, when I'd originally turned down the offer of an appetizer! For dessert, they brought out this magical display of dark and white chocolate truffles. GOOD GOD. Amazing. Simply amazing.

We finished eating around 11:00 p.m., and it was just finally turning dark outside. It was so crazy . . . I felt like it was WAY earlier than it was just because of the ridiculous amount of daylight! My roomie and I headed to bed as soon as we got back to the hotel, hoping to rest up as much as possible for Saturday's tourney. Unfortunately, that rest was disrupted when I got to know the OTHER side of the crazy daylight around 3:30 a.m. Yep, the sun definitely starts coming up around 3:30, 4:00 a.m. Our alarm(s) started going off around 6:15 a.m. anyway, so I didn't miss out on too much sleep. Roomie and I hit snooze a couple times (oops), and then finally got our asses up, made it downstairs and grabbed some bananas and rolls on our way out the door and onto the bus. We made it with just a couple minutes to spare, and with that, were on our way to the tournament site.

We had this adorable girl from the Stockholm office (Tora) giving a little tour on our way to the fields . . . I kind of wanted to take her home with me, she was so cute and friendly! We got to the fields, had like five minutes to warm up (we arrived a bit late), and then the tourney was underway! We took on the Prague women's team first, and won pretty easily (3-0). Next up was Milan . . . a piece of cake (3-0 win). I began to wonder if our team was better than I'd originally thought! We took on Luxembourg and one of the (5) London teams, with just as much success (3-0 and 4-0, respectively). We were pretty pumped! We started believing we might actually be able to win the whole thing!

Then came the seeding of the playoffs. Eight teams made it thru to the playoffs, and since we had done the best out of all of them, we were the no. 1 seed. Now perhaps things are done differently in Europe, but in every athletic competition I'VE ever participated in, the 1-seed plays against the last-seed first . . . well nope, not in THIS tournament. We tried to argue our case to the tourney organizers, but were fed some line about being "unsportsmanlike," and "missing the entire point of the event." WHATEVER! We had to travel from the farthest away of anyone, and were the only team who had to deal with jeg-lag! Despite our best efforts, we were told the playoff schedule would not be changing.

We won our quarterfinal game against Madrid by a score of 3-0, and while awaiting our next game, actually thought through what would probably happen with the rest of the tournament, based on the playoff schedule. Suddenly, we realized that the Stockholm women's team had been set up to have a straight sweep through to the finals! They were scheduled to play all of the worst-seeded teams! The tourney had been rigged! We were PISSED. We decided to use our frustration to our advantage, and work that much harder, even though we knew we'd be playing the London all-star team in our semi-final game (what should have been the championship game, were things seeded correctly). They were a really tough team, but we knew we stood a chance . . . the funny thing is that the NY team became this dark horse team, and we managed to draw quite a following from many of the other offices! Ha, we had a huge fan club by the time we started the semi-final game!

We played those London girls tough throughout the entire game, but in the end, they got a fluke goal and ended up beating us 1-0. Thus, our title hopes were shattered. This was actually kind of okay with most of my teammates, as it meant we got to join in with the rest of the teams who were done for the day and drink beer. Who doesn't love to drink beer? We grabbed some cold ones, and sat to watch the final game, all the while cheering our asses off for the non-cheating London team ;) They ended up slaughtering Stockholm 4-0, so we were pretty happy. While we didn't get the runners-up medals, we knew we were the real runners up! And hey, considering we had originally just hoped to win a couple games, we were pretty darn proud of what we ended up accomplishing!

When all was said and done, we got back on the buses and headed back to the hotel to shower. We had just about an hour to get ready for a dinner/drinks/banquet shindig the Stockholm office had planned for all of the tourney participants.

To Be Continued . . .

(I'm sleepy!)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Oh wait, I have a blog, don't I?

Hi all! Sorry I've been MIA for a while again . . . it has been a crazy, CRAZY week. I have a LOT to report on, but it's taking some time to write it all up. I'm hoping I can have it ready for you all by tomorrow night. Hope you all have had great weeks! Although it's a little daunting to open my google reader account and see so many posts requiring my attention, I am very excited to see what you all have been up to lately!

Hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Hanging In There

I have to laugh for a second . . . because I was apparently so tired last night that, when I woke up this morning, I didn't remember having written that last post! Just to update you all, I finally did get home around 2:00 this morning (after a quick detour into some random part of Brooklyn I've never been to before--I guess that's what I get for trusting the driver when he said he knew where he was going, and paying no attention whatsoever). I was obviously beyond exhausted, and thus, allowed myself to sleep in until almost 11:00 this morning!

When I finally woke up, it was decision-making time. I had 9 miles on the schedule . . . was I going to have the time and/or energy to do it? I knew I needed to get some more work done today, and it was very tempting to just blow the run off--especially given the fact that I was still ridiculously tired. With so much to do and so little time to do it, I did what anyone would do . . . I took a nap. Ha. Okay, so maybe that's just how I respond to having way too much on my plate, but whatever! After my nap (such a clever way to delay the inevitable!), it was again decision time. This time around, there was a lot more pressure, though, because it was already 1:00 p.m. If I was going into the office, I really needed to go soon . . . having a commute of almost an hour each way means it really only makes sense to go into the office on the weekends if I'm going to be there for a while.

Well, you all will be happy to know that I did NOT choose to go into the office. After a few minutes of nearly convincing myself to blow the run off and switch down to the 10K race at Sunburst, I finally snapped out of it (I have to admit--my desire for another medal was a huge factor in the decision-making process!). I decided I would at least get out there and attempt the 9-mile run. After all, I haven't completely missed a long run yet in my running career--why start now?

Wilson and I headed out to the park, and I have to admit, I did not have a very good feeling about how the run would go. I just felt so tired and sluggish. Luckily, the weather was pretty refreshing . . . nice and cool, with a light drizzle. I don't know why, but I really love running in the rain. I started to feel a little bit better, but unfortunately, it didn't last all that long. After the first mile, I realized my left shoe had been tied WAY too tightly! I didn't really want to stop, but finally--around 2 miles--Wilson convinced me we should probably stop so I could fix it. Once we were back on the road again, I got into a pretty good groove. The shoe was no longer bothering me, I was enjoying the drizzle, and everything was good.

Still, there was this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I wasn't going to make it. In an attempt to overcome it, I reverted to an old trick . . . dissociation. I began counting my steps in my head. Before I knew it, we'd made it 5 miles. Wilson and I stopped for a moment to get a drink at a water fountain and to take a gel, then we continued on. Thanks to my good friend, dissociation, we made it almost to mile-7 before I even realized it. Oddly enough, at that very moment, a torrential downpour began . . . it was crazy! The weather had cooperated pretty well with us all afternoon, but at that moment, the heavens opened up, and we were soaked within a few seconds--like soaked to the point where my feet were making ridiculous squish-squish noises every time I took a step! Ha. Wilson was tempted to head straight home instead of running another loop, but I talked him into staying out there and finishing what we started.

We continued on, and started our last loop. I felt all awesome and hard-core because I had talked Wilson out of cutting the run short! Well, it wasn't long before I began to notice my legs were feeling pretty fatigued . . . and I started having flashbacks to the 8-mile run I attempted a couple weeks ago. This time, though, I decided I wasn't going to let myself quit. I didn't care if I had to drag my legs behind me; I was going to finish the run! I told Wilson about my situation, and he responded with "Less than 20 minutes to go." I thought back to how I felt during LA when I had just twenty minutes to go--um, I'm pretty sure I was about 5000 times worse off at that point than I was during this run . . . this thought made me feel a ton better. I knew I could do it, and sure enough, I made it to 9 miles, finishing in 1:34:11 (10:27/mile pace).

It's so funny to think about how proud I am of myself for finishing this 9-mile run. If you would have told me back in March that I would actually feel a huge sense of accomplishment as a result of having completed a "measly" 9-mile run, I would have laughed in your face. But I really am proud. It was a struggle to get out there today, and this whole training period has been one huge battle . . . but no matter what has gone on in my life, I have refused to quit. That, in and of itself, seems like something to be proud of. I won't be setting any records come May 31, but I will finish that half-marathon, and I will be proud of the accomplishment. Ha, I just hope they don't run out of medals by the time I finish!

For now, folks, it's time for me to use this lappy for some actual work ;) Hope everyone had a great weekend!

It's a sad, sick world

I am trapped at work. Seriously. It is after 1 a.m. on a Saturday night/Sunday morning and I cannot get any of the damn car services that my firm uses to come pick me up and take me home! Yeah. Have I mentioned that I've been here since around noon? I finished working almost an hour ago, but I'm obviously still here . . . just waiting. I feel like this is possibly some kind of cruel, sick joke . . . like maybe it's one of those candid camera situations where my firm is testing me to see how much I will put up with. And if I last long enough, I win a million dollars or something. But something tells me that's SO not the case. Something tells me this is just . . . my life.

I am half-tempted to lay down on the floor under my desk and go to sleep, George Costanza-style . . . oy. Pray that I get out of here soon, kids!

Friday, May 16, 2008

For the Love . . .

I bet you thought based on the title of this post that I was getting ready to complain a lot, didn't you? Actually, I am writing this post to re-declare my love for running. Shocking, I know . . . but running and I? Yeah, we're homies again.

On Thursday evening, as I was sitting in my claustrophobia-inducing windowless office, I decided, "Screw work! I'm going home and running." I got Wilson on the phone, found out he was about to leave work too, and we agreed to meet at home, change quickly and then head outside for a 5-mile run. Now, I won't lie to you . . . once I got home, I did momentarily consider plopping my hind-end down on the couch and remaining there for the rest of the night. It had been a ridiculously exhausting and frustrating week (thus, no blogging--sorry, guys!), and a nap and some crappy tv sounded absolutely delicious. Luckily, Wilson helped me snap out of my funk, and we headed out the door around 8:15 p.m.

It was nearly dark outside, but the temperature was perfect. It was just one of those gorgeous nights that was meant for running--I had on a tank and shorts, and was really comfortable--not too hot, and not too chilly. For some reason, I opted not to wear my Garmin. This is strange because I depend on that thing like I depend on oxygen . . . but something inside told me to leave it at home. So I did.

Wilson and I chatted a little bit during the run, but for the most part, we just ran silently. It was so calm and peaceful in the park, it seemed like I was a million miles away from the loud and chaos-filled streets of Brooklyn. I remember somewhere around mile-2, I realized that I felt REALLY good. In fact, I felt so good, I felt the need to break the remarkable silence. "It's amazing how good I feel, considering I've been doing just long runs for the past three weeks. I guess maybe cross-training is more worthwhile than I thought." Wilson negatively remarked that we weren't even half-way through the run, and that I shouldn't count my chickens before my eggs hatched . . . but not even that could bring me down. I just knew I was in the zone.

Sure enough, come the end of the run, I still felt as good as new--like I could have run forever. Although a part of me really wanted to keep running, another part of me with screaming out in hunger (quite literally). It was after 9 p.m. and my tummy was really not pleased about the fact that it was empty. Wilson and I walked home from the park and, on the way, I couldn't help but ask him, "so what was our time?" He looked at his watch, kind of chuckled, and then responded with 52:30. I just about fell over. "WHAT?!" I had felt like we were running much, much faster than that! I suddenly realized that perhaps the slow pace was the reason I felt like I could run forever . . . we'd been logging 10:30 miles! Oh well. It still felt good, and that's something I am really, really grateful for.

So um yeah. Yay for running!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mixing It Up: Long Run Style

Wilson and I headed out the door this afternoon with absolutely no clue what distance we were going to run. 10K Race was on the schedule, but uh . . . we sort of slept through our 10K race (oops!). When we got to Prospect Park, I asked whether Wilson would be cool with us just picking random trails to run along, rather than using the same old boring 3.35-mile park loop we tend to frequent. He seemed pretty into this idea, so off we went. I let Wilson lead the way, since he's a tiny bit more familiar with the random trails in the park than I am. Let me tell you , we had a BLAST, and the trails totally kicked our butts (in a good way, of course). It was quite a bit more difficult than I expected it to be . . . lots of hills and stairs and cobblestone to battle. But as I told Wilson, "I think it's good to pick an unfamiliar route every once in a while. After all, we're not exactly going to be familiar with the route we have to run at the half-marathon."

So we snaked along random inside trails/paths until we eventually found our way back out to the main loop, somewhere around 3.2 miles. From there, we decided we'd fininsh out the loop (a little over a half-mile), and then run one full loop to finish up at just over 7 miles. Despite the difficult terrain we faced for the first half of the run, I was pleased to see our pace ended up just barely over 10:00/miles. I thought about pushing the run to 9-miles, since I actually felt REALLY strong (like back to marathon-training-Irish-Cream-strong), but Wilson convinced me it might actually be smart to finish the long run where we were, and thus, finish feeling like some kind of running goddess (instead of a complete and total running loser, like in recent weeks). I must admit, it was a HUGE confidence boost to feel so great throughout the entire run . . . especially given the fact that we were pushing ourselves through some crazy hills (and I, being the smart girl I am, had just run some intense stair sprints the day before). Yay, long runs (and other annoyingly giddy cheers)!

Okay, we just ate a HUGE dinner of spare ribs and red-skinned mashed potatoes, so I'm going to have to give in to the food coma that's been slowly taking over my body . . . but it couldn't hurt to, once again, wish a Happy Mother's Day to my mama, and all you other super-moms out there! Hope it was a great one!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stairway to . . . Hell

I had every intention of taking everyone's advice and running the Newport 10,000 this morning. I was positive I could PR, and was also antsy to try out my new racing flats . . . these pretty ladies:Wilson and I made it to bed by around 11 last night, with everything laid out and ready to go. Then the alarm went off at around 5:20 this morning. I looked at Wilson. Wilson looked at me. The look on his face said that getting to New Jersey by 8:30 was SO not happening. "Um, I'm kind of tired," I said. Wilson shrugged, "Let's go back to sleep then." He turned the alarm off and almost immediately fell back asleep. I wasn't sure what to do. Should I force him to get up? Was this going to be one of those situations where he'd later be pissed off that I didn't kick his sleepy ass out of bed? I finally decided I was too tired to deal with it, and just went back to sleep. After all, Wilson was the one who'd already registered online and paid the $20 fee (I, on the other hand, had not--yay commitophobia!) . . . if anyone should be motivated to get up it was him!

We went back to sleep for a few more hours, and then dragged ourselves out of bed a little before 8:30. It felt GREAT to sleep in--we were both in agreement on that one! We realized we were out of coffee (sadness), and decided we should venture out to the closest Dunkin Donuts, which is about a half-mile walk from our apartment (I couldn't help but think of Topher!). It was a beautiful morning out and my cinnamon coffee was SO worth the walk! I spent most of the day catching up on blogs and taking naps (mmm, naps!).

Come late afternoon, my legs were anxious to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous day! Oddly enough, though, they decided that simple running just wouldn't suffice. No, no. My legs? They wanted to run stairs. Yeah. So Wilson and I headed to the park, and my legs picked out these stairs to run up:

Fun times, right? I sprinted up them 12 times (and walked back down in between sprints). Here are some photos Wilson took of me in all of my stair-running glory:


I actually thought about doing additional sets, but figured I should probably try to save some of my legs for at least a semi-long run tomorrow. Wilson and I strolled around the park a bit, and then eventually headed home, where I attacked some basic pilates via LifeSkool. Not a bad day at all on the exercise front, despite the fact that we skipped our 10K this morning. I'm pretty sure sleeping in was the best thing for both of us, considering we've been pretty busy lately.

Oh, and in other news, I returned to the site of the hammy destruction that took place last June. My firm has a co-ed team that plays over in the Chelsea Piers league . . . and I FINALLY made it to one of the games last night (the league may or may not have started in early April--oops!). I was absolutely TERRIFIED of playing soccer again, for some reason. I guess that injury might have been a bit more traumatic than I thought. Luckily, my hamstrings survived, and I played relatively well for not having played competitively in almost a year . . . in fact, I was the only girl on our team to score (and I also had a couple assists). My team lost 8-9, but I think we played pretty well together, all things considered. We, of course, celebrated with a pint at the nearby brew pub. I'm already looking forward to the game next Friday, although let's hope I can stay awake through it, considering it's not until 11 p.m.! (Don't they know that's past my bed time?)

Up for tomorrow? Who knows! I guess you'll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out! Happy Weekend, everyone!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Keep America (and everyone else) Fit: Episode 1

In an effort to keep America (and everyone else) fit, I have decided to start reviewing books that cover my super-fave topics (why, nutrition and fitness, of course!). For some reason, it appears that everything I read these days happens to fall into one of the two genres, so I figured I might as well put my obsession to work! First up . . .

Written by the Editor-in Chief of Men's Health magazine (who I'm sure is a busy guy himself), this book is FANTASTIC for people who lead crazy-busy lifestyles, and find themselves eating out of the dreaded paper bag more frequently than they might care to admit. It's also kind of useful for people who have a phobia of fast-food (is there a name for that?). Prior to reading this book, I would automatically fall violently ill at just the thought of stepping into a fast-food joint. Luckily, David Zinczenko's book has made me far less afraid of the formidable golden arches and other American attrocities. Why? Because it shares with its readers the dark, dirty secrets of the food industry--and not in a vomit-inducing Fastfood Nation sort of way--but rather, in a "if you eat this, you will have to run for approximately 5 days straight to burn off its calories" type of way. LOVE IT!

Eat This, Not That consists of eight different sections:

1. Foods you should eat every day; and foods to avoid at all costs

2. The best and worst restaurant meals

3. Strategies for eating right when dining out

4. Advice for holiday eating

5. Strategies for grocery shopping

6. The ultimate guide to healthy beverages

7. What to eat in various situations (stress, tiredness, etc.)

8. Eating guide for children

The layout is very simple, but also very effective. For instance, in the restaurant meals section, each 2-page spread contains a fast food or chain restaurant we all know and love. On the right-hand page, you'll find the "only eat this if you have the time to run for 5 days straight to burn it off" selections, and on the left-hand page, there are smarter, healthier alternatives, as well as special order options that can save you loads of calories and fat. While one of the reviewers on complained that the book " is basicly [sic] all pictures," I am wondering whether anyone (besides me, of course) would actually want to read a nutrition book that didn't have pictures. Can we say BORING?!

One thing that really struck me about this book is that it would be perfect for people who so aren't obsessed with nutrition. For instance, let's say your New Year's Resolution is to "eat healthier," but you really don't want to deal with the inconvenience of having to obsessively analyze each and every specimen you happen to ingest. Simply peruse the pages of Eat This, Not That and memorize what your best food options are at your fave fast-food/chain joints! As the book suggests, you may just save yourself "10, 20 or 30 pounds a year" by following its advice--no calorie counting or food journaling necessary!

Finally, my favorite aspect of this book is its size. I like to think of it as "fun size"--kind of like those little itty-bitty candy bars, but actually "fun" (seriously, is anyone actually satisfied with eating just one of those?). It could easily fit into a purse or briefcase, which makes it perfect for someone who is constantly on-the-go. Are you between business meetings in a part of town you're not so familiar with, and have just ten minutes to squeeze lunch in? Worry not, my friend! There's a Wendy's across the street . . . pull out your copy of this book, turn to page 136 and enjoy your 5 piece nuggets and chili! Granted, if you're as crazy-busy as I am, you probably carry a bag so big most airlines would reject it as a carry-on . . . so the damn thing could probably be encyclopedia-sized and STILL fit into your "purse." But anyway, your back will totally thank this book for being "fun-sized."

In sum, I'm pretty sure you need this book. And considering you can get it for the low-low price of $11.97, why not? If nothing else, you can probably tear out the photos of the quarter pounder (which is a "good" option, believe it or not), and tape them to the display of your treadmill. How's that for motivation?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Take It and Run Thursday: Marathon Mania

Today, we are celebrating “Marathon Mania” over at the Runners Lounge. Now, for most runners, marathon “mania” probably refers to their enthusiasm and excitement about running marathons. In my case, though, it actually refers to my tendency to turn temporarily bipolar in the weeks leading up to a marathon. I’m totally serious. Prior to my first marathon, I went through waves of “TOTALLY EXCITED OMIGOD I CAN’T WAIT THIS IS GOING TO BE AMAAAAAAZING!” This mania was complimented ever so nicely with waves of, “Uh oh. I have to run a marathon in a couple weeks, (tomorrow, in 5 minutes, etc.). But . . . I’m not ready! I still have so much to learn! Omigod, I have to look up everything there is to read on the internet regarding marathoning RIGHT THIS SECOND . . . or I’m just not going to finish!” Yeah. I was a joy to be around during those weeks, I’m sure.

While I laugh about it now, I did spend approximately 150 hours of my life researching marathons, and compiling a 10-page list of “marathon tips and information” that I all but memorized (you think I'm kidding, don't you?). Thus, I figure I might as well share the “greatest hits” version of the tips I’ve collected (both through frenzied internet research, and through the experience of having run one very painful marathon--with many more to come, of course).


1. The schedule is not meant to be followed as though your life depends on it. I repeat: The schedule is not meant to be followed as though your life depends on it. Sometimes you need rest. Sometimes you need cross-training. Sometimes you need a trip to the Bahamas. If your body is giving you not-so-subtle signs that what you’re doing is too much, take a step back. Seriously. I promise that missing one run will not force you to DNF (and if you go to the Bahamas, bring me with, please!).

2. If you’ll be training alone, make sure you have one hell of a marathon playlist . . . OR get yourself some good, long podcasts (FYI, Pheddipidations is a great one)! It can get pretty damn lonely out there . . .

3. Ice baths are great (except for after winter long runs—yay, hypothermia!)

4. Do not bother making plans for after your long runs. I can’t tell you how many times I told myself, “I don’t want to go to the grocery store now—I’ll go after my run” and then went hungry for the next week.

5. Make sure you use at least one long run as a “dress rehearsal” of sorts for your marathon. Try out everything from the food you'll eat beforehand, to the clothing you’ll wear, to your hydration/fuel strategy, to the super cool pose you’ll do while crossing the finish line (this may be embarrassing, but practice makes perfect!)

6. Moleskin and body glide are beautiful things.

7. Try to keep a record of your training—whether it be in one of those little journal logs, on looseleaf paper or in a blog (I, of course, vote for a blog—your friends and family will probably get sick of hearing you run at the mouth about blisters and gels and chafing . . . but we sure won’t!)

8. Training for a marathon is just as hard on your significant others, kids, parents, siblings, friends, etc. as it is on you. Be understanding when loved ones get frustrated with your ridiculous training schedule. Try to do special things for them (especially things that don't involve much movement) in order to make up for the fact that training has stolen so much of your free time.


9. Tapering is a necessary evil. You will go slightly crazy, but luckily there is “google.” You can waste more time than you’d imagine googling anything and everything having to do with marathons. (What on earth did people do prior to google?!)

10. Watch your favorite running movies. (as an aside, this plan kind of backfired on me . . . I went to go see Spirit of the Marathon (highly recommended!) two weeks before my first marathon. While the movie served its purpose and got me really motivated and excited, it also got me REALLY terrified. In fact, I had a small panic attack right there in the movie theater. While beautiful and awe-inspiring, the aerial shots of the HUGE crowd of runners at the Chicago start line were a bit overwhelming. Apparently I had never thought about how many people would actually be lining up at with me until that very moment. Wilson tried to make me feel better by saying, “but there will only be like 25,000 at LA!” Yep, shockingly, it didn’t quite help).

11. Take the time to thank those who have helped you get through your training. This includes, but is not limited to: your boyfriend who cooked you dinner a million Saturdays in a row because you were too tired to move; your mother who listened to you complain about how that one time your boyfriend actually asked you to clean up after dinner, when you had just run 18 miles; your friends who dealt over and over again with rejected Friday night invitations (“sorry, I have to run x-miles tomorrow morning”); your sister whose phone calls you never returned because you were too exhausted to hold the phone up to your ear and your phone’s speaker function was busted; the random coach/friend/etc. who inspired you to run the marathon in the first place; your fantastic and supportive blog readers who encouraged you the most when you were having an off day. It’s nice to feel appreciated!

12. Do not allow yourself to think negative thoughts. Seriously. The moment they pop into your head, b*tch-slap them right out again and replace them with those cheesy affirmations we all love. (“I am a strong woman. I am worthy of completing a marathon.”) You have worked hard to get to where you are . . . you really should have nothing but positive things to say about yourself. And besides, I know a dude who once ran a marathon without really training for it. So yeah, if HE can do it, you can totally do it. There’s nothing to be nervous about . . . it’s JUST 26.2 miles!


13. Try to keep your diet relatively boring and as consistent as possible. Now isn’t the time to try sushi for the first time, or sample that “nuclear hot sauce” you just bought.

14. Carbs and fluids, my friends. You should totally have this one down by now!

15. Trim your toenails a few days before the race. If you accidentally cut one too low, it will give it some time to heal up before race day. Isn’t it weird how the littlest wounds can hurt SO damn much?

16. Make sure to get a crap-load of sleep TWO NIGHTS before the marathon. If you’re like me, you won’t get a wink of sleep the night before the race . . . yay, nerves!

17. Stay off your feet as much as possible the day before the marathon. Yes, I know the expo is exciting, but so is finishing a marathon without dying.

18. Make plans with your “fan club” the day before the race (or hell, if you’re ambitious—even earlier than that). You won’t want to do it the morning of the race, trust me. Also make backup plans. Depending on the size of the race, there could be tens of thousands of people looking for one another in the post-race “family meetup” areas. (and guess what? Even though there aren’t a hell of a lot of people whose names begin with Q or X, there are a ton who think it’s a genius plan to meet at those “not so popular” letters—just sayin’)

18. Try to eat your “Marathon Eve” carbo-load meal earlier in the afternoon . . . a big, fat tummy full of carbs can contribute further to the no sleep issue. Later on (when you would presumably eat dinner), eat just a light, bland snack. One day of boring food won’t kill you when you have the juiciest, fattest post-race cheeseburger on the face of the planet to look forward to!

19. Lay all of your clothing/gear/drugs/etc. out the night before the big race. It will eliminate the stress of having to find everything on marathon morning.

20. If you are staying in a hotel, bring your favorite pillow with you. This sounds silly, but I can distinctly remember getting unreasonably pissed off at the pillow I was trying to sleep on the night before my first marathon. Bringing your own pillow with you is just a little thing that will make you a bit more comfy, and therefore more likely to sleep.

21. Set approximately 64 different alarms . . . just in case you actually do fall asleep. Make sure you set the alarm for a time that will allow you to get ready at a leisurely pace. You don’t want to feel rushed to get to the start line on time!


22. DO NOT WEAR ANYTHING NEW. I cannot repeat this one enough, but seriously. DO NOT WEAR ANYTHING NEW. Just don’t do it.

23. Put Body Glide or Vaseline on anything that could potentially rub against anything else (but again, test this out in your training runs first!) I’ve hear horror stories about people using the stuff on their feet for the first time ever and having serious issues!

24. DO NOT EAT ANYTHING NEW. If you have to, bring your own breakfast from home . . . sometimes finding even simple items like bananas and bagels can prove difficult. Bring out your inner scout and be prepared for anything!

25. Sun block is your friend. The only thing worse than being totally sore and unable to move after a marathon . . . is being totally sore and REALLY unable to move due to the blistering sunburn all over your body. Yeah. Not good.

26. Pack yourself some toilet paper to use in the start area. You’ll thank me for this one, I promise (and hey, if you don’t end up needing it, you can always just toss it—or use it later around mile-21 to dry your tears)!

27. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the start. You’ll probably have to relieve yourself like 13 times before the gun goes off, so get there early!

28. START SLOWLY. I know it’s exciting and you feel like you can fly, but guess what? You can’t. If you start too fast, it won’t be long before you REALLY wish you could fly. If you start slowly, this desire won’t kick in until at least mile-16. Starting slowly is money.

29. Thank any and every volunteer you can. Your marathon would not be possible without them (you don’t have to be cheerful, just make sure you mean it—and remember, the volunteers didn’t sign you up for the marathon, you signed yourself up. Same goes for your fan club)!

30. Make sure to jot down everything you can about your race soon after you finish (in the blogging world, we call these gems “race reports.”) You’ll be really glad to have it later on, and if you plan on running future marathons, re-reading these tales can fill you to the brim with inspiration and motivation.

Other than that, folks, it’s a piece of cake! But really, I do believe that anyone—and I mean anyone—can train for and successfully complete a marathon. Just do me a huge favor and don’t make the same mistake I made: Please do not train all winter in a cold climate, and then suddenly throw your poor, confused body into a hot-weather marathon. Your body will NOT be happy about that one!

Until next time . . .

Cross Training, What-What?!

So I’ve really been mixing things up again this week. Here’s what the week has looked like:

Monday: 45 mins. “gentle” yoga; 15 mins. “killer abs”

Tuesday: 2 hour soccer practice (this is a long story, which will be addressed at another time—but I’ll give you a hint—it involves my random mention of Stockholm in
this post)

Wednesday: 45 minutes of kickboxing (I am LOVING the kickboxing, let me tell you); 15 mins. “rock hard abs”; about 30 mins. pilates

Today, I’m aiming to actually get a run in, and possibly some weight-lifting as well. Yep. I’m pretty pumped about it. I have no clue how long I’ll run . . . I’m just going to see what I’m feeling up to, and go from there. This plan I’m on is just CRAZY!

Okay, so in other news . . . I’m thinking about running a 10K on Saturday. In Jersey. I know, right? You see, Wilson is training for his very first half-marathon, and is kind of in a similar mode to that which I was in while training for my first marathon . . . you know, one of those “all hail the almighty training schedule!” modes. So if there’s a 10K on the schedule, I’ll be damned if he’s not running a 10K that weekend . . . even if it means—yes—getting to Jersey at the ass-crack of dawn. Since I promised him I’d go with him to the race, I was thinking I might just run the thing! I am very interested in finding out if the course is really as “fast” as they claim. Oh, and don’t forget partaking in post-race food and festivities. Finally, the registration fee is only $20. I mean, c’mon! So yeah, I’m thinking it might just make sense for me to run it! Thoughts?

Okay, that’s all I have for now, but I’ll be back later with my (many) thoughts on marathoning.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Long Run is Back . . . Kinda

Today was long run day. As I mentioned yesterday, I'd done mostly cross training over the past week, and I was very interested in seeing how today's long run would pan out. Well, I have to say, it was probably the best long run I've had throughout my 8 weeks of half-marathon training. And while it wouldn't take much to beat out the crap-fest of long runs I've suffered through to date, today was really just perfect--or almost perfect anyway. The weather was gorgeous, I only got run over by an obnoxious teen on a bike once, and I felt pretty strong for most of the run. Now, you may be wondering what limits this run to being "almost perfect." Well . . . sadly, I did not run the full 8 miles. Around the 7-mile mark, I REALLY started to drag. Like many of my other runs lately, I just got to a point where I felt like I was exerting an absurd amount of effort, but the result was me crawling along at a snail's pace, hardly able to continue moving. I made it another quarter of a mile before deciding it best to walk the remaining distance. I was just having to work WAY too hard to justify continuing . . . and figured as such, my body was probably trying to tell me it was done with running for the day. Still, I feel really good about the run, and I'm thinking that another week of sleep and cross training are in order.

A million thanks (or foot rubs, maybe--what good are multiple "thanks"?) to Wilson, who ran with me despite the fact that I insisted on running "slower than slow" . . . Ha, my Garmin died the second I turned it on (oops, maybe charging it occasionally would help), so I unintentionally ran "watchless." (Emilie, I think running gods totally agreed with you on that no watch thing). According to Wilson's watch, we ran right around a 10:00/mile pace (which is actually faster than I thought--it felt like we were crawling).

Oh, and a quick shoutout to the Mister Softee man . . . what would I do without you? If it weren't so creepy, I'd promise a million foot rubs to you too--but how about I just buy a million slushes/soft-serve cones from you instead? That will benefit us both ;)

Mixing It Up

So, as I mentioned earlier in the week, I've been trying this new "take it easy or you might die" training plan. Or well, it's not a plan per se . . . it's more listening to my body and doing whatever physical activity my body happens to be up for at whatever spare moment of time I happen to have to train. This is what the past week has looked like for me fitness-wise:

Monday: Rest day.

Tuesday: 4.5-ish mile "easy run"

Wednesday: 30 minutes core training

Thursday: 15 minutes on rowing machine--level 5 (of 10) resistance; 25 minutes on elliptical trainer--level 7 (of 20) resistance.

Friday: I don't think you could really call it a "rest day." The amount of stair climbing and sprinting I did in the 10-ish hours I was at work would shock and amaze you (yeah . . . it was one of THOSE days).

Then today, I discovered the free(!) "lifeskool" on-demand channel on our cablevision. Apparently there is a just a huge resource of fitness and yoga videos available on there (fyi, you can also get an assortment of the videos online). So apparently my body really wanted to do a 15-minute "killer abs" video. But it didn't end there . . . then my body went for a little "kickboxing" (45-ish minutes worth to be exact). Finally, my body demanded that I do a 25-minute "latin dance" video. It was a pretty nice workout all in all, so I assumed my body was done. Nope! After reading one of Emilie's old "Weekly Challenge" posts about pushups, I decided I wanted to see how many pushups I could do. I managed to make it to 20 before my form really started to suck . . . not too bad, I suppose. But considering I can distinctly remember completing 30-some pushups in one of those "presidential challenges" in high school, I'm going to have to work on this, I think! (Thanks for the inspiration, Emilie!)

The great thing about my little remix week is that I'm actually getting back to the point where I feel strong after my workouts (as opposed to feeling like hospitalization is imminent). That has me pretty hopeful that I'm getting over this little exhaustion spree of mine. I'm still pretty nervous about tackling my long run tomorrow, though. I don't think I've had a good long run since marathon training . . . so I'm praying for a good long run experience. Hopefully the week of mostly cross-training will end up affecting the long run in a positive way. I guess only time will tell! That being said, I've got 8 on the schedule. I'm planning to take it nice and slow . . . I may even let Wilson run alone, at his own pace, so that I won't feel the need to try to keep up with him. We'll see. But for now, my body has decided it is sleepy-time!!

Hope you're all having great weekends thus far! Good luck to all those racing! Run strong!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Take It And Run Thursday: I'm Asking the Questions Here!

This week, for Take It and Run Thursday, those of us over at the Runner's Lounge get to stop pretending like we know everything and show some vulnerability! That's right, I get to ask the questions today ;) Any comments would be much appreciated! And, in return, I will try to share the love with those of you whose questions I actually know the answers to . . . (ha, don't get too excited; I'm betting there aren't many!)

1) What are your preferred methods of "cross-training?"

2) While doing your long runs . . . do you fuel on the go (i.e. while running--and if so, how do you not choke and die)? Do you slow to a walk to fuel up? Or do you stop completely? Also, how do you reflect this in your total time for the run? For instance, do you stop your watch while taking fuel breaks, or do you simply let it run? Just curious what other people out there do. While training for my first marathon, I would pause briefly to take gels/water/sports drink/etc., but would keep the clock running ("the clock won't stop running during the marathon," I would tell myself). Then, inevitably, I would wonder what my actual running pace was, since the pace my Garmin read included these breaks. While on the topic, what are your favorite long run fueling products? Gels? Sports drinks? Bars? Others? Any particular brands/flavors?

3) How do you deal with sticking to training plans when having to travel . . . say, to Stockholm, or somewhere equally random?

4) What are your favorite core training exercises? (I'm just all about the core training right now)

5) Coffee or no coffee prior to early morning races? (This was a huge decision for me prior to my first marathon--I had been drinking a pre-run cup of coffee all through training, but then wasn't sure if I wanted to risk any tummy issues on race morning--I decided to err on the side of caution) But what do y'all do?

6) Any good pasta dish recipes out there? HA, let's be honest . . . the same old whole-grain penne/spaghetti/etc. in olive oil with dried basil, parsley, red pepper and parmigiano-reggiano gets old after a while! (and yes, I know there are hundreds of cookbooks dedicated to this very topic, but I'm looking for runner-friendly dishes here--i.e. healthy-ish)

7) Do you have a good luck charm that you carry on you during races?


So, what is the best way to make sure that work won't interfere with your running schedule? CALL OUT SICK! Ha. Okay, not exactly the best plan of action, but it did work for me in a bind on Tuesday. I SO needed a break (like y'all couldn't tell--ha) . . . apparently this happens when you work for four weeks straight without a real day off. So yeah, I decided to make Tuesday an Irish Cream personal day. I slept until around 4 p.m. (with a couple hour-long awake-breaks to answer emails and watch The Tyra Banks Show--again, why do I admit these things?!) I then got up, did a little research on grad school, ate "lunch," read some of the Jillian Michaels "Making The Cut" book (fyi, this seems like an awesome plan for anyone who wants to work his/her butt off for 30 days and seriously tone up), watched my tivo'd Ugly Betty episode, and finally made my way outside to run around 6:00 p.m. Considering I am now on the "take it easy or you might die" training plan, I set out with absolutely no time/distance goals whatsoever. It was a beautiful day out, and I just wanted to enjoy myself and try to regain that love for running that's been hiding somewhere behind my long work days and sleep deprivation!

I ran Garmin-less, and tried to force myself to move as SLOWLY and effortlessly as possible. I'm not going to lie, running was still difficult, and I definitely could still feel some crazy exhaustion in play. But I think the run did manage to bring back some of that "loving feeling" I'd been missing. Thus, it accomplished its intended purpose, and I won't dare complain! I ended up covering somewhere between 5 and 6 miles total (but with several walking breaks mixed in between). I'm figuring that in all, I probably ran somewhere between 4 and 4.5 miles. I headed back to my apartment after my run, took a hot shower, and caught American Idol live for--I think--the first time EVER! Wilson brought me home some delicious sushi, which I promptly devoured while we watched the end of the Rangers' game (UGH). Then I went to bed around 11:00, and fell asleep IMMEDIATELY. Um, tired much? I think that might be a record for the least number of hours spent awake in one day (while not in a coma)!

In other news, you all will be glad to know that I followed your wonderful advice and SAID NO to my horrible employers last night. I did wait until 9:30 to do it, but still . . . better late than never, right? I had met with No. 1 A-hole earlier in the day, and he'd asked me to finish a project up by the end of the day (let's call it "Project A"). Well, later on, an even more pressing project came up that he wanted me to work on (let's get REALLY creative and call it "Project B"). What would the old Irish have done? She would have finished up "Project B," and then stayed at work all night attempting to still finish up "Project A." But who am I? I am NEW IRISH! New Irish finished up "Project B," then started to work on "Project A" (okay, so maybe I shouldn't have even done THAT much) . . . but she eventually decided, "you know what? I'm not going to stay here all night! I mean, the man himself pulled me off of "Project A" . . . he should understand if I can't finish it!" So I sent him an email stating that "Project B" had taken longer than expected, and that I would have "Project A" for him by mid-day the next day. While I didn't quite have enough energy to get to the gym, I did do some nice core work at home AND still managed to get to bed at a decent time! I think I could get used to this "leaving work before 11:00 p.m." thing!

Along with the new me, I've also come up with a corresponding new work plan. This plan involves leaving by--at the latest--8:00 p.m. EVERY night unless there is a real, pressing deadline I'm working with. Besides emergencies, I will contact the attorneys I work with and let them know that I will have the project(s) for them at whatever time I think is reasonable. If any of them want to fight me about it, I will fight. I'm sick of being taken advantage of all the time. So yes. This is my new work plan.

I also have a brand spankin' new plan for the half-marathon I'm supposed to be running in 4 weeks (yikes!) That plan is--GASP!--to just have fun with it. I'm dropping myself down to Hal's Beginner schedule for the remainder of the month, and I am not going to let myself get all worked up about time goals and such. Had I possessed the time and energy to train properly, I know I could have nailed my goal of sub-2 hours. However, that's simply not the case. Thus, I'm going to focus on taking things easy, but still getting my miles in . . . no more speed training, tempo runs, etc.--just easy-peasy running. Hell, you might as well call it "jogging." Ultimately, I'm going to try to just have fun in South Bend come May 31. My girls will be there running various distances as well, and I don't want to allow myself turn into Ms. Grump because I missed an unfeasible time goal. Besides, it's my first half-marathon, I will--by default--earn myself a PR! That's enough to be proud of, if you ask me :)

So there you have it . . . my new plans for life (at least for the next month). I already feel much better about life and, shockingly, even my job. More later . . .