December 31, 2004
New Years Eve
It's been raining steady all day. Grey, chilly rain. Went out for a cannoli this morning that made me think I had died and gone to heaven. Rain, rain, rain. Went to pick up my packet. More of the same.
While I was in the running store, a guy was scolding someone on his cell phone. He wasn't happy that they were doing the First Runwasn't happy about them driving with all those drunks.
Went to gym to do my hamstring exercises. Downtown was dark and deserted. Gym was quiet. I did my routine, then went upstairs to do some long, slow, heavy lifting. I should keep track of this stuff, what I did and how much, but, ummm... maybe next year?
I decided to go to the smoke shop (which was open) to see if I could pick up the new issue of Runners World, and there were some drunk (or otherwise inebriated) guys hanging out who cat called me. I ignored them, and then they started yelling all sorts of rude things that I can't repeat (so you know it's bad). And, of course, no RW.
And this is the dilemma of doing a race downtown on New Years Eve. I could take public transportation, which is free, but it is raining outside, and oh boy, I get to hang out with some new drunk people. Or, I could drive, and take my chances on the road. Neither sounds that good. I'm seriously underwhelmed about the idea of a race in the rain too. Oh well.
The problem with restrictions
Well, one step forwards, two steps back.
I had hopes of perhaps squeezing the 30K in yesterday morning, ignoring the fact that the plumber was supposed to come by. Of course, once I had some coffee, I realized I needed to do some bathroom cleaning, and some house cleaning, tout suite. I managed to make it an aerobic activity, and worked up a real sweat. By the time the plumber came, the bathroom (with the exception of the bathtub, and any interior spaces) sparkled and actually smelled good.
Once the plumber came, I couldn't stop. I did some clean-up in the laundry room, and then swept into the living room. I made some significant improvements. No deep cleaningthat'll come soon.
I had some big plans of at least walking to the gym, doing my exercises, and then walking over to the chiro, but I chose the wrong thing for lunch (after the plumber finally left, when I was ravenous), and my belly was seriously upset. So, I continued cleaning, though at a more ginger pace.
The chiro appt was fine. I got to see the analysis of my torqued pelvis (15 cm, my friends!), get the knee ultrasounded, get adjusted, and get a heel lift (7cmI'll graduate to something bigger in a week or two).
I was ultrasounded by a pregnant woman. We started chatting, mostly about her pregnancy. I've never been pregnant, and I really haven't wanted to be. But I started talking about the important bonding that she was having with her fetus, that she already had this tremendously strong connection to it (even if it was annoying her by restricting her breathing and playing soccer while she tried to rest)and suddenly I had a pang of desire for it. It passed, but, I felt a twinge of sadness, of wanting that sort of connection with another human being.
After that, we had a great, lighthearted conversation about breasts being overrated. Yes!
Next, happy hour with the food group. We met at a really fancy place that has a cheap happy hour, and I had thought it was just going to be my three best food group palswe had talked about this being a small thing. Alas, not so. That ended up being fine, as I met some folks who were new to the group, including a woman whose foodie posts I had followed with interest, and a couple who are way into beer, and were excited to meet another beer enthusiast. I had a great time chatting with them, and after two (or was it three?) drinks, I was feeling pretty good about life in general.
I finished up the evening by running to my favorite bakery for a supply of pain rustique and pain au chocolat and walnut rolls. This was partially fuelled by my being out by my not-so-lonesome, but more so by the fact that I had spent part of the afternoon thinking about new years resolutions, and thinking that I should think about restricting the french bread and french fries that I eat. So of course, I was making up for all the deprivation I could see in the future (though I didn't get any french fries). I stopped at the coop and picked up some healthy noshy food, and some beer (see above), and then came home.
We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.
December 30, 2004
There is a real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.
Norman Vincent Peale
December 29, 2004
I'm ready for the new year. I can't believe it's here, but still, I'm ready for a fresh start. I just want to clean and dung things out. The house, work, my workouts, my attitude, my bodyI want to open the blinds and turn on the blinds and reassess.
I've been consumed with the thought of cleaning, of pruning, of getting down to business. I feel so strongly that going to the sports chiropractor was the right thing to do, and I'm so excited to have my new hamstring exercises. Oh my gosh, it's almost like having a personal trainer.
Today, my legs feel better. Walking down stairs is still unpleasant, but it's a lot better than it was.
It's been one of those daysnot bad, just busy, busy, busy. I came in early, and just scrambled solid until two thirty, until I could run out into drizzle, get some lunch and head to the gym. I did a slow heavy set at the bench press and at the chin up machine. There was a young man who was yo-yo-ing up and down on another chin up machine, and I just wanted to stop him and say, 'dude. Controlled movements. Going slower taxes your muscles more.' Of course, I didn't. But I wanted to.
Then I went into one of the group exercise rooms to do my assigned exercises. It was perfectit has a rack of exercise balls, a tub of mats, and it was big and empty and practically dark. Of course, once I got started, a couple people came in. I did my exercises, they were hard, but I did them all. Wuhoo!
I now have a four day weekend. With two races! I need to shoehorn a 30K walk in there too, and I don't have a clue where that's going to go. Monday, I have jury duty. And so it goes.
December 28, 2004
I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.
Another justification for racewalking
It is impossible to walk rapidly and be unhappy.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)
I've been watching some fun movies lately. Over the long weekend, I saw The Hunted which was filmed in Portland (partly in my neighborhood!!), which was so amazingly bad, it was a real laugh riot. Really. A ten-minute fight scene crossing the Hawthorne Bridge! In a MAX train! A car chase that goes from my neighborhood, then turns the corner and is in Northwest (about 4 miles away)! I love bad movies, especially bad movies made here.
Oh, and in the Hunted, Portland is sunny! Only on film!
I love good movies too. We also caught Shaun of the Dead, and like the completionists we are, we watched the director's commentary, and checked out all the extras. The special effects/CGI work clips were alone worth the price of the rental.
I TiVOed Breaking Away, which I remember loving as a bike-crazy teenager. So, it's not as great as I remembered, but it made good exercycle fodder.
And this morning, I started watching Bollywood/Hollywood, which I am absolutely loving. While I've never actually seen a Bollywood epic, I used to religiously watch AVS, which showed previews of movies and lots of song and dance sequences. I love it! So far, Bollywood/Hollywood is delivering on the all-singing, all-dancing end, with a drama (of course) and the beautiful streets of Toronto as a background.
first day solo
It was still dark when I left the house this morning. The sky was cloudy, but here and there stars, planets and the moon peaked out. It was just gorgeous to be walking through the neighborhood then, seeing some houses still festooned with plugged-in xmas lights.
That makes it sound like I left early. Oops, not so. But I iced my elbow and my knee like I'm supposed to (and I never do). And I did get a 20 minute walk in, trying very hard to keep walking with my toes up. It's hard, for me at least. Even though my toe was barely lifted, totally unlike the real racewalkers who practically reveal the entire sole of the shoe forwards and back in a step. I could really feel it in my hamstrings. Which was the goal.
I feel like I've been gifted with another piece of the puzzle. If strengthening my hamstrings means that I'll have more endurance, more power (and, perhaps, more speed!), then that's what I gotta do. I'd like to learn some more about my glutes toocan I use my body's largest muscle group to power me as well??
I got to the gym and did my first solo set of the sports trainer's exercises. Squats: hard. The bridging exercise using a ball: next to impossible. The stretches: challenging (and I just realized that I did one of them according to the written directions rather than how he had taught me). All in all, seven exercises that took about 30 minutes.
But that's done. And my legs feel great! Wuhoo!
December 27, 2004
I took today as a
comp flex day for some of the time I put into the magazine, what seems like a lifetime ago now. It was nice not to go into work but the day was still very full.
(I just read my work e-mail. What a mistake!)
First thing, I went to a sports chiropractor who was wonderful. He did a number of tests and pronounced that he believed one leg is longer than the other (do you know of anyone who sees a chiropractor who doesn't have one leg longer than the other?), and that the right knee had a case of bursitis from a really tight hamstring and weak glutes. He then ultrasounded the knee to remove the swelling, and sent me off with instructions to get an x-ray of my pelvis (really!), and to make an appointment with the office sports trainer.
I ran to take Echo to the groomer's in hope of losing the horrible smell he's been carrying around with him, and got there late. Then, ran downtown hoping to get a sandwich before pilates. Ordered the sandwich, then ran into the gym to wash my hands, and learned that pilates had been cancelled. Dammit! So, I went to the piercing studio to get my ear lobes pierced.
The woman working seemed to think nothing of the fact that I was just getting my lobes pierced. Once upon a time, I had three sets of holes in my lobes, but they have all healed up. Every time my ears have been pierced, it's been with a piercing gun, brandished by a teenage girl or a drunk palestinian, which is all fine and good. But this time, I wanted it done by a sober adult. I got a nice pair of tiny hoops, which is just what I wanted to wear anyways.
Then, I ran out to the x-ray place. I had to talk to 4 or 5 different staffers there about the fact that I was paying cash for the visit (my insurance doesn't cover chiropractic, so what's the use of trying to get them to cover a chiropractor recommended x-ray?), and finally, I got to have the x-ray. The technician was very funny, and was very into showing me my x-rays even though she couldn't officially interpret them. My pelvis is seriously torqued, though the technician said that she had seen far worse.
Zoom, zoom, zoom. Back to groomers, back to dog who was very happy to see me. Ran him back home, and zoom literally back into downtown to make the appointment with the sports trainer. He gave me 7 exercises that seriously kick my butt to do: two squats, three floor exercises, and two standing stretches.
I got home about 4:30 and collapsed! I am so relieved to hear that the knee trouble is just what I had hoped it wastight, weak hamstrings. That, I can work on.
from Leaves of Grass
Afoot and light-hearted
I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me
leading wherever I choose.
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
December 26, 2004
Since I learned of Slug Velo, Portland's mellow-paced group ride, I've wanted to participate. Their monthly rides are usually on Saturdayand I invariably have obligations on Saturdays. But today was December's Boxing Day Digestive, and it was perfect weatherhazy, cool, overcast.
My right knee has been bothering me a lot. Partially out of laziness, and partially out of fear, I haven't been walking. And as I started to ride this morning, I started questioning the wisdom of cycling when my knee was really really hurting.
I first needed to swing by the credit union before I'd head to the Rose Quarter and by the time I was almost to the credit union, I was almost in tears. What was I thinking, doing this ride? I hurt. And I'm slow. They aren't going to want to ride with someone this slow. Those slight inclines will kill me!
I got to RQ with one minute to spare. And saw no one with bikes. Then, after a minute, a guy rode up with his son on a tag-along and asked if I was there for the ride. And then a woman rode up with her daughter, the daughter on a purple bike with pink rims, who said, 'I think we're meeting down at the Esplanade'. 'If nothing else, we can go on our own slug velo,' said the guy.
Of course, immediately after that, we found the group.
We rode down and across the Hawthorne bridge, then, into town, and then Northwest. After an hour, we stopped at a st@rbucks for kaffee und kuchen and lots of talk. While I had feared group dynamics, etc, etc, people were friendly, and the official last person rode with me, and we chatted about all sorts of things -- his Bike Friday, my bike, the weather, cars. When we left from the coffeeshop, I was able to stay up with the front pack. Wuuhoo!
People were friendly. People were normal. There were parents with kids, couples with their in-laws. Some wore jeans, normal pants, while others wore bike gear. There was one dog with a spectacular sweater. Some had fancy bikesothers didn't. It was great. I am so glad I went.
December 25, 2004
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
December 24, 2004
I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism have brought me to my ideas.
December 23, 2004
warm & fuzzy
Echo likes to start the day bundled up on the couch with a cup of coffee and an issue of Northwest Runner
The jury is out to lunch on some of these, but I did learn this morning that I've earned a new form of popularity: I got my first comment spamwuhoo!
So I really exist! I wasn't having any sort of crisis about that, reallyI am so thrilled that you guys actually read this and offer such great comments that I feel very warm and fuzzy about you all.
But enough of all this touchy-feely stuff. No exercise this morningperhaps this afternoon as I get off work early. I am still an emotional wreck, but a therapy session yesterday gave me some new insight into the situation. So now I've been reading stuff about the adverse effects of adoption, which is making me very sad indeed.
In other news, weight loss is entirely stalled. I need to get back on the horse and start back with the regular exercise and eating right, and I'm hoping the next two long weekends will help on that account. But, interestingly, the weight loss stopped when I started questioning whether I wanted to lose weight. Megan has been writing about this of latethat dieting was making her feel weird/obsessive about food.
I'm thinking that I'm having this crisis way before I need to be having this crisis, as I do want to be faster, and I do want to be able to buy normal women's workout gear. But as I was in Pilates the other day doing floor exercises, I was overcome by how much I love women's curves, the small waist and the larger hips. And I have that nowit's just super-sized. Even if I managed to lose 80# tout suite, I would still have my girlish figure.
Long ago and far away, this process of losing weight and getting fit began when I wanted breast reduction surgery, and realized that I probably wouldn't be able to get it until I lost some weight. So, I started losing weight doing the South Beach, and then started walking, and found that I couldn't do the South Beach and workout. I still really want the end result of the surgery, but now I want to see what all I can do on my own, without surgery.
Anyways, I need to get all this clear in my own head. Sigh!
December 22, 2004
Not about me
(But in case that doesn't work, I've got hot cocoa as a hedge)
I still am a bit cross, even after doing a lot of talking about it, and crying about it, for most of the day. But I think I may have had a breakthrough this morning.
Nigella is the outgoing cat of the household. She's bold, she's friendly, and a lot of times, she's a real pain. She's gotten in this delightful habit of thumping herself against the bedroom door and shredding the carpet noisily in the middle of the night. She has other adorable habits as well. There are times I get upset with her, and occasions when she gets a time-out, but in the end, how can I not love her? She's a sweet cat, and, she's just a cat. Expecting her to not destroy things is just not realistic.
So, why can't I just say to myself: so-and-so is ________________ (insert quality here)? This person is as much a bundle of good and bad qualities as I am, as Nigella is. Why can't I get to the point where it's not about keeping my guard up so much as recognizing that this is the way s/he is wired? We don't expect children to behave like adults (or at least, I don't)...
And also. I'm a horrible klutz, physically as well as socially. Things come out of my mouth that I'm not even aware could be considered malice. Why do I expect others to be perfect when I'm well-aware that I'm not?
I forgot the rule that it's not about me.
December 21, 2004
Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.
It's grey and overcast in Portland. Chilly. It's the shortest day of the year, and I feel like it's permeated my flesh and taken hold. I was looking forward to walking in this am, to the release that that would give me, but my sweetie and I both realized that he had forgotten Mom's presents at home at the same time. I'd drive in, but my battery is dead. Etc.
I am going to get a little walk in, when I bring the presents to my beloved's work. So that will be good.
In my family, you don't talk about things that bother you. You don't talk about slights, snottiness, outright rudenessyou go passive-aggressive. I've tried to fight that as an adult, but it's hard for me to be forthright. Most especially with family. I get into these situations and it's like I'm 13 again. (Mind you, I was a good kid)
In my family, you write people off.
I've been upset now for a couple of days, unable to shake my funk about some recent behavior, none of which is new. I'm tempted to go to some extreme, but I need, really need, to go the middle ground.
Sorry to be coy. The person and actions aren't so much important, and I'm guessing that bad behavior is not exclusive to my family. I just can't seem to shake my hurt feelings.
I can't change anyone else. I know that. I'd like to figure out how to not be hurtis there any way to protect yourself from family?
December 20, 2004
Here I am, back at work. Funny, it seems like the weekend was full of work too (heh, heh). I exercycled a big 12 minutes (and I hadn't been on it in a week), and was hoping to get some walking in, but decided that with the laptop, and my usual backpack of junk, that that might be a bit much. And I might look like a good target for a mugging. But there is pilates at lunch.
Sweetie is at the vet with Follette. Why do my cats keep getting sick?
December 19, 2004
Feats of strength
I joke about Festivuskinda. I'm really not much for the airing of grievances (though now that Echo and Nigella are fighting over laying on the keyboard, perhaps...). But I am sick of the obligatory happiness and the buying of gifts that are impersonal as an obligation, and did I mention the happiness thing? I'm all for happiness, I just don't want fake happiness, and I don't want it shoved down my throat in red and green paper.
But I'm not against all of it. I like Christmas lights, especially dorky homemade displays. In Portland, we have the Christmas Ships which tool up and down the Willamette and the Columbia, and many of those are touchingly, well, amateur. They're the best.
I like walking downtown with the lights in the trees, and lights from the stores, shining and reflecting on the wet sidewalks. I like being bundled up in a hat and scarf (though, that's overkill here). I like receiving, and giving, gifts that have some thought and some love behind them.
Anyhow, we're out eating breakfast after the end of the xmas shopping, where I've bought a quite a bit of stuff that I hope my mom will love, and there in the New York Times, beneath stories of how you can outsource Christmas, is a story about the growth of Festivus.
For me as much as for you, here are some Festivus links:
chiro, walking, pets
I visited my chiropractor. My neck and shoulders were crunchy, and I wanted to ask her about the persistent weakness and pain in my right wrist (from my little attempt to fly down the stairs), and the fact that I'm finding (or should I say my knees are finding) it painful to walk downstairs. I was expecting that I knew the answer to the latter question: that my hamstrings need strengthening and stretching.
But she wants my knees x-rayed. My knees hurt before I started walking seriouslyI can't remember when it started but I saw it as the wages of middle-agedness, and my gung-ho klutziness combined with a lack of good sense when it comes to my body.
As for my wrist, I must painfully massage it and then ice it. Fun!
We talked, as we have for the last six months, about competitive walking, me telling tales of practice and races and dropping Olympians' names, and her saying, how do you learn about such things, as if I were part of a secret group. Um, I'm obsessed with this stuff.
Saturday morning, I did Stay Fit, which ended up just being the coordinator and I. We did a quick 4 mile walk up Hawthorne and backthe walk was great, conversation interesting, and the weather perfect. Then I came home and began working on workwork.
This morning, I finished, finally, my Christmas shopping. Sweetie and I have been fairly fluid about what holiday we're going to celebrate, if any, this time of year, but we decided this time to kick it down a notch (what is the opposite of Bam!! exactly?), and not go out of our way to buy each other presents. I have something for him that I'm pretty certain he'll love, and I might get him something elsemaybe.
But I still buy gifts for Mom, who is very much a Christmas traditionalist. And this year, I left it all to the last minute. But we made an early morning pre-emptive strike, and now it is done.
Echo is wandering around the living room. And Natasha keeps jumping onto her rear legs and whacking him with a front paw. Echo is clueless about playing with the cats, but it's cute to see Nigella and Tosh trying to train him.
Oh, and we have another sick cat. Follette, the older, shy white and ginger cat, appears to have gotten the bug. We have some steroids that we got to bring down Tosh's fever, which appear to be also helping Follette.
Now that Nigella is trying to take over the keyboard, I'd better surrender...
December 17, 2004
Yesterday, I thought longingly about exercise, thought I'd probably have more energy if I exercised, even planned it--and then didn't meet my work goal, and didn't take a lunch.
Upon getting home, we rearranged the furniture so I could set the laptop up on a table (and I'd sit on a chair) rather than my default set up of sitting on the soul-sucking couch and having the laptop and all of its 47 periperals falling off the TV table. It was amazing how much more productive I was, and I worked 4 hours without feeling sorry for myself.
I slept well, and woke up with the thought that I'd walk in today. I made oatmeal, I did some housework and some workwork, and then I did walk in! It was leisurely -- 56 minutes, but it was nice to get out there and move, and look at my neighborhood.
Between looking for the little kittens and watching sea birds (I'm not a bird geek, but I wish I knew the name of this little guy), and watching how incredibly beautiful and dramatic the morning sky was reflecting on the Willamette, I tried to concentrate on racewalking principles. Toes point at your nose. Move from the hips. Stand straight. Arms, 90 degrees, close to the body, pump back rather than forward. Keep the tummy tight. Your feet are round. Etc. Oh, and remember to breathe!
It was great, of course, and I feel just good. It's all going to come together.
I learned this morning that tomorrow, the Saturday before Christmas, is now the biggest shopping day of the year. I had been thinking of trying to get to Powells when they open in the morning, skipping Stay Fit. My sweetie's been like, 'VJ, it's Stay Fit, you gotta go to Stay Fit' (because he knows I enjoy it so). Now, with my new knowledge, Stay Fit is looking better and better.
Still, I have two goals for the weekend. Finish the work project, and buy the rest of the gifts for my mom. Sweetie and I decided to go real low-key for the holidays, so I have a little something for him, and if I stumble over something that calls out his name, I'll get it. But otherwise, my Festivus preparation is done. Hurrah!
December 16, 2004
At the beginning of the Red-Nosed Run Deer
December 15, 2004
a little break
I had a strange dream last night. I was frantically working on something, and someone came to the door. He wanted something, and I said no. A few minutes later, I looked outside, and I saw him and another guy grabbing things off the front porch and hauling them off. So I yelled for Echo (you know, my whippet attack dog) and my sweetie and roared out on the porch and grabbed (in an aggressive, how dare you steal my stuff-sorta way) one of the guys by the ass... At which point, I was woken up by my beloved yelping, as it was his ass that I had grabbed in my sleep. Yikes.
Note to self: time for a new couch. Old couch now seems to have a particular strong force field which makes it difficult to get away from it. This is not helping matters.
While I do try to post daily (on weekdays), I think I need to go on hiatus for the next couple days. I'm feeling a little better, but still kinda low-energy, and I have a big deadline that will be over at some point next week. I'm afraid I'd be writing whiny entries about how I'd like to be working out but I have to spend every waking minute working-working, and let's face itthose aren't very interesting to my beloved, and they sure aren't very interesting to you guys. So I will post if there's something worth posting about, and not if there isn't (novel idea, I know).
December 14, 2004
I think I am getting sick. Last night, I was ready to go to bed right after a light dinner and a beer, and if I had been smart, I would have. I look like something the cat dragged in, and my stomach has been very upset this morning. My need to be close to the washroom meant I was late for work, and on the way in, I felt seriously pukey. I did not want to be the dressed-for-work middle-aged puking woman on the bus. (What's worse is that I'm dressed up because my sweetie has a professional association holiday function tonight, so I'm wearing dryclean only clothes) Now, work is seeming like less and less of a good idea.
I went to pilates class yesterday, and it was pretty hard. My hip flexors and abdomen were already pretty sore and not happy about becoming more so. But they better just get used to it. Jill found pilates classes offered through our health insurer, who also operates one of the larger chains of hospitals in the area, and they are outrageously cheap. I didn't think to ask about class size, but realistically, I don't care. We start in January!
Maybe I could get some cute yoga pantsthough that assumes I will be in normal women's exercise clothing sizes by January, which seems really unlikely, especially given the pasta-bread-beer binge I've been on of late.
December 13, 2004
Thanks, everyone, for all your kind comments. Jon, I didn't even realize that my pace for this race was quite likely better than my pace for the 5K. Damn! It's a shock to see how fast I can go on these short distancesI just need to build up the endurance to be able to carry those paces longer.
So, what's next? The First Run in downtown Portland (5K, 12/31), the Oregon Road Runners Club Annual Run (1/2, 10 & 20K) in Forest Grove, and, hopefully, Freescale Austin Marathon (2/13). I need to redo my long-walks schedule to reflect that.
Yesterday (aka, the birthday) was great. There was the race, which was wonderful. Mela and my sweetie and I went out to breakfast immediately afterwards -- company was great, food so-so. I got home and took a cold bath, and hung out a bit, then went out for burritos. Came home, took a nap, and then was hungry again (!) so we went out Cafe Castagna. And promptly came home and fell asleep. Beautiful!!
This morning, I'm just getting back into the swing of things. I was very slow leaving the house, and walked leisurely about 20 minutes in the light rain before catching a bus. But there's pilates this noon, so I won't be slacking the whole day...
December 12, 2004
Success comes in strange packages
This morning was chilly (49) and windy. My sweetie warned me that Vancouver (the suburb to the north) was clocking 60mph winds. Oh, no big deal!
I got down to the World Trade Center (here in downtown Portland), to encounter a big crowd of shivering people decked in really crazy holiday gear. Many people wore santa hats, or weird variants on santa hats, or reindeer antlers, or had some other holiday schtick. Many dogs were there, decked in fairy lights or antlers or really adorable sweaters.I'm a bah-humbug kinda girl, so I was not expecting to enjoy this aspect of the race. But it was great, and I was really into it, even though I was in head-to-toe black.
To try to keep warm, I did some hamstring stretches, and some of the other stretches that Philip Dunn had taught us. My right hamstring has been a little tight since the workshop, and I didn't want it to give me any trouble during the race.
Finally, the Red-nosed run deer race began. I had emailed the organizer to be sure that someone as slow as me would still have a finish line to cross, and he assured me that it would be so, so I had signed on for the 10K. I started at the back, and after about 3 or 4 blocks it was clear that I was going to be the last finisher. I've never been in a situation like this: there are always people to beat. And not only was I last, but I was significantly behind the next person.
I thought, momentarily, about dropping out. Then I thought, who cares, really? Someone has to be last in every race, so why not me this time? So I decided to just have a good time, and see how I'd do. I talk a lot about how racing, when you're my speed, is really a competition against myselfit's time to really walk that talk.
So, being last didn't really freak me out that much, or really at all, though not being able to pace myself with others was. Usually, I'm keeping someone in my sights and checking my heart rate monitor in the beginning, and then there's the ignore the heart rate monitor and pass people phase. Both of these are reliant on other people. How would I do? There were no signs of distance posted, so I decided to not look at the time at all, just at my heart rate. And for whatever reason, I couldn't get my heart rate below 70%.
So we went north on Front (Naito) to the Steel Bridge, went south on Front until we came to the Barbur Blvd junction, then north on Barbur until it turned into Fourth, and then east down the Harrison hill, and back north onto Front. In a twist of cruelity, you pass the turnoff for the finish line to do another loop to the Steel Bridge.
I got lots of support. Runners, going in the opposite direction, cheered me on, as did volunteers and motorists and random strangers. That hamstring was tight, but otherwise I felt great, and had an ear-to-ear grin for most of the distance.
Coming up the hill at the Barbur junction, a woman ran down to walk up with me. Her name was Rachel, and she told me about how the race came to be. There was a guy in the ultra community here named Scott who was very active, and reasonably young. After crossing the finish line at one, he keeled over. He had a daughter, Shannon, who was close to college age, and so the community came together to throw this race to raise money for her education. It also raises food for the Oregon Food Bank, and cash for NW Medical Teams. It's a great reflection of the ultra folks that they are taking care of their own!
Rachel was charming, and sweet, and had a lovely British accent to boot, and it was nice to chat with her. Once we got to Barbur, I said goodbye, but she drove by several times, cheering me on!
Portland's finest looked after me too. A motorcycle cop checked up on me multiple times. Unfortunately, at this point, the roads were open, so I had to wait for lights to change (!!!).
I roared down the Harrison Hill, turned the corner, and was ready to speed into the finish lineand then I realized that while I probably could have gotten away with turning and crossing the finish line, it wouldn't be the full 10K, so I continued moving quickly towards the Steel Bridge turnaround. I had just passed the one bit of music on the route, a young man drumming on plastic pails (he was great, too), when I realized I heard the sound of someone behind me. Huh? It was one of the PFit walking coaches, come to walk me in.
So that was great! We chatted about partners and strategies, and she remarked that I had gotten significantly faster and fitter and thinnerthat she hadn't recognized me when I had walked past. Well, whuhoo, then! And before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line. I raised my arms triumphantly and shouted, I'm the last one! Mela and some other PFitters cheered me on.
Then I looked at my watch. I finished in 1:30:14, which is a 14:30 pace. Damn! May I just say, damn?! Depending on which stats you look at, my last 5K was done at 13.89 or 14.58 pace. While my heart rate was up, I didn't feel like I was working all that hard for the most of the race, unlike the last 5K where I really was working hard the whole time. Yippee!
So. I finished last, and I totally enjoyed it, and I PRed. Who knew?
December 11, 2004
Man, that was fun. It was a misty, warm evening in Portland, making the lights more shiny, and we had a great evening at Mama Mia's. It was a bustling Friday night, even at 5:30, with a mix of downtown hipsters and suburbanites. When we came in, several of our friends were lined up at tables in the bar drinking fancy drinks. We got settled at the big family table (my fav!).
As predicted, I wore the little black dress with a long string of freshwater pearls that I got last weekend at a crafts show, a pair of fishnets, and my strappy red high heels. I also brought my lightweight hooded sweater to cover my arms if I got modest or chilly.
It was great. I'm generally a slob, so my pals were all knocked out, it seemed, by my dressing up. I was just elatedI kinda felt like I was playing dress-up.
We drank some fancy drinks (martinis with names like Mona Lisa [chocolate, but not overly sweet], Smoke & Fire Gottini [vodka & scotch with a jalapeno], and Michaelangelo [lemon creamsicle], ordered a pile of appetizers, chianti, and dinner, and someone let the waitress know it was my birthday, so they brought me a slice of amaretto cheesecake (oh my gosh, yum!) which I shared with the table. It was just lovely.
And amazingly, I didn't overeat. One thing about this place is that the pastas are huge, and the meat dishes small. Order a meat dish (mmm, marsala) with a side of spinach, and while you're probably not being good, you're certainly not being bad.
I changed into more comfortable shoes and socks, and we went out to a neighborhood tavern for a beer. Pleasant enough, thought the seating was awful. As much as I wanted to keep carousing, it's been a long week, and I was feeling the lure of my bed.
This morning, I am feeling lazy. I need to go into the office to collect the files that I need to work on, and I just don't want to do it. I keep thinking about how maybe I need to go on a long walk or do some hard cross-training, and then I think, um, VJ, you have a race tomorrow. And you have work to do today. Sigh!
(The extent of my procrastination is pretty profound. I just spent 10 minutes doing a search on h@mmer and s1ckle d0c marten5 in the hopes of finding a picture of my shoes--then I decided I should take before and after shots with the strappy heels and my propaganda shoes. And then I had to look at the current DM catalog and oooh and aaaah about shoes that would probably hurt me, but gosh they're cute.)
December 10, 2004
Have you seen Big Night? It's one of my favorite (food) movies. And I've been completely obsessed with it today. Tonight, we are going out to Mama Mia's, an east-coast style Italian-American restaurant.
The story of Big Night revolves around a little restaurant trying to make authentic Italian food, down the street from the very popular, very inauthentic, Italian restaurant. When the brothers from the authentic place walk by the popular place, they see gorgeous women in gowns, gloves and heels, on the arms of handsome men in suits.
So anyways, I have it stuck in my head that I want to wear a glamourous dress and heels this evening. The little black dress will probably make its appearance, but this morning, I decided to see if any of my vintage dresses fit. Amazingly, they do. Oh my gosh, my vintage dresses fit!
I had a great walk in today -- made it in 45 minutes. And, saw the kittens, who are becoming bolder, and very curious. Not friendly yet, who knows, they might be feral, but very cute.
cheese & chocolate
Chocolate is addictive. Sure it is. And so is cheese, or at least that's what I read lately. Which explains why I gravitate to it in times of stress. So, no, I didn't have cheese and chocolate together--I'm more of a cheese and french bread, chocolate by itself sorta girl. I've been roped into planning parties at work, and I had to pick up cheese and apples. So I got some interesting cheeses, and some local organic apples, which were a big hit, much to my surprise.
Later that afternoon, I hit the chocolate.
December 9, 2004
Well, this morning I am feeling loose as a goose. (what does that mean, anyways? For me, it means I'm feeling relaxed and productive.) Somehow, I managed to do 10 minutes of exercycling and got everything else done in time to leaveincrediblyon time.
It was strangely warm this morning. I wore a medium-weight short-sleeve shirt, and my warmish vestand really, I could have done without the vest, but it was the force of habit and having a convenient zippable pocket for my wallet and keys. It was almost mistingalmost, but not quite. It felt great. I felt great. I walked fairly fast, tried to stay in good form, and made really good time.
I was so pleased with myself when I got to the gym that instead of going to the showers, which I had just enough time for, I passed GO and went and did a little slow-heavy weight lifting. Which just feels so good. And then showered. (Unfortunately, there was no $200 to collect).
Yesterday, fortified with cheese and chocolate, I told my coworker that I'd be happy to do her work, after I finished the projects with imminent deadlines that have been on my books for a while. She almost sounded hurt, and I felt relieved. Now I'm just waiting for the two projects which will occupy all of my waking, non-exercising, life for the next couple weeks. Which isn't to say that there isn't plenty to do in the meantime, but the meantime stuff won't be taken home. I'm taking Sunday off though -- it's my birthday, and I think that's fair.
December 8, 2004
Okay, I am seriously stressed. I felt good yesterday when I worked out, doing 12 minutes of "Free Running" elliptical (man, that kills my toesI think I'd rather run) and the rest of the time doing long slow reps with really heavy weights. Very cleansing. However, it should be noted that I tried to leave for lunch at 12:30, and finally did get out at 2:30.
I felt even better after happy hour with some friends. And then this morning, I felt really rather bad. Though not stressed. Stomach upset kept me from doing anything workout-wise. And then once I got to my desk, to see a note from the person who is stressing me out, about someone else's work that is now erring out, it all boiled up again.
I realized that I really have been doing well with stress managementup to now, up til dealing with this person.
Part of this is that I thought I had made it clear that I was doing a favor for her, that I was neck-deep with other projects but I'd make time for hers. And I thought that this implied: be organized; don't make me revisit your task again and again; don't pepper me with visits and phone calls and emails; and, this favor is only for the work we originally discussedit does not apply to any work afterwards. Obviously, she didn't get that memo, because she failed on all four counts. Or, should I say, I failed to make that clear to her.
I work in a support unit. I do institutional work, but I also assist other departments. I am not really in a position where I can say "no" to people. Even when someone already has their own staff to do the project, if they come to me, I am supposed to work their projects in. And most people recognize that honey draws more flies than vinegar. They might want something yesterday, but they recognize that I'm working for other people too.
What I've learned: my old situation really wasn't that bad. PhD's don't necessarily have common sense. Sometimes, even when you aren't supposed to, you have to say no.
Oh! One of my coworkers (straight, female) told me I had a cute ass yesterday. I was, of course, glad to hear it, though it had a rather surreal quality to it. What fun. My body is changing!
December 7, 2004
I'm wearing my skinny pair of jeans today. And my belt is too big :)
It's just turning out to be one of those mornings. Not that it started that way necessarily, but it's taken that turn.
I decided to do some floor exercises this morning. Echo, the dog, and Natasha, the cat, decided to help. As I was doing pushups, Echo lay next to me and put his front legs over my arm when I was at the bottom. He moved on quick enough, but then Tosh thought it would be fun to scramble underneath me. That was cute though--I liked it.
The comedy of errors began even before I left the house. A misunderstanding about who had sandwich making duty--well, you know where that's going. By the time I left the house, I was a full half hour late. I walked for about 10 minutes, then scooted over to a main street to catch the bus.
I was downtown 15 minutes before I start work. Should I stop at the gym and take the shower I need, or should I start work early, planning that I'll shower on my lunch? I chose the latter and immediately came in to multiple small crises, as well as the favor I'm doing for someone (who is rewarding me by bringing in yet more work I didn't agree to do), and the deadlines at this point which look like they will go unmet. Oh, and a birthday party and holiday party, which I got roped into planning.
Suffice to say, I am going to work out at noon, and I am going to enjoy it!
December 6, 2004
There's not a lot to report here, I'm afraid. I was really worn out this weekend so I slept a lot and worked out not at all. I am a collection of little aches and pains this morning. I left the house late and managed a 30 minute walk this morning, ending at the transit center where I saw a bicyclist down, being tended to by paramedics.
And, no surprise, when I weighed in this morning, I did not meet my weight loss goalsI am the same weight I was two weeks ago. I blame all those Chanukah cookies. No, really, I think that's it.
Though, in looking for something to wear to the Chanukah party, I tried on my little black dress which I haven't fit in in a good couple years if not longer. Not only does it fit, but it fits without me even unzipping it. I tried on my "skinny" pair of jeans (which is to say, skinny for me) and they fit too. So that's promising.
December 3, 2004
Today I left the house 10 minutes late. And yesterday, actually, it was 20 minutes late. But, I got 11 minutes of exercycle in. Was hoping for 40, but hey.
I had just the best walk in this morning. It felt so good that I let myself speed up a little, and I made it in in 45 minutes--5 minutes faster than usual. Along the way, I was a clutch of kittens that were playing in a driveway. They were at that most wonderful and obnoxious age, maybe 8 weeks, impossibly small, fuzzy, with tails like triangles rather than like cat tails. All but one ran under the car (off, in the driveway) when they saw/heard me, but one little black guy hid behind this scrappy shrub and checked me out. So damn cute.
I felt so euphoric that I decided to stop at the gym and shower in spite of the fact that I would be a smidge late. I chatted with the front desk guy, who moonlights at Niketown, if he had seen a lot of the USATF athletes. Nope, he had seen mostly coaches. So I dutifully told him about seeing Clausen and Dunn, and of course, he had no idea what I was talking about.
Oh! I didn't mention this! So yesterday noon, I went out with a friend to walk the waterfront loop. And who did I see out there also doing the loop but Curt Clausen (I think. I bet. Yeah, it had to be.). Or a Curt Clausen-look-alike who was tall, tanned, blond, and racewalking impossibly fast, as if he were the fastest racewalker in the United States, and had represented us this summer in Athens. I was caught so offguard that I wasn't able to even go into fan-girl mode.
Of course, in the afternoon it was all I could think about. My gosh, I met Philip Dunn! Philip Dunn told me I need to raise my toes more! And I saw Curt Clausen training!
My coworkers, I think, have always thought of me as an oddballlefter than thou, insisting on having toys on my desk, being a foodie, kooky. Now that I've been walking, they must really think I'm looney. Hell, I travel so I can walk 13 miles.
So yesterday, I tried expressing my absolute wonder at my brushes with Olympians in some sort of controlled, calm way, and everyone looked at me likewho? what? Oh, Vicki's just going off again.
It just makes me think of that Kirsty MacColl song (made famous, sorta, by Tracey Ullman) "They Don't Know".
Have a great weekend!
December 2, 2004
Well, my attempts to appear at work on time appear to be making progress. (how can I use the word appear again?) I got together most of my lunch, and all of my clothes last night. This morning, I learned that the process of making and eating oatmeal takes 40 minutes. It's not that I can't multitask during that time, but, I need to allow 40 minutes. In a strange new process, I made a list of things that needed to be done before I could leave, and I did them before I started exercising.
Which meant I didn't exercycle, and I left the house 10 minutes late. But, while it meant that I didn't have time for a shower, I did make it into work on time. Hurrah.
On today's walk in, I tried to concentrate on a couple things that Philip had told us about. The first was the arms. They should be at a ninety degree angle, held close to the body, with the hands relaxed in an o or as if you were holding a precious insect. The majority of movement should be behind your body--a dynamic pull back of the arm--and not much forward. And of course, the shoulders should be relaxed.
The other was the toe raise. When your heel strikes, your toe should be way up there. Like, further up than mine, that's for sure. But practice makes perfect, or at least makes better.
I've been thinking about goals again. Richard wrote about the goals he was setting. Setting a weightloss goal was easy: 1.5# per week, and should I make that, at the end of February I should be at 218. Which would be great, though I wish for something more dramatic. However, I want this weight loss to be sustainable, and I want to not get obsessive about it, so I need to be conservative.
I still haven't set a walking goal, however. I'd like to get personal training but that is really dependent upon what cash I have left after I start my student loan payments (gosh, that library science degree seemed like a good idea at the time). I know what I want: to improve my base fitness, and to add some speed. Weight loss should help that, as would some speed work.
Oh my gosh! I just saw Philip racewalk by! He was out racewalking with a couple runners, as relaxed as he could be. Damn. Damn! I know there is some USA Track and Field meeting going on as I saw lots of folks out running this AM with USATF stuff on. Perhaps soon, I will fit into my USATF t-shirt, size large.
December 1, 2004
Note to self:
If I want to get to work on time, and I do, would it be so hard to prep lunch and clothes the night before?
I've wanted to get in early, even, but when you decide to walk in, and leave the house at 7:26, you aren't likely to even be on time. Sigh.
Anyways. I did about 30 minutes on the exercycle and 30 minutes walking. Tried to think about and incorporate the things that Philip had talked about yesterday. Figured out at least part of the front yard reconfiguration.
I'm reading an exercise book right now that is really bugging me. Why do I continue to read it? I'm hoping for the payoff. The thing that is severely bugging me is that I'm 60 pages in, and so far, it's all been about how whatever I am doing is wrong, and how their approach is right, and each chapter ends with an exhortation to do blah-blah-blah (their exercise plan) NOW! Of course, I perhaps would have started blah-blah-blah if they would just tell me what it is. But I suppose if they did that, they would have an extended pamphlet, rather than a book. I know that you sell with the sizzle, but where's the meat?
And Natasha seems to be much better. We have her contained in the bedroom so we can keep track of her input and output, and this morning she was affectionate and moving around, as well as eating, drinking and the rest.