Friday, 30 May 2008

They say it's your birthday...

This post is actually meant for the attention of one specific person. Since I’m not often the most demonstrative of individuals, I thought I would post this publicly in lieu of mailing an actual gift so that everyone can know how much of a sap I really am. [If you came here to read something fitness related, scroll down to the post directly below.]

Lil' Z and lil' Xenia racing each other to the backyard

Happy birthday to the best sister in the world who...

  • when I was born, thought that I was a new doll for her to play with
  • cried for me when the doctor gave me a shot
  • always tried to protect me, even from Mom when she was trying to punish me for picking fights with Z
  • gleefully let her friends torture me during high school freshman initiation
  • never let me ride in the front seat of the car because she was older and therefore always had seniority
  • never let me forget that I was the ‘oops’
  • trailblazed the way through school so that by the time I had her teachers they already knew how to pronounce our surname and would always say, “Oh, you must be Z’s sister.”
  • acted more like a mother hen towards me then our own mother (and that’s saying something)
  • broke down into tears and confessed to Mom that she got a speeding ticket even though Mom had no clue and Z could have easily gotten away with it (you would make a terrible spy)
  • would regret what she ordered in a restaurant and stare longingly at whatever I had gotten until I felt bad enough to offer to trade with her
  • asked what the ‘white stuff’ was in upstate NY during our semi-cross country drive (That would be snow, dear. I mean, jeez, we grew up in New England.)
  • is completely and utterly obsessed with Ricky Martin (shake your bon bon, Z!)
  • is my cheerleader, conscience, sounding board and best friend all rolled into one

Z, I’m sorry for not being there to celebrate your birthday with you again. Hopefully this makes up for that in some small way.

Χρόνια πολλά, Ζωή. Σ’αγαπώ.

Lil sis

P.S.—What was Mom thinking when she dressed us up in those clothes? A blind man could have picked out better color-coordinated outfits.


As for the rest of you (if you've made it this far)--if you have any sibling stories you'd like to share or are an only child and want to rub it in, go ahead and post in the comments. It's always nice to share the pain.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Pride. She's a bit of a bitch.

The Town & Gown 10K took place yesterday. I won’t bore you with tales of my fitful sleeping and thousand-and-one trips to the loo that morning. Let’s just get right to it, shall we? As it seems to be popular amongst running bloggers, I have chosen to relate my story via a bulleted list. Enjoy.
  • 10 am: Race begins. Start with slow jog, then walk, then jog towards the start line.
  • 10:02 and a bit: Finally cross start line. (argh)
  • Km 1: Quick but not overly fast pace. Enjoying the cheering of the crowds lined up along the road. Two kids with homemade signs saying ‘Go Dad’. Cute. Time to start iPod. A little U2 to get me going.
  • Km 2: A girl passes me. She looks to be about my age, similar size and shape. She seems like a dedicated runner—spiffy gear and all. (I’m too cheap to go all out. I wear yoga pants and a tech shirt purchased from Target.) I pick her to be my rabbit.
  • Km 2.5: Sweet baby jesus! Just been passed by the tallest man on the planet. The top of his legs were level with my chest. That’s just insane.
  • Km 3: Keeping pace with rabbit. I take a look around me. Geez, my town’s rather picturesque. Wish I were coordinated enough to carry a camera while running.
  • Km 4: Rabbit is pulling ahead a bit, but she’s still in my sights. Running along Cornmarket Street. Thankfully, no faceplanting occurs. Happy for once to be on this shop-lined pedestrian street and not be slowed down by tourists.
  • Km 5: Rabbit pulls further ahead. I kick it up a notch and catch up with her. Pass by the first water point without partaking. The elite runners pass by on the last leg to the finish. Slightly demoralizing.
  • Km 6: Pass rabbit. Feel superior. Tribulations’ begins playing on iPod. It’s an omen. Desiccated, wrinkly woman who looks plenty old enough to be my grandmother passes me. Huge blow to the ego. On closer inspection, she looks like the creature individual in the photo below, only with a short white pixie hairdo. She’s almost a midget too (she barely reached my shoulder and I’m only 5’ 5” and a smidge). I like to believe I’m not an overly proud person, but I can’t let Grandma Moses beat me. I soldier on.
  • Km 7: Still battling it out with the Running Dead. I seem to be her rabbit now. Afraid she will go all out and call forth the Seven Plagues of Running on me. Know I am not prepared for the curse of the runner’s ‘runs’. Fear propels me even more.
  • Km 7.25: Come upon second water station. Thanks to Laminator, I know how to scoop up a cup without slowing down. Drank half the contents (other half spills all over the place, but that’s not the point to focus on here, people) and toss cup aside.
  • Km 8: Jesus! Just die already! I’m getting tired here, lady. Feel bad for horrible thoughts. Know I am on the fast track to hell, but no longer give a shit. Want to beat her. Consider making ‘flowing water’ sounds behind her so as to trigger her need to pee. Nix that idea when realize she’s probably wearing Depends. Damn.
  • Km 9: Take that, Imhotep! Finally a decent distance ahead of Mummified Corpse, but keep looking back over shoulder, afraid of sneak attack by her or equally decomposed minions.
  • Km 10: Use reserve energy to kick it up a notch to the finish. The clock says 1:05:40-ish, but my watch says my actual running time was 1:03:20. Doesn’t matter. I did it!

That, in a nutshell, was my first 10K experience. Despite the amount of flak I gave to Imhotep that elderly lady, I have to thank her and the rabbit for making me push myself. My time turned out much better than I was predicting, but then again I was going in with low expectations anyway. I enjoyed the race immensely and I’m already raring to sign up for another 10K. The Asics British 10K London run in July has already filled up (damn it!), but there is still a chance I can get on one of the charity teams. I’ve contacted Diabetes UK (a worthy cause and one close to my heart since both my parents are diabetic) and am impatiently patiently waiting for them to respond. [UPDATE: I'm in!!!] If all else fails, there is still the BUPA Great Capital 10K Run, also in London, at the end of July. I’m not sure the current state of my finances can swing both of them, but we'll see how everything sorts itself out first.

On that note, let me say congrats to my fellow racers. I hope you all did well and enjoyed yourselves this weekend. As for me, it’s back to work.

Italian Phrases of the Day
Puoi trafiggere questa vescichetta per me?
Can you lance this blister for me?’ – Nitmos

Corri bene e bevi bene.
Run well and drink well.’ (Booze Hound proverb) – Viper

Romperò le ossa in questa corsa.*
I will kick ass in this race.’ – POM
*Note: The idiom ‘to kick ass’ does not translate directly. Instead, as far as I can tell, the Italians say ‘to break bones’ to express a similar meaning.

#94 and 93 from the AFI movie quotes list:
Sentio il bisogno – il bisogno per la velocità!
"I feel the need -- the need for speed!" (Top Gun, 1986)

La vita è uno banchetto, e la maggior parte dei babbei muoiono di fame!
"Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!" (Auntie Mame, 1958)

And finally, here is an Italian proverb, originating from the Ferrara region, that I thought many of you might appreciate.

A correre e cagare ci si immerda i garretti.

The basic meaning of it is ‘doing two things at the same time will result in a mess’. The literal translation is: 'By running and defecating at the same time, you will get shit on your heels.'

Words to live by.

Monday, 12 May 2008

5K Race Report and Inaugural Italian Phrase-of-the-Day post

Hey campers!

This past Saturday I ran in my first 5K race, the Oxford Fun Run, with my friend, Theresa. You’d have thought we were at Disneyland since the whole thing was a rather Mickey Mouse operation. The event was advertised as a 5K race with, I quote, 'highly professional start and finish procedures; timing and results service, are all provided by S.E.A. (Student Event Activities)'. Yeah. Not so much. First off, no race numbers. All we got to distinguish ourselves from the regular weekend park-goers were these wristbands with the race logo on them. I don’t know about you, but nothing says ‘official race participant’ more to me then a bad 80s fashion accessory. Lordy. We were also sweetly informed that the course was as close to 5K as humanly possible. By my calculations, since I have a scaled map of the park, the course was 4.9K (3.06 miles) long. Eh. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one. It was close.

The timing, however, was a joke. Professional, my ass! Right before the race starts, they let us know that only the first 100 people to cross the finish line would have their times recorded. Dude, there were only a total of 200 participants (runners AND walkers) in the whole event. Is it that much of a stretch to provide times for all of us? Luckily, I was #84, so I personally don’t have anything to bitch about, by my friend Theresa was gypped because she was #101. That’s just plain lazy on their part.

Also, what exactly is this Student Event Activities organization? The only student activities I know of are 1) consumption of large amounts of alcohol, and 2) loss of mental faculties as the result of activity #1. I can’t imagine the ‘official’ time will be any more accurate than the time I clocked on my wristwatch.

Speaking of which, my unofficial time for the 5K 4.9K was 30:37. That turns out to be a 10 minute pace, my fastest yet! I’m quite pleased with myself about this, though I do have to admit that running the race on my flat ‘home’ turf was probably a bit of an advantage. But just a wee one. Yeah, sure.

This week, I’m gearing up for my first ever 10K race on Sunday, 18 May. My emotions are swinging from quiet confidence to ‘I hope I don’t pass out on the High Street’. Pretty much, I’m keeping my goals low—1) try to run the whole race, and 2) try to run at a 12 minute pace or better. Even though the weather has been fantastic here this weekend, it was way too hot and muggy during the 5K. I tend to run in the mornings when it’s cooler, so it was definitely an adjustment. Here’s hoping there’s a good breeze and no rain for this coming Sunday.

Italian Phrase(s) of the Day
Thanks to all of you who left phrases for me to translate in the last post. I would particularly like to single out Ellen for going above and WAY BEYOND the call of duty. (Seriously, dude, if your bosses at the Evil Empire realize how you spend most of your time at work, your ass is so grass!) Procrastinating with my dissertation Inspired by all the submissions, I decided to translate a number of them for this first post. And (*drum roll*) here they are:

Margarita, per favore. Con ghiaccio e molto sale.
Margarita, please. With ice, lots of salt.’ –McB

Perché sono miei piedi in questo secchio del calcestruzzo?
Why are my feet in this bucket of concrete?’ -Vanilla

Grazie per tenente miei capelli.
Thanks for holding my hair.’ –Chia

And #100 and #99 from the AFI top 100 movie quotes list (courtesy of Ellen):

Sono il re del mondo!
I’m king of the world!’ (Titanic, 1997)

Ti prenderò, mia bella, e tuo piccolo cane anche!
I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!’ (The Wizard of Oz, 1939)

If you have anymore phrases you’d like to see translated into Italian, please leave them in the comments.

Buona giornata! (Have a good day!)