Friday, 29 August 2008
Oh, did I forget to mention the icepack I have bandaged to my knee? I did? Well, there, now you know.
I woke up this morning with an ache in the lower inside part of my right knee. Yesterday’s jaunt through the state fair wasn’t any different from any other walk I’ve taken (except for the consumption of some fatty fair food), so I don’t think it was that. Maybe I slept on it wrong. Or one of the cats decided to jump up and down on my knee in the middle of the night. I’m a pretty sound sleeper, it could happen.
Whatever’s wrong with it, I hope it clears up before Sunday. I have a short run planned for today and then I rest up until Sunday morning and my half marathon. The weather forecast so far is favorable for race day. Fingers crossed that doesn’t change in the next two days.
Thank you, ladies, for all the great advice you gave me in yesterday’s post and via email (thanks Chia!). We drove into town last night and I picked up two new sports bras. Today I will give them their test run, lubricated of course with copious amounts of Bodyglide. Here’s hoping the chafage remains minimal.
To distract myself from my overwrought nerves, I’m going to wish Coach Lily good luck tomorrow in her Try-a-tri. Lily, you’re going to be amazing, no worries!
Happy Labor Day weekend everyone! See you next week.
Thursday, 28 August 2008
Editor’s note: Gentlemen, the beginning of this post is filled with TMI, but not of the fun variety. You’ve now been warned, so I don’t want to hear any complaints in the comments. Proceed at your own peril.
Ladies, I need some advice. Aunt Flo is coming to visit soon and my first half marathon is on Sunday. I don’t think I’ve ever run a double-digit distance during one of her visits, so I’m not sure what precautions to take. Well, besides the usual.
Aunt Flo has already been preceded by Aunt Water Retention, Aunt Headache and Aunt Breast Tenderness. The last one is a real b*tch. My 6 mile run yesterday morning was truncated to 2, mostly because I didn’t want to chance being struck by lightning, but also because of the suffering of my girls. I either need to buy a new sports bra before the weekend or start triple-bagging my chest with my old bras. I know it’s not good to try out new running gear right before race day (holy potential chafage, Batman!), but I think the pros outweigh the cons in this situation. Let me know what you think.
Flying the scary skies
Flying back from the midwest was rather uneventful. Flying there, however, was not. After experiencing a 30-minute delay during the first leg of our flight and a rather long (though planned) layover at O’Hare, my mom and I were well ready to be done with air travel for the day.
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Sunday morning I got out for an 8 mile run. It was pretty nice and flat, a very pleasant change from the hills of New Hampshire. The route my aunt recommended had me running through a lot of residential neighborhoods and then on the bike path along the highway which afforded a great view of the Omaha skyline.
Although I know better, I have been surprised at the number of friendly greetings I've received while running here. In England, I hardly ever get any kind of acknowledgment from other runners, let alone anyone else. I thought it was me at first, but then I realized that the English are just very reserved.
Every person I came across on my Sunday run had a cheery hello or a happy smile to throw my way. For a minute I wondered if the town pumped something into the water to make everyone this pleasant, but I guess it's just an American thing. Whatever it can be attributed to, it was a rather nice experience.
This morning I was supposed to get in a 6 mile run, but that was thwarted when an energetic 2-year old jumped on my bed at the buttcrack of dawn and demanded my undivided attention. Ah, family.
Hope you all are having a good week so far. I'll catch up with you later.
Friday, 22 August 2008
Well, I’ve finally had a look around at airline ticket prices and, sadly, Cyprus is a no-go. Way too expensive and that’s not even including accommodation. So, my choice is now clear: Florence or bust.
I’m giving myself a few days after my half marathon on August 31st to make my final decision. If my body feels like utter poo, then I won’t run Florence. If I don’t feel half bad, then I will commence marathon training.
If I don’t run Florence, all is not lost. There are still plenty of affordable travel options in order to have a leisurely non-running birthday celebration. Z is keen on Spain. In her strange little mind, she wants us to re-enact the running of the bulls (with me as the runner and her and Ellen as the bulls) and the La Tomatina festival (where they would both get to pelt me with tomatoes and then hose me down afterwards in front of the entire town). My sister, she’s such a kind soul.
Pretty much all our non-running travel options (Spain, Corsica, Sicily, Malta and northern Italy) are real possibilities. As Z, Ellen and I are all kind of busy at the moment, no decision needs to be made right now—we can wait until September when our lives approach some form of normalcy. Till then, I encourage you all to let me know what you think in the comments.
But back to the Florence marathon ... this would obviously be my first marathon and it would take place just three months after my first half marathon (9 days and counting!!!). Crazy? Yeah, pretty much. I, of course, will check my ego at the door and not have any specific goals other than finishing, though having said that a sub-5 hour time would be nice.
My problem is I lack a training schedule. I should probably get one together now in case things look favorable after the half marathon since 12 weeks isn’t a whole lot of time to prepare.
Because of my weird schedule for the fall, I don’t want a plan that has me running five days a week. Preferably just three, with the option of an easy and fairly short fourth run so my friend and I can run together in Rome at least once a week and not leave me feeling like I’m sacrificing my training schedule to run with her. Surprisingly, there are people in the world who are slower runners than I am and she’s one of them. Not that that’s bad, I’m just saying.
In a perfect world, the schedule would also include a 22-mile run. I’m not an overly confident person and I’m worried that a 20-miler won’t leave me feeling mentally prepared to tackle the marathon distance. I don’t know. What do you all think? Can anyone recommend a good training schedule? How about just a reasonable series of long runs?
Okay, I need to get back to packing now. My mom and I are heading to the midwest tomorrow. It’s time to visit with the American half of the family and spend some quality time with my grandma.
Hope you all have a great weekend.
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Are you ready to be subjected to a very long recap of my holiday in
Highlights and Lowlights:
- Olympic Airways is ALWAYS late. Always.
- Greek people applaud when the airplane has landed safely. Do other people do this too?
- The view from our hotel room in
(the room was necessary because my flight got in super late that night) was a-freaking-mazing. Athens
Fuzzy photo of the acropolis at night
Acropolis in the morning
- This is
, our rockin’ rental car. Leon
- I witnessed my father repeatedly stealing fruit from random people’s fields while my sister was forced to drive the getaway car. We’ve been groomed for a life of petty theft from a young age.
- My dad and his younger brother are spitting images of each other – they even have matching pregnant stomachs too. Disturbing.
- Speaking of pregnant stomachs, I may have to rethink ever getting knocked up. My cousins keep spitting out twins at an alarming rate and twins run in my mom's family too. Either Z or I are going to end up with a 2 for 1 deal, I just know it.
- Donkeys still abound in
. Hooray! Greece
This girl was so nice, she even turned the donkey around so I could get a better picture.
- I found out that my uncle (dad's look-alike) still fishes without a fishing pole. Instead he brings explosives he gets from his gravel company and ‘fishes’ in the manner of Crocodile Dundee. More bang for the buck, I guess.
- My sister dubbed my beach attire as ‘
’ style. I reciprocated, referring to hers as ‘ Monaco ’. Both names were appropriate. No, I’m not showing a picture of us. Deal with it. South Beach
- One of my cousins, god bless her, has managed to cultivate a personal style only drag queens would envy. Her nickname in the town is ‘the girl who wears no clothes’. Yeah.
- I got in two runs, both along the beach on Euboea (pronounced Evia). Very picturesque, but also unbelievably hot. There were a few runners out during my morning run, so I didn’t feel like a total spectacle, though I did get a few odd looks during my afternoon run.
- Z and I both managed to lose a toenail while in
. Mine was running related and a long time in coming. Hers was just a freakish accident. And no, it had nothing to do with me running over her foot with the car, I swear. Greece
- I kept forgetting not to flush toilet paper down the toilet. (You’re supposed to put it in the trash bin. Gross, I know).
- We saw some sea life during the ferryboat trips.
This was my first time seeing dolphins!
- Trying to have a conversation about people in my family is an exercise in frustration, because of the Greek naming convention. In a nutshell, the first male and female children are named after the father’s parents and the second ones after the mother’s. After that, it’s dealer’s choice. You can see how this would make it difficult to try to discuss what cousin George has been up to when there are multiple cousin Georges in the family. I often feel the urge to tear my hair out when people start talking about a relative and I have no freaking clue which one they’re referring to. [Editor’s note: Not that it matters, but my parents defied tradition with me because my dad said no one in
would be able to pronounce my maternal grandmother’s name. Instead I was named after his father. I thank him for that every single day.] Greece
- My yiayia (Greek for grandmother) is still a spitfire. She ’s recovering from gallbladder surgery, but she’s as strong as ever. She lamented the fact that Z, me and one of our female cousins are still unmarried (I get that from my American grandmother too—I can’t win) and that I am still in school, but otherwise she was just pleased as punch that we were there. She was praising us to the skies, saying we were the best and then all of a sudden she turned and spit on my three times in quick succession. It’s a Greek thing to do when you don’t want to tempt fate and bring bad luck on someone. If you’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Z and I were a bit startled because it’s the first time we’ve ever experienced it in real life. Z was jealous of me. I felt special.
- Lots of yummy Greek food was consumed. My aunts are kick-ass cooks and even my dad and uncle showed off their culinary skills. [Editor’s note: Sexism still runs rampant in
. Z and I ended up washing my father’s clothes and cleaning up after all the meals when we stayed at my uncle’s place. The only reason we weren't expected to cook for them was because technically we were guests.] Greece
Moussaka (no, not moose kaka). I love this stuff. It's like crack to me.
My dad grilled the chicken and potatoes while my uncle prepared everything else. Super good meal.
Baklava anyone? (Okay, I'm cheating. This is from a bakery, but it still tasted really good.)
- My cousin drove us in her big-ass SUV from her dad’s house to the center of town. All four blocks of it. Then she proceeded to complain about not finding a parking space. Unbelievable, yet true.
- My aunt’s husband is a Greek Orthodox priest. Priests are allowed to marry, it just prevents them from rising up in the church hierarchy. He wears the robe and hat like this. It’s kinda cool actually. Most people in the family call him Papa D-, but I can get away with referring to him as just theo (Greek for uncle).
- My uncle E’s garden kicks ass. He’s one of the most productive retired people I know.
Grapes. My uncle makes his own wine with them.
- I finally got to spend some quality time with my dad. We went for a walk early one morning, just the two of us, and chatted about things while meandering along the beach. We haven’t shared a moment like that in years, so it was pretty special to me.
- As of last week, I had thought I was the only member of my family (either branch) to ever attend graduate school. I was actually the second to ever attend university at all, with Z being the first. On Thursday, I met two distant cousins (the children of my dad’s first cousin—what does that make our relationship?) who are doctors. The kind who help people as opposed to the kind I will be when I finish my degree. It was pretty cool.
- Z and I drove to see the archaeological remains near the ancient site of
(the location of the battle featured in the movie 300). We spent an hour driving up dozens of narrow roads on this mountain and found jack-all. Finally we came across a herd of goats and asked their human overseer where the site was. He helpfully said, ‘it’s down the mountain.’ Thanks. We never did end up finding the ruins. Thermopylae
Herd of ornery goats. To be fair, we were intruding on their territory.
View as we were coming down the mountain. Those are all olive trees.
Now I leave you with this video I took while Z and I were driving from
One final thing before I go: 11 days till my first half marathon!!! Nerves are starting to set in, but I don’t know why since I’ve already proven to myself that I can run the distance. I’m pathetic.
Monday, 18 August 2008
I flew into England from Greece on Friday night. Saturday I spent running errands and trying to organize my very disorganized life. I don’t think my attempts did any good though. Damn it.
Today, I woke up at 5:30 am with less than five hours of sleep to get my long run in before leaving for the airport. Am I a glutton for punishment? You betcha! A 12.5 mile run was scheduled for today. I ended up running 13.5. Lack of time and functioning brain cells prevented me from mapping a different route, so I said to hell with it and did my standard 4.5 mile route around Port Meadow three times.
It turned out to be a good run. I stashed a bottle each of Lucozade and water at the start of the loop and then just picked them up as I cruised on by. I’m pretty sure I was the first one out and about this morning in the meadow. It wasn’t until I was halfway through loop #2 that the fishermen arrived at the canal. A few runners appeared around the same time too.
My four-legged friends also joined me in the meadow this morning. I not only had to dodge the frequent cow patties, I also had to maneuver around the cows themselves. I swear, every time I got close, they would purposely walk right in front of me, forcing me to go around them. Fearing a bovine plot to actually crap directly on me, I nearly sprinted most of the time I was in their presence.
Returning home, I showered, hurriedly packed my now dirty running clothes into my bags and then headed to the bus station, where I had the honor of being driven to Heathrow by a colossal prick. He wasn’t rude directly to me, but was severely so to many other passengers and even to his very polite and courteous co-worker. What a dick.
Waiting for my gate number to appear on the screen, I stopped by Starbucks and got a double espresso. I’m not a coffee drinker AT ALL, but the jolt of caffeine was necessary because of the lack of sleep last night and my need to get a little work done during the flight. And I still had time left to write up this post and watch two films, In Bruges and 27 Dresses. I can heartily recommend In Bruges to anyone who has a sick sense of humor and a love of very dark comedy. It had me laughing so much that the gentleman sitting next to me asked what I was watching. Now he too is giggling at the movie. I guess I’m not the only sicko in the world.
All this traveling lately has me feeling a bit lonely. I was overly nice today and gave up my window seat so that a young couple could sit together. Now I’m on the aisle of the middle section with nothing to lean on.
This is notable because I’m a personal space nazi. I don’t like touching people I don’t know and I really don’t want them touching me. It makes me a bit twitchy to be in a large crowd for too long. To give the guy next to me some more arm room, I’m leaning a bit towards the aisle, but that puts me in danger of being whacked by the drink cart or one of the dozen or so children who have escaped the confines of their seats and are now running hell bent for leather away from their parents. It’s like a circus in here, only, you know, not as fun. But thankfully it lacks the overbearing smell of feces.
I need a travel buddy. Or a boyfriend I can drag along with me to be my headrest. I feel pathetic having written that, but it’s the truth. I actually enjoy my unattached state most of the time, but now not so much. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting older. Or that I’m really tired right now. I don’t know. All I do know is that it’d be nice to be one of the couples I see on the plane. Well, at least the ones who aren’t bickering with one another.
On that pathetic note, let me wish you all a non-sucky Monday.
Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
2) They come with their own names. (Ours is Leon.)
3) They manuever rather easily onto ferry boats.
4) GPS is worthless, yet entertaining.
5) Accidentally running over my sister's foot with the rental car has pretty much shot to hell any good karma I ever had or would have possessed in future. (She's actually fine, but I still feel like ten kinds of shit about the entire incident.)
Hope you all are keeping yourselves entertained while I'm away. I'm currently trying not to feel too pathetic for being overly happy that one of my uncles has internet access even in the boonies. I'm sure there's a support group for my addiction. I'll search for one later.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
The final competitor in the event is
After stashing a sports drink in the bushes,
During the next mile,
Here comes the cow patty hurdling portion of the T&C multi-event-a-thon.
Sadly, it looks like the equestrian events and bull jumping will have to be missed this year as the livestock is not cooperating. Very sad, but there’s nothing that can be done about it.
With lap one completed,
Lap #2 is just as successful for this NUT, though she does happen to catch the edge of a cow patty with her shoe. That’s a 5 second deduction to her time.
Whoa! What’s this? She’s still going, folks! Looks like she’s determined to get in the rest of her 11+ mile run that’s on her training schedule for this weekend. Hardcore, indeed, ladies and gentlemen.
On that note, let’s get back to the other main Olympic event of the day – airport queueing!
Friday, 8 August 2008
To illustrate how remiss I have been in my familial responsibilities, I haven’t seen my Greek grandmother (my yiayia) in ten years, my American grandmother in about four years and my father in three. I’m pretty sure that last one puts me in the running for the WORST DAUGHTER EVER award, so I need to remedy the situation STAT.
Both my parents are from large families, so I also have dozens of aunts, uncles and countless cousins to see while I’m out and about. I’m going to be in Socializing Overload, so I’m hoping to be able to get some runs in as that is likely to be the only alone time I’ll get for the foreseeable future.
Saturday I head off to
Oh, and have I mentioned that near the end of all this I’ll be running in my first half marathon? No? Well now I have.
Getting time to run in the
These people don’t run unless they’re chased. Their exercise comes from manual labor – working the fields and herding livestock. Hell, donkeys are still frequently used for transport. Well, at least they were ten years ago when I was last there. Maybe things have changed since then. Maybe yiayia now has indoor plumbing. Guess I’ll find out this weekend.
Internet access is not likely to be had while in
Good luck to all those racing between now and then. I look forward to catching up with all your antics when I get back to civilization.
Thursday, 7 August 2008
I survived the bikini waxing. Actually, it wasn't half bad. I mean, it's not like I want to do that every day, but the pain was fleeting (I barely even flinched. Go me!) and the results were well worth it. I'll definitely do it again in future.
In the comments of the last post, POM suggested I go the laser route. Is it sad that the first thing that popped into my mind when I read that was 'I actually have frickin' sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their frickin' heads?' Yeah, I'm mature.
The beauty salon I went to doesn't offer laser hair removal, so that wasn't an option. If I can find a place that does and the price isn't too overwhelming (though I have a feeling it will be) I may give it a try someday. Being the TMI machine that I am, I will of course inform you all of it as soon as it happens.
Moving on up!
With the help of one of my new flatmates and his wonderful car, I moved most of my stuff to my new place last night. There's only a little bit left to move today, but then I also have a Friday work deadline to meet before I jet off on Saturday (more on that tomorrow), so I'm super busy. God knows that doesn't often stop me from procrastinating and checking in with you all, but it may today. We'll see.
Because of the move, I had to bail on my run yesterday. I'm hoping I can still get one in today, though running 5 miles with a recent bikini waxing should be interesting, especially after what Lily said. Eh, guess there's a first time for everything.
Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
So, I punished myself for my poor food choices. How did I do that, you ask? I did a half-assed version of a brick workout (45-minute spin class and a 3.5 mile tempo run) followed by Week 2 – Day 1 of the push ups challenge and topped it all off with holding a plank position till I reached muscle failure. My so-called brick workout was extra half-assed because my transition time was about thirty minutes – the time it took me to walk home from the gym, scarf down a fruit & yogurt bar and change into my running shoes. But I’m still counting it as hardcore, because that’s how I roll.
The push ups challenge is going well, though I am doing the girly knee push ups. I figure I’ll go through the whole thing once this way then start at the beginning with real push ups. It’ll keep me occupied for a while at least, so that’s good.
To increase my core muscle strength, I’ve added the plank exercise at the end of every push ups session. I’ve blatantly stolen this idea from the wonderful commenters on Marcy’s blog and I feel no remorse for it, so don’t be looking for any. My only plan is to do the plank three times a week and to hold it for as long as possible – until my muscles turn to quivering jelly or until I’m bored out of my skull. Sadly, I usually stop because of the latter. My record so far is 2 minutes and 5 seconds. I’m determined to make it to 5 minutes, so I’m going to have to start bringing reading material if I ever want to actually reach that goal.
Bring on the pain
Tomorrow I’m set to do something truly stupid. I’m getting my first ever bikini wax. If you hear bloodcurdling screams coming from the east tomorrow morning, do not trouble yourselves. That’s just me gettin’ perty.
I already know I’ll be downing a bunch of ibuprofen beforehand and mentally checking into my happy place right before the process commences. Ladies, if you have any other last minute advice for me, I’m all ears. I can use all the help I can get. *gulp*
Ci vediamo domani. (See you tomorrow)
Monday, 4 August 2008
I did a double loop around Port Meadow with a two mile out and back in the meadow itself. During the first loop, I came across Mullet Man and his woman. They were actually quite polite, said good day, and moved over to allow me room to get by. An hour later, when I was on the second loop, I passed them again. I saw Mullet Man do a double take, obviously recognizing me from before (it probably helped that I wore a bright blue shirt) and likely thinking I was a loon for running so much. Eh, join the club, which includes most of the people in my life.
Birdlife and livestock were out and about in numbers again. Along the canal there’s a very belligerent momma duck. Her nest (with adorable little fuzzball babies!) is right along the edge of the water, but the path itself is not that wide, so she stands on the path and snaps at everyone who passes by. One of these days I’m going to come away missing a chunk of my leg, I’m sure of it.
Running through the meadow, I was tempted to stop and pet one of the very friendly horses, like many other people were doing, but I decided against it. Sweating like crazy, I was afraid the animals would think I was a moving salt lick. Not wanting to invite potential trouble, I trekked on.
Speaking of sweating, do you all have trouble with sweat getting in your eyes? It stings like crazy! I’m not a hat person, so I don’t really know what to do about it besides using my shirt to wipe some of it away, which inevitably exacerbates the problem since my shirt is already soaked in my salty sweat. It’s a losing battle really.
By mile 7 my legs felt pretty dead. I made it through the next four miles only because I knew it was the fastest way home. Dragging my sorry butt up the stairs, I devoured some green olives (I really need to go to the store) and iced both my knees. They’re holding up pretty well though, only a few twinges and aches here and there. My thighs felt like blocks of stone. Sore blocks of stone, but they're doing all right now. Everything should be okay again for tomorrow's run.
This week is shaping up to be a busy one. I’ve got a chapter to submit, a conference proposal to write up,
No, it no longer works. What a waste.
I’ve successfully managed to avoid thinking about the fact that the basement of this place used to be a morgue. Fingers crossed my delusional state continues for the next five days.
Hope you are all surviving this craptastic Monday.
Ci vediamo dopo. (See you later)
Friday, 1 August 2008
On with the brain farts!
Weak in the knees
After my run last night, I sat down like a good little girl and input the data into my running log. Realizing it was the last day of the month, I looked at my total mileage for July. 97.8 miles. I couldn’t believe it. 2.2 freaking miles away from 100! I almost booked it out of the house then and there to run those miles, but I didn’t and for a very good reason.
For almost two weeks now, my knees have felt a bit weak. It was the major reason behind my decision to change my Wednesday hill session into a regular speed work run on the much more forgiving surface of the park path (well, that and I wanted to avoid a potential trip to the pokey). My knees have actually been improving over the last few days, but I didn’t want to jinx it, hence my sub-100 mileage for July. Eh, no biggy, it’ll happen sooner or later.
Day at the Museum
Thursday was field trip day for me. I took the choo-choo train to
Some of the galleries were closed for renovation, which means I didn’t get to ogle the Isle of Lewis chess pieces again. [Editor’s note: I can’t play the game worth a damn, but I still love it.] Plenty left to see, though so I didn’t complain. Well, at least not overly much.
Cuneiform tablet. (And I thought reading my students' handwriting was difficult.)
As it’s summer, the place was super crowded with tourists which increased the temperature in the building about ten-fold. Previously I’ve discussed my fear of experiencing a spin class dutch oven, but I’m pretty damn sure I endured a museum version yesterday. DAYUM! [Editor's note: Marcy, I hope you don't mind me stealing your exclamation. It's too good not to use.] What the hell have these people been eating? Also, why do Europeans find deodorant unnecessary? I assure you it’s not. I can’t even count the number of times I nearly passed out from catching a strong whiff of someone’s B.O. The olfactory sense is definitely overrated sometimes.
However, one thing I did not like about BodyGlide—the sticker price. I had to lay down 12 GBP for that stick, which amounts to about $24. Holy crapola, people! That is some expensive stuff. It better last me til the next ice age or I’m going to feel ripped off.
Because I’m a giver, I thought I would share these wonderful internet gems with you all.
Courtesy of my friend B, who has to be the world’s greatest carnivore, I present to you the 7 Hamburgers of the Apocalypse. The only one I would even bother with would be #2, but I don’t think I could even make it through a quarter of that thing before blowing chunks. I can’t believe that skinny midget girl was able to eat the whole damn thing. Crickey.
As my iTunes was randomly shuffling the other day, it came upon a classic Heart song ‘All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You’. This is the only song I know of that celebrates the art of spermjacking. [Editor’s note: If there are others, please do correct me.]
It took me a while as a kid to realize exactly what the song was talking about. The lyrics just beg to be mocked and I was all set to do that until I realized someone out there in the blogosphere must have already done this. I was right. Check out Anatomy of a Love Song. You’ll be glad you did.
On that glorious note, let me wish you all a wonderful weekend.
Ci vediamo lunedì. (See you Monday)