Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Resurfacing ... briefly

Back in December, Razz coerced me into doing something I didn't really want to do. And he forced an unwilling Marcy to join in too. The first attempt left all of us feeling rather letdown so we tried it again earlier this month.

Before I continue I just need to say that y'all really need to get your minds out of the gutter right now. Seriously, sickos.

I took part in a Runners Lounge podcast with Razz, Marcy, Vanilla and Amy. Now your dreams of finally hearing my horrid voice can come true. Yippee for you.

Why it took Razz so long to post this episode, I have no idea. It's not like he's been doing anything important lately. Slacker.

On that note, it's time to get back to this.

See you next week.

I hope.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Night moves

As I corrected in my last post, I did manage to get in 4.5 miles on Wednesday night. It was miserably cold and rainy, but I gotter done, as per my motto for the year. Last night, I sucked it up again and went to the gym to do my 400 m repeats on the dreaded human hamster wheel. Of course I wasn’t prepared for the fact that the damn thing only tracked in kilometers, not miles. So as I was doing my warm-up mile, I mentally calculated how fast I needed to be going in kilometers to hit my repeat times (2:05 – 2:11). I prayed I got it close. Amazingly, I was right on the money. Here are my times:


I wasn’t able to maintain the 2:05 pace for all the repeats. I got pretty tuckered out by the third one, so I decreased the pace. Next time, I’ll try the speeds in reverse order and hopefully I won’t end up feeling like Death’s dirty diaper halfway through.

I’ll be rounding out this week’s runs with another night jaunt this evening (if I ever make it out of the office which sadly does not look likely to happen before 7 pm. Boo!) and an 8 miler over the weekend. I would prefer to do the long run on Sunday, but Mother Nature seems not to want to let that happen. Touché, Mother Nature.

The debonair Count of Monte Christo has tagged me. I’m supposed to name five of my addictions and then tag five more sorry suckers. Well, I’ll skip on directly tagging anyone else, but feel free to assume you’ve been tagged if you need something to blog about.

Okay, here are my five addictions:

1) Books. I willingly chose a career in academia. This one should be obvious.
2) Lemons. I actually eat lemons with a bit of salt. Yes, I know I’m weird. I like most things lemon—lemon cake, lemonade, lemon drops, lemon chicken. In fact, I often use lemon juice on most cooked meats, especially steak, as I don’t really like condiments.
3) Movie trailers. I’m one of those people who gets really irritated if I miss the previews in the movie theater. Watching trailers is also how I do fairly well in movie trivia games even though I haven’t seen most of the films. Now I watch them on the interwebs at
4) Puzzles & brain teasers. I adore playing Sudoku, Bookworm and any kind of puzzle game. It helps prevent my mind going straight to mush with all the vagueness and uncertainty in my academic work.
5) Running. Again, this one should be obvious.

Okay, folks, that’s it from me. Have a great weekend. Catch you again on Monday.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

The old switcheroo

I modified my half marathon training plan a bit. And by a bit I mean a lot. I’ve switched from the SmartCoach plan I had to a slightly modified Hal Higdon’s intermediate HM plan. The long run progression is much better in Higdon’s plan compared to the craptastic mess SmartCoach gave me. The only modifications I made to the plan were my training paces. Both SmartCoach and Higdon were giving me rather slow pace times that I can too easily beat, so I put in my hoped for HM finish time in the McMillan calculator and got some better numbers to work with. Hopefully this makes the difference for me.

Of course that’s all dependent on me actually running. As you can see from the sidebar, I don’t have any miles yet this week. [Editor's note: Now I do! 'Bout damn time too.] Since I arrived back on English soil, I’ve been completely unable to fall asleep when I need to and therefore have been waking up rather later than intended which is not good for me, the I-still-want-to-run-in-the-mornings runner. I think I’m still suffering a bit from jetlag which is pathetic (it’s not like I flew in from Australia or anything) but actually pretty common for me when I fly across the Atlantic to England. Hopefully I can catch up on sleep this weekend and sort all this out.

I'm sure this picture will help with that.

*sigh* I heart you, Colin.

In other news, it looks like I’ll be meeting up with fellow blogger and real life friend Theresa in Wales in early March to run a 5K. I’ve never been to Wales before so it’ll be a great weekend getaway trip for me. However, I have a bit of a dilemma. The race organizers are offering two races—a 5K followed by a 10K an hour later. I’m supposed to be getting an 11-mile long run in that weekend in preparation for my half marathon two weeks later. Do you think I’d be crazy to see if they’ll let me sign up for both races? I’d run the 5K as a race, but the 10K probably at an easier pace. Am I certifiable? Let me know in the comments.

Okay, folks, hope you’re faring well on this hump day. Catch up with you later.

Monday, 19 January 2009

My motto

I don’t like resolutions. I don’t think I’ve ever actually accomplished one before, so I know if I make one now I’ll just be setting myself up for a big fat FAIL and a truckload of guilt by the time December rolls around.

For a while now, I’ve been planning to post about my specific running goals for 2009, but then I realized how much those goals resembled resolutions, so I backed off. Although I still have them in the back of my mind, I’ve simplified them to the following slightly generalized statement:

Get faster.

It’s nice and straightforward. It also pretty much sets the bar so low that only a mouse could limbo under it.

I’m perfectly fine with that.

In order to encourage me to obtain said running goal, I’ve decided to create a motto for myself. And no, I’m not stealing this idea from Frayed Laces even though it looks like I am. I’ve been thinking about creating a motto since December. So there.

My motto?

No excuses, just getter done.

No more avoiding speed work. If I want to get faster, I need to train faster. There’s no other way to go about it. Overall I want to run fewer junk miles and more miles with a purpose, as per Steve’s advice. I’d also like to get back to cross-training to round out my general fitness and to help prevent running injuries. I may will bitch and moan about all this, but by god, I’m going to do it.

My new motto is also applicable to other areas of my life. In particular, it’s the central focus for my PhD work for the next year and a half. I want to finish my dissertation, and thus my degree, by the summer of 2010 so that I can finally finally get a teaching job. One that actually pays money and has benefits. Of course, I’ll be finishing amidst a recession which is pretty much wiping out jobs in my field left and right. Surprisingly, archaeologists aren't in high demand at most universities. They prefer to hire instructors for useless fields like engineering and computer science instead.


Thankfully my standards are so low, I’ll take up a teaching post just about anywhere I can get one. Yes, even Idaho. I’m still on the fence about Nebraska though. That one’s a toughie.

Speaking of mottos and states (poor segue, I know), can I just say how much I adore the hardcore attitude of my home state’s motto, Live Free or Die? Seriously, my people are crazy about their freedom, but mostly just plain crazy. I love that.

I looked at a list of state mottos and snickered when I read Maryland’s (Manly deeds, womanly words) and West Virginia’s (Mountaineers are always free). Really, West Virginia? If that’s the case, I’ll take two.

So, do any of you have a personal motto? Does it trump mine? If so, can I steal borrow it?

Have a great week, everyone. Catch up with you later.

- - - - - - - - - -
Running update:
I ran 7 miles on Sunday. Yay for finally getting off my ever expanding ass!

Friday, 16 January 2009

Jolly ole England

I was going to complain about my extraordinarily long and taxing transatlantic flight on Wednesday and Thursday, but considering what the passengers of US Airways Flight 1549 had to contend with, I think I’ll keep my mouth shut.

I’ve only been back a day, but I still have yet to run. Probably won’t until Sunday either. Yeah, the second week of my half marathon training program is going swimmingly, is it not?

Not much to say except that, unsurprisingly, it’s gray, cold and wet here in England. I’m not likely to see the sun again until May. Oh well, back to having no skin pigmentation.

Hope you all have a great and hopefully not too cold weekend. I’d like to wish good luck to RazZDoodle, Vanilla, The Running Knitter, Kristina and anyone else who I’m forgetting that’s running this weekend. Enjoy the Arizona sunshine, guys, and think of the rest of us freezing our asses off as you’re sweating buckets and getting sunburned.

Later gators.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Trash TV

I haven’t run since I was in Philly. It was freaking cold here on Monday and Tuesday was spent running errands and packing in preparation for my flight today. Oh well. That’s life.

So, what does that leave me with to write about for today? Not much, so I’ll turn to the activity that took up a good chunk of my time while trapped in a house in the middle of Nowhere, NH—watching tv.

For the three years I’ve lived in England, I haven’t had a television. Surprisingly, this has never bothered me, even when I lost track of shows I used to watch religiously. (Scrubs, what’s happened to you?)

Now that I’m back in the states, I’ll watch a little television here and there, but mostly I find it to be mind-numbingly boring and end up putting in a DVD or reading a book.

Monday night was an exception. The program that caught my eye was anything but quality, but I still couldn’t stop watching it.

It was The Bachelor.

Good lord, where do I start? Of course, I’ve heard about this show before, and its counterpart The Bachelorette, but I’ve never actually seen an episode of any of the seasons before. That is, until now.

I caught a bit of the season premiere while in Chicago, but Monday night I got to witness an entire hour of hair extensions, backstabbing and cat fights. It was incredible.

First off, who the hell voluntarily puts themselves through this on national television? Dating can be harsh enough, but to do it in front of millions of people? Damn, you have to have a death wish. The Bachelor himself, though seemingly kind and rather attractive, has got to be a nut case. Seriously. He honestly thinks he’s going to find his true love and a caring mother for his little boy amongst these 25 women. Women who, might I add, were handpicked by the show’s producers who are looking for ratings gold...which means the group is full of crazies. And not just the regular run of the mill kind of crazy like you and me. I mean bunny-boiling, potentially-Lorena-Bobbitt-in-the-making psycho crazy.

Granted, some of the women do actually seem genuine, but all of them have this heavy cloud of desperation surrounding them. They’re clingy, paranoid, manipulative and whiny...all over a man they barely even know but still want to marry. Not just date, but marry. Like, right away. That’s freaking insane.

What’s fascinating to me is that these women are beautiful and most have great careers. If you encountered them in the real world, you’d think they led charmed lives and had men falling at their feet. Apparently not if they’re willing to check their self-respect at the door and live in what is essentially a harem to vie for the attentions of a potential husband who’s sucking face with each and every one of them and often while in full view of the rest. It’s a complete and utter train wreck. And it makes for great television.

This show truly is the epitome of a guilty pleasure. On the one hand, I feel bad for deriving entertainment from the naked insecurities of these women. I should be more compassionate to those of my sex. On the other hand, their appalling behavior makes me feel SOOOOOOOOO much better about myself. Hmmm, it is a dilemma.

Somehow, I think I’ll be able to live with the guilt.

Happy hump day, everyone.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Feeling the brotherly love


Recently I was in Philadelphia for a few days. Well, not really Philly so much as one of its fine hotels. Friday ended up being a really triumphant day for me but also unbelievably crappy. Amazing how that happens sometimes. Anyhoo, I was feeling like tens kinds of poo so I decided to get out into the city for a run before night fully set in.

Where did I run? Do you really have to ask? Okay, maybe some of you do.

I ran an out and back route from my hotel to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There, does that clarify it for you? No? Well, maybe this image will help.

Yeah baby! I re-enacted Rocky. Totally cheesy, but it lifted my spirits like you wouldn’t believe. I even brought along my camera to document my stupidity. No, I’m not showing you the pics. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of other goofballs doing the same thing, so at least I didn’t feel too conspicuous.

Sadly, I followed up that satisfying run with a soul-crushing three miler on the hotel treadmill Sunday morning. It was supposed to be seven miles, but I couldn’t do it. I realized I just don’t hate myself that much.

How you people run on those things on a regular basis is beyond me. The only positive aspect is that I know how fast I’m going. But that definitely ain’t worth the tedium. The treadmill I used had a tv screen attached to it too, but it was so close to my face I had to turn it off. Even with just the blank screen in front of me, my eyes started to hurt from inadvertently focusing on it. I wear reading glasses for a reason, folks. My eyes, they be weak.

Now I’m back in NH and snow country. Getting another run or two in before I fly back to England this week will be difficult as I’m a total wimp with snow and ice. I’m not a coordinated or graceful individual and I don’t have YakTrax because I’m a cheapskate, so NH running is a just a disaster waiting to happen to me right now. Don’t worry though. I’ll let you know if I’m stupid enough to ignore my common sense. Which, in all honesty, I probably am.

Hope you all had an enjoyable weekend. I’ll catch up with you later.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Peek-a-boo, Part II

Hello campers. Hope your New Year celebrations were enjoyable. Now back to the grind, heh? My sympathies.

Well, it’s another week, so I’m in another place. Z and I drove back to Chicago from NH over the weekend. The trip was pretty much the same as the way out except we experienced snowy conditions in western New York and Pennsylvania and got to see western Ohio and Indiana in daylight. Neither were improvements. Except for accidentally seeing cows getting it on in Indiana, the only other exciting thing to happen during the 1,000 mile drive was Z getting pulled over outside Toledo for speeding. Yes, she got a ticket. However, she takes no responsibility for it. Her excuse? ‘It’s not my fault Ohio is so flat.’ Touché, big sister, touché.

As yesterday was the last day of the HBBC, I thought I would go out with a bang and try to up my measly points count. So Z dropped me off at the Lake Shore bike path and I ran for an hour, getting in 5.4 miles. It felt really good to get out and run again, especially as this was my longest run since the marathon which was over a month ago. To say I’ve lost fitness in that time is an understatement. Although I’m not overjoyed to be leaving my family and friends again, I am looking forward to returning to England in a week and a half and getting back to what passes for normal in my life. I think I need a little routine to get me back on track.

In the interim, I have the start of my half marathon training to keep me going. My ten-week plan starts this week, so I’m going to take advantage of all the decent weather Mother Nature has to offer here in Chicago and eventually in two other US cities (yup, never stationary for long, that’s me) before I jet off again. I’ve also been pondering my running goals for 2009. More on that later though.

Hope you all have a great week. Catch up with you later.