Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Holiday happenings

Happy belated holidays everyone! My apologies for not posting earlier but I decided to flip the bird at the internet for a while in order to block all reminders of the shit-ton of work I have waiting for me. It was a glorious week, let me tell you.

The Xenia family Christmas was as fun and eventful as ever. The tree went crashing to the floor twice killing about a half dozen ornaments in the process. We also managed to lock ourselves out of both the house and car one freezing day and were forced to break in the front door using a credit card, spade and a lot of brute force. Family bonding at its best.

The first half of my stay has been quite productive in a lot of ways. I’ve seen and chatted with a lot of my family, bought and wrapped gifts well before Christmas Eve, sent out Christmas cards, waded through a year’s worth of mail, broke out a can of whoop-ass on my credit card company for being disorganized douchebags, driven a car without veering into the wrong lane (much) and eaten almost everything on my food list. My stocking included York peppermint patties and I’ve pretty much eaten an entire batch of my grandma’s balls by myself. They’re delicious. The last item to tick off (Mexican food) will be taken care of this weekend.

What I have not been so productive at is running. In the ten days I’ve been here, I’ve run only once. Stellar considering I’m training for a marathon, no? But I have excuses. And a couple of them may even be valid.

There is no treadmill at the homestead, so all my running has to be done outdoors. That’s not a bad thing except the weather has not been cooperating. For the first four days here we had a cold spell which plummeted the temps into the teens. Add in the wind chill and there was no way I was running. Then there was a day of incessant rain and yesterday we got about four inches of snow. Now we’re heading into another cold spell which will probably derail things even further.

My location also needs to be taken into account. Take a look at where I am:

Civilized, this is not

If you’re thinking to yourself “Geez, this looks like the middle of nowhere”, you’d be right. We’re pretty much about a 20 minute drive from civilization and have no cell phone service. The homestead is on a dirt road next to Route 123. Even in good weather it’s impossible to run on 123 because there’s absolutely no shoulder, which leaves me with the dirt road.

The homestead is situated at the bottom of a hill, so the only direction to run is uphill. I’m not a fan of hills. There are virtually none in Nerdtown so I’m not used to them, hence I don’t like them. The road surface is currently covered in a thick layer of compacted snow, ice and gravel. I don’t own YakTrax and I’m not an ice skater. You do the math.

Though most of the route is quite picturesque with snow-covered trees and tinkling streams, the relative isolation makes the last part of the runable road rather disturbing. Here, take a look at this:

Nowhereville according to Xenia

As you can see, I leave the homestead and run south-west. Besides the sucktastic hills, everything’s fine as I’m surrounded by woodland dotted with the occasional quaint house. However, when the road turns toward the south and I crest the final part of the hill, things aren’t so nice. There are about a half dozen rundown shacks along this part of the road. They look like they’re straight out of the movie Deliverance. Apparently, these are their vacation homes. Nice. But the piece de resistance is the turn-around point—a large farm house which itself is actually fine, but no so much the gigantic scary barn next to it. It’s not a very inviting structure and by that I mean it’s straight out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. To be fair, the farm is only about a quarter mile from the next town, but I’m not a fast runner so you know that shit wouldn’t end well for me.

My irrational hysteria aside, the running conditions are less than ideal in Nowhereville and holiday sloth has taken away most of my motivation. I may have to rethink the spring marathon. Maybe I should choose another one a month or two later. Eh, I’m not too fussed about it at the moment. Grandma’s balls seem to be having a calming effect on me. Sweet.

All right, time for me to get back to stuffing my face and gaining weight.

Have a happy new year, everyone.

Later gators.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Gaseous cerebral emissions

Welcome to the random brain farts that are my thoughts lately.
  • I have not been able to concentrate on my work for the last week and a half.
  • I’ve not been sleeping well either.
  • My left eye has been twitching for four days.
  • And I have a headache at the back of my skull.
  • I need to calm the hell down and focus.
  • But I get to fly home tomorrow. YIPPEE!!
  • I am extraordinarily thankful I am not flying with British Airways. However, my friend Canadia is and she’s having a hell of a time right now facing the prospect of not being able to go home for the holidays or attend a conference at which she’s supposed to present a paper. Cross your fingers for her, folks.
  • The foot pain I experienced last week has abated. I RICE’d, used the tennis ball every day and even had the occasional foot massage. All is good, though I can tell my shin and calf muscles need to be strengthened so I continue with the simple exercises you all suggested. Thanks.
  • I totally need to start doing yoga again when I get back here in January.
  • As for your other suggestions, well let’s just say that being a one-footed kinky inebriated whore didn’t exactly sound like the best of remedies. I’ll take it under advisement for the next time though.
  • The temperature in NH is ten plus degrees lower than it is here in England. And there’s already lots of snow on the ground.
  • Not surprisingly, I’ve rearranged my running schedule this week in order to get my 10 mile long run in before I fly out.
  • Actually, I’m running the 10-miler tomorrow morning before my afternoon departure.
  • Hopefully I won’t regret that decision.
  • Yesterday I purchased a bright orange mesh vest with wide yellow reflective strips for running in NH.
  • I really don’t want to be mistaken for a deer or, god forbid, a moose and get shot while running in my home state.
  • Because that would, like, totally suck.
  • I took Aeolus in for his one month check-up and got him tricked out with a wire basket.
  • Now I can cycle with my gym bag and my backpack without the awkward balancing act and threat of road rash.
  • Did I mention I’m flying home tomorrow?!
  • If anyone has an in with Virgin Atlantic, could you please hook me up with an upgrade for tomorrow? I would be eternally grateful.
  • And by eternally grateful I mean I would send you a Popener.
  • I’m a poor graduate student. It’s all I’ve got, people.
Okay, that’s it for me. Back to not working on my craptastic dissertation. Have a fabulous rest of the week and a great weekend. Catch up with you again next week when I’ll be stateside, freezing my ass off and, hopefully, stuffed to the gills with tasty fatty American food. I can’t wait!

Later gators.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Race Report: Santas on the Run

Ho ho ho!

If you’ve never run in costume, I highly recommend it. Even if you show up to the race to find out everyone else is wearing the same thing. Come on, people, let’s coordinate better next time!

Sunday was the Santas on the Run race in Nerdtown. I was able to cajole Mortie and Aus into joining me so I didn’t have to feel like a lone idiot. The three of us met up and then made our way to the start where all the Santas were partaking in the customary cult warm-up exercises.

Sea of santas

Then we were off!

It was only a two mile race so everything went by pretty fast. I caught some of the run on video. Forgive the bouncing. I’m working on my in-race camera work.

As is usual with these charity races, groups of walkers abounded and impeded progress, so at the beginning I knew running for time was stupid and decided to just hang with my friends and enjoy the day.

It was all great fun and I hope to run it again next year. After the race, I cycled home in full Santa gear and got a lot of interesting reactions from passersby. I think I should dress up in costume more often. In fact, if there’s another nun run in London next year, I’m totally running it. Now that’s a habit I can get into. (badump bump ching!)

So now comes the moment where you all whinge and cry because I didn’t post a photo of myself in a Santa costume. Usually I’d just say tough titties, but I’m feeling kinda generous since it’s the season of giving, so I’ll make an exception. Here I am:

Oops, sorry, not me. I’m not much of a drinker. Could be most any of you all though. All right, here I am:

Er, okay, maybe that’s not me. But this one is:

I’m, like, totally hot, huh? It was kinda difficult to run in the Santa suit they issued us so, as you can see, I just held onto the girls until the run was over. Like, totally smart, right?

Okay, okay. That’s not me either. I know, hard to believe, huh?

All right, enough of the teasing.

I was sad that I didn’t have a Rudolph nose to wear so I photoshopped one in for your viewing pleasure. Other than that, the rest is actually me. However, I would like to point out that my mouth doesn’t normally look like an old lady’s vagina. That’s just the effect of the itchy fake beard. No, really.

Have a great week, everyone.

Later gators.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Paging Dr. Diagnosis

I have no idea if anyone took me up on my suggestion of guessing when I’d injure myself during this training cycle, but if you said Week 2, then you’re right! Go get yourself a cookie to celebrate. Jackhole.

I don’t have time to fart around on the internet today in order to diagnose said injury, so I’m gonna pass the buck on to you fine folks and hope like hell someone hits on the right answer. Here’s the situation:

There’s an ache in my left arch and in the inside of my ankle. Actually the ache spread from the arch to include the ankle. How nice of it to share the fun. I felt the arch discomfort at the beginning of last week. Wasn’t much so I thought it was just a one off. Now however it is increasing and I’m on the cusp of limping a bit when I walk. It’s still just a dull ache though. No sharp pains or anything.

Here’s what I think probably caused the pain:

About four weeks ago, I got fed up with the second toe on my left foot always feeling crammed in my running shoe and perpetually having a black toenail if it had one at all. I realized my left insert was the culprit. It’s a custom designed insert I got from the running store here last March and it’s supposed to last me a year. There’s an extra heel bit just a few millimeters thick on the left heel only. Apparently my left arch is a bit worse than my right one. Anyhoo, the damn thing was always detaching itself from the rest of the insert and migrating, so I thought I’d try running without it once. I did and after a few minutes of adjustment for my body, all was well and the toe was spared further discomfort. Yay.

The inserts are pretty beat up already and probably at the end of their life and I’ve only been wearing one pair of running shoes these last four months and they’re getting ready to be retired too. I’ve been doing my feet a disservice, I know.

I will be adding the stupid heel piece back on to my insert, but then my toe is probably going to lose its nail again. I realize that’s the lesser of two evils, but it’s still a pain. I’ll deal though. When I go back to the states I’ll be getting a new pair of inserts anyway, so I just need this one to hold out a couple more weeks.

Now I need to know what exercises, stretches, etc I need to be doing to heal and strengthen the left foot. Any informed suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

This of course does not bode overly well for my long run (just an eight miler) and the Santa run this weekend. Poopsicles. I’ve brought in a tennis ball to work today and am rolling my shoeless foot on it now in the hopes that this will somehow help. If for some reason this may make it worse, for the love of all that’s holy let me know as soon as possible. I’m an idiot when it comes to this sort of thing as has been made quite obvious from this post.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Potpourri: holiday edition

I don’t feel like talking about health and fitness stuff today, so you get this instead.

Staying warm on a budget
My desk in the house is right in front of a window. Cold air comes through the window and gets funneled downward by the curtain thus freezing my feetsies. My house in general is usually not that warm these days so I wrap myself up in my quilt when I sit at my desk. However, this still leaves my feet in environs equivalent to those of a meat locker. Well, genius that I am, I’ve come up with a solution. Sleeping bag + hot water bottle = lovely warmth and continued blood circulation. Huzzah! The one problem is if I have to get up in a hurry. Basically I end up falling over and flailing around like a turtle stuck on its back. God help me the day I end up bursting the hot water bottle in the process. I may drown.

Next week can’t come soon enough
I’ve been getting nostalgic recently. I’m sick of the rain and I’m sick of my dissertation. The holidays are here and the only thing I want to do is go home and enjoy it all with my loved ones. I realize most people bitch and moan about having to visit the old homestead this time of year, but as we all know by now, I’m not normal. You live far enough away from everyone for a while and you begin to appreciate what you’ve left behind. Having said that, we still do have a saturation point with each other. That’s why my visit is just under three weeks—I should be leaving just before we all start getting irritated with one another. It’s all about planning, people.

Anyhoo, since I can’t think much beyond simple bullet points nowadays, here’s random list-y stuff I’ve been looking forward to about the holidays.
And I’ve petered out. Stupid brain. So, what are you looking forward to/enjoying about the holidays?

Countdown to Crazy
Five days till I don the Santa suit and run my cranky ass through Nerdtown. What I find most amusing about all of this is that a lot of you expect to see photographic evidence of this stupidity. Silly rabbits.

Tonight’s the department Christmas party where everyone gets tanked on free booze and the grad students gorge themselves on the free food. Nothing like trying to act cool and professional while a sloshed faculty member sways drunkenly in front of you yammering away as you surreptitiously collect nibbles into a napkin for later. Hello awkward, my old friend.

Happy Tuesday, everyone. Catch up with you when I can.

Later gators.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Water, water, everywhere

The Xenia’s one-woman Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K was a success. Amazingly, I not only scored first place in my age group, but I also placed first overall. Outstanding, no? :)

Turns out I did get to celebrate Turkey Day properly this year, just not on the Thursday. Sunday night, I brought over a green bean casserole to a friend’s where he had cooked up an entire Thanksgiving Day feast. He did an amazing job, especially being heavily handicapped as he was (he’s British). Included in the menu was pumpkin pie. Amazing homemade pumpkin pie. It was delish! So for all of you who ate an extra slice of pie for me last Thursday, I’d just like to say thanks for your efforts, fatties. Too bad it was all for naught.

Here comes the rain again...
Thankfully I'm not forced to crawl through a river of shit first...

Contrary to my often inane ramblings on this blog, I’m not an idiot. I did realize England’s reputation for gray skies and perpetual rain. However, it’s one thing to understand it in a theoretical sense, but entirely another to live it.

This island’s BFF status with the jet stream is effing killing me. It rains all the damn time except for a few moments here and there. Light drizzle, steady rain, outright downpour with gale force winds. If a type of rain exists, it’s present in England.

Monday marked the beginning of Week 1 of my marathon training. I was supposed to go to the gym to swim. Nope, didn’t happen even though I felt like a total lard-ass after the Thanksgiving feast the previous day. Early this week we had a cold snap. Add to this the perpetual rain and there was no way I felt like waking up early to cycle in the freezing rain to the pool. Instead I pigged out on sugary goodness to celebrate my unstoppable aging process.

Tuesday rolled around with the first planned run of my training schedule—a simple 3 miler. Yup, you guessed it—freezing cold temps, incessant rain and my wimpy fatty self decided snoozing for an extra hour was a much better option than running in cold rain.

Finally on Wednesday, the cold snap disappeared and we were left with our usual mildly cold rainy conditions. It was drizzling Wednesday morning and, I hate to admit it, but I wimped out AGAIN. I resolved that no matter what the weather was like I was going to run that evening.

A little after 7 pm, I cycled home in a downpour. I trudged into the house and up the stairs and got my running gear on. I made sure my ipod was encased in its ghetto water resistant sleeve (i.e. a ziploc bag I cut up) and out the door I went.....into a perfectly lovely evening. It was no longer raining. Sure there were gigantic puddles everywhere, but I wasn’t being pissed on by the sky gods and that’s all that mattered.

I clocked in my best 5K time in weeks on that run. Psyched up about running and being in training mode again, I headed out early this morning for my second planned 3 miler for the week. It was a helluva lot slower than the first, but what did I expect after only 12 hours of rest in between.

Anyhoo, all this is to say I’m back on track with my training plan and feeling good. I’m looking forward to swimming tomorrow morning and running my first long run in ages this weekend. It’s only a measly 6 miles but since I haven’t been running more than 4 miles in the last couple of months, it’ll definitely seem long to me.

Okay, back to the dissertation grind for me. I’ll catch up with you guys when I can.

Later gators.