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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Looking back at Marine Corps 2006

So, I went back to a post I posted in 2006 where I listed my split times for the race.  I don't actually tend to record my splits anywhere usually, but I did for this one race.  Here they are:

Mile 1:  13:07.8
Mile 2:  14:06.5    27:14.3
Mile 3:  13:04.5    40:18.8
Mile 4:  12:45.5    53:04.3
Mile 5:  12:44.5  1:05:48.8
Mile 6:  13:08.3  1:18:57.1
Mile 7:  12:58.5  1:31:55.6
Mile 8:  13:00.8  1:44:56.4
Mile 9:  12:46.0  1:57:42.4
Mile 10: 12:56.7  2:10:39.1
Mile 11: 12:48.0  2:23:27.1
Mile 12: 26:13.1  2:49:40.2 (potty break)
Mile 13: 13:43.6  3:03:23.8
Mile 14: 13:43.9  3:17:07.7
Mile 15: 14:15.7  3:31:23.4
Mile 16: 13:58.8  3:45:22.2
Mile 17: 14:35.1  N/A (missing mile marker)
Mile 18: 14:35.0  4:14:32.3
Mile 19: 14:01.4  4:28:33.7
Mile 20: 14:53.5  4:43:27.2
Mile 21: 15:23.7  4:58:50.9 (switch to 1:1s)
Mile 22: 17:53.6  5:16:44.5 (huge walk break)
Mile 23: 15:59.7  5:32:44.2 (back to 1:2s)
Mile 24: 16:02.2  5:48:46.4
Mile 25: 15:40.0  6:04:26.4
Mile 26: 15:59.2  6:20:25.6

At the finish line with a random marine
Marine Corps Marathon 2006
First, some explanations - Mile 12, on the National Mall, I took a ridiculous potty break where I waited in line and stood in line for about 14 minutes. SO SO STUPID, but looking back I'm glad I did it because this being my first marathon, it was the only race that my dad and his wife have ever come to. They were there, and I stood and talked to them while I waited in line and I'm glad I did because I don't think they really get the whole race thing and that spectating at a race often means standing around for long periods of time and then seeing your runner for 30 seconds.  If I were to pick a race to stand around and chit chat with my dad for the time it should have taken me to run a mile, well, it may as well be that one.

Mile 17 was missing a mile marker because a medivac had come in and blown the mile marker away, so I averaged 17 and 18.  After I beat the bridge, I switched from 2:1s to 1:1s, then pooped out and decided just to walk.  I eventually switched back to 1 minute run 2 minute walk and recovered some.

So, what's interesting is that I want to do between 5:30 and 5:40 in New York City.  That's a pace of between 12:35 and 12:58.  Look at how many of those early miles were at that pace... And I was in MUCH worse shape back then.  I've improved a TON since 2006.  I was going TOO FAST at this race for the first 14 miles!  No wonder I felt so terrible.  In my blog post at the time, I listed reasons why I felt so terrible between miles 14 and 22, and none of those reasons were "I went too fast at the beginning." Oh no, I blamed the course, the weather, and the fact that I'd lost my running buddies and was running alone.  I'm sure those things didn't help, but come on.

I feel so much better going into my 6th marathon than any of my previous ones.  Seriously.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

10-Second Book Reviews

Barefoot: A Novel: I've been reading a lot of Elin Hilderbrand ever since I happened to pick up one of her books in BJs a while back. This was my third book by her, and while I thought it was enjoyable, it was so much like her previous books that I found it boring and predictable. All of her books take place in Nantucket, and all of them contain a cast of characters going through some struggles while they work it out on vacation (or, sometimes they live there). I read this one back in June, and I had to look back at Amazon just to remember if this was the one I was thinking of.  So, this one is just as good as the rest of Hilderbrand's novels, but if you read too many by her, you might just get bored.

Bossypants: I listened to Tina Fey's new book while running out on the trail, and I have to say that listening to this one has got to be the way to go. Tina does an excellent job. She and I share a lot in common, and I found this book to be totally entertaining while out on a run.  I've seen some reviews where people didn't really understand the point of the book, and it kind of doesn't have a point, I suppose. She reminds me somewhat of David Sedaris, where each chapter is kind of a story out of her life, but they don't all go together into a novel or memoirs that have actual plot. Just take each piece as it's own! You'll laugh, it will be great.

Sisterhood Everlasting: A Novel: I was browsing around Amazon on my Kindle because I was on vacation and I had read the Amazon sample of One Day and decided not to bother reading the whole thing.  I was surprised to see that Ann Brashares had written a fifth Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants novel. I loved the Sisterhood series, because they were mindless reading when I was going through a difficult time in 2005/2006. I thought I'd give this one a try.

This book has gotten some mixed reviews, and I have to say it's a good thing I didn't read this one in 2006. It's a bit of a downer in places, and doesn't have the happy-happy feeling of the first four books.  It was worth a read if you're a fan of the series, but I don't think I'd call it great. Check it out if you would like to check in with the Sisterhood girls a few years down the road. I can't say a lot more without spoilers.

The Alchemist: Ok, I don't get the popularity of this one. It holds the world record for the most translated book in history, having been written in 67 languages (Portuguese being the first). It's one of the most best selling books in history. I mean, I liked it. It was OK. It was not great. It was not profound in a way where I felt like I really changed or learned some great thing as a result of having read it. It's a fable, and it tells the story of a shepherd who follows his dream of finding the pyramids in Egypt. He has adventures and there are good guys and bad, and love, etc.  Somehow it seemed contrived, and the bit of a twist at the end wasn't really worth the wait.  So, sorry on this one.  I didn't get it.

The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel: This book was so interesting. It was written as a dictionary, with each chapter being a different word, presented in alphabetical order. After each word, the "definition" was a few sentences to a few pages of a bit of a story of a couple that you get to know as the book goes on. It's tough to even say what "happened" per se, and it's just sort of a collection of snapshots that piece together into a story. The real beauty of the book is the way it's written, and how easy I found it to relate to the characters. It's a nice one as a short read.
The Time Traveler's Wife: I totally, 100% expected to hate this book. Previously, I'd seen the movie version of The Lake House and thought it was corny and silly (I never read the book, maybe the book is better). I thought that The Time Traveler's Wife would be in that same realm of cheesiness, so I'd been putting off reading it. I surprised myself with this one, and in fact, ended up reading the second half completely in one afternoon. I haven't done that in a while. You may have heard the story before - the husband in the book time travels against his will, and ends up meeting his future wife when she is only 6 years old. It's fascinating and truly a wonderful love story. I loved every second of it and I think I can safely list it as one of my all-time favorites. Also - I've since seen the movie, and I can imagine that if I had seen the movie first, I would possibly have thought it was terrible and cheesy.

Sarah's Key: Sigh. I really wanted to love this book. The best I can say is that I liked it quite a bit. It's the story of a young Jewish girl in occupied France, who is taken with her parents during the Vel d'Hiv Roundup. She locks her brother in a cupboard in her bedroom before they go in order to save him, and desperately wants to get back to him. That part of the book was actually spectacular. However, with each chapter, we flash forward to Julia, who is living in present day France, and who is writing an article for a magazine about the Vel d'Hiv Roundup. While Sarah's story is touching and painful, Julia's story is... well, pure chick lit, and the two stories don't mesh that well together. Eventually, the two stories meet, but the flip flopping back and forth became tiresome. I was basically rushing through Julia's chapters so that I could get back to Sarah. Plus, when reading about the horrors of the holocaust, Julia's problems seemed so petty and stupid. So, I liked the book, but just couldn't love it.

The Book Thief: While trying to decide if I wanted to read Sarah's Key, one of the reviews suggested reading The Book Thief, and said this one was a far superior book. I thought I'd read Sarah's Key first, since I'd rather read the best one second. It's another terrific Young Adult novel, but I hardly realized it was YA at all through the whole thing. It's the story of Liesel, a young girl living in Nazi Germany during WWII. It's unusual to see the war from this angle - from someone on the enemy side who is not a soldier. In fact, she and most of the characters, are just innocent bystanders in it all. The story is narrated by death, which I personally liked. The story is heartbreaking and heartwarming, and the characters are so well developed that I loved each and every one of them (even Death). I hadn't heard of this book, except in the review of Sarah's Key, but the review was right - this one was so much better. Give it a read, you won't be disappointed.

...and whew, having read two holocaust books in a row, I will probably read a few light titles next.

Monday, September 19, 2011

23 Miles and a Possible Golden Shower in NYC

Me & My Group at the turnaround point of our 23 mile run on 9/17
This past Saturday, I matched my longest training run of all time, 23 miles.  In 2006, 22 miles was my longest training run, so I surpassed that.  In 2007, I did 23 miles, but I went out too fast and walked it in the last 5 miles (that one goes down as one of my all time worst training runs).  Training for Disney in 2009, I ran 23 miles twice, and did fine with both.  Thankfully, this one was more like 2009!  It was ideal running weather, with temps around 51 degrees at the start of the run and about 57 degrees at the end.  We started in the dark, at 4:45am, and finished up around 10:30.  We stopped a few times, so our average pace was about 14 minutes per mile.

I've always been a big fan of running before sunrise, since the miles tick away before you even realize it.  However, with sunrise at about 7am right now, we spent a really long time in the dark, and we were past mile marker 8 when I finally was able to take off my head lamp.  Our beloved NCR trail has taken a beating with a hurricane and massive amounts of flooding, so it was tough to spot the obstacles in the early morning darkness.  Big patches of mud that we seemed "unable" to avoid going north turned out to be no big deal as we headed south - we just couldn't see the way through because it was dark.  We have only one more dark run left - 25-26 miles on October 1 - and I'll be glad to be returning to all daylight runs after that.  I've had quite enough, thanks.

Then... the marathon.  I received my bib number and corral placement last week.  I am in Corral #65 - out of 66.  I was kind of like, wow, I know I'm slow, but my projected finish time for this race is almost an hour faster than my first marathon...  There aren't any walkers in NYC???  It was just farther back than I expected.  To make matters worse, I'm going to be crossing the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on the bottom level.  What does that mean, you ask?

The good news: Being on the bottom level, the bridge will not be as steep or as long for me as it will be for the people on the upper deck.

The bad news: I'm probably going to get peed on.

Yes, that's what happens folks.  Men who run marathons tend to pee everywhere.  When you start your race at Marine Corps, look to the left, look to the right.  You'll see men on the side of the road, just peeing on everything.  I mean, LOTS of them.  They are not to be missed!  The same thing happens in New York, but the start of the race isn't wooded like MCM.  Oh no, we're on the bridge, and the upper deck men just pee off the side.  I'm on the lower deck, so I need to prepare myself for a nice golden shower.

So gross.

But, it happens, I guess, and I had thought maybe I'd be on the lower deck.  So, I'll try to stay up wind??  And, while Googling this (since I had to know - does this really happen (It does)) - I came across this video of Paula Radcliffe stopping to pee during the 2005 London Marathon, which she went on to win.  That's right - I just linked to a video of Paula Radcliffe peeing.  What else do people expect of me?

Once again, I should remind you that the Go Girl exists and is small enough to carry with you during a race!

On that note, here is a SUPERB New York City Marathon video - a must watch for anyone running the race!!!

New York City Marathon Short Film from ToKeepAndBear on Vimeo.

Zombies, Run!

Have you heard of Kickstarter?  It's a website where people post their ideas and try to get funding for their projects from folks like you & me.  My friend Mark, for example, funded a project earlier this year called Simple Hydration that allows you to carry a water bottle without a belt.  I should have funded that one, but I didn't.

Well, here's a new one - it's called Zombies, Run! and it's a running adventure game for your smartphone (iPhone or Android).  You start it up and it will keep track of your running, and you'll gain points, etc for outrunning Zombies!!!

I've funded this one, as it sounds totally cool.  Check it out, and think about funding this project!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Music Scenes!

Another crazy work week where I worked a 17 hour workday yesterday.  What do you do when you're dead tired from working?  You veg out in front of your TV and watch Youtube videos (we have a computer hooked up to our television).

So, here's a list of movie scenes that I just watched, ranked from what I liked the least to what I liked the most:

Thoughts?  No musicals, or movies where dancing and singing is the main plot of the film (Dirty Dancing, etc)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Repost: September 11th

Originally posted on September 11, 2006, here is my September 11th story reposted for the 10th anniversary.  I've made some tweaks for readability and for folks who didn't know me back then.  A lot has changed in my life in the last 10 years.  On September 11, 2001, I was married to a man named Dave, and we divorced in 2006.  Dave and I worked together at a financial company (both of us in IT).

Here is what I said in 2006...

Well, my story isn't particularly exciting or different or anything. But, I want to write it down for myself, so I'm going to do it here. I was pretty lucky on 9/11. I didn't lose anyone, family or friends or even casual acquaintances. The closest person was maybe 2 to 3 degrees removed from me. I was never in danger, and my family wasn't in harms way (with the exception of my brothers in law, who were in DC, if that counts). Still, I want to remember.

The weekend had been my first wedding anniversary. Dave and I had gone to the Poconos to stay in a Caesar's resort. On the night of our anniversary (September 9th, Sunday night), we had seen Darrell Hammond perform at our resort. On the 10th, we drove home from Pennsylvania to find that our 2 cats had totally destroyed the underside of our boxspring in our bedroom. Tuesday was my first day back at work after being off Friday and Monday.

I got into work around 8:30. I think I was supposed to be in at 8, but I was late as usual. I did my usual thing of going downstairs to the cafeteria and getting an everything bagel and cream cheese and I was writing it down because I was back on Weight Watchers for the 100th time. While I ate my bagel, I chatted on the phone with one of our admins, who worked downtown and was talking to me about something that had gone wrong on the intranet while I was out. While I was talking, I was noticing that the woman who sat on the next aisle over was running around acting strange, freaking out about something. I assumed that something was wrong with their application. No one sat near me except one guy (who was later than I was), the rest of the cubicles on my aisle were empty.

I could hear the woman on the next aisle talking about trying to get to, and saying she couldn't get there, so I decided to check it out for myself. I managed to get in and there was a big picture of the WTC, with only the first tower hit. I got on AOL Instant Messenger and told Dave to go to and check it out, but he was too busy to talk to me, and he logged off.

I can't remember how I found out about the second plane, and if it happened before my co-worker got in or not. I do remember telling him that the towers had been hit, and he hadn't heard it in the car on the way in. I remember putting the emergency phone numbers up on the front page of the intranet without being asked, and when HR called to ask me to do it, I almost had it done already. I remember Dave calling, and he told me that there was a TV on the first floor to watch.

Said TV was 4 inches. One guy had it at his desk for some reason and there were maybe 20 of us crowded around it. Somebody in the front would watch and communicate to the back of the crowd what was going on, and somebody else had their wife on a cell phone watching CNN from home. Someone said a piece fell off of one of the buildings. Then, whoever was on the phone said no, the tower collapsed. I didn't believe it and said that couldn't be true, buildings don't fall down like that.

And I was generally in denial about the buildings collapsing until we discovered a television in a conference room and I could see it all on the big screen. I was trying to get a hold of my mom because there were rumors about bombs in DC and I wanted to know that my sisters and brothers-in-law were home. I couldn't get an outside line until afternoon. My co-worker and I sat and watched the television in the cafeteria during lunch. Finally, at like 3pm we could go home, but Dave stayed at work to fix something important.

I drove home thinking it was a gorgeous day. Sunny and pretty, and a military plane went over my house as I pulled up. I didn't turn on the news. Instead, I played video games until Dave got home a few hours later. If anything else bad was happening, I didn't want to know about it, and I couldn't watch the news anymore.

That night, I dreamt about fire and I couldn't sleep and I woke up sick to my stomach at about 3am. I got up and watched television in the basement. Dave came downstairs and found me asleep and thought I was mad at him. I called out of work on the 12th because I still felt sick.

Note from 2011: I have often felt almost guilty for not being as affected by 9/11 as others were.  I think I was about 3 degrees separate from anyone who died that day, so while I mourned for the country and for those that died, I didn't personally mourn.  Slate published an interesting article about just that type of feeling, so I thought I'd add a link here.

I don't really know what else to say about that day.  I wish it hadn't happened, but it did.  I guess the best thing I can say is that I am going to New York in 8 weeks, where I will run beside the family members of 9/11 victims, and I'm proud to do so.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Travel Bug Update

It's been almost two years since I did a geocaching update!  I wanted to do another update because some pretty cool stuff has been happening with my travel bugs.  First, since it's been so long, let me just give you more info:

Geocaching is a kind of scavenger hunt that you play with a GPS.  Someone goes out and hides a container somewhere.  The size of the container varies, everything from as small as a pencil eraser to as large as a big garbage can.  Places where they are hidden?  Almost everywhere, I think you would be very surprised how many are right under your nose (there are geocaches in the parking lots of Lowes, Kohl's, BJs Wholesale Club, and more right in Westminster near where I live).  Frequently, they're found in parks and such.  Inside the container is a log and sometimes some items to trade.  The person who hid the geocache then goes online and puts the GPS coordinates of the location of the container online, where they can be searched and downloaded.  It then is up to others to find the geocache using their GPS, and log the finds.  It's fun!

When I said that the Geocaches sometimes contain "items to trade," frequently they are just that.  Little toys and things for kids that can be traded in and out of the cache.  However, some of these are loggable travelers called "Travel Bugs" or "Geocoins" which have a tracking code printed on or with them.  If you pick up one of these, you go online to and enter the code, and note that you found the item.  Then, you drop it in another Geocache, and note that as well.  Some of these traveling objects have goals to go to a certain place or do other things.  It's all very entertaining.

Travel Bugs happen to be my favorite thing about Geocaching, and I'll seek out Geocaches simply to grab trackable items.  I've also "released" a few of my own.  Here's a quick roundup of what these trackables have been up to!

Travel 'The Bug' I
I released this Travel Bug, which is a picture of our cat, Labor Day Weekend 2009 in Ocean City, Maryland.  This one started out slow, since the very first person to pick it up kept it until May of 2010 (near Pittsburgh), and then it wasn't picked up from there until October 2010.  It's been moving along ever since, though, and has visited Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, and is currently in New York.  He's traveled nearly 3,000 miles!
Rusty the Dog with Travel 'The Bug' I, Oct 2010, PA

Travel 'The Bug' I with Isis the Cat, March 2010, PA
Travel 'The Bug' I with Seymour the Cat, Sept 2011, NY
Travel 'The Bug' I with Margaret the Cat, Sept 2011, NY

I love how people take photos of their pets with my travel bugs!! :)

Travel 'The Bug' II
I released a second version of the same travel bug since I had two of the photo luggage tags of The Bug.  This one was released in Manchester, Maryland (near my house) in October 2009.  It traveled 1060 miles to New York and Ontario before going missing in Ohio sometime after September 2010 (not sure exactly when).  Sadly, trackable items sometimes go missing for whatever reason.  Sometimes, they show up again, so hopefully this one will turn up again soon.  There were some cool photos taken of this one in November 2009.

Baltimore "I'm Crabby" Travel Bug
This one was a keychain of a crab saying "I'm Crabby" that I purchased in the airport and released as a travel bug in Kona, Hawaii in November 2009.  It traveled 2800 miles to British Columbia, Canada, but was lost soon after in April 2010.  A rather short life for this one, but like Travel 'The Bug' II, I hope it will turn up again.

China Good Luck Duck
One of the reasons that Travelers go missing is sometimes because they are just "too cute," so there's a geocaching guideline that things that seem like toys shouldn't be used.  Well, I defied that, and released a rubber ducky as a travel bug in Hunt Valley, Maryland (near my work) in April 2010.  This rubber ducky had been a party favor at a friend's Chinese New Year party, and I thought it would be fun to give it a goal of going to China.  It hasn't become lost yet, and has had tons of adventures, traveling to West Virginia, then to British Columbia, Washington State (including a trip to Groundspeak Headquarters, home of Geocaching), Oregon, California, and is currently traveling around the state of Iowa.  Its current travels add up to 5,586 miles and it's still going!
Good Luck Duck at a Chinese restaurant in Victoria, BC, July 2010
Good Luck Duck in Chinatown, Vancouver, December 2010
Posing with other Chinese things, June 2011
Back to America Stars & Stripes Geocoin
This is a coin in the shape of a US Flag.  I took this one to a cache locally in Hampstead, Maryland and then took it to Indonesia, where I released it in Ubud, Bali.  So, it has some artificially high mileage (since I started its mileage in the US and took it to Indonesia myself).  Once in Bali, it was picked up by an Aussie and taken to Australia, where it went to South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.  It's now in South Island, New Zealand, where it is being cared for by a high school class.  Total Mileage so far: 14,939.  It has a goal of coming back to the US someday, and I hope it makes it!

The Mystical Traveling Stone
I was trying to find something to use as a Travel Bug, and when going through old jewelry I found an old necklace with a charm that was a pink rock wrapped in silver metal.  I cut it off of its string chain and made it into a Travel Bug.  We took it to Indonesia with us, and then left it in a geocache in Hong Kong.  It was picked up and taken to Austria, and then to the Czech Republic, where it has been moving around pretty regularly since March.  Who knew the Czechs were so into Geocaching?  It moves A LOT, but then in August it was placed in a cache that is the hardest level of difficulty and terrain (requiring climbing equipment to reach), so it will probably be there for a while.  It has moved 7000 miles.  Check out how much it has moved in the Czech Republic, mostly in and out of Prague:
Woa, that's a lot of movement in the Czech Republic!
The Mystical Traveling Stone with a young cacher, Czech Republic, July 2011
So, that's a quick update of my Geocaching exploits.  I'm currently at 88 caches, in 6 countries and 5 US States.  More to come later... :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Countdown to NYC: 2 Months

When I think about the fact that the marathon is in only two months, I get both happy that training will be over soon, and I get really, really nervous.  The training thing is a bigger deal, I'm so ready to be done.  Long miles, early mornings... I am excited for the later, shorter runs that I'll be enjoying once November 6 has passed!

I have two long long runs to do - a 23 miler in two weeks and a 26 miler two weeks after that.  We've done 20 miles, and this week we reduced our mileage from 22 to 17 in order to give ourselves a break.  I have never been so glad to be doing 17 miles!  Besides that, I'm just trudging through the monotony that is marathon training.  Every year, I go through this period in August where I am bored to death, and the solution has always been to run a race.  However, with the Annapolis Ten Miler canceled because of the hurricane, I don't have another race until New York.  Hopefully, the weather cooling down will kick start my motivation.

Or, there's always this video:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stats as of 31 August 2011

August 2010
75.7 miles
16 hours, 14 minutes
Avg Pace: 12:53/mile
Annapolis Ten Mile Run 2010: 2:00:54 (12:05/mile)

August 2011
86.1 miles -- 10.4 miles more than in 2010
19 hours, 31 minutes -- 3 hours, 22 minutes longer than in 2010
Avg Pace: 13:36/mile -- 43 seconds slower than in 2010
Annapolis Ten Mile Run 2011: Cancelled due to Hurricane Irene :(

Year Totals:
430.2 miles at 12:58 per mile

My group on our 20 mile run, August 20, 2011
I have to admit, these stats look a bit disappointing.  I was trying to figure out why I was so much slower this year than last year, and I came up with a few conclusions:  1) Last year, I had two August races, but this year the Hadassah 8K fell into July (the 31st to be exact) and the Annapolis Ten Miler was canceled, so I didn't run any miles at race pace.  2) Last year, I also ran more runs inside on the treadmill and did a magic mile during August, all of which increases my pace.  3) Last year, my longest run in August was 16 miles, while this year I had an 18 miler and a 20 miler, forcing me to slow down for those long runs.

So, it's really circumstantial that I don't have the speed this year that I had last year.  Still, even my short runs seemed super slow, so I think I need to put some focus into doing some speed work over the next month or so.

Like I said, I've now made it up to 20 miles with my group.  This weekend was supposed to be a 22 miler, but the schedule was changed slightly so that we'll be dropping back down to 17 miles.  We have a lot of new group members and they'll need the extra time.  Quite frankly, I could use the lower mileage just for my own sanity.  Once we get through that run, we'll have a 23 miler and a 26 miler and then we'll be going into taper.

It's getting cooler and I must say that I really love running in the fall.  I think I appreciate running in all four seasons, but fall and spring are the best.  I have two short trips this coming month as well, but I should be able to still get my mileage in.

Happy September, and have a lovely holiday weekend!
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