... and another thing that pisses me off - slogans that indicate how much the company doesn't actually give a crap about you:
"Your college bookstore."
"Loyal to the sport."
Why not just make it: "Your [insert college here] bookstore," and "Loyal to [insert sport here]."
At least there's a sort of honesty in it, I suppose.
Speaking of which - do people usually coordinate their bathing suits with their caps? If so, I have some shopping to do.
I think sometimes it's better not to know there's anything wrong with you. Lately my half-assed facial recognition skills have been driving me crazy. I was less frustrated when I thought everyone else was the same as me.
The guy in the lane next to me was watching me practice flip turns on Sunday and nicely offered to give me some pointers, which I was more than happy to accept. We chatted for 15 or 20 minutes afterward - or, at least, he asked questions and I answered, which is my version of chatting. It turns we have a fair amount in common - he used to be a pre-med advisor, is now a biomechanical engineering professor at Tufts, moved here from Portland the same time I moved here, and recently started doing triathlons. He said he's at the pool fairly often, so I remembered that he was wearing a white bathing suit and a white cap in case I saw him again.
Today, while I was aquajogging (dork), I watched a guy doing a lengthy, complicated warm-up at the end of the pool - there's not a lot to look at when you're being a dork. After a while he joined me in my lane. He stopped mid-pool to ask me a question, and I realized that it MIGHT be the same guy because of his Steve-Carell-like delivery, but he was wearing a blue bathing suit and and a blue cap, so I really couldn't tell for sure. I experienced a few moments of frustration, because I wanted to say something to him, but thought it would be really awkward if it was the wrong guy. I considered asking him if he was the same person, but that seemed just as awkward. I felt sad that I couldn't react to him appropriately, for example by smiling and greeting, instead of by long, blank stare. I'm sure this is exactly why I've been told that I can come across as snobby with people I don't know well - as opposed to snooty with people I do know well.
When I switched back to laps, I started pacing him, and he, to my delight, sped up in competition. Since he seemed okay with my playing with him, I practiced drafting off him instead. Eventually, he stopped at the end of the lane, and so did I, to see if I could get a conversational clue. Of course, I couldn't start the conversation since I didn't know who I was talking to, so I leaned back in quite the casual "I'm just resting" pose. Luckily he started chatting and he mentioned flip turns, and I knew he was the same guy from Sunday.
The thing is, I won't recognize him if I see him again and I have to play the same game.
That's when it dawned on me that swim caps are evil - there's a lot of information to be gotten from hair. I imagine hell is a party where everyone is in the same outfit with matching swim caps, and they're talking about their jobs - which are all in the financial industry.
P.S. He told me I had a really strong kick. I'm loving it!
I've been focusing this year on re-teaching myself how to do the crawl. The last time I had to seriously swim, I was about eight, and racing in a 400m medley. I started with Triathlon Swimming Made Easy
, took a workshop with my triathlon team
, and spent a lot of time drilling and swimming both in the pool and the outdoors.
I got to a point where I could balance myself reasonably well in the water, stretch out, keep my stroke slow and even, and pace myself so that I could swim forever, or at least a few miles, without getting tired. I was slow as hell, but just being out there for the half-ironman distance was my only goal. For the half-ironman I never got to complete.
I took time off of swimming while my marathon training peaked - I still had to balance marriage and school, after all. This year, as soon I got too injured to run, I immediately jumped in the pool, and started in with regular 1-2 hour workouts. During the workout, I'd pick someone out that I thought had great form, and watch them for a while from above and below water, and tried to imitate them. All of a sudden, I realized that I was suddenly going faster than a lot of the folks in the lanes next to me - a new phenomenon. Even the old chinese floaty-clad ladies at the Y used to kick my butt. Even better, my stroke was slower than those next to me.
But today, I feel like I scored a real victory. I went swimming with my friend Naomi, who's been swimming on teams since sometime in the womb. I was able to keep up with her without too much trouble across the length of the pool - not that we were racing, but last summer, when we swam outdoors, she had to keep stopping to wait for me. We switched to kickboarding, and she gave me some tips, and taught me to dolphin kick. "Wow, I'm impressed!" She told me, "You're a natural! If you'd have kept swimming, you would have been really good!"
Maybe she was just being nice, but after all the abuse that school has been pouring on me, it just felt good to feel like I actually can do something right. Now I'm starting to get a little excited for the next triathlon season - and I was thinking of quitting!
Short updates on my life since September for the marginally interested, and the attention-span deficient:
1. Survived puking illness this weekend, only to wake up the next day with a cold.
Fall illnesses: 2, Erica: 0
2. Met my running goal twice this fall, by qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I even managed to qualify twice in two weeks (Baystate Marathon: 3:31:37, NYC Marathon: 3:38:53)! I definitely don't need to pull that stunt again.
2. Developed either a stress fracture or repetitive stress injury in my left knee. I've taken up water jogging, which is so very dorky. I've also taken up swimming again.
3. Saw "Wait... Wait... Don't Tell Me!" live when it came to Boston. Mo Rocca is so very gay, and that Peter Sagal is so very funny.
4. Went through training to learn to better recognize faces. It worked briefly, and was a neat, but strange experience.
5. Passed all my classes so far this semester.
School: 0, Erica: 5
This is to notify you that your entry into the 113th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 20, 2009 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate.
You can verify your acceptance into the field by searching the 113th Boston Marathon "Entrants" database on the B.A.A. web site, www.baa.org/2009/cf/Public/EntryLists.cfm. Additionally, an acceptance postcard will be mailed to you via US Postal Service mail.
In early April 2009, an official Number Pick-up Card and extensive information regarding the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and related race week activities will be mailed to you via US Postal Service first class mail. If you do not receive your Number Pick-up Card (required to claim number) and brochure by April 11, please contact our Registration Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration related inquiries may also be directed to 508-435-6905.
Note that bib numbers will not be distributed on Race Day. Your travel arrangements should take into account picking up your number at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston on Friday, April 17 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., or Saturday, April 18 or Sunday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
We look forward to seeing you in April! Best of luck in your training!
Boston Athletic Association
We just passed a sign that said, "You're riding in what thousands of kids call home."
I had to think about that for a while, because I'm riding in a bus.
My goal for this race was a Boston Qualifier. Since I haven't raced much this year, I judged from the speed on my long runs that it was going to be pretty tight. I planned on even splits on the first half, and then to make a decision about attempting negative splits on the second half, but then, I never follow my plans:
I hitched a ride with a local runner, and arrived really early. This worked out well, since my Garmin had discharged its entire battery overnight, so I found BadDawg and chatted with him while it charged. Before I knew it, it was time to head to the start. En route, I found (a very nice) Nathan with my "stalker sheet." I kept looking around for JeffDonahue, but unfortunately never found him.
I realize when I got to the start, that I hadn't quite thought things through. I'd forgotten my sunglasses and my sunscreen. I had put all my sugar items in one plastic baggy in a hurry and thrown it into the back of my shorts. It was really heavy, and pulling them down. And, crap, all of a sudden we are off.
I spent most of mile one being even more of a disaster, rearranging my pockets, dropping my phone (and apologizing profusely for being an idiot), losing my hat and one glove, but I ran it in 8:23. Perfectly on pace.
I ditched my sweatshirt, and cruise through miles two and three without paying too much attention to pace:
Mile 2: 7:58
Mile 3: 8:01.
Oops. I try sticking myself behind some other women that I overhear are going for a 3:40.
Mile 4: 8:04
Mile 5: 7:55
Yikes! At this point, I'm joking with a few people about how I'm actually planning to blow out halfway through. Somewhere in this time, it occurs to me to look at my heart rate - 83%. Apparently, this IS the appropriate pace. So, I bring it up to 84-85% and pass the women I've been following.
Mile 6: 8:03
Mile 7: 8:11
At this point, I'm in a great mood, and I exchange pleasantries with a volunteer as I make the turn onto the bridge. He tells me I better have that smile on my face next time around. I promise I'll try.
I'm not loving the bridge so much, as it sways under all the runner's footsteps, making it awkward to balance on. But the river is beautiful under the fall foliage.
Mile 8: 8:00
Mile 9: 7:48
Mile 10: 7:52
Mile 11: 7:52
I am loving the costumed kids screaming their heads off at the mile 10/11water stop - especially the girl dressed as a banana. I grab some water from her.
I feel my first black toenail developing. I consider switching brands of sneakers, but my feet swell up like crazy when I race, and I'm not sure that different sneakers would make a huge difference.
My sciatic nerve is starting to nag me on the right side, but it's a familiar pain, and the nagging stays at a pretty low-level constant the rest of the race. I deal with it.
On the whole, I'm still feeling great, and I can't believe it. I start chatting with a woman next to me who is racing in a triathlon top about this summer's tris, but she falls back after a mile or so.
Mile 12: 7:49
I come up a woman I met early in the race, who was shooting for a 3:30, and check in. She's feeling great, but I eventually pass her, too.
Mile 13: 8:00
At this point, I laugh, because this race is going so much better than I'd imagined. I make a call to husband and aunt, and let them know I'll probably come in a little earlier than planned. Shortly after this, I start hearing footsteps behind me - it's a guy in white, who hangs a few feet behind me until mile 18. Every time he drops behind for a bit, and comes back up on me, I turn to him and smile, trying to encourage him to stay with me. Even though we never say anything to each other, his footsteps have become so familiar that I am sorry to hear him drop away.
Mile 14: 7:40
Mile 15: 7:53
At this point, I don't think I stopped grinning for the rest of the race - I knew I had my BQ, and probably even better. But I know there's still plenty of miles to still plough through, and now I'm starting to really feel the race. Everyone around me is quiet now, and a few people are starting to walk. It seems we're all in the same place.
I'm looking forward to the 16-17 mile water stop (Tewksbury High School, I think), because they had been so enthusiastic the first time around. They were just as enthusiastic this time, and gave me juice for another couple miles.
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but before the race, I'd made a little card with running-related inspirational quotes on it. I'm not usually big on this sort of thing, but late in a race, I know that I can get emotionally labile, and it's important to keep those emotions directed in the right direction. At this point, I pull it out and start reading a different one every mile so I have something to think about.
Mile 16: 7:52 "Are you going to be strong, or are you going to be a wimp today?"
Mile 17: 8:02 "Have faith in your training."
Mile 18: 7:54 "Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from a place a shower will never reach."
I see the same volunteer near the bridge again, and he tells me he's happy to see I'm still here - I give him a big smile and thumbs up. A man in an orange jacket stops walking and runs next to me for a little bit. He was hoping for a 3:30 and Boston Qualifier - I let him know that I think he's still on pace, but he's not looking so good, and I don't know what else to say. He drops back pretty quickly.
After I lose my white shadow, I start running along side a guy in a red shirt, and it occurs to me to wonder why JeffDonahue hasn't passed me. I've been spying on all the numbers on the red shirts that I see. This guy tells me to stop looking at my watch and run, but I'm just watching my heart rate, so I don't blow it so late in the race.
Mile 19: 7:52 "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."
Coming up on mile 20, I start laughing. I have a full hour to finish this race and still qualify, but I'm still hitting approximately 8-minute miles. I am psyched.
Mile 20: 7:58 "You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or use it to wipe the sweat off your face."
I realize I still have a full hour to finish this race, and make my time. I laugh out loud.
Now my memory blurs a little, my head isn't all there, and neither are my legs.
Mile 21: 8:03 "A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways they’re capable of understanding."
The guy in the red shirt drops back. He'll find me again at the end, and we'll congratulate each other on a great race.
Mile 22: 8:08 I no longer have an energy to read from the card I'm holding in my hand.
I think this is where the wind really started to pick up. I ask a few people on the sidelines to turn it off. For some reason, they won't help me out. I'm leaning into it, trying to keep myself from feeling miserable, remembering that this is a marathon, there's so much time for things to go wrong, and if this is the worst thing I have to deal with, then I'm doing pretty well.
Mile 23: 8:10
Mile 24: 8:36
Mile 25: 8:25
This wind is killing me, but I think we might have come off the river around this point onto some slight uphills. Most of what I remember toward the end is running uphill.
Mile 26: 7:56
My husband is here in this mile somewhere. I don't even recognize him at first when he jumps in next to me, to run me in. I tell him to just stay in front of me and to keep passing people. Just before we head into the arena, he leaves me. I hear my name being called as enter. Running around the diamond is really fun, and I giggle to myself the whole way. Not only did I qualify for Boston, but I really felt like I nailed this race, and, aside from spending much of August throwing up, I didn't even have to undertrain.
Chip time: 3:31:37
I find BadDawg at the end and we're both laughing. Me because I'm out of my mind with low blood sugar, adrenaline and excitement, and him because, well, I'll let him tell that story. I give him a big hug and go find my family. We're leaving up the (*@#$&*(@#$&@# bleacher stairs when I hear JeffDonahue's name being called. I tell my husband that I have to meet this guy, and come back down to wait for him to come in. I introduce myself, say something, who knows what, (I hope I remembered to congratulate him) and leave.
All last night, when I'm able to sleep, I dream that my foot is in a meat grinder, because my black toes hurt under the weight of the blankets.
(Splits are a little off, since they're the miles from my Garmin - I forgot to shut off the autolap feature.)
died on August 23rd, one day after my birthday. He died in his sleep, in the most beautiful place in the world
, in the house that he built in his front yard and trucked up piece by piece. Coincidentally, he'd seen all his progeny this summer.
We had a celebration on what would have been his 91st birthday. The official funeral will be October 4th.
I haven't told anyone about it who didn't need to know - until now. I'm not sure why. I just didn't want the sympathy. In a way, I'm not that sad about it, and it feels disingenuous to accept condolences. I felt like this death was somehow right, and the way things were supposed to be.