Sunday, September 30, 2007

Yeah Ya Did

Team Bucktown: Contrary Canary, Yours Truly, @, and Meg at breakfast post-race. According to the official results, I crossed the finish line at about 32:55 (10:36 pace).

Ummmm... breakfast burrito.

Friday, September 28, 2007

An Old-Fashioned Countdown

Nine – oh dear Lord – days.

TR, who has hopes of qualifying for Boston this year, continues to project his fears and insecurities about 10/7/07 onto me. I am his only client to have ever set sights on the marathon, but to listen to the guy, you’d think he and I were preparing to go into labor with our first love/bastard child. This, of course, is a man who never fails to collapse at the finish line of a distance race – likely the result of complete physical exhaustion combined with a flair for the dramatic. I am fond of TR and his antics, but not in that bastard baby making kind of way.

In the meantime… a little distraction, perhaps? If, from nothing else, this container of crumbled goat cheese and bag of Savory Rice crackers from Trader Joe’s...

As if one race wasn’t enough...

This Sunday, we run the Bucktown 5K. And by we, I mean fellow bloggers, neighbors, and all around good people, @ (I said it… @’s blogging, deal with it) and Contrary Canary... as well as trusty running bud Meg and a few others from the extended Chicago Running Family (3000 of ‘em to be approximate). TR will be there taking pictures (huh?). I haven’t decided if I’m going to give myself a goal time or just mosey my way through the 3.1 mile course. This, oddly enough, will be my first-ever 5K.

Here’s a thought: If I run eight 5K races in a row, I still will not have run an entire marathon.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No Rest for the Weary

I will give you a play-by-play account of Europe soon enough, but first… I am desperate for some serious running love.

This afternoon, I received a frantic phone call from TR.

TR: Did you run in Europe? What was your longest run? How is your knee? Did it hurt? I’ve been thinking about you. We’ve got 10 days, and I want you to maximize your time on your feet. You need to go to the gym after work and bike for 20 minutes and then go out and run 10 miles tonight.

Lou: That’s not going to happen.

TR: OK. Well, get out tonight and run as far as you can. Then run tomorrow. Thursday we’ll train. You’re going to be fine. You’re going to run that marathon, and it’s going to be a great experience for you no matter what happens. We’ll work on speed for next year’s marathon. And of course, we’ll find another half for you to do this winter.

Lou: TR. Calm the fuck down. (OK I didn’t actually tell him to “Calm the fuck down," but I wanted to) I already planned to run tonight, tomorrow, Friday, six miles on Saturday, and a 5K on Sunday.

TR: Give yourself a day off in there. And call me if you need me before Thursday.

Lou: TR, it’s Tuesday at 4. I can probably make it 48 hours without needing your assistance.

So, I skipped Euchre… I skipped football practice… I invoked “jet lag” and I went for a run. I met Meg; we ran for 33 minutes; I dropped her off at home, and I went on for another 40 alone.

When I finally stopped – at the grocery store (I needed spray butter… yes… spray butter) – I wondered why I hadn’t kept going, but it was getting dark, and late, and… well, that’s really it.

During my European vacation, I traveled with a group of about 40 people. Because we rode on a bus for hours on end and obviously had nothing better to do, the tour manager asked that each of us introduce ourselves with some basic information and “fun facts.”

The question: What are you doing after the tour is over?

My answer: I’m running a marathon. My first.

I waited for applause. I waited for ohhs and awes. I waited for facial expressions that said, “Wow you one mother f-ing bad ass.”

And… nada.

Perhaps, my new friends, you have failed to recognize my awesomeness.

They didn’t get it. And, I’m not used to being around people who don’t get it. My life in Chicago has a tendency to revolve around my life as a runner, training, the Marathon, working out, and talking about it. It’s what I do. It’s what I love. And, as such, I have managed to surround myself with people who understand -- people who are “into” running on some level.

It was kind of weird. When I ran in France (I managed two 3-mile runs, one in Nice, one in Chamonix) and mentioned that I had been out running, no one asked how it went or seemed at all interested in the fact that HELLO, I am training for a marathon and I am on vacation and I am running!

OK. So maybe it’s a little too much to expect the whole world to be all about the run.

Anyway, it was nice to get back to my training schedule.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Back of the Envelope

Europe is like so my favorite country.

Now, if we want to be literal about things, LP and I have been in nine (count ‘em) countries in the last 12 days: Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Italy, Monaco, Spain, United Kingdom, and last, and in most people’s opinions, least, the United States.

With work, training for the marathon, and frequent consultations with @ regarding MM, I had barely wrapped my head around the fact that I was going to be traveling to Europe when I picked up LP at O’Hare the day before she and I would fly to Amsterdam.

Passport, what? Whatever. I knew it was in one of the 14 shoe boxes reserved for storing… stuff.

Suffice to say, I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

Whirlwind road trip adventure only begins to describe what was in store. We measured time in hours spent on a “plush” motor coach between bathroom breaks at rest stops, and passed free days quoting Superbad as we lost ourselves in the streets of Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, Lucerne, and Barcelona. We arrived in cities and unpacked only to repack (what seemed like) moments later, our destination having changed.

Europe – a decent chunk of it anyway – by bus is an interesting choice for travel. This was nothing if not a crash course in road tripping – countries seen from behind the window of a motor coach. Turns out, sleep beats scenery by a landslide when you’ve got eight hours of nothing but time between Nice and Barcelona.

If you want to do the math, here goes: me, LP, nine countries, three flights (for me; five for LP), 1 bus, a tour manager of sorts, a driver, 12 days, and 40 some odd strangers.

There’s so much more to tell.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Million Thoughts Away

So this was weird. @ and I were knee deep in a final pre-Europe heart-to-heart on the train home from work, and all of a sudden this dude starts yelling in rhyme about cups and a ball and taking it all as he pulled a wad of $100s and $50s out of his jacket.

“I just want to give my money away.”

A woman stepped up to the plate. She picked the cup that allegedly had the “ball” (actually a pebble) underneath it.

“You got to show me that you got the money first.”

The woman pulled a crisp $100 bill out of her pocket (similar to the crisp $100 bill that the man with the ball and cups had in his hand. Funny how that works… and seriously, who carries that kind of cash in large bills?).

Guess what? She won.

So did the second guy.

The third guy who was so obviously not involved in the scam lost… $180 to be exact. Shocking. And what was even worse is we all knew it. We all knew he was going to lose and no one told him to stop. But, frankly, I’m from Ohio and I knew from word one that this was a scam. Come on dude!

It was, like, so New York.

Anyway, picking up my traveling buddy from the airport was a comedy of errors. First, the Zipcar I had reserved wasn’t there for me. Then I didn’t actually know how to get to the airport from the location of my newly reserved Zipcar (which I had to walk approximately a mile to get). Then, as I pulled into O’Hare and called LP, she informed me that she didn’t have her luggage.

“Oh, that’s O’Hare for you. It’s takes them forever to get the luggage on the carousel.”

No… it wasn’t like that. Everyone else had their luggage; she just didn’t have hers.

They found it (thank God!). Then I almost got into three accidents on the way home. I hate driving.

I’ve been sort of keyed up all day. Marathon Man met me downtown for lunch because he “wanted to see me one more time before I left for Europe.”

I revealed to him that I had maybe mentioned him on my blog.

“But don’t worry,” I said, “I would never give any identifying information, and you have a pseudonym.”

Of course, he wanted to know what it was. I also told him that I wouldn’t be giving him the blog address anytime soon. And he seemed fine with that – oh and he seemed fine with the part where I had mentioned him, you know, once or twice.

I figure I very rarely date people who are not super Internets savvy so I might as well take advantage. It’s just not his thing, and he doesn’t sit in front of a computer all day… so.

Other than that, I’m tired. I feel unprepared to leave for Amsterdam tomorrow, but I’m not sure what else I can do tonight. I should probably go to sleep.

For realz.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Euromancer

The last time I was in Europe was almost exactly three years ago. During a week and a half in London and a week and a half in Paris, I smoked a pack of cigarettes a day in an apparently desperate need to take advantage of the fact that they let you smoke anywhere. So I smoked everywhere.

Which sounds exactly like something I would do.

So last night, I was reiterating my plans for like the hundredth time to someone about how I was going to train for the marathon while making my way through the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and Spain. I thought back to when I was in Paris in 2004. I remember streets. There were definitely streets in Paris. I remember tossing cigarette butts onto them. But, did people run on the streets? For the life of me, I cannot remember seeing one person jogging, much less even wearing running shoes (well, except for the other Americans who paired running shoes with chino shorts and fanny packs). Maybe you can’t run in Paris.

And, if there’s no place to run in Paris, is there any place to run in any of those other countries?

Wow. Even I’m impressed by my stupidity here. There are marathons in Europe! And didn't that whole Marathon thing start in Greece?

But, seriously, where am I going to run? Then I remembered this. And I started looking up runs:

I hearts the Webernets.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Something Found

Sometimes she doesn’t make any sense, she thought as she realized that she was thinking in the third person.

I spent the day shifting in and out of my head listening to my thoughts spiral out of control and directly downward. I wandered in and out of my office to analyze teeny, tiny details as they crossed my mind with @ -- friend/therapist/bro extraordinaire. She deserves a medal for days like these.

After work I met Meg, in the rain for an approximately 40 minute run. We were both reeling from our days – for very different reasons – and we booked it around the neighborhood chatting incessantly about our respective… um… stuff.

This was what I needed. The grey sky and the cold drizzle. I never thought that running in this weather could be so fantastic, but it was.

Thinking clearly for the first time in at least two and a half days (finally!), I found my passport, pulled my suitcase from the closest, did all of my laundry, and heard from MM. Maybe it’s time I get out of my head.

I love running. Sometimes I still can’t believe that this was the thing that was missing.

Head in the Game

Note to self: Start packing.

Best I can tell, I had two things to deal with this weekend: a 10-mile run and a date. Decompression is a bitch. And that bitch's name begins with "Mara" and ends with "thon."

The Run
You know what I needed more than anything? A good run. A morale boosting run. A prove-that-I'm-still-capable-of-running run. A run that says, "Lou, you're not going to collapse and die during the Marathon."

Ask and you shall receive. Yes. My knee hurt. No. It was not the easiest 10 miles I've ever run. But, thank goodness, it happened, it was solid, and despite the fact that I was forced to dig deep into my "hard runnin'" music (The Weight, Soul Meets Body, New Slang) to get me from mile 9 to mile 10, I had my stupid running lust perma-grin on my face just because it felt great to be out there. And, it felt incredible not to stop.

Let us all now share a collective sigh of relief. However, it occurred to me that to actually finish the marathon, I would have to do that 10-mile run two and a half times. But, we’re not going to think about that right now.

The Date
If I've said it once, I've said it so many times I should have it tattooed across my forehead: I hate dating. And I mean, hate with a capital HATE.

Um. Yeah. So anyway.

Marathon the Man (not the race) invited me to be his date to a wedding on Saturday, which was incredibly sweet, and – if you're one of my reader's who regularly gets off-blog commentary on my life – pretty much brought my summer full circle. But that, my friends, is a different story.

The details are sketchy and decidedly not PG-13. But here are some things I know to be true about me:
Number 1. Without fail, I will always drink more than I should if there is an open bar.
Number 2. When I get nervous, especially around a boy, I stop eating -- good for rapid weight lose; bad for drinking and clear-headed decision making, which brings us to…
Number 3. Not eating and an open bar are a bad combination.
Number 4. 7 times out of 10, if someone hands me a shot, I'll take it.
Number 5. I had a plan. I always have a plan. I used words like “failsafe” and “airtight” to describe my plan, which between the wine and how hot he looked in his tux, was quickly abandoned. This reminded me of something I once read:
Picking up women in a tuxedo is like fishing with dynamite. It's just not fair. It should be illegal. It's the sartorial equivalent of roofies.
So, we learn lessons. We re-learn those lessons, and then we make the same mistakes. And, by "we," I pretty much mean, "I." Despite my best intentions, these types of decisions (the “will I or won’t I’s”) tend to be made on the fly, in a moment when I see no better option than to jump.

And, per usual, I jumped, and I wondered if I'd ever learn.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Baskets and Eggs

You might want to take a bathroom break before you jump into this mess of a Lou’s life update...

Bromancing the Stone
Bromance is sweeping the nation. On Tuesday, there was a center spread article in the Red Eye talking about the phenomenon that is the bromance (as seen on TV... such as Joey and Chandler on Friends, and movies... such as Superbad). My understand is that a bromance goes deeper than just two dudes who are best friends. If you are bromantically-linked, you’ve become ingrained in the fabric of a person’s life. He knows your schedule and you know his; he is ever-present in stories about your daily life; and he’s the person who people just expect you to be hanging with – if one of you is out and about, the other is likely to be not far behind. Frankly, I think the term “bromance” is a little too exclusive. Can’t women be in bromances as well?

There are a couple women who live faraway who hold the title of “best friend” in my life and have for almost a decade. They are people who know me… like really know me, who I can say anything too, and who will always be an important part of my life. But those women don’t know what I’m doing day-to-day, they aren’t privy to every date, every Internet profile, every pissed off work story, every deep-ish thought, every “want to hear something funny” moment. No, I’m bromantically-involved with someone else: @. (Obviously.)

Lou: @, did you see the article this morning about bromances?
@: No.
Lou: Sometimes I feel like you and I are in a bromance… you know… except that we’re not dudes.
@: Yeah.
Lou: Is that weird that I just said that?
@: No, you can get away with stuff like that.
Lou: Yeah.
@: Bros before hos. [She says bro with a “surfer dude” accent, pronounced something more like “brah.” Ironically people.]
Lou: Ha. Homance.

Then she forwarded me this, which I think is worthy of sharing with all ya’lls.

Schooled
OK. Keep in mind two things as you read this exchange between TR and I. One, TR and I do not have a professional relationship at all; and two, I swear this is exactly how this conversation went.

Lou: I went to see a physical therapist. Are you mad?
TR: No, I’m glad you went. What did he tell you?
Lou: Pretty much exactly the same thing you told me… except, he told me to stop training… for like a week.
TR: You know what that guy is?
Lou: No…
TR: That guy’s a hand job.
Lou: A hand job?
TR: Yes, a hand job.
Lou: … TR… I’m really not sure I understand what you mean by that.
TR: You don’t know what a hand job is?
Lou: No, TR. I know what a hand job is. I just don’t know what you’re trying to say when you call someone a “hand job.”
TR: Like, he’s useless. No one wants him.
Lou: OK… whatever. Just, tell me what you think I should do. [At this point, TR laughs at himself and his hilarious use of the word “hand job” to describe a person. I do the obligatory roll o’ the eyes.]

Of course, TR thinks I should keep training. The thing is, I’ve been with him for a long time. He went to college for this and is a kinesiotherapist. He’s not a crackpot, "I got certified on the Internet" kind of trainer. And, as he pointed out, he knows my history – pretty much my entire history – with running. He’s worked me through other pain, and he’s kept me healthy. I trust him. And, I’m going to stick with his advice. Tomorrow, after a fairly lazy week, I’m going to run 10 miles. And, we’ll see where we go from there.

Dating ‘Round Up
A short story: Back in the spring, a boy asked me out. He was cute, but I didn’t really know anything about him, or feel like I had anything in common with him, so I said no. But that’s not really why I said no. I said no because I had just started seeing someone else and had gotten my head completely wrapped up in that shit.

That guy I turned down ended up being Marathon Man (MM), who, we now know, turned out to be way more worth my time and energy than I first realized. The moral of the story: don’t turn down a date just because you recently started seeing someone else who’s… interesting. Or something to that effect.

Anyway…

MM and I have been hanging out for a few weeks now. Too early to tell where it’s going, and I’m not going to torture ya’ll by analyzing it here, but things are… so far... so good.

But in an effort to take my own advice…

A few weeks ago, I went out with another guy – we’ll call him Adam Goldberg or AG. I met AG through the Internet dating channels, and picked him primarily based on profile that suggested: 1) he’s completely my type looks-wise and 2) he’s a musician. And… reluctantly 3) he kinda sounded interesting. Our first “date” was OK… not terrible… not earth shattering. He was definitely my “type,” but, as we read in my last post, I’m struggling as to whether or not that should really be my type. Regardless, I didn’t get an “interested” vibe and frankly, I take a solid “I don’t give a fuck” stance with the Internet dates, though I decided if he asked, I’d give it another chance. When I didn’t hear from him for a couple of days, I figured that was that.

Then he emailed me. And I said I’d go out with him again. We set a date. I canceled. We set another date. I hemmed and hawed and at the last minute, I said, “Sure I’m up for it!” and tried to look pretty.

That was last night. I'm… still ambivalent. But… I would probably go out with him again if he asked… though I’m not really sure why.

I am living the dream, people.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Painfully, Excruciatingly Honest

You know that Sex and the City episode where Carrie gets mugged and the guy steals her shoes? And then Miranda goes out with the painfully good looking cop who is so obviously into her, but she doesn’t buy it (how can a guy that cute be into Miranda?), so she gets wasted to make herself feel pretty and confident. Or something. The hot cop ends up thinking that she has a drinking problem, and she never hears from him again.

I’m like living in that episode… minus the part about getting drunk and feeling pretty.

Some of you know me fairly well. You know how I operate. I date guys who are “complicated;” guys who I’ll, “never understand;” guys who fancy themselves creative; guys who are poor; guys who get in my head and make me crazy; guys who live fairly sedentary lifestyles; guys who made a lot more sense (sense?) when I was 19, smoking a variety of substances, and… you know… not running marathons.

This is probably post-worthy itself, but running changed who I am. I mean, not like inherently – my charming and witty personality remains intact – but running changed the way I see myself; it changed my priorities; it changed the way I want to live my life. Every time I give the “running changed my life” speech, I caveat it with “this probably sounds lame, but…” Maybe it’s not though.

Anyway, I’m veering wildly off course. This post is not about running. This post is about boys.

I tend to hold on to the idea that I’m attracted to these shaggy, lazy dudes who are floating through life with no real direction, no real goals, no real desire to make things happen for them – despite the validity of their “creativity.” If you need more information about my dating habits, please see Homelessly in Love.

Sometimes I’m not sure what to attribute this to. Do I hold on to these types of boys because I still see myself as the person I was in college? Am I trying to save these men from certain mediocrity? Or, is it because I like to feel like I have an alpha role in the relationship? Putting it on paper seems far more narcissistic than just saying it in semi-jest, but I have always feely admitted that I like to be the “prettier” one in the relationship. That’s just a girl thing right? But, if I take a hard look at my dating record – I apparently also like to be the one with the “better” education, the “better” job, the “better” way of living my life. Another caveat here: I don’t actually see myself as “better” than anyone, I am speaking strictly in terms of the people one seeks out to date and how compatibility is determined (i.e. Do I want to be the sole breadwinner in a long-term relationship? If the answer is “No,” then I should probably date a guy who has a job). And, if this is the case, am I seeking out people who don’t have similar lifestyles, or goals, or values, or interests, just so I can look back and say, “Well, it never would have worked anyway,” when it blows up in my face?

Whoa. That way more “on the couch” than I meant it to be.

So what happens when you meet someone who is – by all accounts – worthwhile? Someone who is unlike anyone you’ve ever dated, anyone you really ever imagined, but seemingly fits all criteria you’ve listed in your head. A person who is truly building a life similar to the one you want live? And you just can’t wrap your head around the idea that a guy like that would be interested in you. What does one do when she's no longer "the pretty one?" Does she find out that she needs that feeling to be confident and, ultimately, to be attracted to someone? Or, does she realize how fucked up she is, settle down and stop wondering where things are headed, have a little fun, and give someone with potential a chance?

So maybe this is a little more in-depth than that SATC episode...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Git Er Done

It's Saturday afternoon. It’s sunny and beautiful and not too hot outside. It’s a perfect Chicago day to be out and about, enjoying the final moments of summer.

To be quite frank, I really don’t give a fuck. I think I will just lie in bed and write a blog and dose off with the hopes that the ability to walk eventually returns to my legs.

So… yeah… against the advice of running friends, blogging runners, and a physical therapist, I did the 18-mile run today.

I know. I may pay for choosing to go against conventional wisdom regarding my injury, but I weighed my options very carefully and decided, after two days of rest, that this run had to happen now… or never. And, I use the word “run” loosely. Very loosely.

First, my reasoning… In a week and a half, I am leaving for Europe. Awesome? Yes. But, unfortunately, this means I will miss the so-very-important 20-mile training run and the critical last few weeks of training. When I thought about my situation, I knew I had to get out there today, and I had to make it 18 miles on my feet – running, walking, tangoing, whatever. I can rest my IT band in Europe. I can rest for realz when I’m dead.

And besides, it’s an amazing day out there. I wanted to run.

So I did... for four miles until I started to “feel” my knee. At the hydration station I found a run/walk group similarly paced and decided to leave my people in favor of that one-minute walking break every five minutes. I gathered it would take some pressure off of my knee. I made it to mile 12 with the run/walk group. I walked/limped for about two miles back to the hydration station where I happened to catch my normal running buddies – Lindy and Meg. I went off with them certain that I would eventually – if not sooner – be walking again. I lost them fairly quickly, but attempted to run as much as possible through the next two miles of the course. I walked/limped the final two miles. One of the CES coaches was nice enough to hang back with me, and he (a total cutie) and I chatted about whether or not I should train for a triathlon next year (he’s the tri coach) and — oh right – my injury. He agreed that just being out here, on my feet for 18 miles, was extremely important if I was going to be mentally prepared for the race.

I truly believe I did the right thing. Even if I aggravated my injury, I have time to rest it. I am, though slowly and not so steadily, happy I finished the training “run.” And, I’ve appreciated everyone’s – on the blog and beyond – input as to how I can best manage my injury. The first goal is to make it to the start line of the marathon. The next goal is to make it to the finish line. I realize now that I am going to have to be at peace with whatever happens between those two lines. But that’s what this is all about… pushing and accepting limits. Humbling and truly inspiring all at once.