Monday, October 29, 2007

Quantitative Research

I was checking out my stats on Technorati.com, which if you’re not familiar, is a blog search engine that has all kinds of crazy features, none of which I have the desire, time, or energy to explore, except – of course – the feature that tells me all about me. It’s like a mirror for my blog.

Anyway, it’s fun to see what other blogs link to A View from the Park. Most of these blogs I know… the authors are friends or people who long ago found me, and made their presence known. But a few weeks ago I noticed an unfamiliar link from an unfamiliar blog. “Sarah’s Sister’s Blog” (that's me, I'm Sarah's sister) is linked from the blog Travel Greta. Talks. A Lot.

Today I had a little more time to explore her writing, and within two posts about online dating – [formerly?] one of my favorite blog topics (Curious? See: Walking the Line; My Future [Rich Ex-] Husband) – she had me hooked.

I love this woman. I don’t know her (I believe she’s my sister’s boyfriend’s cousin?), but I love her. Not in the romantic way, but in the you- are- speakin’- my- language- girlfriend- whom- I’ve- never- met- and- have- probably- already- creeped- out- by- professing- my- love- on- the- Internet way. If we met at a wedding and got wasted together this type of affection would be totally appropriate. Over the Internet, not so much. I probably could have just written, "Travel Greta, you rock!" What's done is done. I hope she doesn't mind.

And, since I’m failing you, my dear, sweet, bored readers, I figure I might as well offer alternative entertainment. Who actually needs to be productive from 9-to-5 anyway?

Enjoy!
Match.com Meet Craigslist

Inspired Much?

Gmail chatting with my sister:

Sarah: you haven't updated your blog in over a week

me: i know
i'm just down on my inspiration

Sent at 11:08 AM on Monday

Sarah: I see
Here's some inspiration

me: ok. give it to me

Sarah: ()
that's my middle finger
haha

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Dazed Off

It’s unlikely I would have realized that Saturday was Sweetest Day had my grocery store not plastered posters announcing the "holiday" over the "enter" sign on the automatic door.

I noticed, and honestly, very quickly forgot.

Sweetest Day is bullshit, right? Few self-respecting women will deny that it’s a holiday fabricated to serve the purposes of Hallmark and other evil greeting card/flower shop/candy empires. I mean... seriously, I’m not even a fan of Valentine’s Day, but at least, that’s – you know – arguably semi-legit.

On Saturday night MM came over after work to hang out and watch the latest episode of The Office, which I had Tivo-ed.

He immediately sat down on the couch and looked at me.

“Happy Sweetest Day,” he said with a hint of sheepishness.

“Uh... Thanks.” I said.

He continued, “I don’t really get into this Sweetest Day stuff. I kind of think it’s crap…”

“I totally agree. It’s a ridiculously unnecessary holiday. Don't worry. I wasn't expecting anything,” I said.

“Oh… oh good. Well… I got you a banana.”

“You got me a banana for Sweetest Day?”

“Yeah. Well, I figured if you cared about Sweetest Day, I would have at least gotten you something, but I still wouldn't have given in to the commercial holiday.”

“A banana?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re lucky I don’t care about Sweetest Day.”

Now there’s a banana on my coffee table.

Oddly enough, this reminded me of something I once read.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Conflict Resolution

I read this today, and identified. Truly.

So, re-entry into post-marathon life continues – it’s like being paroled. I like my metaphors. They’re fun. And creative…

It’s weird, even though I didn’t finish the marathon, I still think some of the exhaustion that follows the completion of training and participating in a race (finish or not, we all had 26.2 miles ahead of us when we crossed the start line) has hung on. I’m tired, unfocused, uninspired. I tried to convince @ to be a look out today at work, so I could nap without new boss-man catching me. She declined this opportunity.

More importantly, when I decide it’s time to blog, I sit down, open up brand spankin’ new document in Microsoft Word, and… nothing… This has happened at least twice.

I want to stop writing about the marathon, and all things with the word marathon in it, unless that thing happens to begin with the prefix “half.” How’s this:

Lou: My neck hurts today. @, will you give me a neck massage?
@: No!
Lou: Will you give me a back massage?
@: How would you really feel if I actually said ‘Yes’ to that?
Lou: Um. Good. My neck hurts.
@: Not only is that weird, but I HAVE A BROKEN FINGER.
Lou: Oh, OK. I see. I try to treat you like a normal person – the way I would treat any person with normal, full-functioning fingers – I don’t dwell on your differently-abled-ness, and you throw it back in my face.

OK. So maybe that’s not exactly how that went.

Fingerstrong.

Solidarity.

Friday, October 12, 2007

NYT Marathon Article

People keep sending me this article, so I thought I would share it:
Published: October 12, 2007
How can marathon participants — runners and organizers both — prepare for unique and dangerous weather conditions?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This Life

Meg and I ran tonight – the first time since Sunday for me. Considering that I had been sustaining life on a diet of Combos and Reeses Pieces, it was quite a surprise when a 20 minute run easily turned into a 40 minute run. Running lust, consider yourself rekindled.

And besides, we had some things to discuss…

Meg was right when she insisted that we should wait a few days to sign up for the Columbus Marathon on Tuesday. As the week went on, emotions rebalanced, and the idea of life returning to normal – moving on from the marathon – began to seem appealing. I realized I was ready to call the 2007 race season.

The truth is there are lots of truths. My knee injury as well as my absence from the 20 mile training run left me feeling unprepared for the marathon. While I have no doubt I would have finished the race (given the opportunity) with each passing day, I feel more unsure about toeing the line a second time around.

Financially, the cost to fly into Columbus and enter the race is around $300. Not out of the realm of affordable, but a voice in the back of my mind keeps thinking that this cash-ola could be used toward something else. Perhaps something… warmer.

And really, I’m ready to focus on some new challenges.

This season taught me a lot about the life I plan to lead. I picked up running for no particular reason nearly two years ago. I ran my first race – an 8K – not knowing if I actually was capable of running more than 25 minutes. I signed up for half marathon training on a whim, after I swore I didn’t understand why anyone would want to run farther than five miles. Even this year, I waited until the very last second to decide that I would show up – no promises – the first day of half marathon training. I decided midway through the season that I would keep going and set my sights on the marathon.

This season taught me that these physical challenges are way more important to me than Friday night happy hour (blasphemy!), and in this life, I see no limits – there is always another race, another opportunity to push one’s limits, another chance to get better, stronger, faster, and another reason for me to consider myself a bad ass.

Sunday was heartbreaking and difficult to accept. But this year's Chicago Marathon made history, and I was a part of that. It may not have been 26.2, but it's still one hell of a story. And ultimately, right now in my world, one canceled marathon is just that: one canceled marathon. There will be other races, and I do not doubt… for me, there will be other marathons.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fall Out

Ahhhh… Hey… Hey there, Fall. Nice to see you. Hey guys… Guys, look! Look who decided to join us. Yeah. It’s Fall! Better late than never, right? Hmmm. We missed you on Sunday. It would have been great if you had showed up… you know, like you promised. Nah, nah… it’s no big deal. Don’t sweat it. Two days late and $110 short, I guess. But I mean, really… who are we to blame the effects of global warming on you, Fall.

Fall: Nature’s absentee father.

Anyway, now that it’s cooled off (temperature-wise) and I’ve slept a little, my perspective is a bit clearer. When my mom called me tonight to check on me, she described the previous night’s conversation as her talking me “off the ledge.” A stressful week, followed by an even more stressful weekend, combined with a lack of sleep, a variety of intense emotions, and physical strain on one’s body, had taken its toll and frankly, I just fell apart… if only for a moment.

We move on from Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. The one explanation that seems to be rolling around in everyone’s head is this: It just wasn’t meant to be. Was it really not meant to be for 10,000 people? Did the Universe loud and clear announce to all of us… s’ain’t happenin’? Or… did one person ruin it for the group? That Universe, never can tell exactly whom it’s talking to.

Generally one to air on the side of Karma, I stepped out of my cosmic box and decided, “No. This time, I’m not buying it. I’m not going to believe that out of 10,000 people who didn’t finish, the Universe was telling me that it wasn’t my time to run.”

Despite the hopelessness of last night’s phone call, the Columbus Marathon does have potential. It’s good timing, a flat course, a fairly large race, it allows me to continue to eat like a maniac for another week and a half. We should be making the decision any day. It’s still hard to believe that this journey may not be over, but on the bright side, I think after the intense emotions surrounding Sunday’s marathon, we’re all ready to just go and git ‘er done, sans the hoopla. Plus, if I get cold feet, I can just run the half marathon course, right?

It’s nice to have a Plan B.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hot Mess

So many feelings, so little time.

Tonight I called my mom, and without warning, rhyme or reason, I started crying. I spent the next 30 minutes playing a game of match the emotion (stress, sadness, loss, exhaustion, uncertainty) to the appropriate person/place/thing.

My mother determined that I was suffering from a condition known to medical professionals as “lack of sleep.” As a mom, her diagnosis is likely spot on, but that’s not about to stop me from whining to ya’ll about it here.

First of all, the weight of what happened at the Chicago Marathon finally hit tonight… hard. I think marathon training is probably a similar to planning a wedding (without the whole repercussions of spending the rest of your life with someone). Months of preparation, the involvement of family and friends, emotional highs and lows, and finally… it’s here – yes, you expect some unexpected… but not complete and utter breakdown. I – along with running buds Meg, Lindy, Jamie, and 10,000 other runners – prepared for the big day, put on the dress, but never made it down the aisle (perhaps, more appropriately, we were left at the alter?). And, now… what?

It’s heartbreaking. It’s frustrating, and it’s maddening at times, and it’s heartbreaking.

So where does one go from here? Conversations, email chains, and phone calls began to shed light on new marathon hopes, an upcoming race (only two weeks away!) in Columbus, Ohio – which happens to be my hometown, where my mom and grandma still live. It’s a possibility. And, there was even a point where I started to get excited – my family could be there, maybe my sister would consider flying in, I have friends in the city – others close by who may consider the short road trip to cheer us on – it could be a good race, and maybe it could make up for Chicago.

This is probably what initially set off the crying… I ran the idea past my mom… you know… if we did it, how would she feel about housing one, possibly two other runners? As it turns out, she’s not going to be in town the weekend of the Columbus Marathon, which made the entire idea seem pointless. My head immediately moved to a space that said, “It’s not meant to be. Give yourself a few weeks off, pick a half marathon for the winter, and start over.”

Sunday, October 07, 2007

We Came, We Saw

We ran a half marathon.

The bad news: They canceled the marathon... oh you know, after we were about halfway through. There's a bunch of news stories about it. Basically, at some point race organizers said, "Enough is enough," and kicked us all off of the course. We walked two miles (from mile 14 to 16) to a bus that drove us back to the race start/finish area.

We talked to some cops about it, and apparently, they couldn't go 30 seconds without getting a call for ambulance over the radio. People were sick, someone actually died, and runners slowed down... way down.

I'm not sure whether they shortened the race course and let some people finish, or if people were just forced off the course. By the time we got to mile 16, the fire department had opened up all of the hydrants either to clean debris from the road or to cool off runners. It's not clear what was actually happening.

The good news is that I am neither sick nor injured, but overall this was an unforeseen and very disappointing way to end months of training.

Bummer.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Universe Must Die

You know that phenomenon when time simultaneously moves too fast and too slow? Hours tick by faster than I can check off items on my to do list: clean my apartment, wash my clothes, get my marathon-ness in perfect order, prepare and eat nutritious meals, and sleep. There’s simply not enough time. I get home from work and attempt to relax while intermittently jumping into and out of various tasks. And before I know it… bed time.

And yet… it’s… only… Thurs… day.

I know I’ve marathon-ed all ya’ll to death, but I had no idea that this would be the biggest thing ever… possibly the only thing ever. Yesterday, I was rambling on about fear, consequences, weather, certain death, injury, hydration, dehydration, my outfit, and God knows what else, to my sister, when she asked me this: Yeah, but weren’t you scared before your first half marathon?

Uh… it couldn’t have possibly been like this. Was it?

I did some investigation. Lucky for me, I documented the entire journey right here, forever memorializing “My First Half Marathon” on the pages of the Webernets. So, I was reading my last few posts pre-half marathon, and I sounded calm, at peace with my training, fairly confident that I was prepared for what lie ahead, and eager.

Um… that’s not how I feel right now. I nearly cried this morning on the train as I read about some woman who, without physical barriers or emotional challenges, dreams of posting a marathon time that will qualify her for the Olympic Trials (which, by the way, is 2:47:00). This bitch (and I call her this only from the perspective of someone who is staring a 5:30:00+ marathon in the face; I’m sure she’s a lovely woman) can run 26.2 miles in a time only slightly slower (8 minutes) than it takes me to run half that. This woman does not need my tears, my sympathy, or the energy from my emotional outbursts.

Some other points of note, bullet-style:
  • I finally said “Enough!” with the sugar. After two days of binging like crazy on the white stuff, I went to the grocery store, bought vegetables, fish, bananas, my beloved Smartwater, milk, and Cheerios, and have begun to eat like a normal human being again. Normal being relative – last night my dinner included a bowl of Cheerios, pasta with spinach, olive oil, and shrimp, a couple of pieces of toast, some chips and salsa… and another bowl of Cheerios. I really should stop admitting these things here, but I suppose this is a step in the right direction considering that I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner on Monday.
  • A note on carbohydrates: Sometimes I like to pat myself on the back for a witty, well-timed one-liner. To complete the virtual “pat,” I will share my hilarity with you here… I had lunch with a friend yesterday, a former co-worker, and veteran of several marathons herself. As we parted ways, she said: It’s time to start carbo-loading. I responded: Oh BR… I’ve been carbo-loading my entire life. It’s funny because it’s true. Or maybe it's true because it's funny. Think about it.
  • I met with TR yesterday for one final session before the marathon, which we will both be running. Everyone, myself included, is freaking out about the weather (predicted to be in the mid-80s – HELLO Universe. It’s OCTOBER. We’re in CHICAGO). TR decided the best way to alleviate my fears regarding the heat was to tell me a story about a 28-year-old woman who died when her core temperature (whatever that is) reached 104 degrees and she had a heart attack during a particularly hot marathon. This is the kind of weather where people die, but you… you’re going to do great. Thanks TR. That’s helpful. There is no emoticon in nature that could properly illustrate the look of shock, horror, annoyance, and crazy I must have had on my face at that point.
That’s it for the most part. Tomorrow, I pick up my race packet and goodies; Saturday, I’m going to a pasta party with MM (the first time I will be debuting him at one of “my” social events, as if I need that added stress); and Sunday, we run.

Gulp.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Art and Science

I just put my head on my desk at work and said, “My head feels tingly.”

@ responded: I think you’ve eaten more sugar today than you have in the last four months. You need some whole grains… stat.

I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dinner last night. I didn’t even pretend like I was going to downplay the damage when I passed over the low-fat version of cookie dough for Chubby Hubby, the ultimate in fatty ice cream.

I figured, at this point, if you’re gonna go, you might as well go big.

This, my friends, is how I cope.

@ and I went to Trader Joe’s and decided, without weighing the pros and cons, that we needed to buy a bag of peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. It was a non-negotiable.

Coping is causing me to crash… into a wall… made entirely of sugar.

Three cookies later…

This is a new downward spiral for me.

My advice: Never run a marathon.

In other news… I told the boy on the side that it was time for me to stop seeing other people. I never really understood AG, or his interest in me. I suppose email can potentially lead to passive interactions with someone. Despite the fact that he had my phone number, he never picked up the phone to ask me out. Email gave me the option of bidding my time, of canceling more easily, of coming up with excuses wrapped in witty, well thought out responses. Maybe, if he had called, if he had actively pursued me and been clear about his interest, my decision to cut things off would have been more difficult.

So there you have it. One down, one to go.