Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Relaxation!

I am seven days into my 11-day vacation and I couldn't be happier. I am also seven days into my longest streak of running in I can't even remember how long. Yes, every day for the last 7 days I have gotten outside and run between 2 and 4 miles. I am reluctant to put a label on this or turn it into a loftier goal, long can I keep "the streak" going?

I was in my hometown near Cleveland for Christmas, spending quality time with family. Christmas morning we indulged in mimosas.

Champagne and OJ now, running later

I returned to Chelsea on Monday. The Engineer joined me on Tuesday, and Wednesday-- yesterday-- was my 38th birthday. I'm 2 years away from being a Masters runner! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! (shriek of horror)

The Engineer got me an amazing birthday gift: a watercolor painting of sandhill cranes. These impressive birds can be seen in this area (western Washtenaw and eastern Jackson counties) during their spring and fall migrations.
Darwin is not a very good art critic.

In other bird news, today on my run I saw a red-shouldered hawk in the cemetery. It was close enough so I was able to see its glassy black eyes. Awesome!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I was pondering how I was going to approach the traditional "end of the year" post. Considering that 2011 wasn't exactly a stellar year for me, I decided to let Jim Mora, former coach of the Indianapolis Colts, do the talking for me.

I remember hearing this rant on the radio in 2001 and laughing my ass off. "Playoffs? Don't talk about playoffs! You kidding me?"

Substitute the word "goals" for "playoffs" and that's how I feel about 2011. Actually...this whole rant describes my year.

"Disgraceful performance."

"In my opinion, that sucked."

"Holy crap, I don't know who the hell we think we are."


"Pitiful. Absolutely pitiful to perform like that."

Yep, that was my year. Pitiful. I didn't do one damn thing worth mentioning except blowing out my right calf in the middle of the Cleveland Half Marathon, after which I ran 7 more miles to finish the race. The best part about that debacle was seeing Red about 2 miles from the finish.

I'll say it again: I love, love, love this picture.

My injury in May set up the rest of the year: three months of physical therapy followed by a very careful return to running. I ran my first full mile at the end of August and I can now run about four miles at once. My formerly-shredded calf is holding up well. No twinges at all.

I got my act together after skipping last year and sent out a holiday card to my friends and family:

This, of course, is a picture from my AWESOME FANTASTIC AMAZING vacation to the Pacific Northwest with the Engineer back in September. This particular picture was taken a few miles from the ruins of Mt. St. Helens. For a geologist, this is one of those "must-visit" locations.

You can see logs lying flat on the ground behind me, indicating the direction of the blast which raked the landscape. The mountain itself, about three miles away, is missing its northern flank, because it blew off and slid into Spirit Lake. A blistering pyroclastic flow spread through the forest, flattening and burning everything in its path. Ash and pumice rained down everywhere. And yet, you can see that the landscape is green after 30 years of healing. Nature is attempting to right itself.

I picked up a few pieces of pumice as souvenirs; I kept several and gave one choice chunk to my nephew. I explained what it was and where it came from (in terms a 3-year-old could understand). Last weekend my brother informed me my nephew would not sleep without his pumice. I replied, "I rule." I think my brother has seen through my nefarious plan to turn my nephew into a geology nerd...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: So Long, Old Friends

Brooks Adrenaline 9: March 2010-December 2011
These are the shoes I wore when I ran the Boston Marathon in April 2010. I also wore them for the Thunder Road Marathon a year ago. In January of this year I got a new pair of Adrenaline 10s because these, my fourth pair of Adrenaline 9s, were completely wasted. Once my new shoes went into rotation, these became my hashing and yard work shoes. They served me well through the spring, summer and into the fall, getting nastier and dirtier all the while. One particular hash was especially brutal from a mud perspective; afterward, I knew the shoes' days were numbered as I didn't even want to put them on my feet anymore. I got my newest pair of shoes in mid-November, which pushed my Adrenaline 10s into the dirty work position...and pushed my cherished Boston shoes into obsolescence.

I should have thrown them away long ago, but I couldn't. These shoes crossed the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton and 26 miles later ran down Boylston Street to the finish. My Boston journey from qualification to finishing the race will likely be the pinnacle of my running career, as I don't see myself becoming fast enough to requalify for a long time. Maybe ever. My first Boston could be my only Boston. These shoes were there, man! I can't get rid of them!

Except...despite my propensity for allowing piles of paper to accumulate all over the place (I call it my "Pile Problem") I am not a hoarder. I don't have a problem throwing things away even when they have sentimental value. Worn-out dirty shoes, even if they trod the Boston Marathon course, are still just worn-out dirty shoes. Thus, this morning I carried them downstairs, flipped open the trash can lid, and dumped them inside. I admit I felt a tiny pang of sadness as they fell in with yesterday's coffee grounds and an empty tomato container. Farewell, faithful shoes.*sniffle*

Our shared moment of glory: the finish of the Boston Marathon.
My new pair of shoes are women's Brooks Adrenaline 12s. I wore men's shoes for years because they were roomier than the women's version, and the size I needed in a women's shoe wasn't readily available because I have giant freak feet. However! When I went to Running Fit last month for a new pair of shoes (having decided my old shoes were partly to blame for my aching ankles), they had the 2012 Adrenalines on hand AND THEY HAD A WOMEN'S SIZE 12! I snapped them up immediately and wore them a few days later for the Girls on the Run 5K in Ypsilanti on November 20. Running in them after using my crashed-out, washed-up Adrenaline 10s was like...puffy clouds! drifting raft! feather bed! A THOUSAND COMFY CHAIRS!

Side note: does anyone else think the evil chuckling of the Inquisitors in the video sounds exactly like the evil chuckling of the pigs from Angry Birds?

In other news, this morning when I got up it was 55 degrees. I took advantage of this by running to the gym (almost 1 mile), working out, and then running home. I was accompanied by light rain; it was not enough to dissuade me from running outdoors. 55 degrees in December in Michigan is rare indeed and must be celebrated, because it surely will not last long! Sure enough, temperatures are going to nosedive over the course of the day until we're back to 25 degrees overnight. Sigh.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Sigh, Ouch

1. Sigh

My backyard on Wednesday morning1
Do not be fooled by the deceptively attractive appearance of the above scene. This can mean only one thing: winter is here. Yes, I know that winter doesn't technically begin until December 22nd. This is Michigan! Winter prematurely ejaculates on us every year! You think it's still spend part of the Thanksgiving holiday walking outside in 55-degree temperatures...the sun is shining...and then...

WHAM! You get hit with a big wet mess when you weren't expecting it.

Yes, I am participating in the annual "woe is us" collective groan that arises from the Midwest at this time of year. Most of my Midwest run-blogger buddies have already posted a variation on this theme. WE CAN'T HELP IT! We forget what the weather was like eight or nine months ago. We are lulled into complacency by warm weather and green grass. The memories of those horrible long runs in 15 degrees and four inches of snow recede until we kind of remember that something unpleasant happened in February, but we're not sure what. Our gloves, hats, tights, long-sleeved shirts, and jackets get shuffled to the bottoms of piles and drawers or lost altogether. The long, lazy days of summer stretch on and on...

We know what's coming, but we pretend not to notice the days growing shorter, the temperatures falling. We wear shorts and T-shirts long after a "normal" person would have donned pants and a jacket. We refuse to try on that one jacket that was always a little snug to see if it still (sort of) fits. Maybe we can't find that jacket at all, and that's okay. It's still fall! It's still warm! It hasn't gone below freezing at night yet! I don't have to drive to work in the dark! IT'S NOT WINTER! IT'S NOT! I CAN'T HEAR YOU! LA LA LA LA LAAAAA...


That was the big wet mess. HEL-LO! It's winter, remember her?

We sigh, square our shoulders, dig out the gloves, hats, tights, long-sleeved shirts, and jackets. We make sure the battery on the headlamp is fresh and there's a safety vest to wear on those dark, cold mornings. We're relieved to find the close-fitting jacket still fits after all, and that pair of thick tights mysteriously appears in a pile of sweaters. We acclimate to the temperature, embrace the darkness. We run in 30, 20, 10 or zero degrees (not without occasional consequences, however). We run in sleet, snow, wind, rain. We feel like badasses, we consider ourselves hardcore. We are the Michigan winter runners.

2. Ouch

The Redhead and I extended our streak of good luck at Lillie Park with a walk on Monday. However, Tuesday (pouring rain) and Wednesday (snow) were not as kind. In lieu of the park, we elected to climb stairs in the tall building next to my office. Thirteen flights of stairs at 22 steps per flight and four trips up equals 1,144 steps. We were both sweaty and breathless when we finished. My heart was thundering. As relaxing and bucolic as the path through Lillie Park is, it does not equal a true cardiovascular workout. Stair climbing, on the other hand...whew.

This morning when I arose to go to the gym, my calves were like "HEY! What did you do to us yesterday?" I was unable to meet up with Redhead at lunch today, so I climbed stairs by myself. I managed two sets before my calves were all "WHAT THE HELL CUT IT OUT ALREADY!" I spent the rest of the afternoon slowly walking around the building when I had to; my quads and calves were more sore every time I stood up. They were in full-on revolt by the time I left work, screaming "WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU DO TO US, ASSHOLE, JESUS IT FEELS LIKE WE JUST RAN A HALF MARATHON OR SOMETHING, YOU BETTER NOT FUCKING DO THIS AGAIN TOMORROW! ARRRRRGH!"

Little do they know.

1: In the picture you can see four of my five bird feeders. I am very serious about my bird feeders and bird seed. I have suet cakes, thistle seed, sunflower seed, and a mix. This is calculated to attract the maximum species diversity to my yard.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thinking Back

Exactly six months ago today—May 15, 2011—I sustained the worst injury of my running career. My plantaris tendon ruptured and took my medial gastroc and soleus muscles down in flames with it six miles into the Cleveland Half Marathon. If you didn't already know, I finished the race. "Did Not Finish" was not an option.

Mile eleven, in excruciating pain, but so happy I got to see the Redhead!
Following a diagnostic ultrasound in early June, I was ordered into Frankenboot. At least Redhead and I got to be miserable together, though my relationship with the boot was more of a short-term fling while hers was long-term and serious.

It's the fashion statement of the summer! All the cool chicks have one.
I embarked on physical therapy after I was released from Frankenboot purgatory. In mid-August I took my first running steps since the day I was injured three months earlier. I did the Run for the Rolls on August 27 and celebrated running one mile totally pain-free. I finished physical therapy at the end of September, turned loose into a Michigan fall. I have run three races since then: the Big House Big Heart in Ann Arbor, the Parkview Pumpkin Run (Columbia City, Indiana), and just this past weekend, the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot in Dexter. All three were 5Ks. All three exceeded 30 minutes. All three I ran with the Engineer. I'm slower than I have ever been.

The Redhead and I have made a habit over the past six weeks of walking together at a nearby park during the work week. We have watched trees clad in red and gold shed their leaves, gradually snowing in the path with drifts of brown which crunch beneath our feet. The forest unclothed, every twig and branch exposed, the dry and dirty smell of decaying leaves, the squirrels noisily rummaging on the ground, the birds in the bushes, the rumble of the freeway just hidden from view...Our lunchtime strolls at Lillie Park will continue until the weather makes it impossible to be outside. We have been fortunate thus far, but we know that winter is coming. (It snowed last Thursday.) On days when we are unable to meet, I walk by myself on a 2.5-mile loop starting at my office. It's not as pleasant as the trail through Lillie Park—it's primarily on the sidewalk next to a busy road—but it does have its own (albeit brief) woodsy charm.

Cranbrook Park trail, short but scenic
I am climbing out of the deep hole I dug with my weight gain and hiatus from running. I still have a long way to go if I want to have anything close to the speed and stamina (not to mention the physique) I had two years ago. Rejoining Weight Watchers last month was a huge step in the right direction; I have lost 10 lbs of the 50 I hope to lose.

Finally, tomorrow evening I am going to sit in a movie theater for four hours and watch a rebroadcast of a Metropolitan Opera performance from a couple of weeks ago. The opera is one that is very dear to me: Mozart's Don Giovanni, in which I performed in 2008 and from which I can sing three arias. This is one of them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Bugs, Birds, Rocks, and Walks

The Engineer and I went for two epic walks over the weekend. We did six miles on the Falling Waters Trail in Jackson on Saturday and 11 miles on the Lakelands Trail in Stockbridge and Gregory on Sunday. Both paths are converted railroad beds, so they are level and straight. They also pass through some lovely countryside and are uncrowded and peaceful (features on which I place great importance, as I find it more enjoyable to be where crowds are not). The weather was spectacular for Michigan in November and we just didn't want to be indoors!

Here I am perched on a glacial erratic alongside the Lakelands Trail. Erratics are rocks that were left behind by melting glaciers. In Michigan, this occurred during the retreat of Late Wisconsinian glacial lobes from 16,000-10,000 years ago. These rocks are called "erratics" because they do not match the local bedrock; they were scooped up elsewhere and traveled great distances in the embrace of a glacier. In this area, the erratics' most likely provenance is Canada, and a great number of them are granite (such as the one I am sitting on).

Don't take erratics for granite.
This is a picture of me next to the Madison Boulder (New Hampshire), which is regarded as one of the largest glacial erratics in the world. I convinced my family we HAD to visit the boulder when we were on vacation in nearby Melvin Village in the summer of 1995. My college geomorphology professor had told our class about it. If you suspect I was overcome with glee upon seeing the boulder, you would be correct.

I get excited when I see an unusual bird (the Engineer was there when I saw an indigo bunting for only the second time in my life and I yelled, "HOLY SHITBALLS it's an INDIGO BUNTING!") and even more excited when I find an unusual rock. My hometown friend Ellen has a great story about the time I nearly peed my pants and passed out when I found a GORGEOUS, perfectly preserved rugose coral in a creekbed in her backyard in 1993.

The Redhead could tell you about the time I saw a green heron up close while we were out walking over the summer and I became so animated with excitement I whacked her boob with my flailing hand as I squealed, "oh my god it's a GREEN HERON!". I call this "having a birdgasm." It happens a lot.

At home I have a cabinet devoted to special items, many of which are science-related. There's a whole shelf of important rocks I have collected over the years, including my Favorite Rock of All Time: an oblong hunk of serpentinite I extracted from a western Ireland beach in 1997 during my geology field camp experience

So, yeah, Nature nerd. This is an established fact.

I also like a point. I can't stand those nasty-smelling Asian lady beetles that invade my house every year about this time. If I see a house centipede on the floor, that thing is headed for squishville; I don't care how beneficial it is. Spiders indoors? NO.

However, I do love fat, fuzzy caterpillars, like this big guy I found on Sunday:

Eeeee! It's on my hand!
Yes, those are my birdwatching binoculars around my neck.

I later identified the species as the caterpillar of the Giant Leopard Moth.The caterpillar was fun to observe, but I would have been even more excited by the adult moth. Unfortunately, they're nocturnal.

So, yeah. Nature nerd, and proud of it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Autumn Splendor

Fleeting fall is here in all its golden glory. We here in the big mitten know that we have but a precious few weeks to enjoy brilliant blue skies, dry air, and colors galore before the inevitable late-October windstorm blows all of the leaves to the ground. Thus begins the long, gloomy five-plus months of dead brown everything interspersed with frozen white everything.

Enjoy it while it lasts.

A path through the woods near my house. It's not very long but it sure is pretty.
Milkweed, daisies and dry grass at the West Lake Nature Preserve near Chelsea.

With a woolly bear caterpillar we found while walking at West Lake Preserve. Photo courtesy of the Engineer.
The above pictures were taken with my new iPhone 4S, which has an 8-megapixel camera. I dare say they are as good if not better than pictures from my 10-megapixel Nikon point-and-shoot.

Oh new iPhone 4S? TOTALLY FUCKING ROCKS. It's like when I got my '98 Jeep Grand Cherokee to replace my '90 Ford Tempo, except it's more like upgrading to a Ferrari. If you thought I was in love with/obsessed with my iPhone 3G...well, if my 4S was a person, I would be in jail for stalking it.

In other news, I continue to run in little dribs and drabs. A few times a week I will head out in the crisp darkness before work (I did so today, and got rained on for my trouble). A couple of weeks ago, the Engineer and I ran the Big House Big Heart 5K, one of southeast Michigan's most popular races. Discounting the one-mile Run for the Rolls on August 27th, the BHBH was my first "longer" race since the disaster that was the Cleveland half five months ago.

Five months without a race is a long time. I sort of forgot what I was doing. How do I know this? I left my race bib at home the morning of the race.


I had everything else...even pins for the bib...but no bib. I had left it on the desk by the door. I was completely disappointed and very angry with myself. When we got to the stadium, I took one look at the GIANT MONSTROUS line for the help table and said, "Screw that. I'm going to bandit this race." Yes, I bandited a race I paid for, so maybe it was only a partial banditing.

I have never missed this race. It started in 2007 and I have run it every year. I wasn't going to let something like a forgotten race bib keep me from finishing on the field at Michigan Stadium! NEVER!

I think my finishing time was one of the slowest 5Ks I've ever run. I wasn't running for time. I was running because I finally can, because I was with the Engineer, because it was a beautiful fall day, because I like running through the University of Michigan campus, and because I got to lounge on the field at the stadium!

Sitting on the big "M" in the end zone at the Big House after the race. GO BLUE!
Finally, after a hiatus that began in January 2010, I have restarted the Weight Watchers program. I rejoined on October 11, so this past Tuesday was my first weigh-in after a week back on the program. I lost 5.4 pounds. I was very pleased. I know that a large loss is expected the first week or two, and then I will settle down into the more normal 1.5-2 lbs per week. I'm on my way back, baby!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Thought: I Graduated!

I finished physical therapy yesterday! It lasted exactly three months (my first appointment was June 29). As befitting a graduation ceremony (perhaps of the kindergarten ilk), I received a cupcake at the end of my session.

I need to stop thinking of myself as being injured. I am no longer injured. I have recovered from my injury. I'm healed! This week I have run three times for a total of 9.5 miles, which is the most I have done since the Calf-Shredding Debacle of 2011, aka the Cleveland Half Marathon. My calf muscles did not bother me at all.

Thus begins the long, slow road back to true distance running. My endurance is shot, my speed is nonexistent, and I have gained a depressing amount of weight. I can run about four miles max before my ass starts dragging. Nevertheless, my sights are set on yet another Cleveland half in May of 2012. I want to administer a smackdown to the course which treated me so cruelly four months ago. REVENGE!

Luckily it is now fall, the finest season for running in Michigan. The weather is cool and dry, and the scenery is colorful. Of's now pouring rain again, and I run in the early mornings when it's dark, so...maybe not so awesome after all. But hey, it's not 95 degrees with 90% humidity!

In other news, at the beginning of this month the Engineer and I went on vacation together. We spent nine days in his home state of Washington (and a little bit in Oregon). We put 1,000 miles on our rental car and had many fun adventures.

Wherein I:

Admired scenic mountain vistas (Mt. Rainier)

Loved on some basalt (also Mt. Rainier)

Had a total geonerdgasm (Mt. St. Helens)
Relaxed by the ocean (Cannon Beach, Oregon)

And last but not least, enjoyed many fine beers (Elliott Bay Brewing Co., Burien, Washington)

Friday, August 19, 2011

In praise of true friends

It has been three months since the Calf-Shredding Debacle of 2011. Throughout this ordeal there has been one person who I knew would be there to listen to my every gripe, moan, and whine, one person who knew exactly how I felt: the Redhead. Girl, I might not be able to say it properly (what's that? an introvert having trouble expressing emotions? you don't say!), but being able to commiserate with you online and IRL has been the difference between abject despondency and manageable exasperation. I may have put on a brave face...but the past three months have been exceedingly difficult. Thank you so much for everything. WE SHALL OVERCOME.

The girls (Redhead and myself) taking the girls (Leela and Brownie) out for a 14-mile spin in Dexter

Oh yeah, that sexy brown bike in the picture? That's Brownie, my gorgeous girl, my $120 Craigslist find, the bike I've secretly always wanted but never had because I thought people would make fun of me (seriously). She's a 1960s vintage Schwinn Collegiate cruiser, five speeds, a few creaks and squeaks, but she rides smoothly and I love her. I have ridden Brownie more since I got her in mid-July than I rode any bike for the previous 8 years. My new favorite thing is to go out for 4-5 miles in the evenings when the sun is setting and the streets are quiet.

I also look a bit browned up because I was on vacation the last week of July. I went back to Cape Cod with my family. I hoped I would be able to run while I was there; sadly, that was not meant to be. I did, however, attach Brownie to the back of my car and haul her 900 miles so I could ride her, which I did, extensively.

The rest of the time was spent doing this:

I can guarantee you that is not coffee in that mug.
My greatest concerns all week were:
  • shifting my beach chair as the day wore on in order to remain in optimal sun-baking position
  • getting up to take a swim in the ocean if I became overheated while roasting in the sun
  • picking up my mug and discovering it was empty, whereupon I would go into the house and fix myself another vodka tonic (or gin and tonic)

I also plowed through all of A Game of Thrones and part of A Clash of Kings. Reading, bike riding, walking with my mom, drinking beer and other assorted booze, eating fried clams and was a wonderful vacation.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Starting out with a bang!

This morning I did something I have not done for three months:

I got up at 6:00 and went running.

I didn't run very far—maybe a mile total—and I took walk breaks every quarter of a mile.

I didn't run very fast—even though I didn't wear Garmy, if I was going faster than 11:00/M I would be surprised.

I ran. I went running. I RAN.

When I got up, I could hear rumblings from an approaching thunderstorm. I left the house as the first rain drops began to fall. I chose to do loops around the block, about a half mile for each one, so I wasn't far from home if the skies suddenly opened up. The storm drew closer as I trotted along; lightning illuminated the sidewalk and thunder crackled in the clouds. The rain began to fall in earnest, and I fought the temptation to run faster. After three months of rehabilitation, the last thing I needed was to reinjure myself by sprinting for home. Even when a flash of lightning lit up the street like a squadron of searchlights and thunder crashed so loudly I jumped and jammed my fingers in my ears, I kept my pace slow and steady. I made it home just ahead of the deluge. I was damp with sweat and rain, breathless, exhilarated. I never thought running one mile would feel so good.

This was a reconnaissance mission of sorts: test out the leg with some light running mixed with walking to assess the progress I have made in physical therapy since early July. I am pleased to report that my calf did not trouble me at all.

I have a looooooong way to go before I can run with the frequency and intensity of even six months ago, never mind a year or two years ago. I may never run like that again for all I know. Right now, at this moment, I'm happy I ran a mile. I ran a mile and it didn't hurt.

I ran today!

In additional milestone news today, not only did I run for the first time since May 15, but the black toenail I gave myself by dropping my glider chair on my foot on May 18 FINALLY FELL OFF!

Forget my running today—my ugly black toenail is gone!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The general state of affairs

This comment landed in my moderation bin:
"Though you end up last in the race, it doesn't mean you failed. It only means that there are people better than you in that field. The important thing is you finished what you have started valiantly amidst aching feet. Good Job Mate! [spam link to sketchy web site redacted]."
Shut the fuck up, spammer. People like you are why I have comment moderation enabled.

In other news, I have begun physical therapy on the mess that is my right calf. At my first appointment last week, I asked the therapist how long it would be before I could resume running.

He said three months. My ruptured tendon could take even longer than that—up to a year— to put itself back together completely.

I wanted to cry; instead I groaned and looked at the ground. Three months. I guess that means the Fort 4 Fitness half marathon at the end of September is out. Maybe I can bounce back in time to squeeze in the Detroit half marathon in mid-October, but I am not optimistic. I haven't run since the tendon-shredding debacle at Cleveland seven weeks ago. My stamina is shot. I will be starting over, when I eventually do start over, as if the previous four years had never even happened. What I have come to think of as my best year—2009—is a distant memory.

Focus. Focus. Concentrate on physical therapy for the next two months.The fall is an indistinct haze. It's not worth getting my panties in a bunchy wad about races I won't be able to run (and thankfully didn't register for), the whole summer wasted, not a lick of training to be undertaken. Ride a bike at the gym, lift weights, do my exercises at home. One day at a time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Truth Hurts

Upon viewing the picture of me and the Redhead flashing our awesome lower leg swag yesterday, Spike had this to say:

"Worst three-legged relay team ever."

You should leave the legal profession and go into comedy. I'm serious, dude.

P.S. Way to poke fun at CRIPPLED* PEOPLE!

*not crippled for life, just temporarily. The runners will rise again!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Meet Frankenboot!

I knew I was not going to get away with doing nothing after the revelation about my plantaris rupture. My usual tactic of "pretend it's not there and it might go away" (hey, it's worked before!) would not suffice.

Two out of two doctors surveyed said:

"You must wear the boot."

Say hello to my little friend
I will be hauling Frankenboot around for two weeks. It's not uncomfortable (yet). It doesn't make my foot sweat (yet). I described the way it feels as "my leg is being hugged." It's not glued to my leg 24/7.

Nevertheless, it is not ideal. I keep telling myself that two weeks of annoyance now means I will be able to run again in the near future. In the meantime, I will be doing some SERIOUS upper body strength training. My arms are going to be RIPPED.

I sent the Redhead an email yesterday when I learned I was going to be strapped into a boot. If anyone would understand, it would be her; she's been carting around Das Boot for a month. The subject line of the email said:


That pretty much sums it up.

We went out to lunch today, which presented an epic picture opportunity. Even in the midst of mutual disappointment and exasperation, we know how to find a silver lining.

Plastic and velcro are IN for summer! Institutional gray or funereal black, take your pick!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Canal Days 5K: Dead F-ing Last! (And Proud of It)

I have begun a new phase in my running career, or, my running career which is defined by not running for the forseeable future. Thus, I downgraded my desires for Saturday's Canal Days 5K (New Haven, Indiana; small-town festivals RULE) from "running really slowly" to "walking." It turned out I was the only walker. The small field took off at the start and I watched the clump of runners quickly leave me behind. I wasn't alone, however; I had the sweep vehicle accompanying me the whole way. "Vehicle" in this case was a golf cart belonging to the New Haven Police Department, piloted by an amiable officer with whom I made jovial small talk for the duration of the race.

I had vigorously mowed my lawn with my reel mower on Thursday afternoon, and my calf had reminded me all day Friday it was not happy about being treated badly. It was still complaining as I began briskly walking the 5K, and I was forced to limp almost immediately. It was uncomfortable but not unbearable, and I forged onward. The afflicted area sent out a few major bolts of pain, but nothing, nothing like what I had felt during Cleveland or the weeks afterward.

Bringing up the rear in a race was a novel experience. I have finished last in races before, though not since 1989, when I dragged my exhausted ass across the finish line of the OHSAA Cross-Country Regional race on an 85-degree day in late October. This time, however, I wasn't part of a high school team that was trying to qualify for the state meet. I was out for a stroll on a cool, if humid, summer morning.

Law enforcement held up a HUGE line of cars at a major intersection until I passed, which caused me much embarrassment as there were a lot of pissed off motorists waiting for me to hobble by.

I waved and smiled at a lot of people who were waiting for the Canal Days Parade to start in downtown New Haven. I felt like a mini celebrity!

Let me just state for the record: walking three miles seems to take FOREVER. I was glad when the high school came into view and I knew I was almost done. The Engineer was there, too, and when he saw me coming he ran out to meet me and we crossed the finish line together.

I wasn't dejected or mopey about my 50-minute time nor the fact that I had finished dead fucking last nor that I couldn't run. This is what it is, and I have to accept it as such and look towards rehabilitation and healing.

Another bright spot in the morning was seeing Holly (Rust Belt Runner) again. She told me about this race a while back, otherwise I would not have known about it. I was planning on heading to Indiana last weekend anyway, so the logistics worked out perfectly.

At the finish line there was a huge box of free T-shirts for a Craigslist-like service provided by the local newspaper. Since I love random T-shirts (trucks, bacon, Cryptosporidium, particle physics, to name a few) I couldn't resist grabbing a hot pink one. I will now be able to advertise Bobslist in southeast Michigan.

In a few hours the Engineer and I were on our way south to Indianapolis for the Independent Music and Arts Festival. Last year, it was a brutal 95+ degrees and sauna-like humidity. This year, it was MUCH nicer.

Of course, there was beer: first, lunch at the Brugge Brasserie (mussels were eaten), followed by a visit to Sun King Brewing.

I left with one growler filled.

The next item on the running agenda is...well, more not running. Slow rehabbing is where I'm heading, I believe.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Well, this explains a few things

Today I learned about something called the plantaris tendon. I never knew this little strip of tissue existed before 8:30 this morning. Now I know far too much about it.

Lower leg of doom

See that thin blue strip? That's your plantaris tendon. Yours is probably fine.

Mine, however, is ruptured. Oh, and my medial gastroc and soleus muscles are torn. For even more fun, I even have a touch of the achilles tendinitis. Why not toss that onto this steaming pile of crap as well?

I can pinpoint the moment this bad boy let go: mile 6 of the Cleveland Half on May 15. It felt like someone took my right calf muscle and ripped it in two. Like any overly stubborn runner, I powered onward and finished the race. Dropping out for the dreaded DNF is not in my vocabulary, even though I could barely hobble forward. I finished that race in 2:28, my slowest half ever. But I finished.


I still haven't run since that day. I was hoping to run this coming Saturday with the Engineer at the Canal Days 5K near Ft. Wayne because my leg has felt great, almost normal, for several days. I mentioned this at my appointment today and the radiologist was like "That's not a good idea."

While I won't need surgery, I may be in for a round of physical therapy. I will see my sports medicine doctor at the end of the month for a follow-up and I will hear what she has to say. Right now, however, the course of action can be summed up thusly:
  • No running
  • No running
 I'm in for a lot of elliptical, biking, rowing and strength training. 

These recent revelations make the following picture, taken near the end of the Cleveland race, quite bittersweet. I was in a tremendous amount of pain, and I knew I was almost done. I hadn't seen the Redhead yet and I was worried I had been too slow to see her at mile 7 (I didn't know she never even made it there, having gone the wrong way to spectate). I started to hear some crazy person yelling into a bullhorn and when I got close enough I saw that, yes, it was indeed the Redhead, on the sidewalk at mile 12.  Oh, happy day!

I think this is my new favorite race picture ever
I didn't know it, but this would be my last race for a long time.

Interestingly, this injury (the tendon rupture and accompanying gastroc tear) is colloquially known as "tennis leg" because it happens most often to tennis players. Why it happened to me I have no idea.

I'm holding out hope I will be able to run when I go on vacation to Cape Cod in six weeks. That's all I want: to run by the ocean.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Still LIfe

That's where I am. Life is still. I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon on May 15th and I hurt myself so badly I haven't run a step since then. My right gastroc muscle staged a hostile takeover, a bloody coup, a rebellious revolution. I can pedal a bike at the gym but that's about all. Hence, I have been catching up with my backlog of New Yorkers (and a few trashy gossip magazines) as I sit and pedal to nowhere.

It's okay, though, because there is nothing on the horizon for which I must train. I registered for the Dexter-Ann Arbor 10K (June 5); it remains to be seen if I will be able to participate. My next half marathon is months away. The unofficial start of summer is this weekend (though one might not believe so, because it was 47 degrees when I went to work this morning).

This song came across my radar earlier this week and I've been listening to it repeatedly. I love moody British indie rock!

Have a great long weekend, everyone.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

For the past two days I have taken walks in the afternoons as I try to shake off an annoying respiratory virus I picked up over the weekend. I feel okay, but I keep coughing up globs of mucus, which isn't pleasant. Walking has gotten me out of the house for exercise; additionally, the weather this week has been lovely and it seemed a shame to while away the hours after work indoors. On my perambulations around town I have made two observations:

One: walking takes forever. My three mile loop dragged on and on and I felt like I would never finish. Running is so much more efficient at getting me from point A to point B!

Two: I notice more when I go slowly. I passed a twig dangling over the path behind the hospital and to my delight I saw the first sure sign of spring:


Yes, folks who live in warmer climes, we still have no leaves on the trees here. Most of the trees, in fact, don't even have buds. The woods are as bare and transparent as they were in January. This is how it goes in Michigan.

We had a brief blast of summer style temperatures on Sunday, however. It got up to 82 degrees that afternoon. I went running Sunday morning at my parents' and it was 50 degrees. By the time I got home to Michigan it was above 80. I wasn't ready for the warmth. I was wrinkled and sweaty from being in the car, and my house was stuffy. I slept poorly Sunday night, tossing and turning on crumpled sheets in a room that was 10 degrees warmer than it had been in months. Having cats piled up against me like driftwood didn't help, either.

Fortunately things have gone back to normal and nighttime temperatures are back where they should be, i.e. the 30s. Much better. I can curl up in my down comforter again.

My farm share starts in seven weeks. I am so excited. Fresh asparagus and spinach and turnips, oh my!

One year ago I was making final preparations for my trip to Boston for the marathon. This year, I am not going back, and I find myself nostalgic for what was and slightly jealous of those who are running again. Boston was such an incredible experience. I want to run there again, no, I say I will run there again. Someday.

This Saturday the Engineer and I are attending a performance of Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Detroit Opera House. I am super excited as you all know how much I love opera, especially anything by Mozart. I know more Mozart arias than any other composer. I taught myself how to sing "Der Holle rache" long ago, high F and all, but I can't sing it like Diana Damrau.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Meteor 10K

A great day for a run
 I hopped back on the race wagon on Saturday with the Meteor 10K, my first race since the Thunder Road Marathon in December. We all know how badly I got my ass kicked by that race. Let's move on.

I ran the Meteor 10K three years ago, the half two years ago, and now I was back for another crack at the 10K. I knew all of my previous 10K times were out of reach; my goal for this race was to run strong and enjoy the morning. What a morning it was! Clear, dry, and about 35 degrees at 7:30 when the Engineer and I arrived at the race venue for our 8:00 start.

Wearing the best Bondi band ever, courtesy of the Redhead. Now, if only I would stand up straight...
The green and black insanity you see above was part of the awesome bag o' swag from the Redhead, which I received the day before at the race expo.

Spike and I at the expo, representin' Boston and Grand Rapids
After some hobnobbing with my fellow run-nerds, the Engineer and I slid into the crowd near the back of the pack. I was anticipating running 9:45-10:00 miles, an easy, comfortable pace, and so I was pleased when Garmy beeped for the first mile in 9:38. That would be the slowest mile of the race, as I subsequently managed 9:23, 9:15, 9:20, and 9:14 miles. With a mile and change left to run, I decided to pick up my speed a little and see if I could squeeze out a sub-9:00 mile.

The whole race had unfolded smoothly; I kept my breathing under control and felt relaxed and energetic. I crested the final hill and saw the turn to the finish about a quarter-mile away. I cruised down the slope, made the turn, and finished strong. A quick check of Garmy told me I had run 8:49 for mile 6. Official finish time: 57:36. That's more than 10 minutes off my best but I was pleased nontheless.

Heading for the finish
I ran 5.5 miles Tuesday, 4 yesterday, and if the weather cooperates I'll run 3 after work today. The weekend holds 4 miles on Saturday and 9 on Sunday. I'll be in Ohio again for some family stuff, so I'm looking forward to a change of venue. Nine miles isn't enough to lure me to the Towpath Trail, but I'm sure I can string together something around the old neighborhood.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I wish I had taken a picture of them: five dirty, lonely bowling balls dumped in a weedy, watery ditch. Where did they come from? Who would do such a thing? I am reminded of another abandoned bowling ball, which was lying on a soccer field near the water treatment plant in Ft Wayne:

Alas, poor bowling ball, I knew it well
What is this epidemic of bowling ball neglect? i demand answers!

I was out pounding pavement after work because my 8-mile run didn't happen yesterday due to a combination of feeling poorly (the Engineer) and rolling an ankle on a railroad tie on Saturday (me)

Why was I running on railroad tracks? Hashing! I was running around New Haven, Indiana, with about 30 other folks, most of whom were dressed (as I was) in a kilt. Yes, we got a lot of strange looks and at least one "What's going on?"

Having an AWESOME time, of course! It was a beautiful day and I ran about 6 miles, which, when added to the 3.4 I ran Saturday morning, put me over 9 for the day. The 3.4 I ran on a path at the YMCA near the Engineer's apartment. I've run on this path several times with the Engineer, because during the winter we could count on it being cleared of snow. However, the other morning I ran with Holly from Rust Belt Runner. Run blogger MEET UP! I love those.

It was FAH-REE-ZING (25 ish degrees) when I went to meet her around 10:00, so I was in full cold weather gear, but I knew I would get warm despite the temperature, and that's exactly what happened. It helped that the sun was out. We did two loops of the path and then walked a bit. I visit Ft Wayne on a regular basis so I anticipate running with her again.

Nine miles on Saturday, none yesterday and thus today I was fidgety and anxious, looking out the window at the bright sunshine, itching to get home and into my running clothes and out on the road. It was as lovely out there as I had suspected. I knocked out the 8 miles and barged through my back door, scattering cats, then said, "Yeah, that's how it's done!"

It wasn't fast, but it was good, and hell, I'll take that.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thursday Thoughts: Oops...

The only appropriate word, sometimes, is "D'OH." Picture Homer Simpson saying it.

When I went to bed last night I set my alarm for 5:45 am with the intention of getting up to run 3 miles. In the middle of the night I woke up, decided 5:45 wasn't gonna happen (and, by extension, my run) and reset my alarm for 6:45.

The alarm went off, and I laid there listening to NPR for a few minutes and wondering why I still felt so tired. Ah well, time to haul the old body out of bed and into the shower. Freshly scrubbed and dressed a few minutes later, I went downstairs to heat some water for coffee. There was a little kernel of confusion rattling around in the back of my head, however: why was it so dark outside? It was past 7:00 and I should have been able to see the yard by now. I didn't think it was that overcast.

Wait a minute...

I looked at three different clocks, finishing with the one on my iPhone (because the almighty iPhone is never wrong), which confirmed my suspicions: it was only 6:15. I had still gotten up at 5:45, because when I was fumbling around with my alarm in the dark I had accidentally reset the clock an hour ahead.


I wished I had figured out my blunder before I took a shower, because I would have made myself go to the gym or go running. Alas, there wasn't much else for me to do but prepare for the workday. I made my coffee, washed some dishes, prepped my breakfast and lunch, and left for work.

Learn from my fail: don't try to reset alarms in the middle of the night.

This wasn't the only D'OH I have had in the past week. Last Thursday and Friday were spectacular in terms of weather: sunny and high 60s on both days. I opened the windows for the first time in months. The warm breeze and fresh air were enthusiastically welcomed by all members of the household:

Window Kitties!

That window is one of the Prime Kitty Viewing Spots in my house. There are a couple more upstairs, and when I left for Ohio on Friday I left a few windows open for the cats. It was such a nice day, how could I close up the house when they were enjoying themselves so much? It was 65 degrees outside!

Oh yeah, did I also mention I turned off the furnace?

Oh yeah, are y'all aware this is March? In Michigan? No further explanation should be necessary.

Fast forward to Sunday night. I arrived home and my house was 49 degrees. I turned the furnace on and immediately got into bed under my down comforter. The cats were on me like a duck on a june bug. I apologized profusely for my error.

Learn from my fail: DON'T leave windows open when you go out of town for two days in March. Unless you live in a place where it's already 75-80 degrees, in which case, I hate you.

In other news, I was in my ancestral homeland of the Cleveland area in order to attend an opera with my parents (Don Giovanni) and celebrate my nephew's third birthday. I hung out with my brother and sister-in-law on Friday night where I received Extreme Doggy Love:

At Fancy French Restaurant Dinner before the opera Saturday evening, when it was time for dessert I bypassed all the gooey, chocolatey, cream-laden offerings and opted for one of my favorite combinations of all time, one I discovered while I was still in graduate school:

Fresh berries and crème fraiche = LOVE
Opera, dogs, awesome food, and family: it was a great weekend.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Situation Rectification

I have done that rarest of things in my runnerdom: I ran on a Friday, my sacred rest day. How could I not, with clear sunny skies and 45 degrees seductively beckoning? The evil that is the "wintry mix" will return tomorrow; it was now or never for one quality run this week. So I went, and it was wonderful. BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

What Happened?

It's so easy to lose momentum.

Last weekend I did my scheduled runs without fuss, even if the weather and footing conditions were less than optimal.

Monday I was supposed to go to yoga class but I stayed late at work and then went to the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti with a friend.

Tuesday I felt tired and cranky and sore-throat-y all day so instead of running when I got home, I put on my pajamas, watched four episodes of "Mad Men," and went to bed at 9:30.

Wednesday morning it was pouring rain and I said "no thanks." I had a classical music concert to attend after work so I stayed late again and then had a few pints at my favorite beer bar in Ann Arbor before the concert.

Thursday I did get up early and hit the gym for some upper-body strength training and core work, so today my muscles are not happy. I should have run after work but over the course of the day formulated a plan to hit happy hour with coworkers at a local watering hole (Sidetrack in Ypsilanti). I got home at 7:45, washed dishes, whipped Little Boo into a frenzy by singing opera arias, and settled down to read in bed at 8:30. I had the light off before 10:00.

Now it's Friday...I haven't run all week, and not for any good reasons. There's no excuse. I was lazy, plain and simple. Time to reboot: 4 miles tomorrow, 6 on Sunday.

In other news, earlier this week I won tickets to a concert by being caller number 12. Thus, the Engineer and I will be at the Ark in Ann Arbor tomorrow to hear Eilen Jewell perform. I called in on the spur of the moment after hearing the giveaway announced while I was driving to work. When I won, my first thought was "OK, this is cool, but I have no idea who she is or what her music sounds like." I listened to the songs on her MySpace page and was very relieved when I liked all of them. Yay for awesome NPR stations and free tickets!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Signs of Life

There is hope, people.

Item one: when I left my house to run this morning around 6:15, the eastern sky was light.  The pale blue dawn swelled as I ran, and when I rolled up to my driveway 30 minutes later I had no trouble seeing. When I run after work, even if I finish at 6:30 it is still light. The days are getting longer. We are crawling out of the dark hole of winter.

Item two: after last week's one-two-three punches of snowfall, this week has been kind to both the runner and the daily commuter (I am both). Above-freezing temperatures and a bit of sun have eliminated most of the sidewalk snow and we have had no new snowfall. I probably just cursed us with that statement.

Last weekend I was in Ft Wayne with the Engineer and we completed two runs together: a 4.6-mile slog through snow on Saturday and an easier, if duller, 6.8-mile run on a snow-free, paved path on Sunday. I grumbled and fussed (that's a nice way of saying I was bitching) during the Saturday run until I quit boring a hole through the patch of ground 10 feet in front of me, started looking around, and realized that the scenery was lovely (we were next to the Maumee River on the Rivergreenway) and there was birdwatching to be conducted (seen/heard: chickadee, titmouse, cardinal, mallard, Canada goose, nuthatch, red-bellied woodpecker).

Sunday on the YMCA path we came across this little fellow:

Help me! I'm melting!
Sorry dude, you're not long for this world. Spring is coming!

Notable beers of the weekend: 3 Floyds Black Sun Stout (post-run Saturday) and New Holland Blue Sunday Sour (post-run Sunday).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When Llamas Attack!

There are only two people who read this blog that are going to get this. However, I couldn't resist.

For more laughs, see this story.

This might be my favorite picture caption ever: "The llama that went berserk."

Let's all breathe a sigh of relief that we don't live in North Carolina. However, I KNOW SOMEONE WHO DOES...look out, CJ!

In other news, the Engineer and I had the good fortune to spend last Saturday evening hanging with Spike and Redhead. Many laughs were had, and we discovered that we all are equally terrible at pool.

So much for last week's spring tease. Did I not predict the return of winter? The Engineer and I squeezed in two weekend runs before WHITE DEATH version 2 slammed us Sunday afternoon. If we had waited one more hour before starting our run, it would have been a disaster.

And thus it was that I spent yesterday morning doing this:

That's me. Shoveling snow. A lot of snow. A LOT of snow.
Can it be spring now? Please?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

You're Not Pinning This One On Me

I cleaned out my Running Command Center last week in preparation for a household renovation project. I drilled through layers of old training schedules, promotional race materials, Gu packets, race bibs, and random odds and ends which had accumulated for years on the surface you see in the picture. At the end, when everything else had been cleared away, this is what was left:

The detritus of a dozen races

Pins. Pins, a racing runner's best friend and bane of his or her existence. Pins on the floor of the car. Pins in pockets. Pins rattling around in the dryer. Pins between the couch cushions. Pins in extremely weird places (I'll leave that one to your imagination).

The small cat-themed container is also packed full of pins. That's my portable pin bin. I take it with me to all major races.

Pins. Gotta love 'em.

After last week's Arctic BlastTM, this week has seen a considerable improvement in the weather situation. Temperatures vaulted into the forties and fifties, most of the snow melted, and the sun made occasional appearances. However, I have lived in the Midwest for too long to be fooled by this flirtation with still-distant spring. I know that a few days hence there will be fresh snow on the ground and 50-plus degrees will be a fading memory. I took advantage of the favorable yet fleeting conditions by going for three afternoon runs, reveling in the lightness of limbs less encumbered by layers of fabric.

The weekend will bring a return to more typical weather for this time of year, including the dreaded "wintry mix" on Sunday. We're not out of the woods yet, fellow Michiganders. Hang in there.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


You know you are a runner who perhaps has a few too many running clothes when...'re moving your clothing stash from one place to another, which entails emptying out various drawers, thereby requiring refolding and rearranging of said clothing so it will all fit into its new home, and you find yourself saying one or more of the following:

"I wondered where that went."

"I totally forgot about this!"

"Ah, the first proper jacket I ever bought."

"Oh yeah...this one."

Additionally, you may revisit triumphs of deep discount sales (hello, Asics Storm Shelter jacket that I got for 50% off), milestone race shirts (Detroit Marathon '08), and questionable purchases (not every piece of gear is awesome).

I am happy to report that all of my stuff is neatly tucked into drawers, and I rotated some neglected items to the tops of piles so I will see them first and therefore be more likely to wear them. 

In other news:

I ran when I got home from work, because the morning temperatures of late have been alarmingly cold. Dangerously cold. Like, wind chills below zero. Having frozen my hands on a subzero run two years ago, I hesitate whenever the ambient temperature dips below ten degrees. Thus, I balked at going out this morning (9 degrees) and pushed my run back to the afternoon when it was a pleasant 25 degrees. I decided around mile 2 to go longer than planned in order to run through the cemetery and take a picture of the sunset, but no sooner had I made that choice than my guts sent out a warning signal of impending doom (seriously, it was like five seconds later) and I knew I would have to go home along my originally scheduled route. The cemetery and the setting sun will have to wait.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lost Weekend

Friday evening, I was supposed to attend a chamber music concert in Ann Arbor, one of the concerts in my University Musical Society subscription series. I left my house a few minutes after I ideally should have, which, combined with my decision to stop by my bank's ATM, triggered a butterfly effect of events which ended with me, 30 minutes later, back at home and sitting on my sofa.

What happened was this: I left the house, got some cash, then attempted to enter the highway at the nearby interchange. Too late, I saw that he ramps were blocked by a congregation of emergency and law enforcement vehicles. I saw a couple of cars that were badly damaged, one facing the wrong way on the on-ramp. Clearly something major had occurred, and not long before, since a police car pulled up to the accident scene as I drove by. My intended route was not an option, so I elected to travel south until I reached a certain east-west road, then travel it eastward until I found the northbound road which would take me to the next highway interchange.


I rarely get lost, because I rely on my sense of cardinal direction and the "map in my head"...but Friday evening I found myself driving around for fifteen minutes on pitch-black barely-plowed roads I had never heard of with only a vague knowledge of their layout, until I finally reached the one I had been looking for, the one that would take me north to the highway, and I saw the glimmer of lights through the trees, but as I closed in on my goal I looked at the clock and knew I was horribly behind schedule. I should have been off the highway in Ann Arbor and heading for the parking garage, and I was still bumbling around on country roads three miles from my house. Irritated, frustrated, and defeated, I yelled, "SCREW THIS!" When I finally reached the main road, I drove back to my house, put on my pajamas, made myself a drink and called the Engineer. Then I watched the DVD of the fourth season of "Oz" which had arrived that afternoon from Netflix.

Saturday morning, 6:30: I attempted to roll over in bed and instead of executing this motion smoothly and without incident as I had for the previous 1,000 times I rolled over in bed, I failed to move my head at the precise moment required and a horrible wet crunching ripping sound (I described it to the Engineer as "like crushing a wad of celery") reverberated through my neck and skull. A searing bolt of pain flashed through my neck and I screamed. I laid there, panting, and my first thought was, "Did I just break my neck? Is that even possible?" I wiggled my toes and fingers. OK, so, no damage to vertebrae, all extremities appeared to function normally. I tried to move.


That didn't work so well. I could feel heat spreading up my neck and over my shoulder and I knew I had to take some ibuprofen and get an ice bag on it ASAP. I held my head with one hand and gingerly rolled over, swinging my feet to the floor, stabbing pain accompanying me the whole way. I took the pills and got the ice bag and laid back down, groaning. I dozed for a while, woke up, briefly contemplated trying to do my run, shifted the wrong way, yelled in pain, ditched the running idea, dozed off again, and finally got up around 10:30 with no idea what I was going to do all day.

What I did Saturday was what I did all day Sunday: sat around in comfortable clothes with various combinations of cats on my lap or next to me, watching copious amounts of TV and aimlessly munching through all the snacks in my house. There was also beer, since my emergency WHITE DEATH! 2011 supply was not gone yet. Oh yes, and the constant, comforting presence of either the ice bag or my hot corn bag on my neck. I powered through the entire first and half of the second seasons of "Flight of the Conchords," watched three movies, read all my backlogged New Yorkers, and tried to move my head as little as possible. When the beer supply dwindled on Sunday to one bottle of Founders Breakfast Stout, I switched to hot Irish whiskies. A weekend trapped indoors is a little more bearable with a (hearty) shot of Jameson, hot water, a lemon slice, whole cloves, and sugar.  Especially when you have, like, five of them.

I was going to run the Super 5K in Novi Sunday morning, but after a restless and uncomfortable night spent shifting endlessly trying to find the elusive configuration of arm, shoulder, and neck that would allow me to fall asleep without too much pain, I decided it wasn't meant to be. I still had to support my head with a free hand if I wanted to get out of bed; how on earth was I going to drive 80 miles to and from the race, much less go running?


I'm feeling good enough that I will most likely go running tomorrow as planned (3 miles). Saturday and Sunday were the first runs I've missed on my current training schedule, and the inactivity is grating on me. That and the massive amounts of carbohydrates I consumed over the weekend have left me feeling sloppy and sluggish. Enough is enough.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Attention Residents...

To those of you who have promptly and thoroughly cleared your sidewalks: You rock. I love you. On behalf of walkers and runners everywhere, I thank you.

To everyone else: Go to icy hell, and have your shoes be filled with five pounds of snow! BlogBooster-The most productive way for mobile blogging. BlogBooster is a multi-service blog editor for iPhone, Android, WebOs and your desktop

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

White Death!

Not quite death...more like a really bad cold, perhaps?

The Blizzard of 2011 has come and gone, depositing significantly less than the much-hyped amount of "UP TO FIFTEEN INCHES AAAIIIEEEZOMG!!!11!!!" but enough to cause my workplace to shut down because of the weather for the first time since 1978 (and only the second time since I've worked there; the other time was the Mega Blackout of 2003). When I called the special hotline number for work this morning and heard the words "The Ann Arbor location is closed," I was thrilled. A snow day! For adults! I haven't had a snow day since I was in high school!

I lounged around in my pajamas, had oatmeal and coffee, watched a movie, shoveled snow, ate mac & cheese, drank some beer, moved more snow around with my neighbor's snow blower, took a shower, and relaxed. I was supposed to do a 30-minute tempo run today but I decided several hours of snow removal would serve as a substitute. Shoveling by hand certainly raised my heart rate, and pushing a 100-lb snow blower around wasn't easy either. I got my cardio and my weightlifting at the same time!

Alas, the rare treat of a grown-up snow day has come to an end and it's back to work as usual tomorrow. At least I know I'll be able to exit my driveway.

Tuesday afternoon in the cemetery. I decided to squeeze in a short run before all hell broke loose.

Everything one needs to ride out a storm.

Wednesday morning: It's SNOWPOCALYPSE 2011!

Boo and Darwin couldn't care less.

The driveway area pre-clearing. My little snowblower wasn't up to the task, so I borrowed a neighbor's ultra-burly machine. Even so, clearing it took almost 2 hours. Ugh.