Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Forward, Looking Back

A year ago I wrote this as my list of goals for 2008. I had an 87.5% success rate, achieving 7 of the 8 goals I set for myself:
  • Run half marathon in under 2 hours (SUCCESS)
  • Run a 7:00 mile (SUCCESS)
  • Run a sub-25:00 5K (SUCCESS)
  • Get a new 5K PR (SUCCESS)
  • Run a 10K race (SUCCESS)
  • Run the Detroit Marathon! (SUCCESS)
  • Reach my Weight Watchers goal weight (FAIL)
  • Run as much as humanly possible without injury (SUCCESS...sort of)
I feel pretty good about all of this (with the exception of not reaching my Weight Watchers goal weight, but at least I can say I weigh the same as I did a year ago. I'm doing a fabulous job of maintaining the weight I don't want!).

What else did I manage to do this year?
  • Ran six 5K races, taking home age group awards in four of them and setting new personal records twice (Shamrocks and Shenanigans in March; A Most Amazing Race in June)
  • Ran two 10K races, setting a PR at the Dexter-Ann Arbor 10K in June
  • Ran the Marine Corps Historic Half with my dad, which was a great experience
  • Took first place female in the Run for the Rolls, which may be the only time that ever happens, and set a new mile PR as well (6:48)
  • Ran 1330.3 total miles, which took 203 hours, 9 minutes, and 36 seconds (average pace: 9:11/mile) and burned 157,983 total calories
  • Met a few of my fellow run-bloggers in real life (I'm still waiting to meet certain of the rest of y'all)
  • Made the great leap into the 35-39 age group (does this mean I'm officially in my mid-thirties? that's only a stone's throw away from...FORTY)
In 2009, I hope to:
  • Qualify for the 2010 Boston Marathon at the Cleveland Marathon in May
  • Run a sub-1:50 half marathon
  • Run a sub-50:00 10K
  • Set another new 5K PR (less than 22:44)
  • OR break 22:00 in a 5K (this would be decidedly the more awesome of the two)
  • Run 1500 miles for the year
  • Run at least one race each month
I turned in just over 5 miles this morning as my last run of the year, a run through freshly-fallen snow and occasional swirling flurries mixed with bright sunshine. Fleet Foxes' "White Winter Hymnal" came on my iPod as I traversed a stretch of sidewalk with my shadow on the snow in front of me. It was a fitting way to wrap up the year.

In 11 days I launch my training for Cleveland. My nearly three months of the Do Whatever I Feel Like "plan" are almost over. It's time to get down to business. The business of BQ.

Happy New Year, everyone!

I shall conclude with my favorite photos of the past year.

During the Meteor 10K (April)

My Dad and I after the Marine Corps Historic Half (May)

Finishing the Dexter-Ann Arbor 10K in 50:00 (new PR) (June)

Hill work in Dexter with the RF501 Gang (July)

With my plaque for winning the women's Run For The Rolls 1-mile (August)

During my first 20-mile run (September)

Finishing the Detroit Marathon in 3:52:01 (October)

In my Obsessed Runner "costume" on Halloween (October)

And one which has not yet been seen: At the Chelsea/Dexter RF501 end-of-season party. I won a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon (aka "PBR," aka "Pretty Bad Refreshment") in a random drawing. Victor traded me for a bottle of Unibroue Maudite for the remainder of the sixer at the conclusion of the evening. I think I got the better end of that deal.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happiness Is...

  • Getting out for a nice 6-mile run in agreeable temperatures
  • Going to see a really good movie at my favorite movie theater and being able to order and consume a Magic Hat #9 Not-Quite-Pale-Ale IN THE THEATER
  • Finding a six-pack of Brooklyn Brewing Co. Black Chocolate Stout at the local beverage store which I immediately dug into as soon as I got back to my parents'
  • Knowing that the weather forecast for tomorrow has projected highs in the MID-SIXTIES (hello, long run!)
What's making you happy this week?

Monday, December 22, 2008

First Run of Winter

The view from my front window about 11:00 am today

Even though it didn't really seem like it given the weather for the past month, yesterday was officially the first day of winter. It arrived in style, heralded by the Storm of December '08 on Friday, which deposited about a foot of snow on my fair city.

Seeing that I am on vacation until January 5 (HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAA), I am taking full advantage of my string of days off by running as much as I can in the mornings. When I got up today (9:00 am, ahhhhhh) it seemed like a perfect morning for a long run.

Yes, it does say "12 degrees." And that was after I came back!

Late last night around bedtime it was zero degrees F and the wind was blowing ferociously. This morning, however, the wind had died down, the temperature had crept up (it was 10 degrees when I headed out) and there were intermittent flurries of big poofy flakes. I put on my best winter running outfit and hit the roads. I went over to the other side of town to part of the 8-mile loop that I ran twice a week during marathon training, a route I had not trod in nearly three months. My favorite port-a-potty was missing from the athletic fields, not that I would have dared expose any extra body parts to the elements even if I had found myself in a dire emergency (fortunately, no issues this time). The snow waxed and waned and I could feel both it and the vapor from my breath collecting and freezing on my face. As soon as I got back I took a picture before the crust melted.

I had icicles in my hair all the way around. Gotta love winter!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Garmy and Me...

You know you're a runner charge your Garmin Forerunner at work.

Garmy is right here next to me, nestled among the pens, Kleenex, lip balm, pads of paper, and stapler, charging up for my group run this evening.

My Garmy, my Garmy, my Garmy and me!

Math Lesson

You ever have one of those moments where everything aligns just so and you're positive it couldn't just be a coincidence, that something greater is at work? This is one of those moments.

Whilst doing my usual blog reading and coffee-drinking this morning, I came across this statement in yet another one of GQH's seemingly endless posts:
You're not exactly dealing with a chimp here! Because if I were a chimp, I'd've produced a Shakespearean play by now, what with all this random typing I do. And I haven't.
Not five minutes earlier my co-worker had shown me the answer to a statistical mechanics problem we had been discussing earlier this week (yes, we're all a bunch of nerds, you wanna make something of it?).

The statistics problem in question?
Suppose that 10^(10th) monkeys have been seated at typewriters throughout the age of the universe, 10^(18th) seconds. This number of monkeys is about three times greater than the present human population of the earth. We suppose that a monkey can hit 10 typewriter keys per second. A typewriter may have 44 keys; we accept lower case letters in place of capital letters. Assuming that Shakespeare’s Hamlet has 10^(5th) characters, will the monkeys hit upon Hamlet?

a) Show that the probability that any given sequence of 10^(5
th) characters typed at random will come out in the correct sequence of Hamlet is of the order of (1/44) to the power of (10^5) = 10^(-164,345), where log base 10 of 44 =1.64345.

b) Show that the probability that a monkey Hamlet will be typed in the age of the universe is 10^(-164,316). The probability of Hamlet is therefore zero in any operational sense of an event.

Do you see, dear readers, how the heavens (or some approximation thereof) suddenly aligned, and a beam of light shone down and a voice said, You have the answers to all of the statistical mechanics questions in the universe. You have the power to bring this knowledge to the people. Or, one person in particular who thinks that, if he were a chimp, he should have somehow randomly created a work of Shakespeare by now even though he's only been blogging since September of this year.

Overly complicated answers, I has them. Let me show you them.

Note: I am not solving the problem for the probability that a bunch of chimps (or one chimp) will be able to reproduce Shakespeare. I'm only proving what has already been stated, to wit, the probability of such an event occurring within the time frame of the age of the universe is "therefore zero in any operational sense of an event." (gotta love that math language!) I'm proving that GQH, if he were a chimp, could not possibly be able to reproduce a work of Shakespeare, so he should just stick to continuing to be human(?) and writing excessively long posts with lots of footnotes (and maybe, in a few billion years, he'll get lucky).

Part a): 44^(N) possible typewriter key combinations, a sequence of 10^5 keys pressed at random required to duplicate Hamlet, so N = 10^5 and the total number of possible sequences is 44^(10^5)

One possible correct sequence to recreate Hamlet being typed at random by a chimp:

1/(44^(10^5)) = 10^N = (1/44)^(10^5)

Log base 10^N = log(1/44)^(10^5)

Solve for N:

N = -10^5 log(44)

N= -10^5 * (1.64345)

N = -164345

(1/44)^(10^5) = 10^(-164345) which is the probability that even 10^10 monkeys sitting at typewriters throughout the age of the universe (10^18 seconds) would be able to reproduce Hamlet. In case you're wondering, 10 to the negative anything is a small number. 10 to the negative 164,345 is, like, absolute zero1.

Part b): 10^10 monkeys typing for 10^18 seconds, each hitting 10 keys per second

In 10^18 seconds, 10^29 keys are hit (10^10 + 10^18 + 10^1)

Begin a new sequence each time a key is hit except (10^5)-1

At end of a 10^29 character sequence each 1 character long such that monkeys type 10^29 sequences

Hamlet = 10^5 characters long. Monkeys type (10^29)-(10^5) sequences

Probability of monkey-created Hamlet typed in 10^18 seconds = (10^29) * (10^(-164345)) = 10^(-164316)

(1): Yes, I know absolute zero is a measurement of temperature (-459.67 degrees F, -273.15 deg Celsius, and 0 Kelvin, in case you're wondering). Absolute zero is a state of matter where said matter's molecular energy is minimal; that is, it is characterized by zero entropy and cannot transfer its energy to other systems. What does this have to do with the probability that a chimp will recreate Hamlet? Well, not much, really, (though it might be how y'all are feeling by now after reading energy whatsoever) but I think the concept of absolute zero is fascinating because of what happens to matter when it approaches absolute zero. Y'all ever hear of Bose-Einstein condensates? Superfluidity? NO? OMG, people, Bose-Einstein condensates are SO COOL (literally, HA HA HA...they're cooled to a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero). At that temperature, an entirely new state of matter is created! We're talking quantum mechanics in action, total weirdness! Really awesome, amazing stuff that makes me wish I was a theoretical physicist so I could play with supercooled atoms all day. But I suck at math. :)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Race Report: Holiday Hustle 5K 2008

I am in a race against the clock to finish my tenure in the 30-34 age group on a high note. This means running as hard as I am able in as many races as I can before time expires on my birthday at the end of this month. I have had success in my last two races, taking third in my age group in both the Ann Arbor and the Aurora Turkey Trots. Could I extend my streak to three? And, more importantly, could I cut a few more seconds from my 5K Stubble Time?

Yesterday's Holiday Hustle presented itself as a prime opportunity. Not only was it a mere 15 minutes from my home, but it was one of those rare afternoon races which did not require me to get up at the crack of dawn on a weekend. I drove to Dexter and parked at the place where my RF501 group met for our midweek hill workouts during the summer. I wanted to run the mile to downtown as a warmup. The last time I was on those sidewalks was early October and the footing and climate were much more hospitable. A bitter wind beat against my face and my fingers quickly grew numb as I made my way-- carefully-- toward downtown. A minivan blocked the sidewalk as it waited in a driveway to turn. I went behind it, lost my footing on what turned out to be a solid sheet of ice, and went down hard on my right side. My hip and knee bore the brunt of the impact, and I heard something-- my sleeve? RoadID bracelet? gently skip off the car's bumper. (At least it wasn't my head, eh?) I got up slowly, knee aching, and brushed snow off my tights. The minivan's driver had rolled down her window and asked me if I was all right. I replied that I was, it wasn't that bad, and declined her offer of a ride the rest of the way. (Here's where I should insert one of those "you know you're a runner when..." statements; in this case, "...even after cracking your knee on some ice, you would rather finish your warmup run in sub-freezing temperatures than accept a ride to the start.")

I reached the start area with plenty of time to spare and promptly lost most of the warmth I had generated on my warmup. I saw some of my RF501 peeps (Lorenda, Ted, Lisa, Marie, Erika) and we stood around talking and trying to keep warm until it was time to go. The race wound through the residential side streets of Dexter on an out-and-back route. It started snowing fiercely not long after we started, and my face was peppered with dots of cold as the flakes hit it. Then the wind kicked up and made things even more unpleasant. I hit mile 1 in 7:28. I was going to have to pick it up if I wanted to beat my time from the Ann Arbor Turkey Trot (23:10). Around mile 2 I developed a very annoying and painful cramp in my torso; it felt like a band had tightened around my ribcage and was squeeeezing the air out of me. I chugged onward, trying to take deep belly breaths and expand my ribcage to shake off the cramp. It helped slightly. The final push to the finish was a nice gradual downhill and I increased my pace until I was huffing and puffing and I stopped Garmy at 23:20 when I crossed the line, which turned out to be my chip time as well. I was disappointed that I had not bested my Turkey Trot time nor shaved any more stubble off my 5K; it remained to be seen if I placed in my age group. After standing around in the fading late afternoon light and getting colder and colder the initial results were posted on the side of a nearby building. I muscled my way up to the front of the crowd and saw that I had placed fifth-- good enough for an award-- in my age group. Score! I got a dark red tree ornament for my efforts.

Holiday Hustle 5K Final Stats:
7:30/mile average
5/63 age group
23/385 women
95/659 overall

Afterward I went to the home of my co-worker, whose house was right on the race route; we ran past it twice. I had some snacks and post-race rehydration (Pilsner Urquell) and then I had to go home and change because I was due in Ann Arbor for the Michigan Lady Food Bloggers Holiday Cookie Exchange Extravaganza. I came home with a huge container full of delicious treats. I spent the morning baking my own contributions (visible in lower right: container with dark and light brown cookies, and pecan snowballs in adjacent container).

I run so I can eat cookies and not feel guilty.

Edited to add: There seems to be some doubt about my claim that I, the consummate potty-mouth, somehow managed to not curse a blue streak when my knee and hip cruelly made acquaintance with the hard, cold ground. Such an occasion should have been the stage on which the most colorful phrases of my life would have made their d├ębut! However, as astounding as it seems, this was not the case. I was, sadly, capable only of the milquetoast utterance "Oh, dear. Ouch." Take that, doubting Glavens.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hockey Night in Michigan

Last night good fortune shone on me. My sister-in-law came into unexpected possession of her company's season tickets to last night's Detroit Red Wings game, and thus I found myself yesterday evening with her and John in seats six feet from the glass in Joe Louis Arena. I confess I know almost nothing about hockey and wouldn't even consider myself a Red Wings fan (though I was the only one of the three of us who wore anything red) but the excitement of being that close to the action on the ice was infectious. Our seats were located by a side face-off circle near one of the goals so we were able to see a great deal of goal-area scuffling. The first time two players hit the boards in front of me I was startled by how loud it was. The floor under my seat shook with the impact. I could barely follow the action; the puck moved too fast and I would often find myself staring at the person whom I thought had the puck only to find a whole different set of people were fighting over it in another area. I gave up trying to follow what was going on strategically and just watched the players move up and down the ice. It was like waves rocking back and forth: a cluster of people swept past, bunched up around one goal, then someone broke away and headed for the other end of the ice and everyone followed only to cluster around the other goal. Back and forth, gliding, ice shaved by skate blades fanning into the air, the frantic clacking of sticks as five guys fought over the puck, resounding thuds as people went into the boards, the earsplitting crack when the puck itself hit the glass, huge pileups in front of the goal as everyone in the arena started screaming, enormous guys turned freakishly nimble on narrow strips of metal.

The mood when we arrived was subdued because the Wings were down 2-0. At the end of the second period they were still down 2-1. Then the Calgary Flames scored another goal in the third period, putting them up 3-1. However, the Wings scored two more goals, tying the game and sending it into overtime, to the delight of the crowd, which had gotten more vocal and feisty as the game wore on (probably because everyone was on their second or third beer, or, in the case of the obnoxious loudmouth a few rows behind us, fourth or fifth). Overtime ended in sudden death in the Wings' favor when Nicklas Lidstrom sent a huge blast into the goal right in front of us and the place erupted. Detroit 4, Calgary 3.

Beer snob alert: when we arrived, our first stop was at one of the booze-dispensing stations near our section. I scanned the available beer options and decided I would not stoop to the level of Miller Lite or Molson. If those were my only choices, I would rather not have anything at all than force myself to drink that swill. I have standards, darn it! Excessively high standards, some might argue, but my mantra is "Life is too short to drink bad beer." However, later on, I discovered a different place that had Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat on draft so I had a big cup of that. It wasn't truly ideal but it was better than Miller Lite (shudder).

The only other Red Wings game I have ever been to was also courtesy of my sister-in-law; in that case, we were in a corporate suite up in the rafters of the building where the food was free and all-you-can-eat and the bar was open (and all-you-can-drink...hoo boy) but the view was not so great. I must say I preferred being down on the floor close enough to smell the grime on the players' uniforms, even if it meant paying $8.75 for one beer (that was supposed to be 24 ounces but there was no way that cup was 24 ounces. More like 18. 20, maximum).

We caught glimpses of ourselves on the Jumbotron a couple of times. Mostly, though, the Jumbotron was showing, during non-action moments, what John dubbed "JiggleVision." I'll let you speculate as to why.

Best of all, we got out of the parking garage and were on the Lodge Freeway heading north in less than 10 minutes. It was awesome!

In other news, this weekend I'm running the Holiday Hustle 5K in Dexter. Time is quickly running out on both my tenure in the 30-34 age group as well as opportunities to Shave my 5K Stubble Time more than the nine seconds I already shaved.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cleveland Rocks!

Here we go, folks. My quest for the 2010 Boston Marathon begins.

Registration Confirmation for:

Dear Sarah,

Congratulations! You are now registered for Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K. Please check the event's official website for updates:

Event Name: Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon, Half Marathon & 10K
Date & Time: May 17, 2009 07:00 AM
Location: St. Clair/E. 13TH St. Near the Galleria Mall (map)

Packet Pickup Information


Cleveland Convention Center
Hall D
500 Lakeside Ave E.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Friday, May 15, 2009 from 11:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Saturday, May 16, 2009 from 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM


Saturday, December 6, 2008


When I was at my parents' for Thanksgiving I rummaged around in one of the crawlspaces in their house and unearthed a few boxes of ancient history. I spent a couple of hours flipping through old school papers ("The Story of the Oregon Trail"), old magazines ("1989: The Year in Pictures"), my 4-H rabbit club stuff, and lots of high school cross country memorabilia. I also found, in one of my many sketchbooks (remember, this was back when I thought I was going to be an artist; I spent nearly all of my free time drawing), this pair of sketches.

There you have it, people: my thoughts on running circa 1985, long before running ever became a central part of my life.

In other news, last night John and I had dinner with Big and Lil. They drove down here and met us at the Common Grill where they got to experience first-hand the rolls for which I ran my ass off in the Run for the Rolls. I don't think John was too overwhelmed by all of the running talk. What does one expect when 75% of the people present are runners? LOL. GUys, I hope we see each other again!

I also have to share this awesome picture, taken on the morning of the Detroit Marathon. Thanks Erika!

And this one, which is my favorite picture from the RF501 summer session, and probably one of my favorite running pictures ever. Marie, you rock!

And this is just for my Michigan homies: WHEN IS IT GOING TO STOP SNOWING?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Race Report: Aurora Turkey Trot 2008 (And More!)

Howdy folks. It's been a while, yes? I had myself some top-quality running over the past week.

First, last Wednesday I took the day off and thus I was able to rise at a late hour (8:00 am, oooh) and go for a nice four-mile run before heading to my hometown in Ohio for the holiday. The novel factor here was that I was not running in the predawn darkness. Daylight, how curious! What's that bright disk in the sky?

Second, the Aurora Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. I did this race last year and because I was going to be in Ohio I decided to have at it again. I looked at my time (33:16) and figured I would aim to beat that, and if I was having a really good day I would strive for a sub-32:00 finish. I wasn't expecting much because I haven't felt especially fleet of foot lately.

Thursday morning dawned clear and bitterly cold, which was a change from last year's horrible wintry mix conditions. The thermometer in the car on the way to Aurora oscillated between 20 and 25 degrees. Luckily (obviously) I had packed a bag of running clothes in every combination imaginable in preparation for any weather eventuality (it was northeast Ohio, after all) and thus I had my favorite cold-weather racing outfit on hand for the conditions.

Due to my inability to remember anything, I had forgotten to let Garmy spend the night nestled in its charging cradle and as such it was completely dead come race morning. I was going to be (gasp) running blind. I was going to be forced to pay attention to the way my body felt and run accordingly. The horror! (Have I...become too dependent on modern technology?!)

Shortly before the race, after my dad and I picked up our race packets (a bag of coupons for the outlet mall, gee, how exciting) I randomly bumped into an old friend of mine from high school. I had not seen her in several years so that was a nice surprise. To my shock and awe she was wearing the marching band-issue sweatpants from our Flag Corps days (yes, folks, I was a "flag girl" in the marching band my junior year, and yes, I was as nerdy as you may imagine, I mean, come on).

This race has the most unattractive starting area of any in which I have participated: the shipping alley behind the Aurora Premium Outlets. Hooray for Dumpsters and loading docks! (and random bits of trash...and empty cardboard boxes...)

During the first mile, we passed a group of people playing a game of touch football. I thought, Look at those nutjobs...who plays football in the snow in 20-degree weather at 8:30 am on Thanksgiving Day? On further reflection, I thought: Well, they're probably thinking the same thing about us: "Who goes and runs a road race in 20-degree weather at 8:30 am on Thanksgiving Day? What a bunch of weirdos."

I revel in my weirdness! (and nerdiness, but y'all knew that already.)

A man at mile 1 called out "7:30" as I passed. This surprised me. I knew my true mile split was probably a few seconds less because it had taken me a while to cross the starting line from my position in the pack. OK, I thought, doing better than expected. Let's go with this, then. Mile 2: 15:00 for another 7:30 mile. Mile 3: a long uphill grind, and at the top it was 22:54 (7:54 split) with one mile to go. I increased my turnover and hit my lactate threshold. It started to burn, but I was almost done. As I approached the finishing chute (yes, a finishing chute, this was a really old-school race, tearing tags off bibs and putting them on a stick and everything) I saw the timing clock in the 29:XX range! I crossed the finish line in 29:40, which blew my prerace expectations away. I waited around the finishing area until my dad was done and then I said I knew we had discussed going straight home but I thought I had a good chance of getting an age group award so could we please stay for the awards ceremony? We did, and I did. Receive an age group award, that is. I finished third in my age group and won a trophy. I had not won a trophy since some cross-country invitational in high school. It was totally awesome.

The world's ugliest race shirt ever. This color (pumpkin? burnt orange? baby poop?) does not look good on me. But the trophy looks great! Note: this shirt was instantly classified as "internal use only" where "internal" means "inside the house; never to be seen outside where its brazen hue could sear the eyeballs of unsuspecting passersby."

Following the receipt of hardware, we returned home where brunch (Dutch baby and bacon, mmmm, bacon) and coffee (lots of coffee) were waiting.

Final race stats:

4 miles
29:40 (7:25/mile)
3/24 age group
12/171 women
62/336 overall

Incidentally, the overall winner finished in 19:28, which is a 4:52 average pace. Yow!

And speaking of fast paces, look at my last mile. I hit the 3rd mile at 22:54. I finished in 29:40. That's a 6:46 mile, which is two seconds faster than my race-winning effort in the Run for the Rolls in August. What the hell, people, what the hell?

Saturday morning I bundled up in my "if you look good you feel good" outfit and headed out for a long run. It was a runner's dream (well, this runner, anyway): about 30 degrees, nice and sunny, no wind, clear pavement. I cranked out ten miles, listening to my iPod the whole way, and finished in just under an hour and a half. It felt so good. I can't wait for my vacation later this month. Oh yeah, did I tell y'all? I GET 17 DAYS OFF IN A ROW, PEOPLE. And I am going to go running EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. In the DAYLIGHT. OMGBBQ!!!!111!!!!

THAT is why I hoard my vacation time like Scrooge all year. So I can blow my vacation wad like John Holmes all at once. Yeah.