Monday, October 31, 2011

Where oh where did my motivation go?

It seems to be hiding lately. I've had a lot going on at work and at home and you would think that I would make time for running to aleveate some of my stress, but no, I've been leaning more towards sitting on the couch and doing nothing lately.

I've been wicked busy at work and I love it. It's like everything fell into place for me and I finally have a great job that is challenging and rewarding and I get to work with awesome people that respect me and value my opinions. It's amazing. It became even more apparent to me how great everyone was last week when I had issues dealing with the HVAC guy installing a new boiler in my house. Both my boss and my bosses boss told me not to worry about it and take all the time I needed to deal with it. It was a huge relief to not add to the stress of having a douchey contractor working at my house by having to use vacation time I haven't accrued yet.

So, about the douchey contractor, the work was originally supposed to be completed on the 22nd the day after the asbestos removal was completed and I called the HVAC guy a few days before to confirm and find out what time he would be coming over to start the work. This is when he decided to inform me that he hadn't written the date down on his calendar and was too busy that day with hockey games for his son and wouldn't be able to come. So, he rescheduled for the 29th. THEN.....Friday afternoon I get a phone call from him saying he WOULD be coming Saturday morning to start the work. I had already rearranged my plans for the weekend based on the fact he said he WASN'T coming! So, I rearrange my plans again and agreed to let him start the work. Afterall, the forecast for the following week was pretty cold and I wanted to get heat as soon as possible.

Saturday morning, the HVAC guy shows up almost an hour late and brings his kid with him! They started working immediately. Basically removing the old boiler and getting the measurements for the pipes they would need to install the new boiler. They used a power saw to cut the old pipes and let the kid (maybe 8 or 9yrs old) use the saw to cut up the cardboard box that the new boiler was packaged in. That's real safe. Sometime around lunchtime they finished removing the old boiler and said they needed to leave and "I needed to be flexible" for when they could come back and finish the job. I explained when I hired them that I work fulltime in Cambridge and cannot take time off to get this work done. They said they were going to come Tuesday night at 5:00 to finish the install. The one night of the week when I had plans to run with friends. I had already missed two runs with friends because of this guy, now I was going to miss another run.

Tuesday afternoon, I got home from work and awaited the arrival of the d-bag. 5:00 comes and goes and no show. 5:30, nothing, not even a phone call. Finally at 6:00 I CALLED HIM! He answered the phone "Are we there yet?" I said that's exactly what I was wondering. Are you still coming? Then he informed me that they hadn't even left yet and they would be there in about an hour. SO.....2 hours late without so much as a phone call to say they were delayed. 7:00pm they finally showed up and I opened the door. The D-bag pushed right past me and walked through my house to the basement and let his guys in without even saying hello or sorry we're late.

I had hoped that whatever work they had left wouldn't take long or they would work until a reasonable hour and then come back another day. I clearly underestimated the douchebagery. They were at my house until midnight, banging on pipes, setting of smoke detectors, and STILL not done with the install. When I went down to let them out and close the basement door behind them, they were drinking beers!!!!!!!

Again, the D-bag instisted I had to be flexible and would have to take Thursday or Friday off to get the job done and inspected. Possibly even both days! I told him I only recently started my job and I couldn't just tell them one day in advance I wasn't coming in. He didn't care. Has actually asked if I would leave him a key to my house instead!!! Are you freakin kidding me?????

So, I called the gas company Thursday to arrange to have the gas turned back on after the boiler was inspected and I found out that they wouldn't even book an appointment unless the inspection was done already. So, that meant I had to wait until mid-day Thursday and pray that they had a technician available for that afternoon to come turn the gas on.

Thursday, the D-bag showed up late again! I guess at that point I shouldn't have been surprised. He finished the install at about 2:00 and had to leave and asked to settle up (even though I still had no gas and no heat and my house was a chilly 58 degrees). Then the shadiness and douchebagery continued. He asked to be paid in two separate checks - one to his company and one to his wife so that the money couldn't be traced back to him! Hello tax fraud! I wrote the checks just to get rid of him and get him to leave. The gas company came an hour and a half later and turned on my gas and made sure the boiler worked.

Friday, I returned to work and promptly filed a complaint with the better business bureau.
I had plans to run a fun 1 mile costume race Friday night, but I was so exhausted from the stress of the week that I skipped it and went to bed early instead.

Saturday morning, I finally got to run with my friends again. We did 10 miles and we ran pretty fast. It didn't feel like we were going as fast as we were, but I trust the Garmin. Proof that my pace is directly proportional to the temperature outside. Colder = faster. I spent the rest of the day putting all my stuff back in my basement and doing a little grocery shopping to prepare for the freak Nor'easter that we were getting Saturday night.

Sunday, although I was really tempted to stay on the couch all day I dragged my butt outside for a short easy 5 mile run with a friend. We didn't get a ton of snow, but the snow we got weighed a ton and brought down a lot of trees and power lines. Lots of people are still without power today and schools were even canceled!!! It's not even November yet! I'm not ready for Winter, we never really got Fall. That's my favorite time of year for running and Mother Nature robbed me of it. Not fair.

Anyway, with the extra time on the couch being not motivated lately I found what I want for Christmas this year, it's like the snuggie only better, it has a hood and comes with footie socks:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Firemen and free beer - Yes please!

So, last week I rode the high from finishing another marathon and tried to make that joy last as long as I could. Unfortunately, I caught a nasty head cold on the plane coming back to Boston and I was sick for most of the week and didn't really have the energy to celebrate. Even with an absurd amount of mucous forming in my sinuses and snot coming out my nose I couldn't help but smile ear to ear all week reflecting on how far I've come in such a short amount of time. It seriously blows my mind when I think about it.

Back in the day, when I was a freshmen in High School, I joined the soccer team to try and make some new friends. Middle school was not kind to me and was probably as much fun as spending three years being tortured in a third world country prison. Well, my brilliant plan to make friends on the soccer team didn't really work out well because as it turned out, I hated to run and I was even worse at actually running while kicking a ball. I played defense because it was the position on the team that required the least amount of running. And I tried to skip practice whenever I could to avoid doing laps around the field or worse Indian sprints around the boulevard in Portland.

If you had asked me then to run 26.2 miles I most likely would have laughed at you and then maybe cried a little at the thought of actually having to do it. So, imagine how strange it is for me now to run that distance and LOVE it. I was a little bummed at first when I finished Chicago much slower than I had wanted to run it, but in the grand scheme of things, every marathon I run no matter what the clock says when I cross the line is a miracle. It's the most amazing celebration of my dedication and determination to be healthier and truly LIVE my life instead of watching the days go by sitting on the couch and wishing things were different. I am living proof that anything is possible. From couch potato to multiple marathoner in about 5 years! Un-freaking-believable!
So, after spending last week sick and forced to rest and recover, Friday after work I went to see my acupuncturist for a post marathon treatment and a little head cold magic too. It was exactly what I needed. I felt great and relaxed and refreshed after. I went home and slept so good I woke up in a puddle of drool.

Saturday morning I did my first post marathon run with the Lowell Ladies. It was just a short 4 miler and I felt sort of sluggish and slow, but I hadn't run in 5 days and the last run was a marathon so it was to be expected. It was a perfect fall day out. Sunny, slight breeze, and brisk 55-60 degree air. It's really my favorite conditions for running. If I could find somewhere to live that looks and feels like New England but stays fall all year round I'd be in heaven.

After the run, I went grocery shopping and cleaned my house. I have asbestos removal guys coming this Friday and my boiler being replaced on Saturday so I need to remove all of my personal items from the basement. Kind of a hassle, but it made me realize I need to purge a lot of stuff and get rid of things. For example, for some reason in college I decided to start collecting PEZ dispensers and I have about 400 of them. I need to get rid of those. Anyone know of someone that might want them let me know.

Saturday night I met up with my friend Patty who was in town from NYC to run the Baystate half marathon in Lowell. We went to a sort of late dinner at Life Alive and met up with Nutter, my friend that introduced me to Patty. We sat and chatted pretty much until they kicked us out. Probably a good thing because we needed to get some sleep. Patty running the half (plus 7 miles before to make it her 20 mile training run for the NYC Marathon) and Me running the Boston Fire 10K in the morning.

Sunday, one of my favorite races of all time, the Boston Firefighters 10K. It's for fallen firefighters and it's a great event. The course is flat and fast and very well organized. Bagpipes lead you to the start along with an antique firetruck as the pace car. Then there's unlimited free beer and a band waiting for you at the finish. While they announce the awards for top finishers they also do hundreds of raffles to restaurants in the North End and sometimes weekend getaway packages and all kinds of amazing stuff. The best part about it is that they usually have so many raffles to give away that they get tired of calling numbers of people that have already left so they just start calling numbers of people in the front of the crowd that hold up their bibs. It's awesome! I won a $40 gift card to Dolce Vita!

As a bonus for the weekend too, I wanted to try and get my photo on a ladder truck with a fireman in my Race Up Boston Place early bird t-shirt to help spread the word about the event and come on, I'll admit it, I wanted to climb on a ladder truck. Going into the weekend and getting to the race I wasn't sure if I'd have the guts to ask if I could climb on the ladder truck. Believe it or not, I'm actually really shy. Well, maybe it was the adrenaline from the race or maybe it was the free beer I had (only my 4th or 5th beer this entire year!) - I DID IT!
Special thanks to the Boston Fire Dept. for hosting another amazing event and letting me climb on their ladder truck. I'm still cheering for my hometown boys of Portland Fire to win the stair climb, but you just pulled into a close second for me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gotham City Recap

Marathon #8 DONE! It was hot and difficult, but I did it. Here's a summary of the weekend's events and a race recap.

I flew into Chicago Friday morning and met up with my friend Milady at the airport. We shared a shuttle to the Inn of Chicago. The shuttle was filled with other runners and two random dudes from Austrailia or New Zealand that had no idea there was a marathon happening in the city this weekend. One guy was from Boston and it was his first marathon. We all chatted about our training and race day tips and the weather forecast while the two non-runners just looked at us like we were clearly all infected with the same strange disease that they did not understand and they did not want to catch.

We got to the hotel and checked in. Coolest part about the Inn of Chicago (and one of it's flaws) wicked tiny mirror lined elevators with dance party music blasting in each of them. Riding up to our room was like a quick trip to the Jersey Shore complete with fist pumping, but missing Snookie and Paulie D. Our room was nice. Small like the elevator, but who needs a big fancy room when we were going to spend the majority of our time NOT there.

Once we dropped our things off we headed straight to the Niketown store to hop on a shuttle to the expo. Niketown was totally decked out in marathon schwag and decor. They even had people greet you at the door cheering with cowbells. AWESOME! We looked around the store a little before heading to the expo and even talked one girl into giving us her cow bells!

Off to the Expo! It was my friend's first marathon so I wanted to make sure she had plenty of time to soak it all in and get the full experience. We were lucky because when we got there it wasn't crowded at all. We walked right up to the table to get our bib numbers and timing chips then straight to the t-shirt table. No lines, no waiting. Then we shopped and got all kinds of freebies. We listened to a presentation by a veteran Chicago marathoner on the course overview and some race day tips. Then took a few fun photos and headed back to the hotel to get dinner and settle in for the night.

Saturday morning we took our time getting up and going. My friend Milady didn't sleep well because our room was right next to the ice machine and the maintenance elevator. I slept right through all the noise. We packed our things and requested a room change. Then we headed out for a little sight seeing. We took one of the city's famous architecture boat tours that goes down the river through the city and decribes the history of Chicago and it's many sky scrappers.

After the boat tour we grabbed a quick bite to eat on our way to Navy Pier. We had walked around a little more than I would have liked for the day before a marathon so we decided to spend the next few hours seated, in the IMAX theater watching 'Real Steel'. Not an oscar worthy movie, but a little dose of Hugh Jackman is never a bad thing. It was actually pretty cute for a robot boxing movie. Honestly, from the previews I thought they made a movie out of the cheesy kids game 'Rock Em Sock Em Robots'.

After the movie we walked back to the hotel and I took a short nap before we grabbed a quick take out dinner. We were both still full from our movie snacks and too tired to go eat at a restaurant so the little italian place around the corner was perfect. I had spinach ravioli and Milady had cheese pizza. It wasn't great, but it was just enough to top off the carb tanks for the marathon.

We laid out our clothes and shoes and set the alarm clocks and went to sleep. Oh and our new room was far away from the ice maker and elevator to ensure we would both get a good night's rest before the race.

RACE DAY!!! Excited and nervous, we got up and got ready. We hopped on the tiny dance party elevator with a few other runners and walked to the CTA (Chicago's subway/ 'L' train). A few short minutes on a crowded train and were were at the start area. We still had about an hour to kill before the race started so we walked around a bit and checked our bags. Then headed into the start corrals. we were planning on running different pacces so I said good luck to Milady and headed to the 4:15/4:30 pace area.

Waited around a little, national anthem, and starting gun, then a 10 minute walk to the line and I was off and running my 8th marathon. It still amazes me how natural it feels for me to run 26.2 miles. It was extremely crowded and my garmin lost satelites in the tunnels and tall buildings almost immediately. I kept track of my splits just by looking at the race clocks at each mile marker. I kept a pretty even pace for the first 16-18 miles. I wasn't as fast as Boston, but I felt comfortable and kept a consistant pace so I was happy. Then Mother Nature showed up like an uninvited guest to the party.

It was warm but not hot. I could tell my pace was slowing down a little with every mile that passed. Then somewhere between Mile 19 and 20 the 4:30 pace group passed me. I tried to hang onto the 10:00 pace and stick with them and managed to for maybe half a mile before they slowly drifted off into the crowd of runners in front of me. Right at mile 20 I passed a bank with a clock/thermometer that said it was 83 degrees out. I knew if I tried to push myself and catch the 4:30 group I'd end up in a medical tent and possibly not make it across the finish so I revised my race goal and decided to just relax and run and finish whenever my feet got me there.

I ran the last 10K a lot slower than the first 20 miles, but I still RAN it. I repeated every running mantra I could think of and just kept moving one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, until finally I was on North Michigan Ave heading towards the finish line. I passed the 25 mile marker and then the "1 mile to go" marker and then they had an 800m sign too! A quick right turn up a little incline and a left turn for the last 200m to the finish and I had done it. Granted it was not as fast as I had originally planned, but I did it. I finished my 8th marathon!

Overall, I don't see what the hype is about Chicago. The city is beautiful but you don't see any of it during the marathon. You run through residential neighborhoods and not near any of the iconic tourist attractions that Chicago is famous for. It is a very flat fast course, but there are a million turns in it so I don't know how the elite runners manage to run the tangents and PR. It was fun aside from the extreme heat, but I don't know if I would run it again.

After I crossed the finish line I got water and a free beer and ice and then went to the gear check and got my bag. I found a nice spot to sit down and I called some friends while I iced my legs and waited for Milady to finish. I talked to a few other runners nearby and just enjoyed the weather now that I wasn't running. It was a gorgeous day out for spectating and people watching but not for running. A short time after I finished Milady came out of the finish area and I congratulated her on completing her very first marathon! I think she was partly in shock and disbelief that she had done it.

We walked back to the hotel and stopped along the way for a celebratory cupcake. Back at the hotel, I introduced Milady to the joys of taking an ice bath. She screamed in agony at first but then said, "this actually feels really good". See, I'm not crazy! She showered and then it was my turn. Ice bath and shower. We met up with my friend Antonio for post race drinks on the rooftop bar at our hotel.

After drinks we went out for dinner at the Green Zebra. It was an amazing vegetarian restaurant that Milady found. The food was delicious, the only problem was that they didn't bring it fast enough. It was pretty late by the time we got there and then it took a while for the waiter to take our orders and then to bring the food. We were fading fast and barely had the energy to eat when the food did get to the table. We inhaled what we could and went back to the hotel to sleep.

It was another whirlwind weekend of running and running around and it was full of fun and memories I will have forever (unless I get Alzheimers). Monday morning when I got back to Boston I got a text message from Milady that she is already thinking about running another marathon. It finally hit her, it's not just running 26.2 miles. It's a shared experience with thousands of other runners and a few select friends that makes you a rockstar for a day because you did something amazing that not everyone can do. It's what keeps me motivated and constantly chasing that high I felt after finishing my first marathon.

I've already got plans for the next marathon - #9 the Goofy Challenge in 88 days. Now I just need to decide what marathon to run for #10. I'm thinking the Cincinnati Flying Pig in May. Just need to convince some other people to run with me. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ready to Razzle Dazzle Chicago!

Wow, this past week went by so fast. I have been sort of ho-hum about the upcoming race. "Just another 26.2" not nervous or anxious or freaking out, well, now that it's less than a week away all those feelings are setting in.

Last week I had a lot going on and didn't get to run as much as I wanted to. Homeownership is fun until something breaks. Especially if you own a really old house like my place and it has asbestos on the pipes around the boiler that needs to be replaced. It just adds a whole new level of suck to the issue. I've been trying to get estimates and whatnot so that I can get the work done before it gets cold. Add into that working fulltime and commuting and training for a marathon and time flies.

Last Monday I took a rest day after the triple race weekend I was all set with running for a few days. Tuesday I booked a massage. Normally I try to do 90 minutes but they only had 60 available and my normal person I go to was "out indefinitely" so I had to book with someone else. Two mistakes that added up to an epic failure. The woman I got was wicked wussy. I told her I was training for a marathon and I wanted a DEEP TISSUE SPORTS massage. NOT a relaxing froo froo fall asleep type of massage. I expect to cry a little and be sore afterwards. She barely touched me and I could have given myself a better massage at home with a foam roller AND I had to pay $85 for it! I told her at the end that she didn't use nearly enough pressure and 60 minutes isn't enough time to really get a good deep tissue massage. She only did my legs and lower back! No hands, arms, shoulders. She actually suggested I book with her again for 90 minutes! She sucked for 60 why would I pay more for a longer waste of my time?????

Anyway, Wednesday I was ready to run out my frustration so I did a nice 6.35 run to Kim's house and around Lowell with her and then back home. We harassed the Lowell Fire Dept. a little along the way. I'm trying to recruit them to start a team for the Race Up Boston Place, but they're all pretty lazy and won't do it. I'm not giving up. I WILL get them to climb.

Thursday I left work early to meet the HVAC guy at my house and then he showed up almost an hour late and made me miss 5@5 with Kim. Kim ran to my house and by the time she got there and I could run a severe thunderstorm was coming in so I only got to run 2 miles before the skies opened up. LAME!

Friday I went to my Acupuncturist for a little pre-marathon Chi balancing. It was awesome! Exactly what I needed to finish off a imbalanced and chaotic week. I felt great afterwards. She did some stuff for my hamstrings and my whole left side that has been out of whack ever since the car hit me. A little for allergies and sleeping and good digestion and I was good to go (not literally).

Saturday I ran the Grace Race 5 miler in Chelmsford. Not nearly as fast as I ran it last year so I didn't place and get a cool trophy like last year, but I still had a lot of fun running with some great people in the middle of the pack. "We may not be the fastest, but we're the best looking" - George Bisson (older retirement aged runner with a new knee and amazing ability to bring a smile to everyone's face in local races). After the race I went home and just chilled on the couch in my sweats for the rest of the day. I was supposed to go apple picking but it was rainy and raw outside and really gross. Much better couch weather than outdoor activity weather.

Sunday I did my last "long" run before Chicago. I ran a nice easy 7 miles. I ran to Tewksbury Fire with the intent to knock on the door and give them a flyer for the stair climb, but then chickened out when I got there and just kept running. It wasn't super early so it's not like I'd be waking them up, but I'm just too shy to knock on the door and be all like "hi, excuse me, I run by here all the time and wanted to personally invite/challenge you to participate in the Race Up Boston Place". I know, right, It sounded so good in my head, but that's as far as it got.

Well, after the run I went to Target and picked up a few things and print some race photos for my scrapbook. Met Kim and Ryann and Daisy and their aunt Bonnie at Life Alive for lunch. Then I went grocery shopping and made apple crisp and got sucked into some mindless TV for the rest of the day.

Plan for this week is to try and actually get some work done and not be totally distracted by the upcoming trip and race in Chicago. I want to do 2 more short easy runs to stay loose and burn off a little of the nervous energy, but mostly I'm resting and relaxing all week. I can't believe it's so close! I haven't even done laundry yet and my race singlet it dirty. I better get on that.