Sunday, September 25, 2011

My boring blog post.

I am currently planted on my friend L's futon in her UES apartment watching football and recovering from not just yesterday's festivities, but my entire crazy week. I'll recap:

1. Last weekend, I had an amazing time running the Reach the Beach relay with my awesome online running friends. We distance runners are usually so focused on our individual races that it's a real treat to be a part of a team. Even though there is so much camaraderie to be had at normal races, with the pre- and post-run get-togethers, there's such a different feeling to being part of a team. You don't want to be the member who doesn't match the effort and speed of your teammates - dropping sub-MP paces the entire 32 miles was possible only because all of my awesome teammates were doing the same.

2. We had zero idea of "how" to run this relay - no one had ever done an ultra version before, and we all basically assumed we'd be around MP due to the number of miles we all had to run - between 28 to 40. The two guys on the team happened to lead us off with some killer legs, and the ladies couldn't let them down. As each of us continued to run faster than what we thought, I think all of us were kind of waiting for the wall to come past which our sleep-deprived bodies would slow us down. And of course we did slow a bit, but not nearly as much as I was expecting. Not even close. I'm so impressed and proud of us!

3. Our final time was 23:32:33, a pace of 7:21 min/mile - 38th overall and 1st mixed ultra team! The win was truly icing on the cake - we didn't even think about it as we were running so it was a fun perk to add to our excitement after the race.

4. After the race, I stayed with my friend V and her family in lower Manhattan. It was great to hang out with her, as always, and get to know her 2-year-old son. Yes, it's possible to get to know a 2-year-old, although we're not quite up to having hear-to-hearts yet :)

5. As I was on the bus on the way to Boston for the relay, I made a phone call to one of the companies I had had a phone interview with for a west coast-based position. The company is based in Boston, so I had emailed saying I would be out East if it would be possible to arrange a face-to-face interview. I had been unsure about making the call, because I'm trying to walk the line of being assertive but not desperate, but I finally decided it couldn't hurt. I'm definitely glad I did - even though it meant having to bus back to Boston for a quick 24-hour trip. Special thanks to Sully and his roomie for letting me crash on their couch so as to avoid 2 bus trips in one calendar day.

6. Obviously I can't say much about the interview, but I think it went well. It was almost anti-climactic due to all the traveling around I had to do for it because it was pretty relaxed. They're trying to fill the position fast so hopefully I'll hear something this week!

7. Yesterday, two of my grad-school friends got married. I had such a great time celebrating this awesome couple - a couple I have known since the beginning of their relationship. The wedding was at 10:30 am, which no one had experienced before. It was a bit strange to be drinking and dancing in broad daylight, but we quickly got over it ;-) It was a great time, and a bit of a grad school reunion. In the interest of full disclosure, I invoked the "special occasion" clause of my no-sugar diet and had some wedding cake. And I don't feel guilty at all, not even a little bit.

8. The wedding and reception were in the Bronx, but the wedding hotel was in Rye, NY. Putting a bunch of Manhattanites on a party bus to Rye and then congregating them all in the hotel bar is a pretty funny scenario. Of course, it wasn't so much about the "where" as it was about the "who," so we had ourselves a good ol' time. The "where" only became important when we realized we had to, um, get home somehow. Putting a bunch of Manhattanites in Rye without first calculating the cost of car service to get back is also quite the picture.

9. In between all this traveling and partying, I have been running. This week was kind of screwed up because of the relay; I wanted to keep the miles up but I also knew I'd have to really listen to my body to give it whatever recovery it would want after the race. That meant cutting a few miles off each run in the beginning of the week, especially because my right hamstring was a bit crabby. My runs were all slowwww and, to be honest, kind of torturous. I didn't feel good, but I knew that it was only a matter of time before I'd get my legs back, and that by taking it easy and running everything at recovery pace would only shorten that time.

10. I moved my long run to Friday because of the early wedding. The chance to run in Central Park is always a motivator for me, although as I started, the 90% humidity really made it hard for me to wrap my mind around doing 20 miles. I started out slow and slogging, once again resigning myself to the fact that I wasn't totally recovered. But then, it started raining. The second half of the run was in the torrential downpour, and I loved every second of it. My legs did, too, and I was able to drop the paces into my proper MLR zone and feel great doing it. My hamstring didn't talk, and I finished soaked and renewed.

11. My Garmin cradle is being fussy and I think I have to send it in for a new one. This means I can't upload and I can't charge. I'm dreading what this means: Timex.

12. I ran 6.5 this morning. I'm supposed to get out for another 4. The couch is super comfortable though....

13. This is kind of a boring post. I guess I'm not feeling very deep or humorous today. I blame the Vikings - I was super motivated to write a blog but got about halfway through and decided to give up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Crazy going slowly am I

19 for yesterday's 19 in 2:41.25

1. There's been a lot of chatter on my FB wall about dreading long runs. I honestly LOVE them. There is absolutely nothing like the feeling of hitting that groove where you feel like you can just run forever - and actually keep on running for (almost) ever. I was on such a high after this run - that's the high I miss when I'm not marathon training. It's a high that is different than that I get after a hard workout or a shorter, faster run. I think it's a high that just makes me feel like me.

2. This past week has been a whirlwind of activity, but it all turned out to be for the best, I think:

3. A group of my RWOL buddies are running the Reach the Beach relay next weekend. At the time they were planning, I was still abroad and couldn't commit, but it definitely made me want to run one of these relays someday. This particular relay runs 200 miles across the state of New Hampshire, taking 24+ hours to complete, and you hang out with your teammates in passenger vans in your hungry, smelly, sleep-deprived awesomeness. There are teams of 12, running 3 legs and ~15 miles total, or teams of 6, running 6 legs and ~33 miles total. In a sad twist of fate (see #4), one of my friends was no longer able to make it, and the 6-person team was down a player. I was debating flying back East, anyway, for a wedding of 2 grad school friends in NYC the following weekend, so after some deliberation and hemming and hawing, I signed up!

4. The friend whose place I'm taking cannot make it because her husband was in a terrible sky-diving accident. He's undergone several surgeries and is improving, but please keep them in your thoughts and hearts.

5. So, now I had a weekend of relay racing madness, a week "off," and then a weekend of NYC wedding madness. I'm still waiting if that week "off" will include a couple interviews, but that remains to be seen.

6. So, minor detail: from where do I fly for this trip? Do I drive to Tucson, back to my parents, and continue the job search from there after my trip? Do I fly in and out of San Fran, leave my car with my cousin, and then drive back to Tucson? Do I buy a one-way trip because I don't know when/where to return? The logistics began to give me a headache.

7. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I really want to be stable for a while, at least long enough to make the job search my main focus. I have really loved being able to travel and visit people, which obviously I can continue to do, but it's not helping me focus.

8. Furthermore, job searching from Tucson makes no sense. There are exactly zero jobs I would take there. However, there are tons of jobs in the Bay Area. I can't hang out with my cousin and her family forever; I'm not willing to commit to a lease on a place on the chance that an opportunity arises outside of the area. But I want to put myself here because it is at least a place where there is a chance I end up, unlike Tucson.

9. To Craigslist I went, with the search terms "sublet/temporary rentals." I promptly found about a bazillion ads that went something like this:

Hi! I am [traveling for an internship/moving in with my bf/pissed off my roommates and got thrown out] and you can have my awesome room near [UCSF/the projects/the middle of nowhere] for [an extravagant amount of money, but it's ok because it's furnished/almost no money, what do you mean San Jose isn't in San Francisco?]. The room is great, here is a grainy, wide-lens angled photo. There is a shared EVERYTHING, but it's ok because my 12 roommates are awesome and laid-back and clean and there isn't any drama ever even though they're all 22-yo students I SWEAR. okthxbai xoxo.

10. Um, no. I am too old for the crazy-Craigslist-roomie thing.

11. But THEN I saw it - the post of my dreams - and it was love at first sight. A 1-br located 7 blocks from the beach and 2 from Golden Gate Park, being sublet for a month while its owner was traveling. Its SOLE owner.

12. After a few email conversations with said owner, we agreed I would come to see the place the following day. I left the address with my cousin and on FB, visions of the 9-o'clock news headlines dancing in my head, and drove to the apartment. The resident is the sweetest middle-aged French-Algerian woman, and we hit it off right away. Half the rent later, I was in! I have a home for October! She leaves for her trip the same day I come back from mine; she wanted a non-student, someone quiet who won't be hosting raves; she said she got "good vibes" from my email and from our meeting. She was as excited as I was. It feels SO GOOD to have a place to call "home" for a month, feel stable, and plan the next step in peace and without any time pressure.

13. The location is awesome for running. I'm especially excited about that, as it will be the month pre-NYCM, and I'll be doing that. A lot.

14. Nothing new on the job-front. I'm feeling my way around the protocol for how much follow-up is too much. Following a phone interview, if I am told they are interested in a face-to-face and they'll be in touch soon, what does "soon" mean? I sent the obligatory thank-you email and sent emails to 2 that have east coast-based offices to notify them that I'll be out there. Is no response bad? Does soon mean weeks? I have no idea.

15. Running-wise, I'm feeling great. My legs have finally awakened from their summer hibernation. I'm sure the side-effects of unemployment have helped: ample time for sleep, no days of hectic running around, not having to get up early to get the miles in, etc. Don't hate me too much, I'd much prefer being employed and stressed AND running, but I'm trying to at least look on the bright side here.

16. I am really excited to be going to NYC. Today of all days, I feel the New Yorker in me very strongly. If I didn't have this trip coming up, I'd feel almost homesick for the city. I wasn't even in NYC yet on 9/11 - I was still in college - but I still feel the solidarity of this day in that city. <3

17. I have been all kinds of excited about football this weekend. After living abroad for 2 seasons, I'm wondering how I survived. I love this game. I had to search out the Vikings game this afternoon, found myself alone at a sports bar surrounded by annoying 49er and Charger fans, and was just so giddy to be able to watch FOUR games at ONE TIME! On screens that weren't my laptop displaying whatever crappy pirated streaming broadcast I could find.

18. Tomorrow is the first day of registration for the Boston marathon. I don't know if I want that to be my goal spring race, I don't know if I can afford it, but I know I'll regret it if I can't go. What a dilemma.

19. I have had more than a couple beers and am trying to make myself run at midnight sporting my new headlamp, red blinkies, and reflective vest in order to have at least one attempt at some semblance of training for RTB. Oof.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The times, they are a-changin'

I normally don't channel Bob Dylan - not exactly my style (even though he is from MN!) - but that line popped into my head as I sat down to write. It goes along with the following quote I rediscovered on my FB profile:

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.
~Alan Cohen

With all the change going on in my life, I've been thinking a lot about what it is, exactly, that I want. So, in honor of this weekend's 19-miler, a list of 19 things that I want. Some of these are things I want, like, yesterday; some are more long-term. I know "getting what you want" isn't the be-all-end-all of happiness, so I guess they can be considered general life goals - ideas of where I'd like to go in life with the understanding that things can change in a heartbeat and nothing is guaranteed. But, for me right now, these are the most tangible things I can hang onto while everything else spins around me.

19 miles in 2:35.09; 4 up, 10 @ 7:33 (~MP), 5 down

1. I'll start with the running-related stuff. The most immediate goal: sub-3:15 at NYCM in November.

2. Secret running goal? 3:0x. It would be a lot to ask for November, but it's close enough that I want it. I never thought I'd be this fast - ever. I still remember when I thought running a BQ 3:40 was like lightening speed for me. If I can do 3:15 in NYC, I'd love to focus on a 3:10 for spring.

3. On that note, I really feel my mental game is off right now, running-wise. I still don't have the confidence to be running near-7 paces for a half. I look at those times and think they're for a different runner. Not for me. I don't know if it's my emotional winter/spring, my slow summer miles, or what, but I need to switch my focus on running and be less passive about its role in my life. I always want it to be fun and a positive part of my life but not just something that I do halfway.

4. On THAT note, I've been giving a lot of thought about my diet and nutrition, and want to get things under control there. I hesitate even bringing this up, because I know I don't have to lose weight and that I already eat quite healthfully. For me, it's less about a number on a scale and more the mindless eating and sweet tooth that gets out of control that has always been something I want to control and always been something I haven't because it's hard and I no longer always want it to be there. Of course, the added benefit of being speedier by dropping a few pounds isn't a bad perk. It's two months 'till race day. I'm saying it here, out loud: bye-bye desserts (although I do reserve the right for a bite of yours here and there). In one month, I may add alcohol to the list (at least more than one of them at a time and on weekdays). Like I said, I know I don't have to do this. But, part of me feels like I need to right now. I'm not going on some crazy diet, I'm not going to cut calories to the point I can't train well - that is, after all, the number one priority - but I just need to get things under control. So, please no "you're crazy/be careful/why would you do that" comments. If you know me, you know I'm nowhere disorder-land.

5. I want to find a job. No secret there :)

6. I want to point my career in the direction I want it to go. My post-doc was something I did because I know it wouldn't hurt me - it gave me more lab experience and publications, so it did, in fact, help me - and because it got me to the place I wanted to be at the time. I don't regret it, but it makes me realize how much I want the next job decision to be about what is best for me. That includes location, but more so in the vein of putting myself in a good place for job AND life opportunities. I can't be in a place with only one biotech company in a 200-mile radius. Both career-wise and socially, I need to be in a vibrant place with lots of choices and places to potentially be. Having been in a place where I had nearly zero options other than what I was doing at the time was exhausting, and trying to switch paths in such an environment would be nearly impossible.

7. I want to be able to be passionate about what I do, but also not have it control my life and dictate the kind of lifestyle I want. That is, "work to live" rather than "live to work."

8. I don't want to settle just because I'm impatient about finding a job.

9. I want to be financially secure. I have been poor for-ev-er. I have amazing parents who will make sure I am never in trouble, but it is tiring to have to worry about it. I am looking at my ever-diminishing savings and hate that it may dictate when I have to drive myself to Tucson to stay with them. I am probably even less fiscally responsible than I should be, but traveling will always be a weakness of mine. I'm not buying shoes or purses or designer jeans; I don't even dream about a fancy car or a huge house. Just let me travel. And eat well along the way.

10. I want to surround myself with people I love. I can very easily pull into myself and pretend I'm ok not reaching out and being a hermit. But this traveling and constant presence of friends and family reminded me that my soul needs those relationships. I want to be in a place where those relationships exist and can be nurtured. And I never want to take them for granted.

11. Speaking of relationships. I have been lucky enough to have spent each and every one of my visits with amazing couples at different stages of their relationships. Couples who love each other and have amazing dynamics; who have been through the best and the worst together and look at each other like no one else exists. It is heartwarming to witness this. Yeah, I want this. I am ready for this.

12. I want to be better at telling the people in my life that I love and cherish them. This is probably a function of that same "pulling into myself" characteristic - the "opening up and being vulnerable" thing has never been a strong point of mine and certainly didn't help in my last relationship. I will start now: to everyone reading this, you have touched my life in a way that I am eternally grateful for, be it big or small, and I love you for that.

13. I want to find a better balance in my life between living for the moment and dreaming about the future. Between instant and delayed gratification. I usually find myself wanting the things I want RIGHT NOW, instead of enjoying and learning from the journey that brings me to them. Maybe I want things to be too easy.

14. I want to always remember what I said before: that things can change in a heartbeat and nothing is guaranteed. It was a shock to learn this the hard way.

15-19. I'm not sure I can do 5 more on this list, after all. They would be sort of inane things, anyway, like cutting down computer time (ha!) and reading more for fun (which I could do with less computer time) and blogging more (trying!).