Monday, April 30, 2007


Running with my friend's dog was much like mushing without the sled. She wanted to go a leetle faster than I ran. Her four legs beat my two, but my left arm kept her in check.

We worked on sitting at busy corners. If she had it her way, she would simply cross a four lane road without even thinking twice. Thank heavens for leashes.

Monday, Monday...

First off, kudos to my friend Dizz for her outstanding triathlon finish this past weekend in Florida. I know you worked hard for it.

The weather has taken a turn for the better today, moving from rain to sunshine. I was asked at the last minute to walk a friend's dog, so I think we'll head out for a run. Last time I walked her, she really wanted to move. I don't blame her, as she likely hadn't moved much that day. We've run together before, and she's a good partner.

Makes me jones a little for my own dog. Two cats is just about all we can handle... I like the position of babysitter.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The sound of rakes in the distance

It's definitely spring, based upon the number of people tinkering with their lawns today.

I went for a morning run along a standard route, looping around the neighborhood. This is usually a 4.5 mile run, but today I added an extra turn and went into a local park I've recently started exploring. It's small, but has a nice 1 mile pond loop that is quiet and shaded. The short distance around makes it pretty easy to tweak distance as needed, and it's a nice halfway point break from running roads.

I haven't run my favorite rail trail in a while, mostly because it is far enough away that I feel compelled to drive there. I much prefer taking off from the front door - driving to go running (unless it's a race) seems somehow counterproductive.

My run was a bit slower than usual today, and as I stopped to take a walk break I tried to figure out why. I came up with a number of reasons (rationalizations?) including: only having a piece of toast with butter and nutritional yeast for breakfast, not drinking a lot of water yesterday or this morning, coming off of a long work week that included less than good nights of sleep, and simply not being as frequent a runner as I was in the last few months. These days I'm happy to get out 3 times a week, as opposed to 4 or 5. With the spring here, I'll work my way back up to it. I dig it when I'm out there, but I'm not the type who has to run-or-else.

With all that said, I allowed myself a leisurely run in the sun, and tried to let all the competitive aspects of it go. After all, I was alone most of the time. I did see a cross country team running in a pack, but that was about it until I got to the park.

It's early afternoon, and I am getting set to head out for a little bit. I am in a mood to knock off some small projects (hanging things on the wall, for example), and I seriously need to go food shopping (last night's dinner was all taken from the freezer...). I'll do my best to stay away from the sports store, but it's right next to the hardware store, and it wouldn't be a terrible thing to get an extra pair of running shorts.... :)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bag of goodies

I am at Midway airport, waiting to catch a flight home. It didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would to get here, so I am, as they say in Boston, wicked early.

An announcement just came over the PA system:
"Attention passengers: if you just passed through the TSA checkpoint and left a bag of goodies behind, please return to the checkpoint to claim it. Again, if you left a bag of goodies at the security checkpoint, please come to claim it. If you are missing a bag of goodies, please come check the security checkpoint."

What could be in that bag of goodies? Jelly beans? Shampoo and other assorted creams? Yellow cake?

A watched an older man lose his toothpaste to a less-than-patient TSA agent. I felt bad for the guy. I also feel bad for the earth, as we are filling landfills with products that otherwise would not be trash. I am semi-convinced that this is all Halliburton related, making us use more plastic bags to repackage packaged goods. Plastic is, after all, petroleum. Less convenience for you, more money for oil.

We all need a little inner conspiracy theorist.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I'm in Chicago today for work. It's cold and rainy, which is not what I was hoping for... I didn't really pack well for cold, wind, and rain. It looks like my run along the lake may turn into a treadmill run. Or just a shorter outdoor run... Damn.

As long as I was coming to Chicago during baseball season, I got tickets to see the Cubs game last night. What a difference from seeing a game at Fenway. Let's compare two recent game experiences - Red Sox v. Yankees on Sunday night, and Cubs v. Brewers on Tuesday night:
1. Ballpark: Fenway and Wrigley are both storied fields, and maintain their historic nature. I'd never been to Wrigley which was part of the reason I wanted to catch a game. Love the extra bleachers on neighboring houses. Fenway still stands out as a great old park, though, with the odd shaped outfield, Green Monster, and prime city location. Fenway has also been updated a bit more, making access to food and drinks a bit easier. Cubs fans seem to love cotton candy in bags, as that was the most frequently sighted vendor.

2. Tickets: I could not believe how easy it was to get Cubs tickets. $20 for decent seats, and plenty of tickets left on game day. The most expensive tickets have a face value of less than $50 (compare that to just over $300 a pop at Fenway, for seats behind home plate). We ended up moving down to the field around the fourth inning, as there were plenty of empties.

Getting a ticket for a Red Sox game is a test of wills and negotiating power, for the most part. While I have been known to stand outside the park and offer $20 to a scalper until they come down to meet my offer (takes until the third or fourth inning), in general the only way I've been able to get any tickets is by either a) corporate connections, or b) a friend of a friend that can't make it to the game for one reason or another. Good luck finding two seats together through the online MLB system.

Reminds me of when the Democratic National Convention was in town a few years ago, and there was a Sox/Yankees matchup. As a volunteer assigned to taking care of the Oregon delegation, I fielded (no pun intended) a number of questions regarding tickets for the game. When I told them how much they should expect to pay if they went to the park, they thought I was crazy. When they came back later in the evening, they expressed their shock at the ticket price, and overall madness of trying to get a ticket. My experience in getting Cubs tickets helps me to better understand their position. I am skewed by Boston...

3. The game: Admittedly, this one is really subjective. I happened to be at a pretty incredible Red Sox game, where the Sox hit four homers back to back on the third (lots of yelling, waving of arms, and slapping strangers' hands) and still had to fight to the last inning to win by one run. No way we were leaving until the end. No one did.

Cubs game, on the other hand, was less exciting. The Brewers are in first at this point, the Cubs in last. It showed in their playing. We watched a routine pop up missed by the catcher, poor decision making in base running, outfielders trying to be heroes by throwing the ball home and thus allowing extra bases by the visiting team... Half the crowd was gone by the 6th, and with each subsequent half inning more flooded out.

It's hard to be a Cubs fan.

Given the chill and rain, we left after the 8th to finish the game out at a local bar. This turned out to be a lot more fun. Very friendly people, lots of conversation with folks I'll never see again. It would have been great to stay a while post game, but I knew getting up this morning would suck. And it did... The heavenly bed at the Westin was certainly sleep inducing, and it was tough to get up an hour early for eastern time meetings.

Soon I have to put on a suit to attend some sessions and work a table for my company. In other words, gotta go put my game face on.

I love this town, and wish I could stay longer.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Another 500km

I have been lax in my posting of late - not to say that there hasn't been anything to write about, but sometimes the creative energy just isn't there. Meaning I need to remeber that there is life outside of work, even on the busy days.

P and I had a nice litle evening last night. Post work I ventured out in to the snowstorm to get some food shopping done (dangerously low on bananas, for one thing) and I came home to the smell of a fire in the fireplace. Dinner by the fire, then watched the season finale of Friday Night Lights. Oh please let this show be renewed! I get at least one decent cry per episode; it's good for keeping my tear ducts cleared of debris.

P ended the fire by burning the remaining documents we have from one of our friends who is a lawyer for a number of Guantanamo Bay detainees. She left a pile of unneeded documents with us about two years ago, so she wouldn't have to carry them back to San Francisco, and they have become kindling ever since. There's a strange sort of irony to burning these at this moment, given the email debacle that Karl Rove wishes would just go away. Here's hoping he doesn't devise another way to divert attention - be on the lookout for bombs falling on Iran in the coming days...

On the running front, we've been impacted in good ways by the recent snow. Knowing the storm was coming got me out of bed yesterday morning, knowing I would only want to go home after work. Paula Radcliffe was in my ears again post run, telling me she hoped I was feeling great, because I was certainly doing great - another 500km! Which actually translates to about 4 miles. I am trying to think of some correlation to the Canadian dollar here...

Wednesday morning there was a power outage for a large swath of Manchester. I arrived at the gym hoping to lift a weight or two, and found that it was eerily quiet (which I liked) and cold (didn't like so much). The poor guy on duty summed it up thusly: "Power went out at 6, and it just keeps getting colder."

Fortuitously, I ran into a friend and enticed her to hit the streets with me instead. So we went back to her house, picked up her dog, and logged some outdoor miles. I ditched the iPod seeing as how I was with someone else, and it was really lovely to not think about how fast or far we were going. I am guessing three miles, but whatev. It was a beautiful morning and we were out in it. Running for running's sake.

Good luck to those who'll be running in Boston on Monday!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Back to the beltway...

I can't tell if this week flew by, or was agonizingly long. I made a point of taking Monday off to rest from the previous weekend's fun. Unfortunately I've made up the hours this week due to a new project and long hours associated with it.

In the middle of it all we got just under a foot of snow. One of the prettiest snowfalls of the season, actually. The snow was bright and heavy, and covered every branch of the naked trees. It was like living in a black and white photograph. On my way into work, I saw several people out with their cameras, so I know I wasn't alone in my thoughts.

Tonight P and I fly back to DC, this time for a wedding shower. With Sunday being Easter, our friends largely have plans involving family or painted eggs. I think we'll just take the chance to walk around the city.

Not much else to report. I'm knee deep in the review of a technical document (this is my brief respite), so every other thought running through my head has to do with VXML, DNIS, APIs, and other acronyms that are important, but uninteresting to the general public.

Monday, April 2, 2007

10 miles of success

The Cherry Blossom race was a total success. I more than surpassed my expectations for mile time, finishing in 1:36:44. That averages to a 9:41 pace overall. I'm very happy with how it all went.

I ran with two friends, one of whom had trained hard to go for a personal best. The day prior to the race, she was talking about running as an exercise in pain tolerance, as it is inevitable that fatigue sets in. I thought about thatquite a bit as I was motoring along; the few times I considered stopping (and once when I had even gone so far as to pick a landmark at which I would allow myself to walk for a short distance), I thought about what she'd said, and it helped to keep me going.

I also had a few other thoughts that pushed me along... One was saying to myself, essentially, "It's not that you can do it - you are doing it." Other cheesy gems included, "This is what it feels like to hit your goal" and "[Insert time] until you've finished."

This is an interesting point in my racing life, as I have not run many races at all. That means that every race is a PR. I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

I learned that my iPod Nike+ thing needs to be calibrated for longer distances, as it thinks I only ran 9.67 miles. And that my average pace was 10:03. The optimist in me is glad it was wrong, as I would have been disappointed by coming so close and not making goal. Given that it was so off, it's safe to say I also ran my best 5k (I'm guessing 28 minutes) and 10k (again, an estimate of 58 minutes or so). These are general estimates, as I made a point to not check it very often, and just enjoy the scenery. I'll just have to run some actual measured courses to get some times logged.

Having said that, I see I've gone on for five paragraphs without mentioning the scenery. It was a perfect day for a run - around 60 degrees and overcast. The cherry blossoms were blooming like mad, and other flora was on the verge of popping out. Lots of new spring green was everywhere. Add the backdrop of heavy stone architecture that makes up much of DC and it makes for a largely pretty course.

A nice aspect of this race is that it is an out and back course, so you get to see the front runners as they are heading back towards the start/finish. Some of them looked like they were hardly winded, while others were clearly struggling. Still, off they went, sprinting along. The fastest racer averaged a 4:37 pace. Wow.

Post race we went had brunch at our friends K&S' house; the post race meal is always so tasty. I had a weird craving for bacon (which I have not eaten in I don't know how long), and helped myself to a few delicious slices. Holy crap it was good. Salty and perfect.

Having run hard and then eaten, I was ready for a nap at any given moment. Instead, and just as pleasurably, we hung out for a while and played with K&S' kid and had a mellow morning. I was so happy to be there, and it only makes it better that we'll be back next weekend.

I took today off from work, giving me time to reset, unpack, say hello to the kitties, maybe watch some trash tv. Tonight is the first night of Passover, so we're heading to P's brother/sister in laws for seder. One of my fave holidays.

I'm off to take an early taste of the horseradish that P made yesterday. It's going to be good!