Archive for the ‘Alphabetized Playlist’ Category

Christmas is over, and I’m OK with that. I don’t think I could have staved off the humbugs much longer–I was running on fumes of positivity by 7 PM last night. But up until that point, I made the most of the holiday. I put up a tree, I attended a couple of holiday parties, and even faced the Herald Square insanity to buy a last-minute present for Nana. I also made sure I had a daily dose of running, because I always feel stronger and happier after I run.

I worked every day last week, which was mostly great. It was a little stressful because my boss was there too, bouncing me email after email and preventing me from drilling down through my “I’ll Get to This Later List” (Later had arrived). But ultimately I got a few very time-consuming projects done, things that are hard to push through when the office is fully staffed and everyone wants your attention. Thursday was the best day of all–there were only 5 people on my entire floor, and HR gave us permission to leave at 1:30.  I hung around until 3 (getting about two days’ worth of work done in six hours), then changed and went for a run. I left my office at 53rd and Fifth Avenue and slowly trotted up the avenue to Central Park. There was no running fast, because the sidewalks were clogged with tourists gawking in the windows and posing for pictures. It didn’t frustrate me though; for once it felt festive. I was happy to be running in the daylight, since it never happens for me in the winter. Before I knew it I was in the park, which was so peaceful. There were runners, but not so many. I entered at 72nd Street, to run the upper 5-mile loop, and I didn’t see another soul until I’d crested Cat Hill. The solitude felt like a gift, and I accepted it gratefully. 7 miles run in 1:03:35. Average pace 9:06; fastest mile 8:46; slowest mile 9:21 (Harlem Hill).

Christmas Eve was a day split in two. The morning was for me, and the afternoon and evening was for my family. I hate to let a holiday go by without a celebration run over my bridge, so I did that as soon as I woke up on Friday (I slept in until 7:30). Lately, the 59th Street Bridge has been kicking my ass. Between the hills and the wind, I finish the workouts feeling battered and tuckered. The wind is so bad in the winter, it really slices through you like an icy knife, and has an evil talent at always being a headwind, no matter if you’re running into Manhattan or into Queens. Because of this, I tend not to choose a bridge run for one of my mid-week, pre-dawn workouts–frigid wind without even the meager warmth of the winter sun is just too much cold for me. But on Christmas Eve, I laughed at the wind for trying to slow me down, didn’t he know I wasn’t in a hurry anyway? I had made a custom playlist with some favorite Christmas carols and sang along to four different versions of “Santa Baby” as I slid down the bridge back into Queens. 5 miles run in 48:52. Average pace 9:46; fastest mile 9:03; slowest mile 10:21.

Fast forward more than 24 hours, through Sette Pesci, bottles of white wine, a dreamless sleep, Kahlua French toast, three cups of coffee and some time spent around the tree opening presents with Mom and Dad. The last thing to do before packing up to have Christmas dinner at Nana’s is go for my run. Time was tight so I could only fit in one loop of the neighborhood, but it was sunny with no wind and I warmed up right away. My glutes were sore from the moderate hills I ran on Thursday and Friday, so it felt good to loosen them up on a flatter course. As I ran, I considered my blessings. Recognizing them, and feeling grateful for them, is not always so easy. Gratitude is an attitude I am trying to turn into a reflex, but there are moments when I lose heart. Christmas Day, however, was not one of those moments. I have a family that loves having me around, that supports me and cheers me up. That’s huge! I have all sorts of friends who remembered me on Christmas and sent me a Hello. Wow! I have myself–I am healthy, capable, smart, and hopeful. I have things like enough money to buy an apartment, enough self-motivation to maintain my training through tough times, and enough sense to know when to ask for help. Life is hard, but there are moments like Christmas that make it a little easier. I won’t ever be one of Santa’s elves, but it’s quite possible I am done with being the Grinch’s handmaid. 3.52 miles in 32:32. 9:14 average pace; fastest mile x:xx; slowest mile x:xx.

Songs I ran to 12/24: “Candy Cane Christmas” by Darius Rucker, “Blue Christmas,” “Santa Bring My Baby Back (to me)” and “Winter Wonderland” by Elvis Presley, “Last Christmas” by Jimmy Eat World, “Santa Claus Baby” and “What Do Bad Girls Get?” by Joan Osborne, “Christmas morning” by Lyle Lovett, “Christmas is Coming” by Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Santa Baby” by the Dollyrots, “All I Ever Want (Under the Christmas Tree)” by the Cute Lepers, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by the Beach Boys, “Santa Baby” by Rev Run, “Oi to the World!” by No Doubt, “Christmas” by Blues Traveler, “Christmas Song” by Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds

Songs I ran to 12/25: “The Chain” by Poi Dog Pondering, “Chains of Love” by Erasure, “Change” by Tears for Fears, “The Change” by Garth Brooks (NOT good for running), “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol, “Chasing Pavements” by Adele, “Che Vita E'” by Irene Grandi, “Cheap Sunglasses” by ZZ Top

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H Is for Hunt

I have to find a place to live. Closing on my current apartment is likely to be some time in January, and I still haven’t found an apartment in Sunnyside I want to buy. Well, I found one, but it fell through and now the market has been kind of stagnant. They say that sellers tend to list their places after the holidays, so I might have more options in the new year. But in the meantime, I’m still giving the apartment hunt the old college try. I saw four this weekend. One, in a building I’ve fantasized about before, is completely out of my budget. The others are within my range, but I didn’t love any of them. I didn’t love this apartment either when we bought it, and that indifference quickly grew into dislike which became full-blown intolerance. I don’t want to end up in the same situation again, so the hunt continues. In the meantime, I feel a bit like Dorothy in her ruby slippers (or silver, as they are in the novel), clicking my heels and intoning There’s no place like home [if only I knew where that would be]… There’s no place like home [none of these apartments are right for me]…

Before I met the real estate agent on Saturday, I ran over my bridge. Some of the construction in Queens Plaza has been completed so I can now take a more direct route, which takes .2 miles off the out-and-back. I am running less these days, partly due to the cold but also because I five days of running in a week remind my body it was recently in a serious car accident. I end up with unnecessary aches and pains. Acupuncture once a week has helped. No excuses, however: the Queensboro Bridge kicked my butt this weekend. That long climb out of Queens slowed me up significantly, and I even felt a little fatigue in my legs as I trotted the final half-mile towards my apartment building. It is telling that there is a 47-second distance in time between Mile 3 (which has the last bit of the Manhattan-bound incline, plus the entirety of the steep slope back towards Queens) and Mile 4, which is consists entirely of me surfing down the back of my bridge. This is a route where something is seriously kaflooie if I am not running a negative split. The hill was just painful enough that I forgot to lift my chin and look out over the river, to gauge the sky and take my city’s measure. I did, however, pass an older gentleman who was trudging up the hill with his backpack. He heard me coming and turned around to cheer me on, and on my way back I ran towards him and we were able to give each other a grin. We made it! 4.88 miles in 47:04. Average pace 9:39; fastest mile 9:22; slowest mile 10:09.

Songs I ran to: “Happiness” by Elliott Smith, “Hard Core Troubador” by Steve Earle, “Hard Headed Woman” by Elvis Presley, “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes, “Hard to Handle” by The Black Crowes, “He Wasn’t There” by Lily Allen, “Heads Roll Off” by Frightened Rabbit, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” by Jo Dee Messina, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar, “Henrietta” by The Fratellis, “Here Goes Something” by Nada Surf, “Here’s to the Meantime” by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, “Hey Driver” by Lucky Boys Confusion, “Hey Julie” by Fountains of Wayne, “Hey There Delilah” by Plain White T’s.

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Even though I knew I’d pay the price for my lollygagging, I couldn’t have gotten out of bed any earlier than 9 AM, and I had no inclination to leave the house any earlier than 10:30 AM. I’m on vacation, people, and that means maximizing the good sleep that the cool, quiet Pocono air affords me, and exercising my right to sit on my deck drinking coffee, zoning out as my trees wave their leaves at me in the breeze, trying to capture my attention. I knew I’d be running my 14 miles through the noonday heat, but I didn’t give a shit. I wasn’t out to set any land speed records; I just wanted to complete my 14 miles and then go shop for bathroom tiles. It’s about the simple pleasures here in the Poconos (translation: there’s nothing else to do).

It was 10:41 AM when I set off on my long run, tracing the same route as my two 10-milers from last week through the Timber Trails and Lake Naomi communities, except today I would add on a second loop through Timber Trails at the end to convert the 10-mile route to a fourteener. Each time I run this route, I want to share it because it is so lovely. It’s half-shaded, and lined with mountain cabins, lakeside lodges, and cute vacation bungalows. By now I have run these routes enough times that I have favorite houses which I look forward to passing. Sometimes I stop and stare, taking in the harmonious lines of an Arts & Crafts style house, or the look-at-me angles of the one Modern structure in the whole development. The swaths of forest, the winking glimmer of Lake Naomi, the voluptuous growth of rhododendrons: they add up to a curated wildness that keeps me coming back to trace its curves time and again.

Tell me: are you plagued by the If Onlys? Do you spend time evaluating your life thinking, If Only I had x dollars for y project; If Only I had bought three years earlier, If Only I had said no/yes? I spend an awful lot of time during my long runs with my mind whirling through hypothetical situations. If Only I was braver. If Only I was stronger, faster, smarter, prettier. If Only I was younger, If Only I could go back ten years, If Only I could fit into my lucky pants, If Only I could get through this week without throttling my boss/colleague/mother/Husband/self. Sometimes I feel like “if” is called upon more than any other word as my thoughts stream during my long runs. My compulsion for planning comes out, and I dream about bathroom renovations, finished basements, new kitchens and a dinner party held at my grandma’s vintage art deco maple dining room table (which I have in storage). If only I had five grand and four free weekends in a row, I could totally transform the master bath in the Poconos house from cheesy 80’s to something out of Mountain Living magazine. Or how about: If Only I had a few months to freshen up my Italian, and then I quit my job, and took all my safety savings? Then I could go live in Italy for a few heavenly months and spend the time cooking, reading and running. That’s a recurring If Only, one I return to time and again because it brings together some of the best moments of my past with my sweetest hopes for my future into one perfect escape. I even know the region where I’d rent a house. Sometimes I talk about this dream and my heart clutches closed with sadness (I’ll never be able to do this); and other times it pounds with excitement (Yes! Fuck it all, I’m going!).

My If Only’s can be debilitating. Sometimes they seem entirely unattainable, the whimsy of a dreamer who’s too inept to start the slow march towards actualization. They articulate regrets, they define the ways I’ve changed and outgrown parts of my life, even as the shape of my life has remained the same and has become ill-fitting.

Other times my If Only’s spur me to action, and the If Only’s morph into What If’s. What if I actually had a better apartment in Sunnyside, what if I moved, and had a dining room for my grandmother’s dining room furniture? So I call a realtor. At work, some If Only’s are out of my control (If Only I never had to work with that person ever again), but most I can turn into What If’s by merely applying myself, by digging in and breaking down a campaign or a brainstorm into project steps. What If I launched a branded & integrated social media campaign to raise consumer awareness about this category of books we publish? Well now, that I know I can do, and I can persuade talented people to help me do it. If Only I could BQ. What If I took a year off, dedicated myself to speedwork and whole body fitness, and then raced a smaller Fall marathon? Oh, I can so do that, people! And I am doing it.

With my If Only’s doing their highly effective job of distracting me from the 14 hot miles in front of me, the two hours of my run passed quicker and cooler than anticipated. Sure, I sweat like a faucet and my  hamstrings and lower back reminded me who was the boss. Sure, my pace fell off the last 5 miles. But like I said, I just had to get them done, not PR. I felt my breathing even (it only got ragged on that one steep hill I had to clamber up before heading along Miller Road), I felt my arms pull me along, I felt the soothing breeze as I ran through the dappled shade of the roadside. I imagined a better life, yet I still recognized the vine of happiness that creeps through my present. At the end of it, this run was as sensual an experience as it was intellectual, including the side cramp that kept me company the last two miles.

14 miles run in 12:11:13. Fastest mile 8:45; slowest mile 10:03; average pace 9:23.

If ever you wanted a navel-gazing playlist, definitely sort your music by the Letter I–literally every one of these songs start with the first-person pronoun. Songs I ran to: “I’d Come for You” by Nickelback, “I’d Love to Knock the Hell Out of You” by Hank Williams Jr., “I’ll Be Around” by The Damnwells, “I’ll Be Around” by Joan Osborne, “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” by The Little Willies, “I’m A Cuckoo” by Belle & Sebastian, “I’m Bringing Home the Good News” by Merle Haggard (‘You can tell all your back door daddies that your Big Daddy done blown a fuse’), “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, “I’m Not Afraid” by Fleming & John, “I’m Not Angry” by Elvis Costello, “I’m Not Down” by The Clash, “I’m Not Gonna Call You” by The Films, “I’m Not Running Anymore” by John Mellencamp (well John actually I was still running at this point in the playlist but it’s so rude to point out when celebrities are just plain wrong), “I’m Ready” by Jack’s Mannequin, “I’m Still a Guy” by Brad Paisley, “I’m Wondering” by Stevie Wonder, “I’ve Been Waiting” by Matthew Sweet, “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm” by Billie Holiday, “I’ve Got to See You Again” by Norah Jones (is this song about a prostitute?), “I’ve Seen All Good People” by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, “I Am a Leaver” by the Damnwells, “I Can’t Be with You” by the Cranberries, “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar, “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by The Four Tops, “I Can’t Say” by The Killers, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” by Prince, “I Could Say” by Lily Allen

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While running around Roosevelt and Randalls Island on Saturday, my sense of symmetry was tickled. How wonderfully tidy would it be if tomorrow I ran around the opposing base of these bridges? And so it was decided: Sunday’s 10-miler would be a Hell Gate run, around Astoria Park. It wasn’t an easy run–my legs were still full of junk from Saturday’s 22 miles, but what I liked was that my average heart rate was 142 bpm over an average 9:33 pace for the workout. The last time I ran that pace for 10 miles, on March 17th, my HR was 1:55 bpm. The time before that was March 8, 2009 (I was on blogging hiatus at this time), two weeks before I got injured–and my HR was 1:51 bpm. Even though all three workouts were of various distances and terrains, I am choosing to be encouraged by the most recent HR.

The route to Astoria Park and back was beautiful. Everything was blossoming, even the smallest front yards along 37th Street were cheery with daffodils, crocus, forsythia or cherry trees. When I took my ceremonial turn around the Astoria Track, it was full of walkers and joggers, and the field was alive with kids kicking around soccer balls. It was Easter morning, and all of Queens was outside, relaxed and happy. Joggers were everywhere, and dutiful husbands trudged along the sidewalks, arms laden with bakery boxes and grocery bags packed with things like milk and mint jelly. On my way back along Ditmars Boulevard, a church rang its bells, and smartly dressed believers hurried up the steps. When I arrived to my corner I still had half a mile to go, which ended up including the best Spring gift of all: a magnolia tree, as tall as a house and in full bloom, stretched proudly across the sidewalk at Skillman Avenue and 45th Street. Beautiful! That was my Easter Egg Hunt, the flower-by-flower discovery that my neighborhood had been resurrected. The long grueling winter had ended, and life had returned to my favorite running routes. Hallelujah!

10 miles ran in 1:35:32. Average pace 9:33; fastest mile 8:48; slowest mile 9:55.

Easter 2009 // Easter (Monday) 2008) // Easter 2007

Songs I ran to (E Is for Easter Eggs): “E-Pro” by Beck, “Ecstasy” by Rusted Root, “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys, “El Diablo” by DJ Bitman, “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor, “Empty Hearts” by Josh Ritter, “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys, “End of the Movie” by Cake, “Engineering Masterpiece” by Lady Southpaw, “Engraved Invitation” by Ben Harper, “Escaping” by Blues Traveler, “Esta Melodia” by Marisa Monte, “Estoy Aqui” Shakira, “Eternity” The Waifs, “Evangeline” by Matthew Sweet, “Even Better than the Real Thing” by U2, “Every Breath You Take” by Police, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police, “Everybody’s Trying” by Poi Dog Pondering, “Everybody Knows You cried Last Night” by The Fratellis, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” by The Blues Brothers, “Everyday” by Angie Stone, “Everyone’s at It” by Lily Allen, “Everyone’s on Tour” by Nada Surf

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In my quest to run 55 miles in this, my final week of intense training for the London Marathon, I set out from my apartment at 5:35 am to run 12 as my morning commute. I am developing quite a fondness for these runs to work, even though they require a bit of planning ahead.

I like the weight of the accomplishment, because no matter how my day at the office evolves, no one can take away those miles: I did something worthy before ever flicking on my computer. I like the distance: 10 to 12 miles is long enough to be substantial but not so long as to require a nap. I like communing with my city so early in the morning. I get to tread my bridge, explore the east side, share Central Park with other members of our tribe. I run New York City awake, gently pull the sun out from behind the horizon, and mull it all over–yesterday, tomorrow, today. The priority feels right, too. First: Run, play, sweat. Then: clean up so I look like a professional, and get down to business. Yes please.

Today I wore shorts and my running jacket. Brought the gloves but dispensed with them once I got over the 59th Street Bridge and its gusts. Shorts! The Empire State building shone fuzzily through the predawn fog, and the streets stretched like shiny black plastic, still wet from the rains of the day before. Central Park was jammed with runners, and I was pleased to share the loop with them. I like having people to pass, I like having fast, graceful runners pass me so I may admire them. And even though it meant dodging tourists, I even enjoyed the final quarter mile down Fifth Avenue towards my office. As I ran, the Q32 pulled up at one of its bus stops and discharged some passengers. Normally that is my carriage but not today, today my feet got me here. Prada, Pucci, Gucci, Ferragamo–I window shopped Italian couture as I ended my workout.

12 miles ran in 1:55:29. Average pace 9:37; fastest mile 8:48; slowest mile 11:04.

Songs I ran to: “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar, “F*ck You” by Lily Allen, “Factories” by Winter Gloves, “Fade” by Sister Hazel, “Faded” by Ben Harper, “Fai Come Me” by Irene Grandi, “Faith in You” by Matthew Sweet, “Fast as You” by Dwight Yoakam, “Fast as You Can” by Fiona Apple, “The Fear” by Lily Allen, “Feed the Tree” by Belly, “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” by Chicago, “Fell in Love with a Girl” by The White Stripes, “Fever” by Peggy Lee, “Fever (Adam Freeland Remix” by Sarah Vaughan, “Few and Far Between” by 10,000 Maniacs, “A Few Minutes of Silence” by Paul Westerberg, “Fight for Your Mind” by Ben Harper, “Fighter by Christina Aguilera (now there’s a woman I’d like to take over my lap and spank. Yum), “Finer Feelings” by Spoon, “Fiona” by Lyle Lovett, “Firecracker” by Josh Turner, “First Date” by Blink 182, “Fisherman’s Daughter” by The Waifs, “Flathead” by The Fratellis, “Float On” by Modest Mouse, “The Fly” by U2, “For the Girl” by The Fratellis, “Forever Yours” by Paul Burch and the WPA Ballclub, “Found a Job” by Talking Heads, “Fourth Floor” by The Waifs

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It’s not often we have to muster our courage to do something scary. Truly, courage is one of those positive qualities that is rarely on display; and often other traits (obliviousness, recklessness, arrogance even) are mistaken for courage. But real courage happens when we understand the risks, the danger, and yet still swallow our fear and do the difficult and right thing. I think runners who test themselves know something about this; it takes a bit of courage to believe in yourself enough to put yourself on the line in training and competition.

Today, however, no courage was required for an easy 5 miles home from work. As I stood at my usual place on the corner of Madison Avenue and 53rd Street, I had a sudden urge to cry. I was awash in a sense of loss, of growth, and of struggle–always struggle. But then Little G caught a bead on a satellite and it was time to run.* I breezily trotted around midtown and over my 59th Street Bridge then hooked a bit past my corner to tack on an additional mile. The weather–it’s always about the weather for us road runners–was like a gentle friend. The cool air stroked my skin, the darkness soothed my tired eyes. My legs felt free and light in shorts, and my brain ran happy as my iPod pumped song after favorite song in through my ears. My splits were nothing extraordinary, but that wasn’t the point. The point, as we know, is the act. The doing. The running. By staying true to who I am, I make a statement to the world. I draw that proverbial line in the sand. Buddy, nothing and no one are messing with me and my running, so just step off.

Songs I ran to: “C’è da fare” by Giorgia, “Cadillac” by The Push Stars, “California (All the Way)” by Luna, “Call Me” by Al Green, “Call Me” by Blondie, “Can’t Even Fake It” by Ivy, “Can’t Even Tie Your Own Shoes” by Golden Smog, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love, Baby” by Barry White, “Can’t Get There from Here” by R.E.M., “Can’t Hardly Wait” by The Replacements, “Can’t Say No” by Joan Osborne, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”  by Lauryn Hill, “Candy Everybody Wants” by 10,000 Maniacs, “Carbon Monoxide” by Cake and “Career Opportunities” by The Clash

And here are a couple of videos that made me smile tonight.

*In my movie about running, Tom Hanks would show up blustering, “Are you CRYING? There’s no CRYING in RUNNING!…” Of course, we all know there are tears (see: Kara Goucher at Mile 26 of the 2009 Boston Marathon), but thinking about Tom Hanks saying that line always cheers me  up. His incredulity and indignance is unassailable.

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View out the taxi cab window as I drove to Laguardia Airport.

Last night I tried to get myself on an earlier flight out of town, but had no luck. So, to fill the time between waking and leaving for the airport, I ran some chores and headed to the gym for a test run on the treadmill. I hopped up, set the speed at a leisurely 10-minutes per mile, and watched in horror as Mike Woods, Fox 5’s “Good Day New York” weatherman, gave the dismal report. The heavens were spitting a “wintry mix” at us (I so wish that meant a playlist of Christmas carols rather than this inclement weather which messed with my planned just-for-me minivacation), which (we were glibly promised!) should turn to a full-on blizzard just as soon as the temperature drops  below freezing. I wanted to wipe that gleeful expression right off Mike’s face. There is nothing exciting about this weather, considering that it is hitting right at the time when I am supposed to leave for a much-needed mental break from this dreadful season. 

Anyway, the weather report aroused both anxiety and indignance from me, as I steadily churned through 4 miles on the treadmill in 40 minutes. I worked up a holy sweat, and I’d be lying if I said my adductor brevis didn’t feel a little uncomfortable, almost crunchy. But, it was nowhere near as twingey as it was during the Run for Haiti nearly a week ago, and afterwards, after I stretched out, the pain wasn’t nearly as frightening either. In fact, it wasn’t frightening at all; it was slight enough that I thought that if I ran easy this week, and did my strength exercises, that perhaps I would be able to schedule in some big miles again. 

I headed home, showered up and did the rest of the packing for my trip. There was 2″ of slushy yuck on the sidewalks when I walked out of the building to the car that would take me to the airport, and I wondered if I wasn’t on a fool’s mission, trying to fly on such a day. Ultimately, my flight was two and a half hours delayed, but we made it out, probably one of the very few of the day. And here I am again, reminded twice in one day how sometimes it’s true, that certain things are worth the wait. 

Songs I ran to: “TVB” by Irene Grandi, “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell, “Take a Chance on Me” by ABBA, “Take a Chance on Me” by Erasure, “Take It Easy” by Jackson Browne, “Take It or Leave It” by the Strokes, “Take It Out in Trade” by Maxine Brown, “Take Me in Your Arms” by the Doobie Brothers, “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, “Take, Take, Take” by The White Stripes, “Takin’ It to the Street” by the Doobie Brothers, “Tanto Tempo” by Bebel Gilberto, “Te Espero Sentada” by Shakira

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L Is for Love

I am an ardent Valentine’s Day abstainer. Husband sweetly gets me a card every year, but I have always resented this holiday. I take umbrage (oh yes people, I just said “umbrage”) at the way this day makes people feel inadequate and lonely if they are unattached, and at the way it more than implies that this is our one chance to pour out our love for our romantic partners. Oh come on! That is the biggest bunch of bullshit! If I love you, you know it! I tell you at random moments, I show it in small and big ways throughout the year. Just because a bunch of product marketers tell me “Oop honey it is February 14th, you better give him a giftie!” does not mean I’m going to drop everything and proclaim my love. Fuck that.

Having said that, I just don’t have it in me to be a complete humbug about Valentine’s Day, since after all I support Love. I vote for Love, I say Go Love! I am extremely pro-Love. We need more Love–if only everyone clung to their Love feelings and remembered those rather than the yucky other ones, imagine what this world would be like. (Not to mention, everyone would come to work with afterglow every day and meetings would be so much easier.) So when I set my playlist, there was no question. This run was going to be sponsored by the letter L.

I’m in the Poconos with Husband this weekend (we left after my Queenswest long run yesterday), so my 8-miler was going to be around the Lake Naomi development, since those are the clearest backroads around these parts that I know. I was looking forward to it because it is so beautiful there in the Winter, it’s my favorite time of year, with the snow blanketing everything. As a non-skier, mountain cabins hold incredible appeal to me in the winter, since there’s no pressure to go skiing on me, yet everyone else leaves the house to hit the slopes. I always have fantasies of that kind of perfect solitude: alone all day to sit by a fire & read, then surrounded by chatty friends at night for socializing. (Is this the most digressing blogpost ever? Sorry kids.)

On my run today, I had the roads mostly to myself. I passed only two other runners, and they were a couple that was running together. It made me incredibly happy to see them out there. Each time we passed, I couldn’t help myself but to grin extra wide at them. The first time I gave them two-thumbs up and the second time they got a double-wave. The best and worst part of the run was when I spontaneously decided to turn left into the country club off Sullivan Road. It was deserted, and the thoroughfare went into the woods for seemingly forever. The silence, the loneliness once again thrust me into a moment of emotion on the road. I ran past a frozen lake which had been completely snowed over. I ran across a gray wooden bridge, which led me deeper into the forest. Finally I hit a point where I could run no further. I was deep in the middle of a rhododendron thicket which bordered the roads (we have monster rhodos here in the Poconos) and I clicked off Little G and squatted at the side of the road and sobbed. I am scared for the future, I am mourning the past, I am struggling to maintain my sense of self. Try as I might, it is impossible not to stake meaning and importance on events. For example, I have this awful foreboding that no matter what–even if I PR, even if I BQ–the London Marathon will be a letdown for me. Things like this are tying me up in knots, and run in the background of my thoughts all day long (like a system update on your computer) and leave me drained.

Finally I got angry. (Took me long enough.)  This is MY run, dammit! Pulled myself together and ran back to the car, knocking out the final mile with gritted teeth. It really was a terrific run, all things considered. One of these days I will figure out how to flick that switch in my brain. You know, the one that turns off your thoughts?

8.11 miles in 1:14:16. Average pace 9:10; fastest mile 8:58; slowest mile 9:32.

1. It is all mine.
2. I compete only against myself; I do the work and I can crow about the results. NO ONE ELSE gets any fucking credit.
3. It is easily shared.
4. It modulates my moods, makes me a more grounded person (really!).
5. It keeps me gorgeous, in every way.

Songs I ran to: Love’s in Need of Love Today” by Joan Osborne, “Love & Greed” by Blues Traveler, “Love Explosion” by Weezer, “Love Junkie” by Angie Stone, “Love Like We Do” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians, “Love Like We Do (Live)” by New Bohemians, “Love of My Life” by Blues Traveler, “Love Song” by Sara Bareilles, “Love Train” by Wolfmother, “Love You Madly” by Cake, “The Love You Save” by The Jackson 5, “Lovefool” by The Cardigans, “Lovelines” by The Replacements, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, “Lucha De Gigantes” by Fiebre, “Lucha De Gigantes” by Nacha Pop, “Lucky Star” by Madonna, “Lyla” by Oasis

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Holy crap, my muscles are really tight! I’ve stretched morning & evening for three days straight and they are all like little bags of cement (and not because they are toned, either).

Holy crap, is it really going to snow a foot tomorrow? Are we really going to have blizzard-like conditions? Holy crap, I am freaking out–I am supposed to run 8 miles at race pace!

Holy crap, today was another killer day at the office. For every one task I tagged & bagged, there were three more getting in line waiting to get IDed for their wristband at the all ages show. Er, or something like that.

Holy crap, I thought for sure I was coming down with a cold before lunch today. I skipped the tweet-up speed workout because of it. Luckily I seemed to have knocked that one out early.

Holy crap, I ran home over the bridge tonight and it was absolutely crystal. Perfect temperatures, clear air, light traffic. I managed the 4.25 miles in 38 minutes, not bad for a woman who was ignoring a headache and exhaustion moments before she broke into a jog.

P.S. — Holy crap! I totally left Little G at home this morning so I ran home untethered to that big Garmin satellite in the sky. I felt like I could have skidded down the slope, rode off the rails, without that invisible filament guiding me like a cable car.

Songs I ran to: “Head Rolls Off” by Frightened Rabbit, “Heads Carolina, Tails California” by Jo Dee Messina, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, “Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin, “The Heat” by Anjulie, “Heaven Tonight” by Hole, “Hella Good” bu No Doubt, “Henrietta” by the Fratellis, “Her First Mistake” by Lyle Lovett, “Here’s to the Meantime” by Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Apologizes, crew–I recently ran to the letter H, in December (and here’s the December 2008 “H” playlist).

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Mostly, I run alone, but last week I had three social runs, with MT, AG and LL.  When I started running, I did it for health and fitness, and it was a solitary pursuit for me, primarily because I didn’t know how to find other people to run with. Also, I was intimidated–everyone seemed faster than I was. Later, though, the social aspect of running was one of the primary reasons I signed up for my first marathon with Team in Training. At that point in my life, I had made some poor choices about who I was spending my time with, and I needed a new group of friends–quick! In so many ways, deciding to train with TNT is one of the most pivotal, life-changing choices I have ever made. Running has brought a steady stream of positive, good people to me. That first season, I became fast friends with KW and DT, and we are still girlfriends today. My second season with TNT, I met EN, who is one of my dearest friends now. Other special people have entered my life through the Green Mountain Relay, and through blogging and tweeting about running. I met all three of the above-mentioned guys because I blog about my running (MT is a podcaster, and AG and LL blog as well). If I was not a runner, my social circle would shrink down to a mere dot on the page, an ad hoc collection of (still remarkable) people who have stuck with me through the decades. I suspect that some of the runners I have met and am getting to know now will stick with me through some upcoming decades, too.

Sunday’s run was a solitary run, but I was thinking about the ripple effect my running buddies and friends who run (because we all know there is a difference) have on my non-running relationships. Sometimes, it’s a boon because it means my friends who don’t run aren’t subjected to my ceaseless yammering about my training, my body’s aches, my PR dreams, etc. Other times, it’s a drain. For example, I’ve invited Husband many times to meet my running friends but he always declines precisely because he knows all we’ll talk about is running, and that’s a big snooze to him. Sometimes it seems to him that I puff up my schedule with social runs, only to leave him home alone. It’s a tough call, as you all know. No matter what I gotta get the run in–so why not in the company of like-minded hoofers?

Sunday’s run was also a bust. I was supposed to run 8 at race pace but ran out of time and wound up with 40 minutes to squeeze in as many miles as I could. I couldn’t run at speed since my heart rate immediately spiked and I felt like I was going to pass out. Forced to slow down, I decided to meander through Sunnyside Gardens, a beautiful landmark neighborhood full of adorable houses and trees. I enjoyed this very much, and was on track to complete 4 miles until my left ITB decided to freeze up and I limped up 46th Street to Skillman Avenue, sadly aware I would have to walk the rest of the way home and bag the run. I didn’t panic; I’m not injured I am just tight. But I was crestfallen; in nearly every way my run for the day was a complete failure. But at least I’d given it a shot, and at least I was able to imagine my pack of encouraging running buddies as I headed home for a stretch and a shower.

3.17 miles in 31:20. Average pace 9:53; fastest mile 9:18; slowest mile 10:48.

Songs I ran to: “So Hard” by Pet Shop Boys, “So High So Low” by Ben Harper, “So Much for the Afterglow” by Everclear, “So Much to Say” by Dave Matthews Band, “So Nice (Summer Samba)” by Bebel Gilberto, “So What’cha Want” by The Beastie Boys, “Soak Up the Sun” by Sheryl Crowe, “Soft and Wet” by Prince, “Soma” by The Strokes

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