Archive for the ‘Alphabetized Playlist’ Category

‘Rawr’ is totally a thing.

Any Christopher Moore fans out there?

Mama Said Knock You Out

That MTV Unplugged video is horrifying. Anyone remember the chunks of deodorant in LL’s pits?


JR, my best friend from high school, is The Original Ass-Kicker

Sometimes, people, you just gotta put aside the Nice and bring on the Ice. Usually, I have no problem throwing up the stony wall of NMP and SOL. Lately, however, I’ve developed a soft spot that has yet to callous over and it’s costing me my tranqulity and my colleagues my most efficacious self. I now see that there’s no way forward with everyone still smiling. Someone’s going to have to bite the big one, and it ain’t gonna be me (I know better than to use my teeth).

Spicy! Or, if you prefer–icy. My pre-dawn run around Sunnyside, Queens was unremarkable, except for the fact that it’s another bale of hay in the barn, another penny in the piggybank. 4.68 miles in 43:08. Average pace 9:13: fastest mile 8:41; slowest mile 9:24.

Songs I ran to: “Days Aren’t Long Enough” by Steve Earle, “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” by The Police, “De Perros Amores” by Control Machete, “December 1963” by Frankie Vail & the Four Seasons, “Defense & Desire” by Blues Traveler, “Delirious” by Prince, “The Denial Twist” by The White Stripes, “Destination Unknown” by Rebel Soul Band (I didn’t even know this song was on my iPod–have I even heard it before? Who knows but I love it! Great beat for running. Check it out), “Diamonds on the Inside” by Ben Harper, “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” by Paul Simon, “Distance” by Cake, “Do What You Wanna (Mr. Scruff’s Soul Party Mix)” by Ramsey Lewis

*Suck My Left Tit

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Ran 3 miles yesterday morning in 28:12. Little G’s battery had died so I used the stopwatch on my iPod instead and ran the route I know to be 3 miles.  Apart from not having my Garmin’s company on the run, it was pretty uneventful.

This morning, however, I got up at 5 AM to complete 7 miles before work. Wow, they were amazing. I ran to Hell Gate Bridge and back, but rather than taking the side streets (which I do on the weekends to avoid heavy pedestrian traffic) I was able to run along the wide sidewalks of Steinway Street. There was no one around–sure, there was the random person straggling off to work super-early, but I didn’t have to weave around anyone or wait for a car to pass by even once–and the streetlamps lit my way clearly sand safely. It was cold, I was feeling energized, and the route is mostly flat so I pushed the pace in the hopes I could sustain it for seven miles. I had only one split slower than 9 minutes, and it was a 9:02. My average pace was 8:40, and my fastest mile was the last, which I ran in 8:03 despite having to contend with the Harold Avenue (39th Street) Bridge. The distance took me 60:38 to complete, despite my secret hope to finish in under an hour. It felt excellent to run quickly, to really stretch my legs and get my heart pounding.  When I run fast like that I always imagine I am lithe and graceful, when in fact I am heel-striking. In fact, none of it matters when my workouts are this good–and, who cares that I skipped Sunday’s pace run since basically I did it this morning.

I don’t want to forget to tell you about the turnaround point of the run, at Ditmars Boulevard and Shore Drive.  I was afforded an absolutely gorgeous view of the East River, rushing along like a black satin ribbon between Queens and Manhattan. Above it sparkled the Triboro Bridge, illuminated in the night. On the opposite shore The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings twinkled above the other office and apartment buildings, and the streetlamps of the West Side Highway daintily hemmed them all in. Closest to me though was the Hell Gate Bridge, massive and solid with just a few lights here and there. It curved north across the river and into Manhattan, its trestles and columns apparent only as denser patches of the night.

Songs I ran to: “Sea Lion Woman” by Feist, “Second Hand News” by Bob Mould, “See Me Beautiful” by Sister Hazel, “See These Bones” by Nada Surf, “Sei Volata Via” by Ron, Fiorella Mannoia & Francesco DeGregori, “Sell the Lie” by the Damnwells, “Sem Contencao” by Bebel Gilberto, “Sense” by Pete Yorn, “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, “Sequestered in Memphis” by The Hold Steady, “Serve Your Soul” by Ben Harper, “Sexy M.F.” by Prince “(SHAKIN’ THAT ASS! SHAKIN” THAT ASS!), “Shadow Stabbing” by Cake, “Shadowland” by Steve Earle, “Shadrach” by The Beastie Boys

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After yesterday evening’s pace run, I figured my body could use a recovery run, so I woke up thinking the 3 slated for today would be easy miles. But then you see, it was 40 degrees, and I was wearing my capri tights that make me feel like a rock star, and as I was waiting for Little G to grab a satellite Elvis Costello’s “Blame It on Cain” came up in the playlist and before I knew it I was having my own private dance party on the sidewalk in front of my building. Yes, I was shaking my hips and moving my arms right there on 41st Street at 5:40 in the morning. The little old Korean woman who shuffled by (but really: where was she going?!) may have given me a strange look, but she was pretty inscrutable. 

Then Nada Surf busted into the playlist with “Awe fuck yeah, I’m gonna have a party…” Best first line of a song EVER! So much for recovery run–I took off like Scooby Doo pursued by a hoaxy ghost, I may have even leapt my way across the street. I was awake! I was alive! I was going to scoot scoot my way through the run and see if I couldn’t pass ole Yellow Shorts, if she dared to show her face. (She didn’t but if she had I would have totally blown by her. I’m on a roll people.) 

Oh and also just a little memo to all you office gossips out there who get such pathetic entertainment out of spreading rumors: BLOW ME! And get a real hobby, you cowardly shits. 

3.04 miles in 26:52. Average pace 8:50; fastest mile 8:35; slowest mile 9:09.

Songs I ran to: “Blame It on Cain” by Elvis Costello, “Blanket Year” by Nada Surf , “Bled White” by Elliott Smith, “Bless My Soul” by the Di-Vinyls, “Blind Man in the Dark” by Gov’t Mule, “Blister in the Sun” by the Violent Femmes (big hands, that’s me), “Blue” by the Thorns, “Blue Orchid” by the White Stripes, “Blues from Brother George Jackson” by Archie Schepp (Mondo Grosso Next Wave remix)

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Tuesday was Day 1 of my training cycle for the Virgin London Marathon, and I was supposed to run 3 miles. Since that would require cutting the mileage I’d built myself up to, I said forget it. (Who ever cuts mileage the week leading into Christmas? How am I supposed to have seconds of Mom’s cheesecake if I run 3 instead of 4? No way, I gotta go with the cheesecake.) I had a bit of a tingle when I was getting ready for my workout–you know, from the awareness that I was taking the first step of hundreds of thousands that would lead me to race day–but when I stepped outside it was replaced with a shiver. 

Fresh starts are perfect opportunities, apart from the fact that they cruelly jump off the back of an ending. There will always be something missing, that’s just the way life goes, even when I’m running strong towards a marathon goal. Passage towards somewhere new means leaving another place behind. 

The sidewalks were inconsistently cleared, with snowdrifts left from the plows at every corner, so I ran in the bike lane. There was a fair amount of cars on the road even at 6 AM, and for safety I was running against traffic. This meant I was running my Sunnyside Loop reverse to my normal direction. Sometimes, when I’m brainstorming a project in my office, I’ll sit in one of the guest chairs to literally get a new perspective. Turning around meant I was running into the wind; it meant I had to take time to reacquaint myself with the roads; it meant I made an unusual turn down 51st Street and was delighted when I ran past the wreathed firehouse (which I never knew was there). 

Recovering from injuries, dropping out of races, acknowledging the limits and needs of my body–if these things never happened to me, I’d be another person entirely. More glib, less appreciative. 2009 taught me that sometimes the most control I can have over a situation is to wait it out and hope for the best. It taught me to appreciate the One Good Run in the middle of months and months of terrible workouts. It taught me when to approach with caution, and when to be all in. They say to be careful what you wish for, meaning I suppose that getting what you most want will always be a devil’s bargain. It’s true, but how do you ever really know what you want if you are never asked how much you’d pay to get it?

4.19 miles in 40:36; 9:48 pace; fastest mile 9:34; slowest mile 9:58. 

Songs I ran to: “Hard Core Troubadour” by Steve Earle, “Hard to Explain” by The Strokes, “Hard to Handle” by the Black Crowes, “Hash Pipe” by Weezer, “He Can Only Hold Her” by Amy Winehouse, “Head Over Heels” by Tears for Fears, “Heads Roll Off” by Frightened Rabbit, “Heart of Glass” by Blondie, “Heartbreaker” by Led Zeppelin, “The Heat” by Anjulie, “Heaven Tonight” by Hole, “Hella Good” by No Doubt, “Henrietta” by The Fratellis

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S Is for Sure

It’s not a real training schedule, with predetermined daily mileage and workouts. I just want to build my endurance and move through this final stage of injury-recovery, get in some ad-hoc basebuilding as I get closer to my training for the 2010 London Marathon.  The only set-in-stone workouts are my Saturday long runs, since I backed them out against the Ted Corbitt 15k on December 19th. The only other tenet of this training is to run five days a week, distance based on how I’m feeling that day. I do want to do some overmileage to prepare, which means today I had to run 8 miles so that I can build up by 1 mile each week until I am 2 miles over the race distance. I came to this plus-two strategy from my experience in the Baltimore Half, where the last two miles were the ones where I was running on fumes. I’ll just say it: I want to PR in a big way at the Ted Corbitt 15k. Two years ago, I ran a 15k at a 10:44 pace. Is it too much to say I’d like to cut that by two minutes per mile?

But for today, I set out telling myself I needn’t repeat last week’s long run performance. Long runs are for getting in the distance, easy; not for speed workouts. So I set out. It was a blue day, in the best sense of the word. Blue skies. Blue tights, blue socks, blue NYC Marathon long-sleeved tee–even my sunglasses (to protect my blue eyes) have blue frames. I ate a spelt bagel with Nutella and two cups of coffee for breakfast (I mention this because I believe it had something to do with the fabulousness of this run), and was on the road an hour later. Route 940, I will flatten thine hills and straighten thine curves! Thou art mine! (Sorry. I just saw a Shakespeare review on Thursday.)

Look, I swear I wasn’t going for speed. I accounted for 10-minute miles. I can’t help the fact that once again my body took over and said to me, “Lady shaddup! I got this. You just zone out and let me churn.” Mmokay!  But oh my goodness this run felt soo good. My thoughts swirled three feet above my body, over there, and with him, and five years ago. My brain was everywhere but where my body was, and on this particular morning that was a very. good. thing. I looked at Little G maybe twice, I barely cared. This one was by feel, this one was in homage of the blue skies, of my blue eyes that I knew would snap crackle and pop later with mirth once this was in the bag. My splits were tight; my pace remarkably even for such a hilly course–the fastest was 8:43 and the slowest 9:13. I wrapped up 8.26 miles in a quite unpainful 1:13:566. This is when I dare to think my time goal for the Ted Corbitt (while requiring work and focus) is not unreasonable; this is when I dare to say I am confident.

Songs I ran to: “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys, “Sad Sailor Song” by The Waifs, “Sadly Beautiful” by The Replacements, “Safe Europeans Home” by The Clash, “Safety in NUmbers” by Joan Osborne, “Samba da Bencao” by Bebel Gilberto, “Same Old Thing” by The Streets, “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago, “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by Big & Rich, “Save His Soul” by Blues Traveler, “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams (no this does not embarrass me), “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer, “Say No Go” by De La Soul, “Scam” by Jamiroquai, “Sea Lion Woman” by Feist, “Second Hand New” by Matthew Sweet & Suzanna Hoffs, “See a Little Light” by Bob Mould, “Sei Volata Via” by Ron, Fiorella Mannoia, Francesco De Gregori & Pino Daniele, “Sell the Lie” by The Damnwells, “Sem Contencao” by Bebel Gilberto

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Before I could leave for Pennsylvania with Matilda, I had a few things to take care of including picking up a package from the post office, getting a pedicure, and moving the car (Friday is an alternate side of the street day in our neighborhood). And, since I had taken the day as a vacation day, I also wanted to get my run in during business hours, just as a nice way to underscore the fact that while the rest of the world was busy getting things done for The Man, I was out running like a newly-released prisioner though the streets of New York City.

I was being practical–I’d run to the post office, finishing my run about 20 minutes before the end of alternate side parking, so that I could complete my workout, retrieve my parcel, and then move the car all in one fell swoop.Rarely am I ever this efficient; I am a little bit proud. Of course, the post office is just three blocks from my apartment, and I wanted to get in a solid 5-miler yesterday. So, of course I took the long way to the post office, running away from it, crossing my bridge, and then heading back into Queens. Instead of cutting left once I an through Queens Plaza, I kept ever to the right, which put me on Queens Boulevard rather than Skillman to 43rd Avenue.

This workout was a bit of a stunner. I was fighting a south-blowing wind as I crossed the bridge both ways (the pedestrian path is on the north side of the brdge). Then as I came up Queens Boulevard the headwind was so strong at one point that even though my feet were running forward I was not moving. It reminded me of the Bronx Half from the beginning of this year. I was vaguely aware I was working hard, but some stretches of the course felt effortless. It’s always a relief to come down off the 59th Street Bridge after two serious uphills, dumping down into Queens Plaza. The music was really popping on my iPod this day, and I had to bust out with some air drums for White Rabbit. Heading through the Plaza, I couldn’t resist the speed so I spread my arms and airplaned it around the curve. Voosh!

Little G was doing his reliable thing on my wrist, ticking off the miles as I let my mind wander. So much to look forward to, so much to do, so much to remember, and so, so incredibly much to just push out of my mind. Ever spend a run tossing aside unwanted thoughts like used Kleenex? Ever spend a run retreading the same happy thought over and over, afraid to leave it and move on, lest it never enter your mind again?

I arrived at the post office, breathing hard and with a stitch in my side from a final mile of pushing uphill and against a headwind (unwilling to slow down, of course). Once inside, I pulled up the workout summary on Little G and audibly exclaimed, Holy crap! The entire ragtag line of USPS customers looked up at me in unison.  Um, hi!

5.17 miles in 44:50. Average pace? 8:40 minutes per mile. Fastest split? 7:55.  Voosh!

Songs I ran to:  “Pale Blue Eyes” by R.E.M., “Palm of Your Hand” by Cake, “Passive Manipulation” by The White Stripes, “Passtime Paradise” by Stevie Wonder, “The Patient Ferris Wheel” by The Gaslight Anthem, “Pay It Back” by Elvis Costello, “Pay Me My Money Down” by Bruce Springsteen, “Peaches” by The PResidents of the United States, “Peg” by Steely Dan, “Penso Positivo” by Jovanotti, “Per Fortuna Purtroppo” by Irene Grandi, “Percussion Gun” by White Rabbits, “Perro Amor Explota” by Bersuit Vergarabat, “Pesada (Com Maigaz) by Control Machete and “Peter Gunn (Max Sedgley Remix)” by Sarah Vaughan

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After perhaps the laziest two days of my entire adult life,* the guilt was more than I could bear. I knew I had to run, to flee the inertia that was threatening to permanently affix me to the couch. I’d read New York City Marathon race reports on some blogs over the weekend which sort of dissed the miles in Queens and on Queensboro Bridge, and I was feeling defensive and protective on behalf of my borough and my bridge. So I was motivated not only to run, but to feel my bridge under my feet. I’d run home from work.

There wasn’t even the hint of a chill in the air when I left my office around 6:30, but even so it was hard for me to muster my enthusiasm for this commute. I just wanted to get into bed and pull the covers over my head hoping someone would miss me enough to come dig me out. Strange. Strange indeed.

I do this–this retreat, this feigning of disinterest–when I’m scared. Twice-injured, twice-forced to defer my marathon plan in one year. It occurred to me as I trotted home that I’m dragging my feet when it comes time to run because I don’t want to feel good, build up mileage, endurance and speed only to get injured and crushed once again. Hell, even Little G is reluctant, as he took nearly 10 minutes to pick a satellite that would watch over us as we headed home.

It was a fine example of NYC serendipity when, on the way to find Brother in the runners’ reunion area after the New York City Marathon, I caught a glimpse of a strong woman dressed in blue tech clothes and a mylar cape. Sarah! Ohmygoodness, there she was, my blogging buddy and Green Mountain Relay teammate.

Tomorrow morning, I’m meeting two other women I know through blogging and Twitter for an early-morning run. Not sure I realize exactly how early I’ll need to get up to arrive on the west side of Central Park before 6:30.

DT, my Ironwoman and marathon girl, emailed me the other day that she needed to train for something, with someone [me], quick, before she “lost her mind.”

I don’t know how I did it, but I averaged 8:33’s for my run home from work. Not sure where my mind was exactly (in the office, in the kitchen, in bed) because I don’t even remember running up the steep western shoulder of the 59th Street Bridge. I wondered, as I peeked at the solitary drivers at the wheel, at the sullen passengers on the bus, Who takes care of you? And to whom to you tend?

Songs I ran to: “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, “Keep Coming Back” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, “Keep Fishin'” by Weezer, “Keep the Car Running” by Arcade Fire, “Keepin’ the Faith” by De La Soul, “Kicked Out the House” by De La Soul (Song I should have run to: “I Kicked a Boy” by The Sundays)

*Husband and I spent the weekend at the Pennsylvania house. I neither ran, nor showered. I set down my Sony eReader only long enough to get a beer or prepare dinner. To understand the depths of my apathy, I tell you this: on Sunday afternoon I watched first “The Prince and Me 2: The Royal Wedding” and then “The Prince and Me 3: Holiday Honeymoon.”

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bluedressFriday night Husband and I went to a wedding for one of my industry friends. It seems that the only chance I get to dance (apart from concerts, which is completely different than shaking a tailfeather on a dance floor to pop music) nowadays (translation: in my old age) is at weddings. I take extra pleasure in getting all foxed up for this reason. Months ago I’d bought a little blue dress that I saw in a shop window, ran by for a month on my way home from work, then finally surrendered in July (or maybe it was August) and dropped the plastic. It’s got cap sleeves, a v-neck, nips at my waist with a little bow at the back and curves along my hips just so. I was dying to wear this dress. I pulled out my gold brocade heels, my Furla clutch, and my Nana’s jewelry. I painted my eyelids bronze and my lips raspberry. I am sorry boys–I confirm that this is a blog about running but every now and then you must endure as I slip into a girly reminiscence about an outfit or an ex.

Since I reacquainted myself with red wine during the reception, I wasn’t quite up for a workout on Saturday, which was fine since outside it was stormy and chilled. But Sunday–oh glory be, it pulled out all the stops! If Sunday October 25th was a person on a speed date, it would call itself a Giver (not a Taker), a Pleaser and an Optimist, and would describe its dream date as a long run through the park with someone special. In short, this day was my perfect date–it didn’t even mind when I turned up unshowered for our run through New Calvary Cemetery, the closest thing to a grassy park I’ve got here in Sunnyside.

I ran south on 41st Street, then east along 51st Avenue until I reached the entrance of the cemetery. The sun shone with a diva’s pride at wresting the mike back from the clouds as the trees applauded daintily with their gold, amber and red leaves. It was so peaceful, just me and the gravestones. It’s a small cemetery, so I ran past two other joggers a few times each as we twisted our way through the alleys, trying to accumulate mileage. My steps carried me in and out of the shade cast by old maples and oaks. I thought about how being dead means no more. I thought about how when I am no more I hope they cremate me up and use my ashes to fertilize a dogwood, or an azalea, or a rhododendron.  Morbid thoughts for such a sunny day, but they didn’t upset me. I ran, and I ran–not  far, but placidly. I was grateful to abandon urgency for a change. I thought of my blue dress, and my gold heels and bracelets, and I was glad. (4.87 miles in 43:41.)

Songs I ran to: “Waitress in the Sky” by The Replacements, “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles, “Walk Out” by Matthew Sweet, “Walter’s Theme” by R.E.M., “Wandering Child” by Gov’t Mule, “Wanted” by The Cranberries, “Warmer Days” by Blues Traveler, “Waterloo” by Abba, “Way Down in the Hole” by Steve Earle, “The Way You Found Me” by Ben Harper, “We’re Going to Be Friends” by The White Stripes, “We’re the Same” by Matthew Sweet, “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge and “The Weight of Her” by Butch Walker

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(Don’t you like how I turned that F into an E? I am so fucking clever.)

Elation, when my mind and my body are simultaneously transported and pinpoint-focused, is a gift. More often than not, I’m in the company of others when it strikes. Prime example of being elated in the midst of others: racing.  Every now and then I’ll feel like my body’s been taken over by some outside force when I’m out for a training run: my legs move of their own accord, I could glide forward forever, my  breathing sits just on the edge of labored. Elation doesn’t come when things are easy. It always waits on the other side of difficult, gently waving at me with dual promises: a beatific smile and a cocked hip.

So. Today I had to run 12 miles, my final long run before next week’s Baltimore Half-Marathon. I’m not gonna lie–I was nervous. But it was time to gnaw away at it. Long runs can’t be slayed like a dragon, you must slowly turn them to dust like a termite on a log. I set out with a water bottle filled with three-quarters H2O and one-quarter OJ (since I had no Gatorade), a crinkled packet of PowerGel that expired in June, my iPod and Little G. Running on Route 940 from Pocono Lake towards Mount Pocono and back again requires a bit of strategy–the last two miles are uphills that may not hurt after 4 miles, but after 10 they seem vengeful (more than once I’ve plodded up them thinking, What’d I ever do to you?). The whole six miles out were executed under two directives: rein it in, and tuck it in. As far as reining it in, I didn’t really do too well, as my pace ranged between 8:29’s and 8:59’s. But the tucking, that went well.

You see, one of the things I’ve learned through PT is that I’m a back-archer, so I must always remember to tuck my abs and hips foward. When I run, stand and walk, I overarch my lower back, which not only unnecessarily taxes certain muscle groups (thus leading to injury) but it also gives me a Betty Boop posture. The arched back pushes my tits and my ass out–just in case you missed them the first time (fat chance). When did I start doing that? Is it some kind of involuntary female preening? In high school, I remember slouching around the hallways, afraid of boys and mortified about my big hair and curvy body I couldn’t fit into the clothes everyone else was wearing. But then I remembered RC, the tall, handsome redhead who was in most of my classes junior year. He walked around with a naughty smile and his eyes half open; I couldn’t speak to him in full sentences. Once, just before graduation, he focused on me, opened his green eyes and flashed his grin and said something along the lines of, “You have a killer bod.”* Now, I was a good girl. I had vague urges but they never materialized into a distinct plan of action. But his three seconds of attention surely arched my back. Surely, because I remember being pinned to the spot, I remember the tingle that went up the back of my neck and the way my heart momentarily beat faster, until he walked away and left me standing there confused and electrified.

The memory of RC kicked off a deep dive. Hey, I was only at Mile 2, what better way to pass the time than to summon up stories about all the boys and men who may have been witness to the visual effect of my overarching back? I would have had to run further than 12 miles if I was aiming for a complete catalog, so luckily this chain of thought quickly degenerated (I don’t actually wish to remember most of the guys I’ve spent time with). I ended up focusing on the few who most effectively, er, elated me. Mmm, wouldn’t you like to know who I was thinking about during my fastest split (Mile 9 in 8:18)? No joke people, I have discovered the secret to making the long runs go by in a flash: think about sex! Not only did I run faster, but I was stunned when I looked at Little G and realized I only had a mile and a half left. Even though the final uphill push would require my full attention, the earlier miles blew by. Running and sex aren’t the only things that elate me, but they sure were working for me this morning. 12.06 miles took me 1:45:52–that’s an 8:47 pace. Still not close to my half-marathon PR pace (that would be 8:18), but nevertheless: today I clearly found my rhythm. Let’s hope I still have some elation mojo left in Baltimore (after all, I did spent my college years there).

*Even then I realized RC was the cheezy, disrespectful sort but it didn’t diminish my attraction. He was still kinda hot!

Songs I ran to: “Ecstacy” by Rusted Root, “Egg Man” by The Beastie Boys, “El Diablo” DJ Bitman, “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor, “End of the Line” by The Traveling Wilburys, “End of the Movie” by Cake, “Engraved Invitation” by Ben Harper, “Escaping” by Blues Traveler (“the endless possibilities of escaping”), “Esta Melodia” by Marisa Monte, “”Estoy Aqui” by Shakira, “Eternity” by The Waifs, “Evangeline” by Matthew Sweet (I couldn’t wait for this song to come up), “Even Better Than the Real Thing” by U2, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, “”Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police (huh! what are the chances?), “Everybody’s Trying” by Poi Dog Pondering, “”Everybody Is a Star” by Joan Osborne, “”Everybody Knows You Cried” by The Fratellis, “Everybody Needs Somebody” by The Blues Brothers, “Everyday” by Angie Stone, “Everything” by Ben Harper, “Everything’s Just Wonderful” by Lily Allen, “Everything for Everyone” by Everclear, “Extraordinary Machine” by Fiona Apple (if ever there was a song about a runner’s body, this is it), “Eye Know” by De La Soul, …and the E must always elide into the F…. “Factories” by Winter Gloves, “Faded” by Ben Harper, “Faded/Whole Lotta Love (live)” by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals

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This year has been the year I learned how to withdraw. My nature is: when I want something, I hammer away until I get it. But this year, for reasons of health, happiness and situation, I have had to step away from projects, from people, and from races. (Put the hammer down, TK. Now step away from the hammer. Perhaps it’s best if you even avert your eyes from the hammer. Here, have some red wine.) Saturday’s Fifth Avenue Mile is the fifth race this year I’ve signed up for and then had to scratch from my calendar due to my not-quite-right body. Not-Quite-Right; or maybe, Just-Wrong-Enough. In any event, my right hamstring was so tight and achy after Thursday’s strength exercises at PT that I didn’t dare run the Fifth Avenue Mile. All that race asks of us is to run as fast as our heart, lungs and legs will allow; I knew I would be asking for [hamstring] trouble merely by toeing the line, since I’d never be able to resist running at max effort. 

I went anyway, though, to cheer a few friends and then gape at the elites. EN ran a PR, blazingly breaking 6 minutes (5:44–see what track workouts can do for you?), and MDC (my relay teammate) streaked towards the finish, also under 6 minutes (5:37). MDC, more than anyone else I know, runs with visible joy. I recognized the glint in his eye, and was glad for him (though also suddenly impatient for the moment I could ecstatically dash towards a finish line—any finish line– myself). 

I now had a two hour wait for the first elite race, so I stowed my bag and headed out for my long run–10.5 miles through Central Park.  The morning was crisp and cool, the sky an improbable blue. Everyone was out; I was grateful to slip anonymously among them. With my iPod dialed to the M’s, I headed off. I ran one upper loop and one lower loop; tacking on the spit tail that leads to the fountain at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street. All told, I ran 10.69 miles. At a certain point the overture from “The Marriage of Figaro” hit my ears, and I was immediately elated. There’s something about this song that makes me feel strong, graceful, and fast. I picked up speed, yet I breathed easier. I had the chills, I felt like running in es-curves, to glide and swoop. I was overcome with an urge to shut my eyes, to block out every perception apart from the music and the pulse of my body; I turned up the volume instead, now completely shot through with Mozart’s piece. All too soon the instrumental was over, and it was as if I’d been shook awake from a glorious dream. 

Immediately following “The Marriage of Figaro” was “Mastermind” by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. A different kind of tune to be sure, but the uptempo kept me running hard and fast for another 3 minutes or so, as did the next song, “Maybe It’s Just Me.” (I love Butch’s first two lines of lyrics, “Maybe it’s just me/But you seem finally happy.”) Ah, there is always such brilliant serendipity in the alphabetization of the My Top Rated playlist. 

The last couple of miles hurt a bit, my right leg’s muscles were tight all the way from my hamstring up to my lower back. But, it wasn’t an injury sort of pain, it was just a tight, sore ache that I knew would be relieved with stretching and a good rubdown at PT on Monday. I was happy with being able to run the distance without backing down. My slowest mile was the first, in 9:20, and my fastest was the seventh, in 8:47. I ran the entire distance in 1:36:33, for an average pace of 9:02’s. I swear I wasn’t trying—I would have been happy with 9:30’s! 

Afterwards, I stretched to little effect; my right leg still felt like poured concrete. Then it was time for nine (combined) minutes of glory—the women’s and men’s professional races. I stood at the finish line this year, so I didn’t get any of the cool pre-race photos of the elites warming up like I did last year. I was so excited as the announcer introduced the women. Shannon, Lisa, Sara H, Erin, Christen! Ooh, it was a grudgefest between Rowbury and Dobriskey; was Shannon going to vanquish Lisa this year? And oh yes, yes she would—with 0.6 seconds to spare. Times overall were much faster last year (because it was an Olympic year?), although I am happy to see third-place finisher Sara Hall improved her time (4:23.9 against 4:32.6). 

The men’s race had me jazzed with its stacked field. I was rooting for Lagat of course, but you know I am a big fan of Nate Brannen, and think Tegenkamp, Manzano and Solinsky always keep things interesting. I really believed Lagat could win it, now that he had the experience road running, and knew the course. But no, he finished fourth, with a Brit taking first place (compensating for Dobriskey’s loss?), a Kenyan in second, and Leo Manzano taking third. I was psyched for Leo. Nate, who was third last year, came in 14th (still breaking 4 minutes, but just barely). 

Run Blog Run covers the professional race, and Cowboy Hazel reports from the pack (funny I didn’t see him in the park).

Songs I ran to: “Made Me Hard” by The Whitlams, “The Maestro” by The Beastie Boys, “Magic Carpet Ride” by Bedlam, “Magic Number” by De La Soul, “Make Believe” by Matthew Sweet, “Make Me Smile” by Chicago, “Make Out Alright” by Divinyls, “Make the World Safe” by The Whitlams, “Making Out” by No Doubt, “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now (live)” by Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals, “Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now” by Ben Harper, “Mama’s Trippin'” by Ben Harper, “Mama Help Me” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians, “Man” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Man’s Final Frontier” by Arrested Development, “Maneater” by Hall & Oates, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles, “Mannequin Shop” by Paul Westerberg, “The Marriage of Figaro Overture” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, “Mastermind” by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, “Maybe It’s Just Me” by Butch Walker, “Me Myself and I” by De La Soul, “The Me that Was Your Son” by Poi Dog Pondering, “Me Van a Matar” by Julieta Venegas, “The Meaning of Soul” by Oasis, “Medley” by Gipsy Kings, “Merry Go Round” by The Replacements, “Message in a Bottle” by The Police, “Michael” by Franz Ferdinand, “Mighty Mighty” by Charlie Hunter, “Minneapolis” by that dog, “Miss Thang” by Monica and “Misty Mountain Top” by Led Zeppelin

Shannon Rowbury winning the 2009 Fifth Avenue Mile

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