Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Am Now A Crotchety Old Runner


Truer words are rarely typed by me, I must say.

Let me explain my day. Didn’t start off too great. Was in a state of wistfulness for the better part of the morning.

Finally reached a point in the afternoon where I laced up and headed out for a run of a to be determined length. My left knee has been sore so I’m seeing how it feels, taking it eas...ier if I am able to actually use self-restraint on the outing. It was beautifully nice out, in the high 40s with no noticeable winds. I’d consider that an ideal setting as possible. I’m hopefully, to start.

Ah, but the afternoon, Zoe. In Oak Park. Have you not learned your lesson? Guess not.

The smallest things get under my skin. Like the dumbass suburbanites in minivans and pseudo SUVs who feel they have the right of way all the time, even when I’m already well into the cross walk with the light.  You can see me; you choose not to acknowledge me. Cool. I will start snot rocketing onto your tires. Then you may notice; my accuracy is grotesque.

Or, to be more precise to today’s adventure, sidewalks within a mile of OPRF High School a half hour after school lets out.  

I am just getting started, about a third of a mile in on what I would consider my “normal” route. There are minimal stops and it gets me north enough to avoid such things as people. Or children, so it the point and purpose.

Nope.

I approach a corner featuring a quartet of young girls blocking my way. This angers me. One of them moves, but the others don’t, standing their ground and begin to sing something I care not to pay attention to.

As I pass by, one starts running with me. This angers me greatly.

I found this was a commonplace occurrence this summer running downtown on Michigan Ave/right off of State Street in the Loop at least three or four times; teenagers would find it highly amusing to spontaneously run with me. In response, I would start to sprint and lose them, out of sheer “what the…”. I don’t know what they are getting out of such random activity, but I sure don’t want some shit in jeans and a chain wallet running beside me.

But back to the moment at hand. I don’t even think there was a moment of mental hesitation, but as soon as I hear those few plodding footsteps, the smack of ballet flats on concrete, I screech to a halt, simultaneously stopping and spinning around to confront her. I’m not dealing with this today.

“I’m sorry, can I help you with anything?” I am sounding as stern as possible. Eye contact is very present.

The look on her face, mortified and she stumbled over some incoherent words. Her cohorts started to giggle behind her.

“Are you sure? I want to make certain you are really sure.”

 Her response, a snide “Yeah”. I know the presence of verbal vitriol too well; it composed a good amount of what rolled off my tongue in my teenage years.  I turned and started back on my way.

And here lies where I evolved from a pissed-off runner to an angry old one: That “Yeah” struck something. It couldn’t be the last thing that was said in this encounter. I made it about a step and a half before I turned back while moving.

“Good luck failing out of high school.”

I meant it.  And continued on.

Yeah, I had stupid moments as a teenager and times where I’d snap back, never to a stranger, though. And I would never do that to a passerby. I hate the notion of inconveniencing someone, especially for a millisecond crossing paths on a sidewalk.  But the second you act more important or infringe on my space, I’m angry.

I will always thank those who move to the side when I come through. You took time to recognize that not only am I coming through this minute space we tread upon, but also I’m moving faster than you. Of that, I appreciate your efforts.

A block away from this nonsense, the verbal equivalent of me pounding the heel of my hand into the hood of a car that wasn’t paying attention as I was already well into a crosswalk (that always gets the drivers attention), it crossed my mind.

“I sure as hell wouldn’t have done that as a kid.”

And onward I went, passing more people with kids and more people walking dogs. Apparently to live in this town, you need a baby or a dog. Perhaps it’s good to be renting as I am forever without canine, and very certainly want nothing to do with a baby.

But today marks the start of a 100-mile quest over the next 60 some odd days, via the Frozen Tundra Challenge. Not sure why it peaked my interests enough to give it a go (especially when I create my own challenges and fail to follow through...poor 116 days) but I figured given I already use DailyMile, why not?

There is no clean way to end this post.  So, I go. 

A Good Dog

Not interested in sending this one out via social consumption, I just wanted somewhere to post this online for me. 

At 15/potentially 16 years of age, childhood dog Tosca passed on this morning. Last few weeks were rough after she suffered what was presumed to be a stroke. Saw her on Friday for the first time since early October (when she looked frail and all things considering, old, but still was spunky and happy) and she was just a shell, a fragment of herself; lethargic and laying considerably still. She did lift her head up a bit and wagged her tail as much as she could when she saw me. It's the kind of subtle action that breaks your heart.  

She never wanted to run with me, but was the reason my family started taking our two larger (then eventually smaller pooch) beasts to an enclosed area at my nearby school. There were a few times that once she grew into the sizable golden retriever she turned out to be (unlike the husky she looked like as a puppy), we had to chase after her through the backyards on our block as she just wanted to nab a nearby rabbit. There was a point of experimenting with long pieces of close line as  50+ yard leashes, but I can still point out the faint scars on the back of my ankles from when she quickly looped around me and pulled me off my feet (that HURT, it defined pratfall to a tee). She also was an avid fan of swimming after gulls/ducks in Lake Michigan, not totally understanding the whole depth issue of going out too far. 

I happily would take her on little night treks down the street for the final out of the day, especially in the winter (like New Years eve or Christmas night). She barked at everything (leaves, strollers, the mailman, people when my mom would pack all three dogs in the backseat when she would come and pick me/my sister up after school) and was active for the overt majority of her life. Going to really suck not having her around at Christmas  in a few weeks when it just sets in that she isn't there.

Another important component of my childhood is gone. I thought this was supposed to get easier with age. Doesn't feel like it. 

Love this photo of her with an equally beloved Guinea Pig, Victoria. I don't know if it's true or not, but she felt like my dog. And was a great one at that. 


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Farewell to the Crutch of Being Too Busy

So the last 30 days, I’ve done things yet not scribed a single post.

What have I done, exactly? Lazy bullet point time!

- I completed the redesign of my portfolio site, which you can see here at zoeakind.com! I very much love it, as I feel there is a nice blend of fun/personality and actual information kinda showing off what I like to do and have to offer. The next step will probably be integrating a back-end and figuring out the place of a blog. I like this space, but I’d rather everything be interconnected and together on one site. 

I’d love to know what you think. Really. Lemmie know. Here, there, anywhere.

-       - I wrote my (I suppose) final paper of what the purpose and meaning behind images of the dead mean in the present and back alongside the advent of photography in the mid 1800’s, utilizing the very bizarre Camera Lucida (translated from French, I am not that good) as my guiding argumentThe content I was analyzing was considerably harrowing, so please don’t come away from the previous paragraph thinking I’m some sort of lover of the macabre as I am very much the opposite.  There was an instance on the one occasion my family traveled up to Manitoba to visit relatives there. In the home of my great uncle, my siblings and I were flipping through random photo albums, looking at people and a life we had no notion of then or really ever after. At one point, he freaked out when we reached a certain book or section and took it away. Later, we learned it was the section from my great aunt’s funeral, including images of her laid out in the funeral home. I’ve always carried that in the back pocket of my mind, the question of why take a photo of something you don’t want anyone to see?  It found its place in this class.  I feel like I took a deep breath, submerged myself and came back up to the surface 12ish pages later. I got an A, so it was either successful or my professor just shrugged me off as unhinged. The world will never know.

-      - Thus, with the previous pair of bullet points, I completed my graduate studies. Grades were posted so I’m legit, awaiting my diploma in the next 6-8 weeks.  I’m not quite sure the physical location of my undergrad degree (hmm. Probably should find it), so I might take a bit more care with this one. Not sure if this is the utmost end of my prancing about academia, but for now it is.

-      - I ran the Chicago Perfect 10. What a crap race (event wise: two days before the race they announced it was to start an hour earlier + sharing the lakefront trail? Boo to all that nonsense), but in true stupid me fashion, I PR’d with no base or training. Would have been even faster but my right knee went all tight and painfully wonky in the final few miles.

A lone positive: finally took a decent photo whilst running! Totally right before my knee tightened up as my face doesn’t look contorted or silly, as it normally does…thanks Brightroom.



-      -  I had an awesome run out at Waterfall Glen on Thanksgiving. A place that was a considerable weekly occurrence during high school summer runs has been off the radar for a while now, only going back once when training for the 2007 Chicago Half. There was a good amount of foot traffic Thursday morning and the nice cool wind made for a great full loop effort. I didn’t feel too grand afterwards as both my achilles have decided to go all tight and uncomfortable after runs, but I ran yesterday and didn’t feel too bad. I’m guessing it has to do with my shoes that have a much more defined heel cup than I’ve run in before.

-       - Momentarily, I will be signing up for the coup de grace of my non-planned out running phase of life in the form of the Illinois Half on April 28. Looking forward to this one, as some very nice people will be trekking down to Chambanaland as well. 
Not worth a bullet point by itself, but I crafted up a conservative base building schedule for myself over the winter. I’m excited to for cold snow runs (that I didn’t once last year speaks to how out of sorts things were) when others are on treadmills or not running at all. Yeah, winters in Chicago aren’t the greatest but I totally miss that sense of pride and character building by going out and feeling like you’ve done something…mainly by virtue of being covered in your own frozen snot and a slight loss of feeling in your fingertips. Invigorating.


In less interesting bullet points:
- I’m more or less totally unpacked and moved in. I say that sitting beside a few unpacked Tupperware amidst a disheveled office, but it feels like home. Floors creak like crazy and there was no heat for awhile, but all is good again.

-      - Been cooking and baking like a banshee. I am awesome.  And making Mike fat. He doesn’t seem to mind.

-      - I have started applying for full time positions.  


Bullet points are an unsatisfying means of communication. This was like the worst PowerPoint presentation in the world.  That is all for now. I’ll pick back up with more running-focused efforts from this point forward. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Day Five/Six: I Still Exsist

I once again will keep this on the shorter side as my thumbs refuse to take on the brunt of a full-fledged entry. Cheating, perhaps but the past two days (I could even include Friday if I so chose) were devoted to cleaning and scrubbing away the grime from my former apartment and shifting things around in the new one. It's in a much more residential area with a lot more space and windows abound, which is super nice.

Looking forward to hanging things up on the walls and settling in. So happy to have my desk and an "office" once more!

I think I'll reminise about Halloween tomorrow. Until then...

What'd I do? Scour like the best of 'em/Cemented my feelings on FlatTop Grill for breakfast (meh).

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, October 28, 2011

Day Four: Lift Not With Your Back

Not much to say today except I learned, or recalled, how bloody painful it is to move your entire physical exsistence by yourself. Suffice it to say that my neck and back are killing me. No Internet = blog entries via phone. I'll elaborate from a coffee chain tomorrow. Now, where's that heat pad....


What I'd do? I took a couch to the throat. Ack.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day Three: Avast, Ye Dust Bunnies


The past two days have been focused on pace and the ability of movement out on the road. It’s probably fitting that today, in anticipation of a heavy day of lugging furniture tomorrow, I stayed inside and rowed. 

No doubt to the whole total body workout it provides (proper form is critical), but I mainly love how strong my back feels when I’m done. Always uber sweaty, but usually feel good afterwards. I did three sets of 300 KJ over a frequency of 30 strokes a minute at level four.


Exactly.

Truth be told, I’ve only read a little on training whilst erging (oh yeah) and I pretty much workout based on feel…or overwhelming presence of cat hair being blown about by the fan. I’ll dally between a more endurance-based effort or shorter interval stuff, and today was somewhere in the middle.

A few years back when I moved downtown, I looked into taking actual rowing lessons up in Lincoln Park in the fall. But like many things over the past four years, work schedule –primarily afternoons of volleyball and soccer – prevented such from becoming a reality. 

It’s slightly ironic, especially when I worked with folks who would get drunk and not do their work the most drunken holiday of the year or couldn’t oversee events due to tennis league, but not taking classes on learning how to row for a few weeks in September pretty much defines my tenure: I avoided potential conflict between that whole work/life balance so well that life outside of work ceased entirely.

It’s certainly a process in action, but I’m committed to moving on from that unbalanced mentality. Hell, I swore it off before June but have yet to achieve it.  Because it’d be nice to actually row out on water instead of confined to a few dusty feet.  


What’d I do? Set a goal to actually row, row, row in a boat in 2012. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Day Two: A Twinge In Your Heart


So what I wrote earlier was a slight…alright, total lie. Between packing up and cleaning in preparation for this move, I didn’t get out for a run until after five, a considerable rarity. It has been either earlier or not at all as of late.

But a tiresome morning/early afternoon of schlepping equated to finishing off the brewed stuff sitting in the coffee pot from this morning in the late afternoon, about three-quarters of a larger size mug. 

I know during the spring I mentioned my dalliance with coffee, a poor trait I recently picked up from men who influence me most (you bastards).  All along I have planned on dialing back my nearly daily consumption upon completion of grad school as while it does the trick in terms of waking me up when need be, it certainly doesn’t make me feel very good.  I once thought I was suffering from a heart attack late at night after consuming caffeine earlier in the day. The pain in my chest was so harsh and heavy, I honestly wondered if I was dying. Turns out it was just inflamed cartilage between my ribcage and breastbone that has no know cause (thanks, medicine) but I’ve always been leery of caffeine since…until the last 8-10 months or so.

With coffee already imbibed, I took ownership of the streets about a half hour later upon realizing that the sun sets disturbingly early these days.

Here lies the lie: whereas yesterday my run was calm and calculated, a flowing constant rhythm to my footsteps and thoughtfully controlled pace, today very much was not. In musical terms, it was interpretive jazz, heavy on bass and xylophone to the lethargic waltz performed yesterday. I had such incredible turnover while feeling so light on my feet, it was like I was in racing flats.

While I’m not the biggest believer in muscle memory, my head knows speed and my ego relishes it. 

Between the cool tingle enveloping my legs glowing red from the wind, caffeine rolling throughout my entire being and my heart taking percussive command, I was not going to locate an internal governor amidst all that jazz today.

For me, being in the midst of a great run where everything is going right and feels really great is akin to the early stages of falling in love. There’s a child-like giddiness with every step and action. Things happen only for you, traffic lights stop in your favor or dogs are walked in a different direction. The recollection of a private moment fills you with such power and warmth…mmm. That was my today, a short burst that brought up commanding runs and races from my past and placed the thought of doing it again in my future.

It’s magical, and the mere memory of something that good is worth reviving and feeling every so often. It’s worth the inevitable crash and pain that comes later.

What'd I do? I fell in love and felt in control…if only for 3.4 miles.

Day One...Which Was Yesterday, But Still Worth Babbling About

I recently saw an individual touting "only XX amount of days remaining" until the an event they are planning on participating. Whom, what, when, where matter little, other than the fact that I despise everything they stand for/promote. Psh, details.

One of the prime lessons of Zoe 101 (no y, damnit) is I take everything incredibly personally. I internalize and process like nobodies business.  So how the aforementioned countdown from this person plays a role will be explained as such:

I'm a fan of the countdown. It gives tangibility to time, making it seem less daunting. I've been counting down the remnants of my graduate studies for a long while, starting with 200-someodd days. 

Screenshot courtesy my free "Big Day Lite" app.
Because nothing says "Way to complete your Masters, you!"
like a photo of a despondent cat sapping warmth from my old laptop.
The final stretch is upon me. Last night a classmate mentioned how she is chomping at the bit to finish,  graduating in the spring. "You must be about 20 times worse!" she said. I am, but not. It would possibly be a different story if I was with steady paycheck as I wrap this MA up, but such isn't the case. So while sitting in class and covering facets of web design of which I'm already aware grows tedious, not knowing where the future takes me is becoming increasingly nerve-wracking. 

But that is (earnestly) not the purpose of dusting off this digital outpost. I've been otherwise occupied academically (if you'd like to discuss the simulacra or relational aesthetics, I'm available), locationally (moving out of this crap apartment not soon enough), writing for myself (more on that...later...though there will probably be parentheses involved then as well). 

In my time of great solitary reflection, the notion of "OK, now what?" crosses the mind with greater frequency than not. I need a pliable benchmark, but one with a few caveats. One of the few things I can control is the simplistic act of one foot in front of the other. So here I return, to my running retreat. 

I'm not really in the position to plunk down some coin for a future race, which I am alright with---too frequently have I signed up for events with no preparation following suit in recent memory. Also, I'm not too interested in anything in particular at this point. While such could easily change (she says after recalling signing up for the '12 Chicago Half a touch over a month ago, hmm), I'd like to get back into the ebb and flow of just running, especially in the winter. I didn't run in the falling snow ONCE last year. And that sucks. 

So back to my initial paragraph. I saw this countdown from someone else, and thought, "Well, good for them and all, but what can I do in that timeframe? Do my days have meaning if I were to tell people about them?"

I'm not interested in curing the world of its ills or anything deeply profound as this is rather a selfish interest about my next 116 days (that takes me to Saturday, Feb. 18 for those wondering). 

The date means nothing save a few days before my little sister's birthday. The number 116 has no personal significance or emotional response.  Can I give such meaning? Will I find anything, or nothing whatsoever? I'm willing to find out. Here we go.

Day One
I slept fairly poorly, which is nothing new. No control over the heat in this tiny apartment leads to overheated slumber and just a consistent drain of energy, hence the bumbling/fragmented thought process behind my writing. I feel like I've been painfully sleepwalking through my days the past few weeks. I needed to get out of the apartment for a touch before class, so I figured a short run just to break up my sweaty computer-ridden time wasn't the worst idea. 

I set off on my preferred route and breathed fall inwards in all its glory. It was perfect weather (mid-60s) but never felt warm with a slight breeze keeping me company heading south.

Passing by a pair of colleges I think amped me up a bit; I'm missing undergraduate days something terribly as of late. One school was in pre-game for a men's soccer match against a maroon + gold opponent. The other featured a track I have yet to run by, but stopped to stare at for a moment. Happy to learn it's open to the public if an event isn't taking place. There was one person making use of it, striding out in a shirt I own. I started envisioning myself on it, too but reigned in my thoughts, fearing getting too far ahead of myself and continued on.
Wasn't really planning on a six mile run, but I just never turned back south to return to my place. Headed into a part of OP I don't normally think about, and just enjoyed the quiet surroundings. Well, until a minivan tried to run me over in a four-way stop intersection. Bastard.
There is something commanding about crunching through leaves in the 'burbs, rarely stopping. I think I missed it a lot more than I knew after a few years down in the loop. 
It's funny that now I'm finally able to control myself and not feel like I'm overdoing it in regards to speed after far too many cyclical too-fast burnt out/injuring myself attempts to get back into running. I'm really starting off much more controlled that I previously would. Hard to tell if its due to older age wearing me down or mentally shutting my mind off (my biggest foe, of course). I've also been running sans watch, a conscious effort to take measurable numbers out of the day's jaunt.
I still felt tired and hollow the rest of the day, but for that slice of my day, I just enjoyed a run. 
What'd I do? Six miles, decent tempo. Enjoyed the serenity of fall. Thought a bit about local volunteer efforts I could take part in.  




Monday, September 12, 2011

Mobility

With a new Blogger app on my phone, I thought I would give it a try. Seems simple enough. If anything, it inspires me to sit and actually write an update tonight.

But here's a question that has nothing to do with anything: in XMen: The Last Stand, does Magneto really need to wear his fancy helmet after the Professor is dead? It can't be telephatic protection from Jean; she can kill anyone anyway. I think he just likes it.

Glad I got that out of my system. Running-based babble to follow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Last Hurrah Of My Academia



Oh hey, my public space to craft written content.


Here I sit, at the corner of Jackson and State, preparing for this impending final in my Usability Engineering course tonight.

In an honest, non kiss ass-based statement (I doubt my professor reads this, but hey one can never know...though I did just hyphenate 'ass-based'...crap), I’ve very much enjoyed the content and thought processes presented over this summer. Got a chance to lay out a mobile app with a design-centered focus (compared to my spring course that dealt with more of a theoretical business approach to such) and I have to say it turned out very well. I got lucky and had a really cohesive group to work with, which never hurts, either.

Compared to every other class I’ve taken thus far, this one is housed within the College of Digital Media, compared to the comforts of Liberal Arts where my New Media Studies program resides. The majority of my classmates this summer are Human Computer Interaction majors, a program I also contemplated prior to enrolling, but felt I lacked the more technical background to tend to more computer-science focused courses that make up that masters degree.

What a mouthful. I clearly haven’t written for a public audience in awhile.

I feel that in a way, this NMS degree program is really an exercise of reiteration: I’m getting my masters in what I consider to be digital common sense.

Wait, lay things out in a way that takes your user/viewer towards the information you deem most important? Wha? Utilize color pallets that have a specific emotion tied to them to convey said feeling? Write content with purpose instead of aimless rambling? Weird! Oh wait..

My viewpoint is deeply skewed with the parent factor in play; art and design was an ever-constant presence growing up and it became inherent within my daily goings on. On the walls (or mainly frames five deep filling the floor of hallways, perpetually awaiting their chance to adorn the walls “one day”), trips to the AIC and other museums, cray-pas in hand creating masterpiece after masterpiece. I was a combination of Klee and Dali (you know, the guy who painted the melting clocks in my early years, so I was told. I can see it, too; space and shape maneuvering within a full array of color choices is something I like tinkering with. I just lack a mustache.

That’s a constant theme as of late across the spectrum of life (not the mustache-lacking…I hope).

The notion of personal internal pride and success feels like it ceased a long time ago, like I intellectually peaked at five. I suppose it very well could be true: I was speaking beyond fluent French and felt command of a visual medium in a way that I couldn’t claim to have now. Perhaps a slight difference between me at (gulp) 27 and post-toddler self (how does one refer to a five year old, anyway?), but I’d love to recapture that sense of control in any facet within my old raggedy self.

And it always comes back to running. It’s no different there. I’ve had pain in one knee that just won’t go away, despite icing and trying out a strap. I’ve succumbed to the notion that I will not be lining up for next month’s Chicago Half because I have no miles under my legs and a worse feeling when I try and get in a few. I know, I know: I’ve said that before and then done the exact opposite…a few times, now. It became my “thing”, and what a horrible thing to have. I can’t really do that anymore. Last year I had a gasp of fitness on my side, with a failed attempt of marathon training and some lengthy long runs to my credit. Not so much this summer. A perfected level of self-introspective rarely gets one down Lake Shore Drive and back, and it’s not worth a try. I know that now.

What’s odd in a way is how much effort I have put towards my studies.  High school and college were an endless no show of academic exertion, even in classes I loved with professors I adored. Not so much this summer, or the past three quarters of courses. Three-class quarters in the fall and spring were rough but a delightfully nice test of my juggling abilities with sanity collapsing at work (note to others: it’s HARD working on design projects on a bus whilst 18-22 year old girls giggle over White Chicks) and on the road. But I persevered.

Not only that, I relished earning good grades and actually got a bit sad when my perfect streak of As (rightfully) came to an end in June.

A scant few weeks until my penultimate quarter starts up and two courses accompany me along 11 weeks filled with media theory and web design. At the end, I can then lay claim to my middle class (though forever dwindling away into the ether) maintenance functioning piece of paper known as a graduate degree.

I’m sad the end is in sight, but am glad I made the decision to take it on last summer with some nice support from some pretty spiffy people along the way.

The next question is what lies in store with all this energy and effort once it’s done. I have forever presumed it would be running, with an excuse at the ready as to why I hadn’t been doing such currently but WOULD be, once “blah blah blah” transpired.

“Once I have more control of my schedule.”

“Once the weather warms up/cools down.”

Now I have that control and command and my body has other plans. Right knee is not having it. Hoping to quash that soon.

I’ll make an earnest effort to update with more frequency as the days grow even shorter and fall truly rears its ugly head. 

After all, doesn’t everyone start the year off with a great zest and zeal for scholastic greatness? Where’s my pencil box…

Monday, July 4, 2011

A Post, Post Poor Performance

There should be some sort of clever communicative intertwining here, a gained sense of independence with my daily goings on. But I can’t. I probably will in a very piss poor manor, though.

The dichotomy between my desired freedom and the tyranny (there it is) I find I place upon myself reached its highest point this morning. On a slight whim, I signed up for Elmhurst’s 4 on the 4th. I say slight because I wanted to give myself a challenge on the roads and after a string of larger sized races in the city, the lull and lure of a smaller suburban event, akin to what I loved doing in the summertime of my formative years (and was successful at), needed to occur. And was affordable.

I’ve been lifting and doing more workouts frequently in the past few weeks, reacquainting myself with a pair of free weights and my rowing machine. I had a beautiful run on Wednesday, traipsing along the lakefront down to Shedd and back around the loop with no complaints, save a touch of tightness in my hips (and failing to forget that the Taste is/was currently going on. Bastard tourists, out of my way!)

On Friday, I prepared to set out on a jaunt but felt kind of light headed. It happened earlier in the week as well, so I stayed in the confines of my apartment and wiggled around in the privacy of my living room, blinds shut tightly.

Same thing on Saturday, especially exacerbated by the humidity of the day led me to complete one of the hardest workouts I’ve done in a long while. Four sets of five minute increments of increasing strokes a minute, strapped in my rower (I dislike referring to it/her as an Erg) at a high level of resistance for a half hour, no stopping. It was incredibly empowering, nicely sweat producing and left me feeling very, very sore on Sunday.

Didn’t go away today. Within the first four hundred meters, I felt off. That hip tightness plus the increased rowing left me with legs that wanted nothing to do with my actions. My upper body felt strong and solid. Should have run on my hands, probably would have fared better. 

I had no turnover, no springiness to my step. I wasn’t planning on breaking barriers, but I felt I could comfortably challenge myself to take on 8:30s for the whole thing and not fall apart.

First two miles of my four mile journey felt fine, going 8:32 and 8:37, respectively. But mile three was disastrous. I felt a bit light-headed (this is what I get for remaining in my air conditioned oasis, away from society) and I don’t know if it’s possible, but felt like I stopped sweating. Slowed down to a pathetic crawl until I reached a point with enough lush tree coverage that I cleared my head and remembered how much my left hip was aggravating me on the same streets my once beloved-from-afar Don Sage meandered along, so I assumed.  

One mile remained and by that point, the gradual uphill towards the finish failed to bother me. Children (I mean eight, 10 year old children) and those I would deem elderly (everyone else I know is always willing to consider anyone over the age of 50, like, REALLY old) passed me by. I tried to distract my thoughts with recalling memories of visits to the nearby Lizzardro Museum of Lapidary (hint: it's a museum of rocks), but one can only think of limestone for so long.

Not only were my legs disinterested increasing speed in the final stretch, but I gotta say that my heart was, too.

I can’t be frustrated because it’s clearly some sort of running Munchausen by proxy thing going on in my brain. I have run five races of note and interest in the last 14+ months and every single one I have felt ill prepared, under run leading up to the event due to whatever excuse is in fashion and end highly dissatisfied with my result. Hell, I’m happy with my compatriots who I enjoy toeing the line alongside and the never ending pile of shirts one can accumulate, but that’s not what I thought my primary motivation was...is?

The one thing I always could go to was running. Even in college when that got rather physically sidetracked, I still ran consistently, raced infrequently. I was OK at the beginning of my post-school life of identifying myself through my work (everyone else did); it was a great place with hard working people. But I still ran, in the mornings when I was out in the burbs, downtown, out in Oak Park, even truncated efforts at lunch. It all changed in a small window. The happy work connection faded when my own and office morale began to decline and couldn't recover. Passiveness, laziness became the culture I was exposed to, and I think I fell into that pit as well.

For whatever reason, running took a back seat in the balance of everything over the past 10 months, when I began my grad school program.  But is that a noble enough excuse? I don’t think so.

I feel like--no, I know I fear experiencing what I deem happiness. Happiness to me is feeling that always too-quick, fleeting moment of sheer bliss in accomplishment. And I can’t handle the notion that I can’t completely regain such with a snap of a finger, so I’d rather not try and face failure.

That's such horsesh*t on my part.

I need to believe/buy into the notion that patience pays off and give it a real go. And since I've already paid for my spot in the Chicago Half thats now ten weeks away, I need to make this one count.

Monday, June 20, 2011

ReTurn


I hate writing angry. I jam-pack venom into every crevice and noun. Thus, over the past two weeks when I’ve sat down and opened up a blank Word document, it all spills out. Flood gates, open. All my anger and sadness and frustration and self-doubt and total command of R-rated language, strewn out and nary a MS Office paperclip to assist my verbal choices.

Thus, my past seven+ attempts at crafting an entry will never see the light of…bloggery. It’s not what this space is for. That’s not to say that I haven’t had means or need to update. I needed to separate some of my emoting from the process, ‘tis all. I’ve found it to be difficult but will attempt such again right now.

I feel like I’m in solitary confinement. The last dangling thread-like facet I enjoyed of my daily grind was the few good people remaining at my former place of employment. Connectivity to smart, committed individuals who want to do good things not only well, but the right way drastically declined over the last two years of my tenure, but still some remained. Let’s just say that my feline duo don’t provide the same discourse, no matter how many prompts I provide. 

(Editor’s note: I will never under sound mind dress up my cats. Once I do such, all hope is lost.)

Not a massive amount of my day (though I suppose it could be more), I have been spending much more time working out: rowing, lifting, flailing around on the floor my living room, being judged by anyone from Willis Tower who happens to squint looking north from those scary enclosed “stand-out-over nothing-from-the-tallest-American-structure” on a non-cloudy day.

I figured I was foolishly leaving the TV on some downright shitty midday programming, so I might as well do something beneficial whilst watching. The first “big girl” purchase I made once I had a slightly stable income was buying a rowing machine back in 2008. Certainly don’t use it as much as I’d like, but I’m making up for lost time.

Today marks the start of my 12 week training leading up to the Chicago ½ (on September 11). Given that the last three races of length I’ve taken part in (’10 & ’11 Solder Field 10 Miler + ’10 Chicago ½) have had augmented training interjected into my plans, I have high hopes of keeping things together for this year’s take on 13.1.

I really like the half marathon distance now that I have a pair under my belt (though I didn’t really train for that first one in 2007 either…hmm). It’s long enough to be an endurance challenge, but you can really stretch and test one’s mental toughness and find a comfortable spot to just dial in and float on through the race.

As mentioned earlier, I’d like to still consider a trip down to Oxford, Ohio in later September for the State-to-State ½ but time will tell. If not, the Monster Dash in October would be another closer alternative.

But enough of that future thought. Guess I need to lock in on the present.