Monday, December 17, 2012

(Not so) Deep Thoughts

Is running a metaphor for science?  Is science a metaphor for running?  Maybe there is truth to be found from both angles.  At any rate, it is the eleventh hour (metaphorically speaking) for the grant proposal that has been a year in the making and already rejected twice.  I feel much the same way I do in the final miles of a half-marathon: damn, I’m so ready for this thing to be done.  But the only way it will be done is if I finish strong.  It doesn’t matter how I feel: all that matters is putting one foot in front of the other. 

So for the next two days, nothing else matters other than reading, writing, revising, and re-revising this grant.  Soon it will be out of my hands, and I’ll be able to rest easy knowing that I gave it my very best.  That I stayed focused on the common goal.  That I looked into the future and I wanted what it was offering me.  That I remembered it’s not about me; it’s about the science.  By doing my part, I am serving as a vehicle for bringing new knowledge into the world.

And you know what?  That’s pretty cool.  Who says science can’t be a spiritual experience?

I’m keeping the faith.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Weekend Done Well

Branches and Grey Sky

Boots and Fuzzy Things

New Favorite Necklace

{Photos taken on my Saturday afternoon walk}

Week of December 9, 2012:

Monday: DIY yoga

Tuesday: Bike commute

Wednesday: Evening run (20 minutes)

Thursday: Bike commute

Friday: Evening run (30 minutes)

Saturday: Very short bike commute for groceries + Late-afternoon walk

Minutes run this week: 120!  Yee-haw!

Week of December 16, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (80 minutes + some walk breaks)

I’m having a nice weekend over here.  A nice weekend, a quiet weekend, a productive weekend.  I did my usual flurry of cooking, a smidge of cleaning, and a bit of work.  I also took a nap, which was heavenlyHeavenly!  I’m gearing up for what may be a very busy week at work: our grant needs to be submitted and I need to tie up loose ends so I can scoot out of town soon.  I’d like to get some experimental work done, but the grant is top priority this week, so I’ll do what I can as I work with my boss to wrap up our proposal.

But this morning, I had a really nice long run.  My last few long runs have been NOT GOOD because of the heat and my body’s inexplicable rebellion against the heat.  (Dear body, have you forgotten we live in Texas?)  Today was much cooler and a bit wet—we’ve had some rain lately—and though I took it slow and easy, I finally started to feel like a runner again, able to handle 6+ miles without too much struggle.  To be honest, all of my running from now until October 2013 feels like preparation for the marathon, even though right now I am technically training for the Armadillo Dash in March.  With 26.2 in the future, I was feeling dismayed to be struggling with distances that I’ve run many, many times, distances that are 1/4 what I’m expecting myself to run in ten months!  Today, with a solid 80-minute run under my belt, I am feeling more reassured about plans to come.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Update: Wildlife Edition

Red Bird in Profile

Fuzzy Black Caterpillar

Week of December 2, 2012:

Monday: DIY yoga

Tuesday: I forget…maybe a bike commute to work?

Wednesday: Short evening run (20 minutes)

Thursday: Bike commute to work

Friday: Off (went out with friends to drink beer and eat burgers)

Saturday: Errands via la bicicleta

Total minutes run this week: 82 (sad trombone, as Holly would say)

Week of December 9, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (70 minutes)

Can you spot the wildlife in each photo above?  I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you click on the photos, Flickr will give you a clue.  My encounters with these creatures were some of the highlights of my week, and I’m so happy I have photos to share!

So.  I’m not getting along with Texas these days.  It’s a combination of factors: drivers who are rude or inconsiderate to pedestrians and those of us on two wheels, a growing sadness and frustration with the vegetarian scene around here, the obnoxious trucks that don’t actually fit into parking spaces, the way that patriarchal attitudes are amplified and glorified here.  I’m just not feeling excited about Texas.  A friend of mine pointed out that some of my problems are because I live in small-town Texas rather than Austin or one of the other big cities, and she makes a good point.  But I’m here because my work is here, and my work is not something I can take with me, at least not yet.  So I’m feeling kinda stuck and annoyed.

Running-wise, I also seem to be in a funk.  Last week’s heat has stuck around—it’s 79 degrees F as I write this.  Today’s long run was a struggle.  I was so hot right off the bat, and the last 20 minutes were among the hardest I’ve run in a long time.  Part of the problem, I’m sure, is hormones (damn you, lady hormones!); there may be other things contributing to my lack of running mojo.  On the plus side, I’ve been loving my bike rides and feel great when I’m on two wheels (minus last Saturday’s bonk).  Another plus, because I feel like I’m whining in this post: tonight I’m having spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce and soysages with a side salad, and I’m pretty excited.  The kitchen has been kind to me lately, and guess what?  I can ALL THE VEGETARIAN FOOD I WANT in my own kitchen.  Thank goodness I can and do cook!  If I didn’t, I’m sure I would be a thousand times more unhappy with Texas.

As a wise man once said, “This too shall pass.”  I hear some wintry weather is on its way, and that will make me very happy.

Happy Hanukkah, everyone!  I’m a big fan of all the winter festivals of light.  They are, to my mind, a sign of the invisible ties that bind humanity together.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We All Love to Run

We aren’t the only ones who love to run:

“But the horse did not need encouragement, because he was scared, he loved to run, and the sun was high enough to sit on the roofs of buildings like a great open fire warming everything and limbering up his already limber muscles.  He loved to run.  He was like a big white bullet, his head up and out, his tail down and back, his ears streamlined with the wind as he vaulted forward.  He took such long strides that he reminded Peter Lake of a kangaroo, and sometimes it seemed as if he were about to leave the ground and fly.”

                                                                    From Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Sunday, December 2, 2012


Leaves and Light

Sidewalk Strewn with Leaves

Me with Leaves

Week of November 25, 2012:

Monday: DIY yoga

Tuesday: Short evening run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Hmm, good question…

Thursday: Bike ride commute

Friday: Short evening run (30 minutes)

Saturday: A very sweaty bike ride around town, running errands

Total minutes run this week: 120!  High fives all around!

Week of December 2, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (62 minutes) 

I confess: I totally bonked this weekend.  At the risk of whining again, I blame the heat.  We’ve climbed back into summertime territory, with temps in the 70s and 80s this weekend, and I think my body is just NOT HAVING IT.  I rode my bike to run errands yesterday, and I felt kinda gross and nauseous for much of my ride.  I also got very, very sweaty, which—let’s face it—is really annoying in December.

Today I had the same experience as I set out on my long run.  I was scheduled to run 80 minutes, and that was the plan.  I can’t decide if I went out too fast or tried to run most of it too fast, but I just didn’t feel very good while running.  I took several walk breaks (some for street crossings, and a few just because I felt like it).  I even paused for a while at the Monarch Waystation and experienced the wonder of watching several butterflies float among the plants, their wings flashing in a gorgeous display of color and flight.  It was enchanting.

Mid-run, I reevaluated my strategy for today, and at the 50-minute mark, I decided to switch to a 4:1 run:walk strategy until I got home (which wasn’t too far).  I alternated four minutes of running and one minute of walking, and I was able to add another 12 minutes to my total for the day.  At that point, I called it quits because I was not feeling good.  I felt sick.

And that, my friends, is what I call a bonk.  Maybe some Gatorade would have helped; maybe not.  I feel like my body is telling me, loudly and clearly, that it does NOT WANT TO RUN in the heat any more.  At least not for another three months.

Fortunately, we all know that into every runner’s life a few bad runs will fall.  Raquelita wrote about this recently, and I thought her words were spot on.  The key with running is to know that bad runs will happen, but so will good runs.  Today was not my best running day, but maybe Tuesday will be.  Or Friday.  Or next Sunday.  I can’t wait to find out.

How were your weekend work-outs, everyone?  Any triumphs or bonking to report?