Moe, for better or worse

This blog used to be called "one year in the life of a short fat runner"; then it was called "Am I a runner? you decide." I've decided running isn't the thing I need to talk about'll come up for sure, but it's just one part of me, so I think I'll just call this blog: Moe, for better or worse.

Monday, March 30, 2009

But is it fun? redux

Many months ago, I posted a conversation I had with my coach. His question to me was, how often, when you run, is it fun? At the time, my answer was long and complicated but it boiled down to, not often.

I think he needs to ask me again.

Last Sunday, I ran 12 miles. 6 times around my loop in the cemetery. 12 miles, no matter how you think about it, is a long way to run. It's intimidating. It takes a long time. If I were to drive 12 miles from my house north, south or west...I'd have gone through at least 3 towns. If I were to go 12 miles east...I'd be in Boston Harbor. It's far.

Yet...I had a great run. Really great. I kept my pace slow and easy, and was well fueled and mentally prepared. I took a gel fairly early and it was perfect timing. The first 4 miles were good...the next couple even better. I felt terrific at mile 10. The weather was good for me, cool, a little cloudy, with a bit of a wind but it died down. A friend had mentioned to me a quote from Dickinson, a certain slant of light, on winter afternoons, which I had in my head as the sun fell lower in the sky. (In truth, the poem is dark and forboding but out of context, the quote worked in my favor.) My mind wandered a bit and I created haiku in my head to pass the time. I counted out the sylables on my fingers when I got stuck. The best was:

o! the golden sun
low in the eleventh mile
thank you my dear friend

the variation was:

o! the golden sun
low in the eleventh mile
brings with it flurries

as it started to snow briefly near the end of my run.

This week, I did speedwork. It's hard. I have to run back and forth in the flattest part of the cemetery, so I'm not killing myself trying to run fast uphill. I was mostly successful, only slowing to recover early in one interval. I felt pretty good and ran over 4 miles including the interval work.

On Saturday, I ran a 5K with a college friend. Coach wanted me to race it, but I'd decided I would run with Aida at least for a while. I wasn't going to run it with any time goal. I would just run it.

Aida and I started together but she needed to keep a slower pace and was content to have me run my own I ran faster than her but comfortably. Remarkably, I turned on my stopwatch at the start. The course was flat and easy but congested with general pedestrians and cyclists using the same path; it was a very small race. We ran out and back along the same route. At the turn around, I glanced at my watch, after passing a couple with a double stroller who couldn't seem to get themselves out of my way...15:48.


No way. No freaking way.

That would bring me in under 32 mins. My PR was 32:42...I could break my PR, just set in December. I didn't need to...I would be ok if I didn't...but it was in my grasp.

I stayed focused. I knew what landmarks I was looking for: the tempory walkway over the water where there was construction, and then the footbridge over Storrow Drive. I didn't check my watch again, but once, and then only to determine about how much farther I needed to go. Finally, I was running on Bay State Rd...there was a man ahead of me who'd been taking walk breaks...but kept passing me when he ran. He was ahead of me. I could see the time clock: 31:35, 31:36, 31:37...I wasn't going to let him beat me and I was going to finish in under 32 mins.

I ran as fast as my legs would carry me. I ran with all my training and miles and support of my family and friends and coach behind me....



I'd done it.

I remembered to stop my watch...31:40. Even better.

I texted my coach. He told me I'd run <10:15s. I was thrilled. In less than a year, I'd taken 3+ mins off my 5K time and I didn't kill myself to do it. I ran a good race and did my best that day. The best I could do that day, which turned out to be my best so far.

So, Coach, ask me again: is it fun?

Yes, it is. Most of the time, now, yes, it is.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

12 miles

I haven't posted in a while. Sometimes I don't know what to write and sometimes I don't want to and sometimes, I don't want to share things. Lately, it's been the latter.

However, I have been running. A lot. 20+ miles weeks, longer midweek runs, longer long runs, more time, more distance, lots of races. I've PRed my 5K and my 10K in the last 3 months and even ran my second best 5K time after running 6 miles just before the race. I feel good, I've lost a few pounds, I will go so far as to say, I think I look good.

I've learned a lot about myself in the last couple months, and I've made some changes in the way I think and act and I'm feeling better for them. I still need a lot of work.

I'm surrounding myself with people who mean the most to me, and making sure those I've known the longest get a little extra of my time. They've been here for me for years, some of them decades, I can return the favor.

I am running 12 miles today. 12 miles. This is the longest I've ever run in training and I am nervous. But I know my friends are behind me. One wished me luck as she got on her train to go home this afternoon and another told me he was running 4 in spirit with me. My coach is waiting to hear how it goes.

I'd better get going...I don't want to disappoint them.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I came across this today at work.

LIFE SAVING SUIT Sferrazza: "July "

reeeeeeeally makes you wonder what kinda drugs weren't illegal then.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Keep it cool....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Urban Obstactle Course, or Where the Sidewalk Ends

Running in the city in winter is challenging.

For every person who shovels their side walk, there is another who only shovels half (generally from their door to their driveway or car) and yet another who doesn't shovel at all.

Sometimes there is a side walk...and then it disappears under snow, or ice, or some combo of the two. And when it's snow, it can be a giant bank of the white stuff that the plow left or a car owner dumped when digging out their car.

Those big snow banks need to be climbed over. Or skirted, like the ice that forms in lots of places, on the side walks and on the street.

They also block drivers' view and runners' view and need to passed with caution. Dayglo yellow is imperative.

Trash day adds a new element of this obstacle course...what side walk there is, is often blocked by trash and recycling bins, as well as whatever else has been left for the garbage men, including but hardly limited to furniture, television sets (which subsequently sit around because the city won't take them in trash), building materials and tree branches.

Running is fun and challenging and hard even on a good day...but the Urban Obstacle Course makes it all the more so.

I like a challenge, bring it on!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

fasten your seat belts...

it's going to be a bumpy night.

so famously said Bette Davis in All About Eve.

In 3 short weeks life's been bumpy.

My mom got the bad news that the cancer is back again. Onto another drug regime that will hopefully work for a while...time will tell.

My running has faltered. Not fallen off, but faltered. A wicked cold snap, a bit of a busy spell, snow and ice, and some general malaise has meant I've let my running go a bit. I have some goal races but I'm floating a bit in some unscheduled time and lacking in some motivation. All is not lost however...for as much as I feel I've not been running at all...the reality is I've gotten in at least 2-3 runs a weeks consistently, even if they are short. could be much worse.

I'm not worried yet.

Work is fine but I'm saddened to hear a colleague is ill. It will affect my day to day work, but this isn't a problem for me. I'm just hoping very much she'll pull through and stays strong.

Have I mentioned how much I hate cancer? I track record. Sue me.

Roberto and I had a great weekend in Baltimore visiting friends. THAT was just what we needed. I actually felt relaxed when we got home, if not the least bit rested. Too many late nights...but all in fun.

We have a new president, and I am hopeful he can make some changes...if only because the American population seems to be behind him. He's just one man, but he is inspiring many and THAT is how change can happen.

I'm feeling a need to lay low and hide a little bit right now because I'm a bit raw and fragile, and those traits are what got me feeling like this in the first place.

Not even a month in and already bumpy.

I can deal with bumpy.

I run a lot of hills...for every down, there's an up.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Starting off the new year with a bang....

I can't believe it's 2009. How did this happen?

I was born in the '60s. The '60s! Now it's almost the 20-tens?

This year could hold a lot of promise for me but it, quite literally, started off with a bang. Or at least a bump.

On New Year's Eve, driving home from work in the early afternoon, I got into a car accident. We were in the middle of a snow storm, and while I was driving cautiously and carefully, my tires just could not get traction when the SUV in front of me slowed to a stop unexpectedly. It was weather related and no one was hurt, but our car needs fairly extensive repairs and will be in the shop for another week at least.

Some have pointed out to me that this was the last thing of note to happen to me in 2008, rather than the first thing to happen to me in 2009, but it's left me feeling unsettled and shaken beyond the mere accident.

Is this how 2009 will be? I've had some very good and very bad moments in the last fews years, and at this point, I could really use an uneventful one for a change.

The big 4-0 is no longer approaching, but I don't have to worry about it anymore. (that's like asking the sun not to burn but one can hope, yes?)

My mother's health is stable at the moment. That could change any day...but right now...stable. And she feels better than she has in a long time. That is the biggest blessing of all for her.

I'm still running, and better than I've ever run before. It's easier and more inherent for me now...and best of all, more fun. I have a good coach, but this year, I hope I can ask less of him and draw more strength internally. (That, too, might be like asking the sun not to burn...but I am trying to learn a little more self motivation, self reliance and inner strength.)

I constantly wonder if I'm doing the right things and where I can make changes. I'm probably a little old for some of this reflection and self discovery, but it's never too late to learn and grow...and given that I am very worried about how long I will be healthy and here at all, I need to do all I can now to be a better person to myself and everyone around me.

2008 was definitely a year of changes for me. I've made a lot of new friends who are dear to me and lost a friend or two along the way. Some have drifted more recently for reasons I don't understand and this is very upsetting to me but I'm trying to just move on; I don't think I've done any egregious to make this happen, so time will tell if they will come back to me. I've become close again with my sister which is wonderful. I've had to work hard on my marriage last year and will need to do more work around that this year.

So will 2009 be the year that started with a crash...or the year that started clean of past accidents, stupid mistakes and slip ups? I don't know yet...ask me in a year.

in the meantime, I'll try to keep you posted on how it's looking.