Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dear yesterday me,

Dear yesterday me,

What the heck, woman? Do you not listen to yourself? Ya execute that race plan in reverse or something?

Just look at this:
Somerville Road Runners Race to the Row 5K
9.35am, Sunday August 23

Measurement by my Garmin - 5.11km, 28:09 (chip and gun results)
Mile 1: 8:44:23
Mile 2: 9:06:35
Mile 3: 8:58:66
Final 0.21 miles: 1:19:57
Pace: 5:30/km or 8:51/mile

So here's how it went down:

On Saturday night, this baby of ours woke up too many times. After the too-manyeth time, it was only 6.30am and we were all up for the day, so we sat around entertaining him until it was time to leave the house. Seven hours of very interrupted sleep does not a restful night make.

The race site was the redeveloped and expanded Assembly Square Mall, now called Assembly Row. We didn't explore it (we are not huge mall people, or huge-mall people) but I am told there is a Stride Rite for when that becomes necessary.

It was cool and muggy when we got there around 9am. I picked up my bib with time to spare, and went to the bathroom with no time to spare. (Peeing before trying to run at all is very, very important around here.)

Half my fan club was already asleep before it started. I knew this wasn't going to be the most thrilling race but that was fast, fan club.

I tried to rein it in on the first mile, which was a short out-and-back and part loop around the square. I really did. My legs were not having it. I have no idea how that turned out to be an 8:44 mile. NOT how I wanted to do it. (Later on I read this. Turns out going out fast in a 5K may not be a complete disaster after all?)

Things went much more according to plan on mile 2 (the rest of the square, plus another out-and-back, plus a bit more of the square). I was working a little, but wasn't exhausted. 9:07.

Mile 3 (remainder of the square with yet another out-and-back lollipop turn) hit and I focused on increasing my cadence. That usually seems to work to up the pace and my effort. 8:59.

When my watch beeped for the third mile I - well, I wouldn't say I sprinted, because we are not capable of anything resembling sprinting over here, but I certainly stood up a little taller and turned my short stubby legs over a little faster and passed a few people on the way to the finish line, where I doubled over and turned slightly blue and caught my breath. 1:20.

Overall, 28:09 and 5.11km on the GPS (I am terrible at paying attention to tangents and a few extra metres never killed anyone). For my current level of fitness, I'm happy with that benchmark, and uhh...the execution was fine but not the greatest.

Breath caught.
But I enjoyed my chocolate chip ice cream and slice of pizza and banana at the end, thank you very much. A workout and brunch? Why sure!

I even remembered to take photos before it melted.

The Somerville Road Runners Race to the Row is $25 early registration, $35 regular and $40 day-of. Proceeds benefit community organisation East Somerville Main Streets, and Somerville public school track.
First 300 entrants get swag. There were about 500 runners this year.
There is also a $5 Fast Mile and a free 200m kids' fun run before the main event, for those who are so inclined or age-eligible (9 and under).
Post-race food is excellent and non-runners can pay $10 to partake, may be worthwhile for the beer and cider alone. Did you know Harpoon Brewery makes craft cider? I didn't. Not till yesterday.
I would say the route needs a little work! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dear tomorrow me,

Dear tomorrow me,

At 9.25am today you will be lining up for your first 5K in 1.5 years. It'll be your first road race back since giving birth, so it's a very important benchmarking run. I've seen that course, and it is a loony double loop-the-loop with more hairpin turns than a ballerina's bun. So, I want you to read this and listen to me, back when cooler heads prevailed...

DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT go out too fast! You will run the first mile conservatively - let's say 10:00 pace. The second at 9:whatever it is you can muster. The third quite hard (for now, let's pretend that is high 8s or low 9s, but feel free to do it differently as long as you do it hard). And then you can sprint through to the finish. 0.1 mile is less than a minute and you can do anything for one minute.

I want you to be satisfied not only with your benchmark 5K time, but also and more importantly, your effort. I don't want you to feel, as you nearly always do at the end of a 5K, that you could have gone harder.

And then I want you to come back here and tell us exactly what it is that you did. Promise? Promise.

Enjoy the ice cream at the end! And geez, take some photos for once!


Getting a head start

The last time I did a triathlon, I was quite literally in a very different place in life.

I lived in a different country, in a different apartment, had a different job, and that baby I have wasn't even a twinkle in his parents' eye. (Except of course he already existed - see 'that time I did a triathlon while unwittingly four weeks pregnant').

It's been nearly a year since then. Right now, the only triathlons I do involve the delicate juggling act of feed-nap-mom-goes-for-a-run, I would have a hard time swimming a mile, and I currently don't actually own a bike, which I hear is a prerequisite for doing a tri.

But baby D seems intent on prepping me for one.

The other night, I'd brought him into bed with us after the last feed of the night - really the very early morning after I'm mostly awake for the day. And then I fell back into a light snooze, and had some crazy dreams. I dreamt that I was doing the swim leg of a sprint tri. This being a sprint, it was fast and frenzied, and I dreamt that people were kicking me the entire way.

And then I woke up - and baby was indeed snuggled up next to me and kicking me in the side.

I think I'm going to register him for the local kids' swim team this year. What do you think? 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

I live in the library

Not really. I just read a lot. I have a lot of downtime while feeding this little hungry monster baby, and we don't have a TV... so here are some very brief reviews of about half the things I've read in the last three months. (The other half are junky crime novels not really worth reviewing.)

Dan Savage, The Kid - Love and sex columnist Dan Savage describes the process of two gay dads (himself and his partner Terry) going through with an open adoption in the late 1990s. Very funny, slightly dated (this was the late 1990s, after all). Their insecurities and worries about societal judgement do not come to pass. Every parent, regardless of gender or orientation, can relate to this one! Spoiler: Kid turns out just fine.

Claudia Rankine, Citizen - I read this about a year after the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and as the Sandra Bland case erupted into the media, so this book really hit home. The hard-hitting ?poems? in this book by Pomona College professor, poet and playwright Rankine make it clear that racism isn't just the distant evil of lynchings and Klans, but the everyday lived experience of so many people. Racism by neglect, if you will. Racism by assumption or ignorance or simply failing to stand up for what's right. It's a real thing.

Daniel Woodrell, Winter's Bone - So there's this girl in the Ozarks. Acts as mum and dad and older sister to her two younger brothers. Her deadbeat meth-cooking dad goes missing one day so she goes off in midwinter to find him and drag him home lest they lose the house to the bail bondsman. As I was reading this I thought "this would make a great movie". And so it did.

Mark Kurlansky, The Food of a Younger Land - Once upon a time, during the Great Depression, the US government actually paid writers and artists to go out and create stuff. Can you imagine?! Among those projects was one to chronicle the nation's culinary habits and traditions.
Kurlansky digs up the old project archives from the Works Progress Administration, containing everything from squirrel stew recipes to New York luncheonette slang ("one on a pillow" is a hamburger, "bellywash" is soup, "Southern swine" is Virginia ham). I thought this one was going to be great, because I really liked Kurlansky's 'Cod', but it turned out to be largely lists and essays lifted from the WPA's archives - I was expecting more commentary. Still, a pretty fascinating peek at actual American cuisine before industrial food took over. Also useful if you need a good recipe for squirrel stew.

Dennis Lehane, Live By Night - I thought I should read a quintessential Boston writer. You might know Lehane from Mystic River and Shutter Island and Gone, Baby, Gone. Well, Live By Night is all of Lehane's strengths at once: Boston and Prohibition and dangerous women and gangster double-crossing. Great read. There's a sequel!

Wednesday Martin, Primates of Park Avenue - Perhaps you've heard of the 'wife bonus' - the lump sum doled out to the stay-at-home wives of high-powered Manhattan executive types based on that year's bonus. Perhaps you were outraged or you couldn't care less about the nontroversy (rich people do things that are totally removed from the everyday lives of ordinary people - wait, what?). This memoir is the source of that 'wife bonus' rumour. Too bad so much of it is factually inaccurate, because it's pretty entertaining - she should've just written it as fiction. Caveat (no spoilers): it should come with a @(#%&* trigger warning for new mums.

Richard Yates, Revolutionary Road - This is one of those depressing 1950s repressed-adults-caught-between-duty-and-ambition novels, in the illustrious tradition of Madame Bovary, Hedda Gabler, and Death of a Salesman. But it's good. But depressing. But good.

Phil Klay, Redeployment - Back in 2004 I took a creative writing class with Phil, who was a couple of years ahead of me at the time. Back then, he was already a pretty darn good fiction writer. Then after graduation he signed on with the Marines and went to Anbar as a public affairs officer and came back and got his MFA and became a great writer and this collection of short stories about modern warfare rather deservedly won the National Book Award last year (and what have you done with your life, GCA?).
My favourites in this collection were the longest ('Prayer in the Furnace') and shortest pieces ('OIF' - read in full here). Especially the latter. If you're a civilian, the military jargon cluttering this story is complete alphabet soup that you don't understand - but you don't have to understand anything until the last sentence when everything becomes crystal clear. That last sentence though. That last sentence.

Apparently it is Almost All White Almost All Male Reading Quarter 2015, I guess? I shall work on this.