Friday, February 29, 2008

Gotta Love New England Weather

Friday night: Snow showers early, with a steadier snow developing late. Low around 20F. Winds SE at 10 to 20 mph. 2 to 4 inches of snow expected.

Saturday: Snow during the morning will give way to lingering snow showers during the afternoon. High 36F. SE winds shifting to WSW at 10 to 20 mph. Snow accumulating 3 to 5 inches.


Enough of the lion, let the lamb make its way into our lives SOON!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fall Marathons

In order to avoid the post-marathon let down at the end of April, I am already researching marathons to run as a fall goal and challenge. Two marathons a year (one in the spring and another in the fall) is just perfect for me. It keeps me in shape and focused, yet doesn't beat up the body. I recently received a very nice note from the good people at the New York Road Runner Club reminding me that the application for guaranteed entry is now available on-line. The qualifying standard for guaranteed entry for women in Open Division is:

Half Marathon: 1:37

Full Marathon: 3: 23

And for women in the Masters Divison:

Half Marathon: 1:44

Full Marathon: 3:38

My 2007 NYC marathon time was 3:12, so I have until May 1 to decide if this will be my fall marathon. I've participated in 5 NYC marathons and at one level I would like to spread out and try something new, but NYC is a very special race and it's hard to pass up the great time I typically have during the NYC marathon weekend. It's also fairly easy and affordable coming from Boston.

Now, if money and parental responsibilities weren't an issue, I would LOVE to run a marathon in Italy!! The Florence Marathon is Nov. 30 but I don't think leaving on a flight to Italy on Thanksgiving would go over well with my family! Of course we ALL could celebrate family togetherness over pasta if we travelled together, but that ain't gonna happen. (And after seeing my American Exrpess bill from Paris I have to limit the European travel conversations with my husband).

The other Italian marathon that intrigues me is the Assisi Marathon, the home of one of my favorite saints! The date of that race is Dec. 31 (what a way to celebrate the beginning of a new year!) and the event was promoted as a "Millennium for Peace" project in 2001. "The project, which brings together groups such as the International Centre for Peace between Peoples, is campaigning the United Nations to declare the new millennium as the Millennium for Peace and wipe out war and hunger for ever. Quite a tall order considering present times. . . "

Perhaps I could mask my selfish desire to travel to Tuscany by presenting myself as some sort of running peace ambassador from the Bay State. Yes honey, it is my moral and spiritual duty to run in Assisi considering the goal is to wipe our war and hunger! The other problem is I'm not exactly sure that the Assisi Marathon takes place ever might have been a one shot deal at the end of the millennium in which case I've missed the boat on this experience. Oh least I've got a copies of Frances Mayes Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany on my shelves.

Monday, February 25, 2008

18 miles and Jane Eyre

There were about 17 people who showed up at Buff's Pub yesterday morning to partake in Tyler's last minute group run, although I think it was actually Shifter who mapped out the 17.1 mile loop up the Newton Hills and back down Beacon St. It was a welcome change to go off the Boston Marathon course for a bit and explore new parts of Newton. And the lead group (me, Tyler and Gordon) unintentionally added another mile as we got lost in a beautiful, yet hilly, part of Chesnut Hill. Tyler's wife, Angie the Angel, was our one woman water stop at several points along the course which saved me as I can't stand to run with a fuel belt.

The small number of runners yesterday allowed me to get to meet some of our newer and younger DFMC teamates, including Abby, who refers to herself as a "neurotic reader". My kind of woman!! So we chatted about some of our favorite books while munching on buffalo wings after the run. We're both Jane Eyre fans and she recommended The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (the first novel in his Thursday Next detective series). The premise is very unusual and involves "literary time travel" . I love the idea of travelling though a "Prose Portal" to Bronte's world of Thornfield. Masterpiece Theater meets James Bond!!

(Oh yes - and for another twist to the Jane Eyre story, check out Wide Sargasso Sea which tells the story from Bertha's point of view. Bertha (Antoinette) is the crazy wife in the attic, but in Wide Sargasso Sea you learn a bit more about that Victorian oppressive patriarchial society that might drive any woman nuts!)

Considering Abby is a "neurotic reader" I thought she might be a good candidate to recommend the Norwegian classic, Kristin Lavransdatter, by the great Sigrid Undset (translated by Tiina Nunnally). I often find that there aren't many people interested in reading about Medieval Norway, but I'm guessing that Abby may be one of my best bets. I LOVE this trilogy!! Penguin has a Classic Deluxe Edition containing all 3 of the novels in the Kristin Lasvransdatter trilogy, but the size of that particular volume can be overwhelming as it is over 1,000 pages. I recommend experiencing Kristin through 3 individual texts beginning with her early life and romance with the dashing, yet irresponsible, Erlend in The Wreath (only 336 pages). The cover of the Wreath is horrible and reminds me of some trashy Harlequin romance, but inside is powerful and rich writing.

A trip to Lillehammer to visit Sigrid Undset's home (I've already been there once) and run in the Birkebeiner Lopet (21 K race) is another one of my literary running/reading tour dreams. If only I could get Thom at Marathon Tours to buy into this Babes Bookin' It International vision of mine....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Back From Paris

Wow! What an amazing trip! 48 hours ago I was running along the Seine in shorts and a t-shirt, and today I was back to battling the snow and ice. When we pulled into Logan, Kallie's comment was, "I feel as if we've landed in Antartica!" Thank goodness we were on an international flight and able to actually land yesterday.

We stayed at the Hotel du Louvre which was in the heart of the city - a great central location to all the tourist hot spots. The highlight of the trip, according to the girls, was the performance of Le Roi Lion ("Lion King"). We already knew the basic story so we could follow along despite our limited understanding of the french language. The dancing, music, and costumes designs were spectacular. Plus, the young man that played the adult Simba was a major hunk! The girls, at this point in their lives, were less interested in the "wining and dining". It was fairly important that we (the moms) allow some down time for them in the late afternoon where they typically zoned out in front of the television trying to find anything in English or familiar movies/shows dubbed in french. We discovered a very entertaining and clever sitcom on BBC with Judith Dench called As Times Go By, and they loved watching the Simpsons and Jurassic Park in french (what cultured teenagers!). At least this allowed time for moms to explore some of the local cafes.I can't really say the last 5 days were great training days, however it certainly rated high on the fun scale. I managed to to fit in a few runs which basically consisted of an out and back course from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower as well as tossing in a few loops around the Jardin de Tuilleries (which was right across the street from our hotel). So now it's time to jump back into serious training. After all, in about 4 weeks it's time to start tapering - need to fit in at least 2 or 3 20 mile runs by the end of March. Because of the jet lag I was thrilled that the group run this morning was cancelled due to the bad weather. I'm also digging Tyler for organizing another run on Sunday starting at 11:00 (as opposed to the regular 8:30 start) and ending at Buff's Pub where we can refuel on chicken wings and cold adult beverages. Parisien food was amazing, but wings and beers sounds pretty dang good too!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Au Revoir, mes amies!

Sunday, February 17

  1. 2:30 PM - Drive to Logan Airport with Susie (one of my favorite people) and her daughter, Dana (one of Kallie's best buds)
  2. 5:45 PM - Flight from Boston to Paris

Monday, February 18

  1. 6:20 AM - Arrive in Paris
  2. Check In - Hotel du Louvre
  3. NAP (no more than 3 hours)
  4. Sunset jog along the Seine
  5. Dinner at Altitude 95 in the Eiffel Tower

Tuesday, February 19

  1. Morning run along the Seine
  2. Historic Tour of Paris

Wednesday, February 20 (Kallie's 16th Birthday!)

  1. Morning run along the Seine
  2. Lunch with Baroness Goudie at La Mediterranee
  3. 8:00 Performance of Le Roi Lion ("Lion King")
  4. Champagne at the Ritz

Thursday, February 21

  1. Morning run along the Seine
  2. Trip to Versailles

Friday, February 22

  1. Short run along the Seine
  2. 1:15 Flight from Paris to Boston

Saturday, February 22

  1. 20 mile run in Waltham
  2. NAP!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Rt.16 is NOT a running trail!

I hate to break it to all the runners who regularly train on the Boston Marathon course, but Route 16 through Wellesley and Newton is NOT a running trail!

Because I'm leaving for Paris this weekend (celebrating Kallie's sweet sixteen !), I needed to squeeze in a long run yesterday. So I opted to extend the regular 9 mile "doing the Thursday" hill workout to a 16 mile long run. And oh yes, twice in one week I was forced to tackle the dreaded Grossman Hill. But that wasn't my biggest issue or concern last night. It's how DANGEROUS it is to run on Rt. 16, particularly at the 128 exit ramps!! And let's not forget the ridiculous "Big Dig" nastiness at mile 15 (near Marathon sports.) People, these are major roads! And most drivers don't love their local marathon runners - they want us off the roads. I know this from personal experience. Despite the fact that he's married to a woman running her 26 marathon this spring, my husband can't stand runners (and bikers) or any athletes for that matter who hog the road for their personal training. So watch out for a blue Volvo when running in Wellesley (he works near Rt. 16!). He's NOT going to slow down!

I'm fairly careful to always run on the sidewalk, despite having to slow down to a snail's pace navigating the winter mess. (Do people in Newton EVER shovel their sidewalks?!) But there are many others who don't want to sacrifice their pace, so these fools (did I say runners were smart in my last post?) run out in the street during rush hour and in the dark. CRAZY!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

To Read or Not to Read

I'm relatively new to the world of blogging, and after participating in Non-Runner Nancy's 9 of the 9th Sweetheart Shuffle event I started checking out the profiles of the other "jogging bloggers". What makes us tick? Are there certain interests (other than running, deh) that we have in common? So I wasted about an hour clicking on "view profile" of the Sweetheart runners.

What I discovered is Jogging Bloggers seem to be active, nature-loving people. God seems to play a major role in their lives too. And I was VERY pleased to see a majority of runners list "reading" or "books" as one of their interests.

The National Endowment for the Arts released a study (To Read or Not To Read), and they discovered that literary readers (defined as individuals who read fiction, poetry and drama)are almost twice as likely as non-readers to exercise! Readers are also more likely to volunteer or do charity work. In other words, good readers (and runners!) make good citizens.

"Regular reading not only boosts the likelihood of an individual's academic and economic success- facts that are not especially suprising - but is also seems to awaken a person's social and civic sense. Reading correlates with almost every measurement of positive personal and social behavior surveyed. It is reassuring, though hardly amazing, that readers attend more concerts and theater than non-readers, but it is suprising that they exercise more and play more sports - no matter what their educational level. The cold statistics confirm something that most readers know but have mostly been reluctant to declare as fact - books change lives for the better."

(I often wonder does running make us smart(see Does Exercise make us smarter and sharper article)? Or do smart people choose to run?)

Unfortunately, the conclusion of the study is a bit bleak - Americans are reading less and less well. And they are calling for ACTION: "

"We issue this report not to dictate any specific remedial policies, but to initiate a serious discussion. It is no longer reasonable to debate whether the problem exists. It is now time to become more committed to solving it or face the consequences. The nation needs to focus more attention and resources on an activity both fundamental and irreplaceable for democracy."
cue Star Stangled Banner song here!)

So be a good American today - run a mile and read a poem!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fit Girls in Georgia

Last week I received an email from two elementary school teachers in Georgia interested in starting a Fit Girls program. It's so wonderful to see the enthusiasm of women like Lindsey and Whitney who are willing to volunteer their time and talents as they share their love of running (and reading) with girls in their community. As teachers they are already giving so much themselves to their students, and one of my goals is to make the Fit Girls program easy and affordable for these busy women to implement. Coaches do NOT need to be elite runners! The best coaches, mentors and role models are women who are energetic, caring and supportive of the girls efforts. In fact, one of the coaches in Boston is a parent who will be participating in her first 5k this spring. It’s not about speed and road racing experience, but more about setting goals, training together, having fun and cheering for EVERYONE who crosses the finish line.

While I can provide the basic tools ( 5k training schedule, series of stretching exercises, training logs, etc.) that have worked for me in my 6 years of developing and coaching Fit Girls here in Medfield, I think it is important to allow room for adjusting and adapting in order for each coach to add their personal touch and flair and create a program that works best for them and the girls they serve. Because of Judith’s background in personal training, she added strength training to her program as she had the girls doing sit-ups and lunges. Yoga gurus might include Sun Salutations and the more literature loving coaches may arrange a group run to the local library. And adding elements that are personally meaningful will increase the fun factor for both the coach and their team of girls.

So Lindsey and Whitney, Welcome to the Fit Girls Family! I look forward to logging miles, recommending great book titles and sharing thoughts on health and fitness with you and your team of girls.

On the right is a picture of one of my favorite Fit Girls - my youngest daughter, Hannah!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

9 on the 9th Blog Jog

Kristina (a.k.a recruited me to partipcate in Non Runner Nancy's 9 on the 9th Sweetheart Shuffle event. What I like most about RUNNER Nancy and her blog is that it represents what is so wonderful about the sport of running. It's really not about speed or winning, but putting forth our best efforts, connecting with others and enjoying the process.
Anyways, the 9 on the 9th Sweetheart Shuffle event is for runners with blogs, and the idea is for individuals to run a designated distance (this month it is 9 miles on the 9th of February) and then post "race results". Well, that's one way to add some spice to a regular weekend training run.

So here is my official Sweetheart Shuffle race report:

Weather conditions: partly-cloudy with temps in the high 30s (ideal conditions!)

My race began with a 9 mile warm up through Medfield and Dover before starting the race clock two miles off the Boston Marathon Course. After two miles (at approx. a 7:30 pace) I reached mile 13 of the Boston Marathon course which also marks the location of the fabulous Wellesley Booksmith. From there I ran to mile 16.5 (Newton Wellesely Hospital), turned around and ran the final 3.5 miles back to the Booksmith. Boy, that Grossman's Hill going backwards on the course is a BEAST!! But it was wonderful to have the opportunity to use Marathon Sports as both a water and power gel station.

Finish Time: 1:06: 46

Post Race Festivities included a wonderful Cook Book Event at the Wellesely Booksmith featuring Clara Silverstein's New England Soup Factory Cook Book and It's About Time by Michael Schlow. Very entertaining and the macadamia nut chocolate chunk cookies really hit the spot after 18 miles.

Good luck to my other DFMC competitors and bloggers (Kristina, Laurie, Aimee, Katy, Sarah, Abby and others) on their 9 on the (10th)Sweetheart Shuffle/DFMC 16-18 mile run tomorrow!
I look forward to reading your official results.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Treat Your Feet

The wear and tear of marathon training is hard on our feet. The time spent in running shoes…that warm, dark, humid place that is perfect for fungus to grow…makes us likely candidates to develop fungul and bacterial conditions. And let’s not forget those other pleasant side effects including black toenails and blisters. Yuck!

This is why I highly recommend including regular pedicure appointments in your training. Yesterday I took the time to treat my feet to a Spa Pedicure at Natural Nails (and learned quite a bit about the Vietnam New Year traditions and the Year of the Rat)
The great thing about the spa pedicure is that is includes lots of foot massage which improves circulation, promotes tissue regeneration, relaxes overused muscles and feels really, really good!

Spa pedicure has both physical and mental benefits…what a joy and pleasure it is to sit down for almost 40 minutes in a world where I am usually running around in 50 different directions. Today all those layers of gross dead skin have been rubbed off, I’m relaxed and at peace, and I have shiny red toe nails…a little treat before the abuse of running 18 miles tomorrow.

Pablo Neruda (my favorite sensual South American poet) expresses his appreciation of feet (or rather the feet of his lover) in the following poem:

"When I cannot look at your face
I look at your feet.
Your feet of arched bone, your hard little feet.
I know that they support you,
and that your sweet weight rises upon them…

But I love your feet
only because they walked upon the earth
and upon the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me. "

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Charlie Brown finally wins

Despite the depressing Super Bowl game for all the Patriots fans, I was THRILLED to see Charlie Brown finally "WIN" in what I can only imagine was a multi-million dollar ad for Coca-Cola (Rick!! How do I add videos to my blog????)

This goes along with my 2008 DFMC fundraising theme, "How Can We Lose When We're So Sincere."

Way to Go, Charlie Brown!!!! You are my inspiration...

Monday, February 4, 2008

February in Paris

Over the February school vacation, I will be travelling to Paris with Kallie to celebrate her 16th birthday. We will be joined by one other mother/daughter combination who are dear friends of ours from Sagamore Beach. Of course I'll be asking Kallie to bring along her running shoes for a couple of training runs along the Siene. After all, February and March are peak training months.

The only other time I've been to Paris was in April of 2001 when I ran the Paris Marathon. Travel mates were Matt Bergin (16 year DFMC veteran who also ran the marathon) and Heather (another DFMCer, our translator and cheerleader.) Good memories, indeed, as the Paris race is my marathon PR. However, running Boston ONE WEEK after racing Paris that same year was a real killer to the quads. There actually is a half-marathon in Paris in March which Tyler and I think Jack should incorpate into next year's training schedule. Forget New Bedford, let's do Paris as a tune-up!

So over the next couple days I need to choose some Paris-related literature in anticipation of the trip. I already have Heminghway's A Moveable Feast and Adam Gopnik Paris to the Moon. For Kallie I picked up the fluffy, yet entertaining, Weekend in Paris by Robin Sisman. I was considering purchasing a novel about the Medieval tragic romance between Heloise and Abelard, however the castration aspect of that story is a bit gorey - quite the price to pay for a bit of passion!
Any suggestions of books some of you might have read that capture the spirit and beauty of the Parisian life, history and landscape? How about restaurants or museums that we "must see"?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

New PR for Kallie

Kallie shaved off 8 seconds for a NEW PR at the 1000 meter distance (3:17) this weekend!! Medfield Girls Varsity Winter Track team placed second in the TriValley League meet this weekend.

The past two days of skiing, eating, knitting, wine and lots of laughs seriously cut into my training. Hannah and I returned home around noon and what I'd really love to do right now is curl up for a long nap. However, I'm going to resist that temptation and instead head out the door for an easy 5 miles to stretch out from skiing. This should also burn off at least a few of the unhealthy calories to be consumed tonight at the Super Bowl celebration (followed by Miss Austen Regrets). The party goes on with Tom and Jane...

Friday, February 1, 2008

Jogging with Jane

Earlier in the week I was searching for on-line reviews of the latest BBC adaptation of Mansfield Park that was broadcasted on Sunday night. I'm astonished by the vast number of websites and blogs dedicated to sweet, sweet, Jane. There are individuals who blog about Jane EVERY DAY!

On one of these sites I found an interesting review of Lori Smith’s A Walk with Jane: A Journey into Adventure, Love and Faith (which sounds a bit like Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray and Love with an Austen twist). Here’s part of the review:

"This memoir of love and travel, food and faith will satisfy. Austen-lover and acclaimed singles writer Lori Smith weaves her own romance and personality into analysis of Austen's characters and biographical information on Austen's rarely discussed spirituality. In these eloquent musings on Smith's journey to London, Derbyshire, and other key locations in Austen's life and works, Austen's 19th-century novels come alive in ways no silver-screen rendition has ever accomplished."

And Ms. Smith is hardly the only one to pen an Austen walking guide. There is also A Rambling Fancy by Caroline Sanderson and In the Steps of Jane Austen by Anne Marie Edwards.

I LOVE the idea of literary travel, however enough of the rambling, strolling and walking. Readers, let’s pick up the pace!! I’ve often fantasized about working with Marathon Tours in order to create some sort of Running and Reading Tour Group. Our trip to the South of England could be called Jogging with Jane, or for those hard-core literary athletes, Intervals and Hills at Pemberley.

Unfortunatley there are no plans to head over to the UK this weekend, but I will be travelling up North for a mother/daughter ski weekend with my 10 year-old, Hannah. Yikes - this means I have to run the long run on Monday (alone and after Super Bowl Sunday!) That will most certainly be a slow, long, run.