There's this one little spot heading down the stairs into a local park that's completely like an aviary. Every bird imaginable seems to have taken up residence there. I was hoping to see some parrots today but just got a glimpse of a fairly rabid looking squirrel making some scary aggressive noises.
Yesterday evening offered me a rare opportunity: a 6 mile tempo run with the possibility of storms on the way. I live at the edge of New York Harbor, where the rivers meet the sea, and one side of the Verrazano Bridge often offers a very different weather pattern than the other. There's a neat convergence point underneath the bridge, where currents from the Harbor and the ocean meet. It would be neater if there wasn't an on-ramp to the bridge, a tiny narrow little path shared by runners and cyclists, and a bunch of guys fishing, casting off with no regard to what's behind them. A fish hook in the eye in the middle of a nice run is sort of a harrowing prospect.
A tempo run reads as magic code to me. Something like "Holy fucking shit, they want me to run at what speed?!?" No, I don't know who they are. But luckily(?) Runner's World ran a smashing little article about how to run a tempo run by perceived exertion. Their basic advice, translated by my girlfriend who actually read the article and then told me about it, is that you should be able to say "Pace okay?" and not converse more than that.
Great, now in addition to running hard, I have to talk to myself during the run.
I would spend a quarter mile running at a comfortably hard pace, thinking of two words I could say to myself at the next marker. For some reason, they were all TV shows. "Ugly Betty." "Miami Ink." "Gilmore Girls."
At some point I realized that, in addition to being a lazy runner, I have horrible taste in TV.
The turn-around point for this run is the number 3 spraypainted on the ground in the middle of the path. You have to kind of know you are looking for it to find it, since there's a lot of shit spraypainted on the path. I reached it, turned around expecting to thoroughly enjoy all benefits of a tailwind, and hit the cigar smoke. Never mind that, at some point it had started raining, and I hadn't noticed. I thought I was just sweating so much it was flying off my shiny hair. I was running back toward the bridge, sort of forgetting the tempo part of the run, being fascinated by the fact that little old me could run hard enough not to notice it was raining, despite the steam rising from the ground. Who was I? What was I becoming? Perhaps the runner I wanted to be.
I should have crossed my girlfriend at some point, but she misjudged the mileage, what with all the mile markers placed between graffiti that reads "For a good time, call..." and turned around sooner. I could see her in the distance and I kept telling myself there was no need to catch up to her. But, of course, easier said than done. It was raining harder at this point and speeding up seemed like a good plan. I reached her with about a mile to go and doubled over, completely wiped out. We ran the mile cooldown and it start absolutely pouring. We got to the hill leading home and I announced my lungs weren't there yet, so I'd just walk. My girlfriend start running, it started raining harder, and I realized I had to run it for fear of getting washed away in a landslide. At the top she yelled "You still beat me!"
I might be perched on the edge of a breakthrough. I'm apprehensive to acknowledge it for fear I might lose it. For a couple of weeks, with the exception of trackwork, I'm leaving my stopwatch at home and remembering the purist in me. And on the next tempo run, I'm using those quarter mile markers to think of two word titles of artworks. "Marilyn Diptych." "Merode Altarpiece." "Vatican Pieta."
Angie tagged me to write 6 weird things about myself. I am generally a weird person so I hope they don't have to be secretly weird things.
- I own a Roomba.
- I let my driver's license lapse about 7 years ago and haven't had a state ID since.
- About once a week I start to watch Oprah. And then I remember that I hate Oprah.
- When I took the Southern Law Poverty Center's "Find your Hidden Biases" test I found out I have a slight preference for gay people over straight people.
- When my one-eye cat caught an uninjured mouse in our apartment a couple years ago, I set it free in a garbage pile on the street. I still wonder if he made it.
- Right before I got my cartilage pierced about 10 years ago, I went on a rant about how people with cartilage piercing are posers. Then I had a characteristic change of heart. In retribution, the piercing has never healed.
- The post office is holding all of my women's fitness magazines because they have somehow discovered my righteous indignation about most articles contained in them. And they don't care about my search for flat abs.
- A little over two weeks ago, a ghost moved into my apartment, clearly enraged that it had spent much of its time on earth ill. It gave me a stomach virus and then sat on my chest all day one Sunday, not even allowing me to sit up in bed. Plus, it stuck ghostly pins in my legs which made them ache a great deal. It is difficult to recover from such a Victorian supernatural encounter. An uphill battle entirely.
Crazy, isn't it?
Mini 10K 25th Anniversary Report
Goal: Under 1:02:03
Someone, anyone, call me and say the following: This was a training run. This was a training run. This was a training run.
Overheard en route: A woman was totally decked out in 70s running gear, replete with tube socks. A spectator yelled "Why are you dressed like that?!?" and the woman answered "To honor the women who ran when we weren't allowed to!"
If I were rich, I would carry around extra iPod Shuffles for those runners still out there with Discmans. I would fill them with awesomely clichéd running playlists entitled "Get a Move On!" and "You Can Do It!" Then I would pack these playlists with "Eye of the Tiger," "I Will Survive," "Let's Get Retarded," "Just Can't Get Enough," and the theme from Chariots of Fire.
Random Thoughts from Today's Speedwork
- It's really hot.
- 800s are a lot farther than 400s.
- As far as runners go, I am lazy. I hate when people tell me I'm not lazy just for being a runner. I can be a lazy runner.
- Main reason I don't see speed improvements: laziness.
- Man, people sure do sell-out.
- There's a puppeteer in my running group.
- How can someone go from being so punk rock in high school to having her social networking site say her main hobby is reading the Bible?
- Most women still take their husband's names.
- People our age don't drive Cadillacs, so when the Ataris changed the lyrics in Boys of Summer to "On the road today I saw a Black Flag sticker on a Cadillac" they only got it half right. But then they would have had to change the next line to something that rhymes with SUV and the song wouldn't be so good.
- 800s are really hard.
- Do people really need to walk on the track like this?
- Should I just be doing hillwork since the marathon has a 955' elevation drop?