Posts Tagged With: music

I Took Time Out

Where do I begin? Where did I leave off? So much to say there’s too much to say. Let’s try nutshells, shall we?

Running: January saw 24.25 miles. I’m okay with that number because I was insane at the end of 2016, running practically every single freaking day. January was my rest month. February was a little better: 40.6 miles, thanks to the St. Pat’s nemesis I always blather about. March kicked off with 13.7 miles in the first week. I have skipped a few runs to…wait for it…to weight lift with a certified bodybuilder trainer. I figure if I’m going to punch someone I need to be strong enough to knock them out! Just kidding. I called truce with the nemesis, by the way. I have yet to walk a single step…and, and. And! I find myself with a new PR: 1 hr 4 seconds. The cool thing is, I didn’t “race” this run. I spent the first four miles cruising, just looking for my friend. Once I found him and decided he wasn’t staying with me, I took off. It kills me that I spent only two miles of the run trying to race!
Next up: a NEW 10k for April. This one is a head scratcher. The race director emailed the runners and asked us to decide on the course: did we want to run laps (um. no) or go long. I voted long. Of course.

Books: I read 10 books in January, 9 in February & I’ve finished 7 already this month. That’s what I get for reading Truman Capote, Adimchinma Ibe, David Halberstam, Barbara Gowdy, Marianne Leone, and Laura Esquivel’s incredibly short books.

Music: I have already heard Trey Anastasio. On the horizon I have plans to see Natalie Merchant (of course), The Dead (of course), Phish (of course) and Sean Rowe (of course) before the summer is over.
Truth be told, the summer hasn’t even begun so who knows who will be added to the list.

Travel: Maine, California, Alaska, New York. Not necessarily in that order. More on that later.

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Rear View Mirror

A look back at 2015:

  • January – a return to a favorite and very romantic B&B tucked away in northern Vermont & a return to the run (36.1 miles)
  • February – took part in a very difficult intervention & ran 72.4 miles.
  • March – lost an aunt, PR’ed St. Pats (it rained), revisited Jersey, & ran 75.5 miles
  • April – certified active shooter trained, made the decision to end Just ‘Cause & ran 79.7 miles
  • May – visited Toronto for the first time, ran a half mara, & walked my final time for Just ‘Cause (it rained)
  • June – ran a 6k in honor of fallen firefighters & made the decision to train for a full mara (ran 23.1)
  • July – visited Chicago for the first time & ran a 5k for the homeless (July total 37.9 miles)
  • August – visited Glens Falls, NY for the first time, experienced Magnaball Madness & ran 70.2 miles
  • September – made the decision to write a cookbook, ran a 5k for an AIDs foundation, made a new running friend & ran 95.4 miles
  • October – Peaks & Monhegan, lost a high school friend, ran 92.4 miles
  • November – visited Vegas, ran a mara for my cousin (it rained) & lost a friend.
  • December – got crazy sick, lost a friend, slowly returned to the run (ran ? miles – 7.3 so far).

For the year:

  1. Read 118 books
  2. Lost 4 loved ones
  3. Ran 625.5* miles (only 5 charity races) *not counting Dec
  4. Saw 17 concerts
  5. Reviewed 11 books for LibraryThing

Looking back on all this, there is heartache hidden among the numbers. There were eudemonic moments in there for sure, but every run’s initial intent was to work out a worry. A lot on my mind in 2015!

Looking ahead. I want:

  • For the run:
    • To run St. Pat’s faster (it’s become a tradition to PR this #$% race!)
    • To redeem myself for Alton Bay
    • To rerun Worcester 6 even better
    • To run WMAF for the third time
  • For the books:
    • Read & review 120 books for the year
    • Start writing the cookbook
  • For family:
    • Spend more time!
    • Find the balance between irenic and antagonistic
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Finish the blanket I have been knitting for the past 11 years
    • Conquer the challenging arm balance poses I abhor.

The end.

Categories: Charity, Confessional, life, running | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meeting Maggie

Maggiee.e. cummings wrote a poem called “maggie and milly and molly and may” back in 1917 or so. Maybe you’ve heard of it. A story about four little girls who take a trip to the beach and each find something to captivate her.

maggie was the girl fascinated with a lone seashell washed upon the shore. An empty shell that “sang so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles.” Imagine it. A small girl on a vast beach preoccupied with a solitary seashell; holding it to her ear, fascinated by recognizing the blurry sounds of the ocean from within its spiral depths. How innocent to be entertained by the abandoned home of a mysterious creature (for who knows what lived there before?)! How very simple to be distracted by the sea’s discarded debris. maggie was the girl who could be captivated by one solitary shell’s intrigue. maggie was the girl who could put down her troubles in order to pick up an offering from the ocean. What were those troubles she couldn’t remember?

And whatever happened to maggie? Maybe she moved away. We certainly know she grew up. Listen to Natalie Merchant’s “Maggie Said” and you’ll find our seaside maggie. There she is as an old woman. How jaded our shell-loving maggie has become. I don’t believe Natalie intended for these Maggies to be one and the same, but in my mind they are. To me, Maggie Said is the child all gray haired and grown. She is seaside maggie stooped and tired. Maybe her eyesight is going. Maybe her hands tremble from a life lived long. This Maggie definitely has regrets. Listen to her speak. After all, Maggie Said. There is a bitterness to the edges of her memories. She doesn’t remember the innocence; the possibilities of a world within an ocean-side seashell. She just knows she played the rest of her life safe. She held herself in reserve. For what, she does not know. To quote an earlier Natalie song, she never took dares with yes. It was always no.

But, let’s just say Maggie Said has kept that said same seashell –  the one that sang so sweetly to little maggie. Maybe she has kept it high on a shelf, despite its significance all but lost to her. What if, in one bright moment of clarity, she spotted that shell and took it down? What if she held it to her ear and listened? Really listened. Maybe, just maybe if she heard the sweet call of the ocean again. Would she remember her girlhood friends, little milly, molly and may? Would the shell sing so sweetly she forgets her regrets?

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Night on Bald Mountain

When I was in the second grade I wanted to be the next Nadia. No, I specifically wanted to be the next self-taught Nadia to go to the Olympics. Don’t laugh. Okay, maybe you should because I grew up in a place that didn’t sell leotards let alone offer gymnastics classes. But. But! But, I was hopeful. I had dreams! Big unrealistic ones. Despite the many obstacles beyond attire I naively fantasized about performing a floor routine to Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain (think Fantasia 1941) complete with bubbling cauldrons and flashes of lightning shooting down from the rafters. I had carefully choreographed handstands, splits, round-offs, lots of hand gesturing, arm waving and pointed toes, smiling and! And. And, for the grand finale, wait for it! A flying aerial off the stage. Never mind that I could have landed in the laps of my audience. Despite that oversight I had it all worked out. My adoring fans would be bug-eyed amazed and I would bow to dozens of thunderous standing ovations. There would be roses.
Alas. It was never meant to be.

I thought of that aspiration as kisa and I set up camp at the base of Bald Mountain in Townshend, Vermont. Not quite the dramatic electrifying elevation of my dreams but suddenly the Nadia-inspired routine came back to me. I remembered the entire routine as if my seven year old self could bust out a back bend. Frightening. I almost tried it. Instead, I went for a run. My adult self’s idea of a thrill these days.

Since I didn’t have GPS I couldn’t map out six miles. Since I suck at determining pace I just had to wing it. I thought 65 minutes should give me 6 miles and then some. I didn’t care. Just running down a mostly dirt road with a canopy of vibrant green trees overhead was enough. I finished with 6.4 miles in 65 minutes. Perfect. It was a night to remember on Bald Mountain…without the leotard.

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Save Your Spot

“We noticed that you signed up for the Terrapin with a race pace that will allow you to be placed in a Preferred Corral. Nice!”

This was the email I got for the Terrapin 5k in Chicago. Later that same day I sent them the results from the Worcester 6k in the hopes of getting a timed corral, if only to not have to weave my way in and around slower runners from the back. Then came along another reason – the time of the race. I could have sworn start time was 6pm. Now I see it’s 6:30pm. That gives me less than 90 minutes to run the race, get something to eat (I’m always ravenous), get back to the hotel, shower, change, and make my way over to the House of Blues for Moe (doors – 8pm). Not impossible but less than ideal, for sure. Lucky for kisa, I don’t primp. Much.

Speaking of kisa, the Knight and moi spent some time saving other Chicago spots as well. Reminiscent of a 3rd grade school trip I took to Boston we mapped out the entire itinerary (minus my mother’s notes on what I would be wearing each day). This became an exercise in where to eat around the city. Kisa, armed with the city map, would tell me what friend-suggested restaurants were local to the activity we had planned and I would dutifully note them in a three-ringed binder. The thought process is we won’t be stuck hungry and not knowing what’s in the area, resort to eating at the first bad place we find. Yes, I know we could Yelp our way through meals but that’s really not my thing. I want friend-endorsed options not determined by strangers on my phone. I won’t give in to the hype of a celebrity restaurant (unless it’s Rick Bayless).

I can’t believe Chicago is less than a week away. Last night as we listened to the Dead in San Francisco I couldn’t help but think about all those happy people, just letting the music take them on a trip. And would my journey take me there as well? If so, save me a spot.

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Worth the Weight

I’m gaining weight. It’s a tiny blip on the scale – one to two pounds a week, but I’m gaining on myself. Normally a woman doesn’t throw her weight around and she especially doesn’t throw it out there. I mean, it’s supposed to be one of those numbers best kept to herself. Right? Right up there with age and income. The big no-discussion zip-it zone.

I don’t care. I’ll talk about it. I weighed 116 less than a month ago and have since blossomed into a solid 121. I don’t feel…what’s the word? Fat. Yes. I don’t feel fat. I don’t look heavy. I haven’t felt the need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe (shoot me now if I did). The thing is, I feel strong; stronger than I ever have before. And faster. Let me tell you about the faster. Last Sunday I ran a solid 4.39 in 45 minutes. Respectable for me and myself on a few levels. First, I still haven’t rediscovered the groove with New Guinea. Still! I can’t close my eyes and feel at home on his tread. There is no zen. No settling in. This saddens me because it just goes to show you I’m not 100% comfortable anymore. I take a month off and suddenly we have broken up. Second, I am always, always, always slower on a treadmill. Don’t ask me how or why. I just am. There is something about running nowhere that unnerves me. So, when I can run thisclose to a 10 minute mile with the Guinea I’m a happy girl. Thirdly, humidity. Need I say more? Slogs my brain, deadens my feet. Even inside I feel the mugginess like a crime of the worst kind. Tonight was no different. Despite everything working against me I opted not to run with Spot (not worth the trouble of getting my phone out of its terminator charger – don’t ask). Instead I ran with my half-mara mix. Meh. I was as unenthused then as I sound now. So. There I was, hot and sticky before I had even run an inch. Not loving New Guinea or the music. Uninspired by even my shoes and looking to put in 45 minutes. How in the world? My goal was another 4.39 4.40 in 45 minutes. Yes, that .39 irked me. Fast forwarding through most of my playlist and completely drenched 45 minutes later I finished with 4.46. Respectable. Best song of the night: Big Wheel by Tori Amos.
I should note – the only reason why I care about pace is for the Chicago Terrapin 5k I have coming up in a week. The run is a few hours after we land and only a couple of hours before our first concert. I have this burning desire to get the 5k over and done with so we can get a decent meal before the show. I’d like to finish in under 30.

Now, if only this weight is worth it. I’ve had a pain in my left breast for three days now. It’s nagging me that the two might be related; cousins of some kind. Sister symptoms of something I should see someone about. We’ll see.

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If I had a dollar for every time someone said they saw me somewhere I wasn’t I could retire. I can’t tell you how many different times “I” have been spotted somewhere (or Someone-Just-Like-You they would insist). I’ve been at the bar late night. I’ve been seen ducking into an elevator. Sweating it out in a spinning class. Giving a lecture on macro-diets. Hauling two kids through a train station. Me & Myself, we have been everywhere.

Last night was no exception. If one someone had said he spotted me at a Mike Gordon show at the Academy of Music while another someone else argued I was seeing Keb Mo at the Calvin they both would be right. Two shows in the two different places and I saw them both. The reason? Simple really. My good friend, musician (and runner), Rebecca was performing with Keb! We were already booked to see Mike Gordon but when Rebecca said she could leave us tickets to see Keb, how could we say no?
It was an all around fantastic night. Earlier in the day New Guinea and I tried out a new app on Spot had a respectable 4.4 mile run (175 BPM). By evening I was still buzzing from the high and what better way to keep it going than with a jalapeno tequila margarita or two? Add smoky chipotle fish tacos and we were in heaven. I could have stayed belly-up to that bar all night.

Here’s the funny thing about music. Sometimes it takes you on a journey you least expect. We were enjoying Mike’s show – the vibe had energy. The crowd dancing, lights on the guitars; Mike’s daughter singing, drums that filled every corner with sound, the shadowy trees on the walls. It was all part of the trip. But, during set break we zipped over to Keb’s show and succumbed to a different magic. Sexy. Cool. A respectable and seated audience. By the time Keb introduced Rebecca I was a basket case of nerves. ‘So Long Goodbye’ was coauthored by Keb and Rebecca but I can’t tell you if Keb mentioned that when he called Rebecca to the stage. I don’t remember much other than the word, Nashville. But, I do know this – ‘So Long Goodbye’ gave me goosebumps. It was good to see my friend in the spotlight where she belongs and that I was there to see it. Even if I had to be in two places at once.

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Crash Course in Chicago

In about a month the Kisa and I will be heading for Chicago…my first time. Like a virgin I am trying to school myself on all things Chi-town before the big event. I’ve looked at this adventure from every angle. Here’s what I know – we only have a week so I have to plan carefully. I am strategizing like a general, coordinating my offense and planning my attack. I want to be a tourist. Completely and utterly without shame. Food, running, culture and music. Not necessarily in that order.

Food: I am big on breakfast. Love, love, love all things brunch. I’m an adventurous eater and crave all things spicy. I already know I want a scone from the Lovely Bakery, anything at all from Salted Caramel, the craziest burger I can find and. And! And of course, a pizza from anywhere (preferably wood fired). Even though beer is not technically something you eat, finding a craft beer brewery is also a must (preferably one that makes a mean smoked porter). My plan is to get a street map of Chicago, determine where we will be each day and find the best? places to eat within walking distance of that address. So, that means 1) the hotel on S. Michigan, 2) Wrigley field, and 3) Soldier Field.

Running: I already know I want to run on the indoor track at my hotel, just to say I did it. It’s a given I will find a way to run along the waterfront even if it’s a mere mile. But, other than that I’m really not sure. According to my training schedule I will only need to find somewhere to run twice: three miles Thursday and six miles Sunday. Piece of cake. Of course I’ll have PT, yoga and strength training to figure out as well but I’m not really worried about that. The gym is supposed to be killer.

Culture: Chicago is known for art. That much I know. I’ve been told I need to find “the bean” and there’s a paperweight exhibit I just have to check out. The millies are supposed to be incredible. We’re going to a baseball game Friday night (Sox vs Marlins). I’d like to see some historical architecture. A rose garden. A wall of graffiti. Maybe take in the aquarium since fish have always been my thing. Other than that, je ne sais pas.

I think music is the only thing we are definite on. The Dead, Moe, more Dead, a little Sunday jazz, and more Dead. In addition I’m hoping we’ll catch a few street performers (like how we stumbled on Pressing Strings in Baltimore). There won’t be time for much else.

In the meantime this student of Chicago is going to watch movies filmed in the city. Maybe one or two of them will spark some ideas. First up: Drinking Buddies, High Fidelity, and the Lake House. Will I learn anything? I am really beyond skeptical… Stay tuned.

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That First Mile

Someone asked me what I remember about running my first mile. Was I elated? Was I proud? What exactly did I feel? This is going to sound terrible but I honestly don’t remember my first mile. At all. I couldn’t tell you how I felt because I know this: I had no clue when I reached one mile. In the very beginning I was doing this sort of make-it-up-as-I-go training. Um. I see now that some things never change. (I don’t have a real training plan for the next run.) Back in the day I would run for an indeterminate amount of time and walk until I felt I could run again. It wasn’t a prescribed 30/90 or even a distance thing (run to that tree; walk to the next fire hydrant). I just ran when I felt I could and walked when I knew I couldn’t. I didn’t really begin to mark progress until I could run for an entire song. I think in those days it was Sirsy and Rob Thomas, in that order. I forget the albums. My distance after each run was something of a surprise. I remember using Google to plot the distance (always after the fact) and one day the total mileage was something like 1.6 miles…I remember thinking that was a big deal because I didn’t have an asthma attack. In the grand scheme of things I came away from that first mile run relatively unscathed. But, I was more impressed with being able to say I ran “through” ten songs. Just to give you perspective, for Sirsy that was a whole album.

Here’s what I should do – dig out my old TnT training diary and see what my 2006 self said about that first mile…when I finally recognized it.

Categories: Confessional, running | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Elevens

If you had asked me more than a decade ago what the number eleven meant to me I would have said The Elevens. A music venue where I was trying to get my favorite band booked. Back then I was all about this unsigned band. I was all about tours and gigs and set lists of this unsigned band. I was rabid about getting the unsigned seen.

Fast forward to 2015. The unsigned band is no longer a band. They have become a (signed!) dynamic duo and I have signed off on being their biggest fan. They are doing fine without me. The word eleven now mean something completely different. Eleven as in 11.15 miles. 11.15 was the total mileage for last night’s run. 11 mph was the slow and steady pace I ran for two hours and two minutes. Albeit a rocky start, I finished the run rock steady.

Sunday began like most every other Sunday. Coffee and Cassidy in bed. She under the tented blankets, curled around my bent legs. Me with my fingers curled around a steaming cup of coffee, turning the pages of a good book (a Batya Gur murder mystery). I admit, it was hard to concentrate despite the idyllic morning. My mind kept returning to the run…would I run outside and if so where? How much time would I need? What would I wear? We were supposed to get snow. When it was all said and done none of those questions mattered. I was inside and it was well after 4pm. Hello New Guinea. Remember the rocky start? It began as soon as I wanted to get dressed. No clean bras. They were all in the dryer, every last one of them. So I started the first three miles in (very) unsupportive cotton. I’m small, but not so small that I can go without. Not completely. Stop #1 was to change bras after 3.2 miles. Stop #2 was to change shoes after 4.5 miles. [I’m breaking in new kicks and refuse to run more than five at a time until I get them where I want ’em.] Stop #3 at mile 7.5 was a pee break. At this point I thought for sure I was never going to get all eleven miles finished before it was time to go to bed.

The only good news was that I ran without my security blanket in hand. Normally I run with my iPod firmly grasped in my left hand. I insist it’s so I can change songs quickly but really, truly, I like holding onto something – specifically in my left hand. Don’t ask me why. I just know this because the one time I tried switching the iPod to the right it felt weird. But, last night I was able to run sans iPod in either hand. Kisa hooked me up to Sonos and I was at the mercy of the playlist. Luckily, it was a good one. No fast forward necessary. Favorite song of the night: Lose Yourself by Eminem. “Feet, fail me not.”

The better news is that I am *still* pain-free. Me, myself and moi had a serious convo with the knees, hips and ankles and so far, no one is complaining. The knee growl I heard earlier has been silenced. Tonight’s menu is PT, yoga and maybe a date with Bob. Not sure yet. The run looks like this:

  • Tuesday – 6
  • Thursday – 6
  • Saturday – St. Patrick’s 6.1!
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