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October 31, 2006

huis clos

Those dreaded words: "Let's break into groups and..."

I started a massage-therapy program at the beginning of this month, and we started not with anatomy, physiology, and the like but with a Florida-mandated "core" course for health-care workers, which covers what can only be described as "life skills plus!" For the past four weeks I've been thrust back into that high school hell I hated the first time around. I don't like it too much now, either.

But what bugs me the most is working in groups. We've had group exercises lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, and each time I've been amazed at how much I hated it. The most memorable (and hateful) was a project for which we had to illustrate, in non-anatomically-correct fashion, some body system. Our group was assigned the urinary and lymphatic systems, lovely things to behold. One girl didn't care what we did as long as she could work in somehow that UTIs burned "like fi-yahh!" and the rest of us just didn't give a shit. Finally we came up with the idea that the urinary system is like a tree, which soaked up and filtered fluids rained down from little lymphy clouds, and the leaves and stuff were the bladder. Armed with this imprecise physiology, we proceeded to spend a couple hours cutting up pieces of construction paper and gluing them on poster board. The white puffy clouds were healthy lymph nodes; the black ones were speckled with pathogens made of confetti and stricken with, respectively, tonsillitis and hodgkins disease. Our tree had some healthy leaves, but the ones with the UTI burned like fi-yahh! The leaves with uremia were black, the poor things.

We gave a little presentation and received an A. Everyone in the whole class received an A. The group saddled with the circulatory system built a castle surrounded with little play-doh animals representing diseases. They gave me their Pleurisy Chicken to take home afterwards, but the fact remains that I hate hate hate working in groups, and I don't do it very well.

I'm ranting mainly to celebrate having survived the darkest hour; this group hell is about to end. In another couple of days the core course is over and we start the massage program proper. I can only hope that I will be allowed to learn the bulk of the nonclinical stuff on my own. That I do very well.

Posted by joe positive at 1:42 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 28, 2006

head case

I bailed on another race this morning, 2nd in 2 weeks. It goes like this: I see the race - almost always a local 5k - is coming up on some future date; I decide to run it but do not register in advance; I rearrange the training schedule to include the race as a 2nd or 3rd or 4th workout that week. The week of the race, I find myself looking forward to it, and I think about the race in a fairly happy and anticipatory way during training runs and workouts. And then right after Friday's training run I start to get a little cranky. And then I don't sleep too well, and the alarm goes off and I bitch and moan about not getting even one dang day to sleep in all week blah blah blah and then I have a cup of coffee, check email, check the weather, and




I am, and

make no move toward the car. Because it's too hot, or too humid, or windy, or I know the race is really poorly organized and the start is awful, and there'll be all these people milling around... But mainly I bail because I hate racing. No, because I'm afraid of racing - afraid of pain, and afraid I won't do as well as I ought to, and afraid of failing (and being in pain) in public. That's really why.

This really sucks. I wish I knew a way around it. Even googling "runner afraid of racing" was no help. I love running, and I like running fast when I don't have to, but I really hate having to run fast. This does not bode well.

Posted by joe positive at 3:54 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 19, 2006

90 days' probation

It's been about 3 months since my friend committed suicide. I've noticed some people dealing with it their own way and beginning to heal up, and I'm happy for them. I'm not sure my way - utter avoidance - is working so well. On the other hand, it works so well. I have saved all the emails but won't look at them. I can look at old pictures of us (we used to be in a band) but not linger too long. I dread the night I go to a bar or a party and someone starts playing any of his music, because I just don't know what I'll do, and it may not be good to do in public. Otherwise, things are just fine. My husband and I talked about this the other night and I asked him are we (unwisely) sweeping it under the rug or just dealing in our way, which is to say not dealing with it except in dreams and random thoughts and extremely infrequent conversations. He couldn't say. I can't either. But that's my MO and for now I'm sticking with it.

Posted by joe positive at 4:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

pardon my away

Four weeks ago (about) I left the universe of IT. Three weeks ago I ran a marathon. Two weeks ago I started school full-time, and though I nominally have a lot of free time, I have managed to cram it full of things I must do and gotta do and really oughta do, most of which I don't really have to do but I feel a little guilty "just" going to school so I make sure I pull my weight in other ways. I'll get over it.

I haven't really felt much like writing during the past few weeks. Running has been a particularly unwriteworthy subject. The race in Akron turned out to be a real downer the more I thought about it, and I've thought about it plenty during this ultralong recovery. Meanwhile, I've been damn sore; almost every day some new section of calf or shin has developed serious tightness and pain. So while my mind berates the body and demands penance for the bad marathon, the body just says no. My legs finally decided to work again this morning; I ran 8 miles a bit too fast, with 10xstrides also a little too fast, and despite the summerlike weather it felt good to push. I like that. I hope it lasts

Posted by joe positive at 2:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 14, 2006

this has been bothering me

Who was the first person to start doing that annoying "helLLOOO" valleyspeak sort of thing? Did it come from a movie, or was it part of a standup comic's schtick (like "excu-u-use meEE!")? I have checked google and wikipedia but both are strangely silent on the question, or else I just haven't asked correctly. There are huge chunks of pop culture that seem to have happened while I was sleeping.

Posted by joe positive at 6:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 2, 2006

I'm sorry, Linus; I tried.

For over a year I have tried to be a politically correct geek, looking for the good in all operating systems even though in-depth knowledge of Microsoft products paid the bills.

I installed SuSE 9.2 on one machine at home last year. Tried diligently to learn the ins and outs of Kontact and Konqueror and all the other krap. Tried to make sense of man pages that went on forever and ever. Refrained from asking questions that would only be met with "have you read the man pages?". Did a lot of gooling instead. Spent an entire 3-day weekend installing Oracle and was so disgusted with the process that I never started the service anymore after that. Upgraded to SuSE 10.0, and watched the OS use even more RAM. Installed a driver for my video card that didn't make things look any better but requires me to do this elaborate dance with every kernel update, or risk losing the GUI altogether.

I tried; I really, really tried. But this little laptop - with w2k server as an OS and using firefox as a browser and SQL 2005 just because - runs circles and circles around the SuSE Linux boatanchor sitting next to it running doing nothing but Kontact and a console window. And when something in Windows breaks something else in Windows (as often happens), this politically correct geek usually knows how to fix it. Novell Cool Solutions be damned. Long live Bill. He seems like a nice guy, anyway.

Posted by joe positive at 6:44 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 1, 2006

a somewhat more coherent account

The only thing worse than writing a race report is writing a race report about a race that didn't turn out the way I wanted it to.

I ran Akron yesterday, and the short story is: 3:17:28, 7th female, 1st masters. This was not a PR, and in fact was the first marathon I've run that was not a PR.

Longer story, details inserted somewhat randomly:

This week I finally read "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit," which I liked more than I expected to. The main character has a sort of mantra that goes: It doesn't really matter. Here goes nothing. It will be interesting to see how this will turn out.

The Akron paper ran a story Friday with a headline something like "Even modest runners have a chance this year," and went on to report that the organizers were going to make the race a community event rather than an elite-focussed thing. To me, this sounded like maybe they hadn't been able to attract elites, but it didn't really matter to me. It would be interesting to see how this turned out. Anyway, I got to the expo to pick up my stuff, and behold! an F number had been bestowed on me for the first time in my life! Apparently the decision had been really last minute, because the bib didn't have a name on it like all the others. No matter.

Raceday morning was 48F, windy, and gray-skied. Rain and more wind were expected by midday. I did not wear my (un)trusty GPS, because I wasn't sure it would hold a signal the whole way. I was left with my regular race watch and my own (un)trusty sense of pace. Here goes nothing. At the gun we set off, with the wind and slightly downhill. In addition to the marathon, there were also 2 separate relay races (2-person and 5-person), and I felt lost in a sea of pink and blue bibs (marathon bibs were yellow) I dared not pace off of. First mile was too fast, but I corrected and ran the next 2 miles (uphill, into the wind) a bit slow. The first 6 miles were generally uncomfortable, not least because of the wind and the (early-arriving) rain. The course had more hills than I realized and I just couldn't regulate my effort enough to regulate my pace. Also, my feet started to hurt. I knew we'd turn around sometime after 10K so I told myself it didn't matter.

Miles 6 - 12 were the best in the whole race; I felt relaxed and in control; I saw Mike; I had a brief conversation with someone running nearby; a spectator called out "hey yellow [bib], you're about 6th woman."

Around mile 11 the course left the streets for a crushed-limestone towpath. After a few miles, the novelty of the surface wore off and my feet began to hurt more (I didn't find out until later that this was due to bloodblisters growing on the soles of my feet). By mile 13 I thought I might not make it to 20 feeling good, and by 14 I knew it for sure. No matter. I'd just try and make it to 20 without wanting to die. Here goes nothing.

15 - 19 were almost all uphill. Thoroughly demoralized, I passed some relay-exchange point and a bike pulled out in front of me, and kept looking over his shoulder - at me, it seemed. I puffed to someone running nearby: "what's this bike?" The guy said "I guess you're the leader." I smiled for what would be the last time that morning and said "old lady leader, maybe." Oh man, that bike! Here I was, struggling to maintain something under 7:45s (and later 8s) and there was a bike escort announcing to all Hey y'all here's the masters leader! I felt like a total idiot and pretender as the spectators (and traffic cops) clapped and whoohoo'd and cheered and wanted to take my picture. I wanted to apologize to that poor guy having to bike really really slow in 48-degree windy rain, but I couldn't catch him. After a very steep hill just before 22, my legs were totally numb except when my calves wanted to cramp (off and on until the end, it turned out). The rest of the race was a blur: down a hill, up one, try some powerade for those cramps, flat, oh shit low blood sugar - must've been the powerade, up one last goddamn hill, that poor bike guy might as well get off and walk his bike I'm going so slow, ok there's the finish. Some people from some radio station want to talk to me? About what? Well that sure turned out interesting.

Though I saw Mike on the street just before the finish, we hadn't made arrangements on where to meet, and we didn't count on the chaos of all the families and friends of all the marathoners and 2-person and 5-person relayers. Consequently, we didn't hook up for nearly an hour, by which time I was shivering violently from hobbling around the outdoor stadium in wet clothes, and in tears from the cold and fatigue and frustration. Some wonderful man gave me a Cleveland Indians sweatshirt, may god bless him.

So this already-too-long report has been mostly a human-interest thing. Here's a brief analysis from a running point of view:

1) inadequate hill training, and not realizing just how hilly this course was

2) too-fast, downhill first mile, as my quads have been reminding me all day. Poor sense of pace and no one to pace off of (certainly not the guy running a 5K leg of a relay)

3) training that included lots of quantity but not enough quality. Nearly all my medium-long runs - last year's marathon-training staple - were at recovery pace; I was too tired to do otherwise.

4) 48F and sunny is fine; 48F and rainy and gray and windy is too much for me.

Anyway, my training partners asked me to run Disney with them, so I'm going to. My mind wants to start training right now, but my legs are too sore. But maybe by the end of the week I'll start. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

Posted by joe positive at 5:08 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

to the guy on the bike yesterday

To the guy on the bike with the masters womens' leader sign attached to the handlebars:

Until you pulled out in front of me around mile 18 or 19 or whatever, I didn't know you existed, or would exist - as far as I knew, only big races had bike escorts, and only for overall leaders. By the time I made your acquaintance, I was more or less toast. My goal time - and any hope of a PR, for that matter - was out of the question. I felt like a total idiot shuffling along behind you, slouching toward that 3:17, as you announced to all and sundry "here's the masters leader" and they responded as though I actually looked like a lead runner instead of a tired wet rat. During the last, slowest, mile, as you had to resort to spinning and backpedaling uphill to keep me within shouting distance, you still looked behind you and yelled "c'mon, you're a beast" and other encouraging silly stuff. Thanks for hanging with me that cold, rainy, windy hour-or-more. I realize that's your job. I hope you get a faster lady to lead in next time.

Posted by joe positive at 2:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack