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May 29, 2009

I wish all existence could be described in equations

I wish there were some kind of McMillan Running Calculator for viola, where you could plug in the name of the piece you'd like to play, and it would tell you what other skills you need to be capable of playing it, like "scales in such-and-such key at XXX bpm," "Schradieck dexterity exercise #Y at ZZZ bpm," and so forth.

Some of my clients with injuries come to me extremely concerned about what (single thing) caused their current injury, when it very likely isn't any single thing at all. They want to know why the pain is still there after X massages or Y minutes of ice per day or Z days off. They urgently request an ETA on their "cure." They want me to be able to write some sort of equation describing their lives and their injuries, plug in some facts, and come up with a series of steps that will guarantee recovery within some definite timeframe.

I think that these equations might be possible, just not possible for mankind at the moment.

Posted by joe positive at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2009

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joe does not give one good god damn about:

1. American Idol
2. fall lineup of TV shows
3. Lost
4. the effects of facebook/twitter/myspace on the way people think and act
5. Jay Leno
6. Mike Tyson's daughter's drama, made dramatic just because she's Mike Tyson's daughter
7. anti-prop-8 folks who couldn't be bothered into activism when prop-8 was on the ballot, now yammering all hurtly that the CA Supreme Court should have overturned prop-8 because it's all about hate
8. people who claim to see a "glazed look" in my eye, when there is no such thing

obligatory: 5 recovery miles, 20min elliptical, 20min stairmaster. Also: first massage in like 2 months; I needed it.

Posted by joe positive at 7:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 24, 2009

does anybody really care about how someone trains the week after a marathon?

well, if you do, read on:

M: zero; both quads sore, trouble going down stairs and sitting/standing without using my arms to get into/out of chair

T: R quad fine, L still sore; thought about going to the gym; thought better of it. Walked a bit over 2 miles, some with my fat old dog.

W: 20min elliptical, 15min stairmaster, walked a quarter with dog

R: 3.88mi (9:46); 25min elliptical, 15min stairmaster

F: 4mi (9:34)

Sa: 5.1mi (9:06); 30min elliptical, 15min stairmaster

Su: 8mi (9:22, yee haw)

totals: 21 miles + 2hr xtrain + 2.5mi walking, some with fat old dog

Notice how the running is very, very slow, like 2min/mile slower than MP even. Call me crazy, but it works for me. I have a friend who sneers at any training pace slower than 8min, runs 3 or 4 workouts per 5-day week, and runs half-marathons at my marathon pace. And she hardly ever races anyway, because she frequently gets injured. As long as I have known her, she's raced all her training. I wish her coach would talk some sense into her.

Anyway, enough commentary about other people; this blog is about me, me, me :-)

Posted by joe positive at 10:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 20, 2009

surely it is time

Quads (both of them) are 99% unsore, and I am bursting with energy and ideas and plans for the next race. And last night I dreamed an all-day sucker of a dream, which included, in no particular order:

- my friend who killed himself, only he was alive, but he was going to kill himself and everybody knew it. But he was alive, and I was trying to say the right things so that he would be happy
- I became reacquainted with some MS-SQLServer DBA stuff
- my old boss and I had a discussion about clustered vs nonclustered indexes
- I let my old boss explain something to me that I already knew, so he could feel good about himself and I wouldn't come off as a know-it-all, and because I was secretly hoping he'd offer me a part-time job
- my friend who killed himself, and by this part of the dream, he'd already killed himself
- a Facebook quiz: "what dead person's band are you most closely allied with?" and my result was Nailbiters, the first band my friend started after we broke up and our band broke up
- this local guy who has become the self-styled Keeper of the Cartoon Memory of my friend; when any memorial shows or tributes or retrospectives are discussed, you can be sure he's a big part of it.
- all of this took place in a big mall like Tower City in Cleveland

This dream started when I fell asleep last night and ended when I woke up this morning. It is a clear sign that I've got entirely too much energy, and it is time to start training again for then next thing.

Posted by joe positive at 12:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 18, 2009

I still hate writing race reports

Yesterday I ran the Cleveland Marathon. This was not a PR attempt, more like a final step in the process of recovering from last year's injuries. I figured that running an OK pace (in this case, 7:30) and finishing uninjured would mean I was officially "cured" and I could think about training for a good time in a fall marathon.

In the interest of saving $$$, I traveled to the race alone. Everything - the flight, the subway ride into town, the hotel check-in - went incredibly smoothly. After picking up my stuff at the expo I got to meet (live, in person, for the very first time) Salty (and her husband, and her baby, and her friend who was also running the marathon) and hang out a bit.

Saturday I had nothing planned but a short little run, whatever walking was required to get food, and a whole lot of nothing. This kept me free from distractions but gave me ample time to convince myself I could not possibly run goal pace, not even for a single mile. I played a lot of wordscraper and listened to a lot of the most mindless CNN I'd ever heard.

Friday and Saturday had been warm and muggy, but Sunday morning was cold, yay! And windy, boo. The start area was like a wind tunnel and after a little while I began to shiver uncontrollably. I finally decided that jogging a bit would be a more productive expenditure of energy than shivering. Just before the inevitable Singing Of The Anthem, Salty appeared with a good-luck hug.

The start didn't seem terribly crowded, but I thought it took about 30s to cross the mat. Coach had insisted I stay at pace (no faster) for at least 13 miles, so I spent the entire first half of the race slowing down. I cannot stress how much this helped me later in the race, though in retrospect I could've (and should've) gone out just a touch slower. About half the time we were running into the wind, and many times I had to decide whether to 1) run up to that guy up there and draft, or 2) stay back and run my pace, letting others pass me as they drafted off each other. I didn't always choose correctly. Salty, who'd just finished the 10k, met me at mile 10 and we chatted for a couple of miles

After the halfers split off we began a long yucky stretch into the wind. Around 17 or 18 we finally turned out of that and into a park, thanks god. I saw a woman with a smiling dog who looks like mine, and it made me smile, and the woman saw me smile and it made her smile, smiles all around. I passed a woman I'd been tailing for miles. There were lots of Canada geese, whose honking made me smile. People were really starting to slow down, but I pressed on and found myself running with a different bunch. Around 19 miles I realized I was about to pass another woman I'd been tailing, but before I could do the deed, another woman came steaming past both of us, which dampened my satisfaction a little bit :-)

I felt ok at 20 miles but not supergreat. At 21 a stupid little hill slammed me against the wall. Excuse me, the Wall. Suddenly I hated everything. Salty reappeared unexpectedly around 22 and ran a mile with me, but this time she was doing all the chatting and I was wondering how I could just step off the course and die. I was no longer checking my watch much; every time I thought I should check my pace I'd think, "no, you don't wanna know, just pick it up. Now."

But wait...by 23 I found myself on the heels of 3 women who were fading faster than I was, and I was happily surprised to pass them at a water station. They eventually passed me back, but one of them started to fade badly around 24.5 and I caught her again. We spent the entire 26th mile running mostly side by side into the wind. Since she'd been ahead of me the whole race, I figured she was faster and I really was not in the mood to kill myself with a futile sprint at the end of a marathon, so I just stayed with her, not working but not drafting either. She pulled ahead and I said "go on, you got it," but she slowed and I caught her again. At 26 I pulled ahead and she went with me; I kicked one more time but she didn't follow. All that drama netted me about 2 seconds, yay me.

My hotel did not want to give me a late checkout so I had to leave the race immediately after finishing. The walk back to the hotel took about 1000 incredibly painful years.

Yesterday's results gave me a chip time of 3:16:54, but today I see that's been amended to 3:17:52, which is what my watch said. My watch also said 26.44 miles (for 7:30 avg pace), but official time rules here, so officially I ran 7:32 pace. I also ran a positive split of about 2.5min, so I'm not that happy. I also missed masters money (I was 4th but they only go 3-deep), but I really wasn't counting on that.

Some stats and fun facts:

- I did not run in flats this time, just very light trainers
- I managed to down one entire Clif Shot Blok during the entire race
- my calves do not hurt
- my quads hurt like a mother despite the fact that there weren't many hills
- no crazy-high mileage this time, just 3 weeks 70+ including 1 80-mile week
- no short sharp speedwork, mostly tempo and MP
- 16th female, 139 overall, either 3AG or 1AG depending on whether the race allows double-dipping
- both masters women who finished immediately ahead of me were behind me even at 30k. They knew what they were doing :-)

All in all, I'm ok with this, but I think I can do better.

Posted by joe positive at 2:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 3, 2009


Back in November my husband got me a viola. I messed around with it for a couple of months, then found a teacher and started taking lessons in February. Even though I've been playing music my whole life, and played viola a bit as a kid, and have played bass at least 25 years, the going has been slow. I am no prodigy. I'm not even remotely very good, or even a little good. I work hard to correct one mistake only to discover another, more egregious one that needs to be corrected. What I play doesn't sound very musical at all.

A few weeks ago my teacher emailed all her students about an upcoming Spring Recital, and when she mentioned it to me at the next lesson I smiled brightly and said, "oh, I don't think I'll play this time around, but I'd love to come watch." She informed me that the recital was not optional and gave me two tiny Bach minuets to learn - maybe a minute forty apiece - and started me down the road to heartache.

For the past several weeks I've practiced as much as two hours a day. I've run the songs; I've done lots of spot practice; I've played at tempo, and above, and way below. The fingertips of my left hand have green-gray dents in them. My husband can sing both of the songs, and has started learning one of them on guitar, and I can play them both beautifully on the bass. And on the viola I just suck. The tone is bad. I'm out of tune. It screeches. I suck. And the recital is tomorrow night.

At this recital there will be an accompanist playing piano. I have never met this accompanist and in fact haven't ever played viola accompanied by a pianist. The few times my teacher has played along with me at lessons, my brain went "ooh, shiny harmony!" and my playing promptly went to hell. At my lesson last week I asked my teacher a few questions about this accompanist: will we have a chance to practice with her? No. What tempo will she play; should I be prepared to tell her a beats-per-minute number? Oh, didn't I mention this to you? The way we do it in classical music is, we sniff. Sniff? Like counting it off, but with sniffs instead of "one, two, three?" No, only one sniff. Which has to be precisely the length of a quarter-note. Oh man, you have got to be shitting me. To practice, she had me stand still thinking of my tempo, not nodding or tapping my foot or anything, just suddenly giving one big snnnniffffff which of course was never precisely the length of a quarter note because who the fuck can think about making a big (but precise) sniffff when 1) you've been brought up all your life not to make noise like that, and 2) you have other things to worry about, like playing in tune?

Tomorrow evening I will drive 45 minutes to some church in St Pete and play these two little songs, which will take less time than it takes me to run my fastest mile. And then I will die, and then I will get into my car and drive 45 minutes home. I am dreading this thing more than I have dreaded any 5k.

Posted by joe positive at 6:38 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

darn, it worked

A few weeks ago, on Patriot Day, I got an inexplicable urge to post something to this blog. But alas, the server was down or something, and by the time running-blogs.com was available again, the urge had subsided. Today I decided that, urged or not, I need to update this thing. But in my laziness I was kind of hoping the site would be down again. And, as you can see, it's not.

I am two weeks out from the marathon I've been training for (Cleveland). I feel pretty good, apart from tiny imaginary aches I started noticing yesterday when I realized I was two weeks out from the race. Training this time has included regular, scheduled xtraining and has not included quite the mileage I'm used to, but I started fresh out of the walking boot so we had to take that into account. I'm not in PR shape, but I'm not all that far out of PR shape either, and I'm pretty sure I can still improve if I train right and stay uninjured. Considering all the bench time I logged last year, I'm pretty happy.

Yesterday I ran a 5k just for the hell of it. I haven't been doing any speedwork outside of tempo and MP stuff, so I wasn't sure I could manage even the 6:40 pace my coach suggested. Surprise, surprise, surprise, I ran 6:31/6:32/6:33/5:49 (.1), and passed people all the way to 3.05 miles. Neither of which ever happen to me in 5ks - for me, they are usually 30s of sheer panic followed by 19 or 20 minutes fervently wishing for death. Coach has really emphasized patience, and it's paying off. I hope that in two weeks I'll have the legs to run the pace, and the patience not to screw it all up.

Posted by joe positive at 10:12 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack