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Archive for March, 2010

So, I’ve been using a Crossfit based Ironman training plan, courtesy of my coach Jen, which has a lot of benefits, not the least of which is greatly improving my running music, as the old stuff was WAY too mellow to keep up pace with the interval speeds. Which is likely why I was running so slow. Or an indicator of.  Whatever. Either way: if it’s not keeping up the beat, it’s not helping me, so: yay! new music!

Anyway. As a part of this plan I hit up CrossFit Capitol Hill three times a week (theoretically – in practice, um, well, err, I do my best), and this morning we did a workout combination of push/press lifting and then 10x: 10 overhead lunges (w/25 lb weight) and 10 burpees.

So that’s 10 lunges and 10 burpees, repeated 10 times through. Right? Right.

My friend Haley saw this in my workout log this morning, and commented: “You did 100 OH lunges and 100 burpees? Wow.”

To which I promptly replied: “No, I just did that set 10 times through.”

{pause}

“Ok, yes, yes I did do 100 of each”

….

You guys. Seriously. Ironman training has NOT been good for my mind. To everyone I used to teach statistics: I am Really Really sorry.

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When prepping for this race, it occurred to me that I haven’t actually done an official “register and pay money and then show up on time and run with people” race since Ironman Arizona in 2008. This might explain why I spent 30 minutes wondering around trying to find where to rack my bike prior to the start.

I kid.

But seriously, I’m out of practice for this. In a previous life – one where I raced with some sort of frequency – I would have known all the details of where to be when and where to get my packet pick up and who was racing with me and blah blah blah. As it was, I found myself hitting the internet around 11pm the night before, hoping there was race day packet pick up and and wondering if I’d know anyone there.

The race started at 9, packet pick up started at 7. The start is about two miles from my house, which is actually just a nice warm up run. Well, I mean, it would have been a nice warm up run, except I drove anyway. Look, it was raining, and I was having a crisis of clothing (jacket? no jacket? etc, plus I wanted to drink my coffee on the way and didn’t have a disposable cup. Also, I’m lazy. Also, I waited until the morning of to try to figure this out and ran out of time. Also, I didn’t know how long it would…well, whatever: Race planning FAIL.)

I parked by the White House and ran to the start (about .25 miles as per Garmin. Yes, I drove to a two mile away race and parked a quarter mile away from the start I KNOW) I got there around 8, got my race number and timing chip, and then shivered for the next 58 minutes.

So, I suck at racing shorter distance: I either start way too fast and burn out or wait too long to ramp up. In terms of mental effort, I honestly feel that a half marathon is easier to pace than a 10k. Additionally, I actually don’t know how long an 8k race is; I spent the majority of the race trying to do the math and figure out how close I was to done. Seriously, this is what my thought process looked like for, oh, say, 30 minutes of the race:

“If a 5k is 3.1 miles and a 10k is 6.2, then an 8k HAS to be between those two distances…oooh, maybe’s it’s only 4 miles! I’m almost done! Wait, no, that doesn’t work out, ok, since i know it’s less than 6 but HOW MUCH less than six are we talking more than 5? That doesn’t… Wait, no, ok, so if a 5k is 3.1 miles and a 10k is 6.2 miles…”

You guys. I used to teach statistics. Competently. This is horrifying. If we ever switch to the metric system I am screwed.

ANYWAY. It turns out that 8k is almost exactly 5 miles. I finished with a 8:50ish minute/mile pace, which is funny to me because… yeah, that’s my half marathon pace. Using run/walk. Once again, I prove my utter inability to pace for a shorter race. That being said, it was a solid effort for me; I got the beginning of side stiches around the 4 mile mark, which dropped my pace considerably, and I was able to push into the final kick, but not a ton. Effort wise I think I was dead on.

So really, I just need to repeat that race 5 more times, after a 112 mile bike and 2.4 mile swim, and I’ll be an ironman! Woo!

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One: I’m coming home from a lecture, perhaps Russian Literature or Statistical Modeling with SAS or Ancient Roman History or some other variation of Stop Thinking About Yourself for A Few Hours that are a part of the college experience. I walk in the door to see my roommate Devon cross legged on the coach, wearing two week old sweatpants and ratty t shirt, face tear streaked, eating cake frosting out of a can with knife, and at the same time I think “Oh no, what did he do” and “Man, I have got to wash the dishes and get her a clean spoon”

These type of boy problems can only be solved with raw cookie dough and the movie Center Stage, and I make the necessary arrangements, cookie dough and cheap wine from the deli downstairs, overwatched VHS in the VCR,  sweatpants donned in solidarity, and we settle in to ride out the storm.

Years later my husband will come home to find us in sweatpants on the couch, drinking champagne, caught up in the talk of insubstantial nothingness that can continue for days.

Two: I walk into the restaurant and find him sitting in the back. We’re here most Monday nights, getting take out or eating in, depending on the time we left work and our willingness to deal with people at the end of the day. I’m sure they think we’re a couple, and we are, but not the type they mean. Over dinner we’ll discuss the people we’re dating, or the ending of Gone Baby Gone and how that’s quite possibly one of the best movies we’ve ever seen, or what a jerk Mel Gibson was to make What Women Want, or our mutual surprise out how Britney’s comeback album was kind of ok, actually. We walk back up to his place, or mine just a few blocks away, raiding our TiVOs and clinking beers at the beginning of How I Met Your Mother, another “Sibling Date Night” in full swing. We ping absentmindedly on our blackberrys and flip through magazines, folding laundry, spending a quiet Monday night with no requirement to carry on conversation or be in a good mood; two siblings, being the best type of friends.

Three: I spend 48 hours in LA on her couch, leaving the house only to ride beach cruisers up and down the boardwalk, chatting about traffic and men with bald spots. The only thing I know about her is that she loves my brother, and that’s enough for me, really, but as I learn more I relax, and ease into this friendship that feels inevitable. Her favorite movie is What Happens in Vegas and she can keep an email thread going for days just using the phrase “You know why!” She talks with an enthusiasm that feels like dancing, and it’s infectious, making it impossible to feel left out, unwanted.  For Christmas she gives me a framed picture of my brothers and me as small children, in a three person bear hug, and I feel like the picture is missing someone; I find myself thinking: “What took you so long to join us?”

Four: It’s 7am and we’re running late, frantically working around each other trying to get ourselves situated for another day, coffee feverishly being drunk and cereal being consumed while in motion. It’s Tuesday or Wednesday, and we’re buried so deep  in the week that we can’t even be hopeful for the weekend. From the speakers I hear Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” pipe in, followed by some Bon Jovi, followed by Poison. For the next 30 minutes we DJ ourselves our own 80s rock karoke party while we finish suiting up, smiling and dancing despite the day and the time, and we leave the house humming along to Van Halen’s “Right Now,” enjoying a Tuesday more than should be expected.

****

I find myself in the basement of a bar in downtown New York, hurling darts against a wall with the skill level of someone who has never played a hand/eye sport in her life and is four beers into this game. They make fun of my efforts, but they’re not doing any better and we laugh at each other while we sing along to background music.  I look around at my people and I think “My God” and I think “How lucky” and I think “How Goddamn lucky am I.”

Me and my four people, in the same city at the same time, and you know, it’s just another day, one in the collection of many, but these days, these moments, stop me in my tracks and I think, “I am luckiest son of bitch in the world.”

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I’m usually loathe to disagree with my brother Mike. We’re good friends, and get along very well, but we have a tendency to revert to our 7 and 11 year old selves (respectively) when we disagree, and many disagreements tend to end with me frustrated and close to tears and him smirking and say “Ha! I told you you were stupid!”

But, you know, we both well over our teen years, and you would think we’d be able to intelligently discuss why he is completely and utterly mistaken about the movie Avatar.

The crux of his argument is this:

Avatar is a great movie.  It has a generic story but the look and feeling of the film was spectacular.  When i left the theater, and everyone else i left with, we had a collective sense of “holy crap, that was really something” feeling that never happens.  Ten years from now, i’ll remember my Avatar viewing but probably not my Hurt Locker experience. Thus, i’m voting for Avatar.

And this is where I disagree: I won’t remember Avatar in ten years. Hell, I can barely remember it now; I had to go re-read a review to remind myself of what the actual plot was. I left Avatar thinking “Wow, you know, that looked really cool.” But Best Picture? Really? No. To steal from Linda over at Monkey See:

It’s fine to admire Cameron’s technical advances with the movie — what he did with motion capture is clearly an advance in the sense that certain aspects of it moved the idea of CGI films forward. But the question becomes: in service of what?

…it reminded me of an incredibly gorgeous web site design where all the text was the dummy nonsense Latin that’s used to fill space and avoid distraction. Avatar works well as a demonstration of technology — particularly for other filmmakers who might use it for, say, better films.

But consider this, for a moment: If Cameron had made the movie with actors in rubber masks, and he hadn’t used special motion capture or a special camera — if he had made it as a conventional sci-fi movie — how good would it be?

And that’s really where I’m coming from with this. Avatar absolutely deserves as many awards are available for it’s technological coolness, but as an overall movie — by which I mean, a combination of story, acting, visuals and execution — it ain’t there. When I think of Inglorious Bastards, I remember the amazing acting by Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent, the captivating story, the haunting visual of a blue eye peeking out from under a floorboard. That movie hit it out of the park on every level, almost serving as a master class on how to bring together a million different elements into a highly enjoyable film, whereas Avatar just kind of … looked cool.

And that’s Ok for Avatar to look cool. It’s impressive. But that doesn’t make it the best movie of the year, not by a long shot.

(I should note now that my brother compares the Oscar race between Avatar and Hurt Locker to the Star Wars v Rocky Oscar race for Best Picture, and where he comes down on the side of Star Wars on that one, I’m firmly in the Rocky camp. So it’s likely we’re just dealing with a difference of styles and expectations here, which is Ok, but doesn’t change the fact that I’m right and he’s wrong.)

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The first time my stepdaughter ever commented on my blog, my mind immediately screeched a halt and went “ABORT! ABORT! CHILD READS THIS BLOG! REMOVE ALL MENTIONS OF HER FATHER TALKING ABOUT BOOBS”

After carefully reviewing past content and assuring myself there was nothing on her that would be too damaging to her tweenager eyes (or, you know, my career, while we’re at it), I sat back and smiled because, actually, I really like the idea of her getting to know me in whatever way she can, getting a view to what I’m doing and who I am when I’m not being her stepmom.

This is one reason I REALLY like being friends with her on Facebook; I get to see her interacting with her friends, see her random thoughts through the day, and really get a view into little things I’d likely miss otherwise. And that is all well and good, but one side benefit I hadn’t thought too much about was the potential to embaress her greatly, and, dude, it is awesome. Check out her comment on one her dad’s status update from this past weekend:

Hi Sammy. We luv u too. I’m glad you can see all we post, and I’m sure you won’t be scarred for like, your WHOLE life.  Most likely, anyway.

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