Welcome to the Arctic

I recently bought two new bookcases (the Sloane from Crate & Barrel), which I absolutely love. I spent Monday evening putting them together, and then moving everything off the old bookcases (which are now sitting in the middle of the living room) and then onto the new ones. But in the process, of course, a lot of dust got stirred up. (It’s amazing how much dust was piled up on the very top of those shelves.)

I’ll be giving the entire area a good vacuuming once everything is picked up and done (there’s still some piles of stuff from the old shelves on the floor, plus of course the shelves themselves still hanging around) but the one other thing that’s always helped in the past is opening up the windows and letting the apartment air out. So after two lovely days in which we’ve had temperatures in the high-50s and even hitting the 60s, I chose this morning to open the windows.

Naturally, that means the high today will be something like 46 degrees. I suspect when I get home from spinning tonight, I’ll have flashbacks to the walk-in fridges from past employments. And now, looking at the weather forecast, tomorrow? High of 58 degrees. Hmmmm, maybe I should have waited until tomorrow. Oh well.

On the bright side, I really do love those bookshelves. And I might be doing a little reorganizing of the living room area in general as a result. Woohoo!

Two Hours, Two Races (or, Things I’ll Never Do Again)

Before you run a race, there will at some point come that moment where (despite the amount of nervousness before and after), you believe you can do anything. Climb Mount Everest? No problem. Bench press 3000 pounds? Piece of cake. Fortunately, said moment passes pretty quickly. The problem, I’ve discovered, is when you are given something much more sane but still slightly nuts, because then later on you might still want to do it. Like, oh, run two Thanksgiving Trot races the morning of Thanksgiving, two hours apart, a mere 11 days after your marathon.

8:00am brought the first race, the Arlington Turkey Trot 5K. This is a new race, in its second year, that runs through the neighborhood streets of Clarendon. The combination of it being Arlington (we love our running) and a gorgeous, 70-degree day meant a huge turn-out, probably over 800 people (last year was around 400) and general chaos. I got to walk to the start from my apartment, and the area was festive and exciting. Of course, what I was forgetting was that since this race is in Clarendon, that means it is a race full of hills.

I’d set out to beat my 5K PR from two years ago (a 26:23), which was on a nice flat course and where I was much more rested. Still, anything was possible. I actually ran into my cousin Ann about a mile into the race; she’d caught up with me, but then quickly dropped back. When two miles in I was at 16:15 total, I knew that barring disaster it wouldn’t be a problem to PR. About half a mile later, I also knew that I was suddenly and without warning out of energy. This was a problem. Gasping and dying on those hills, I did the only thing I could; much to my shame, I walked for about 30 seconds until I got to the top of another colossal hill before I carried on. I finished in a 25:40 (meaning the last 1.1 miles were at an 8:34 average), which while not the finishing time I was hoping for (heck, I ran my 3-mile training run in May at a 23:46) was still good enough.

Afterwards I hung out with Ann, ran into no less than two different acquaintances through running (Ted and then Deborah), and decided that running the other Turkey Trot was crazy. Completely ludicrous. I was still a little sore from the marathon, it seemed, I should just stay home. But one more race meant an extra helping of Thanksgiving dinner.

And so…

Continue reading Two Hours, Two Races (or, Things I’ll Never Do Again)

Outer Banks Marathon — The Photologue

Giving credit where credit is due, the photographers at TriDuo.com did a fantastic job with photographing the OBX Marathon. I liked my pictures enough that I actually ordered a CD-ROM with high-res images, but in the meantime, here’s some amusement for everyone. (Sadly nothing quite hits the, “Help me I am lost and have amnesia” photo’s level of hilarity from the Firenze Marathon last year, but still, good stuff.)

This is my absolute favorite picture from the marathon; we’re exiting Nags Head Preserve Woods and I just love how you can see the varied terrain of the marathon here as well as the big grin on my face. Don’t get me wrong, the last mile of the woods was true trail-running, straight up and down, and it was hard as hell and I was thrilled to escape it, but at the same time? I really enjoyed it.
The secret to getting your picture taken? When you see the photographer, do something to pay up to the camera. This year my strategy was “pump the fist in the air.” A nice sort of victory stance. And it worked well.

Continue reading Outer Banks Marathon — The Photologue

Five Things That Make Me Happy (part 6)

It’s really been a while since I’ve written one of these (October 2006, yeesh) but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of good things in my life. So, anyway, here are five more things that, as of late, make me happy.

Good race photos. This year’s batch of photos from the marathon are really great; a combination of “oooh, that’s a nice picture” and “I cannot stop laughing at that photo” categories. I’ll do a longer post soonish showing off the better ones, but in the meantime, this is just as we’re exiting Nags Head Woods Preserve at mile 13. I look so… well… happy. Part of it was just finally getting off of that up-and-down torture trail, but also because I was having a great time; I felt strong and confident halfway through the race, my best one yet.

A cleaned-out closet. Now that colder temperatures are here, I took the shift in weather patterns as an opportunity to drag everything out of the closet, sort through it, and get rid of things. I’ve now got two very large bags of clothes heading off to Goodwill, and everything that’s left is sorted and much better organized. Going to my closet in the morning no longer makes me flinch, which is always a nice feeling. (Now if I can just tackle my other “problem areas” before too much longer…)

The Palm Centro. It will probably shock people to know that not only has it taken me this long to get a combination PDA/phone, but that it was not in fact an iPhone, but the new Palm Centro. But you know, I really love it. It syncs perfectly with all of my software at home and transfers exactly what I want it to, I’m very familiar with the Palm software, and I don’t feel like I’ve got something that I will drop and break in a matter of minutes. (What can I say? I would never actually enjoy owning an iPhone because I would be petrified that I would destroy it.) It looks cute, it works great, I’ve got my custom ringtones, and finally I have the combination of phone and data that I’ve been waiting for. (I also have to say that I am impressed with the quality of photo it can take for being just a cameraphone.)

The Savage Lovecast. Call me juvenile (it wouldn’t be the first time) but listening to Dan Savage’s sex-advice podcast while working out at the gym just makes me snicker. In a good way, really. He’s got a good sense of humor, usually has good advice, and it certainly makes the time go by quickly. (And sometimes it’s just super-sweet and touching.)

Finish Line!Clever co-workers. When I got back from the marathon this year, Laura had taken all of my Doctor Who action figures (which are in my office) and had all of them running a marathon. Complete with the Empress of Racnos handing out Gatorade, Daleks cheering people on, and actual photos of the Outer Banks Marathon’s course used as scenery. What can I say? Laura is really, really clever. (As are many of my other co-workers.) I promise a bigger gallery of photos of this event are coming soon, too!


(The first five of these posts were on my old LiveJournal site. For those who simply have to know… part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.)

Greg vs. the Outer Banks Marathon

Well, this morning I went up against the Outer Banks Marathon… and emerged mostly triumphant!

My plan was to break the race down into three segments; a slower 10 miles, a faster 10 miles, and then an even faster final 10k (aka 6.2 miles). And up through mile 14, things went great.

Then, two things happened in rapid succession. First, someone decided they were going to drive across the course without checking for runners first, and stopped about a foot and a half from me (and only because I screamed, “Whatareyoudoing?” really loudly and with a real edge of panic in my voice). Then, about 45 seconds later, my right calf muscle tightened up and never really let go. I stretched it out as best I could and kept going.

I finally briefly crashed and burned in the 25th mile; my knees were starting to kill me (they’d begun to ache around mile 20) and I ended up walking the majority of that mile. Once I only had 1.2 miles left to go, though, I forced myself to keep running again and finished in 4:29:06 — a new personal record. (My previous best in November 2006 was a 4:46:48.)

It was a beautiful course (or at least the first half was, the second half was primarily highways) and I’m delighted with my finishing time considering the physical pains I was going through.

Phew! It was a tough, but good day.

Finish Line Predictions: OBX 2007 Edition

Ok everyone, it’s time for the fourth iteration of the fabulous game show that gives out prizes1: Guess Greg’s Finishing Time!

Here are the details/rules:

Guesses must be made no later than 11:59pm (Eastern Time) on Saturday night. No waiting until it’s over to guess! It doesn’t matter if you are “over” or “under” the time, but in the impossible case of a tiebreaker, the more flattering option is the winner.

You don’t have to include seconds in your guess, but that can very well make the difference between winning and losing. I’ll also reveal that this year I’ve been training at a 9:00min/mile pace, while last year was a 9:30min/mile pace. You can even look at all my past race times if you think that will help.

Guessing that I won’t finish the marathon is not only an immediate disqualification, but will also earn you a punch in the stomach the next time I see you. Hard. You have been warned that I find such predictions intensely unfunny.

Good luck on your predictions! You too many soon join the ranks of Neil, Krista, and Rick (winners for MCM 2005, National Half 2006, and Firenze 2006)…

1 And by prizes, I mean none. But you get to bask in the glory of winning, that’s exciting, right?

365pictures: Days 331-365

Wow. So this is it, the final installment of the 365pictures project.

I won’t deny it, while sometimes it was a real pain in the rear, on the whole I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot about photography, about paying attention to the world around me, and noticing the less obvious things in my immediate area.

A friend recently noted that as the project continued I shifted a lot more from taking pictures of big things around me to using the macro function of the camera and taking close-ups of different things. I think it was the difference between relying on finding art and creating art, and that’s a skill I hope to continue to try and develop.

Looking at the set this morning, I did end up swapping out four photos from November and December. Early on I had some photos where while I set up the basic shot, someone else took the picture itself; as time went on, I disallowed that as an option (although using the camera self-timer is still acceptable) and I finally went and chose different options from those days to be in my 365pictures project. (After a bit of going back and forth I decided not to edit those posts where I showed the earlier montages of images. So you’ll just have to take me at my word that the selections in the actual Flickr set for November 26 & 28 and December 20 & 23 are changed to ones I actually took or used the self-timer for.)

Oh, and all but one photo were taken with the same camera, my Canon PowerShot SD600. It served me really well; it’s small and easily portable, but takes wonderful pictures. (The exception was using my cameraphone on March 22, when I just felt ill and that was all I could muster for the day.)

Last but not least, as always, you can view my entire 365pictures set at this link. Thanks for hanging in there. It was a pretty fun trip.

FlagFlu Shot Day!Nuts GaloreLove, From ScratchGloria Victis
Bel AirMy Grandfather's PipeDelicate PetalsRed Balloon Colored GlassesEarly Light
Wall of GlassLost in Translation?Bridge NightLove and RocketsYet Another Sunset
Freshly RolledSmall Corner WindowReddish TipsVision in WhiteFading Out
Warm Comfort FoodSparkle SeasonBasket Full of KittensD'AnjouReturn of the Monochromatic Meal
And Now, We RestWorst Moon Bounce EverBoney FootBento Lunch -- 2007-10-30Pile of Kisses
Station 1 MileColor RangeWall of CorkageIn FocusOne Pill Makes You Larger

Bridge Night Shocker

Almost two years ago, Doug started up a series of occasional Bridge Night get-togethers, in which one eats snacks, perhaps has a drink or two, and oh yeah play a little bit of that card game known as bridge.

Bridge NightNow while I learned how to play bridge in high school (got to love that 40-minute bus ride), I am by no means the best bridge player. In fact, when the scores were tallied the past couple of times I was in dead last. Yay me. Playing bridge with everyone else is always enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but it does get a little tiring and old to always be dead last.

So with all that in mind, I hope you understand why I’m actually taking a little bit of time out of everyone’s life to announce that this evening, for the first time ever, I actually won Bridge Night.

No doubt hell will freeze over shortly as a direct result, but between this, a good 8-miler in the morning, and the premiere of Amazing Race 12 tonight, it’s been one heck of a day.