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Posts tagged ‘Charles River’

Stupid Scale as Motivation

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a “casual runner.” I go out when I have free time and when I’m feeling like spending some quality time outdoors without getting a sunburn.

And last summer when I was constantly busy with grad school’s night classes and my job and all of that other jazz, I still found plenty of time to run because it was some great time to just decompress. Flash forward to this summer… and I don’t have the same motivation… or even the drive to run. Instead, I have a lot of drive to cuddle with my wonderful boyfriend who didn’t get enough attention while I was focused on completing my thesis.

However, last Monday morning, I stepped on the scale and saw a number that I find completely unacceptable. When I was in my teens (and very, very skinny – naturally, thank you genetics! – because I certainly wasn’t working for thin back then) I would tell myself that if I hit certain numbers as an adult, I wouldn’t be ok with them and I would become a gym bunny. And you know what? My teenaged self was an idiot! Those numbers came and went and it was totally fine. But this new number, that was completely out of the scope of imagination for my teenaged self, it’s not totally fine!

I am not ok with calling myself a casual runner and still gaining weight. Uh-uh, no way! So it’s time to ditch the “casual!”

There’s my new motivation: a number I simply don’t like.

But I’m still really enjoying the cuddling with the boyfriend at night, so how am I balancing it? I’ve changed my schedule. Let’s be real, I will never, NEVER be a morning person. But I do have a (free) gym in my office building, and I’m taking more advantage of it: at lunch!

I mentioned recently that I’ve gotten into using an elliptical and it’s really great for an afternoon work out. I found it hard to run in the middle of the day because I think of running in terms of distance. It’s almost (mentally) painful to quit without giving it my all. But with the elliptical, I view it as time spent. It’s much easier to just head down to the gym for 30 minutes than 5 miles (I can’t run 5 miles in 30 minutes). Any day I don’t have meetings in the afternoon, you’ll find me in the gym for lunch! I’m simply loving it!

A change of perspective can really change a lot. I’ve spent the past 7 days straight working out in some form: either the arc trainer at work, the elliptical on the weekends at my factory style gym, or the occasional run along the Charles River near my house. I’m totally loving it! The next two days will be rest days because of afternoon meetings though. They have been earned though! I had hiccups earlier in the week that were literally painful because of sore chest, back, and stomach muscles!

And I’m not saying that I want to lose a ton of weight. I’m happy with losing 5 pounds. But what I’m really focused on is that I don’t want to think I’m living an active lifestyle while actually gaining weight.

Thank you, scale, for the refreshed drive!


Rove the Cove 5k

I ran a 5k on Saturday. Since you haven’t heard of this plan yet, you’re probably thinking it was pretty impetuous. It sort of wasn’t, but I had a lot of mixed feelings about it beforehand. “The Cove” is a park/playground in one of the suburbs west of Boston, along the Charles River. Specifically it’s within walking distance of T’s sister’s house. She is the one who told me about the 5k… months ago. Jen (that’s right, my wonderful boyfriend’s sister and I have the same name) is the soccer coach for her 10-year-old daughter’s team. At one of the games, Jen told me that she was trying to recruit the girls on the team and their moms to all run the Rove the Cove 5k (as it benefits the community association… and I wouldn’t be surprised if the town soccer teams have something to do with the community association). When she told me this, I wasn’t quite sure if this was an invitation to join or if she was just telling me about it because she was excited. (This is where my mixed feelings about the run started.)

Back story: I grew up with a little brother and we’re almost 4 years apart. Because he is male and I am female (and because my parents are pretty awesome), our relationship was never a competitive one. We always had separate interests – with the exception of liking high school drama… but it’s not like we were going out for the same parts.

Me and my little brother… when we were little.

I don’t want to create a competitive relationship with my sister-out-law (T and I aren’t legally married, so she’s not my in-law). Honestly, I would love to train with her but she and I have very different schedules. I’m a busy bee with work and theater and she’s a busy bee with her kids’ schedules. I would love to legitimately be friends with her, but we’re in very different places in our lives. So I was very worried about stepping on her toes and signing up for her race.

In the end, I decided to do it. It cost $12 for early registration, it was only a few miles from me, and I figured if she didn’t want me there, she wouldn’t have mentioned it along with “we’re trying to get as many people as possible to sign up.” Plus, I’m really embarrassed about running a 12 minute mile at the Race to Home Base 9k and I wanted to do a run that would make me feel more confident (especially before my 10k in July).

It turned out that she and her daughter didn’t run the race (I think they might have actually had soccer game at the same time), which was a bit of bummer because I would have LOVED to have run with them, but I’ll still get the chance at the Color Run.

I’m really glad that I did the run though. I’ve never done a small run before. Only 122 people finished (another 17 people signed up and “did not finish” according to the results). My next smallest race had 1150 finishers… It was a really nice vibe though (even if I was one of the slowest, clearly beaten by a bunch of 10 year olds).

I also tend to run “fast and flat” races, and even my neighborhood training ground isn’t very hilly. This was VERY hilly though! If I added up all of the flat bits, it might equal 1/2 mile of flat. And these weren’t soft, rolling hills; these were steep, aggressive hills. By mile 2.5, my calves were ready to quit. I’m taking it as a challenge though. Part of me really wants to run the course every week until I’m good at it! One really great highlight is that Jen’s husband and 6-year-old son were out on their front porch cheering on the runners! Their house was near the end of the race and I really needed some cheering at that point. It was so nice to see them! One other highlight was around the 2.25 mile mark, a 6-year-old girl was on her lawn with a cowbell, cheering everyone on! Yes!

My wonderful boyfriend didn’t make it to this race. Unfortunately, he had to take our little girl kitty to the vet that morning. We think she cut herself while crawling under a fence. She has a cut on her back that had gotten swollen, so she had to go to the vet for antibiotics and to lance the cyst. Luckily for her, the vet doesn’t think the cut was from an animal, so she’s not quarantined from other animals. Luckily for me, she’s a little miss priss and she’s more than happy to stay inside all day (curled up on the couch) until the wound heals and her fur grows back.

(Pictured here in a cape she made for herself out of a brown paper bag)

It was a bummer not to have my biggest fan at this race, but it was for a good reason. The biggest downside was that I parked too far away from the park (there is another park right next to it and I parked on that side… oops!) so I had to run with my new, race t-shirt in my hand. I usually run with a bottle of water and the shirt was about the same size, rolled up. So it really wasn’t much of an issue. And because there were so few people, no one was in jeans or a funny costume, nor did anyone have a good sign. So I didn’t feel bad about missing a  photo-op for one of my favorite bloggers, Jill.

Oh! And because the race was so small, they didn’t give prizes to the top people in age categories. Instead they entered all finishers into a raffle. And I won! (along with about 40 other people… seriously the Auburndale Community Association are AWESOME fundraisers!) But I was the second winner, so I had my choice of the table of prizes and now I’ll get to buy myself some new clothes from a local business called The Dress Shop! I’ve never been before, but I’m excited to support a small business and for new clothes!

Oh and some other good news? Despite all the hills, my first mile was 9:25! WAY better than 12! So I’m feeling better about myself… even though my total time puts me closer to an 11 minute mile.

My final stats for the Rove the Cove 5k:
Time: 33:49
Place: 102/122 (84%)

That’s it for stats… they don’t even show the ages of the other runners (unless they are under 18) so I’m not sure how I did in regards to my age group. Based on my own calculations though (ok… I counted), I came in 44 out of 55 women (6 of whom are under 18… 3 finished before me and 3 finished after me). So clearly, this race is nothing to brag about, but I’m still glad I did it.

Run to Home Base – Recap

It’s over! Yay!

I meant to write a post about my expectations for the race, but since I ran out of time, let me start there.

I didn’t have high expectations, that’s for CERTAIN!

Reason #1: I had to wake up at 5:45 in order to make it to Fenway in time. I am not a morning person, I am the antithesis of a morning person, in fact. I wouldn’t mind if I never saw a sunrise for the rest of my life. Sunsets are fine by me! My wonderful boyfriend and I may have gotten into a little quarrel on Sunday morning for no reason other than I’m a total grouch in the morning (and he is not – he was checking his e-mail on his phone when my alarm went off). Luckily for my relationship, both he and I are really great at admitting when we are wrong/cranky/being annoying – we both quickly apologized and all was well again.

Reason #2: I was working a charity event the night before and knew I wouldn’t be home until about midnight. (I don’t pay attention to dates well)

Reason #3: I didn’t eat dinner because I was focused on the event mentioned above.

Reason #4: My training was extremely weak to say the least. I’m pretty sure I’ve only run about 4 times so far this May (not counting Sunday), and I don’t even remember running in April (then again, I don’t remember much about April thanks to finishing my Master’s thesis…)

Based on that, I wasn’t really expecting to have a great run. I was semi-planning to run 2 miles, walk a mile, run 1.5 miles, walk .5 mile, run the rest (almost a mile). I was also expecting to cry the entire time! “Why?” you ask. Because I was told that lots of our active duty soldiers at the race run in their full uniforms (complete with boots and packs). I know this sounds nutty, but active duty soldiers make me sad. I couldn’t quite explain it to T before the race, but after the race, I think I can try. I’ll explain at the bottom, I promise.

So, low expectations for the race. How did it actually go?

Better than expected. Although, as expected, I didn’t get home until midnight and didn’t fall asleep until after 2 am. Oh, and I completely skipped dinner. I had a yogurt at midnight, does that count?

However, I only walked about 1/2 mile! Not too bad! (all things considered…) I ran the slowest I’ve ever run during a race and my right foot cramped for about the first 3 miles, but at least I ran most of it!

Me and Wally (the mascot)

Race highlights:

  • The second song on my race playlist is “Shipping Up To Boston” by the Dropkick Murphies. It came on just as I rounded a corner to a beautiful view of the Prudential Center (which is quite a Boston landmark) – it seemed so fitting!
  • Another song that seemed appropriate came on just as I started to cross a bridge to run back across the Charles River and into Boston. In front of me was this gorgeous view of this city I love, and on comes This is Our House by Bon Jovi – perfection!
  • I thought there would be more of a breeze as we were going to be running up the Charles River, across the river, up the river, down the river, back up, back over, back down. Unfortunately, the breeze didn’t kick in until mile 4, it was so appreciated though!
  • I got to high 5 a man running in a kilt (um… awesome!) Now T wants to get a sport kilt so he can run in one too (especially interesting because T had back surgery four years ago and isn’t supposed to run on pavement…)

I didn’t cry while running!

Very few people ran in full uniform because it was already 80 degrees when we started. But I totally cried during the opening ceremonies. First, the speeches from the vets who use the Home Base services were really touching. Secondly, I was sitting behind a girl wearing a shirt that said “I’m running to home base [Marine Corps logo] He’s deploying to Afghanistan.”  A few rows in front of her were was a girl wearing a shirt that said “I run because he serves.” I couldn’t look at either without tearing up.

Lessons learned from this race:

  • Sunblock needs to be part of my running gear. Just because I run at twilight under a canopy of trees, doesn’t mean I race there.
  • Cross training is important! I never cross train… but my arms and shoulders still hurt where as my legs didn’t hurt at all.

Oh, and we raised a total of 7 million dollars for the Home Base Program!! AWESOME!

After the finish line and on the way to home plate, the Home Base Program had a bunch of signs with horrific facts that I think help explain why thoughts of the military make me cry. Here are some of the ones I can remember:

  • Unlike in wars of the past, Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers fight all day, every day: 24/7.
  • Unlike in wars of the part, there are no clear front lines and agreed upon battle times. Our soldiers cannot retreat to a safe place for rest and respite.
  • More veterans have taken their own lives than soldiers have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined.
  • A veteran attempts suicide every 80 minutes. An active duty soldier attempts suicide every 36 hours

That’s what makes me so upset when I think of soldiers and veterans. They cannot unsee so many horrific things. Of course, I’m grateful to them for what they do and what they are willing to risk, but I feel overwhelmed when I think of those risks. It’s so easy to feel sorry for those who die in combat, but what about those who survive? They have endured trauma that so many of us can’t even fathom and yet they go so unsupported by this country that they love. We expect them to eternally be strong heroes, but sometimes I think of the internal damage they must have and it makes me want to cry and I wish I could help them. Plus, what about their families? Besides being left behind to worry about the soldiers’ safety, the loved ones also have to assimilate the changes in their loved ones personality and demeanor. They deal with the horrific traumas without even fully knowing what they are.

It’s terrible and my heart genuinely goes out to them. I’m really glad I could be a part of this. Plus, T wants to be a part of it next year, which is pretty awesome!

Final race stats:

Place 1300 (out of 1485 finishers – 87.5% – this seems really low considering I was number 1544 and somewhere in the middle of the numbers… there were 3 start waves (and a walking wave), I wonder if this was only against my wave)
Age/gender group: 204 (out of 250)
Net time: 1:07:21
Pace: 12:03 (slowest I’ve ever run in a race!)


What’s Your Top 10?

Before we went down to Philadelphia, one of T’s coworkers (who recently lived in Philly) gave us 4 pages of recommendations for things to do while there. Granted, most of them were food suggestions (organized by category: coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, BYOB, and Cheese steak). But it really got me thinking… would I be able to come up with that kind of list for my own city? I didn’t think so…

On the way home (the 7 hour drive), T and I tried to come up with a Top 10 list of things we would recommend a tourist to see in Boston. We kicked food off the list because really, you’re most likely going to eat at a place that is near where you are…

However, there is one food recommendation I would make: Finale! Finale is a dessert restaurant (they also make some sandwiches and stuff… but really, the attraction is their desserts, which are heavenly!)

From their website, but the food actually looks that good in person too!

It’s near Boston Common… so there is a good chance you’d be in the area…

Ok, so the Top 10 List of things to see in Boston according to me (and T):

1) Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall – I read somewhere once that Quincy Market is the second most popular tourist destination in the county (behind Disney… I don’t know which one or if that includes both… and therefore Quincy Market is really 3rd… I’m not sure). Because I can’t remember the source, I don’t know how true that is, but I can imagine that it’s pretty close because not only do tons of tourists go there, but tons of locals go there on a daily basis as well. Quincy Market is a great place to go for lunch (they have tons of quick, little places) – I would personally recommend MmmmMac and Cheese’s stand (best mac and cheese in the city, and it only costs $4 for the original!). You can really find any kind of food there! Then, you could come back at night for a fancy, sit down dinner at the variety of actual restaurants. And there are some general shops there as well (like souvenir places or run of the mill clothing stores that you could find at any mall)

2) Fenway Park! Not only is it our ball park, but they also celebrated their 100th year this April and are on National Register for Historic Places. You can read more about that aspect on one of my friends’ blogs.

3) Boston Common! You might want to ride the “swan boats” or just wander around. If it’s cold out, you can go ice skating on the “frog pond;” or if it’s warm, you can wade around in it. (Note, the frog pond is just a 3 inch deep, chlorinated pool… there are no actual frogs). You can also find the “Make Way for Ducklings” statue.

And it’s not uncommon to find weirdos taking pictures with the ducks… 😉

4) If you’re a runner, running along the Charles River is lovely! Despite there being a song about our “dirty water” (‘Dirty Water” is a song by the Standells about Boston and the Charles River), the Charles River is now the cleanest urban river in the country! (side note, if you’re a runner and want to run the Boston marathon’s Heartbreak Hill, you’ll have to drive about 15 minutes west of the city… but you’ll be right by my library… so I would run it with you if you want a temporary running buddy… provided I like your blog) 🙂

5) If you’re into shopping, check out Newbury Street (that’s where all the expensive shops are).

6) Take a day trip up to Salem (about 30 minutes north) and check out all of the witch/witch trial stuff (museums, tours, etc). Especially fun around October.

7) Take a Duck Tour. They are totally silly… and you will probably find yourself “quacking” around the city, but you’ll also learn a bunch of fun facts and see some lovely sides of Boston.

They travel on land and in the water

8) Check out “The North End” if you’re looking for some awesome Italian food (go to Mike’s if you want the best cannoli in town… but expect to wait in line).

9) Columbus Park has a really great view of the city.

10) Find Mother Goose’s gravestone (in a cemetery near the Common). She’s also near some other cool people like Paul Revere and John Hancock… or John Adams… let’s be honest, I think Mother Goose is the coolest in that cemetery! I stopped paying attention after I found her. But you should know that there are some other really important, long-dead, people near her.

11) Bonus from T: visit Rowe’s Wharf, also some nice views (and I think shopping… but I can’t remember the last time I was there). Or the Prudential Center.

Museums! If you’re into museums, I would recommend:

  • The Institute of Contemporary Art (aka the ICA)
  • Museum of Fine Art (aka MFA)
  • The New England Aquarium
  • The Science Museum (with the planetarium and the IMAX movie screen with fun, nerdy, science movies… or action packed ones that make me a little dizzy) *this one is my favorite
  • The Children’s Museum (really only fun if you have children…)

So yeah, I think that’s my list… but I feel like I’m missing something really important… Oh! I forgot walking the Freedom trail! (do that with a tour guide though… otherwise you’re just walking along a red line…) One another attraction could be Harvard… but that’s not really a Bostonian thing… it’s not like we all get to go there, we all just get to enjoy the traffic congestion around there.

Where do you live and what would you recommend seeing there? Have you been to Boston or live in/near Boston and think I missed something?

How I Found Running

Last weekend, I finally realized why and how I became a runner. I haven’t done much running all winter, but as soon as a nice day rolled around, I was out there again! And I think I finally realized why I find running so appealing despite the fact that I’m not athletic!

Here are things I already knew:

  • I’m pale… like blindingly pale. I shed tears of joy the first time I saw SPF 90 for sale in the grocery store (I know, everyone tells me that anything over SPF 30 doesn’t do anything more than SPF 30, and that may be true for normal people, but SPF 90 totally rocks when you’re clinically pale!) I have  never had a tan in my entire life… but I’m pretty familiar with sunburns! I’m that person on the beach wrapped in sheet for protection. Yep, that’s me, nerd city, sitting next to my friends with ancestors from closer to the equator, and they are tanning and enjoying the sun. Meanwhile, I’m usually afraid I smell like bacon: roasting, sizzling, and scorching. My point? You will never see me just laying in the sun…

    Do you hear a choir of angels singing? I do!

  • I don’t like to garden. Dirt under my nails just makes me unhappy. Plus, I chronically kill house plants. Luckily, my wonderful boyfriend is a total green thumb and rescues plants from me. Example: one year a sweet co-worker bought me a little poinsettia… on my desk, all the leaves fell off. I brought it home, and now, years later, it’s a ginormous bush thanks to T.
  • I’m not really outdoorsy –
  • Or coordinated! (team sports have never been a shining activity for me)

But last summer, I really wanted to find a way to enjoy being outside… and somehow running/walking came to mind. I live near a lovely running path… and I own sneakers…

And that’s how I found running. And really, I think I enjoy running because it’s a chance for me to be outdoors and in the shade! And I can run past bugs instead of being swarmed/bothered by them.

The weather in New England was crazy (unseasonably) nice last week and I got to run outside again. You may have noticed, if you’re a regular reader, that I’m not a serious runner. I don’t focus much on becoming a better runner, I just go out for the fun of being outside. I don’t own a fancy watch, in fact I don’t run with a watch at all. I don’t do intervals or focus on training (but I slightly envy people who do), I’ll occasionally do fartleks though (which means “speed play” in Swedish, and always makes me giggle like a second grade boy)… which just means I’ll run faster over the bridges because it seems like a good idea and I run by the Charles River so there are lots of little bridges over squishy terrain. I have never thought much about serious races. I will never be a marathon runner, in fact, I have never even thought a half marathon was in my future.

But I went out on Sunday with hours left of sunlight to just do what I felt like. The first 2 miles were rough, so I walked 1/4 of a mile afterwards, and the running after that felt much better, more natural. And I just kept going… I came home and mapped my walk. The first map said it was 13.25 miles! I wasn’t sure if I believed it, so I mapped it again. The second time said 10.4. Now I don’t know which to believe, but I’m still proud of myself. I’d like to think I ran a half marathon purely to enjoy a Sunday afternoon, but to be on the safe side, I think I should stick with the 10.4. Either way, I’m super proud of myself. I may be slow, but it turns out that I’m willing to at least “go the distance!”

Sadly though, because the leaves haven’t filled in yet, my face was rocking a pretty sweet sunburn (within the first mile). But, I had just bought a bunch of new songs on iTunes to add to my running playlist! My running playlist is now up to 2 1/2 hours and I listened to the entire list! I’m pretty psyched about those new songs!

I can’t wait for summer running!

A lovely thought, but my path is MUCH more tree-laden.

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