Liv to run

Lots of random ranting, whining, and attempts at being humourous as I run, run, run in pursuit of higher mileage and better races.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A touch of OCD?

Honestly, I don't normally see myself as an obsessive OR a compulsive person, but today I've been a real wacko.

For starters, it was a beautiful beautiful day outside, and I just couldn't bear the idea of running on the indoor track when there was so much sun to soak up. So I headed over to Queen's Park to do a couple loops of the dirt trail there. I thought it would be a nice change from my regular road route, and also easier on the joints. One little gripe: I didn't know how long the QP loop is, exactly - and I still don't.

I measured it with gmaps, and it said a little over 800m - but I couldn't be accurate, because the trail itself isn't marked on the map, so I had to estimate its contours. I measured it with my cycle computer, and it read out 850m - which I thought was great. Then, I did a tempo run and calculated my pace based on that distance - and realized, much as I would love to believe I suddenly became a speed demon overnight, 850 must have been pretty generous.

I know it's roughly 800m, but I want to know exactly how long it is - it bugs me not to know precisely how far and how fast I've run. I'm so quantitative when it comes to running, and every little bit counts, in my mind. I hate to feel like I might be "cheating" by running a shorter distance and counting it as more.

I'm also completely in a tizzy over my pending ipod purchase. I'm having a hard time deciding whether to go for a 1G, 2G or 4G nano. Do I want monstrous amounts of songs, or a cheaper price? How many songs do I really need, vs. how much money am I willing to spend? And don't even get me started on the accessories - skins, clips, armbands, all in different colours too... I want to protect it and I want to be able to run with it. But there are such an overwhelming number of gadgets to do that with... and they all seem to cost an awful lot of money. I know, I know - I'm buying an ipod, it's not exactly bargain shopping - more like a statement of how cool I am, and how much I'm willing to spend to look that cool.

Little itty bitty irritating things. Choices, choices, choices. Both very unjustifiable reasons to feel like I'm going totally insane.

If only I would be this obsessively committed to studying. Which I should be doing right now, in a serious way. Okay, enough nonsense - time to cram many many little factoids into my poor overworked head.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Finally snuck in some crosstraining today - I've been seriously slacking on all forms of exercise other than running, which ultimately is probably not good for me. I have some gimpy knees to think of, after all. 15min on the bike, 15min legs, and a 10min stretch. It was short and sweet, and although I would have gladly done more, I had to ditch the gym so I could go gorge myself on wings and beer with a bunch of friends. Hmm... somehow I don't think the calories burned took care of the calories consumed. But the meal was wicked.

Hunh. I totally had something else I was going to add to this post, but I'm just tipsy enought that I haven't a clue any more what it was going to be. And it was probably so brilliant and insightful too. Oh well, if I remember I'll post it later. So this is what alcohol is doing to my brain...

Update, literally 20 seconds after posting this...

Oh yes - it's come back to me now. I was going to lament the apparent death of my mp3 player. It has always been a piece of trash ever since I bought it on ebay for way too little money - it may be true after all that you get what you pay for. The thing has many very irritating habits including cutting off songs and jumping to the next one, neglecting altogether to play some of the songs I upload, and occasionally just chosing to shut itself off entirely. I am not the greatest multitasker, and fiddling with my mp3 player while running laps while trying to avoid people while trying to count said laps is almost more than I can handle...

So it's never been a very reliable piece of machinery, and today when I accidentally dropped it on the floor, it pretty much officially broke up with me. The control button caved in, and it refuses to believe it's not permanently connected to the computer, to judge by the LCD screen. Goes without saying, it's no longer playing music for me.

It's been an altogether rocky relationship. It probably knows how much I've been toying with the idea of buying an ipod nano, and it's jealous because it knows it could never attain that degree of sexiness. It has a point.

My one reservation about the nano is it's just so damn expensive. However, tax season is just around the corner, and being a destitute student, I'm thinking the government might be kind to me. And if you really do get what you pay for... this has got to be one quality high-tech toy.

So farewell, old mp3 player. You have been my companion, you have had your good days, but you have never been truly faithful to me. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to get over you.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Okay, I'll happily eat those words

It seems that if I whine enough about not being able to run well, I see a sudden reversal and have a fantastic run just to prove myself utterly wrong. In this case, I don't mind at all. Maybe I should just stop whining - after all, we all have bad days that are just par for the course.

Today was amazing though - a sweet 7-miler at 10:32 pace - that's like flying for me on such a distance! I knew it was a perfect run because I felt really strong throughout most of it, tired towards the end, and then for the final few hundred metres suddenly found the juice to kick it up into a sprinting finish. Now I'm wiped and I'm ravenous, scarfing down my sandwich almost as fast as I could make it. Mmmm.... fooooood......

By the way, one awesome side effect of running at the gym is getting to surreptitiously evaluate the attire of everyone there, just to keep myself amused while I crank out the laps. There are the people like me, in boring t-shirts and leggings or shorts or whatever. Then there are the super-cute girls I always wish I could look like, in their designer workout attire that always matches and is entirely flattering to their maddeningly perfect bodies. And then once in a while you get to see a special treat, like I did today: some crazy old lady who transplanted her wardrobe directly from the 80's without passing go. Seriously, she was wearing pink leggings with a pink-and-white-vertically-striped leotard overtop so she looked like she was in some crazy underwear - the only thing missing was a side ponytail. I'll forgive her for that, her hair was short :)

And one more thing I like about the gym, specifically when I do long runs there: I have the satisfaction of seeing people get on the track, do some laps, and go off again, over and over, while I remain - I have yet to be running with the same people from start to finish. Even though I know this is because the hard-core runners are actually going outside to do their 7-milers and more, it still gives me immense satisfaction - I feel like the endurance queen.

Besides, it's dark outside.

Running out of steam

I. hate. end of term.

Each of my classes in and of themselves contain a perfectly reasonable amount of work: a couple of books, a couple of essays, a couple of tests. Shouldn't be a big deal. But multiply that times six (yes, I'm taking six courses, I must be crazy) and you've got yourself waaaay too much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in.

These past two weeks have been so hectic - churning out papers one after the other, madly catching up on all sorts of reading I've let slide. And the end doesn't seem any closer - only three weeks to go until the end of classes, but it seems an eternity away...

The work, the studying, I can deal with - hey, I've been a student for umpteen years, I'm a pro at handling this stuff and handing my work in on time despite all the odds. The problem, though, is that it's all reflecting on my running. I've been running, yes; in fact I'm happy to say I've kept to my schedule very consistently. But it hasn't been fun - each time I go out there I feel like I'm slogging through sand or snow or a bottomless gaping pit, and I've slowed so drastically it's hard to believe I PR-ed at a race a mere two weeks ago.

It might be the stress, but I have a feeling it's more the burnout - specifically, I'm just constantly tired and not getting enough sleep. Plus, I've cut down my caffeine intake recently, and while I think long-term that's going to be good for me, it's definitely putting chains around my ankles for the time being. I'm even getting fatter, I swear. Grrr... I think I might be falling apart.

Well, I guess that's enough whining - time to grin and bear it. At least I can look forward to a good solid three week holiday before I write exams. That will be plenty of time to sleep, sleep sleep, and run, run, run. Oh, yeah, I guess maybe I'll get some studying in there too... somewhere :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I have to work, when I wish I could work out. Tomorrow is supposed to be a running day, but if I have to do this essay all afternoon I am not going to make it happen. *Sigh* - I should really be finishing it up today and getting it off my mind, but I'm just so soo soooo bloody tired of reading and writing and reading and writing. Too many papers, too little time.

Blogging is another matter of course. This is reading and writing by choice, not demand. A whole other world. Interesting and funny thing though - I was researching for my essay, about one of my favourite authors, and on her website I came across her blog, on Blogger no less! Ha ha, the internet makes it a very small world, does it not? Not that that furthers my paper or anything, but I thought it was cool nonetheless.

Anyway, I'm just wasting time. I should go work diligently again.

A little word of wisdom from a friend of mine, concerning procrastination. Warning: it's rude, so read on at your own risk, and don't say I didn't warn you because I know you're not going to stop here no matter what I say...

"Procrastination is like masturbation... you do it because it feels so good, but in the end you realize - you've fucked yourself."

With such luminary advice in mind, I'm off to finish this paper.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Loving the smartcoach

So I've realized that my next race, a 10k, is less than 8 weeks away, and I'd better get cracking on a training plan if I want to actually race it rather than shuffle, like I did last year. There's a lot to be said for shuffling, and I'm sure I'll do it for the entire half marathon, but for a shorter distance I feel like pushing the pace.

I was on the Runner's World website, just looking for articles related to training and figuring I would grab one of their pre-made plans and tailor it to my needs. But instead, I came across "smartcoach", this completely awesome feature that allows you to plug in your individual specifications and then it churns out a customized plan all your own! I have no idea how long this tool has been available, I only just discovered it, but it's fantastic - I highly recomment checking it out. I got my whole 8 weeks mapped out in about a minute and a half, and my training is already in the works.

In fact, after lunch, it's time to take on run #2 - yay! Come on digestion, hurry up already...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Race Report

Time to recap yesterday's race!

I went into the 5k with high hopes of a new PR, my previous one being 30:43 with a chip time of 30:37. I was also set on breaking 29 minutes, which I considered to be a reasonable goal but still challenging enough.

I am happy to announce that this was fully accomplished! I crossed the finish line with an official time of 29:31, chip time 28:45. Woohoo! Overall, I'm happy with the race, but there are a few things I know I could improve on in order to cut that time still further. For instance, I pushed the pace very well through the first 3km, but started to fade a little towards the end. I didn't slow down too much, and managed to make a strong finish nonetheless, but I was definitely "feeling it" around 4km. Interestingly, it wasn't my legs or my lungs which held me back, but rather my stomach started to feel a little queasy if I pushed too hard, and I figured, no fun 5k is worth hurling over! There may be three factors involved in the stomach issues: #1 - okay, so I did drink the night before. And you know what, I don't regret any of those 3 glasses of wine - they were fantastic, as was my night, and good times were had by all. I stopped drinking at 8:30 just as I promised I would and began tanking up on water for the remainder of the night. I did a good job too, if I may say so - I went to sleep sober and the pee flowed free and clear, a sure sign of success! Ha ha. I'm not saying it was a great race strategy, only that the fun was worth it. Also, I feel that factors #2 and #3 were on the whole probably more to blame, #2 being the fact that I ate cereal with milk for breakfast, and I'm pretty sure it was the milk that was the main source of ickiness. I'll have to try a bagel or something next time. And #3 - the water that they handed us along the course was so frickin' cold, it made my stomach clench right up as soon as it got in my system. I probably shouldn't have bothered to drink in such a short race anyway, but I grabbed those cups regardless. Oh, well, it's all hindsight now, and a good learning experience.

At any rate, the event was really well organized and dead on time, which was impressive, and the weather, although overcast, was very seasonable for a Canadian March. The course itself wasn't much to behold, basically a tour of the Exhibition Place "grounds" (i.e., the whole place looks like a giant parking lot!), but it was blessedly flat and wide enough that there wasn't too much bottlenecking, except of course at the very beginning. We also doubled back to the starting area a couple of times, and my official cheering squad (my dad!) was able to snap a few action shots. Most of them didn't turn out, but I think there were one or two keepers. I'd love to post them now, but he hasn't sent me the pics yet, so I'll put them up when I get them.

So overall a happy race, a good time (for me!) which placed me in the top quarter of my age group and the overall rankings. Fun run! Plus, the day was made doubly awesome by the fact that I went home to visit the parents afterwards and had a scrumptious home-cooked meal, and then got taken out for the evening to see David Copperfield live... SOOO unbelievably cool. I swear that guy really has magical powers. At one point during the show, he "reappeared" from a trick on a pedestal about 2 rows behind where I was sitting - oh baby. I love that man. But I digress :)

Next up, 10k!

Saturday, March 11, 2006


So I finally took Mr. Camelback out for a spin - completely unnecessary, it was a 4k jog, but it was the first time I'd been outside in ages so I thought what the hell - no one out there will be able to tell whether I'm logging 4k or 40! I took about two sips of water the whole time, but it was more to get used to the idea of running with water sloshing around on my back - and honestly, I forgot most of the time that the thing was even there. Of course, I didn't fill it up, and I was wearing it over a jacket, so I expect that in other conditions it might make its presence known. I also definitely need to tie up all the spare straps - I was like the amazing flying tentacled runner out there! Overall though I'm quite pleased with it, and I think this is shaping up to be a meaningful relationship.

In fact, drinking of all sorts is on my mind these days. Everyone's already up to speed on my "open bar" dilemma, which I have decided to confront in a sensible manner: I do not want to compromise this race for a couple of drinks, especially having just recently conquered a cold - not to mention that my Dad is driving me to the race and taking pictures, wouldn't he be proud if I sucked because I was hungover...! So I'm going to take it easy tomorrow (uhh... today that is... time is screwy when you work all night...) and let my drunken friends entertain me - never a dull sport.

Another matter involves beverages of a caffeinated nature. I've been experimenting on myself all week - I cut out coffee entirely in one fell swoop, replacing it with black or green tea as necessary. I find I've been having a lot of "gut" issues recently (charming, I know), so maybe dispensing with the acidic coffee will help alleviate some of the distress. If anyone has other suggestions about this, I'd welcome them...! At any rate, I don't miss the coffee (certainly not the dishwater they brew up at my cafeteria!), and with tea being all good for you according to recent reviews, I'm feeling virtuous on, count 'em, three levels: 1)It's better for me 2)I'm saving money because I make the tea myself instead of buying at the cafeteria 3)I'm helping the environment because I'm drinking my tea at home or in a travel mug instead of chucking a paper cup into the trash every morning.

And that about sums up what I'm imbibing these days. Next up on the experiment list: forays into the mysterious realms of Gatorade...

Friday, March 10, 2006


The glamorous contents of my race kit picked up today:
-One bib number (woohoo! all pinned up and ready to go)
-One white cotton t-shirt with name of race & many many sponsors (oh yeah, it's classy)
-One pair of ultra-cool running socks (too bad they're extra large - gave them to bf)
-One bar of soap and pack of gum (is this a hint or something?)
-One eeny-weenie box of Lucky Charms (mmmm.... breeeeeeaaaakfaaaaast....)
-Ten million pamphlets advertising upcoming races

My cold is almost gone, I'm feeling really good about Sunday, can't wait for it to arrive!!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Plague and Pestilence

I've noticed while reading people's blogs these past few months that an alarming number of runners come down with a cold in the days leading up to a race. As of this morning, I officially joined the club.

I wonder - is it just bad luck? Does pre-race week somehow wear down our immune systems, is it like a big flashing neon sign for viruses saying: open! come on in and make yourselves parasitically at home!..? What is it that makes the infernal microscopic ones descend upon as at this most inconvenient and frustrating time, after all the weeks of healthy hard work?

Phooey for colds, and especially for this one. Well, all I can do is rest, pump myself full of drugs (vitamins, of course...), and hope that I'm going to kick some viral ass before Sunday.

The war is on.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Cranky McCrankypants

Ran a 7-miler yesterday - woohoo! Once again, I was struck by the way that my body responds sluggishly to the first 20-30 minutes, and then I gradually loosen up until the running feels effortless. Almost effortless :)

Despite how great a long run makes me feel, dealing with the after effects is a delicate business. I do all the right things, as far as I can tell: cool down, stretch, hydrate, eat, and of course, the ever important shower. Yesterday, however, I scrimped a little on the eating part - I was due to go out for a friend's birthday party and I figured I would maintain a certain level of hunger so I'd actually want to eat when I got there.

Little logistical glitch I overlooked: there was NO FOOD at the chosen venue! I had been under the impression that it was a club/pub where we could sit around and order some pitchers and wings - yum. But no. It was actually a club/restaurant - only the restaurant part was closed.

This made me and my low blood sugar a little cranky. But I thought I could deal. However, the crankiness was further exacerbated by the fact that of the two rooms available for dancing, our party chose the one playing icky hip-hop music (no offense to anyone who likes it - just really not my thing), instead of the one with awesome retro, not to mention the fact that the hip-hop room was getting these horrible wafts of cigarette smoke from the outdoor patio. I know, I'm spoiled by Toronto's bylaws, and most people associate bars and clubs with cigarettes as something completely natural, but I'm accustomed to cleaner air. Plus, since developing asthma this year (albeit very mild), I'm even more sensitive than usual to the feeling of tar and other charming chemical byproducts clogging up my lungs. I've been to Bodyworlds, I've seen those nasty blackened lungs, and I'm steering waaay clear of that crap.

So the hunger, the smoke, and probably a touch of PMS to round out the equation, made me one very emotional unhappy partier. Luckily - mush alert - my boyfriend puts up with me and is nice to me even when I'm being totally unreasonable, and he gave me a big hug and told me we could leave and go find some food instead. A yummy chicken-bacon-toast sandwich later, I was more or less myself again, and we headed home to complete the final and most important part of the post-run recovery ritual - sleep, glorious sleep.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Hump like a camel

Okay, I realize that post title may disturb some individuals. And maybe I'm going to get some psychotic hits now. Bring it. Because I've got a hump like a camel.

It's my beloved new camelbak hydration pack. I just bought it at the Outdoor Adventure Sports Show at which I volunteered with my scuba club last weekend (and I have determined this may be the coolest show ever - camping and climbing and diving, oh my!) I managed to squeeze in a measly half hour of shopping in between hauling around scuba gear and wearing said scuba gear while demo "diving" in a 6x6x6 foot tank (those numbers might not be quite accurate but you get my point? Tank of Satan...) Actually I lie - the tank was small and gross but I had a lot of fun playing with toy sharks and submarines while making faces at gawkers on the outside. It was like being in the bath as a child. Except I was encased in neoprene and breathing through a regulator and the water was dirty and just about freezing. But yeah, otherwise just like a bath :)

I digress, but that's the backstory. Anyway I picked up the pack because 1) I've been wanting some kind of hydration "device" to take with me on long runs - something that doesn't involve clenching a waterbottle in my fist for an hour 2) It was on "show special" sale, and 3) The sale price of the camelback was cheaper than the sale price of any other water gizmo-gadget on display.

It's quite impressive how many ways you can carry your water around with you. Backpacks, handhelds, belts - choice choice choice. I suppose they all have their conveniences and inconveniences. The best system by far is those water/aid stations they have so conveniently at races - but I guess I'd be hard pressed to find a volunteer crew for training runs, and lacking a vehicle, will have to haul the H2O all by my self.

At this point, I would share my thoughts on the camelbak's performance and give you all a critical evaluation, except for once small caveat... I haven't used it yet! In fact, I haven't even been on a long run in two weeks, and that one was on an indoor track. I'm slumping, right before my race no less - today I elected to take a nap instead of going for an afternoon run. And damned if I'm going to head outside - it may have been sunny lately but there's such a cold wind I can barely catch my breath. That's not entirely because I'm a wuss - I do have very mild asthma which is mostly aggravated by cold (though probably instigated by pollution). But I'm beginning to question the wisdom of signing up for a race - a most assuredly outdoor race - in the tail end of Canadian winter! I'm itching to race, yet dreading the weather. My fingers are crossed for a thaw... any day now!

Ah well, I'm going, and I know what I'll do: I'll bring my fleece and my inhaler- and I'll run like hell, the sooner to get back indoors :)

As for my newly acquired hump, it will just have to remain virginal until I'm ready to face the wide world again.

How far away is June?