Thursday, November 17, 2005

Race report; Winterizing

I didn't set any land-speed records this weekend during my 5k, but I did do something new this race: I pushed and picked off people in front of me, one by one by one, throughout the whole thing. It was great fun to train my sights on someone in front of me and slowly gain on them and then finally kick right by them. The fact that I was able to push past people and not feel exhausted by the effort is testament to the long, slow training principle I've been practicing.

Of course, while I was enjoying my own victories as I passed each unsuspected person in front of me (take that, sucker!) the half-marathoners and marthoners sharing part of the course were busy lapping us. They were golden steeds, with their fast legs and slick bodies. The race marshals on bikes would come up behind us toiling 5k'ers shouting "move to the left! to the left! leaders approaching!" and we would all herd over only to bask in the reflected glow of the leaders as they dashed by on their rubber limbs, surrounded by a phalanx of more bikers protectively ushering them along.

Later, I scootered over to the turn-around point and ran a few miles with a friend doing the half -marathon. Here again, the race leaders of the marathon lapped us, already on the second loop of the course. I shouted out encouragement to the female leader as she passed, yelling her name, secretley pleased I recognzied her by sight as a local running phenom (I'm part of the club, yes I am! Let me in! Love me! Love me!). But I immediately regretted doing so, struck by guilt, convinved that my cheering -- coming as it did from an obvious, rank poseur -- might break her concentration and doom her race. Fortunately she ended up blasting the field as usual, easily winning the marathon. Watching these elite runners I was truly star-struck, and am certain that were I to have occasion to speak to one of them in person I'd be incoherent with nerves.

So, my time: 34:45.


Yesterday, winter arrived. Two days ago it was nearing 90 degrees and last night it neared freezing. I do not deal well with winter. I am ill-prepared and surly about it. I pout. We don't really have winter, just a series of cold snaps, but still, anything below 50 degress makes me whimper.

Here is the sum total of my winter wardrobe: one heavy sweater, one thin jacket, one pair of cordurouy pants, one pair of heavy socks, one pair of sweatpants and one pair of closed-toe (non-athletic) shoes. My reasoning for this meagerness has always been that there is no financial justification to spending money on clothes I'll wear less than three months out of the year. I'd simply rather freeze than spend money or face the grasping, overlit maw of the department store or Target. A clothing exchange program with someone in the Southern hemisphere would be the ideal solution. Anyone know a size 14 Peruvian woman? I'd pay for shipping.

So the dire situation of my winter wardrobe was icily brought home to me yesterday morning. I had the day off and had signed up with the Sierra Club to go hiking at a park a few hours outside of town. It was around 45 degrees, and due to some poor logistical planning, the scooter trip to the carpool meeting site took an hour. I'd borrowed a thin pair of gloves from my landlady, but was so miserable halfway through the trip from the strong, icy wind gusts that had me clutching the throttle that I had to stop at a Whatburger to run my hands under some warm water. Then while riding along the highway access road I drove over some water gushing from a broken water main at the precise moment a heavy-duty truck passed on my left, sending a cascade of water all over me.

At least the long hike was lovely.

So, winter action steps for 2005:

1) go to the thrift store and buy more warm clothes.
2) buy motorcycle gloves and face shield.
3) figure out how to best configure the gas heaters in my apartment so that the whole house is warm.

Here's the deal with the heating situation the last two winters in my apartment. I either lay immobile under a heap of blankets or sweltered in sauna-like conditions. This is in between obsessing about carbon monoxide poisoning or calculating my renter's insurance claim were the apartment to burst into flames. I grew up with central heat and air, so these gas heaters flummox me completely. They're the kind where you turn on the gas lever, light a match, insert it into the grate and WHOOSH!, flames appear. Here's a schematic:

As you can see, the back of the apartment has no heat. Should I move one heater into the dining room (though this would require the purchase of the proper connection and some sort of tool)? In winters past I've shut doors and just heated the front two rooms and eaten cereal for three months straight for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Is the appropriate method to open the gas lever full-throttle and blast the room with heat before turning it down to regulate the temperature? Should I use the ceiling fans somehow to circulate the air (and do I have to set them to rotate in the opposite direction of how they rotate now)? Why do I always see pictures of buildings in New York City, in the dead of winter, with windows cracked open? Is there some method to heating that involves ventilating with an open window? Do I leave the heaters on low while I'm gone all day?

All I know is that I've never been comfortable during the colder months and can only live in two rooms. I suppose any money I save buying warm clothes at the thrift store can be plowed back into my heating bill.

I know you Northerners scoff at my sob story, but I'm telling you, I cannot deal with the chill. Cannot. Deal.


Eight miles this weekend. When I think about this run, I get a mental image of myself in a boxing ring, bouncing on my toes, shaking out my arms from the shoulders, my body canted foward in anticipation and readiness. At the risk of sounding cliched, bring it on, baby, bring it on.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Picture entry: Day of the Dead and Scooter Rally

Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos is a pretty big celebration locally, marked by several days-worth of events. I went to a mass and an altares/ofrendas exhibit in honor of the dead last week, and ran into the group I used to dance with, dressed up for their annual show:

This weekend was the 3rd Coast Scooter Rally, and I joined in on one of the rides along the Mission Trail. I met lots of interesting folks, and it was really fun to ride with a group that felt like a miscreant scooter gang. One of the stops was at Mission San Juan:

There were about 20 or so riders that day, but only about three women driving. Here's the lineup, in front of the Mission:

We also stopped at an historical and still functioning aqueduct built by the mission inhabitants. This is a view beneath the aqueduct bridge:

On the road, past the San Antonio River:

If you look close you can see some of the bee stickers I've used to decorate the scoot:

Afterwards there was a competition of sorts, in which I was immediately disqualified because I have no turning skillz:

It was a good weekend, jump-started by my Virgin Territory run of 7 miles, which actually came in around 6.5, so I feel like I can't really fully claim it as a full-on, bad-ass run. It didn't feel virgin enough. I have 8 miles in two weeks, so even if that course is short, it'll still be one I can feel like a tough chicka after.
Regardless, the run went well, and I kept to a 12 minute pace. I am on the prowl, though, for easily digestible pre-run meals. For this weekend's early-morning run, I had a banana and some soy milk (for the protein), but I was starving by mid-run. I'm just used to a full breakfast by that time, but I also get runner's trots pretty easily too, so I'm experimenting with non-distress breakfasts. Any suggestions are welcome! I'll be running a 5K next weekend at the San Antonio Marathon, so I'll have a race report then. I'm planning on actually racing, so I'm curious how all this slow, aerobic distance training will affect my time in comparison to previous 5k's.

(I'm turning on the word verification screener because the spam is driving me batty.)