Archive for November, 2007

Turkey Trots

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s not as stressful as Christmas, when we’re usually traveling hundreds of miles to see family, but it’s a big enough deal that we make a point of doing something fun. In years past, we’ve done some great camping trips in Big Sur or Death Valley or the Mojave (the birthplace of the trash can turkey adventure), and it’s always been a great time.

This year we had another adventure planned – to ride our road bikes down to Manhattan Beach along 101 and the PCH, meeting Carl’s brother Kyle halfway, and then doing the whole trip in reverse the following day. This plan fell through for a variety of reasons, however, the most important being Carl got an interview for a faculty position at the University of Wyoming and would be flying out the morning of the 25th. Moreover, I had a lot of work to do in the lab (but that never really changes), Kyle was sick, and the bicycling thing seemed pretty complicated when we really started scheming. So instead Kyle came up from Manhattan Beach to join us for the holiday and we went to a friend’s house for a delicious traditional turkey dinner.

I think the highlight of this Thanksgiving for me, however, was that I was able to run not just one but two turkey trots. The first was the UCSB turkey trot on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. This race was really fun! It was our first time doing it and the crowd was somewhat different (mostly UCSB students as opposed to community members), but both Carl and I took first (the race, in Carl’s words, was “not very competitive”) and won iPod Shuffles.  Not to mention the post-race festivities were great, and included free FRS, free Woodstock’s pizza samples, Chipoltle “burrito bucks,” and a raffle. We didn’t win anything in the raffle, but someone who won a whole case of FRS gave us half of it. We made out like bandits!

The second turkey trot was the Santa Barbara 4 miler. Unlike UCSB, this race turned out to be really competitive this year. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t take first for the women’s division, but it was so great having other women up there with me! I ran a 13-second PR for 4 miles (23:20), which I definitely would not have done if the other women (Shawna Berger and Sara Dillman) were not present to push me. Carl had a great race, too, running an almost PR of 21:18.

So if you’ve been reading my other blog posts, you’re probably saying to yourself right now, “What is this girl thinking running two races in a week? Wasn’t her last blog entries complaining about injuries and asking for advice on cortisone?” Yes, that’s absolutely true, but all I can say is that I think my injuries are finally (fingers crossed) going away. I wish I had some scientific explanation for why the healing process happened so suddenly, but I don’t – my body never has made much sense.  Perhaps it’s just that I’ve done my time on the elliptical trainer, and the gods of running are having mercy on me.  That’s not to say the races didn’t hurt at all — my legs definitely ached more than usual after the first turkey trot, and even more so after the second (not surprising seeing I’ve only run about 30 miles easy since St. George), but amazingly my feet feel almost normal.
I am still somewhat fixated on my 2:47 marathon time which I am growing more and more confident that, barring injury, I can achieve.  Unfortunately the marathon I was planning on doing (Pacific Shoreline in Huntington Beach) is sold out, but I’m currently in contact with the RD and I think they will let me in with elite status. If this falls through I might look into Austin, although I’m not too excited about making another major trip to run a marathon (unless, of course, I qualify for the trials in Boston).  Now I just have to “deal with my zeal” as Carl says so that I can continue on this healing streak and train appropriately for the next big race.


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Anyone have any thoughts or experiences, good or bad, that they would like to share about cortisone injections?

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Machine Woman

Well, it’s been almost 5 weeks since St. George and I’m still hardly running. My injuries are teasing me — they disappear when I don’t run, making me think that they’re gone and that my body is ready to start again. So I’ll try running a few miles, easy, but then pay for it by not running a step for another week, and the process repeats itself — the “Injured Runner Dance” as Carl calls it.

I haven’t been riding my road bike all that much these days either. Although fun, cycling isn’t nearly as simple as running, and it takes too much time that I just don’t have. In addition, my bike also recently suffered an overuse injury (a broken derailleur cable), and my bike buddies (a.k.a. “The Molecular Mavericks”) have been less enthusiastic lately on account of new jobs and new babies. Not to mention the sun sets before 6 now, so if I don’t go in the frigid morning (yes, SB is slowly softening me) it just doesn’t happen.

I’ve never been one to sit still however, and so every day I’ve been waking up by 6 (late for a runner, I know, but the Rec Cen doesn’t open until 6:30) and riding my commuter bike over to campus for 80 minutes or so of elliptical trainer, exercise bike, row machine, or stair climber. “I can’t believe you do that,” Carl says to me on almost a daily basis. “How can you stand it?” Well, truth is, I’m getting pretty darn sick of it, but to look on the bright side there are a few things that I really like about it.

First, I do more reading than I’ve done in years. The LA Times, Runner’s World, National Parks Magazine, novels (usually about running), you give it to me and I’ll read it (well, maybe). Often when I’m up for an extra challenge I’ll take with me papers from the Journal of Virology or Molecular Biology of the Cell or something scholarly like that. What better way to pass the time than to study microscope images, FACS data, and western blots? Perhaps it’s my BONECRUSHER instinct, but I take pride in the fact that I can absorb such complex material while doing 25% more strides per minute than the girl next to me.

Second, it is somewhat of a routine, something that I need and thrive on. It adds structure to my day, enabling me to carry on with my other daily activities, and serves as a reminder that there’s more to my life than just my school work. I am an athlete, after all.

Third, in some ways it feels healthier than running or biking. I tend to drink more water and absorb less UV radiation and the machines put less stress on my joints and ligaments. Moreover, the risks involved are pretty much null, especially compared to biking where death always seems imminent.

Well, I can try to be as optimistic as possible, but the truth of the matter is that I miss my former life. I was once a runner, now I’m just a machine woman. I’m envious of all the runners I see, however recreational they seem, and I sigh each time I pass by the UCSB track on my way to the Rec Cen. Turning curves and running straightaways over and over seems so much more pure, so much more real, than sweating away on a machine. At this point I don’t really care about the Olympic Trials or even setting PRs. I just want to be running.

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No Al Sightings

Well, Al has not reappeared recently at all.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he left the neighborhood during all the IV Halloween festivities.  The university/town of Goleta did kind of encroach upon his habitat by setting up fences all over the place.  Perhaps he’ll come back soon.  Sorry to all of you who were eagerly awaiting a photo.

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