B.A.A. Half Marathon 2014

I PR’d.

I PR’d by a full 10 minutes and hit the sub-2 hour goal I had given up on over 3 weeks ago. The most unprepared I’ve ever felt for a race, and my best one yet.

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It’s okay, you can laugh.

I honestly have no explanation for this. I missed (read: skipped) a lot of training runs. I did not sleep well the night before, nor did I “fuel” my body the way I should have in the days leading up to the race. The course was tougher and hillier than I expected. The only thing I really had going for me was that I made sure that I was awesomely hydrated all week leading up to race day. All the water all day every day.

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We did have great weather. It was textbook perfect New England fall, 60s and sunny. The course was beautiful, lined with the amazing foliage us Bostonians totally take for granted. I could go on and on about leaves and sunshine, but since this is a running blog I will spare you my obnoxious Boston pride and move onto the equally fascinating topics of my life on race day and event logistics.

Perfect form.

Perfect form.

The starting gun was at 8:30am, so roommate, boyfriend, and I hopped in an Uber at 7:30 to head over to the starting line at Franklin Park. By “hopped,” I of course mean begrudgingly dragged ourselves out of bed with a great deal of whining and complaining, leaving only enough time to stand in an absurdly long bathroom line and take some pictures that accurately portrayed our feelings on the race to come.

Feelings.

Feelings.

The porta-potty line really was absurd. Overall the BAA did a great job and the race was very well-organized, but the bathroom situation is/was my one complaint. I have run a lot of races, more than enough to know that runners as a whole are not the most delicate or bashful individuals, and certainly not when it comes to their pre-race bathroom needs. Constant lines of 30-50 runners anxiously tittering about their bowel movements and displaying blatant aggravation at not being lined up for a Wave 1 start, whilst being trapped in a bubble of fecal aromatics with a 100-yard radius do NOT a pleasant morning make.

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So, more bathrooms, BAA. Please.

We were warned at the start that the first part of the course was for the most part slightly downhill, but that the remainder was mostly uphill. For the record – they weren’t lying.

elevationmapFor those who don’t know, the full Boston Marathon course is actually much the same – downhill to start and uphill to finish. Naturally, much like when I ran the full in 2012, I could not have paid less attention to this warning.

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Amazingly this did not come back to bite me until very near the end, between miles 9 and 11. These two miles are made up of a slight offshoot of the course coming off of a rotary. The course runs straight out and straight back before winding into Franklin Park for the final 2 miles.

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Coincidentally, where I epically crashed & burned is also where my little fan section was posted up. It would have been a real shame to not capture this special moment on camera.

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The last part of the course is probably the coolest because you get to run through the Franklin Park Zoo. There are neat little trails that go through the different exhibits and past a few of the animal habitats. Unfortunately, I think that being on the verge of cardiac arrest coupled with hip pain a la 80-year-old arthritic grandmother somewhat detracted from the experience.

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My most vivid memory was stifling homicidal feelings while trying to pass a walking participant who had evidently decided it would be okay to plant himself in the middle of the extremely narrow path. I am all for walking and being slow at all times, but please, move to the side so the rest of us can finish the torture-fest.

Regretting my life choices.

Regretting my life choices.

All in all though, it was a really great race. It is in my not-so-humble opinion the best time of year to run in New England, between the temperature and the scenery. The course is really nice, and I think I’ll enjoy it even more next time now that I know what to expect. I’ve always found running a new area to be significantly more challenging than running roads and paths that you are familiar with. This year’s shirts were also REALLY legit, which definitely helps.

Pure shirt enthusiasm

Pure shirt enthusiasm

Next year I plan on tackling the BAA Distance Medley, which consists of a 5k, 10k, and the half in April, June, and October respectively. Having a race to look forward to always helps with my motivation. Also, more shirts.

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Mostly more shirts.

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Training Fails

The BAA Half Marathon is less than two weeks away and I am comically underprepared. These last few critical weeks have been the perfect storm of training-ruining craziness, and I just have not been able to pull it together. Two weeks ago I mentioned getting miserably sick and how it messed with my training but I was hopeful about getting back on track. That notion, as it turns out, was a total joke.

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Coming out of aforementioned sick week from hell – I left work on Friday night with the intention of getting on the road to head to NYC. My car had other plans. Specifically, a nail in my left rear tire that I realized had been causing a slow leak for weeks. Cue panic mode.

After much stress and debating and maybe a few tears, I decided to have NTB fill my tire as best they could until I can get it fixed, and take my chances in the meantime. What can I say? I live on the edge.

Luckily, it was a lovely weekend of wine and gifts and scotch we really can’t afford to be drinking and just generally being nauseating together.

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I am not by any means an expert restaurant reviewer, and particularly not of Manhattan restaurants, but I do like to give big thumbs up where they are warranted. If I had more than 2 thumbs, they would all be up for this place.

The House, which is in Gramercy Park in Manhattan (and obviously, this came from their website because I know nothing about navigating Manhattan beyond that I am incapable of doing so) is amazing. And you should go there. Even if you aren’t in Manhattan you might want to make a special trip. Just saying.

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The restaurant is a restored carriage house and it is absolutely beautiful, quiet and intimate with spectacular service. And the food. Oh mylanta the food. We started with the pulpo and the oysters. Always oysters.

Pulpo, garbanzo, chorizo... & feeling thankful I minored in Spanish.

Pulpo, garbanzo, chorizo… & feeling thankful I minored in Spanish.

I got the scallops with butternut squash puree as my entree. Boy got the braised rabbit. I wish I had pictures to share with you, but I barely stopped eating to breathe, let alone take a picture of the food, and certainly not to converse with my significant other. We have our priorities straight in this relationship.

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At any rate, it was a fantastic night and all around fun weekend, but I was still feeling lousy and I was tired from the drive down, and of course still had to drive 4 hours back to Boston on Sunday. And then there was Monday.

4:30 Monday morning. Not an okay time for heels. Not an okay time for being conscious.

4:30 Monday morning. Not an okay time for heels. Not an okay time for being conscious.

Monday morning I was up at 4:00am to catch a 6:30am flight to Memphis for work. Two whirlwind days of meetings capped off with a 1:00am return on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. It was a great trip, but equal parts productive and exhausting. I had such good intentions of going for a run AND hitting the hotel gym while I was there, which is hilarious.

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Needless to say, the 8 miles I had planned for that weekend did not happen. So two weeks in a row I didn’t get my long run in, on top of all of the other midweek runs that I missed for one reason or another (illness, apartment work, the weather, general laziness…pick your poison).

The good news is that on Monday I finally DID get another long run in. It was seemingly endless, slow, painful, and generally horrendous, but it’s done. 9 miles on Newton/Brookline hills has reassured me that I will at least finish the half with a pulse. Maybe not with dignity or in any remotely close to respectable time, but I am confident that I will still be breathing.

Things I miss: this view. Things I do not miss: BC hills.

Things I miss: this view. Things I do not miss: BC hills.

I also did this 2 days after running Rugged Maniac, which was such a blast that it warrants its own post, hopefully coming in a few days. I figure that if I can run 2 miles on sore, tired, crappy legs, then maybe 10 miles on slightly less sore, less tired, but still somewhat crappy legs might be okay.

In other news, I ran on the treadmill today for the first time in probably 8 months. Treadmill running still sucks, in case anyone was wondering.

Too much time to be moving while not moving.

Too much time to be moving while not moving.

Hopefully the crap-tastic weather we’ve been having here in Boston passes through soon. I don’t think I have another soul-crushing treadmill run in me for at least another couple of months… when the snow floats in with the soul-crush assist.

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The Illest

Being sick is super lame, and it’s easy to forget just how lame it is until the cool weather comes rolling in and you get sick again. Immediately, in my case.

I was out and about last Sunday morning, scoping out the American Field pop-up market. It was a pretty cool thing, and I like supporting local business even if most of it wasn’t stuff that I would really ever need or buy, like hand-whittled wood everything or leather hunting apparel. Cue the banjos and milk jugs.

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I got back to my apartment around 2:00, sat down on my bed and pretty much instantly felt like I was going to die. Legit, die. Splitting headache, chest congested, body aching, wah wah wah, you know the deal. I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon/evening lying in bed convincing myself that it was just allergies and having an epic battle with medicinal packaging while attempting to remain horizontal.

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Five days later I stand corrected, aka for five days I did nothing. I did not run, I did not lift, I did not cross train… I spent 2 days feeling miserable and sorry for myself in my apartment and the other 3 in meetings at work.

Speaking of meetings at work, the aforementioned 2 days of meetings were actually a workshop on presentation skills. Despite being deathly ill, I really enjoyed the workshop. The woman who ran it was super helpful and informative, and I feel like even over a 2-day period I could see an improvement in both myself and the others in the workshop. If you work in a role that requires you to present, either to clients or internally, I would highly recommend looking into one of these.

The format was roughly half classroom-style learning and half presenting (which, by the way, was filmed – and then you had to WATCH your film) with feedback from the crowd. Three things that worked well and two suggestions/critiques. My 2 critiques were as follows:
Be less monotone and try to look nicer.

*Please take a moment to pause here for dramatic effect*

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If ever there were 2 defining traits that anyone who has ever encountered me over the course of my life could tell you, it would be the these – 1) that the range of emotion I experience on the inside does NOT equate to the range of emotion that comes through in my voice (that being zero), and 2) that I have the worst case of bitchy resting face since Kanye.

The ultimate in BRF

The ultimate in BRF

It’s not that I’m mean. I might look mean, and maybe I come off a little rough-around-the-edges, but I’m actually probably one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. 100% genuine statement. I also do get excited, really, I do. I’m just not one of those people who walks around with a big smile on my face, perpetually happy just to exist. I spend much of my time in emotional-neutrality, and it just so happens that my general demeanor and aura can be most closely likened to that of Wednesday Addams, or Eeyore, or some combination of the two.

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But I digress, in a big way. I finally started to feel human again on Thursday evening, so I decided to go out for my run. I had 4.5 on my training schedule so that’s what I did, and remarkably I didn’t quit or stop or die. I have been struggling for the last week to figure out a way to make up for the mileage that I lost while sick, but I don’t think that is going to be possible without risking injury.

So, I’m bummed. The BAA Half Marathon is only 3 weeks away and I lost a huge week of training. I had hopes for a PR this time around and now I am thinking that is unrealistic. It should be a good time regardless, the course is beautiful and I’ll have my fabulous roomie by my side, to run the race and then drink away the pain afterwards. At least we always have each other. And beer.

MK

I have 3 more opportunities for long runs before race day, so please keep your fingers crossed that I don’t get sidelined by any more massive home improvement projects or illness.

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Moving Woes

I fell off the wagon again.

The blogging wagon, that is.

In the spirit of new beginnings, I’m back and hopefully turning over a new, fully-committed blogging leaf. I feel like a lot of people think spring is the time for new beginnings, but for me it is always easiest to start fresh in the fall. September has always been a time of transition, be it school or starting a new job or what have you. I like to turn my leaves over in the fall. When they’re dead.

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So today I’d like to talk about a woefully underrated workout method. This particular style of exercise has been around for years, and in my experience is incredibly effective in both energy expenditure and commitment. Since the fitness industry has yet to recognize what is bound to be the hottest lose-weight-quick trend since The Atkins Diet/Paleo/Crossfit/HIIT/Gluten free I’m here to spread the good word and give you the secret to achieving your goals.

It’s called moving into a sh*thole apartment.

Happy Allston Christmas. Boston's most hated holiday. Source: Allston Xmas Twitter

Happy Allston Christmas. Boston’s most hated holiday. Source: Allston Xmas Twitter

Let me preface the coming tangent with the following: I am not overly particular when it comes to my living situation. I spent 3 years in college dorms, 1 year in the basement of a house that I shared with ELEVEN other girls, and most recently, a year in what is rightfully a 2 bedroom apartment complete with lukewarm-at-best-on-a-good-day water, diagonally pitched floors, and ultra creepy horror-movie basement …and there were 3 of us.

Standards.

Junior year at BC. Standards.

I can live in just about anything. I’m 2 years post-grad and I am living in the city, and living in the city comes at a cost. I’m happy to give up the luxuries that I could afford in the ‘burbs to be in walking distance to pretty much everything one could need (that being sushi and beer). What I cannot live with is the following:

Bathrooms without ceilings.

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Safe.

Soap dishes that will definitely make your hands dirtier after washing.

Perfect for holding an object whose single solitary purpose is to clean.

Perfect for holding an object whose single solitary purpose is to clean.

Kitchen cabinets that have been graffitied with such vile profanities that even I’m offended, and I’m hard to offend.

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Not PG13.

Oh, and let’s not forget used syringes behind the fridge. I do not like syringes, used or otherwise, BEHIND MY FRIDGE (nb: the previous tenants had 4 cats. We’re gonna go ahead and say that was the reason for this..).

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What the actual f*ck

Back to the point at hand, this is a particularly effective workout and dieting strategy for a number of reasons, and because I am feeling generous today I am going to outline them for you all here.

1) Forced Commitment
It’s Saturday, August 30th. Your current lease expires at midnight on the 31st. This means you have 2 days to make this place liveable. No timeouts, no overtime. You need to commit and you need to do it now, which means that you better prepare yourself for 48 hours of straight manual labor.

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2) Muscles you didn’t know you had. You’re going to use them.
Scraping windowsills, scrubbing walls, cleaning floors, painting every imaginable surface, hauling boxes up and down flights of stairs… at the end of 48 hours, you probably won’t even know what muscles you used. You’ve probably inhaled so much dust, paint fumes, and asbestos you won’t even know your own name. You will be sore though. In places you didn’t know could be sore. We can only assume this means you had a killer workout.

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3) Food. You don’t have any.
Food, by nature of the fact that it needs to be kept cold, is inevitably one of the last things to get moved from old apartment A to new apartment B. The problem with this is that by the time you reach the end of your moving process you are so exhausted, frustrated, and sick of hauling crap from one place to another that you switch into “I need nothing” mode. As a result, any food you had at your prior place of living is immediately deemed not important enough to be worth the effort of packing it into the car just to unpack it 30 minutes later. Out it goes leaving your new fridge empty and sad.

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4) But what about takeout? We could even go out to a restaurant?
You will suddenly become acutely aware of just what a poor job you did at labeling your boxes. Plates? Utensils? Clothes that don’t smell like bleach and paint? Nope. Nope x 3. And as you’re sitting amid a pile of boxes, paint brushes, cleaning supplies, and dust you realize that the LAST thing you want to do is consume food in this place. Also you don’t want to be seen in public or have to interact with anyone. So there’s that.

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5) Sleep. The only thing that matters.
Food is no longer essential for survival. Sleep is the key element. And you might die without it. So go get 15 hours, you’ve earned it.

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And the best part is that the fun continues. Every time you think you’re done there is another box to unpack, another wall to paint, another closet to clean…. only now we’ve stocked our fridge with beer, but that’s okay. Carbs are good for your workout.

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The Essentials.

In conclusion, if you want an intense, unwavering, sustainable diet and exercise plan just move into a crappy apartment. You’ll be glad you did. Someday.

Das Boot

Well, I was half right.

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I showed up at 8:39, not 8:37, and I didn’t even get a coffee. I had it before I left the house because realistically I can’t even form sentences without caffeine, let alone operate a motor vehicle.

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I did flip through some fascinating pamphlets about feet.

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And I did answer a bunch of questions and get poked and prodded and “pull on my hand,” “push on my hand,” followed by a series of x-rays and a lecture on running too much (I could give that lecture at this point for the # of times I’ve received it…)

However, in a refreshing turn of events, they actually had an answer for me at the end of all the nonsense:
Diagnosis: Strained tendon (woof)
Cause: Overuse (aka too much running… big surprise)
Solution: 3 weeks (hopefully) in a boot that I am supposed to keep propped up on a stool while at work.

propped boot

Yeah, I’m on a budget, and boot-propping-work-stool does not fit that budget. Upside down recycling bin it is.

Obviously it sucks having to wear this boot every day. And I certainly don’t love having to wrap up this nonsense every morning (nb: I’ve never owned an ACE bandage, so this is still quite a process):

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But I am happy to have a legitimate answer, as well as a solution. Even if it does mean I have to be in this big clunky awkward boot.

It is quite a fashion statement, I must say.

boot 1

It’s black so it goes with everything, including a dress and one running sneaker.

It’s also very versatile – for a night out just swap the running sneaker for a heel. Voila – fashionista.

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I’m desperately clawing at a silver lining here, just humor me.

At any rate, I am one week down and 2 to go. I have to admit, it isn’t nearly as awful as it could be. I can take it off to sleep or shower or swim (because this kid just got back from 3 days in Cancun for a company conference. #winning). It’s actually surprisingly comfortable, too.

But I really really REALLY miss working out. I can do abs and upper body and very limited leg work. I never thought I’d see the day that I missed squats.

I miss squats. What is wrong with me.

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Since I can’t work out I have made the decision to seize this opportunity and finally start the diet overhaul that I’ve been planning to start for months.

I’ve been running consistently since I was 14. Track and XC in high school, marathons in college, and continuing to run 3-6 miles a day, 4-5 days a week ever since. What that boils down to is that for the last 9 years of my life I have eaten like a runner.

For those of you who don’t know, eating like a runner whilst being unable to run does not end well for your waistline.

So it’s time to kiss my carbohydrate-laden diet goodbye in exchange for a more protein-focused diet of sadness.

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I don’t though.

The goal for this week is to get through it without crying or killing anyone. It will be an interesting one, that’s for sure.

Until we meet again, carbs ❤

Love & Running

“…there was some kind of connection between the capacity to love and the capacity to love running. The engineering was certainly the same: both depended on loosening your grip on your own desires, putting aside what you wanted and appreciating what you’ve got, being patient and forgiving and… undemanding…maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that getting better at one could make you better at the other.”

-Born to Run

Oh, running.

We’ve had quite the relationship, running and I. Very long-term, very love hate. I love to hate running and hate that I love it. Running loves my thighs and glutes but hates every joint in the lower half of my body. It also hates my anemia.

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On a semi-related note, running is easily in the top 5 contenders of things that could very well take me out. Wedged nicely between some rare, fatal disease and getting struck down while jaywalking.

#BostonianProblems?

Like many relationships, in spite of it’s ups and downs my relationship with running has been pretty fantastic. We’ve had some good times and beautiful moments together. Running makes me a better person in so many ways and inspires me to continually strive for improvement.

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And while I can paint this beautiful picture of love & running, it is also worth noting that a love affair with running is a lot like being in a long-term relationship with a TOTAL ASSHOLE.

And this is why:

No matter how many days, years, miles, hours, blood (literally), sweat (definitely literal), tears (also quite literal…), and dedication you put into running it will always, WITHOUT FAIL, come back and fuck you over (pardon my language).

And you will keep going back to it. Thinking “this time it will be different.”

Because you’re a sucker.

beyonce

The harsh reality is that running will NEVER love you as much as you love it. If I had to compare running against an actual relationship timeline, running would string you along up until your wedding day and leave you standing at the altar.

Like an idiot.

With an injured foot.

I’m guessing at this point you’ve realized that I’m injured again. Yeah, remember that time I talked about how excited I was to run Manchester again?

Or how about those back to back **nonrefundable** Electric Runs I’ve had planned for MONTHS?

Yeah, about that.

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Because at some point during this little jaunt:

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Something bad happened. I don’t know exactly what I did, but I’m going to find out on Friday. In Chelmsford. Because after 3 hours of phone tag with Mass General Hospital I was informed that their next available appointment is in January of 2014.

Hugely helpful. Thanks, MGH.

And by “find out” what exactly is wrong with my foot, which has been in pain for 5 days, let me explain what I mean.

I’m going to show up at the Orthopedic office at 8:37. My appointment is at 8:30. Lucky for me, this particular office posts their new patient forms online. So I will be taking that time to buy myself some happiness:

dunks

And arrive only 7 minutes late.

Even though I am one of the first appointments of the day, I will no doubt still sit in the waiting room for about 45 minutes, thumbing through outdated magazines and pamphlets about feet.

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When I’m called in, I will be asked to repeat all of the information that I have taken the time to meticulously include on my new patient form. That’s okay, I enjoy talking about the hobby I can no longer partake in and the reason why. Again.

My foot will be poked and prodded. “Does this hurt? … Does this hurt?”

It will. And I will answer “yes, yes it does,” because grimacing and flinching leaves a tad too much room for ambiguity.

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My foot will be x-rayed, yielding a wonderfully inconclusive result.

So I’ll be sent for an MRI. On a different day. In the most inconvenient location available.

I will then be sent back to the Orthopedic office to get the results, which will also be inconclusive.

And in the end, I’ll be told to “rest.”

So rest I shall, folks. The best way I know how…

cheers

That Grind

In a somewhat unbelievable and rare turn of events, I am coming out of the weekend not feeling like a fat, lazy, waste of life.

Shocking, I know.

Usually there’s a direct correlation between how much fun I’ve had from Friday-Sunday and how awful I feel Monday.

This weekend was surprisingly good, all things considered, and it’s made better by the fact that I don’t want to die and/or get liposuction today. Small victories.

I returned to my alma mater for some Friday night football action with this girl.

ALQ

Being back at BC always makes me feel a weird combination of happy, old, sad, proud, longing… I guess most people would call this nostalgia.

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I call it “living in a dream world where you have no real responsibilities and everything is a card swipe away with 8 of your closest friends beats the hell out of the real world any day.”

To each his own.

You’re obviously not going to go to a football game and NOT have a few beers… But all in all kept it a fairly calm night. Enough so that I was able to get my ass out of the house on Saturday before work to go for a bike ride around Somerville. Got to enjoy the beautiful weather and sneak in some exercise that didn’t suck. Win. Win.

Spent Saturday night waitressing at the restaurant (as opposed to waitressing not at a restaurant?). If you think this doesn’t count as exercise you have obviously never run around carrying trays of food for 6 hours.

You also take your exercise way too seriously.

Sunday was the return of the Pats. Thank. God. An ugly win, but a win nonetheless.

pats nation

I also got a haircut. And hostessed for a couple of hours. Oh, and this.

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That’s right. Back on THAT grind.

Hello, weekend long run. It’s nice to see you. It’s been a while…

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While my splits leave a bit to be desired, I’m happy to have a decent run under my belt again. It’s been a while and I was starting to worry about how my training was going to go. I now have renewed faith.

Manchester half, I’m coming for you.

I also caught up with my favorite Irish lad on his last night in the states.

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Safe travels, bud.

As an aside, I do have 2 requests for the people at Map My Run. I love your app, I really do, but these 2 things would make a world of difference…

1) It would be super wonderful if the app would come up through the lock screen a la Apple Maps.

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2) It would also be nice if when I’m stopped at a crosswalk, the timer would stop with me. I’m slow enough on my own, I don’t need to be adding false seconds to my already pitiful times.

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With love,

A constructively critical runner.