Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I hope that 10 years from now I can reread this to remember what I was like. XI have a goal this summer: be able to run 2 miles in 15 minutes or less. I will run almost every day. I will eat better. I will swim often. Duh! There's going to be a new coach next year. I want to impress (him? her?), I want to be captain of the girls team, and most important of all, I want to impress myself. If I pace myself this summer, I know I can do it. I'll have to work hard, but I don't mind. I've never really been good at sports. I discovered this year that I'm good at cross country, and I like it a lot. I get freedom, I got at my own pace, it feels good when I pass people near the end. I want to stick with it.
Today I ran 3 miles. It was hard but I think I did good. Tomorrow I'm going running and to the mall. I can't wait.
Today I worked on my pogo stick. Tomorrow I might be online! (Slightly off topic, but that made me laugh)
X-country practice went xcelent. Get it? On the first day of school we ran 3 miles on the track. That was so boring. On the second day we ran a route by ourselves. It was like 5 miles. I was so tired.
At the McQuaid invite, I tried to go really fast, but I didn't go as fast as I wanted to. I was doing pretty good. But I came in 3rd from Spencerport.
At our last meet, it was a 2 mile course and it poured the whole time, I was soaked to the bone. I did pretty good.
That marks the end of my middle school days as a runner and I turned to singing. Oh young Vanessa, you grew up. Sort of. You got a better idea of what the world was like, but apparently retained a love for running! How funny, tired from 5 miles and now tired by 20. I don't play on the pogo stick anymore, but I still have trouble starting races.
The thing that struck me most was reading my list of goals and plans for the summer in regard to running. I really haven't changed at all. That is exactly how I attack marathon training now: name the goal and plan and persevere. And I still get excited about the whole process and don't mind that it's a daunting task. I don't have anything written down from then about running a marathon someday, but I remember telling my gym teacher that I would and send her a postcard when I did one (all before the days of e-mail, of course). When I ran the National Marathon, I e-mailed her, and it felt like it all had come full circle.
How funny. I've changed a little, grown an inch or two, but am still loving this crazy sport.
Monday, December 28, 2009
2009 is rapidly coming to a close, marking the end of my first year as a grown-up runner. Not quite sure of the exact mileage (that's a resolution for 2010), but I know I've run: 2 marathons, 1 1/2, 1 10 miler, 2 10ks, 3 5ks and around1500 miles. Kind of crazy, especially for someone who used to describe herself as a musician, certainly not a runner or athlete. But the tables have turned, it seems.
It's been a year for changes, that's for sure. There have been losses and gains, hard runs and easy ones, busy days and a handful of slow ones. In some ways I've restructured a lot of my lifestyle. I see no problem getting up at 4:30 or 5 in or to get a workout in, like I am doing today. I also am getting in the habit of getting to bed earlier, when possible, in order to get a full night's sleep. Somehow, adding marathon training made me more organized - who'da thunk? My grades in grad school shot up, I became more efficient with work...hmmm, I seem to see a common thread here.
With resolutions on the mind, here are mine:
* To enjoy every moment of running the Boston Marathon and not get too caught up with time goals (although a 3:35 marathon would be great).
* Successfully pass my comprehensive exams in July and earn my Master's degree
*a 1:39 half marathon
*a 45:00 10k
*a 22:00 5k
*a 6:00 mile
Here is the week's schedule:
Monday, December 28: OFF
Tuesday, December 29: 2.5 mile warm-up; 4x1 mile, 500 meter jog between each mile repeat. Start at about 8:00 minute pace, try to cut-down each mile by 5-7 seconds. 2.5 mile cool-down. Total mileage: 10 miles
Wednesday, December 30: 6 miles easy
Thursday, December 31: 8 miles easy
Friday, January 1: OFF
Saturday, January 2: 13 miles easy
Sunday, January 3: 6 miles easy
Here's to a good end of 2009 and a good start to 2010!
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Here is week 1:
Monday, December 21: OFF
Tuesday, December 22: 2.5 mile warm-up; 2 mile on track; start first mile at 8:10 pace, cut-down second mile to 7:55 pace. 2 lap jog. 4x800, 1 lap jog between each repeat. Start first 800 at 3:50, try to cut-down by 5 seconds or so for each 800. 2.5 mile cool-down: Total mileage—10.25 miles
Wednesday, December 23: 6 miles easy.
Thursday, December 24: 8 miles easy.
Friday, December 25: OFF
Saturday, December 26: 12 miles easy
Sunday, December 27: 5 miles easy
Yesterday, there were a few inches of snow on the track, which slowed me down. Never again! I'll do the rest of my Rochester speed workouts on the treadmill. Not a wasted workout, because I was working harder going through the snow. It's cold here! My gatorade bottle kept freezing - it was like drinking a Slurpee. Now, if they made Gatorade slurpees, that would be sweet.
Today was six, normally easy, miles. But kicked today off with a bang. I asked my triathlete bud Mark if he wanted to join me, and he said only if I swam. So, he picked me up at 6 this morning, and we swam (1000 yards for me, 1200 for him - he is much better at this than I am). Wow, the pool really is an eye opener - I was wide awake at that point. Then we lifted weights for about an hour. Now, I really love weight lifting - I don't know quite why. But I like the idea of getting stronger, so we'll see what happens during this training cycle. Then Mark and I went out in the snow and ran for 6 miles. Normally, that would be easy as pie, but so soon after the swim, I was wiped; definitely harder than normal. I have a new-found respect for all triathletes, because I cannot imagine biking in between those too. That is insane! But, things are always easier with a friend, and we had a lot of fun trudging through the wind and snow. We were feeling quite triumphant afterward, yet more proof that running in hard conditions (whether they be weather or after other workouts) is an invigorating feeling. We went out for coffee and bagels after, and the waitress was wondering why we had so much snow on our faces and in our hair and why our faces looked like they did. So, we told her of our adventures, and she thought we were crazy. Which she's right, we are crazy, but we had a blast. Mark and I spent the next hour talking about different running adventures, races, and thoughts about health and fitness in general. What fun, and how good company makes a big difference.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
I normally see at least 50 runners when I run around DC. Today, I saw 5. The first runner didn't appear until mile 5 (Washington Monument). When I saw her, I yelled out "Finally! Someone else is out!" and she whooped back. It's the little things like that which get you through a run. I then got to the Lincoln Memorial, which was where I turned around. The one thing that was scary was trying to find spots that weren't icy, which meant sometimes I had to stray off the path. Once I turned around the Lincoln Memorial, the path was icy and slippery. I noticed that there was one path of footprints through the snow (bear in mind we got over 14 inches yesterday). I decided to take the path less traveled, and less slippery. So in I went, taking mighty big steps running through the snow (I did have on 2 pairs of socks, so my feet stayed warm and dry). Keep in mind, I am 5'1", so I am taking mighty huge leaps, so I think that was good strength training (like running in the sand). It felt awesome. I felt like Rocky running in the snow in Siberia. I was so pumped at that point. I did feel a little relieved when I got back on the roads - that was whooping my butt. When I was crossing a street, someone said "Good for you for running today!" I pumped my fist in response and said I was running Boston. As I ran along the street, more people cheered for me, while they were shoveling their sidewalks or walking around, which was pretty cool. It was a great experience overall - I felt strong trudging through the snow, and yes, on the road (not in the ring), Rocky Balboa's got nothing on me!
Saturday, December 19, 2009
This is Kathleen Jobes, who works for Runner's World, crawling across the finish line at Grandma's Marathon in 2006 to qualify for the Olympic Trials. Her legs gave out a few steps from the finish, but she finished in 2:46. If that doesn't inspire (or scare), I don't know what will. You don't crawl across the finish line for a sprint - you can run 100 meters in less than 20 seconds (less than 10 if you're Usain Bolt) and finish standing, even if you're gasping for breath. But the marathon does such a number on your body and your mind. But there is still a determination to finish - even if on your hands and knees. And that has to be the love of the sport - to run and push beyond the limits in order to conquer the distance. I just keep falling in love with this more and more every day.
I found out yesterday that the Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi (the top 2 male American marathoners) will run Boston! I am pretty psyched about this and thrilled to know that I'll be running in the same race as they are. These are the coolest guys in the sport and putting them in the same marathon should allow for a pretty exciting race. I guess I'll have to watch the highlights, seeing as they will finish over an hour ahead of me! Hall is eager to take on Boston a second time and Keflezighi is coming off a NYC Marathon win, so hopefully that hunger for the marathon victory will mean an American win (which hasn't happened since before I was born). One of the great things about this is that the desire for an American victory will bring more attention to the marathon and get everyone excited about it. I hope I get a chance to meet them at the Expo.
I start training for Boston next week. It feels as if I just finished the Marine Corps Marathon, but training starts up again! I found out about Ryan and Meb right before I went out for my run yesterday, and that was all I could think about. "I'm running the Boston Marathon in 4 months and I get to run it with some of the best runners in the world." Boston is exactly 4 months from today. I am getting hyped. I get all filled up when I read or hear about Boston - it still feels unreal.
While the official training hasn't started, I feel like I've built a good base. This was my first semester of graduate school when I ran the whole semester - papers and schoolwork did not get in the way, which is a sign that I'm finding my groove, both with school and marathon training. But I am ready to go and looking forward to starting training again. Since school is over, I will start my training at home, which is good. Not only will I not have the pressure of school, but I can run on roads with limited stoplights, eat well, sleep well in a good bed, and as a whole, get off on the right foot. I just will have time - I can go to the gym and recommence weight lifting, I can get in the pool and start swimming again. All good things.
There is excitement - I am just going to harness it for four months and unleash it on April 19th. Can't wait to get to Hopkinton and can't wait to get to Boston.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Do I go to Renaissance fairs?
Nope. That is a popular question and usually the first one I get. First of all, medieval and renaissance are two different periods. I do like the renaissance (Italian - they had one in England too!), but I don't think I want to pretend I am living in it. Unless you were a queen or a member of the nobility, there weren't a lot of great opportunities for women. Plus there was always the fear of the plague! I'll live in the here and now, thank you.
Do I go to Medieval Times?
I have never been to Medieval Times, no one has ever invited me! But I am all for it - just waiting for the invitation.
Do I dress up in costume?
Nope - we go about our days just like you do in work clothes. You might not even be able to spot a medievalist at first glance. But within five minutes of talking to one of us, we'll have given it away. However, I did go the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA, which has a fabulous collection of medieval armory. Here is me with one of the helmets.
Where do I stand on Lord of the Rings? Harry Potter?
I have never read anything by Tolkein - sorry. But, I will say that Tolkein was trained as a medievalist at Cambridge and was just a brilliant man. I am, however, a huge Harry Potter fan and have read the series a multitude of times. I even presented a paper at a conference comparing aspects of medieval witchcraft with some of the Dark Magic used in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Now that the basic questions are out of the way, onto a few about my own life as a medievalist.
What do I plan on doing with my degree?
Stay in school forever! I wish I could - I absolutely love reading and writing. I am going to earn my master's degree in 2010, and then I plan on going for the Ph.D in medieval history as well. Once I get out of school (which I am not sure how long it will take me to earn my doctorate), I would like to become a history professor at a liberal arts college. I'll also write articles and hopefully publish a book or two.
What am I interested in?
I am interested in the later Middle Ages (c. 1200-1400). The earlier stuff is good too, but it is not my primary focus. I love cultural/social history, as well as religious history and how religious history affected medieval culture. My original focus (as a general historian) was women's history, which now I like to look at medieval women's history.
If I had to pick an absolutely favorite subject, what would it be?
Medieval witchcraft! No, I am not a witch (Roman Catholic, actually) and I don't practice magic, which is also one of the questions I always get. How did I get into that? I did a term paper on it in college and now I'm hooked (that will probably be the subject of my dissertation). I am most interested in how did medieval witchcraft emerge in the later Middle Ages. I believe that when the Church started to tighten its definition of heresy, a working definition of witchcraft emerged as well in the thirteenth century, and the church used this definition to "hunt" for witches.
Do I believe that there witches?
Here is my take on it. I think there were a lot of women who did bad things, like mix concoctions and poison people. But I do not think women could actually fly around on broomsticks. There were also innocent women who unfortunately got caught up in the witch hysteria and killed. But I do not believe in witches.
So, which witches are you writing about?
(This is always what I say - I've gotten pretty good at coming up with canned responses). I have a witch of particular interest. Her name was Alice Kyteler, and she lived in Kilkenny, Ireland in the 1300s. She faced a whole host of accusations, including killing 3 of her husbands, and maiming the fourth, breaking into the local church to practice sorcery, sacrificing animals, blasphemy, and having sex with the devil. Yikes! The local bishop, Richard de Ledrede of Ossory prosecuted her in 1324. She was supposed to be burned at the stake, but she fled to England the night before her execution, and was never heard from again. Her maidservant, Petronilla of Meath, was not so fortunate - she was whipped six times and then burned at the stake - the first burning in Ireland. I think this trial radically reshapes our notions on how the church, and I hope when I publish a book on it, it will be groundbreaking in the field.
Do you like other medieval things aside from witches?
Of course. This semester I got in medieval hagiography (the study of saints - their lives, canonization procedures, their miracles, etc) after taking a class on it with my adviser. That's why I was reading books called Holy Feast and Holy Fast and Holy Anorexia - they were about medieval religious women who starved themselves in the name of God. The class actually inspired me to write all of my term papers this semester on medieval female saints. My favorite paper was about a nun named Christina who lived with a monk at one point and was looked after by an abbot in the 1100s in England. Her community did not like this and gossiped that she lived in sin, when in actuality she was a virgin. Christina was quite concerned that people were spreading false rumors about her alleged sexual behavior. These concerns about sexuality were quite advanced for the twelfth century. Anyways, it was a fascinating paper for me to write (I turned it in last night - one more to go). I also love medieval music and art history (you can't go wrong with medieval manuscripts and stained glass windows), but those are more hobbies of mine than scholarly interests.
Well, you asked, so there you have it. My life as a medievalist. We're a pretty good bunch, and also fun to have around at cocktail parties (we have a lot of great trivia from the Middle Ages). Thanks for letting me indulge you in the big thing in my life that I do when I'm not running!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Division (Women 20-24): 110/325
Women in general: 533/2114
5k split: 31:52
A year has passed; I since have run 2 marathons and a slew of other races. I have learned what it means to train; to do long runs and speedwork and figure out proper nutrition and hydration.
Here are my stats from this morning:
Division (Women 20-24): 22/402
Women in general: 82/2255
5k split: 23:28
What a difference a year makes! The race went well, to say the least. I went out slow and cautiously: 7:29 for the first mile, and ended up running slightly negative splits. This was a good pace and I felt good the whole time, which is always better than counting down the minutes until the finish! This is a course with a turnaround, and there I heard "Go Vanessa" - it was Brian - my DC race buddy. That was great and lifted my spirits a little. I liked the turnaround because it meant you could sort of watch other runners and be distracted while running. There were lots of costumed runners: elves, santas, etc. One Santa was really fast - normally you don't expect that from someone wearing a full suit, but you never now. Around mile 4, I was "recognized" aka, someone from the Runner's World online community said "You're the medievalist!" That was pretty funny and unexpected. I couldn't really say anything at that point, but I did meet him afterward. The final 2.2 miles were when I really was pushing the pace, and it was a relief to see the finish banner and just throw down the hammer. I knocked off 34 seconds off of my time and set a new PR. Brian set one as well with 47:08, so victory for both of us. However, we had made a bet that whoever "lost" (although I do think we both were victorious) would by breakfast after. So, Brian treated me to breakfast at Busboys and Poets, which was delicious. Somehow, we were seated in a private room, and while it was originally just the 2 of us in the room, more runners from the race kept trickling in (I think it was the closest restaurant to the race), and so we turned into a party room of runners. Breakfast was good, and it was excellent to catch up with Brian. Here's a picture of us from brunch. We're hoping to do another race together early in 2010.
All in all a great race, and a great progress report from a year's worth of work. It feels rewarding to know I'm making great strides (pun intended) and that I can continue to work at knocking off more time.
Friday, December 11, 2009
All of my history books are on the shelf, but there are at least 100-200 more at home. It sounds nutty, but I can't wait for the day when I can just have them all together in one central location. I think part of this also came from the fact that I was at my adviser's house this weekend, and she has a beautiful library set up in her living room. I want a whole wall of books too!
I have all of my running medals on the bookcase. I keep them there as a reminder of what I've done, especially to remind me when I'm questioning my ability to do something (like finish these terms papers). I have my running books/magazines there too, which are my favorite thing to read before bed. My medieval toys are up there on the shelf too: my medieval action figures, and the witch doll my mentor gave me when I defended my senior thesis (on medieval witchcraft).
If anything, I know that I work well and write well when I'm inspired, and all of these things help to motivate me when I'm writing or need to get out the door for a run!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Miles last week: 37
Your first Race: 1998 Cross Country Meet (middle school) at Black Creek Park in Greece, NY
Your last Race: Race with Grace 10k on Thanksgiving Day
When/Why did you start Running? 1998 (1st time) - we had to sign up for soccer or cross country, and I hated soccer. I started back up (2008) because I couldn't find a choir to sing with when I was in grad school, so I thought I would try running again.
Favorite Race? National Marathon in DC (my first marathon)
Favorite Distance? The marathon
Mistake you always make while racing: I don't push hard enough
Your mantra is... 2 Timothy 4:7 "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."
Favorite food before a race or long run? Hot chocolate the morning of, the night before a marathon: Pear and Gorgonzola pizza from Z-Pizza in Silver Spring
Favorite Gadget? Timex Ironman Watch
Something *strange* you always need on a run? I always carry a rosary in my pocket when I race
Amount of races you've done in your life? (not quite sure how many I did in middle school, my guess is around 15) In my return to running, I've done 10.
Amount of races you've done this year? 8
When I can't run, I...get on the elliptical, lift weights, and swim.
Music or no Music? If yes, Favorite music: Yes, classical for long runs (Beethoven's 9th symphony, Chaikovsky's 1812 overture, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue)
Favorite book? Running related - Marathon Woman by Kathrine Switzer. Non-running: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Dame Muriel Spark
Favorite Movie? Running related - The Spirit of the Marathon. Non-running - Beauty and The Beast
Favorite Runner? Favorite of all time: Kathrine Switzer and Joan Benoit Samuelson. Current runners: Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall.
Favorite brand of apparel? Champion (sold at Target)
Favorite brand of shoes? Asics
How many pairs of running shoes do you have? How many pairs do you actually use? Own 3, use 2.
Next Challenge ahead: Running in the Boston Marathon (hoping for a time of 3:35).
A Goal further ahead you'd like to get to someday: Breaking 3 hours in the marathon.
PR you're most proud of: 3:39:55 at Marine Corps Marathon (knocked off 13 minutes from my first marathon).
Fuel on long run or race is...Cherry Gatorade and Vanilla GU
Last/current injury: Pulled right hamstring in March 2009
Why do you run? I run because I have found it to be a liberating experience in so many ways. It is a mental and physical release. I am able to solve a lot while on a run, and I always come back from a run in a better mood than I when I left. I think I still have a lot of potential to unlock in running and I look forward to see what I can do.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
This morning I did my first track workout since mid-October. My friend Sarah put together a double cutaway track workout for me: 2000 meter (5 lap) cut-down run. You start at MP and then cut down 3 seconds per lap. I still need to figure out my splits with that, but I started too fast. Lesson learned. After that, 4x800 at about 10mile race pace and cut down 4-5 seconds each 800: 3:53, 3:49, 3:42, 3:37. All in all, it totaled to a 6.9 mile run. It felt great to get back on the track and do a workout like that. Also, the baseball team was out there doing stair workouts on the bleachers, so that was a good distraction while doing laps.