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Archive for September, 2009

I don’t want this to sound like I’m gloating, because I’m not. Not really.

I understand truly disappointing and shocking losses. I’ve even witnessed a few (or too many to mention) in my lifetime. And so, I’d usually try to be sympathetic to Redskins fans after their boys lost to a team that hadn’t won since December 2007.

credit: espn.com

credit: espn.com

Or, rather, I would be more sympathetic if I didn’t get so much crap in this city for being an Eagles fan.

I understand it, of course. I don’t know how it is in other divisions, but in the NFC East the rivalries are extremely deep-seated. I once walked down the street with a friend, while I was wearing my Eagles jersey and he had his Redskins one on, and we were stopped by a stranger.

Whoa,” he said, “Redskins and Eagles? You guys know you’re supposed to hate each other, right?

Only on game day.

(For the most part.)

Skins fans – I can’t say that I’m truly sorry, because that would be a lie. Your losses can only help our ranking within the division. But I can say that I feel your pain – even as I laugh about it a bit. And, as the DCist wrote:

the Lions had to win sometime; it just so happened that it was against the Redskins…just remember: these types of stomach punches are kinda what make sports so good. The masochistic relationship we have with teams which make the high of winning feel that much better.

What a great consolation, right?

Stomach punches really put things in perspective.

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Much like a handshake, I think you can tell a lot about a person by the way they hug.

Think about it, taking the handshake first.

handshake

I know I’m not the only one who judges a limp wrist versus a firm grip. Too loose makes me wonder why you bothered to take my hand in the first place. But too firm crushes my fingers, and makes me think that you feel you have something to prove.

And the lingering handshake? Oof. That’s just uncomfortable all around.

Then there’s the hug.

It can be tricky, I’ll grant you, if you’re unsure where you stand with a person.

Do you even go for the hug in the first place?

Do you do like that ass-out hug? Where you like, you hug each other like this and your ass sticks out cause you’re trying not to get too close?

Do you do that one-arm hug where you’re kind of standing side by side, and you’re not sure how close you are/want to get?

Both of those say, I’m feeling a little bit awkward and uncomfortable here, and I don’t know where we stand, but I know we’re close enough to go for more than a handshake.

Or what about the hug and cheek kiss combo? If you initiate, it either says I’m a little bit old school or I’m trying too hard to be European when I’m not, depending on the rest of your demeanor. I don’t think I need to say that one is preferable to the other.

You have the all-over weak hugs, where you’re just going through the motions. But it’s pretty much the equivalent of the limp wrist handshake. You wonder why you bothered in the first place.

But then, with the right people, you have those big, squeezing bear hugs, that make you feel safe and enveloped. And that say “I’m so glad to see you,” without having to actually say anything at all.

hug-1

Those are the most telling – and the very best kind.

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I mentioned on Monday that I was waiting to post about the actual race last weekend. I’ve never been very good at waiting too long, so here it goes.

phillyexpo

This race was far and away one of my favorites. And it had everything to do with the course, the crowds and the weather.

The course, itself, was beautiful. We ran a few miles through the city, and then through more park than you expect out of Philly – even when you know it’s there.

phillycourse

And the weather? Perfect for racing. Chilly in the morning (which is to be expected when you’re up by 6:30am), and gradually warmer with every mile. If I had my druthers (what are druthers anyway?), every race would be like that.

But the crowds – it’s the crowds I’ve come to love. I’ve realized that races just aren’t the same without them. Because even if they’re not cheering for you, specifically, they really are cheering for everyone who made the commitment to run that distance that morning.

IMG_0448

There are little kids out there, cheering for mommy and daddy, and giving high fives to any runners that will reciprocate. There are friends, holding motivational signs, from “Your butt looks great!” to “Don’t let your nipples get chafed!” And you can’t help but laugh, and push just a little bit harder.

There are the other runners who finish, and come back to cheer, and even run alongside their friends, because they know how much it helps. (That said, if I had heard, “You’re almost there!” or “You’re so close!” One. More. Time…)

And there are the characters, who just get into the spirit of the city.

uswithrocky

How could we be in Philly and *not* get a photo with Rocky?

Finally, at the very very end, you have the prize. The Medals. That we just raced 13.1 miles to get.

phillymedals

And, let me tell you, wearing those heavy suckers felt amazing.

me_ivan_mj_phillyhalf

I almost can’t wait to do it again.

*Not a sign, but one of my favorite t-shirts that I’ve seen while running. I kind of want to make my own.

P.S. As an aside, even though my parents were waiting right along the finish line, they still didn’t get a photo of any of us crossing. I asked my mom about it later and she was shocked at how she could have missed it. And then she admitted, “Actually, I was waiting, and then the ambulance pulled up. So then I started looking for you in the ambulance.”

Thanks, Mama. Your vote of confidence is overwhelming.

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“What’s the best time for low, sustained, booming noises?”

“Ah, low, sustained, booming noises. About 9:00, 9:15.”

Apartment Building Management, please heed Steve Martin’s advice. I’ll even grant you an extra hour of working time, but there is no reason to start whatever it is that you’re doing before 8am.

  • I don’t like waking up to booming noises and not knowing where they’re coming from.
  • Actually, I don’t like being woken up by booming noises, period.
  • It disturbs me to be in the shower when it sounds like someone is about to slam through my wall.
  • And it throws me when I’m in the kitchen and all of a sudden I hear a crash, and I try to scan my apartment quickly to make sure it’s none of my belongings.

I know it sounds like I’m being high maintenance here, but we should be able to work something out. Perhaps a warning note next time?

Or just a later start.

Because early morning booming noises make me just a wee bit cranky, and cranky is not a good look for me.


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Dear Country Music –

We need to talk. I really really like you. You know that, right? Not only do you have an excellent showing on my iTunes, but also on my Recently Played list. So you know it’s not just an act.

When other people rag on your lyrics and your twang, I stick up for you. You’re my favorite genre to sing along to in the shower. I even love some of the slightly ridiculous songs – with the lyrics that everyone thinks, but no one else sings.

But, there’s a line. And it’s been crossed.

You started out slowly, just testing the waters. And so I let “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy” slide. It’s not one that I’ll download myself, but I’ll keep it on the radio if I can’t find anything better.

And then came “Ticks.” I’m sorry, Brad. I like you a lot; you’re very entertaining. I just can’t get  behind a song whose lyrics say:

Cause I’d like to see you out in the moonlight
I’d like to kiss you way back in the sticks
I’d like to walk you through a field of wildflowers
And I’d like to check you for ticks

But I continued to be a fan, chalking those two up to poor decisions. And who hasn’t made a poor decision or ten in their lifetime? I’m trying to be understanding here.

And then I heard this on the radio this past weekend:

She was rockin’ the beer gut and I love the way she’s not ashamed
Rockin’ the beer gut well it’s just some extra love around her waist
Rockin’ the beer gut she’s more than hot, she’s everything and with the blue jeans a little tight around her butt
Rockin’ the beer gut

You’re killing me, Smalls.

Sexy tractors, ticks and beer guts…it’s like I don’t even know you anymore, Country.

I don’t want to end this, so please, think about what you’re doing.

I’ll be here when you come to your senses,

Liebchen

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This past weekend was amazing, but exhausting. And I want to do it justice, so the race recap will just have to wait. (I know, I know – you’re so disappointed.) But we did have a somewhat interesting encounter at the race expo, the day before.

At the expos, if you’ve never been, there are booths set up selling all sorts of running gear, offering promo deals on upcoming races, showcasing new products, etc.

Not ours, but you get the idea

Not ours, but you get the gist

And there are also clinics and presentations put on by some of the VIPs of the running world. The one we got to see was John “The Penguin” Bingham.

From his website, just to give you and idea:

Once an overweight couch potato with a glut of bad habits, including smoking and drinking, at the age of 43 Bingham looked mid-life in the face—and started running. Since then, he has completed 40 marathons and hundreds of 5K and 10K races—and developed a whole new outlook.

If you’d asked me a year ago who he was, I’d have had no idea. Not even an educated guess. But he has a lot of good advice for both new and experienced runners, and he gave a great talk on Saturday. And he dealt supremely well with that guy.

You know that guy. The one who always has something to say on any subject. The one who fancies himself more knowledgeable than the experts. And the one who can’t seem to help but interrupt anyone and everyone – even himself at times. Because he really just wants to share his experience and advice – even when it’s not asked for.

Yeah, that guy was at the clinic.

thatguy

And during the question and answer portion, he asked John (the one who has written books on the subject), if he could give a little advice as well. John humored him, but that apparently just opened the floodgates. Every question that followed, That Guy had something to add. At one point, he proceeded to debate an issue that could have been opened and closed within a minute (maybe two).

You would think he’d get the hint if he had observed the crowd reaction at all. I know that MJ and I weren’t the only ones rolling our eyes and making the “really? you’re still talking?” faces. But if that didn’t do it, you’d think that this quote from John would have (after That Guy started to give more unsolicited advice): “Usually, I work alone.

Now sure, it was said in fun. But come on, buddy. Take a hint!

We walked away from the clinic, laughing about it, thinking how funny it would be if we actually did run into him the following day, in a race of about 16,000 people.

And as we left the race that next afternoon, who did we see, leaning against the fence, and probably passing on more of his so-called wisdom?

That Guy.

What are the odds?

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…until next time. Sorry – it’s just that season.

I know I mentioned it in an earlier post, but I have a race coming up this weekend that I’m ridiculously excited for.

Officially called the ING Philadelphia Distance Run, it’s a half-marathon in Philly that offers a beautiful (supposedly flat) course, with lots of crowd support and bands every few miles as encouragement. And not only am I excited about running in Philly (I may technically be a suburbs girl, but it’s still home), but I’m excited that this will be my first half-marathon where I’m officially timed.

You see, my last half-marathon was a bit of a debacle. You’d think, that for an annual event, they’d have the logistics down. But that proved to not be the case. We found out, right before our starting time, that the race permit obtained by the directors was for about 300 runners. And that they had allowed about 1000 to register. You see the discrepancy there?

And so the park rangers stepped in and removed the timing pad and the official clock. Excuse me? We were then informed that we could still run, but we had to remove our numbers, because this couldn’t be an actual race.

It would have been very easy to quit. To turn around, get in the car, and go back to bed.

BUT:

1) We were already there and ready and could, technically, time ourselves.

2) My parents had come down to watch me race, and I felt guilty about making them wake up at such an ungodly hour.

Pre-race. What a trooper. I don't know where Daddy was for this one.

Pre-race. What a trooper. I don't know where Daddy was for this one.

3) We were told that we’d still receive our medals.

That was really the selling point.

And so we ran, timed ourselves, and got our medals. But it didn’t feel the way a first half-marathon should feel. So I’m calling this weekend a do-over. The first one was just practice. On Sunday we’ll have actual crowds, water stops, clocks and official scores.

And, of course, a medal. Because that’s really the reason we do these anyway.

Success!

Success!

Happy Friday!

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writing

A little over a year ago, I was convinced to start blogging. After an August guest post for a friend, I remembered how much I loved writing and began toying with the idea of doing it on a daily basis. There were several email exchanges consisting of questions on my part (Can I really set the privacy controls so that no one can see? Are you sure?), and assurances on his (You’ll be fine. No one has to read it until you’re ready.) before I even signed up for a site.

And when I first started, I was on LiveJournal. Why? It’s hard to tell. No one else I knew used it (not that I knew many bloggers), and it wasn’t quite as user friendly as I’ve found WordPress to be. But I was doing it. I was blogging.

Since I eventually deleted my LiveJournal account, I don’t know the date of my first post, so, alas, I don’t have an actual “blogoversary” (*tear*). But my first post on WordPress was one year ago today, so we’re counting it. For me, the decision to switch to WordPress came hand-in-hand with the decision to be brave, put on my big girl panties, and make my blog public.

And I’m so very glad I did.

imbloggingthis

I’ve been writing more than I thought I would – or could, even. I’ve met people I never would have known otherwise. I have an outlet, if and when I need it. I thought that I’d run out of things to say, or that I’d just burn out, get bored, etc. but I haven’t. In fact, I’m shocked that a year has gone by so quickly.

So…thank you. Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for sharing. For commiserating. For laughing with (at) me. For celebrating. For letting me know I’m not the only one (for better or worse). For giving me advice. For allowing me to be schmoopy now.

I’m sorry, it happens. Just gotta let it out.

The point is: thank you. I’m so glad I started writing again. Even if it does mean that all my TMI stories are being shared with the interwebs.

Oh, well – small price to pay.

P.S. Just as a point of reference, this is my first post. How embarrassing…and my, how things have changed.

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Last night was the season premiere of The Biggest Loser. The middle of last season was the first that I’d gotten into it, so I was particularly excited to watch from the beginning this time around.

Particularly because the first thing the contestants had to do, before getting to the ranch, was to run a mile. And they were horrified. They were nervous, unsure of their abilities, and just generally not optimistic that they could finish the challenge ahead of them. And the thing is, I felt for them – I’d been there.

I know I’ve written about several races on this site before, so maybe that last sentence doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but hear me out.

Growing up, every year in gym class we had our physical fitness tests. We were evaluated on sit-ups, push-ups, sit-and-reach, and the mile. The first two were fine. (Yes, I took the easy way out with the “girl” push-ups.) The sit-and-reach caused my gym teacher to laugh at me because I was so very not flexible and could barely touch my toes at that point. (I’m significantly more flexible now. Thanks, yoga!) But that mile…god, how I dreaded it.

RPI Track & Field

We were all herded outside to the track and forced to run those dreaded four loooooong laps. And really, I should have been fine. I was young and healthy; I played sports. Four laps should not have been a problem. But they were.

At times, I had to walk. Sometimes I had to stop completely because I thought I was going to be sick. At the end, I would collapse in a heap, even after the teacher told me that it was better to do a cool-down walk. Are you kidding? I thought. I just ran a mile! Why would I want to walk more?

I’m fairly certain that the only reason I was never the last to finish is because there were always kids who walked the whole thing, not just certain stretches.

lastonestanding

Now, I run voluntarily. Not even that, but I actually pay to run races, and have my second half-marathon coming up this weekend! My high school self would have laughed at the very idea of it. I’m at a point now where I love running, and I miss it on the off days (and I even want to keep moving after I finish), but it took me years to get here.

Which is why I’m so impressed with what these contestants can accomplish in the course of a season.

And why I can’t wait to see how it goes.

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Having spent four years in Baltimore for undergrad, I’ve always considered myself lucky that I escaped relatively unscathed. I was never mugged; my car was never stolen (or damaged, in any way); no one ever broke into my apartment. You might think these things are a given, but when you see new notices every morning about muggings, break-ins, and students being pistol-whipped you start to reconsider.

Crime_Scene

Regardless, during those four years (and even now, occasionally, when I walk home alone in DC), I thought about how I would/should react to a threat. And, while it’s a lesser threat now due to the security in my building, I’ve also thought about what course of action to take should I encounter someone in my apartment.

A samurai sword is not the first thing that comes to mind – and not just because I don’t own one.

Confused? I understand. Here’s where that came from:

“A Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword killed a man who broke into the garage of his off-campus residence early Tuesday, a Baltimore police spokesman said.”

“The student told police that he heard a commotion in the house and went downstairs armed with a samurai sword, Guglielmi said. He saw the side door to the garage had been pried open and found a man inside, who lunged at the student.”

samurai sword

Now, I don’t want to make light of this at all. I would be terrified if someone entered my home. If I came into contact with them and had a weapon of some sort, I can’t say that I wouldn’t use it in self-defense.

But, two things jump out here:

1) You’re an undergrad living in Baltimore. And, if you’re living off campus, you’re an upperclassman – which means that you have experience with this city. So why investigate a suspicious noise on your own? I know the police were called, but I’m unclear on the time line. Maybe it’s just me, but my first instinct would be to get out.

2) Who has a sword? Or even, who has a sword that’s sharp enough to nearly sever a hand? It could be my own ignorance, but I always thought a) if you had a samurai sword (especially at this age), it was probably a collector’s item, and b) that those blades were fairly dull. Because who would ever have to actually use them?

In the end, like everyone else, I’m curious to see how this will turn out. How will the student be charged? Or will he?

Maybe it’s a clear case of self-defense. Maybe not.

But I’m still thrown by the sword.

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