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Posts Tagged ‘a little competition is healthy right?’

When I was younger, I used to get a little bit embarrassed by my dad.

(Sorry, Daddy.)

  • It wasn’t because he answered our home phone with, “City Morgue, how can I help you?” or “Pizza delivery!
  • It wasn’t because he made the same “punny” jokes over and over.
  • And it wasn’t because of the numerous nicknames he called me (most of which I actually like).

It was because of his sports spectating style. Softball specifically.

Let’s keep two things in mind:

1) My dad has been playing baseball or softball pretty much his entire life. He’s clearly familiar with the rules. He knows he’s right.

2) The slow-pitch league I was in was for girls about 8 to 10 years old, I believe. It wasn’t known for being overly intense.

Enter Daddy.

From any position on the field I could hear him arguing with the umpire over balls and strikes. I could hear him arguing the merits of playing with the infield fly rule. I could hear our coaches asking him to sit down, please.

And, on several occasions, I could hear the umpire warning him that he was close to being tossed.

On those occasions I would see him bite his tongue and stalk away, contenting himself to watch the rest of the game from outside the fence, where he could yell freely.

Remembering that, and knowing my own competitive streak and tendency toward argument, I’ve promised myself that I wouldn’t do that to my future children. But I may have spoken too soon.

Last night I went to my husband’s (!!) baseball game and found myself moderately channeling my father. I vehemently disagreed with certain balls and strikes, and was yelling, “That’s b- !” before I remembered that I was sitting next to two children.

I grumbled about certain plays that should have been outs and paced in the stands from about the 6th inning on. Unlike my father, I didn’t speak with the umpire directly, but I also try to avoid confrontation in general.

Confrontation aside, I fear that I could eventually be *that* parent.

It’s possible that this will all be a moot point, and that when it’s my kids I’ll just enjoy the game and not worry about the missed calls or ridiculous strike zones.

But based on family history, I highly doubt it.

*I should note, just for clarity, that I would neverĀ ever yell at the kids themselves. And you can bet my inner Mama Bear would come out if any other parent did. Like this.

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My dearest Phillies,

I have but one request for you this weekend, and it is simple: please do not get swept by the Nationals.

I understand that they’re looking pretty good so far. I can admit that Harper is fun to watch. And you’ll forgive me if I still have a soft spot for Jayson Werth and his beard.

I’ll use any excuse to put this photo in a post. Even if the facial hair isn’t current.

BUT you have to win this weekend – at least one game.

They’re trying to psych you out with this “Take Back the Park” campaign, but I think we all know that the fan ratio will still be in Philly’s favor.

And don’t you want to win for your traveling and transplant fans?

Now, I’ll be honest. It probably wouldn’t be my choice to have Kendrick facing off against Strasburg, but maybe you’ll surprise me. Maybe you’ll score the way you did against the Braves. Stranger things have happened. (See: Nationals in first place in the NL East.)

I also want to take a moment to apologize. I won’t be able to be at the games this weekend, because I’ll be back in the hometown (running Broad Street!) where you know that everyone will be rooting for you.

I will be cheering my little heart out, possibly with obscenities, depending on how everything unfolds.

So please, guys, please make me proud. I really only want to use obscenities in a happy way.

Love,

Elizabeth

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Black Friday used to be a noble tradition.

You would scour the circulars leading up to Thanksgiving so you had a game plan. Play the odds and plan a route. Forget Risk (which I never played); Black Friday could be its very own strategic board game.

Getting out the door by 4am was a challenge. You had to really want it. Because, sure, the easy option would be to sleep off Thanksgiving dinner, but if you wanted to be a hero, you got your butt up early and were back in time for brunch.

(And maybe you left your bags in the car so your dad wouldn’t see exactly how much money you’d actually saved by buying so much on sale.)

Regardless, these were the rules of engagement.

And now the rules have changed.

It’s like a whole new world out there. I thought it was crazy two years ago, when stores opened at midnight. Only a couple hours to digest all that turkey? And what about all the wine that’s still in my system? Now we need to plan a DD for Black Friday?

I didn’t love it, but I did it.

This year? I refuse to participate.

Black Friday now officially starts on Thursday – on Thanksgiving, with several stores opening at 10pm. It’s too much.

There’s a piece in the LA Times that quotes a retail industry analyst: “Retailers recognize the importance of being convenient, and one of those conveniences is opening earlier so people don’t have to wait in line at 4 in the morning in the cold.

Here’s some advice: don’t be a baby. And bring some gloves.

The waiting, the freezing, the pushing, the getting separated from your mother and lost in Circuit City surrounded by crazy people just so you can get your brother a flash drive that he never uses – that’s all part of the Black Friday charm. It’s part of the challenge, part of the thrill.

And so, in protest (that I’m so sure will be noticed), I’ll sit this one out. It was a good run. Black Friday has been good to me. And it’s been a hell of a bonding time with Mama.

But I refuse to play by these new rules.

Thanks a lot, Wal-Mart.*

*And everyone else who changed the game.

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Leading up to Sunday, I told myself that Philly should be a fun marathon. No pressure. I’d already PR’ed twice, and I really just wanted to enjoy the run. That was my intention.

Photo Credit: Mama

But then, around miles 8 through 10, I realized that I was keeping a fairly steady average pace of just under 10:00. And I started wondering if I could keep that up for the entire race.

Photo Credit: Mama

The short answer is no. I couldn’t. I kept it up until about miles 20 to 21, and then I hit the wall. The weather was great; the course was beautiful (albeit, hilly); the spectators were loud; and the signs were creative. But my body knew that it was almost done for the year and it decided that it wanted to be done NOW.

So I pushed. I talked to myself. I sang out loud a little bit. I promised my body that we’d be done in just a few more songs.

Around mile 24, I wanted to cry, because every inch of my body was in pain, but I couldn’t. There was simply no moisture left.

Around mile 25, I turned off my music and let myself be propelled by the cheering.

And as I crossed the finish line, I acknowledged that the pushing was worth it, as I saw my third PR in three attempts.

Official time: 4:26:34

Once I’d finished my bottle of water, I did cry. But they were very happy, very exhausted, very proud, and very relieved (that I don’t have to do this again for a long time) tears.

Philly’s tag line was “Best:Time of Your Life.” And it was.

Literally.

Photo Credit: Harry

*Before the race started, BNF saw a guy with a sign that said, “On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re a 13.1.” As the sign guy saw him appreciate it and saw BNF’s marathon bib, he told him, “You’re a 26.2!”

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I could sit here and tell you all the things I loved about Chicago this weekend. And it would be a long list because the weekend was amazing, and MJ and I had a blast being tourists. But the best part of the weekend was the reason we were there in the first place.

The Marathon.

About 6:30am...

About an hour later, as we near the starting mat

In my last marathon I finished in 4:56:29 – a new personal record for me, beating my old time by more than two minutes. When I set my new goal of 4:45 to 4:50, I felt it was a stretch because I remembered what the previous marathons felt like; it was as if I’d been pushing myself as much as humanly possible.

Turns out, that may not have been entirely accurate.

When MJ and I lined up Sunday morning, I could feel the butterflies, and I knew I wanted the 4:45.

As we crossed the start line, I felt stronger than ever. We wound through the streets of Chicago, passing through neighborhoods full of spectators and supporters. There was cheering and singing and high fives. And I’ve never been more grateful for the signs reading, “Way to go, complete stranger! You look great!

I checked Guillermo each time I passed a mile marker, just to make sure I was staying on pace, and before I knew it I was building up a time-cushion. First it was just a couple minutes, and then by the half mark I realized that I was roughly 10 minutes ahead of where I should have been.

That knowledge, coupled with the encouraging texts from Mama, BNF, LB, and RB, was what kept me pushing through the end.

When other people were walking, I was getting messages along the lines of, “Run like Tony DiNozzo is watching!” How could I not get a little kick in my step?

In a race like this you can feel the energy of the finish line before you see it. The crowds get thicker, the cheering gets louder, and you find the reserves you thought you’d already depleted. And when I felt that, I sprinted.

When I crossed the finish line, Guillermo was practically beaming back at me.

Official time: 4:34:25.

Official feeling: Fuck yeah! (Followed quickly by the thought of – dear God, how am I going to do this again in just three weeks?)

Who knows – maybe the runner’s high will last until Marine Corps.

But even if it doesn’t, Guillermo and I will always have Chicago.

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When I first made my 25 for 25 list, I thought for sure that the running goals would be the hardest to accomplish.

And then I thought that maybe, just maybe, I could get my sub-10 average pace if I did a race that was short enough that I could essentially sprint the entire thing. So the boyfriend paced me for the Love the Run You’re With 5k, and it was a success! Check one more thing off my list.

What I didn’t expect was that I’d accomplish that sub-10 goal twice.

This past weekend was the National SunTrust Marathon and Half-Marathon. Last year, this race was my first marathon. This year I opted to “just” do half.

Photo stolen from the boyfriend; post half-marathon (as you can see by the medals)

My initial goal was to beat the time I’d gotten at the LA Half-Marathon back in January. I always run a little better in cooler weather, and I knew what to expect from this course. But then, as the race drew closer and my training runs were fewer and farther between, I amended my goal to just enjoying myself. Gotta love lowering the bar.

When I stopped just after the first mile into the race for a bathroom break, I was even happier that I hadn’t established a time goal. Because of course I’d never make it with a stop. So I just ran, enjoyed myself, soaked in the sun, and appreciated the spectators.

Eventually I started to realize that I was actually making up the time that I’d stopped. Guillermo was telling me that I was keeping a steady pace, complete with several sub-10 miles! And I thought, maybe, just maybe, I could still make my original goal of a better time than LA (2:15:55)!

The thought gave me a little extra kick in my step and propelled me through the slight rolling hills. I was also wondering, in the back of my mind, if I’d ever catch up with the boyfriend. He’d gained a lead since I stopped for my potty break, so I hadn’t seen him since just after mile 1.

That is – until mile 9.

I spotted the familiar jacket stopping for a water break, and I said hello with an encouraging slap on the ass, naturally. And then I kept looking, side to side, sure that he would be right next to me to run the remainder of the race. And sure that he would pass me. (I haven’t beaten him in a race since March 2009.)

Honestly, I was expecting him to come out of nowhere and pass me just as we were nearing the finish line. Instead, he caught up around mile 12.5 and we ran the rest of the way together. And it was the perfect way to end the race.

When I stopped Guillermo and saw my time, I could not stop grinning. To call what I was feeling a runner’s high is an understatement. Not only had I killed my 2:15:55 goal, but I’d also managed to do another race with a sub-10 average (even though that fact didn’t sink in until later)!

I ran this half in 2:08:38 – my second best half-marathon time ever, and definitely my Post-Injury Personal Record (PIPR, as I affectionately call it). And, if you subtract the 3 minutes I lost to the bathroom break, it’s my best time overall. Ever.

To be honest, I’m still on a little bit of a runner’s high. And if this high carries over into the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler this weekend? Well, who am I to fight it?

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Let me clarify. I’m not in any way bashing the new-ish Columbia Heights bar. I actually love it. This was my second weekend in a row at the place, and I’ll definitely be going back.

The first floor, even though there is a bar, has more of a restaurant feel to it. When we first walked in, we were a little skeptical as to the set up, as it didn’t seem very conducive to just hanging out for a few drinks. And then we went downstairs.

Do you remember that kid from high school who had the awesome basement? He had a pool table, probably one other game like darts, or air hockey if you were really lucky, maybe ping pong, and just a lot of open space for people to hang out and talk and play and drink?

Well, Meridian Pint is like that, but with much better beer.

The downstairs has pool and shuffleboard and multiple TVs. There’s room to sit and room to stand, and you never really feel like you’re overcrowded, though you know that the place is packed. And the beer selection is so diverse that you’d feel like you were missing out if you had the same thing twice. Not to mention that there are actually taps at some of the tables. If for nothing else, I’ll be going back to try that.

And with all of this praise, it may seem odd that I said that the best part was leaving, but let me explain: Meridian Pint hires pedicabs.

Not us, but you get the idea.

Apparently, on Saturday nights (I don’t know if it’s all weekend or not – or how long they’re doing it for), the bar hires to pedicabs to be on standby to take people home. If you decide to hop a ride, you’re only responsible for the tip. I know it sounds like there’s a catch, but we couldn’t find one.

Our group was eight, so we split four and four in the two pedicabs (though, I think they were made for a max of three each). And that would have been fun enough, because 1) it’s free, 2) it’s like riding your bike, without any of the work, and 3) it was too nice a night to be stuck in a cab.

But our pedicab drivers made it even better, because they indulged the drunks they were transporting (i.e. us) and actually raced the entire way to Adams Morgan.

I have to be honest, there was a little part of me that felt like I was in a chariot.

Regardless, the trip from Meridian Pint to Adams Morgan, by way of pedicab, was one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve had in DC. I would almost venture that Meridian Pint is worth a visit for that alone, but the overall atmosphere really does stand on its own.

So if you do go on a Saturday, and decide to try the pedicab, see if you can ask for Bryan. Because I don’t care what the other group says – we totally won that pedicab race.

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