Oct. 27th, 2006 11:35 am
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A fellow blogger is pondering the things that make one feel strong one day while exercising, and then weak the next. It made me aware of how much I have learned about this puzzle from many years of rowing and associated activities (I could write pages and pages on the matter). What a tremendous gift.
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Well, this nasty head cold has me up and at 'em bright and early, so I suppose it's time to recount [ profile] kihle and my Sedona adventures in more detail. [aside: stupid head cold. It's the snotty variety. So disgusting and reminiscent of The Spitting Disease]

details and pictures under the cut )
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It has been interesting to see the highly varied reactions that friends and acquaintances have had when they hear that I have run a marathon or they ask about the marathon. So far, these reactions range from, "Who cares? You're crazy." to "That's incredible. I'd like to run a marathon some day. What was it like?" The thing of it is, I guess my reaction to the whole experience is shaped in part by the reactions of my social circle.

One of the most important components of a sport for me is goal-setting and goal-meeting. For example, I have an extremely hard time convincing myself to get out of bed and go rowing at 4 am if I cannot see some larger purpose behind it. On one level, sports should be fun to do. At the same time, sports can potentially help one develop into a better person. When I personally think about the marathon, I see the marathon itself as only one event in a larger process. I must also consider that [ profile] kihle and I sat down back in August to think about how we were going to reach that goal, the marathon, planning out our weekly runs and how we were going to keep ourselves motivated. There were some mornings during the training when I had a hard time getting up or a hard time completing the run. The 22-mile run that kihle, T and I completed in mid-December was just about as big of a challenge as the actual marathon.

The reaction that I have had to consider the most is the "Who cares?" reaction. I have been giving my housemates a hard time about this reaction because they did not deem it important to attend the actual marathon, although at this time I'm doing it mostly to be an annoyance. At the same time, getting that reaction and dismisssal from S last night made me extremely angry, which is why I am compelled to write this year.

On the other hand, I have greatly valued the moral support ( ) provided by both my fellow marathoners and the friends that came to cheer us on, as well as from more distant parties, such as my parents. With any goal, whether it's obtaining a Ph.D., learning how to knit, moving across the country, or managing one's finances better, it's important to have the support of one's community when one faces a challenge. The "Who cares?" reaction devalues one's effort and makes me wonder, if nobody cares, why even bother getting out of bed in the morning? Inasmuch as I have a hard time imagining how my actions might affect my placement in some celestial afterlife, I am nonetheless compelled to get out explore and understand myself and the world around me. Is it hope? Is it disillusionment? Is it a social contract of some sort? Is it a search for some ephemeral truth? Is it sheer entertainment and debauchery? Does it matter?

Actually, I'll tell you a secret. Shortly after I started training for the marathon, Zack went missing on Mt. Rainier and in the back of my mind I have dedicated the whole process and the run itself to him. In many respects, Zack was crazy, but he was a dreamer. Not only that, but he lived his dreams to the fullest. How can I not honor that sentiment?

It doesn't matter if it's a marathon (which has so many social associations/implications attached to it, after all) or just getting up and going for a walk, or committing time to becoming a better person in some other way, does it?


We did it!

Jan. 15th, 2006 03:33 pm
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I finished running 26.2 miles in under 5 hours. [ profile] kihle and [ profile] madondi and T were also all rock stars in the 2006 PF Chang Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.

Now we are all busy being gimpy and lying on the couch watching The Royal Tenenbaums. Hazaa!


Dec. 30th, 2005 11:16 am
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Well, I'm finally back on the running bandwagon, after an 11-day cold. I love running in Seattle. The air is so fresh and easy to breathe after the acrid Arizona air. The raindrops on my glasses are a bit pesky, but I can manage. I only ran about 7 miles this morning, but most of the run followed stretches of the Burke-Gilman trail that I used to run for high school crew. There's one particular section between the University Bridge and Gasworks Park that always reminds me of first learning to run. When I was a freshman in high school, I joined the rowing team because I loved water sports and didn't like running. Little did I know that rowers do a fair amount of running for cross-training purposes. Despite that fact, I stuck with it. I can remember those early days so clearly. I could only run about the length of a city block before I'd be winded and would have to drop down to a walk. One of my teammates, who was a runner, kept pace with me and encouraged me to pace myself. Gradually, I learned to sustain longer and longer distances until I could run the entire distance that we were expected to cover during practice. Back then, it was usually a whopping 3 miles.

I'm pretty proud of how far I have come since then. In college, it was a huge accomplishment to be able to run the entire Harvard Stadium (37 flights of 31 benches) without having to stop and walk. I'd walk on the way down, though, because of my knees. I also tested my limits by rowing continuously for 90 minutes on an erg (rowing machine) in a narrow hallway with negligible ventilation. This fall, I've pushed those limits quite a bit more, with the rowing marathon in September and now with the upcoming running marathon in January. It seems appropriate to come back to this place, where everything began, although somehow or another I always seem to manage to get sick right before a big athletic event. I think that on Monday I'll try to run 20 miles as the final long run before the marathon. I picked up some ever-tasty PowerShots (the PowerBar equivalent to GU), so hopefully this run will go a bit better than the 22 Miles of Doom a couple of weeks ago.

Well, I think it's time to be off to pursue other adventures today. And perhaps a bit of actual work.
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Back when I was growing up, my dad would take my brother, my sister and me on an annual bike ride called the Chilly Hilly. It was a well-named event. It took place in February and circled around Bainbridge Island, which has no shortage of impressive hills. It used to take us pretty much the whole day to complete the 33-mile bike ride, although things got better as we got older and faster.

Today's run resembled the Chilly Hilly in a couple of key aspects. We arrived at the starting area (a place called Betty's Corral) before sunrise and were quite grateful for the campfire that Betty provided. After the gunshot (and some said they thought it might have been a real gun, but I think it was the usual starting pistol), some 30 or so people took off along the 22-mile course which was, yes, quite hilly.

I think the run went pretty well for me overall, although a muscle in my calf complained so much that I had to walk the last 2 or so miles, and of course the whole thing took me a loooong time because it was so hilly--4 hours, 42 minutes, and 14 seconds. On the other hand, I did a test-run with the iPod nano, which made me exceedingly glad that I didn't get a larger iPod. It was nice to be able to listen to music, especially while struggling up a couple of the bigger hills. I also enjoyed some quiet time as well, for the record. The desert area where the event was held was beautiful, and I think the route would have been fun to bike along. Probably the most frustrating things were the ATV's that zoomed about, creating massive dust clouds that us hapless runners were forced to inhale. My lungs appear to be pretty sensitive to dust and such, so I've been mellifluously coughing and hacking away. Yum.

And that is all for now, for now it is time to go to [ profile] kihle's house to watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice! Whee!


Nov. 25th, 2005 04:58 pm
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So I just went to Performance Footwear, one of those places that analyzes how your feet move and then helps you locate appropriate shoes. Back in high school, I had a bit of a problem with a knee at one point and went to see a sports PT, who said she thought I was over-pronating and recommended insoles. So I've been operating under that assumption for quite a while now. Well, as of today, it appears that I neither pronate nor supinate--my legs line up perfectly over my heels. How interesting. So I bought a pair of shiny silver and purple shoes, and will give them quite a test run tomorrow. I wonder what my mother the PT would conclude if she were to do some gait analysis on me.
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Well. I did a lot of running this weekend. It was quite crazy. On Friday morning, I got up after not getting enough sleep and went down to the boathouse to row. By the time I reached the far end of the lake, I decided that the flashes off to the west were in fact lightning, so I had to race back to shore relatively quickly. In a world of ambiguities, one thing is certain: Don't mess with Mother Nature.

Then I headed home again and got ready to head to the lab. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Friday was a holiday, but not for the Fewell lab. If anything, we were more busy than we are on a regular working day. First I collected leaves to feed my ants, and fed them. Then we all helped JW work on his dissertation defense talk--that took a good two hours. Then high-maintenance Eric defended his senior honors thesis. Afterwords, JF remarked that I had, in that moment, earned my RA funding. Hmm. Yep. That was but one small sliver of the enormous research pie that I have been feeding upon.

I was a bit peev'd by the honors system here at Ariz State U. Back at my esteemed undergraduate institution, honors theses were graded--one could earn thesis honors, high thesis honors, or highest thesis honors. ASU apparently believes in a lumping system--thesis honors are thesis honors. No distinguishing between polished academic gems and rough-hewn granite. For while HME did an adequate amount of work to earn thesis honors, he most definitely did NOT earn high or highest honors. I must be honest. And I must be happy to have less high-maintenance worries. Bleaugh. One thing is certain--I will never allow a student in my charge to complete a research program that rapidly. One summer and one semester are simply not enough time to teach research fundamentals to a person who walks through the door absolutely clueless about research.

Oh well.

Then I attended a lecture by a visiting German (on ant endosymbionts--cool critters living in ant guts) and learned about ant farts. Nifty. After that, [ profile] kihle and I headed out for a birthday camping celebration (I heart camping). So that was Friday through mid-Saturday.

I spent Saturday afternoon running. Three hours and twelve minutes of running, with a few short breaks for stoplights/etc. I ran about 16 miles. It was not pretty, but I did it. When I got home, [ profile] figment80 and [ profile] teague_o were making penne with vodka sauce--heavenly. I ate a lot of food and then went to sleep.

Sunday morning, I woke up and headed off to the Phoenix New Times 10k. I was convinced I'd be running ten-minute miles, but as it turns out, I ran 9:13 miles. Not bad.

So. 22 miles in a weekend. I'm beginning to feel a bit prepared for the marathon in January, although it's clear that I really slow down as the miles increase (10-minute miles=2:40 minutes for 16 miles, 32 minutes faster than my run). Not that it really matters, since my primary goal is just to finish the marathon. It just takes a lot of patience to put in that kind of mileage.
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This morning I dropped a butter knife on the kitchen floor because I was in too much of a hurry. It made the loudest, clangingest noise ever. I was trying to be quiet, really I was.

Yesterday before I went running, I contemplated putting on sunscreen, and then I didn't. Today I have the most impressive tan lines ever. Okay, maybe it was more impressive when I had both a sock tan AND a sandal tan a couple of years ago. But I've gotten many more comments on the present tan lines so far. I shall have to run all covered up in the future to prevent the bad tan lines from worsening.

I made heaps of Indian food for dinner last night--channa daal curry, a red lentil dish, raita, parathas (did you know that Pilsbury makes Indian bread products?), and rice. I will have to post recipes soon--the red lentils and raita were spectacularly good (more new recipies out of the new Indian cookbook). A couple of friends came over and we all ate and ate and ate. It was so good, and there were no leftovers and everybody had enough to eat. Amazing. Afterwords, we played a game of Scrabble and I was able to spell the word SCABIES, using all 7 tiles, including 2 blanks. Later on, somebody else played HIVES, and eventually NIT. Talk about a good Scrabble game theme--skin problems. Amazingly, I managed to do all that and wash the dishes and still get to bed in time to get up and go rowing this morning. And then I dropped a butter knife.
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In the past three days, I have managed to spill food on myself during six out of the past seven meals I've eaten. I think it's mostly because I've been a wee bit on the tired side. Nonetheless, it's an impressive record so far.

In other news, I ran the Race for the Cure (breast cancer...because who doesn't like boobies?) this morning--3 miles in 26:32.11. Apparently I can run faster than I thought I could! It felt good to stretch out a bit after yesterday's long run, and it was nice to feel like yes, I can be a runner, not just a rower. What with getting back on the water, the differences between the two sports are pretty salient for me right now. For instance, it's much more apparent to me just how difficult rowing can be from a cardiovascular standpoint relative to other sports; it takes years to develop the solid cardiovascular base and discipline that rowing demands.

Rowers and runners are also built completely differently--rowers tend to be much bulkier, while runners tend to be almost spindly--that has everything to do with the nature of the activities--the one being low-impact and more dependent on strength; the other being high-impact and dependent on quickness. While I think that rowing is the more demanding sport overall, I can still complete a rowing marathon without much immediate training, while the running marathon is going to require months of preparation because my body isn't used to the motion.

Ah well [why am I so fond of inserting phrases like that?].

There are chores to attend to, and the manuscript of doom deserves some more attention. Until next time, then.
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Yesterday was hectic. But I did learn that Jesus loves me, and it was nice to hear my advisor's advisor give a talk--he's a great speaker. The ants all got fed, so the world can go on for at least one more day. By the end of the day, I was tired of organizing things and tired enough to be incoherent. Oh well.

This morning, I got up early to row with the people that I'll be racing with at the Head of the Charles. While it was fun to finally get back on the water yesterday morning, this morning was more fun--the other rowers in the boat seem like cool people, and I think we'll have a good time in Boston.

Immediately after rowing, I biked over to Papago to meet my fellow Desert Strudls (running training buddies) and D to go for a run. After some initial mix-ups with respect to location, we all made it to the same parking lot and went on a long run--11 miles. The longest run I have ever done in my life. Of course, I could have said the same thing about the previous long run. I guess that's the point of this whole process, right? We ran along some of the canals in Phoenix, and passed by the Arizona Waterfall--an entirely manmade waterfall in the middle of a manmade canal system. I guess they're trying to make the whole canal system more accessible to the public or something. It kind of reminded me of the Cedar River Watershed (was that what it was called, Mom?) Visitor's Center, which was, of course, much cooler because it featured a set of drums that were drummed upon with carefully timed spurts of water.

After all that, we came back to my house (bouncy, bouncy) and ate some delicious waffles with fruit and whipped cream (or, rather, blended cream, which verged on butter).

More adventures were had, and work was generally avoided. Tonight I will make some peanut sauce and then sit around and watch Puma Man and eat ice cream.

More Saturdays should be like today. I have to do a lot of work tomorrow. Ugh.
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Hoo boy. I think I had caffeine just a little bit too early this morning. After running this morning, [ profile] kihle and I went to a little Japanese bakery for espresso and breakfast. It was super-cute, and the people there gave us some free samples! The espresso was actually pretty good, too, which is heartening. I didn't make it that far on the run this morning--I'm definitely feeling like an old lady these days. First it was my knee, then I pulled a calf muscle, and today it was shin splints. That, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am doing a grand total of one (1) running marathon. I'm just not built for running.

Now rowing, on the other hand--so you'll recall from my previous post that I bought a plane ticket to Boston for the Head of the Charles just yesterday. This morning, when I checked my e-mail, I discovered that I have received an invitation to race in a boat! I must be psychic. It won't be the most amazing or fast boat or anything, but it should be fun and it will get me better connected with the team that I just joined. The person who heads the team also said that there's another young rower that I might be able to team up with for future events, which is also great.

Anyhoo, now for more fun stuff--pictures! Here's a link to the Wet Beaver Creek gallery. I mixed in some old pictures from the last trip along with the new pictures from this trip. There's a super-cool picture of a velvet ant in there, so take a look. Yes, I'm an insect nerd.

Also, there are some pictures of some tasty items from Lee Lee's behind the cut, nicely modeled by [ profile] kihle. Enjoy!

Read more... )
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I'm a wee bit tired, but should probably update while the day's adventures are still fresh on my mind. It was one of those days when I should have been getting work done, but playing hooky was so much more fun. A group of grads and I went up to Wet Beaver Creek this morning. A couple of us are training for a marathon in January (I think I've mentioned this before), so the trip's goal was to give us a chance to complete a long run in a new, fun, scenic location. Okay, it wasn't all that new--I had been up there earlier in the summer--but still much newer than our regular loop in Papago Park.

We got off to a bit of a late start, and reached the trailhead at about 11:00. The runners took off right away, and rather quickly left me in the dust. I'm used to that by now--I'm definitely not running the marathon for time, so I'm in no hurry while I run. Unfortunately, the other runners were a bit too far ahead when T described the trail to them, so all I caught was, "Always bear to the...and follow the creek." I missed a rather crucial directional term somewhere in the middle. Since the creek was to our right, I assumed that meant to bear to the right and thus I ended up on some rather overgrown, uneven trails. I was still right beside the creek, though, and the final destination was right by the creek, so I figured I'd just meet up with the group at the end of my trail, where hopefully it would join the other trails.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but I eventually turned around and got back on the right trail and all that. It just made the whole running route a bit more interesting than necessary. We had a nice lunch and swim in a couple of the main swimming holes on the creek, and then headed back down the trail to the cars.

It was a good run overall, but now I'm tired and have a lot of work to catch up on. Oh well. Hopefully I'll upload pictures shortly.

Oh, and in great contrast to my recent resolutions to give up gossip, today we decided that there isn't enough new gossip in the department at the moment--the same old stories keep getting told. So I guess it's time for me to get back to work and generate more gossip. Or else that task is up to you, O loyal reader. Sally forth and do something interesting and tell me about it so I can tell stories about you!

In the meantime, I think I shall read a book and go to sleep. There is much to do in the morning.
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The other day, a student asked me if I could help him solve a partial derivative. I was ashamed to admit that I have forgotten much of the calculus that I have learned. There's something in my head about "Up-d-down plus down-d-up all over down-down," but that's about it. I also had a student ask about first-order vs. second-order chemical reactions, and I could help her out a little bit more, but not much.

Why oh why did I spend so much time learning those things if I can't remember them anymore?

Anyhoo. I went on a nice (approximately) 7-mile run with [ profile] kihle this morning on South Mountain. It was surprisingly cool out. We glanced at some maps before setting out, but they didn't do us a whole lot of good, so we ended up running in a wash and on rocky rocks and up a steep little hill. But that kept things pretty entertaining for certain. Then we went to Wildflower Bakery for brunch (hooray brunch!) and began to plot and scheme our upcoming pre-marathon activities. I'm looking forward to having more cool mornings for running, and am really enjoying this training process. I know I'm still the slowest runner EVER (okay, maybe my uncle F wins that one), but it'll be sweet to reach that goal. I'm SO on that rocket.

And now I'm sitting in my office, grading homework assignments. Grading is extremely dull and tedious. Thank goodness this is the only homework assignment I'll have to grade, and thank goodness there's only 25 of them.

After all that, I'll head back home to make stir-fry with peanut sauce and scallion pancakes. Oh slurp! Oh, and for my mother, here's a link to the recipe that I posted in May. Dad, make Mom read it and make it. Even a half recipe should be plenty. It's yummy beyond belief.


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