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Showing posts from January, 2006

A Stroke of Stupidity

I'll soon be posting on another acclaimed film -- and this one with a running angle -- but in the meantime, I wanted to share a story on Slate magazine about the federal government's battle with search engines to drill down into their databases for terrorist activity touched off by "Bush better behave" and other incriminating keywords. In the piece, Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu questions whether the ire being directed at the White House for requesting the data should really be aimed at Google and Yahoo and others who have tracked and tucked away every search each of us has ever made. Now, I don't know about you, but I've already come up with a convincing argument for why I needed to type in "Rob Lowe sex videotape" years ago (smiling wryly as I hit the "I Feel Lucky" tab to narrow my search). How 'bout you?

Roger & Me

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Last night I caught the last 5 minutes of "At the Movies" with Ebert and Roeper and was delighted to see both had my favorite movie of 2005 in their top 3. Roger Ebert even ranked it No. 1 . If you haven't seen Crash , you must. Sure, all the buzz now is about Brokeback Mountain , but Crash is one of the best written, directed and acted movies I'd seen in a long, long time. Very powerful.

Rising Above It All

It’s all good again. Thanks to that snow-filled, therapeutic run and the encouraging comments (thanks to every one of you!) that followed my writing about it, I privately forgave all the slights and sour remarks and vowed to watch my mouth. In turn, the week indeed improved, as I hoped it would, with a terrific dinner with true friends, a decent night’s sleep and hugs all around the office before I left for Logan International Airport on Friday afternoon. As I write, my dirty underwear is in Denver and my damp Sauconys are probably molding while enroute to Los Angeles, not San Diego. To top it off, I didn’t get back in time for this morning’s Legoland Run that I was so looking forward to doing with our marathon training group. Worse yet, there is one guest speaker that is a must for me and, naturally, former Olympian and cancer survivor Steve Scott picked today to give his pep talk. Yeah, yeah. I’ll live. So here’s how it came to take an extra day to get home. Shortly before I was

Snow Therapy

No one knew. Not the employees I’d unintentionally slighted to the point that they now ignored me. Nor the editors I’d annoyed all afternoon with my know-it-all comments, or the higher-ups who gave each other ‘the look’ when I turned to join the group. And especially not the pretty young things I’d overheard make fun of me at that night’s office party. All these incidents were carefully cataloged behind laughs and smiles, only to be called up all night long while in the bed next to mine a pregnant colleague slept off a lukewarmly received karaoke stint that I had encouraged. By early Wednesday morning, disappointment had settled into dread. Soon as I could, I dressed in the dark, grabbed my hotel key card and headed out of the lobby doors for a second snowy run. As with the two previous mornings, this one seemed made for running. The air was calm; the concrete buildings and denuded trees softened by an ongoing sprinkling of snow. I started down a steep hill and slipped twice befor

Beer, Bowel Movements and Black Ice

My first morning in metro Boston, it snowed. Hard. It was beautiful, the way the white flakes thickly coated surfaces and muffled the foot and car traffic dealing with dicey pathways. It was still and clean and wet and wonderful. Unfortunately, I woke just in time to shower and head down to the hotel lobby to meet up with a shuttle to the new Boston Convention Center, the site of this year’s annual company meeting. I made a mental note to get a run in the next morning, no matter what, and during a break in sessions sought advice on a safe route from a seasoned runner on staff. That private declaration also meant I had to pace myself that evening at an after-hours party across from Fenway Park and a few blocks from Boston University, my graduate school alma mater. The nostalgia alone would normally lead to an over consumption of alcoholic beverages, but this time I miraculously returned to my hotel room sober enough to set my alarm for 6:15. The next morning, when other runners within

Me, a BoBo? You Better Believe It!

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In our marathon training program, we have a run leader known as the YeHaBo, short for Yellow Hat Boss. YeHas are experienced ‘thoners who assist the others training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, a good portion of whom are first-timers. We wear neon yellow hats to set us apart from everyone else. My friend Tara has been the YeHaBo for the past three years and last month asked for my assistance. She said I could be “the YeHaBo2,” which I then remarked translates to the YeHaBoBo. And so became my new designation. Remind me next time to keep my mouth shut. In any event, my Saturday runs will now be worth reporting because they take place in great locations throughout San Diego amongst wonderful company, and because I am confident they will include significant performance improvements over the next several months, culminating in qualifying for Boston in June. Or, at the very least, setting a new marathon PR. (Which, as I’ve mentioned before, is pretty much one in the same goal.) This m

Advice for Out-of-Town Racers

I'm hitting the friendly skies Sunday for a week of work in Boston. I'm bringing my cold weather running clothes...but shorts and T-shirt too for the hotel gym, just in case. I'm still fine-tuning my 2006 race itinerary to incorporate more races in places where I will travel this year for work. That's how Chicago ended up as my fall marathon. I love running in new venues, but I normally don't like to race in them because my delicate system's always thrown into chaos by the change in sleep, hydration and fuel patterns, not to mention the additional stress of not really knowing my way around town. Here's some great advice from our track club's nutritionist on racing in another town .

This is More Than You Need to Know

That Stefano . He "tagged me" as they say in the blogosphere with yet another questionnaire. 1) What were you doing 10 years ago? I was living in North Carolina, writing for the Virginian-Pilot and training for the Shamrock Marathon via the Northwest Distance Series (20k, 25k, 30k) of which I’d earn a plaque for placing second in my age group. Those were good times. 2) 5 snacks you enjoy? Potato chips Soft pretzels Cookie dough Cookies actually cooked Fresh fruit and veggies 3) 5 songs you know all the words to? “Fifty Nifty United States” (from the 3rd grade) “Rock ‘n’ Roll Part 2” by Gary Glitter “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush “Skinnamarink” by Sharon, Lois & Bram Every Joan Armatrading song on the “Me, Myself, I” album. (I guess that counts as more than 5 songs then, doesn’t it.) 4) 5 things I’d do as a millionaire? Worry about money a little less. Go to Costco a little more. Make a lot of unfortunate people a little more comfortable. Dread the April

Maybe This Is Why My Mail's So Late Now

Remember me telling you about the party last month for our retiring letter carrier? Well, a reporter from the San Diego newspaper covered the event and interviewed me. This Sunday it appeared in the Union-Tribune. Final Delivery: Retiring postman receives warm send-off from his Scripps Ranch route

Race Review: Carlsbad Half Marathon

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If I had looked at the asterisks in my rudimentary running calendar/log , I would have seen that this time of the month was also that time of the month. Thus, I made my way through the 13.1-mile Carlsbad Half Marathon course handicapped by hormones. That said, I still managed a decent finish on an absolutely perfect morning along one of San Diego County’s most scenic routes. Before I give you the rundown, a brief history is in order. The marathon/half used to be known as the San Diego Marathon/Half Marathon, and in recent years it’s had to compete with the much more glamorous Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons. Locals spoiled by the June mega-race sometimes find the expo, smaller field of runners and quieter course a letdown. And the race took a hit when Elite Racing decided the Arizona RnR version should fall on the same day as Carlsbad each year. But I’ve gotta tip my hat to In Motion, the event organizers. What this one lacks in numbers it makes up for in organization, personal attention an

Let's Raise A Cup to the Preferred Beverage

You're almost two miles into a 4- to 8-mile marathon training run on a cool morning in Mission Bay when you hit the first of two aid stations. You have a choice between a berry-flavored electrolyte replacement drink, which we call ERG, and water. Which do you choose? If you were part of today's Rockin' 'n' Runnin' training program, chances are you went with the ERG. And that surprised me. Because we're running in tomorrow's half or full marathon, a number of us volunteered to work an aid station today. Daughter Alex also pitched in to help keep people hydrated. During set-up, the two guys claimed we needed far more ERG than water; the other woman and I disagreed. But as the run progressed, we watched the red cups disappear at more than twice the rate of the clear ones. Now, keep in mind, it was rather cool (lower sweat rate) and most people were running 50 minutes at 10:30 pace or faster. And there was another water station ahead. And just in case yo

There're More Thoughtful Entries Coming, I Promise

This week has been a bear at work, with projects new and those I delayed all coming due. It's really made a mess of my days, evenings and digestive system. And it's mostly of my own doing, so I will not complain. Not much, anyway. Meantime, last night we went to my daughter's dance recital and on the way back we listened to an interesting radio debate over the literary scandal that erupted this week over the factual liberties taken by James Frey, the author of the best-seller A Million Little Pieces . I haven't read the memoir, and won't now, but I find the discussion highly interesting, especially Oprah's continued support for Frey's practice . I know some bloggers take the same tact with their entries, believing embellishment as a literary device is fine. But, quite honestly, unless you're extremely skilled, it's hard to pull off. People tend to take these things literally. For an excellent example of parody, however, I give you this hilarious sen

This One Fits Me to a T

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What is it about race T-shirts that makes them so hard to part with? If a mix-up hadn't inadvertantly halved my previous collection, I'd have race T-shirts overflowing from closets, hampers, dressers, plastic bins, laundry baskets and beneath beds by now. As it is, the shirts have taken over my wardrobe again and yet, when I go through my closet in search of items for a clothing drive, they remain untouched. Most also remain unworn. Shortly after we moved to San Diego, I went through some of the moving boxes and decided to part with about forty 5k, 8k and 10k T-shirts before they reached the bedroom. I was to keep any 10-milers and up and a few shorter distances that were firsts for me. The rest were going to the AmVets Thrift Store. It felt good to lighten my laundry load. Unfortunately, some Korean War veteran is probably wearing my Marine Corps and New York City marathon shirts, and a Vietnam vet is hopefully lovin' my favorite Charlottesville 10-Miler memento. I someh

The Source of Happiness

While I continue to dig out from the pile of work before me, and contemplate whether we can now legitimately make a federal case out of all those obnoxious sorts who post stupid online messages using aliases, I give you a provocative study on the source of happiness. Perhaps surprising to some, scientific research concludes that contentness and positive attitude lead to success in life, rather than the sum of successes creating happiness. Not only that, but if Mom's a malcontent, you may inherit that same sour outlook on life. For the dense version, here are the details from the academics . For the diluted version, here's an article by the Daily Telegraph .

These Flames Are Being Extinguished

I doubt many of you were aware that using the telephone or voice mail to chew someone out while posing as someone else is a federal offense. Even fewer are likely to know you now cannot "flame" -- that is 'annoy' someone online with vitriolic verse -- without coming clean on your identity. Politicians snuck a provision into an unrelated law designed to protect women against violence. CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh has the scoop .

Some Ideas for Those Seeking Fresh Starts

Remember me saying the key theme for my year will to pare down and therefore corral the chaos that tends to consume too many of my days and weeks? Well, I've gotten some ideas from a life hacker named Merlin Mann that I'd like to pass along. Merlin has a great blog/Web site called 43Folders that is all about making technology work for you, not against you as you sometimes realize it does. His entries this week are perfect examples, and his suggestions are well worth considering. He also has a humorous, insightful podcast on Fresh Starts & Modest Changes . Today's is to cancel something. Yesterday's was an excellent way to begin a new slate with an E-mail DMZ. Simple idea that simply needs to be followed, in my opinion.

Now That's a Mouthful

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The College Kid would kill me if I attempted to take a picture of her with her chipmunk cheeks today after undergoing oral surgery to remove four wisdom teeth. So, in her honor I'll post one taken in better days -- Christmas Eve. In between tending to her limited needs (she can be such a good kid when she wants to), I ran some errands and during one, a retired Navy captain noticed my Martha's Vineyard 20-Miler T-shirt (with the No Weenies logo on the sleeve) and struck up a conversation about running that lasted 30 minutes. He confirmed that rattlesnake nest I encountered at Miramar Lake this summer and recommended some other trails and a beach run between Torrey Pines in La Jolla and Jake's Beach in Del Mar. Said there's a new rec center with public restrooms and water that makes the perfect turnaround point. The only other item worth mentioning is last night I made the bullhorn. By that, the coach called me out by name on his megaphone during our track workout. &

A 'Free' Ride About to End

I'm down to days before my Type B running abruptly shifts into Type A mode. Rather than run when I feel like it, and for as long as I wish, I'll follow a coach's schedule and concentrate more on quality workouts of increasing duration -- done more frequently in the company of other marathon runners. I'll also now relate runs along scenic courses all over San Diego County for the next five months. I need to get beyond this love-hate relationship I have with structured running if I'm ever to move the PR marker in the correct direction. I think I'll get a head start and actually make it to the track tonight for the 12x400 workout someone mentioned today on our message board. Maybe I'll cut it short. Or maybe I'll go extra long. Might as well keep my options open while I can.

Well, At Least the Hokies Won Today

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I'm not off to the best start for the new year. First of all, I fell asleep at 11 p.m. on Dec. 31. Watching some countdown on TV Land. Then I failed to do the one thing I wanted this holiday weekend. We were supposed to climb Iron Mountain as a family, and when the hike was pushed to this morning we added friends visiting from Colorado. I discovered they were coming when one of them called from the 5 freeway, about 20 minutes away. I was still in my pajamas and the house was a wreck as I handed the phone to my wonderfully absent-minded husband with a dirty look and, later, a few choice words (at blood-curdling decibels). It poured on and off, so instead of hiking everyone sat around watching Virginia Tech win the Gator Bowl, eating pizza and listening to me monopolize conversations. It's one of the few areas in which I truly excel. Soon as Zach and Elena were out the door, I was on my work computer and, despite my resolve to work less, found myself working on my day o