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Showing posts from January, 2007

How to Make a Scene

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On the way back from dinner in downtown Los Angeles last Saturday night, we saw the road in front of the hotel was closed and my husband surmised all the cranes, lights and ramps were setting up for overnight road work. Oh no, I said, this is LA. Someone’s shooting something. I was right. It was a crew for an upcoming remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and that night they were filming a pivotal crash scene. Another gawker and I befriended the set’s security officer, who gave us a bunch of his call sheets as souvenirs. Mine were scenes for an ABC show called The Nine (“The Nine? What the hell is that?” the cop gruffly huffed as he handed over the pages.) I also got sheets for an upcoming Will Ferrell movie called Blades of Glory . I let the other woman have the ones for this particular film because she’d already been standing around for 2 hours by the time I arrived. We chatted with one of the stuntmen, who explained both the “hurry up and wait” approach to filmmaking and how that

My 2-Day 20k

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I had my first “runless weekend” since late September and still returned home Sunday night with sore feet, tender shins and, a day later, flu-like symptoms. Using a street map’s legend, it looks like we covered a little more than 9 miles on Saturday and at least 4 on Sunday in shoes not designed for that kind of distance. There would have been more mileage, but we finally opted for the Metro train Sunday afternoon. Our first stop after arriving at Union Station was to find our hotel on the other side of town. This required us to walk through historic sections such as the touristy Olvera Street and the El Pueblo celebrated as the birthplace of the U.S.’s second largest city. From there we made our way through some sketchy sections of primarily empty shops, abandoned lots and makeshift homeless villages at that hour of the morning. Before long, though, the uneasy quiet of the unkempt gave way to a hive of activity: a colorful thoroughfare, where Latin music blared from open markets and

The Sound of Silence

I talk too much. I see friends’ and family’s eyes glaze over and still the verbal diarrhea doesn’t stop. I compulsively fill whatever void there is with speech. It’s maybe genetic because my sisters are the same, which is why it’s a really bad idea to invite us over if you’ve got a big announcement. We’ll commandeer the conversation, and not fill it with anything as earth-shattering. Work meetings? Don’t even get me started. In the parlance of my former profession, it’s bad risk management. The more I talk, the more likely I am to say something stupid, insulting or unintentionally cruel. I will say that running solo again is beginning to help me wizen up -- i.e., clamp the mouth more often. So let's hope this turn toward becoming taciturn continues. For society's sake. Despite my social defect, I amazingly didn’t make a British study’s Top 10 Most Annoying Noises .* Here’s a list of what did: 1. Vomiting 2. Microphone feedback 3. Multiple babies crying 4. Scraping of train w

The Hero in Our House

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I would have written this last fall, but Run DMZ was then on hiatus. The recent DVD release of the movie The Guardian gives me another opportunity to write this non-running post. ------------------------------------------------------------- My husband never liked to talk about his work. In fact he was so mum, and I so compliant, that I didn’t know until we moved to Kodiak that he’d signed on to be part of a helicopter search-and-rescue crew that plucked people from churning seas in the Gulf of Alaska. I learned from listening to the other wives that it was dangerous work. And I later learned from covering dramatic rescues as a reporter that I should have been at the air station when the crew returned or when the Commandant awarded them for going above and beyond the call of duty. (I found out about that one when I saw my husband’s picture was on the front page of the local paper!) One night in Kodiak he didn’t come home. And he didn’t call, which meant he was still out on a rescue miss

Scenes from Central California

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Driving up to northern California earlier this month, I saw all the icicles hanging off the frozen citrus trees and wondered if the crop was a goner. Guess so, based on last week’s news of major losses. I bought 5 navel oranges for $1 on Friday; word is they’ll be at least $1 a piece by the end of next week. Guacamole served at Super Bowl parties will likely take a bigger bite out of the food budget due to destroyed avocado crops here. It took me awhile to appreciate the quiet beauty of the vast agricultural land that dominates interstate 5 between LA’s San Fernando Valley and the wind farms and house-laden hillsides of the San Francisco Bay area, where we were headed. Rows upon rows of plant life are rarely broken up by buildings and billboards and as such, like the narrower highway itself, they seem endless. In the past few years, though, I’ve grown grateful for the change of scenery since these trips always heighten my appreciation for the people who help put food on our table. Than

My Article on Alford is Out

My piece on Alford Claiborne, a mega-marathoner worthy of anyone’s admiration, is in the January/February issue of Marathon & Beyond . Copyrights prevent me from republishing the piece in its entirety here, but I do have a PDF file I posted on the San Diego Track Club Wiki (link is on the wiki's Welcome page). I can also send anyone who doesn’t receive the magazine the file. Just e-mail me . Here’s the opening section to give you a glimpse: “What is that smell? Is someone smoking?!” Wherever he raced, the scent was hard to miss, let alone for Alford Claiborne to escape since the cigar he’d puffed produced the offensive plume. Donning his running bibs, including the Boston Marathon running number he’d earned through qualifying, the middle-aged marathoner sheepishly observed runners’ reactions and privately vowed that, as comforting as the occasional stogie may be, it was time to give them up. Backing up his resolve were two back-to-back bouts of bronchitis and a bet placed wi

Let's Help Gary Get to the North Pole

I don't know how many of you are familiar with Gary D. in Kentucky, but he'd like to boost his chances of winning an entry into the North Pole Marathon. I've followed his blog for awhile now and entries like the one in which he explains why he wants to do this are why I want him to do it too. After reading it, I hope you'll help put in a good one on his behalf as well. Good luck, Gary!

Chilling Out While Working It Out

I was running late and feeling frustrated when I headed out the door for track practice last night, hoping to recall a password while I ran my loops. I’d spent all afternoon dealing with some bloated e-mails clogging my Outlook account, only to be told by IT to go in through a backdoor and delete them. This required a secret code I’d long lost. Once I got to the stadium, I knew there was no way I’d be able to focus on a forgotten alphanumeric phrase. The workout: 8 x 400m with calisthenics and 100-yard strides between laps. In other words, we ran one lap at 70% threshold pace, then did 25 sit-ups, pushups or jumping jacks, followed by a 100-yard stride up and another back before turning right around and starting all over again. The best part: sharing lanes with about 250 others. Full concentration was needed to avoid collisions, one of which would have been my fault. It could have been even more crowded but the unusually cold temps here reduced the turnout. The only non-running thoug

Reading Redemption and Staying Abreast

Last time I was tagged for this, I was hard up to find a book within reach despite being at my work desk and despite me working for a book publisher. This time Beansprout' s tagged me and this time I have a book right here with the binding barely cracked. It's a non-fiction book about our culture's obsession with cosmetic (versus plastic) surgery. I'm hoping to discover why I can't stop watching Dr. 90210 no matter how hard I try. This is how it works: 1. Find the nearest book. 2. Name the book & the author. 3. Turn to page 123. 4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog. 5. Tag three more folks. Beauty Junkies by Alex Kuczynski When surgeons can collectively grow tissue in the breast, Teitelbaum says, patients may face less risk than if, for example, they receive breast implants, which can rupture and cause complications and must also be replaced every few years. "When we can control scarring we ca

The End of the Witch Hunt

Interesting responses, to say the least. Too bad you weren’t with me in the seconds I had to size up the situation. I decided to be honest and not risk this well-dressed, can-carrying, witchy woman also possessing clairvoyance. Or crystal meth. “I know who you’re talking about. And, yeah, she lives somewhere over there,” I said, sounding helpful while simultaneously pointing carelessly toward a long line of woods-bordered houses behind her. “Can’t help you any further. Sorry.” This seemed to satisfy her. She smiled, thanked me and turned toward the homes. I continued on, contemplating what might happen next. Should I call 911 for police? 411 for the nearest covenant? What if she started randomly knocking on doors, saying this lone woman runner sent her? Neighbors would narrow it to exactly two people on my street, and one always brings along her greyhounds. On and on I ran, wrestling with my overactive imagination and racking my memory for wisdom from a ‘working witch’ we’d met du

Another Run, Another Strange Encounter

It’s 5:30 on a weekday morning and quite dark, thanks to a heavy cloud cover obscuring the full moon. You intend to just run around your half-mile neighborhood block a time or two to warm up for in-home Pilates and yoga exercises. You step outside and notice a woman, mid 20s and well dressed, walking in the middle of the road in platform shoes. She’s sometimes shaking her long hair and waving her hands in the air as if singing to herself, but she makes no noise – except for the clunky shoes pounding the asphalt as she attempts to break into a run. One hand clutches a silver can most likely bought across the street at the 24-hour convenience store. You let her get a safe distance ahead of you before you take off for a slow jog. Remember, you’re just trying to warm up the muscles for your strength and stretching session. No need to rush. But eventually the two of you meet up anyway and she smiles and asks in a thick Slavic accent for directions to a woman’s house. You know the house bec

This Be a Bit Embarrassing

About an hour ago, finally catching up on other runners' blogs, I saw I was tagged by Chicago's very own Bubba to participate in another meme. This one involved locating the nearest book and reciting a passage. Why am I red-faced? I read this while at work and yet couldn't immediately cough up a book despite the fact, ahem, I work for a book publisher . I don't suppose anyone's buying that I just needed some professional distance from my work right now. Fortunately, my work space appears to be the only room void of the requisite reads. Here's how it goes: 1. Find the nearest book. 2. Name the book & the author. 3. Turn to page 123. 4. Go to the fifth sentence on the page. Copy out the next three sentences and post to your blog. 5. Tag three more folks. The Uses of Enchantment by Heidi Julavits (Which is excellent, by the way, even if we didn't publish it.) "Roz's earrings, long silver-tentacled things, reached nearly to her shoulders. One

Testing the Marathon Distance

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The San Diego Track Club’s marathon training program for the 2007 Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon kicked off yesterday, with the conditions ideal for running between 30 minutes and an hour around the track or Balboa Park. The high 30s/low 40s temperatures were a little less optimal if you happened to be setting up and serving countless cups of water and electrolyte drinks in a shady southeast corner of El Prado and Balboa Drive. [That’s me with Stephen B., the current vice president and volunteer coordinator whose contributions to this club are enormous. Thanks to Cindy E. for taking the photo!] My fingers stayed numb the entire time I was out there, thawing fully only after embracing a hot, frothy drink at a local Starbucks with some running friends after we all returned home. Part of that coffeehouse conversation focused on who’d returned and who hadn’t this year. A couple of newcomers apparently were overheard telling people they’d just run their first mile that morning. It seems a bit incre

Such a Sore Loser

If the last 24 hours are any indication, Wednesdays are gonna be a little rough for awhile. My midsection, particularly glutes, guts, hips, hamstrings and quads spent all day and evening in the throes of delayed muscle soreness syndrome following Tuesday night’s “basic training” of 12 x 400 with one-minute recoveries, followed by eight 100-yard strides and a series of abdominal exercises that still make me wince. And I even cheated: only six of the eight strides; some very obvious miscounting of 25 sets of rowing; and occasionally dropping to my knees for supposed lower back support during “push-up planks.” My defense is that I’m only human. I definitely have some work to do, but heading to Balboa Stadium while observing the sun’s spectacular descent over downtown, I vowed to stay honest and earnest this training season. To my credit, all 12 of my splits were within 4 seconds of each other, so I was consistent if not first – or anywhere near the front (or even middle) of the pack. Wh

Welcome to a New Day

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Best wishes to each of you in the coming year. May you reach every line that needs to be crossed.