Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The marathon debacle

On Sunday, I was supposed to run the Philadelphia Marathon. I had been training for the marathon for a few months leading up to my wedding, but I had slacked off on my training in the past month, mostly out of laziness and boredom. I know it's a silly thing to say, but getting past the wedding was kind of a bummer. I loved our wedding and our honeymoon (and I wanted our vacations to last longer), but it was something that I so looked forward to for so long that having it over and done with (and being put back in the same place I was before the wedding) has been a little bit hard, I must admit. So, I slacked off on my running (and a lot of other things as well) and I just wasn't sure about running the marathon. Then it turned out that Alex was getting job interviews in the Bay Area and he had to leave the day of the marathon (before it even started). I had asked him to run with me for a ways during the race, since I knew my motivation would flag at some point. So, then I just scrapped the whole idea of doing the marathon. I know that I can do it, if I put in the proper training, but I knew that I hadn't trained well enough. Anyways, I decided to show up the day of the marathon and just run the half. That's a distance I knew I could do, so I set out to at least try that. And let me tell you, I struggled from the start. It just wasn't my day. My feet were frozen from standing around for so long - it took me at least a mile to warm up my feet. My pace was too fast. I had to pee at mile 4 (and wait in a line for at least 5 mins). My feet and knees started to hurt pretty early on, around mile 6 or 7, and the hills (tiny ones) on the course were killing me. I ended up being at the back of the pack for most of my run, which is honestly a little demoralizing and totally not motivating at all. I finished the race with a burst of speed, passing by a man who had collapsed with 1/4 mile to go. I'm pretty sure he died. How awful, right?
I had originally signed up for this race as a challenge to myself. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something so crazy, so long, that I had the stamina and endurance to run a marathon. The truth is that I know I can do it, I just don't know that I want to do it anymore. I like running because it makes me feel good, it relieves my stress and it makes me feel strong and powerful. But I'm not sure I want that goal anymore, the goal of running a marathon. I think I'd like to improve my pace (I'd like to slip below the 10min mile, if I could). And I'd like running to not feel like a chore, like it has felt for a while now. I'd also like to do something else, like strength training and pilates and yoga. So, I think I will change things up this winter. Next winter, when we're in CA, I can train all I want. The cold/ice won't be there to bother me. But for now, I think running is going to be a 3-4 times a week thing, but with less focus on a goal and more focus on happiness. I actually think I learned more from not running the marathon than I did from running it. I need to change it up, refocus and gain back some of that joy from running. That will be my birthday present to myself!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Haiku Friday

Alex leaves early
Sunday morning for job talks
New labs, new prospects


The next week I leave
Headed to the same places
Job talks, interviews


Here's hoping all goes
Well - moving toward my home state
Family and friends!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Opinion Thursday*

*In an attempt to inspire myself, I thought I would write about my opinions on current events on a weekly basis...here goes!

Dismantling of Occupy Wall Street
I have to admit, I was unaware of the Occupy movement until maybe about a month ago. I the rush up to the wedding, I didn't really pay much attention to the news. I returned from my honeymoon to the growing media coverage of the Occupy movement and I was curious. The media portrayal of the movement has not always been positive, so I sought some answers from the Occupy movement themselves. There is an Occupy site here in Philly, and I've inadvertently been a part of their demonstrations (I'm everywhere, people). I've also read a bit of their tumblr site and the Occupy site. I must admit, I do support the Occupy movement. I've struggled a lot financially, and I think that my generation and the generations to come after us are going to have a harder time that my parents' generation ever did. By the time my parents were my age, they had both owned homes individually, and had bought the house I grew up in. Granted, I chose a different path, but Alex and I are nowhere near close enough to buying a home. In fact, we still owe tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. I understand that it was my choice to attend school and to take out student loans. I am not saying that I don't want to pay my loans myself, I am just saying that my generation is in so much debt (as compared to income) I cannot imagine us collectively pulling ourselves out of it. I also see the job market failing, the absence of jobs (for all ages) in smaller towns and cities, and the shipping of jobs overseas. I see health insurance and benefits being slashed (in a really short period of time, too). I also see an enormous lack of health care in all walks of life, even people with jobs. Granted, Alex and I are the intellectually elite, so we should have no problems finding the jobs we want at the institutions we want to work for. But I see other people struggle immensely. Most of my friends do not own homes. My friends that do own homes either live someplace really cheap to live or had some help buying their home, either from family or from buying at the right time. I don't think that Alex and I live extravagantly, yet we struggle paycheck to paycheck. The bills we have are rent, electric, gas, internet and cell phone service. We don't belong to the gym, we don't have a car. I can't remember the last time I went shopping for new clothes. The wedding hit us pretty hard, and we are struggling with credit card debt as well. We've been cooking at home more often, making large meals we can eat for a few days. I'm not complaining, these things are our reality. I see people way worse off than us, without health insurance, struggling to live. Unable to move up or down, left or right. I think the Occupy movement has brought all this to the forefront. I think people are talking about it more. I think we have a lot more awareness that policies that bail out big business hurt our own people. I think the regular person needs some bailing out, every once in a while. If not monetarily, then with some policies that help people get affordable healthcare, housing, or some necessities, like food or gas. I think we need some policies in place that protect the regular citizen, as opposed to protecting Wall St and big companies. I also think that the richer 1% should pay more taxes.
I can honestly say that I was really, really disappointed with the reaction to the Occupy movements. I mean, these are movements occurring not just in the US, but all over the world. This is a movement that encourages non-violent protest as a form of civil disobedience. I agree with that. I also believe wholeheartedly in the First Amendment to the Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
We have the right to assemble, and the right to protest. This idea alone is what bothers me the most. Even if this was a protest I did not agree with, I understand their right to carry it out. Peaceable assembly should not require permits. Assembly in a public space (I don't care that it's privately owned - it's a public space for all to enjoy). It concerns me that cops and mayors can make decisions to stifle this essential right. It concerns me. It concerns me a lot. And I don't think it's right.

Penn State Debacle
This will be shorter, I promise. I work with and know a lot of people who attended Penn State. It's a good school, with a good academic reputation. The football team and the coaches really concern me. The fact that a child would be raped on campus, in front of someone and the cops weren't called? That's a red flag. The fact that this behavior was ignored is so disturbing to me. Why weren't the authorities called? Why did the person who saw the act go home and make an appointment with Joe Pa for the next morning? What? These things are not OK, and it suggest a culture of insulation, a culture of, "protect football at any and all costs". Well, it cost you, all right. And you deserve it, Joe Paterno and everyone else involved. You deserve to lose your job. I don't think the football season should be cancelled, but I do believe that people need to remember that this is a sport. And that the kids at Penn State are rioting over the loss of a game, a sport. Think about it. It just aint' right.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • Well, it wasn't that eventful of a weekend, but it sure feels like it! On Friday, I was fortunate enough to meet up with one of my college roomies and her husband, kids, sister, brother-in-law and brother-in-law's mom for a fun afternoon of historic tourism in Philly. I had such a great time. I don't always realize it, but it's so nice to see people you know and who know you. It's great to catch up, and chill out. It was a pretty cold day, but they were troopers! And I really couldn't think of another way to spend 11.11.11!
  • One of my friends had her baby on 11.11.11! A little boy - so cute! Enrique...I think I might call him Ricky-cito :)
  • I spent most of the weekend around the house, doing errands and cleaning up. I think it's literally the first weekend I've been home in months and honestly, it felt great to be a little lazy, just hang out and do nothing. 
  • We're on a cooking kick. We're a bit in debt from the whole wedding thing, so we've decided ot cut back on eating out, and cook more at home. With our busy schedules, the best bet for us is to cook something pretty big and then eat that for a few days. This week, it was lasagna, which turned out amazing. We made two batches, and we should be able to feast off it for a few days, at least. I also made two pumpkin breads, a double batch of hummus, and I am attempting a sourdough starter. I hope it works!
  • We also used a Groupon that I bought for a "Ghost Tour" of Philadelphia with a group called the "Spirits of 76". Get it? Haha, right? So, in case you didn't know, I am into ghost stuff. I don't know that I am a "believer", but I love ghost stories and spooky things, just like when I was a kid. (Although, as an aside, I don't really love "ghost movies" unless they're really well done. I loved The Sixth Sense, but the Paranormal Activity movies? Not so much. I do, however, love Ghost Adventures, which I know is a completely stupid and useless reality TV show. I can't get enough! I realize I have a problem!). When I went to Scotland with my parents over ten years ago, we took a ghost tour of the Edinburgh vaults, these regions of the city that are literally a city underneath the city. Yeah, Ghost Adventures went there - they caught some amazing stuff on camera, which I love. Anyways, we had this amazing tour guide - a really spooky man who totally acted the part. They took us into the vaults and we heard sounds (a child, specifically) and I felt something brush up against me (a dog, I thought at the time). They had candles, and shut them off in the middle of the tour, making it pitch dark. Edinburgh is full of spooky, haunted tales, so it was a wonderfully spine tingling tour! Fast forward to Philly, 7:30pm in Old City. We get this bubbly, cheery young woman as our tour guide. She tells us tales that are "really sad, right?" and she expresses emotion about the ghosts. I'm a firm believer that once you start to think of ghosts as real people with real stories, that's when the "ghost story effect" ends. Of course, someone catching on fire on her wedding day (an subsequently burning the whole damn building down) is really sad, but I want to hear more about the ghostly tales - chairs dragged around, unexplained sounds, eerie footsteps, that kind of stuff. Instead, I hear about historic stories of the buildings, with little or no emphasis on "ghostly encounters". I hear about "a lot of bodies buried here", but nothing of any encounters or anything interesting. A big disappointment. The one thing that I thought was funny was as we were standing in front of Independence Hall, a light kept flickering on and off, over and over again. I'm unsure if someone was playing a joke on the security guard at the door, or whether the wiring at the Hall is pretty faulty, but I thought it was pretty funny. I would imagine Benjamin Franklin would find "elecktricity" quite interesting - perhaps he stopped by to play?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Numbers

  • This weekend was a doozy, folks! We had our first ever Showcase Performance for our dance school. We danced a tango to the number from Chicago "He had it coming". It was a lot of fun! We performed at this school auditorium, which brought me back to my days at Hueneme Christian School, when we did our Christmas plays at the Oxnard Auditorium. Yeah, I was big way back then :)
  • We also rented a car and drove all over the area to run some errands. One day, I would like to rent a car to do something fun, not just run errands. We drove around Northeast Philly - not much there,  people. It's like an area that was built before there was the idea of strip malls, so nothing is coherent or makes sense. There are also lots and lots of row homes, which, for some reason, reminds me of housing on the base. However, for all our driving around, we only went through less than four gallons of gas. Not too shabby!
  • On Sunday, we hit up Wegman's, my new favorite grocery store. It's kinda like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Vons all rolled into one. It's got the cheaper store brand foods that are really good (and generally organic or healthier) plus a specialty store with good cheeses and breads (if you're into that stuff). They also carry all those brand name things, so you can get your Ragu or whatever you might be looking for. Love it! They even give double coupons! Oh yeah, I'm eighty.
  • I also spent an exorbitant amount of time at Bed, Bath and Beyond. That place is sometimes the armpit of hell. I circled the store approximately three times. I went to try to get some of the remaining things off our registry, as well as use up some of the gift cards we got for our wedding. I had a cart full of things (mostly bulky items, not really heavy items - like two pillows, an ironing board, etc.) and I tried to take it down the escalator (they had an escalator thingy for the cart) and that bitch stopped! What? So, I had to carry all my stuff by hand - I looked like a total fool, with these huge bags dragging on the floor. Oh lordy. Oh well, don't think I will be back there again for a while at least. Next time, maybe I can go to a BBB that is not on the second floor of a building (for no apparent reason).
  • I next went to Macy's to try to return a gift and to use some of my gift cards. It took me forever to find the store. When I did, I thought it might be a nice store. It was at least six stories high, and seemed to be pretty old, which was kinda cool. However, they completely lack a home store. How can a Macy's be 6 stories high without a home store? The one in Philly is only 3 stories high and has a ton of home stuff. Guess that's where I'm headed next.
  • Today, we returned the car and ended up driving through Philly to drop off the car. It made me glad that I commute by bike. Even though I was really warm and toasty on the way to the rental car place, it made me appreciate that I don't have to deal with all the silly traffic and idiot drivers in the middle of the city on a daily basis. Thankful for my little 10 speed.