About Me

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Runner. Nerd. Relentless reader and documentary watcher. Beer, vodka, and wine lover. Marathoner. Studier. Music Snob. Traveler. Chocolate lab owner.

Friday, August 27, 2010

An Accidental 17

My training plan had me due for a 12 mile long run last week. I had company coming to town and was planning to party most of the weekend, so I moved the long run to Thursday. It was finals week, so I planned on running the long route to school, and getting a ride home. I ran a great 12, took my test, and decided that I felt good enough to run the 5 home. For the FIRST time I am actually confident that I WILL be able to run a marathon.

Running has always increased my hunger, obviously, but when I kicked it up for marathon training I feel like I'm always starving. After this 17 miles I went out to dinner for prime rib, and I woke up at 2 am to eat the leftovers. This was a really exciting day for me, because not only was 12 the furthest I have ever ran alone, 17 was my furthest ever. My history only includes two half marathons, with the longest training run being 10 miles. I almost always run by myself. I like the feeling of empowerment I get after a long run like this knowing that I had no one to push me but myself. Anyway, here's the rundown from my run.

Once I get out of my neighborhood, the first 3 miles look very similar to this. Nothing but class.

I spend an unreasonable amount of time on this campus. As soon as I run past the hospital I'm in St. Louis' Favorite Park: Forest Park. Forest Park was the site of the 1904 World's Fair, and is 50% larger than Central Park. It has a golf course, driving range, Art Museum, History Museum, Science Center, Opera House, large greenhouse, a skating rink, a boathouse, and several various fields and courts. In short, it's amazing. I plan on running through the park for a more in-depth view another time.

Once I got past the hospitals and into the park, I ran right by the STL Science Center. For those of you not from STL, the Science Center is FREE! This excites the nerdy part of me, which is most of me, in fact.

It wasn't until my run that I realized that this wasn't actually an entrance to the zoo, just a creepy looking display on the corner. They had a great wine-tasting and live music event at the zoo last week, but because of finals week I didn't get to go. I went last year and yelled at some girl for being rude to my friend. The animals were better behaved than I was.

The Missouri History Museum is on the other side of the park. My roommate and I went here the other day, where I learned that there was a very bizarre Marathon ran as part of the 1904 Olympics-the first in the United States. How coincidental, that right as I'm beginning my marathon training, I find out that the first Olympic Marathon in the US was ran in STL in blazing hot weather on dusty roads! Of 32 competitors, the first person to cross the finish line was not the actual winner. According to one source, after 9 miles, he turned around and came back to collect his clothes. According to another, he finished most of the route in a car. The crowd mistakenly thought he was the winner, and he went along with the prank. He was found out and banned for a year, but won the Boston Marathon in 1905. The actual winner, Thomas Hicks, had been given drugs mixed with brandy by his trainers, and required immediate medical attention after finishing. Felix Carbajel, a Cuban runner, ran in street clothes, stopped in an orchard to eat apples which turned out to be rotten, laid down to take a nap, and still came in 4th place. I hope my marathon isn't quite the hot mess that this was.

40 minute carriage ride? Pshhhh...I ran here.

I took this picture on Lindell St, one of the more famous streets in St. Louis. It runs the length of the park and has several old, gorgeous houses. This man was laying at the bus stop, using a hospital gown as a blanket.

I just had to stop in for a quick final...

The run from the Central West End back downtown all looks pretty similar to this wasteland.

Union Station used to be the largest and busiest train station in the world, but now it's a shopping mall and a hotel. It's not a good shopping mall, but since it's close to my house, I appreciate waking up with a hangover and being 5 minutes away from Orange Chicken at Panda Express.

City Garden is a new addition to downtown. It covers a couple blocks and it's full of sculptures, art, and fountains.

Walking seems like a GREAT idea right now.

I plan on celebrating like this after my marathon. If I can lift my arms, that is.

Seeing Busch Stadium means I'm almost home!

Drinking? It IS what we do. It's what I do, anyway.

If I would have had my wallet with me, I would have stopped and ate 6 hamburgers for $5.10. Once when I was here for a 3 am plate of bacon and eggs, I stole a hamburger off the plate of the stranger next to me. He turned, told me it was "the hottest thing" he's ever seen. He also told me he was vegetarian, which confused me, as he ordered 6 hamburgers for himself. Anyway, Kevin, the cook, is amazing. Don't let this questionable location and outdated building scare you away.

Here's a story from my run yesterday: I was walking the last half mile for a cool down, when I noticed my dog was distracted by something behind her. I turned around, and some guy was trying to catch up with her to pet her. Since we were on the cool down, I stopped to let him play. Marley got all up in his business, and he said, "she must like the way I smell. I think I smell pretty good, don't you think?" He got right next to me and put his neck up to my nose so that I would smell him. I said, "yeah you smell pretty good. I don't, I'm all sweaty." He got right next to me again and smelled my neck and said, "you still smell pretty good, even though you're all sweaty." I love my neighborhood.

THIS is why I moved my long run to Thursday. Friday we were playing flip cup, eating vodka gummy bears, and drinking moonshine (from the jar, as it should be done) by noon. It's Wednesday and I'm still recovering.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Criminal Progress

In all honesty, I live in a pretty decent neighborhood. The issue with STL is that it's "spotty." Good areas are never far from bad areas.

That being said, I still have gated parking, security cameras, double-locked doors. We had several cars broken into and one stolen from our lot two nights ago. As my friend Jason put it, "just to add a little more damage to that report: it was 11 cars and one stolen. 2 weeks ago it was just 5 break-ins. That's called criminal progress." I guess I'll start using that Club they gave me for free. At Oktoberfest a couple years back the Soulard Business Association had a booth set up. If you could show them your drivers license with a Soulard address they would give you a free club. Two years later, I've decided to actually use it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Made Week One My Bitch.

Week one is done! I ran 25 miles this week and biked 49, and I feel great. I knew I felt like shit when I took two weeks off, but having all these endorphins pumping again made me realize just how awful I felt. This week I felt greeeaaaaat. It may be because I got so much exercise, but I think it has a lot to do with a certain man from my past baring his soul and stating his intention to move to STL to be closer to me. Yeah, it's probably that. Either way, I'm chipper as hell, and not even the antics of the local homeless men could bring me down this week.

Anyway, as promised, here are details from my 10-miler turned 8.2-miler. I planned on doing 10, but I cut it short for a couple reasons. One: it's so hot. Not the good kind (hawt), but the bad kind (f*cking miserable and humid). Two: I started bleeding around mile 4. You know how sometimes your run ends, and you noticed a shoe full of blood that makes you feel like a badass? This was not one of those times. It hurt the rest of the way home. I don't need blood to feel like a badass, I KNOW I'm a badass.

It's 1 mile from my front door to the brewery. It's great fun to run along the fence next to the Clydesdales and the Dalmatians.

When I'm passing through the brewery I always expect Oompa Loompas to start scurrying about. It has the whimsical feel of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, except for the stale beer smell, which gives it the not-so-whimsical feel of my college dorm room.

Benton Park is the namesake of an adorable neighborhood next to mine. This is right around mile 2.

As soon as you cross the street from the park, shit gets weird, and I'm not just talking about the sidewalks.

Some guy gave me a crazy look as I stopped to take a picture of this. Maybe I shouldn't take photos of the hood until I'm fast enough to outrun the average hood-rat. That will be...never.

And just like that, around mile 3 I'm in the lovely Tower Grove Park.

The Lily Pond is one of my favorite places in St. Louis.

It's a lovely place for a picnic, and by picnic I mean watered-down Cytomax and Sport Jelly Beans. Somebody bring me a sandwich and a glass of Shiraz, please.

In the midst of all this beauty...

It's hard to believe that buildings like the last one are right around the corner from this gorgeous house. I guess it's all about what side of the street you look on!

This is a memorial to a 30-year-old woman found here a couple weeks ago. It is sad, but too special not to share.

I'm back in my hood and I cut through the alley of Feraro's Pizza (my FAVORITE pizza place and the best post-race meal) to head back to my street. Once, when some weirdo started running with me and told me he was going to follow me home, I lost him by sprinting through the alleys of Soulard. This may look a little rough, but the Soulard alleys are actually gorgeous. You get to see the courtyards and back entrances to all the townhomes.

My street!

The farmer's market is right across the street from my house. These two old men are out there rain or shine playing music for the crowd. They're awesome and inspiring.

This has nothing to do with my run, but I had to show off my great seats at the game last night.

Here's the plan for the week:

Mon: easy 6 (I totally thought today was a rest day. BOO)
Tues: rest/XT
Wed: Speedwork 5
Thurs: Easy 5
Fri: rest/XT
Sat: Long 12
Sun: Rest/XT

B is coming this weekend, so hopefully I'm still able to force myself out of bed on Saturday and get my run on.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Marathon Training: Day 1!

See, I told you! When I leave my house and head downtown, the first thing I see as I come under the bridge is a White Castle in front of the Arch. It seemed fitting for day one.

Honestly, I don't have a lot to say. I went for an easy 6 today, and it felt pretty good. A little bit of pain from breaking in my new Super Feet, and my knee hurt like hell, but the first is to be expected and I'm used to the latter.

I am only a little nervous going in to marathon training. I don't remember where I saw this quote, but I loved it: the best journeys ask questions that in the beginning you didn't even think to ask. That's how I anticipate marathon training to be. The question isn't, "can I run a marathon?" because I know the answer is yes. My body doesn't know it yet, and the sane, rational side of me may not believe it yet, but I KNOW that I'll make it through the training and be able to do it. What I don't know is what questions I'm going to ask in the process. Running is a solo sport. You can run with a friend, or with a group, but your only opponent is you, and your strategies are 99% mental. Your movements are repetitive, but your thoughts aren't. So while my feet carry me hundreds of miles towards 26.2, I'm excited about where my mind will journey in the process.

Here's the plan for the week:
Monday: easy 6
Tuesday: XT
Wednesday: 5 mile tempo
Thursday: easy 5
Friday: Rest
Saturday: steady 10
Sunday: XT

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chewy little bears full of booze.

Official marathon training starts on Monday, so I'm taking the weekend to just get shamefully intoxicated...starting last night! It's not my fault my mother and step-dad are enablers. Ten minutes after walking in the door last night my step-dad rang a cow bell and declared that it was time for a shot! My mom soaked gummy bears in vodka for over a week in preparation for my arrival. She even packed a "to-go" bag of vodka gummy shots for when my friends and I head to Minnesota this afternoon. You may like going home because your mom makes a great casserole or homemade chocolate chip cookies, I like going home because my mom makes stellar vodka gummies and my step-dad makes a hell of a bloody mary.

Looking at this picture I took of my mom last night, there should be no question as to why I am the way that I am.

I'm on my way to a wedding of some college friends in Minneapolis this weekend. We were going to go to Ames for the night to visit our Alma Mater and get hammered like college kids again, but the whole town is flooded! They have no safe water supply and the highway and interstate leading to Ames are both closed. As sad as I am that I'm missing out on a night of dollar drinks and streetside SuperDogs (a hotdog served outside the campus bars that comes loaded with 16 ingredients), I am more sad to see a place I love so much turned into a swamp. I hope all my Cyclones are staying safe, and that campus will turn out to be more beautiful than it was before.

I actually had plans of taking a run around Ames and taking pictures of all my favorite places for my first running post. Instead I just found a couple of pictures online. I saw pictures last night of Wal-Mart employees being evacuated with a skid-loader and a dump truck. That's kind of awesome.

That's my old dorm, Willow hall. My dog, Marley Willow Franklin was named after that building! I can't even begin to tell you all the shameful acts that were committed in that place.

This picture really makes me miss college, where ridiculousness wasn't only allowed, it was encouraged. That's a shot of the basketball arena, the inside of which is filled with 8-10 feet of water.
So let's talk about running. I actually went on one today. This two-week break I gave myself hasn't really been all that fun. I MISS exercise. When I'm not exercising I'm also not paying attention to the things I eat, because I'm not concerned about if the food I'm enjoying is good fuel for a workout or not. Getting back in the swing of things next week will be nice.

I was really hungover this morning (I don't blame the vodka gummies, I blame the 14 beers), but for whatever reason I decided that I should hop on my parents treadmill. Running with a fan blowing in your face, while watching "Up" on a 60-inch TV with surround sound isn't so bad, guys. The "dreadmill" really came through for me today.

Here's a funny little conversation I had with my step-dad:
Him: You know, running is terrible for you. My doctor says it's really bad for your bones and joints
Me: Well, it is hard on the joints but it's good for your bone density. I think the cardiovascular and immune benefits make up for it.
Him: You should ride a bike or something.
Me: I do.
Him: Well, running is terrible for you.
Me: Well I'm gonna keep running on this treadmill, you sit there on the couch and watch. Don't forget to take your blood pressure and cholesterol meds (<--zing)

Happy weekend, friends. Run safe, it's hot as balls out there.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We're Worse Than Detroit

At least I don't have to worry about being raped on my runs (runs I'm not currently going on because it's literally a hundred and f*cking seventeen degrees outside). Perhaps we don't rank in that category because STL is #1 in the US for Chlamydia and Gonorrhea. We have so much to be proud of.

Monday, August 9, 2010

About An Hour

Allow me to get sentimental for a minute.

When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandpa. I spent my entire summer, and every other weekend at his house.  He taught me to swing a golf club and throw a softball.  When I was a swimmer he took me to practice and picked me up every day.  He picked me up from softball practice and took me to every game. He drove three hours to watch me play soccer, and spent an entire weekend traveling just to watch me cheer at a football game.  He carted me to tennis lessons and golf lessons. 

On the weekends he woke up early to drive me to my swim meets. I would always ask, as children do, "how much longer?" It didn't matter how far we had to go, be it one hour or nine hours, his response was always the same, "about an hour."  As a child, this drove me crazy, but I understand now that it he was trying to say, "does it really matter?  We'll get there when we get there."

Grandpa was the one that taught me to be a good sport. He was the epitome of support and encouragement.  Nobody knew how to prove their pride better than him.  He managed to push you to do your best, without making you feel like a failure if it wasn't good enough. Before swim meets and games he always said, "now AJ, remember, if you're not the lead dog, the scene never changes." It was his way of telling me to get out there and win. Regardless of the outcome, after every meet and every game he said, "did you do your best? and did you have fun? That's all that matters."

The summer I decided that I didn't want to play softball anymore he said, "if you're not having fun, you don't have to play anymore, but you have to finish the season." I broke down at a swim meet, exhausted and absolutely certain I never wanted to swim again. I bawled my eyes out, and sobbed, "I don't want to do this anymore. I hate swimming." He said "if you aren't having fun, then you never have to swim after this meet, but you have to finish all your events today."

Since I started marathon training, I wrote "About an hour" on every pair of running shoes.  It's to remind myself that it doesn't matter if I have 1 mile left, or 26.2, it's only "about an hour."

(Let me add a Grandpa story: I've heard people talk about losing toenails and such during training. Grandpa helped me out there, too. I'm not sure why, but for whatever reason he decided that he needed to remove his toenail. After soaking his foot all night, he said, "hey AJ, lookie here." As I turned my head, I witnessed him rip off his toenail. I was traumatized, but his response was, "ohhh, it's good for ya!")

Love you.

I'm a blogger?

The door to my bathroom is where I hang my running inspiration.

This fortune came from a P.F. Changs cookie at the Expo for the Rock & Roll Chicago Half Marathon. Cliche, but fitting.

Josh Cox told me to be great. I'll try.

So, here it is: I'm blogging now. I'm narcissistic enough to assume that my life just might be interesting enough for you to read. The reality is, writing this down makes me accountable for what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm also going to do my best to make it interesting for myself, and you I suppose, by taking my camera on my long runs. There are SO many times when I'm out there that I just have to laugh at the shit I see, and so many times that I appreciate the natural beauty that exists in the shit-hole we call St. Louis. Don't let my snark fool you, I actually love it here, but that doesn't mean I can deny that this city is a tad on the ghetto side...

Now that I've told you I'm going to blog about the runs I take, I guess I should tell you that I'm kind of taking the week off of running. I ran a half-marathon a couple weeks ago, and official marathon training starts next week. For now, I'm doing whatever the hell I want (eating chocolate, drinking wine, and trying to blow off the guy I'm dating while simultaneously getting my DVDs out of his place). The plan is, I'll post what I'm supposed to run at the beginning of the week, and if I don't run it, you all have permission to berate me, talk shit about my dog, and call my sister a whore. I don't actually want you to do any of those things (because I'm awesome, I like my dog more than you, and my sister is the bomb), so I guess I better do what I'm supposed to.