Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Roma Ostia 2007

This weekend I ran (um, if that's how we can define it...) the Roma Ostia Half Marathon. This is still one of my favorite races even though there is a bit of disorganization. But then again, it wouldn't be an Italian racewithout it, right? Linda and I drove down to Rome on saturday morning, Evan slept the entire four hours of the drive which was really really nice. We went to the expo which was totally boring and had nothing but N1ke hype. I was able to see a lot of people I hadn't seen in a long time so that was nice.
Piero showed up (driving from the south) at about five p.m. with his little boy really excited to see him.

The next morning Linda and I went to the start with Patrizia while Piero drove straight to the finish line with Evan. We went to our meeting point where Lucy and Livia and Alessia were waiting for us. I love having a women's running circle!

Given my back situation I had 3 tiers of what I would call "satisfaction". The first was 2h06', the second was 2h10' and the third was 2h15'.

We were all in the last corral except for Livia, so she waved goodbye and set off to get a spot. The rest of us huddle together waiting for the start which came when people started to move.

Breakdown of the race:

Kms 1 - 3 - Cruising along at 6'00"/km, no problem except for all the crazies that decide to walk yet feel the need to position themselves up front. Lots of weaving in and out. I almost took some guy's shoe off when he insisted on speeding up and placing himself in front of me, and then slowing down.

Km 4 - There's a crowd on the left hand side of the road with an ambulance and police. There's a guy on the ground with a few people crying. I say a silent prayer. I later found out he was a friend of my friend Giancarlo. 48 years old, very experienced, three hour marathon runner. Worked as a nurse in a hospital. He died from a heart attack. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters. I tell myself that my ******* time doesn't matter, I am fortunate to be able to be here right now and in this moment.

Km 7 - This is where the big 1,5 km hill is. My back starts to hurt and at one point I decide that I could power walk it faster, so I do.

Km 9,8 - I have two Powergels, one tucked in my left bra side, one on the right. Take out the left side one - Strawberry-Banana! Yum!

Km 10 - They've run out of water and my mouth is all pastey and yucky. I walk for five minutes trying to scout out a water bottle that someone has thrown to the side. I score a full unopened bottle. Even though the organization should have had more water, I can see where the runners are also at fault.

Km 17 - I am never going to run a race again. I mean with my bad back, what the hell was I thinking?!

km 18 - Ostia is at the beach and this is the km where we reach the shore. The last three kms are up and back so I got to see all my friends that were ahead of me and then all my friends behind me on the way to the finish line.

Km 20 - Piero and Evan are here and take a few pics:

Finish - 2h15'10" , by the skin of my teeth!

True to a runner's word, for about an hour afterwards I thought I didn't want to ever run again. By the time we were cleaned up and driving back home (where the best boy in the world slept another four hours!) we were already planning our next half marathon on april 1st!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I have a wonderful sister that lives, literally, on the other side of the world. The last time I could afford a plane ticket to Kauai was in the year 2000 and that is the last time I saw her. We'll probably be seeing each other this spring, meeting somewhere in the middle of the USA. I remember when we were about 10 (me) and 13 (her) she used to keep a timetable on what she was to be doing at particular times. 7.00- Get up 7.05 - wash face 7.10 - brush teeth 7.13 - eat breakfast. She'd do it too! She had a timer and she would make herself do this whole routine. As the day went on it was a little more lax, an hour for television, two hours for reading, but then she had a night timetable as to what time she was to go wash her face, brush her teeth again and get in bed. She was and is a very creative person. Lots of knitting and beading and beautiful drawings and playing with colours...I was always envious of her being able to draw, which I cannot do. But she had the schedule. That kept her in line, put her in place.
I have that same need for discipline though I'm not as good at keeping it up as she was and is. I certainly like a schedule though. I write times out for myself and I love lists of things to do, but I still have a hard time being flexible when my little schedule gets thrown off.

Take this week for instance...After ten days of itching and not sleeping and trying to keep him from scratching himself, Evan is almost healed. He has a few more scabs that have to fall off his face so I want him to stay home from school until that happens. I don't want that angelic face scarred for life! Just as Evan was getting better, Piero fell sick. If his tempature goes above 100° it's like he's dying. It's been hovering around 100° for two days now. I am not complaining about having to play Florence Nightengale to everyone, I signed up for this for better or worse. But my little "routine" goes out the window. I have to write when I can, update clients charts when people are sleeping, constantly clean clean clean because four people in a small space make a mess mess mess. There is a certain point when anything I try and do gets interrupted (Mom! Do this for me!! Julia, come sit here with me...) and I go crazy. Today I put my workout stuff on and just left the house before I went nuts. Piero and Evan were napping on the couch so it seemed like a good moment. Here's what I did:
  • Went and had a coffee at a bar
  • Got some cash out of the ATM
  • Bought some Dandelion tea to see if it would work with my water retention problem.
  • Bought myself a new Timex Ironman Crono watch
  • Bought myself some new Speedo pool flip flops (same store as watch)
  • Went to the track and did a 15' + 10 x 500mt + 2 x 1km workout - felt good
After that I was able to go home and be pleasant to everyone. I cooked a yummy dinner (chicken and rice stir fry with ginger). I have to learn to adapt, but I secretly have to let you know that I can't wait to get back to the routine. Any routine.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Old space - new space

I discovered a new blog to read this week (Superhero!) that I liked so much I went back and read all the entries. On her website she has a really nice document on designing a creative space.
If you happen to be self employed, please read this. It really inspired me to rethink a lot of my own space and I'm proud to let you know that I've decided to redo everything. EVERYTHING.
I really feel I need an enviroment that I love to be in so that I can be more productive and creative. My space has potential so I'm excited about the project.

This is my space from the outside. It spills onto the livingroom area as the glass door can slide open all the way as it is hidden into the wall on the left.

Here it is with the sliding doors open

On the left, general Mayhem on the bookshelves.

Plenty of wasted space and general ugliness at my feet on a daily basis.

Just so you know, you're looking at it after I spent two days cleaning it all up. I hauled away 8 bags of paper, garbage and old CD's and floppy disks. My new computer doesn't even have a floppy disk slot! One of my agendas had my address book in it. It was from 2003 with a broken zipper and weighs about two pounds . I took the address pages out, added some abc pages that I had bought to supplement the already overcrowded addresses. Then I had to find a cover. Olivia used to doodle on the pages all the time so I found one where she had drawn her version of a chinese girl. I put it on a piece of cardboard, applied an acrylic gloss on top (two coats, ten minutes to dry) and VoilĂ  - new cute handmade, makes me think of my baby girl - address book!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Just one moment

I have been able to keep up on my bi-weekly visit to the pool and so far, for the month of february, I've also been able to complete a minimum of 2,000 metres each and every session. The problem is in what I've been doing for those two thousand metres. Quite frankly, I do whatever I can. Crawl, kickboard, floating thingy between the legs, backstroke, freestyle, whatever hits me at the moment. I am very lucky to be able to swim in a 50 metre pool. I found that out two weeks ago when I was forced to go back to the 25 metre pool for one training session. It looked like a duck pond in comparison. Believe me, fifty metres up and fifty metres back goes much faster than twenty five up-down-up-down-up-down-up down! In any case I had never gotten back into being able to jump in the pool, pump out 1500 metres and be done with it. I used to do it all the time. I'd even make myself perform a monthly time trial just to see where everything was. Why am I having such a hard time convincing myself to do it now? I think part of it is fitness. After committing to the pool now for almost six month I am stronger. I have a bicep (actually two!) , I feel firmer, I like going to the pool as opposed to making myself go there. I am definately in better shape than just last month. But the thing that I am surely missing is knowing that I am doing everything correctly. While I swim I question everything. Am I putting my hand in at the proper angle? Is my elbow too high? Am I balanced or are my feet dragging? By the time I get to the other end of the fifty metres I'm a mass of unconfidence . The other day I did have a small revelation, it lasted for exactly six minutes or three hundred metres. That morning I had been reading from Terry Laughlin's "Total Immersion Swimming" where he talks about swimming like a vessel and making your body long. As I swam one length I started to get into concentrating on my stroke and making the most of it. All of the sudden I was at the side of the pool and I started to love what was happening. For another pool length I was almost laughing at how good it felt and in a mini state of Nirvana. I imagined that it felt better in the water rather than out. I remembered all those dreams where I could magically breathe underwater. It-felt-so-utterly-fantastic...and then the bubble burst and I took a break. I know what is keeping me from progressing now. It's the doubt I have in my stroke. My swimming isn't automatic anymore and that's what it has to be if I am going to be able to do any long distance swimming. SO...for the month of march I'm going to take some private lessons. I really need someone to look at me and tell me where my mistakes are right now (yep, they change) and help me correct them so I have no more doubts. I'm not looking to be perfect, just the best I can be. Mostly I'm looking to get back to that nirvana state. Those six minutes were worth six months of bad swimming.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

True happiness

Anne Nicole Smith? Further proof that money does not bring happiness.

I hope she finds peace wherever she is now.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Universal Tornado

I really wanted to have the time to sit down and write out a proper entry, but so far, no extra time. There's been a lot of strange stuff going on, though I oddly feel "protected" from it all. Just need to step back, watch it happen, help out if I can but avoid getting hit by any of it. Haven't heard back from the bulimic client but I did let her know that if she needed friendship, it was here, no questions asked. There's not a lot you can do for a person that doesn't want to help themselves. I have another friend who gets deeply depressed, and this was one of her weeks. She has nothing to be depressed about and she even admits it. I told her that when she's in the depressed mode she doeesn't call friends, she doesn't go out, she doesn't run (another runner!), and doesn't make plans or meals for herself. That she has to just make herself do the same things she does when she's happy - see people, run or swim, call her friends. I know it's not that simple but you really can get yourself at least out of the rut but taking some action rather than being passive.
Two cancer cases this week, one friend with breast cancer and another with skin cancer. They'll both be operated on this week and again, it's the mind that will do a lot of the work here. The skin cancer friend is super super positive and is absolutely sure that he'll come out okay. The breast cancer friend has closed herself in her house and is worried about her hair falling out. I've never been in either situation so I can't really say what I would do, but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't stop answering the phone.
The worst was a my next door neighbors Pina's sister being murdered. She had a bar (in Italy it's more like a place to get coffee) and was killed while closing up. She was given continuous blows to the head, then covered and put behind a refrigerator. Pina is a pretty strong lady, very practical so she hasn't really broken down or anything, but now she's sees crime and violence in everything. I can't blame her really. I hope the police are able to close the case for the family, the assasin seems to have left plenty of fingerprints behind. Last night I was making Lasagna for dinner so I doubled the recipe and gave it to her. I thought "if I was going through something like that I probably would not want to cook". She gave me a huge hug when I gave it to her, like I'd signed a cheque over or something.
Last but not least, Evan has come down with chicken pox. Not exactly a tragedy but it's three weeks at home trying to keep him from itching himself.

Training is going well, the least of my concerns at the moment, but any positivity helps right now.

Friday, February 02, 2007

How to help...

I got an email the other day from a woman I train. She'd done really poorly at a race last week because she was sick. In the email she sent me she confessed that she was actually bulimic and had been going through a rough few days...and that was the real problem. Today she called me to tell me that she wanted to stop running, that she was quiting. Before she called me on the phone, I was going through her email in my head for most of the day. I just kept thinking that I know very few women (and quite a few men) that do not have some sort of an issue with food. There's the one's that eat too much and then one's that don't eat enough. Being in a sports enviroment I've seen quite a few people who "race" in order to eat, or eat nothing in order to race better. Two extremes, the same problem. Now I'm certainly not a bulimic specialist or even a counselor but what I told her when she phoned was that giving up on herself was not an option. You make a mistake on Monday, you pick yourself up and try again on Tuesday, even if that means on Wednesday it happens again. If there is one thing I have learned in all the weird overeating and undereating is that the problem is not the food. The problem is somewhere else, the food is just a dulling tool to take away whatever pain you have in that moment. I gave her the number of a really good psychologist I know and made an appointment with her to go running next week. Running is not the answer to her problems, but I've always found it to be a good tool in these situations.

It make me feel sad to see how f**cked up this society can be in terms of body image and what we should all look like or what the ideal body shape is. I know so many women who strive for something that they will never be able to obtain rather than just trying to be the best that they can be. Strangely enough I find this easier to do the older I get. Maybe because I don't have to look like a twenty year old beauty queen anymore, I can just be a strong-kick-ass-going-towards-fifty year old. Now that's an image I like!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

San Geminiano

Yesterday was a holiday here in the city of Modena: San Geminiano, the patron saint of the city. Besides all the schools and public offices and stores being closed there are two events that celebrate the deacon saint. The first is a fair that covers every street of the city. On San Geminiano, always the 31st of January, you can buy anything and everything from street vendors that come for the event. The second is "La Corrida" which is a 13km footrace. This was my second "b" level race for the year and I have to say I'm very pleased with myself. First of all, my back is feeling better. About four days ago I noticed that something had changed, mainly that my gimpy left leg was no longer aching. Then I looked in the mirror and noticed that my shoulders aren't slumping to the right as much as they used to. Probably a 80% improvement there. This means that I'm more in balance and am probably able to use the left leg better when I'm running. The first two kms of the race were a stroll through the market, literally. There were about 5000 participants, a lot of UNtrained people up front blocking everything. I must have walked about half of the first mile. Finally we got passed the market, center of town and onto wider streets. I ran the whole way (yay!) and around the 7th km I passed a shorter big haired lady. I think she didn't like that 'cause after about five minutes I saw her pass me again but then she gave herself away. She look back at me. HA! I'm really good at letting people go but making sure that I'm close enough to them so I don't lose them. So I let her run herself crazy for two more kms and then I concentrated on picking up my turnover. I passed her again and just kept trying to run smoothly. Mission accomplished. Again, don't know what my timing was but my HRM read between 164/169 the whole race so whatever it was, the effort was there.
The best part of the day inviting FIVE women runners over to my house for tea and cupcakes afterwards. I know y'all in the anglosaxon countries are used to it but it's taken me twenty years of running to be able to have five women friends that run and race all in the same town. I made walnut cup cakes with molasses buttercream frosting. Congratulate me that I only ate one!

This morning I swam 2000 metres which felt really good for working out any residual muscle aches. Now I just have to get back on the bike...It's always something.