On the Run, Again

If it seems like I’ve been traveling a lot, that’s because it’s true. I have been here, there, and everywhere. Some of my travel has been personal travel or races – my favorite kind of travel. But, some of it has been work travel. Work travel is hit-or-miss when it comes to fun. Some work trips are great fun, but, generally, work trips are a parade of bad food, bad hotel gyms, and bad locations. I’m staying in a hotel this week that is quite possibly the worst hotel gym I’ve ever seen. I’m starting to become a bit of a hotel treadmill connoisseur. I’ve seen the good:

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The ugly:

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But this one can only be described as bad. The air conditioning doesn’t work, leaving the whole room a stuffy 74 degrees. It positively reeks of mildew. All the equipment, and by “all the”, I mean one treadmill, one ancient elliptical, and one recumbent bike, is rusty and more than a decade old. The treadmill is off center and wobbles precariously any time the speed goes above 5.0 miles per hour. It’s not good. Thinking there may be a solution on some facet of the problem, I talked to the hotel management about the air conditioning. Their response was to close the gym. I guess you don’t know what you got until it’s gone. Now I’m missing my mildew and my wobbly treadmill.

Travel isn’t all bad. There are great adventures, like the day I ran 7 miles round trip to get deodorant I had forgotten to pack.

SLC

There are amazing restaurants with delicious foods I can’t find at home (like cheesy cornbread!).

Jim N Nick's

 

and great scenery.

Multnomah

Overall, it’s pretty great. I love traveling and the new joys it brings to my life.

Back to School Blues

Don’t get me wrong – the life of a college professor is a good one. I have lots of flexibility in my schedule, control over what I do and when I do it, and a pretty decent private office. I even get summers off. I love my summers off. In fact, part of the reason I wanted to be a college professor was the summers off (well, and that I love the material, but still…). My dream-like summer bliss ends in August. Suddenly, I am required to be on campus, attend orientations, meetings, and events. I have to visit my office and wear dress up clothes. This morning, I even took a shower without working out first. It seemed like a total waste of water.

I don’t know how the rest of you normal job working people do it. I have so much admiration for people who can find the time to train while working a full time job. For me, the transition from summer to school is a difficult one. My normal running partners are busier so our running times change. My schedule fills up, so I find myself missing runs. I eat different foods at different times and get less rest than usual. I am less dedicated to my training schedule, so I feel tired and slow. All in all, my running usually suffers the first few weeks of the semester.

This year I’m determined to do better. Thanks to the advice of several normal job working friends, I’ve devised a plan. Here’s my plan for back to school transition success:

1. Make running dates. I’m planning ahead with my running, making running dates well in advance and scheduling them into my day’s events.

2. Buy healthy food in advance and bring my own lunch. If I have good food and have it with me at work, I will eat it and will actually eat, even if I’m at my desk when I do it.

3. Sneak in runs when I can. I’m going to experiment with the running lunch, or runch, this semester. There are days where I can get a good hour during the day and I am determined to put it to good use.

4. Sign up for a race. To keep on track, I’ve signed up for several early season races, and I will race them well. If I have a goal, I will keep myself accountable.

5. Accept runs that aren’t quite what I had hoped for. Part of my problem early in the school year is that I want to stick to my training plan, but won’t run if I know I can’t get in a target workout. This year I will accept the runs I can get. After all, 3 easy miles is better than nothing, even if it isn’t the track workout I had planned.

6. Stick to the routine. I’m guilty of scrapping my ancillary training like foam rolling and pre-hab when things get busy. This leads to more aches and pains and less running. I’m going to stay committed to my routine so I can stay healthy this season.

7. Be accountable. I’ve told everyone my plan. I’ve signed up for races with friends. And, now, I’m telling the world about my efforts to transition more successfully. I will be accountable to all of you to transition back to school with grace, ease, and lots of running.

This year, I will run back into the school year. Maybe it will help ease the back to school blues.

For those of you with normal, 40-hour a week jobs – how do you balance training and work? What advice would you give me for fitting it all in?

San Antonio Shuffle

I got to check another new city off my travel life list when I went to San Antonio for a work conference. It was a quick trip – I flew in for a meeting and a presentation and then went home. Though I only had a little bit of time to spend in San Antonio, I tried to make the most of it.

I started my first morning in the city off with a run on the River Walk. The River Walk goes along a canal in the center of the city. It’s a lovely path, paved and clean. The best thing about the River Walk is the scenery. The path is lined with gorgeous vegetation – plants, flowers, and trees. I loved seeing palm trees in November and running past flowers and colorful shrubs.

River Walk

The River Walk was so nice I ran the entire length of it, out to a museum, past a golf course, all over town. I enjoyed seeing the restaurants and bars and got to watch staff on boats clean up the riverfront. The weather was perfect and the run was great.

Later that day, I decided to visit The Alamo. I toured through the building itself and all over the Alamo grounds.

Remember the Alamo!

Remember the Alamo!

I ate lots of Mexican food at local places.

Mexican food

All in all, I had fun in San Antonio. It was a great city for running and an event better city for enjoying local food.

Planes, Training, and Automobiles

The last month or so has been crazy! I’ve been traveling all over and getting in lots of fabulous fall races. As my whirlwind month winds down, I’m reflecting on the good, the bad, and the training.

It all started the last week in September with the back-to-back races. On Saturday, I ran the West Hartford Relay. The West Hartford Relay is a local event that lets teams of runners run through the pretty neighborhoods is West Hartford. Never one to pass up an opportunity to run and hang out with my running friends, I happily joined team Lululemon Athletica. We had a great time and enjoyed some lovely fall weather. Sunday was the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon. I had a great time, got a shiny new PR, and enjoyed Providence. This was the race I had planned as my peak race, so I was thrilled to know that my training was successful. My race went well and I felt fit and strong throughout the race.

The very next weekend I paced the Wineglass Half Marathon in upstate New York. I had an amazing time, met fun new running friends, and drove 12 hours in a 2-day period. I tried Air BnB for the first time (cool, I recommend it), and even ran in an impromptu local 5k.

Columbus Day weekend in Connecticut means Hartford Marathon. Cementing my crazy-lady status with non-running friends, I changed my registration at the expo from half marathon to marathon (!).

Marathon upgrade

I made the change for lots of reasons. Mostly, I just wanted to run the marathon. I had been considering it since I decided to train with a friend running it as her first marathon. I went through the 16/17 mile run with her in my prep for Providence and felt fit. I knew that I could finish the marathon and, in a fit of impulse, signed up for it. I had so much fun that I was probably bordering on manic. I was the runner no one wants to be with at mile 20 (“we’re running a marathon – how amazing is that?!!?!?!?!?!?”). Everything I said and did had lots of extra exclamation points. I joyfully trotted across the finish line and felt so amazing I annoyed those around me (“aren’t marathons amazing!!”) for days to come.

Hartford Marathon 2013 finish

The next week it was off to Portland, Oregon for a work trip. Portland was lovely and a true running city, so I got in lots of miles and some good recovery/training for my next events.

After a few days at home, it was off to Florida for mom’s first half marathon – an adventure and a great experience. I ran a few miles, but mostly walked with mom. I enjoy every moment we spend exercising together and considered all the miles of walking great time on my feet training. I made it home in time to celebrate Halloween and worked on getting organized again.

Halloween dog costume

Last weekend, I ran the Commercial Services by Glass America Half Marathon put on by my friend at Ocean State Multisport. It was my first real fall race, with temperatures in the low 40s and a steady, chilling mist. Having just returned from Florida, I was frozen throughout the race. It was a the first hint that my racing season might be coming to a close. That motivated me to enjoy the race and the New England scenery. As usual, the event was well organized, and carefully planned. The course wound through neighborhoods and farmland, over bridges, and past fields cleared for winter. Gary and his team always do a great job – the volunteers are plentiful and friendly and the race course is well marked and nicely planned. Local police drive the route repeatedly, keeping motorists attentive. I struggled in the race, but had fun and was fairly pleased with my finish. Gary greeted finishers with pizza, fruit, and Kind bars (my favorite!).

For those of you keeping track that’s 7 races in 5 weeks. I admit it, it’s crazy. There’s just one more to go. When I get back from this work trip (yes, I’m on a plane as I write this), I will run the Harrisburg Marathon to close my season. It’s been a great season, but I think I’m ready for some rest, time at home, and a return to normal training.

Running on the Tenure Track

Today at work, a friend and I were talking about the ways in which being a runner prepares one for being a tenure track faculty member. After careful consideration, we determined that they are a lot the same.

To be successful as a junior faculty member, you have to have a few key things. First, you have to be able to tolerate discomfort, tedium, and hysteria. Also true of running. You have to constantly strive to improve. Immediately after finishing a project, a study, or a publication, you must think “I could do that better/more”. Same with running. To be a good junior faculty member, you have to be willing to put in long hours, sometimes doing repetitious tasks, without thanks. Check. Finally, to be on the tenure track, you have to be willing to work insanely hard at something most people don’t really understand. Yep.

Though things have been super crazy at work lately, I’m comforted to know that running has prepared me well for the challenges ahead.

Wolf Rock - a giant rock on the top of a hill, probably pushed up there by someone on the rock-pushing tenure track