Yoga with the Luna Chix 
Thursday, July 29, 2010, 03:54 PM
Posted by Administrator
After a day spent mostly with my bottom in a chair and my face bathed in the glow of a computer, I was grateful for a reason to get out of my “garden level” apartment and into the above-ground world. The Luna Chix Boston Running Team was hosting a yoga clinic at Danehy Park and, if there’s anything better than a good yoga class, it’s a good yoga class outdoors.

The bike ride was short, just 2 miles away, but somewhat awkward with a yoga mat sticking out of my drawstring backpack and poking me in the head. I’m sure savvier yogini’s have found better ways to transport their mats, but I'm not there yet.

I met the eight or so other women, unrolled my mat on a flat spot on the grass, and suddenly became very conscious of all of the activity surrounding us – a group of men playing soccer, a man talking loudly on his cell phone, families flying kites, teenage boys gawking at us. But, before long, I got past all that and enjoyed the breezy evening and the much-needed stretching.

For a $10 donation to the Breast Cancer Fund, we received a great class geared toward runners (lots of IT band stretching!) and the mother of all goodie bags.

On top of that, I won a raffle prize of a box of Luna bars. While I generally prefer food in its natural state over the bar form, these little packages do come in handy when traveling or on long bike rides. This loot will tide me over for months to come! Had I known about all of the schwag, I certainly would have brought a bigger backpack.

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Kids These Days... 
Tuesday, July 27, 2010, 10:00 AM
Posted by Administrator
It was a successful week for Project Whip the Family into Shape, especially amongst our youth demographic.

It all started with a Facebook post from my 15-year old cousin – “going for a jog.” I pounced with an offer to join me in the Allan D. Morrison 5K this October and, much to my delight, he accepted. With the official OK from dad, cousin Andrew is now registered for the race. Score!

Next up was my 7-year old niece, Hannah, who, a few weeks ago, agreed to participate in an upcoming youth triathlon. However, like many triathletes of all ages, there was some trepidation about the swimming. Her technique is limited to the dog-paddle. And a brief one at that. And then there’s the matter of sharks. “They like to eat little kids,” she told me.

Fortunately (and wisely), the triathlon organizers offer a swim clinic specifically geared toward kids participating in this race. Hannah was able to, literally, test the waters.

She joined about 15 other triathletes-in-the-making at Dead Horse Beach in Salem for a little swimming, a lot of dog-paddling and, when all else failed, some walking through the water. Most importantly, she made some new friends that she can look forward to seeing on race day.

She seems to have forgotten about the sharks. Now, her nerves come from wanting to win!

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The Most Informal Running Club Ever (TMIRCE) 
Monday, July 19, 2010, 10:41 PM
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While the name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue (and the acronym isn’t any better), it’s an apt description of this weekly Cambridge gathering. I was impressed with both the size and the friendliness of this group. About 30 runners strong, I chatted with various people during our run along the Charles River – Margo the nuclear scientist, Larry the barefoot guy, Eileen the fellow MHC alum. And then with some more after the run – a few physicians and an economist. No slouches in this group. Cambridge is full of smarties.

Wanting to get in a long workout that day, I ran the dogs and then ran to the meeting spot, putting 5 miles in the bank before the 10:30 a.m. start time. The group offers distances of 3, 5 and 6 miles with a corresponding bridge for each distance. The Mass Ave Bridge was calling my name, but I pushed on to the Longfellow to make it an even 10 miles for the day – a choice I came to regret.

I had felt strong during my pre-TMIRCE miles, but that was before the heat and humidity completely wrecked me. My pace gradually slowed, I was liberal with my use of walk breaks during the last few miles, and I was nauseous for hours. But, determined to make the most of the experience, I stuck it out at the post-run potluck for about 30 minutes before deciding that I might actually vomit or pass out if I didn’t cool off. I suffered through the 2-mile walk home, took a long, cold shower and then spent an hour in the prone position. Eventually, I felt back to myself and able to take in (and keep in) some food.

The people were welcoming and the course is beautiful, but the coolest part of this group is the potluck held in Andy’s house. He leads TMIRCE and, every week, allows a large group of sweaty strangers to hang out in his living room, cook up some eggs on his stove, and stuff their faces while, undoubtedly, dropping lots of crumbs. With an arrangement like this, any strangers quickly become friends. Andy wasn’t actually there last weekend, but this kind of openness makes me like him immensely already.

Despite the less-than-optimal ending to my run, I look forward to giving it another shot. Maybe I’ll be a little less ambitious with the mileage next time.
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Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5-Miler 
Thursday, July 15, 2010, 09:32 AM
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1,400 runners, 20 expo booths, a wheelchair division and the most organized race logistics I have ever witnessed. No, I’m not talking about a half marathon. Or even a weekend 10K. This was a Thursday evening, 5-mile race in South Boston.

Unfortunately, unusually bad traffic (even for Boston) kept me and visiting Tri Girl, Keli, from actually racing. After a ridiculous 2.5-hour drive from Billerica, Keli arrived just as the first finishers were crossing the line. Knowing that you don’t need a starting gun and an official time to make a run worthwhile, we headed backwards on the course and spent the next hour enjoying the ocean views and catching up on each other’s lives.

Here is what struck me about the event:

The Expo – Food and drink samples, shoe companies, charities, training companies and more. All there for just a 5-miler. On a weekday evening. Awesome.

The Volunteers – Like a yellow-tank-top-wearing army, members of South Boston’s L Street Running Club were everywhere you turned, ready to direct you, answer your questions and ensure a great race experience. They clearly took a great deal of pride in this event.

The Organization – Inadequate signage often makes it difficult to find and navigate registration. Not at this race. A huge “REGISTRATION” banner beckoned you into the Boston College High School gym where hoards of volunteers ushered you through the packet pick-up process.

My only recommendation is to station a few volunteers at the JFK/UMASS T station. I got off the train and joined a slowly growing mass of perplexed runner-types until someone who had previously done this race took charge and led us down the street.

The Course – This year’s brand new course featured South Boston’s scenic waterfront. I have no idea what the old course offered, but can’t imagine that it was more refreshing than this beachside run.

For $20 ($25 on race day), you really can’t go wrong with the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl 5-Miler.
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Mill City International Tri – A Spectator’s Report 
Monday, July 12, 2010, 01:23 PM
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Last week, we raced with Bill Rodgers. This week, it was Team Hoyt! If you’re not familiar with this inspirational duo, I encourage you to check out their website. Their story is guaranteed to motivate.

I should clarify that my role in this weekend’s race was as cheerleader, photographer and lugger of gear. Paul, on the other hand, actually swam, biked and ran in the Mill City International Triathlon in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Accustomed to the well-oiled machine that is TriTucson, I found this event from Double C Racing to be lacking in the organization department. First, they registered Paul for the sprint race instead of the international, and then made it a big hassle to switch the entry. When he was finally given race number 99, we walked over to transition only to find that the numbered racks jumped from the 80’s right to the 100’s. While this glitch was an annoyance, at least Paul was rewarded for his patience with half a rack all to himself.

Pre-race chatter was abundant, with questions regarding the course, the ins-and-outs of transition and the legality of wetsuits. Signage was non-existent, as was literature describing the race details, and so everyone was in the dark. This widespread lack of knowledge led to a 15 minute delay in the race start, as the “brief remarks” from the race director and USAT official turned into a full-blown Q & A session.

On the positive side, I discovered that a river swim makes for great spectating. It was impossible to pick out Paul in the mass of green-caps and splashing water, but I was able to follow the pack by walking along the Merrimack River.

I snapped photos of Paul exiting the water and then ran after him, across Pawtucket Boulevard, to transition. While it’s not ideal to have a major road running right down the middle of your race course, I think they did the best they could with the space they had. The swim and finish line were on one side of Pawtucket Boulevard and transition was on the other. Police were present to direct traffic, but they had their hands full with cars, spectators and racers coming from all four directions.

I cheered Paul onto the bike course and reminded him that this is where his race begins. With swimming as his weak sport, he typically spends the entire bike leg passing people.

While waiting for him to pass by for his second lap, I pitched in a bit at the water stop which was rather ill-staffed with two volunteers who appeared completely lost. They actually complained that racers were throwing their used water cups on the ground.

After a brief glimpse of Paul as he flew by, I realized that I was starving. It was only 9:45am, but, having last eaten at 4:30am, I figured this was a good time for lunch. Transition is conveniently located in the parking lot of Heritage Farm Ice Cream, which, I discovered, makes a mean grilled chicken sandwich.

After eating, I walked toward the bike dismount area where I was not too surprised to find that there was no signage – not even a chalk line on the street. There were just a handful of volunteers shouting directions and then getting frustrated when racers did not heed them.

Note to the volunteers and race director: Maybe it’s adrenaline. Maybe it’s dehydration. Maybe it’s intense concentration on the task at hand. Whatever the reason, athletes don’t always think very clearly while racing. In fact, yelling often sounds like the adults in Charlie Brown specials. Big signs with simple words will make your life easier, the course safer and the racers more compliant.

Paul looked great – hot, but great – as he headed out for the run. I knew I had about 45 minutes to kill and so I settled in at the finish line to cheer on the sprint race finishers, including Dick and Rick Hoyt.

I’ve learned from experience that Paul tends to be on par with the first female finisher. Sure enough, when I glimpsed the first tankini cruising down the street, Paul was right on her heels looking strong!

At the end of the finisher’s chute, Paul and another racer compared bloody ankles (maybe socks are worth a few extra seconds in transtition?) before plunging into the Merrimack River to cool off.

Then, we celebrated Paul’s impressive finish of 15th overall and 4th in his age group at Heritage Farm Ice Cream. Giving up their parking lot for the morning was a smart move for this business. How many people can hang out next to an ice cream stand for half a day and not indulge?

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