Monday, July 31, 2006

Marathon Training, Take 2

I've been thinking a bit about why Leah and I have struggled with our Marathon Training since coming back from England. Was it the trip that did us in? Was it the time off?

I honestly don't think the Englad trip had any negative effects on our training. If anything, our legs needed the rest and we needed the break (especially Pukey Magoo). Besides, the trip was fun. No, I think the problem has been with our approach since returning. That being said, I'm going to break down the problems as I see it in the hopes that putting it out there will force us to address the issues for real.
  • Nutrition - Initially, I think this was the biggest problem. When we came back from England, Leah and I had lots of shifts and this screwed up our eating habits. There was lots of ice cream and chips, and very little fruit and healthy calories (and not enough calories, besides). As a result, Leah lost her appetite really badly and it took a long time to recover. This effected lots of our runs and we are just now getting back to eating healthy.
  • Focus - Did we really think that it would be okay to just run 18 miles at 6pm after driving back from Indy and doing stuff all day in the heat? In order to do a long run, it has to be the complete focus of that day. One must mentally prepare for the run and make it the daily conquest, with the reward being the sense of satisfaction and a nice nap. We should never have tried that 18 miles run at night, especially given the heat.
  • Sleep - you can't fool your body into training for a marathon. Everything must be done properly and that includes sleep. We have to make time to sleep, especially since we haven't had time to nap after the long runs.
  • Regiment - This is what pulls everything together. Obviously it has been harder for us to stick to a schedule given the constantly changing shifts, but that is no excuse as we were doing fine before England. Now, suddenly, we are trying to train for a marathon as an afterthough and just "fit in" the runs. That doesn't cut it.
Okay, given the problems, here's what we have to do if we want to survive the rest of the training and succeed in our goal (the goal simply being to get through each week):
  • Regiment - Leah's generally really good at this, so it should be something we can handle. This week our shifts are going to be 4-midnight, so we will get home at 1am, sleep until 9am, wake up, eat breakfast, run, go to work, rinse, repeat. Obviously there will be a few hours in there for doing other stuff too, but it has to be the same every day. And once the annoying shifts are over, everything will be shifted to an early schedule to beat the heat.
  • Focus - Here's the real problem. Marathon training has become a chore for us. No longer is it our "outdoor time" where we don't have to sit in front of a computer, but rather we've had to drag ourselves outside. This probably has something to do with the heat as "outdoor time" has become very similar to "bowels of Hell time." Until it cools down a bit, the training will probably not be super fun. We just have to get through this nasty period by not looking ahead in the schedule and not looking ahead in the run. Just run the mile that we are in and don't worry about how many miles there are to go or how many we've completed, that's the surest route to defeat. We have to laugh at the heat and enjoy getting ridiculously sweaty and not worry about how it would be more fun to swim because, you know what? Forgoing swimming now will result in rewards as we cross the finish line. I'm not sure that the training will be fun until being outdoors is more pleasant so, for the time being, it will have to be more about beating a challenge and not wanting to lose in the training.
  • Nutrition/Hydration - This is going to be a big part of beating the worst of the heat. It will be hard enough as it is, but even worse if we are tired and/or thirsty. The heat just gets doubly bad without proper hydration. We've already made a healthy dinner this week and had a bigger lunch. We've both been drinking lots of water and I really think this is going to help. This has to continue, though. Despite the heat, food must be eaten. The hardest thing in the world right now is cooking in our furnace of a kitchen, drenched in sweat, but it must be done. And besides, what's a little more sweat and heat if you are just going to take a shower anyway? Might as well earn that shower.
  • Sleep - This goes along with regimen. No staying up late, sleeping in, or any of that. Just get 7-8 hours and go.
We are officially out of buffer weeks, but I'm happy about that. Our backs are against the wall and we know that, if we don't gut the runs out, we are going to be sorry come October. Besides, we can't let all the other Pfitzers win, right :)

On a personal note, I have to be mentally stronger. I have only ever run with Leah at my side and I've never built up my own mental toughness. If I'm running by myself, I generally don't self motivate enough to finish the run at the proper pace. When we ran the 11 miler separate, I started out at a comfortable pace and it ended up being way too slow. This is because I don't push myself, but rather I rely on Leah to push me. Granted, this is why I married Leah (besides the obvious beauty and brains part), she makes me a better person and doesn't let me take the easy way out. But I have to realize that I can do it on my own and, when she tells me to run ahead of her because she is having a rough time, to just run out ahead. It's very hard for me to do as I worry about her, but in the end it will make us both better runners.

Tomorrow we have 10 miles with 5 at lactate threshold. This will be our third try at this run, and third times a charm. We will start out slow, pick up the pace, and then gut out 5 incredibly hard miles. Why? Because that's what we do. We're marathon runners.

Cashing In

Jason and I have decided to cash in our week that we have in the bank. We started this training program 3 weeks early to take into account our trip to England, scheduling issues, injuries etc. We are still a week ahead and since last week didn't go quite as planned we are going to repeat it this week.

We are also working 4-midnight so will be running around 9 or 10am so I don't know how much better it will go, but now our backs are against the wall and we don't have the buffer to fall back on. This should keep us in check.

Tomorrow is again the 10 miles with 5 at 15K pace. Just have to take this one mile at a time and slow down on our warm up miles. That's the plan kids. That's the plan.

Friday, July 28, 2006

11 Miles!

Well I got through it...but Holy Ass was it humid out. By the time I was finished with the run it looked like I had gone swimming. So. Gross.

The run was good. The first 8 miles were a bit faster than the last 3 but I had to stop for more water towards the end as I was just a bit on the warm side. But no walking. No whining. No stopping. Average pace = 9:03 which is fantastic for 90 degress +110% humidity :-)

I do think I was done with with "Motivate Leah" run at about 8.5 and so had to mentally be way strong to get through the last 2.5. Which I actually think is a great exercise....cause if you don't bring your mental game to race day you might as well not show up.

Tomorrow is 7 miles w 8x100 (which by the way I thought was a 5 mile recovery run....this schedule is insane! oh and next week looks to be even more fun. shit.) and then 18 miles on Sunday. Jason and I are going to Indianapolis to visit his brother and family and so we'll have to coordinate the running while there. Either the 7 miles in the afternoon when we get there or tomorrow morning before we leave. As it's 10pm already, I am leaning to tomorrow afternoon.

Well I think the keys on my keyboard are melting so it's time for me to go sit and not move very much.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Running from Demons

Tonight I ran.

I ran alone.

I ran against all the "I can'ts" "I won'ts" & "I don't wanna's"

I found new running paths.

I ran up some hills and down some hills.

I ran too fast.

I ran too hard.

I ran too far.

I had fun.

I got to a point in my run where I had a view of downtown which absolutly took my breath away...even though I have lived in Chicago for 22 of my 26 years. (Chicago people, if you stay on the lake side of the path and where you would usually go under the viaduct just south of belmont, run more east all the way to the lake, there is a little path that will lead you there and then you can follow it south to Diversy...when you get to Diversy...look up....and enjoy)

I am in step one of two of ridding myself of the demons that have produced bad runs the past few days. Tomorrow I have an 11 mile run which I will also do solo. No Jason. No music. Just me, my running shoes, the miles and my City. My Chicago & My Self.

Indiana Jones on the Big Screen

Wow was that fun!

Raiders of the Lost Ark was playing at the Music Box theater which is around the corner from our apartment. It was some new 35mm release or something. Either way I hadn't seen any of the Indiana Jones movies on the big screen so when we noticed that it was playing we had to jump on it.

Our friend Jake (who used to teach physics with my dad but now works as a brilliant Java/Ruby/Rails programmer) joined us. It was great to see him as with the summer being as busy as it has been we hadn't seen him for a really long time. We had burgers and beers at Toons before the show and yes Leah scarfed down her cheese burger like she hadn't eaten in days....wait, she hadn't!

The movie was incredible and just way fun to see the "real" way and not in full screen VHS format. My tapes have been watched so many times that they are a bit warboly but I still love them. My favorite is Temple of Doom and yes I realize I am in the minority here, but come on...if only for his facial expression when he is stuck in the room with the ceiling coming in on him and Willy can't figure out how to reverse the motion....hi-larious! Ok. I am a big nerd that has watched Indiana Jones one too many times.

Anyways, I am feeling better. I had lots of food yesterday and am looking forward to my 4 mile recovery run tonight. Mr. Jason got free tickets to a Cubs game so I'll be on my own. Tomorrow it's 11 miles so let's hope that the next two days go better than the last two days. I am of the opinion that is has to given that I was able to get tons more calories yesterday and I'm just pissed enough to get my ass in gear. Go Go Runners!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Somebody fetch me a little Ukranian woman!


Today was an attempt to repeat the lactate threshold run that went not so well yesterday. Unfortunately, the repeat was a bit too similar to the original.

Leah and I both started out together with the intent to do the warmup more slowly than yesterday and that worked out pretty well. Our paces were 9:24, 9, and then 8 something. Unfortunately, around mile 2.5, Leah's body gave out. She waved me on and this time I had the good sense to listen and went on to finish the run. I was feeling pretty okay as the rain was keeping me cool and I had eaten and hydrated well all night at work. Leah ran walked a large portion of the distance, but her body just wouldn't cooperate.

What was the problem? In a word, nutrition. Unfortunately, Leah is in some kind of viscious circle of not eating. She has lost her appetite due to the heat and other circumstances and that is making her tired and taking away even further her will to eat. Last night she couldn't bring herself to eat dinner and probably had less than 1000 calories all day. It's pretty hard to do 10 miles when all you have to work off of is a bagel that you ate 3 hours ago. No fuel? Body shuts down...and you almost throw up...again. It's bad news, folks, and something that badly needs to be addressed.

So I'm taking action! I have purchased a large array of snack-type foods. Healthy, yummy, refreshing snacky-things that can be eaten with frequency and no one snack is too much food. These will be eaten at least hourly and we are going to build up that calories, dammit. At this point, it is eat or don't run and I think I know how Leah would feel about that. I certainly know how I feel about that. My baby is wasting away! I'm not going to have anything to hold onto. One of these days she'll turn sideways and I'll never find her again. I need to get me a live-in Ukranian grandmother to shovel food into her.

Okay, I've started to ramble. The current plan is to continue on with the week and accept that this one run wasn't so great. Tomorrow is a recovery run which shouldn't deplete whatever glycogen stores Leah manages to build up today and then a 11 mile general aerobic. Hopefully those runs are more successful.

Okay, Leah's ice bath is probably almost over and so that means it's almost my turn, so I'd better go; the icy water of death is calling me.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lactate Threshold Nightmare


That. Was. Bad.

I don't know what else to say. The plan was 10 miles with 5 at 15K pace. We were going to go 2 mile warm up. 5 Miles LT and then 3 miles cool down. Sounds good. Not so much as by the time we got to 3.5 miles I was done. I had nothing left in my legs and I just could not go on. I don't know if it because we did the first two miles too fast (8:33 and 8:04) or if it's that my sleep schedule is still all screwed up or my nutrition is still in the dumps. We ran another 1.5 miles slowly and then walked a bit and then jumped in the lake which was actually nice. After that it was 4 miles of walk of shame back home with all the runners merrily zooming past us.

When my running is bad I don't know what to do. It's usually the only thing in my life that I can do well and when I lose that I feel like I have lost everything. Work right now is in a holding pattern and sleep and eating is done just because I know I'm supposed to and neither one is being done well or with any consistancy.

My friend Clayton from college e-mailed me today with an update of what he and his girlfriend Kendra have been up to. These two people are two of the most inspirational people that I have had the good fortune to know. Clayton worked at Harvard after we graduated taking his double major in astronomy and computer science and worked on NASA stuff. After about a year however he left all that and moved to Maine to start work as an organic farmer. He loves it. It's hard and they don't know what they are doing yet....but they love it. They named their farm Fail Better Farm which was taken from an essay by Samuel Beckett. The excerpt is :
`Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.'
I love this quote. It is all encompassing of running in my opinion. We have decided to try the workout again tomorrow morning and go from there.

For now I am going to go curl up in bed and pretend that today didn't happen. So much for shining happy Leah Runner.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Beach Time is Good...

even if it's short.

Jason and I went to the beach today because I have been dying to go forever. We got there at about 10am...just in time to get hit with a few sprinkles, which you know was pretty awesome. The rain let up almost immediatly and the sun came out and jason and I proceeded to basically pass out in the sun. Jason worked last night and I slept for a few hours on the couch so we were both pretty tired and it was so nice just chillin in the sun and it wasn't too hot or anything.

Around 11:30am my voicemail dinged to let me know that I had a message (which was weird because I never heard the phone ring....) It was our new apartment company saying that our credit looked perfect and all was going well, they just wanted to see some kind of proof that we get paid. Hmm. We are kind of on a grant, but don't have much proof of it. The Department of Energy gives Indiana University money each year and then our funds come from that. We also get this extra cash each month to take care of the cost of living difference between Bloomington, IN and Chicago. So finally I remembered that I had my contract that will go till the end of the year and they said that was fine, to just bring it by the office before the end of the day.

I still hadn't gone swimming yet though so we headed over to the area that is just south of the actual beach at North Avenue (right across from the chess tables for those of you that know the area) and jumped in. This is the best place to swim because it's deep and you can go as far as you want. At the beaches in Chicago they have lifeguards in little row boats in the water and you can't go any farther than the boat. This is stupid because the boat is really shallow and so "swimming" turns into walking into the water up to my waist and getting yelled at because, "you're too far...TOO FAR!!!" This other area is an area between beaches and is off the concrete running path. You can swim pretty far out too and not get yelled at...

That of course is if you know how to swim. For all you triathletes out amazing. I tried to swim like 5 or 6 strokes and was done. I am really comfortable in the water so that's not a problem, I just cannot swim for any length before I have to resort to breast stroke or just floating. Therefore I don't see triathloning in my immediate future although Jason and I have both agreed that we need to work on our swimming skills and so will start to do that when we get some time.

Eithe way the water was unbelieveable and just exactly what I have been waiting for all summer! So nice and cool and it was a beautiful day and blah blah. After the beach we took the bus back home and feeding my Slurpy addiction on the walk from the bus to home :-) We headed over to the apartment place and found out that the company was just super nice and told us that there were some cool people living in that buidling including a doctor who bikes a lot on the second floor and some "crazy" girls that are bike messengers that live downstairs. Should be a good community of people so that's very exciting.

We ended the day with some naps...Jason is still sleeping of course because he still has to go into work tonight whereas I am trying to move my schedule back to normal. Tomorrow is a 10 Mile LT run with 5 miles at a 15K pace. Yikes, that's only really really terrifying!

12 Miles down and .....

a hard week to come.

Well we did it. We got through 12 miles yesterday. I got home from work around 9am and just layed down in bed for one second and I could feel the sleep enveloping me. I totally could have gone to sleep right then and woken up at 3 and gotten my 12 miles in. However, I knew that if I fell asleep then there would be no waking up by 3 and since we had the CRU meet up that night we couldn't get the run in at night. So with every last amount of energy I could muster I threw myself off the bed ran to my computer, started blasting some fun energetic music and got my running clothes on, some breakfast in me and we were out the door.

And it went ok. It was hot since we were leaving around 9:30am. There is a part of the lakefront path which is beautiful since it's right in front of downtown, BUT there is no shade for 1.5 miles and it's right along 3 beaches and you can jump into the water at any point during that 1.5 miles (for you Chicagoans between NAB and Navy Pier). So we make it to the the turnaround point and start heading back and this time we we run through the desert (that's what we call that area) and I get really upset. It's just that we used to run over to that area and go swimming and then walk home or whatever and I just wanted to do that so bad but we still had 2.5 miles to go and I knew that I would be pissed if we cut it short. It just looked so much fun, people launching themselves into the water and I was so hot I couldn't even stand it. As we crossed back over Lake Shore Drive I told Jason we were going to the beach the next day even if it's just for a few hours. So that's the plan anyways and I'M SO EXCITED. I'm just waiting for the cute boy to get home from shift and we can head over there.

The short list, 12 miles avg 9:31 pace. Perfect. Right in the middle of our allotted pace range for long runs. Some miles <9>10 a bunch inbetween and you end up right where you should be. Plus given the heat I would expect to slow down a little bit.

The CRU meet up was tons of fun yesterday. We met some new people including Haight, Whitney and her fiance, and RR. Fun times were had by all (of course!). Chicago people stay tuned because Jason and I are planning to have a party in our new digs after we move in...since we are again air conditioning less, we'll wait till it cools down a need to overheat all you runners.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

5 Miles + Apartments

The not too interesting :

Ran 5 mile recovery run and felt great, slow and steady. TONS of people on the lake front path, beautiful day yadda yadda.

The very interesting :

On Friday Jason and I started the apartment hunt. We don't really have to move until the end of September but thought we would start looking and even take a Sept1st rental if we found the perfect place. We are looking in a new neighborhood for us which should be really fun. I grew up around Wrigleyfield and we have lived near the corner of Belmont/Broadway and now we live near Sourthport/Addison. Looking then at Ukrainin Village/Bucktown/Wicker Park is very different for us.

And so it started.

We looked at 4 really really REALLY bad apartments. I couldn't believe the one apartment they called a gut rehab. You can't just buy a new stove and call an apartment a gut rehab. All the apartments were really small and yet expensive. I was getting really frustrated but Jason was all, we just started looking, we can't get too discouraged yet. The last apartment we were looking at was in Ukrainian Village and I was convinced that it was going to be garbage like the rest of the stuff we had looked.....

Man was I wrong about that! We found an AWESOME place! It's perfect for our commute, it has an EAT IN KITCHEN which I have never had, two bedrooms and all kinds of built in bookshelves and wooden decorations and laundry/storage in the basement. It's cheaper than our place now and way way cheaper than anything else we have seen in the neighborhood.

My mom used to go to Ukrianin school (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding...change Greek to Ukrainian and you have my mom's childhood & family...seriously, it's hilarious) right down the block from our apartment. It's right next door to a neighborhood market, two blocks from a fresh produce market, around the corner from a bar that has $2 oldstyles, $1 pool, FREE popcorn on open mic Monday nights. AND a couple more blocks away we found....wait for it....AN UKRAINIAN BUFFETT!!!!! I called my mom and told her about it and she said she's been there and it's awesome. are you kidding me? Periogies....buffett style! awesome!

The apartment is also only 1.6 miles from a Metra station making it actually possible to take the train to work. We can bike there and not die (we are currently 6 miles away and it's almost impossible to do the train thing because it just takes a really long time and with marathon training I just don't have that kind of time).

We think our friend can take over our apartment for the month of September making our move out easy because we can just stop by every day and pick up another box of books or whatever. We have offered that we will keep the apartment furnished for him so we will be living on an air mattress for a month...but whataever it's awesome becuase we can just slowly move our stuff in and have someone to take our apartment and not have to worry about loosing too much money.

Of course the only problem is the distance from the lakefront path....but....that's just a problem waiting for a solution. Oh and for as big as the kitchen is, there isn't any counter space....but again, we are clever kids and will come up with something spectacular.

On Monday they will run a credit check and call our current landlords and make sure we have paid our rent and so on and hopefully everything will pass and we'll be able to sign the lease next week. I have to call our people first thing Monday and let them know we are going to move out and tell them to expect a call from this other company. So stay tuned....more adventures to come!

Book Review : Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

This was the first time I had read a book by Jane Austen, or any one of the so called classics. I have tried to pick this book up before but was immediatly turned off because of the language and I was always reading it at bedtime and so I would get through a half a page and fall asleep and of course this is no way to get through one of these books.

Since I am sitting on these midnight shifts this week I thought it would be a good chance to try again since I am stuck sitting in one chair for eight hours being a computer monkey and so had lots of back to back hours to get some solid reading in. The results were very good as I made my way through it.

I really enjoyed this book and once you can make the slight hop in the language and get into the flow of it, it's a really enjoyable read. I do believe that the movie Bridget Jones' Diary was loosely based on the story. So a quick summary of the plot...

The story revolves around the Bennet family whose five daughters are being set up to wed some of the most elegible bachelors in the region. The two oldest sisters in the story, Jane and Elizabeth are the main focus with splatterings of their crazy mother and quiet father and nonsense filled younger sisters.

At a ball one night in the town there is an inital encounter between a Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in which a harsh statement pases between them. Elizabeth is determined not to like him after this event (you might even say she was prejudiced). A few months after the encounter, Darcy becomes involved in the relationship between Jane and Darcy's good friend Mr. Bingley which furthers Elizabeth's contempt for the man. However, Mr. Darcy cannot help but be attracted to Elizabeth for she is very different from the other ladies that are usually surrounding him and clammoring for his attention. And do they fall in love? Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy or Jane and Mr. Bingley....well I guess you'll just have to read it to find out.

You can probably tell from the above synopsis that this book is probably geared more towards the ladies in the audience. Enjoy!

Friday, July 21, 2006


Hi Everyone!!!!

This is just a reminder that the CRU kids will be meeting again this Sunday at 7:30 pm at Flat Top Grill @319 W North Ave. This is just around the corner for the Sedwick stop on the Brown line or there is lots of parking around as well.
Please let me know (if you haven't already) in the comments if you are coming OR e-mail me at OR of course go say hi to Barb and let her know.

I am looking forward to seeing some familar faces (familar by one meet up...but whatever) and also can't wait to meet the new kids! See you Sunday.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I'm Baaaaaack.....


Great (!!!!) run today. The plan was an 8 mile general aerobic run. Our original plan was to catch the 8:36am train out of Wheaton and end up in the city and run from there. However there was a torrential downpour and we didn't know when it was going to end. We didn't want to get downtown and be stuck in the train station for awhile waiting for the rain to let up at least to a stage where we could actually run in it. So we drove home instead and went out around 11:30am. The first mile was slow because were were getting into the ebb and flow of the run and because we got stopped at lots of street corners because of Cubs traffic. The rest of the miles were at 8:40 or below....and here they are
  1. 9:51
  2. 8:40
  3. 8:15
  4. 8:38 - Water
  5. 8:18
  6. 8:37
  7. 8:27 - Water
  8. 7:45 - Awe-some!
Giving us an average of 8:34 miles. Holy ASS!!! Am I happy!!! I'm not saying I felt super awesome the whole time. My breathing was a little out of wack and because I don't know how to eat while on these schedules I was starving (Remember Leah, mini reese cups doesn't count as lunch. Really. Neither does Hot Tamales). But we did it. We got back to being out there and getting the miles done and at a clip that I am really happy with (even if it probably is a bit fast for these runs)

I am having a slight pain on the top of my foot. Don't really know what that is about...maybe my shoes are tied too tight?

Tomorrow we have LOTS of apartment appointments, which should be exciting. Alright, now that it's 2:30pm it's time for bed. This is too weird!

5 Miles of Sludge

It went better. We did a 5 mile recovery run today...I have taken 'recovery' to mean just run slow and comfortable. I have stopped taking Garmin on these runs because I don't like to worry about my pace and whatever. I like to just move and flow and look around etc etc.

So it was 5 miles. It was good. We didn't stop at all except for water at one point. By the way, at this water stop we also rinsed our faces (one of the water fountains on the lakefront path has like a big tub of water that the fountain goes into) and boy did that help. It instantly cooled me down quite a bit and so for those of you out there running in the heat, just something I found that probably doesn't actually help anything, but it feels really damn good!

Today after work we are attempting the 8 miles again. Then Friday is a day off...but we are going to be looking at lots of apartments in the Bucktown/Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village neighborhoods. We walked around Ukrainian Village this evening on our way to work and got some dinner. We both really liked it and so are excited to see some of the apartments. PLUS we saw an Ukrainian deli which has perogies, polish sausage and so mother's parents were born in the Ukraine and my mom is fluent in the language and since everyone moved away I don't get these delicious treats living near that would be a great thing@

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blissful Sleep


We decided to put our window unit in the bedroom yesterday and oh my! what a great decision that was. I was cold when I was sleeping and all wrapped up in my blankets and out for a full 7 hours. I am so happy that I was able to get some sleep. With the unit in, it also blocks a lot of the city noise that is prevalent during the waking hours.

Jason on the other hand has quite the cough and so didn't enjoy the cool bedroom as much as I. He woke up after only a few hours and went and layed on the couch until I got up. I hope he gets better soon as I know he hates being sick.

In other news my lovely cousin Lisa and her boyfriend Evin are moving to Chicago in a couple weeks! I am so excited to have them in town. AND due to our landlords being horrible horrible people we are moving out of our place. We have decided to try and find a place in the Bucktown/Wicker Park area so we can be closer to my cousin and also a bit closer to work. Everytime we drive into the city from work and go by Damen Ave on 290 just to sit in more 290 traffic or Kennedy traffic to get to Armitage...and then still have a ways to go before the ole' Wrigleyvill's just not working anymore. So I have been scouting out craigslist and be starting the process soon. If anyone knows of any great places that are available or good rental agencies let me know!

Today is a 5 mile recovery. Here's to it be better that yesterdays!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I Wish...

I could say the 8 miles went swimmingly and we just jolly like knocked the miles off at an 8:45 pace. Sadly we did not.

Disappointed? Yes.
Surprised? No.

Not sleeping or eating well or running for 1.5 weeks, plus running in this obsene heat all adds up to Jason and Leah looking at each other and going, "We like doing this?"

The plan called for 8 miles w/sprints. Since we were going to skip the speed work and because we were dragging we cut the run at 6 miles. We have 5 tomorrow and then 8 again on Thursday so we are hopping those will be better.

The Good news :
  1. We averaged a 9:11 pace with 3 miles at ~9:10, 1 mile at 10:25 (long water stop) and 2 miles <9>
  3. It was nice to be sweating while actually doing something!
  4. The easy one....we were running!!!!
  5. On the walk home (we like to finish on the lakefront path and cool down by walking home) we stopped at 7-11 and got slurpy's and then discussed the finer points of the drink for most of the rest of the walk home...what makes them so delicious...what makes them so creamy and not icey??? ALL good questions!
Tomorrow it's 5 miles and we are goign to try and end at North Avenue Beach (NAB) and do our most favorite summer time thing....Jump in the lake to cool off. Usually we walk home from there, but we are going to try taking the Clark St. bus instead since it's something like 4 miles to our apartment from NAB.

Oh and we put the window unit in the bedroom. I CANNOT have another night like last night. So here's to a solid at least 6 hours of sleep. I will be SO happy.

Stay cool everyone!

CRU-The Second Round

Well kids, the 23rd is almost upon us and as you might remember this was our planned meet up day for the CRU.


This month, the restaurant is Flat Top Grill at 319 W. North Ave and the time is 7:30pm. There is parking in the neighborhood and this is also right around the corner for the Brown Line Sedwick stop.

I know people had commitments during the day, but hopefully lots of you are free in the evening. Please let me know if you are going to come in the comments or via e-mail at OR let Barb know so we will know how many are coming.

Looking forward to seeing you all this weekend!

I'm Hot Too!

But I can't REALLY complain about this weather because I am bringing some of it on myself.

Jason and I live on a 3rd floor apartment that is air conditioning-less. Which is fine most of the time. If you can just get through the bad days then the days when it's 80-85 really aren't that bad and we can get the fresh air breezes which we love. Last summer though we had many many days in a row when it was 100+ during the days and sticking in the 90s at night. Finally one night at midnight we broke down and got a window unit for our bedroom. This purchase came after many sleepless night and many comments to each other of the order, "Get out of my personal space. It's too hot". The air conditioner was nice for cooling us down, but it makes our bedroom like a cocoon and I miss the noises from the street and the fresh air.

So this year we have yet to put the window unit in. Before we left for England the weather was fine and after we got back I was back to the, "Let's just wait it's going to be fine in a couple of days". We are working nights this week and trying to sleep during the know when it's super hot out. I am hoping this will help our bodies get acclemented to the heat better so our summer running won't be so painful. Yeah...that's it. I am also looking forward to being off these midnight shifts so I can go back to sleeping at night when it's a normal temperature.

On Sunday when we got home from shifting we tried to go to sleep around 6pm and it was like my sheets were burning me so we moved to the living room and tried to sleep on the floor because at least the air was moving there. So a couple of hours of sleep (waking up mid sleep to see that the Cubs had gone down GOD do they suck!) So yesterday I was all ready to get some sleep. Oh no. I am wide awake...not really, but I am so overly exhausted that my body will not relax. Finally I start to calm down, I watch the end of a movie in bed, but I can't quite fall asleep. I say fuck it and down two Excedrin PM. Oh this knocks me out real good, but you know what happens when you get knocked out like that. You don't move. So what happens when you wake up? That's right you are laying in a puddle of your own sweat. So. Gross. I moved back to the living room floor around 7:30 and fell back alseep around 9pm and was up at 10pm. So I got my 8 hours of sleep....just kind of gross sleep.

Tomorrow the high is only going to be 81 so that's like a 20 degree difference from yesterday so we should feel that and can hopefully get some normalish sleep.

I haven't been eating really great. It's so hard on this schedule because it's like wait what meal should I be eating at 3am. So let's see Sunday when I got up at 10pm I had a bowl of Cheerios followed by a bag of Cheetos at about 1:30am followed by a Klondike bar at about 4am.....all together with a diet pepsi...that works for lunch right? On the way home Jason and I stopped at the Golden Apple on Southport and Lincoln for some breakfast....and then at midnight I got to work and had a bagel. That's not right, I think I missed something in there. We d id buy some fruit and yogurt though for this hopefully my cash can stay out of said vending machine.

Running? Wait...this is a running blog? Shut up!

Jason and I will be running 8 miles tomorrow. WHEEE!!! We are taking the train home from the burbs and then are going to run home from the station downtown. I am really looking forward to getting these legs moving agian (hopefully they will!) Stay tuned to see if we survive!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Hello fellow runners & readers.

I had been doing book reviews every time I finished a book and the cute little picture on the right hand side would change when I started a new one. With the craziness the last two weeks with getting ready to leave and trekking across the UK I have gotten behind. So here is what I have been reading for the past two weeks. (As usual....all good!)

The Plot Against America by Philip Roth This book is about what would happen if Lindberg (the one that flew over the ocean...the big American Hero) had won the 1940 presidential election. This book is really unnerving because Lindberg makes some anti-semitic statements before he is elected and soon after the election makes a deal with Hitler to not go to war with him. Two great things to note about this book is that they line up the story with actual dates and characters in history and at the end of the book you can learn about all the characters that are mentioned. Second the story is told from the eyes of a child...Philip Roth to be exact. It's his family and his childhood that go through this time period. Very interesting book. Very scary book.

The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger : I saw the movie coming out so I finally picked up this book. I knew I was going to want to see the movie (I love Meryl Streep and so of course I'm not going to miss it), and when movies come from books I usually like to try and get the book in first. The story is about a girl just out of college who ends up working for a fashion magazine as the assistant to the editor-in-chief. The boss proves to be a nightmare and stories of running around Manhattan and Paris and designer clothes and cigarettes and coffee ensue. I gotta say, this book is like book candy. I just sat in my reading chair and and completely ate it up. I read it in about 2 days and loved it. Just a nice fun summer read.

The Kill Clause by Gregg Hurwitz : I needed a nice good page turner for my flight to England and so as usual my good ole' dad had a great recommendation. This book is the first in a series of novels which have Tim Rackley, US Marshall as the main character. In The Kill Clause, when a murder occurs too close to home for Rackley he gets mixed up in a group of vigilantes....only too late does he realize what he has gotten into and has to work his way out. Complete page turner and got me to and from England. I love the main character and couldn't wait to get my hands on.....

The Program by Gregg Hurwitz : This is the second book in the Rackley series. I started this book on Friday night and finished it early Sunday afternoon. A nice 1.5 day turnaround. Rackley is hired to find a girl (named Leah coincidentally) that has gotten mixed up in "The Program", a dangerous cult that is practicing mind control on it's "clients" and convincing them to sign over their trust funds and life savings. The main bad guy in this book is a GREAT bad guy and way way creepy. Rackley's at it again in this sure to please page turning thriller. (if you are interested in these last two books you should read this one second because they mention things that happen in the first book)

I just noticed that the third Rackley novel will be out in the mass paperback format (come on, with page turners you like the thick small paged books) on July 25th. Excellent!

Happy Reading!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

One Down and One to Go

We got through the 16 hour work day here at Fermilab yesterday and are starting in on the next one. I'm in some kind of weird state of awakeness. So the deal is that both Jason and I are on shift this weekend. I am going midnight-8am and then Jason from 8am-4pm. Of course it was impossible to get sleep before coming here yesterday, so I got up around 9am Friday morning, slept from about 8pm-10pm and then came in here. Jason was actually able to sleep in the car from about 12:30-5am which was nice. I tried to sleep in the car from about 8:30-11:30 but I got a call from my dad at 8:33 needing help ordering a new laptop (I am VERY jealous as he is getting the new MacBook!). So I fell asleep at about 9:30 and woke up at about 10:30....but at 10:30 in the a this no good. So it was back to my desk inside the lovely air conditioning.

Not all is bad though, I am reading a REALLY good book and the vending machine here is filled with Diet Pepsi and Klondike I'm good to go for many many hours on end. I mean really what the hell else do you need. That's right, I'm a healthy girl.

Today we'll be back home at 4pm, then back at midnight again...but this time we can leave at 8am because Jason won't be on shift anymore. Then it's just the normal OWL shifts for the next week and then people....


Poor Jason though will have some more weeks to do, but at least our schedule will only be shifts every third week instead of two weeks in a row and then a week off.

I believe there were plans for a CRU meet up on Sunday the 23rd. It will be a tight schedule for Jason and I, but can work around stuff to get that in. Just thinking about other options....what are people doing on Monday the 24th? Perhaps and after work gathering somewhere? If not we can stick with Sunday.

***editor's note: it looks like people are coming from out of town for the meet up, so let's stick with Sunday. Now we just need a plan. I am going to see if Jason can move his Monday 12-8am shift to Thursday......then we can get everything in...if that happens obviously the below changes to Thursday night....have I made this all too confusing?***

Also perhaps a celebratory beer on Wednesday night? I want to celebrate being done with these shifts since they have consumed the last 4 months of my life and on Wednesday Jason won't have to go in at midnight for a shift....just a thought if anyone out there reading this is interested let me know.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Years of Running Shoes

Well it's time to get back into it. Read here what we have been doing for the past two weeks.

I have to admit I'm a little scared to start training again. The week before we left I tried so hard to get all the runs in. To get all my work done. To get my talk done. To get my practice talks done. I did it all....and then my body said,
"Screw you Leah, I can't do all of this on the 4 hours of sleep that you are giving me. What do I have to do to show you that. How about I make you throw up in the car on the way home after you made me run 10 miles at midnight. Would that work? Let's try."
And I had to take the warning to heart. I didn't finish the runs that week and I only got in about half the milage I wanted to while we were in Lancaster and none since then. I did enjoy going out and not running and not commuting and not working and just BEING.

Sometimes you have to do that. To get your sanity back.

When we got back I was all ready to go for a little run to work out the kinks. I was trying to ignore the fact that my ankle was twice the size it should have been. Humpf. Walking around for the past four days must have not been loved. I decided at this point there is no need to push it, I have already taken some time off and so I might as well let all the soreness work itself out (I'm icing to help this process along).

This weekend Jason and I are working midnight-4pm both days, then it's another 10 days of working midnight-8am. Because the weekend is so bad, I'm only going to have time to sleep no time for running. I'll be back on that running train on Tuesday though and back on the Pfitz schedule. I'm on the recovery week so at least I'm not going to have to jump into to high of milage at the onset.

I'm ready though. I have really really missed running these past two weeks. I went though my closet today and found all the running shoes that Jason and I have purchased in the past probably 2.5 years (with the new shiney ones on pretty!). There's a lot of miles in that pile. Miles of fun, miles of hate, miles of accomplishment, miles of dissapointment. In the end the miles add up to a huge part of my life and when you take that away even for only a couple weeks I feel so empty. So here's to getting back on that train and a good rest of the summer training. It's time to Run Far & Run Fast.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Full Report

Hi Everyone!!!

Who knew that it would take me all day to get all these stories and pictures organized. With the help of my lovely Mac programs I whipped up a site documenting our trip. So please come check it out. There are lots of pictures, plus all the stories from London which I hadn't had a chance to post while I was over there. (A tease....we got to meet a famous English Sheriff....hmmm.....)

So Go here :

And Enjoy

We're BACK!!!

Well after a long fun 3 days in London we are back in the good old US. I have lots to write about our time in England. I didn't get a chance to upload any other pictures after Lancaster because they were all on my laptop and although we found cheap internet from time to time, we didn't find any wifi to connect the laptop....and hence the pictures.

I am going to be working on all that today. Including 3 more posts about our 3 days in london and then a full website dedicated to the trip with lots of pictures.

So stay tuned today....I'll make up for the lack of posting with lots today!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Quick Update

I'm at an internet cafe right now in London, so we have made it.....however the method in which we made it was not as pretty as we expected.

As you know we had plans to take the bus from Manchester to London at midnight. The thinking here was that we wouldn't have to then pay for a hotel on Saturday night and it would be okay because there wouldn't be anyone else on the bus so we could lay across the seats and sleep.....oh not so much.

The bus was full. Full full. While we were waiting for the bus to leave the initial station the guy next to us was picking and scratching at his feet and digging inbetween his toes and then....proceeded to smell his hand. NASTY.

But we tried to ignore the noise and the craziness on the bus and fall asleep. Fine, we are rolling through town....and get to the next station on the route....all the lights go back on people shuffle on and off the bus. I am starting to realize sleep is going to be a far away thing. Then we leave another station about an hour later and all of a sudden there is this really really loud hissing air noise coming from the front of the bus.

I mean really loud.

ok, ok fine....just ignore it. It's just some white noise....try and go back to sleep.

What's happening now? We are pulling into like a rest area. WTF?!?!?!

The hissing keeps stopping and then starting, stopping and starting. All of a sudden another bus pulls up along side us and we are told that since the bus is obviously having some mechanical problems we have to move onto this other bus (Jason: apparently the driver's seat was leaking. Really? That happens?). Ok fine.

We get to the second bus and it's much smaller than the first. Both Jason and I are hitting our knees on the seat in front of us. Ok, it's going to be fine, just lean against something and drop off to sleep. About 30 minutes later we get to yet another station and are informed that the bus is back on time and so we have 15 minutes to walk around and stretch our legs and be back on the bus by 3am. So we are sitting there....3:10 comes around 3:15 and then an anouncement that they are waiting for a passenger who is coming by TAXI.

What is going on over here. The flippin' bus was supposed to leave at 3am. It's just waiting for someone? WHAT!!! (Jason: The British are sometimes too damn polite for their own good. It's called a schedule for a reason) We end up not leaving until about 3:30 and then we are back on it.

During the next 3 hours there was a mix of Jason and I trying to use each other as pillows and my legs falling completly asleep. Some guy a couple rows back was sawing logs so loud that we didn't know if the noise of him snoring was more annoying or the fact that he was actually getting some sleep. Other small things: a guy kept sniffing really loud and flemmy....GET A KLEENEX.....someone else was playing music for the entire bus via his headphones that we up really loud.....

So all in all, we got here, but we didn't sleep much. We can't check into our hotel until 2pm so we have just been walking around in town in a daze. I finally told Jason I had to shut my eyes for a few minutes so I fell asleep on a bench along the South Bank. 15 mintues of shut eye and I felt better for about an hour. I have some funny pictures of the bus and more pictures of our adventure here so far, but they'll have to wait till I can get to my laptop. No running for the next week because of travel and some 16 hour work shifts when we get home....but I am really looking foward to getting back into it and here's to hoping that I remember how!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Stronger Beer?

or just too much? That's the question of last night, ugh.

Jason and I went for a 4 mile run (it went really well....last mile which is all uphill in 8:12....too bad it was only 4 miles. We only got in like 15 miles this week, but I guess it'll be ok. I'll get back into it when I am back in the states) last night and then headed to the bar on campus where we had a ticket for a free pint of beer. Since not everyone showed up there were some extra tickets so we actually had 2 free beers and then headed to dinner.

After dinner we headed downtown with John and some other physics kids to hit the bar scene in the town of Lancaster. We started a bar where we had gotten some beers earlier in the week, called the Sun Hotel. I had a beer that was from the Lancaster Brewery which was really tasty. We found a table outside on the patio that that the bar had an enjoyed the beers and eventually some other kids from the conference showed up. I talked to a guy from Paris about how much I loved the city and how different some of the things are in Paris from places in the states. The girl that was at the table was from the University of Rome and another guy was from Milan. So at one table we had two people from the states, one guy from Germany, another from Paris, and two from Italy....quite the worldly crowd.

After this bar we headed to some clubs (which was nice because I was in jeans and running shoes and a hot pink sweatshirt....oh don't think that I didn't fit into the club scene :-) ). We ran into some other people from the conference who were at the first place we tried, but it was apparently "dead" so we headed to another club called....Liquid...or Toast.....or something. We had tons of fun here and the DJ played Billy Jean by Michael Jackson for me, which was totally fun. Yeah....I AM cool still dancing to music from the 80's.....leave me alone :-) You can see in the picture my crazy drunk eye look...nice.

We had some beers here and then headed back to the University. I guess I fell asleep around 2:30am and had to get up early to check out of our room and head back to the conference. We had some greasy breakfast and packed our bags and are ready to continue on our adventure. We aren't really happy that we didn't sleep much last night and are slightly hungover today because tonight at midnight is when we will catch the bus to we are going to be sightseeing and walking all over the place for the next 14 hours......but I suppose we'll be able to sleep on the bus at least.

I don't know the next time I'll have a connection to the internet, but hopefully I can find a place so I can keep updating with pictures and stories of London.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Castles, Tea & New Friends

Yesterday was the conference excursion to the nearby Lake District.

Our first stop was at Sizergh Castle which has been owned by the same family for hte last 750 years, I think that they said that the family actually still lives there. The physics crew arrived to the castle around 2pm and walked a bit of a ways to get to the building. Then after hearing a short introduction we went for the tour around the inner part of the castle. Each room had a little description about it and pointed out the more interesting aspects of that particluare room. (Unfortunatly I couldn't take any pictures inside the castel) It seemed like one of the Strikland couples that lived there did a A LOT of renevations and in some sense ruined what the room was in it's original state. Therefore there were lots of styles of design in the different rooms. In one case they had to get back some paneling that a previous family had donated to the local museum in the main bedroom.

After looking around the inner part of the castle we started to make our way around the grounds. We have met a new guy named John at the conference who is originally from London and is currently a postdoc at an experiment that is located in Hamburg, Germany. He was heading out to the gardens at the same time and so we toured the area together. John's super nice and didn't laugh too hard at me when I asked him where the Queen of England lived.....he said, "Um....Buckingham Palace...." I laughed and said of course and turned only a light shade of red and realized that would be like asking where the President of the United States lived. :-)

The gardens were really unbelievable and just kept on going. There were lots of little paths and different areas of flowers & vegetable gardens. We asked John a lot about the experiment in Germany and how he liked it. He said that Hamburg is a great city with roughly 1.5 million people in it. He said that it's super friendly for cyclists and in fact lives in an apartment in the city and can bike to work each day. I am so annnoyed with Fermilab being so far away from the city and like the idea of there being a physics lab within a city. This experiement isn't a huge one and I think that with lots of people gravitating to the new lab that will be in CERN there might be several opportunities here.....again very interesting.

After our walk around the gardens were had some tea and scones in the Tea room in the castle which as all the food I have had here (I am probably up about 5 pounds....good thing I threw my scale away so I can't know for sure :-) ) was delicious.

After tea we headed to the conference dinner which was at a hotel in the Lake District. In an attempt to show us the region they took us on a long and winding tour of the region which was altough beautiful.....was very curvy and very much up and down and ugh....was a little sick to my stomach. Dinner was tasty.

We got back to our rooms at around 11:30pm and Jason and I did some more practice talks and finally got to bed aroudn 2am. And how did the talks go you ask...........

They went REALLY well!!!! At some point during my presentation the microphone went out and so they handed me a handheld one which would have been fine if I hadn't already been holding onto a laser pointer and the clicker to change the slides. So I tried to hold all three and then laughed and said, "No, I can't hold all that stuff....but it's ok cause I can talk really loud" This worked fine and I am pretty sure that everyone could hear me fine. The organizer of the session also holds up signs when you have 5, 2 and 1 minute left for your allotted time. When he held up the 5 minute was actually the 2 minute sign upside down....which I didn't quite understand....but in the end all was fine.

Jason's talk was really good as well and got lots of laughes from the group. He did a presentation on Rare decays and used pictures of steak to describe the "rare" or "medium rare" decays. When he got to the slide talking about "very rare" decays he had a picture of a cow. HAHAHA. He also said that the CDF detector at Fermilab was shiny that got a chuckle or two.

Right now we are doing some laundry and then will go out for a run...probably only about 6 miles because we just got free tickets for beer starting at 6pm and of course the Leah and Jason crew doesn't like to miss out on free beer. I think tonight we'll try and go out and celebrate the ending of the talks and the end of the conference.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Buggy But Good

Yesterday after the meetings Jason and I decided to do our run instead of going to the conference dinner which was from 7pm-8pm. There has been so much food here and the temps have been so high that we weren't too hungry. Plus I was really anxious to get out there and have a good run since our first attempt a couple days ago wasn't too spectacular.

We have been using Garmin here which is really nice. It took a long time to get the signal the first time and asked me some questions about if I was indoors and then if I had moved hundreds of miles....which of course I had. After getting the signal taken care of a couple days ago I had no troubles yesterday. And we were off.

There is a bike path that heads into town so we followed that again which was really nice and I already knew that I was feeling tons better. Last time we noticed a foot path that was along the canal about 2 miles into the run and so we took that this time. It was so beautiful and just about the exact opposite from our usual running in Chicago.

It was very cross countryish with hilly terain and a mixture of grass/rocks/dirt to run on. We went down this slight hill and were like in this valley with hills of pastures around us. There were horses and sheep and little houses on the hill. There were also some skinny covered boats that were hanging out on the canal which, I suppose are used for getting to and from town although I'm not sure.

After about .5 miles the path split with one side going back up to a road I am guessing and the other side staying along the canal. This part of the run was truely amazing with the trees covering the path and the canal. There was a house along the water with a little entrance way hut type thing.....well ok, I don't know what you would call it but it looked like a mini mini castle with the entrance on the canal. I am assuming that this is where the people who own the property keep boat or tools or something....I should have brought my time. I promise.

Although this run was beautiful it was REALLY buggy. I mean sure we all get the occasional bug in the mouth or eye, but this was ridiculous. Jason said that he was going to look like the grill of a car by the time we were done.

We turned around about .2 miles later when we were 3 miles from our starting point and headed back. I think that the university is somewhat on a hill because we were running mostly uphill on the way back. BUT no walking this time. We pushed through the hills and made it back to the university averaging 8:55 miles for 6 miles which we were really happy about.

I looked at Jason when we got back and he did in fact look like the car grill. He had black spots all over his neck and face. We got back at about 7:35 and decided to see if we could still get the free dinner that is offered with our registration and in fact we could although we were totally sweaty and gross, but whatever. The dinner was good consisting of turkey, potatoes, carrots and corn. We never eat real meals like this so it's been nice to have real food for most meals of the day.

After dinner we headed to the graduate student bar to see if we could watch the soccer game....I thought maybe someone would score this time :-) The bar was packed so we just got some beers and sat outside and talked to some of the other physicists that are at the conference. Lots of discussion of politics and the future....all good stuff...mostly.

Today we have the conference excursion to see a castle...and get this, The Strickland family which built the castle about 750 years ago, STILL LIVES THERE!!! I just think that's so funny because nothing in the states is nearly that old. After that we are going to a hotel for a nice dinner and then TOMORROW are our talks. I am getting really nervous and now feeling like I don't understand some of the stuff I am presenting. I am going to try and find the B-physics guy here and see if he knows what I am concerned about.

We also have a plan now for getting to London and back to Manchester for our flight on the 12th. The trains here are really expensive as are hotels in London. SO. I found out about the bus system and we got tickets on the bus on Saturday night at 11:59pm, which gets into London at 6:15am Sunday morning. Then a bus back from London at 11:30pm on Tuesday getting us into Manchester at 5:40am on Wednesday, in time for our 10am flight. For Jason and I, round trip this was only 66 pounds. So as long as we can get some shut eye on the bus we should be good to go...probably pretty tired, but so worth it from a money prespective since now we don't have to worry about hotels for two nights (saturday and tuesday) and already that price is cheaper that two train tickets one way. So hopefully we have some funny stories....but no scary ones....I am guessing there will be some characters on the bus in the wee hours of the morning.

Alright, back to the conference and working more on our talks. Hopefully I don't shake too much during my presentation because I'll have to use a laser pointer, which usually shows every nervous jiggle one has.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Lancaster Adventures

It's so warm here! I think that one of the people said enjoy the weather because it will never happen again. The temps have been in the 70-80's and that means our meeting rooms has been in the 90-100s I am guessing.

In an attempt to lower the heat in the room the physics boys got an air conditioning unit to place on the floor in the room. But what do you need with air conditioning units? Somewhere to exhaust.....but we are in the middle of a in true nerd fasion : Get out the garbage bags and tape and we'll make an exhaust!

And it works. So now at least it's a bit cooler in here....although tons louder now too.

Yesterday during the afternoon session of the conference, Jason was working on his talk and we noticed that Power Point was all screwed up. I told him that I thought he should just quickly rewrite the whole thing in Power Point instead of trying to fix the current version. There was just something wrong with the colors and so every slide looked different. I thought since it was our first conference it should look as uniform as possible. I think it's because he wrote it on Power Point, then moved to Open Office, then back to Power Point and it wasn't happy. Anyways, after him giving me lots of big sighs and rolling of the eyes, I grabbed the laptop and had the talk moved over in about 2 hours. Now his talk looks great and he won't have to worry about it not transfering properly when opening it on the Windows machine.....too much anyways.

At the end of the afternoon session yesterday one of the graduate students from the University of Rome (by the way, how cool would it be to be able to say, "Yes I'm a student at the University of Rome"....anyways) mentioned that some of the folks were going to head into Lancaster town to watch the soccer match tonight and were going to meet at the Bookstore on Campus at 7:45. The dinner that is associated with the conference started at 7 so we thought we could go, grab some food and then meet up with people.

When we got to the place where the food was, which has been help yourself for all the other meals, we realized that for dinner instead it would be a sit down dinner. We sat with people that didn't talk much including a father and his daughter. The daughter, however, did spend the evening playing with her food which was quite entertaining. It was also about 8000 degrees in the dinner room, which made the steaming soup they served for the first course a bit annoying. I did overhear one of the women talking who is a professor at a university in Dublin called Trinity college (I think), talking about Guinness and when they first starting making it, they gave some certain about to the university for free (for advertising maybe since she said the college had already been there for a long time) and that it still goes on now. Which, you know is pretty sweet.

We finally got out of the dinner around 7:35 and went to make a run for the meet up. However, I had a whole pocket of pounds in my shorts in the rooms which I wanted for the bus so I could have change. Of course I get back to my room and my shorts have apparently dissappeared. Under the bed, in the closet, on the bed, under the desk. No. I was ripping the room apart, now convinced that someone had come into our room and stolen (cause that makes sense) my shorts. Jason came up and we continued to pull the room apart, and all of a sudden they were just on the bed. I still don't understand where they were before that. Anyways, I grabbed the pounds and we ran to the meeting point and alas we were about 5 minutes late and it looked like we had missed our meet up.

So Jason and I went into town anyways for something to do. We got off at the main city center and just walked around. The town of Lancaster is really cute. Very quaint with lots of shops and bars and old looking buildings and so on. We found a bar called The Sun Hotel Bar which was nice....lots of beer. We got two pints of beer and started watching the soccer match (Italy vs Germany in the semi-final). I'm sorry, I still don't get soccer. Nothing happened. The annoucers kept saying, "Ooooh this is a REAL nailbiter, there is so much tension in the air". Um, it's still 0-0. Most soccer games that I see final scores on are 0-0 or 0-1.....what flipping tension? Anyways we finished our pint (a real pint mind you so it was really big) and continued on our way. We took some pictures outside the bar and continued on our way.

We found the BEST seedy bar where the beers were....yep you guessed it 1 POUND!!!! It was a beer called Tetly's which was really good. I wonder if this is like their Budweiser beer. When they first poured it, it looked like Guinness with the sinking bubbles, but was a much lighter color. Tasty.

More soccer watching. More non-scoring. AND now I am noticing that the soccer players are quite the actors. Everytime they get hit or whatever they roll around on the ground grabbing their ankles, heads knees whatever. But THEN they just walk off the field like nothing was wrong. In fact many times, i would see the hit, then see the player look for the ref, THEN start rolling around. That being said, soccer players play hard. They are running all over the freakin' place and running into each other and in the end are big sweaty messes.

But still there is no scoring. Why not get rid of the goalies? Then the scores would be more like 6-4 or whatever since the non-goalie players do a nice job of defense anyways.

Ok that's it on my suggestions for soccer.

After the seedy bar we went in seach for some late night food and found a place that served food until 11pm. In the time that it took us to leave the seedy bar to find the place with the food Italy had scored twice. I was so annoyed that we had watched like 90 minutes of soccer and saw nothing happen and then in the 5 minutes it took to find food we miss two scores. Oh well. Go Italy!

After the food event we ran around the corner and found the bus back home. At this point after having 2.5 pints of beer apparently I was a little on the tipsy side and so Jason and I started taking funny face pictures of ourselves.

We didn't get up early this morning to run and are instead planning on going this evening since it's light until like 10pm here. Tomorrow we have an excursion which will go to the Lake District and we also have the conference dinner which will be at a hotel in town I guess. So I don't know if we'll have a chance to run tomorrow, unless we go first thing in the AM and since we are running tonight I don't know if it's such a good idea. We'll run Friday evening either way and then hopefully Saturday and Sunday. That's the idea anyways, we'll see how close we stick to it :-)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Running in the United Kingdom

What a great trip so far! Some lengthy travel log & pictures below! As usual click on the picture for bigger version.

Jason and I left Chicago around 8:15am on Saturday morning after only getting about 3-4 hours of sleep. Yes our flight was at 1:30 and yes we got to the airport at 9:30. BUT we got bulkhead seats for our flight to Boston and what we thought was going to be an exit row for the jump to Manchester.

Our flight to Boston was uneventful with a bit of shut eye. We landed about 30 minutes early which was nice, but of course the gate where the plane was suppose to go was still filled with the plane that hadn't left so we had to sit on the tarmac for about 30 minutes....making us of course right on time. We found a little bar in the Boston airport and had some beers and some REALLY BAD quesadillas. It's like they microwaved the chicken and cheese....and it was just really not good. The beer was good and we had a major game of War....which Leah won...of course. Jason almost made a comback, but my 3 aces were just too strong.

We had roughly 3 hours in the Boston airpot and then it was off to England. We actually had the row behind the exit row which means that the person who had the window seat (me) had no one in front of them, but the person in the middle seat had a normal seat. So poor Jason had his knees against the chair in front of him for the flight. Luckily he was able to pass out for the flight while I was busy noticing that the exit door looked a bit open at the bottom so I didn't sleep and instead was thinking about what I would do if the door flew open and pulled me out of it. How would I enter the water? A pencil jump? Which way would I swim? left? right?

We landed in Manchester and got through the airport around 8am. The first thing we noticed was that everything including escalators and moving walkways are backwards...going up on the left in stead of the right. Jason got to an escalator and just looked at it in utter confusion before making his way to the left to go up. In usual Jason and Leah fashion starting walking around town. We checked out the Northern Quarter where everything was closed, a coffee shop, and then the FREE art museum. It was the coolest museum I have ever been too. A lot of the exhibits were interactive and as you walked around the museum there would be signs on some of the displays that would say, "please touch" or "have a seat". I haven't seen that much in the States and so thought that was really cool. There was also a exhibit by the artist Pae White which was utterly spectacular. It was a huge room basically just filled with color. From the ceiling there were strings hanging with cut out pieces of colorful paper. There were three sets of these mobiles with hundreds of strings in each one. As breezes would blow through the room the mobiles would kind of move around. It's super hard to describe and I couldn't take pictures in that room so if there is ever a Pae White exhibit near you, I would say to check it out!

We continued to walk around town and found a really nice cafe and had some beers and a 4 cheese pizza and wrote some postcards. We continued onto what looked to be the main shopping part of town to look for a travel alarm clock. We found one at a what seemed to be a mix of Target and Ulta, a place called Boots. After this we headed back to the train station to make our way to Lancaster. At this point Leah was very VERY tired. I had been up for about 24 hours with not much sleep going into it. We dragged our way to the train station, immediatly got on a train and I proceeded to immediatly fall asleep. We ended up in Preston about 45 minutes later where we had to transfer to a train that would take us to Lancaster. The train to Lancaster was crowded and so we had to stand in the area between cars which was filled with people and NO air conditioning so it was a bit on the warm side.

At the Lancaster train station we noticed another physicist that was heading to the University so we split a cab with him and heading out of town. The University is about 3 miles away from town and we were dropped off right on the outside of campus and followed signs to the registration, checked in and found our room. We are staying in the dorms on campus (by the way, do all dorms all over the world use the same cleaning supplies? I am telling you our hallway smells exactly the same as my dorm back at Indiana University...very strange) and lucked out with a pretty nice room and a private bathroom which has a shower in it. At this point I didn't want to fall asleep because I wanted my internal clock on England time as quickly as possible. We went back to get our registration packet and after some back and forth to prove that we both in fact should have meals we were all set and headed back to our room. I thought about making one last ditch effort to find a phone and call my parental units....but apparently my head found the pillow instead.

Monday was the first day of the conference and was a fine day. The room where the talks are was a bit on the warm side, but other than that not much else exciting happened. We ended the day with a drink reception and dinner at one of the restaurants on campus. (I have to say we've been really lucky with the food. We get three rather large meals a day which was included in our registration fee). We talked to some kids that are located at CERN in Switzerland and asked how they liked it and what kind of work is going on there. This is the physics lab which will be fully running in 2008....hmm.....right after we get our PhD's. Interesting I tell you, very interesting.

Now onto the running.

England has hills. Chicago does not. This is what I am saying brought our run from 8 miles with 8x100 sprints to 6 miles run/walking with 6x100m sprints. Oh well. We are going to try again tomorrow and here's to hoping that the runs will get easier as the week goes on. We found a bike path that leads from the University to the town of Lancaster. We got a bit lost and didn't quite make it to town but rather ran through some English country side with sheeps baaing, rabbits bouncing and foxes bounding. All in all a good run but I am (of course) dissapointed with pacing and how much effort the run was talking. On the way back to the bike path we noticed a foot path that looks to run along a canal that might lead to town so we'll try that tomorrow. Plus tomorrow I plan on taking my camera so I can have pictures of where we are running.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for more stories as we continue to explore this wonderful northern part of England.