Friday, June 29, 2007

Miles, Cubs, Banks & Tastes

Yesterday went to the Jayhawks to join them for our 10 mile run. The ever famous Mouse was there...who is fabulous, it was nice to finally meet her and talk to her for more than the 2 minutes that we have gotten in the past.

The 10 miles was good, averaging 8:44 for the total. I didn't have time for pretty graphs but all the miles were again very consistant except for the last one which was at our race pace (cause it's fun to go fast at the end). After the run we enjoyed some Tivo'd So You Think You Can Dance? and joined them for the results show. After American Idol I had to step away from the reality shows as I got so attached to the people on there.....but c'est la vie....I might be hooked.

When we got home I had an email from some family friends saying that they had an extra ticket to the Cubs game this afternoon, front row, 3rd base line and if I wanted to go. Do I want to yeah....cause there is no NAN errors at good old Wrigley Field. Plus my double secret boyfriend Rich Hill is pitching and I couldn't let him down (Barrett was traded...I had to move on).

While I'm doing that Jason is going to talk to some old Fermilab people that left the field and are working for a Bank downtown. That's all I'm going to say about it could be nothing.

After the game, I'm going to Red Line it BACK downtown and meet Jason down on Jackson Ave and head to the Taste of Chicago.

Busy Busy Friday! Good thing I had a hard time falling asleep last night (tears on your pillow and all) and only ended up with about 5 hours of shuteye. Ah well, it's only sleep. I'll get some tomorrow.

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


That's how my programming is going today. What the hell is going on?


Running yesterday was a nice 5 mile recovery. Tonight it's 10 miles and some Jayhawk fun.

Frustrating day at work obviosuly.....but in exciting news from my better half.....Jason got the go ahead to get any job he finds starting now! As long as the company is ok with him not having PhD in hand (paper work still needs to be done) our advisor is ok with him getting a job before he's officially finished. Wheeee.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Just a Normal Wednesday

Haven't run yet today but we do have a 5 mile recovery run that we'll banging out later this afternoon. I have a love/hate relationship with recovery runs. As they are recovery our pace is much slower than a normal run, so it seems to take a lot longer to get through the run. On the other hand it's nice to get stuck by lights and not have to run to the next block or whatever to get across the street if we don't have to stop. Since it's recovery we usually use that time to stretch.

This weekend marks the start of the Taste of Chicago. Last summer for those of you that were reading this site remember that Jason an I had the work schedule from hell and missed out on a lot of Chicago things and spent many nights and days at the lab. This summer is the summer of us. We are doing as much as we can since we missed out last year. So Friday we are heading to the Taste after work if anyone is in the neighborhood. Next week we'll be picnicing for most of the day on the 3rd and then enjoying the sounds on John Mayer as he plays on the 4th.

Chicago in the summer. I ask anyone to give me a better city during these summer months. I love it! We deserve it too after the winters we have to endure.

My nerd factor is elevated these days as the new iPhone is being released on Friday. Given that I still have a year in my contract with Sprint and have no money to actually purchase said iPhone, all I can do is watch the videos and drool. It's going to be super sweet and I suppose it'll be just as sweet in 12 months. For those that haven't been caught up in the hype check this out :

Alright, from the land of Jason and Leah this is the latter, signing off.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

This is fun...

I have been following this guys other site for awhile. He's riding from Chicago to the east coast on his bike and either updating on the trip himself or having his friends back home post for him. A super fun idea and he's doing great so check him out :

I wonder how far Jason would ride on a bike....I'm guessing the train station is about it for him....well for me far would he run....

A Tale of Two Runs

You see, it's like A Tale of Two Cities, except it's different because I replaced the word "cities" with "runs." Well, that and I might actually make it all the way through this post.

Anyway, we had 8 miles with 10x100 strides today. After going to bed extremely early yesterday (see: lingering hangover) we were up at six and ready to go...back to bed. But, we stayed up, ate some toast, drank some coffee and...totally didn't want to run. Guh. But, whatever, we went.

It started out okay if you ignore the sweltering heat. It was probably only 80 out, but it was just unbelievably humid and we were nowhere near hydrated enough to deal with the amount of sweating we were in for. But, we pressed on and managed pretty good paces for the first 5 miles (between 8:30 and 9 after a 9:26 first mile) despite the heat. We then came to our designated "run sprints in the city" place which is just one of the schools near us. There is a nice, long sidewalk there and it works nicely for our sprints. We would sprint the straightaway, walk a little bit, turn around, jog back to the straightaway, and sprint again. Repeat ten times and we were done. These sprints also went pretty well except that one point when my soul left my body (I got it back). So I would say phase one of the run was good. Five solid miles and 10 solid sprints in tough conditions.

Thus ends run one.

Run two was not so good. We still had to run 1.75 miles before we were done. If you have plans to do these sprints in the future, do them at the end of your run. Or, at the very least, leave yourself less than a mile to go. It was so demoralizing to be exhausted and have so far to go. We walked a little bit to get our breathing under control. We then walked a little bit more for good measure. Ah, what the hell, might as well walk to the next light too. A quarter mile later we were running again...until we found a water fountain! Water! We drank happily and then it was back to running.

In the end, between the last stride, the post stride walking, and the drinking (oh, and the running), mile 7 ended up taking us 15 minutes. I wouldn't call this a "15 minute mile" per se, but it still ended up taking forever. The last mile we kicked it back up to a 9 minute mile and then, mercifully, we were done.

Only three more days until the Taste! Woot!

Go Cubs.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sunday's for Running and for Partying (apparently)

Well the weekend is now over.....good running and good partying made for quite the Sunday.

Saturday we didn't do much of anything. We got our 4 mile recovery in and then cleaned our place up and I ended up napping to the Cubs game. We really wanted to relax on Saturday because we knew how jam packed our Sunday was going to be. We were good little marathon trainers and went to bed at 10pm on Saturday night to get up at 5am to get our long run in.

The Pfitz schedule called for 14 miles and getting through it would be putting our weekly mileage at 40 miles which is a nice milestone to get to. We had such a good run on Thursday with better pacing and a good pace at that. We wanted to get our long run miles more consistent and we wanted to slow down a little bit. Our goal was to average at 9 min/mile. Our first mile was pretty slow at 9:55, but we brought the pace down and were very consistently around 9 minutes for the next 10 miles of the run. We had a higher mile time when we stopped and took a Gu (I don't like to stop the watch for water or Gu stops because we will do this in the marathon and the clock doesn't stop there). The last three miles I leave open to whatever. I like to get up around marathon race pace for the last mile and was nice to see that only our last three miles (8:23,8:22,7:57) were in that low range unlike previous weeks where many middle miles were low like that. Our average was 9min/mile exactly just like we had wanted to do. Our General Aerobic miles and our long run miles have been having the same pace, so I was happy that we slowed down a bit this week. Here's the graph :

We felt great those last three miles, still talking easily and running smooth.

After the run, we did our ice bath and laid down for about 45 minutes. We wanted to try and sleep because we knew we were going to be out the rest of the day at the Gay Pride Parade. We got up and on it and jumped on the Western Bus and got off at Diversey. Apparently they don't give transfers on the bus anymore so we walked from there to Broadway and headed to a bar we used to frequent what seems like a lifetime ago.

We haven't been there for 2 years so we were wondering what had changed or who had changed and we were a little nervous walking in to the place that used to know our names.....we were greeted with : LEAH, JASON HOW THE HELL ARE YOU!!! The people were the same, the bar was the same and it was really nice to see everyone again. We had some beers and then went down the block aways to talk to Haight and Lora and while we were standing there, someone came up to us and said, "Are you Jason and Leah?" We said, "yes....". The person is a fan of our blog and recognized us from pictures we have posted on here. So hi to Berner who made me feel famous :-)

Many beers later we were joined by Dawn who had to do some catching up. She had competed in a triathlon earlier in the day and had been battling traffic on the way home from the burbs. We had tons of fun hanging with Dawn for the rest of the afternoon. Many many beers later and after the parade, our old friend Will came by and told us that he had opened his own place down the street. So we closed out our tabs and headed to his new place, Brendan's Pub. We had a few beers and maybe the shot of Barcadi O at this point wasn't the best decision. Poor Dawn's boyfriend got drunk phone called. Barb might have gotten a drunk text message, I'm already horrible at texting...add in 8 beers too many and I'm sure it was totally unreadable.

After the bar we went to the Melrose diner and got some do all my good eating habits and behavior go out the window on Gay Pride Sunday! At this point I drunk phone called our friend Joe who was the best man in our wedding because the Melrose was a favorite of his when we used to live in the neighborhood.

We walked Dawn to her apartment, and then just for good measure, had to get an ice cream cone. We walked a little bit....Jason dropped his cone on the ground....we hopped a cab...and then ended up at Monday morning...with a pretty big headache....but all worth it. Below is a slide show of the afternoon's activities including hot boys on floats! And so now here we go...another week in front of us.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Perfect 10!

Yesterday the plan called for 10 miles. After Tuesday's debacle of a run I was worried. Lots of times it happens that I have shitty runs followed by other shitty runs....followed by....well you get the idea. I don't know if get a bad mental bug or the fact that I had a bad run in the first place is a sign that I am too tired or whatever.

According to we were going to get strong storms in the afternoon & evening. We were also so exhausted so we decided to ditch on the jayhawks (so sorry you guys) and run earlier at the lab. We thought we could go around 2:30pm, but again according to the weather the storms would be here by then. Not wanting to sit on the train soaking wet, we decided to go at 1pm when it was still nice and sunny out.

Oh yeah....sunscreen....we had forgotten it and since when we left home we weren't planning on running until 6:30pm so thought we wouldn't need it anyways. Right. I'm fine, but Jason and his ever so paleness got a bit toasty.

I have been having trouble with pacing. The average always ends up being fine, but I'm up and down and all around the place during the run. Yesterday's run was the first time that we have found our groove and gone with it. No mile was under the prescribed pace as they usually are, but the final two were still faster than the rest. It's always nice to finish the run with some gas left in your tank. For your visual pleasure :

Sometimes it's hard to run at the lab because we either do the rings or .... well that's about it lately. Yesterday we took advantage of most of the campus and headed to one part that we had never run on before which took us to the main entrance for the lab. There is an amazing sculpture there and was fun to see from the ground rather than in a vehicle.

It was just one of those know what I'm talking about. You look down at your Garmin to see how much farther it is to the next mile, and you are floored that you are at 5.98mi since the last time you looked at it which was "just seconds ago" you had just hit 5. I love these kinds of runs and they really bring home the "why I like to run".

So it was a nice fun easy (although sunny) run. 10 miles in 1:27:33 (8:45 avg). Tonight it's a rest day. We rode our bikes to the train (can't really rest right?) and are going to go grab a beer with the Kansas consortium on our way home since we haven't seen them at all this week.

This weekend has 4 recovery on Saturday and 14 on Sunday. Sunday also brings the Gay Pride parade. Jason and I will be attending and if anyone out there is interested in joining us we'll be at the bar Monsignor Murphy's on the east side of Broadway between Wellington and Barry. Drop me an e-mail ( if you are going to be out and I can be sure to keep an eye out for you.

Four miles, slow and steady

Yesterday was a rough day as Leah and I were both extremely tired. The fact is, we've been tired all week after a weekend where we, once again, did too much. Leah detailed it in a previous post, but I think all the running and walking and biking caught up to us a bit. We really need to rest for awhile after our long runs and that hasn't happened for a couple weeks now. This weekend, though...oh wait, it's Gay Pride. Well, we're going to try to run very early so we can catch a couple hours worth of napping before heading out. Hopefully that'll be enough.

Anyway, as I said, we were very tired yesterday and the whole day just dragged on. Being tired makes everything worse as nothing much gets accomplished at work and there's no motivation to do much of anything. Surprisingly, the crabby factor was pretty low for both of us, so that's a bonus. But still. So, it's good that yesterday's run was a short recovery run. We went out for four miles and made sure the entire run was as slow as we could make it. Slow slow slow. We were happily caught at a couple lights and even got a call from Leah's dad which allowed for a welcome break. It ended up being a very easy run and, although I'm still tired today, my legs feel pretty good. In the end, it was 4 miles in 39:10.

Today we've got 10 miles scheduled (and so 10 miles we shall do). We had originally planned to run with Mike and Barb, but Mike was sick yesterday so we're on our own. Since our clothes are already here, the plan is to run at the lab (hopefully before the storms roll in). While Fermi is certainly less exciting than The City, it does have the benefit of no light and no traffic, which has been an annoying feature of our last two midweek runs.

Alright, so that wasn't the most exciting post. You try making a post about a four mile recovery run exciting. But, since you made it all the way to the end, I will reward you with fun stuff:

Awesomely funny father's day post from Xmastime

Equally awesome valentine's day post (from same guy)

From CNN: Couple banned from naming son "4real" - God, I would love to be name 4real. It's super easy to text message that name. You would be at the top of every alphabetical list. "4" is probably the most stylistic of all numbers. This definitely rivals the names I've propose to Leah for future baby names: pwned for a boy, and l33t for a girl.

That's all from here.

Go Cubs.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Deal of the Century

Because it was impossible for me to bike with the backpack that apparently weighs the same as plutonium, I started looking for alternatives that were yes more girly and not so large. I really liked the Timbuk2 Commute messenger bag...but there is no way that I was going to spend $100 on something that was lets admit....a fashion statement (ok and it would help my back when I was riding a bike).

I did some research and found a discontinued color one through the REI-Outlet for $50 so half off. I thought I would try calling the REI store near my work to see if they happened to have it in stock. And not only did they have it....but they had it marked as $16.83. I told them to put it on hold, Jason and I went over there and 18 dollars later I am the owner of this *very* girly, yet awesome bag! I love it even more than I should because of how much we got it for!

Who Knows

Well my LT run did not go as planned, that much is obvious from my previous post. But what the hell happened? Let's review.

Because I was giving a talk in the afternoon we decided to do the run at Fermilab. This usually works out pretty well because it's very flat and very boring, so during LT runs there is nothing to think about or distracting me away from concentrating on my pace. So the meeting was over, we changed into our running clothes and at about 5:15 off we went to LT our asses off.

I wanted to slow down the first two miles before starting the LT miles because when I have practiced in the past I end up with miles in the low 8s and that doesn't bode well for the faster miles which follow. So we did good there, we were at 8:59 for mile 1 and then 8:35 for mile 2. Perfect. Time to start LT mile 1. Lose Yourself by Eminem came on the iPod :

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You Own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo

Perfect song, perfect beat, perfect sentiment.

First mile done in 7:35. Ok, good stuff. These first miles have been coming in at 7:15 and although my goal had been 7:45 or so I was ok with this because I felt pretty good. I was still feeling good during mile 2. Then at about 1.75 miles into the LT miles I got a stitch in my side so bad that it literally took my breath away. It felt like someone had taken a knife and jammed it into my side and then twisted it around.

Of course the question is why did this happen. I haven't gotten a stitch in my side since, I don't know when. During mile 1 when I looked at the Garmin I would see current paces anywhere from 7:15-7:45 or so (I realize that this isn't accurate but it can usually give me a rough estimate of how I am doing). During mile two when I looked at the current paces it was usually between 6:55-7:10. So maybe Eye of the Tiger was giving me too much pump in my step? Maybe the half a snickers bar I had before we went, or the water I had right before we left affected me.

I don't know. Maybe it was the extra biking and walking that we did on Sunday, or the fact that our pace was probably a bit to fast on Sunday, or it was the biking the morning of the LT run. I could go through all the possible things that I did different or the fact that I was probably going to fast had something to do with it. I am frustrated because had I not gotten that stitch I think I would have been fine. It was the most painful thing I have felt in awhile. I mean sure, legs get tired but your run through it. But this was breathtaking...literally.

The other thing to note is we had 25 mph winds in our face for the last two LT miles. One of the bad things about running at Fermilab is that if there is any wind it really picks up across the ring and is in your face for half of your run. Mile 2 was at 8:30. I gave the Garmin to Jason and told him to go ahead (we need to work on him leaving me when I'm feeling bad..for those of you that are working with Coach Leah, be happy that you aren't married to her because Jason got quite the earful for slowing down to stay with me...and by earful I mean people on the other side of the ring could have heard me "coaching" him). I took his watch and had my last two miles in 17:00. Given that mile 3 was probably at about 9 min/mile (tears and heavy breathing), mile 4 must have been at 8 min/mile. I think Jason's miles were around 8:15 or so.

The final two, post LT, miles were in I don't care what. Very slow.

I hate making excuses and when it comes down to it. I didn't get it done. Whether it was all the reasons I listen above or whatever. In the end it doesn't matter. The pace wasn't there and that's that.

So now what.

Well I'll do what I do. I'll keep lacing up my running shoes, keep trying to do what the schedule says, and I'll just keep running. Bad runs affect me for a long time so I hope to end the week with some better quality runs. I get to fail better at another LT run in two weeks you fucking 9 with 4 that I see teasing me on the schedule, you better watch out. I'm coming for you.

Tonight is a 4 mile recovery. Key word being recovery.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm. A. Failure.

That's how the LT run went.

Biking for a Change

This morning we decided to bike downtown and take the train because I have to give a presentation later in the day today and so we'll be staying here late and doing our LT run around the ring. Hence we'll be taking a later train home, which doesn't stop at Kedzie and since I don't want to walk 3.5 miles at 9pm after running a LT we needed our bike downtown.

I swear to God, every fucking day our schedule, how far we are running & what's happening at work, has to go into some giant matrix calculation to determine the combination of walking/driving/biking that will have to be in place to get to work.

So yes. We biked.

And for those of you that have been reading know that we got a new computer recently. This of course needs a better treatment than, "just put it in the bag and go" that our 5 year laptop got (we weren't that bad...but a new computer needs a bit of an upgrade). So, we got a computer backpack and had a sleeve to put the computer in and so now it's nice and protected. Plus there is lots of room in the bag for things like books and running clothes and so on. Since we are running at the lab this evening it was chock full of all kinds of good stuff. So I put on my super cool bag this morning and almost fell backwards it was so heavy. I look ridiculous wearing it as I look like a robot and it's about twice as thick as I am. This was *not good* on the bike. I had super sore shoulders by the time we were downtown. But at least I looked super cool...oh no...I looked like a super nerd....and being a physics grad student I guess that's a good fit.

ANYWAYS. I say yay! for the bag when we are walking because it's pretty comfortable, but horrible for when we are biking. Since we don't bike that much it shouldn't be a problem.

I am very nervous about the LT run tonight. We are doing it around the rings tonight at the lab which is nice because it's so boring here there is nothing else to focus on except getting those miles in correctly. I have a super fly mix of music loaded up on my iPod which should help. That's all from the world of Jason and Leah for now. Happy LTing all you Pfitzers.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Long Running on Sunday

Sundays are the days for long runs in our little household. Some folks prefer to shift schedules so that they can run long on Saturdays, but Jason and I have found that we very much like sleeping in on Saturday after our long commuting week and so stick with the schedule as it's laid out in Pfitz...which is good because I tend to be very much, "We have to do the runs exactly (!) when and how it says otherwise we won't even finish the marathon let alone get our time goal" A little dramatic perhaps....but this is Leah and those of you that know her know that she can be a little on the dramatic side from time to time.

Saturday we went to see Knocked Up with the lovely Lisa and her husband Evin and let me tell you.....I loved it and can't wait for it to come out on DVD. Highly recommended from this crew. On the way home we realized there was a mix up with some cars that were needed for the following day and thus realized that we were going to have to add in some biking on Sunday morning to get to the train station so we could get to our friends house out in Brookfield for a lunch that we were having.

So we decided to get up even earlier that originally planned and set our alarm for 5am. We went to bed early and were up and on it by 5:20. I had a minor freak out because I did snooze until 5:18 and so when I saw the clock I screamed, "JASON IT'S 5:20...WE HAVE TO GET UP NOW!!!" of course it wasn't a big deal at all as we just wanted to get out of the house and running by 6am. Which we beat as we were running by about 5:50.

Compared to our recovery run on Saturday in blinding 90 degree heat (right...our recovery run was 5 miles coming in at 47:30 or 9:30 min/mile) the 75 degrees felt nice and cool. I am still having problems pacing the long runs. I know I need to slow down but I get into a rhythm that feels comfortable and I end up running some fast sub 8:30 miles. We were up and down a bit, at one point the Garmin freaked out but luckily it was at a water stop, so we turned it off and back on again and got it back on track. The 1/2 mile before and after this were at exactly the same pace which I thought was good. We stopped for water as mentioned above around mile 4.5, then again at about 6.75 and splitting a bag of SportBeans (we again forgot to pick up some Gus :-( ) and then at about 8.75).

We averaged 8:50 min/mile and the run was broken up as follows :

So the problem I have is not the spikes as that is probably where we stopped for water, but rather the large dips, like on miles 3, 4,11 &12. And moreso the first two. I don't mind having my last mile be at or around marathon race pace because I like to remind my legs what that's going to feel like. But I would really like to find some consistency with the mid miles and try and keep things around 9 minute miles. Something to try next week.

After the run we both took an ice bath, quickly showered then it was on our bikes to get downtown to catch the 10:30 train to Brookfield. I was initially really worried about adding in the biking but it ended up being a nice ride (very slow) and relaxing and felt good on my legs. We also walked from the station to the house in Brookfield...all added up we did 7 miles of biking (there and back) and about 2 miles of walking. Can you say, "Hello Cardio!"

Tomorrow is my most dreaded workout of marathon training season. The lactate threshold run. It's 8 miles with 4 at LT pace. I am going to try for a 7:30ish on those LT miles. I think I get myself very worked up for these runs and if I would just laugh and have fun with them they wouldn't be so bad. So if you see two people burning down the lakefront path with their speed tomorrow evening it's probably Jason and I. If you also see one of them crying because one mile was off pace, it probably really was Jason and I :-).

Going for 40 miles this week and just for fun this is how we have been doing since the beginning of the year. Notice when I gave up on training for a spring marathon. I do like how the distance has been growing consistently since about the beginning of April with no huge jumps in weekly mileage.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

$2 PBRs....oooh Danger

Last night Lisa and Evin came over to our place and we went to The Blind Robin to celebrate Lisa completing her first year of teaching. YAY! Congrats!

The Blind Robin as I mentioned yesterday has $2 PBR when you have 4 of's only 8 bucks. nice. well thus goes my running early in the morning plan.

We have a 4 mile recovery today which I plan on taking nice and slow. Then I think we are planning on seeing Knocked Up later on in the afternoon.

Happy Saturday to all!

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's Even BETTER!!!

So the vibration of the laptop ended up being really annoying. After working for a few hours our hands would be tingling....which isn't right. So I talked to my dad online about it and told him I was going to take it back....and talked to him about the idea of the MacBook Pro.

So we went back to the Apple store on Michigan Ave and I got my Grandma W (she apparently could return *anything*) on, and was like, here's what I need to happen. The computer I bought isn't good, there is something wrong with it. So I want to return it and upgrade to the MacBook Pro. So they sent me upstairs to the Mac Genius Bar where a nice guy helped us and said it seemed normal. I told him that tingling hands is not normal. So he checked some stuff and compared the machine with the other MacBooks on the floor and said he agreed that it was vibrating more than it should so he wouldn't charge us for a restocking fee.

Then to make matters more complicated, I wanted to get the money back for the computer that I had bought...and buy the new one with a joint card my dad and I share. So after going through all the business we headed home with our new MacBook Pro!!!!! Big kudos to the Mac people for making it such a nice experience. Thanks again to my dad and stepmom for the very early graduation present. You are the best a kid could ask for.

After getting home from the Apple store, we had to go run immediately because we were meeting people for dinner at 6:30. 10 miles was on the schedule for the 4pm it was like 90 degrees outside. The heat made for a very up and down run. We forgot cash so there was no stopping for Gatorade along the way, however we did stop once about halfway through and go into a Subway for some water. I stopped the watch at this point because it was going to be a longer than just stop and quick drink and move on. We ended up finishing in 1:27:55, which is an average of 8:47 miles. To our surprise our last two miles were 8:26 and 8:13. We both felt like complete crap and so those times were shocking to us. We were very dehydrated after the run and noted that running at 4pm is probably a bad idea, but there was no other option for the run that day.

We met up with my cousins at this place called Rio's D'Sudamerica. It's a south american place on Armitage, just west of Damen on the North side of the street. It's SO good and the place was like empty. The dishes were reasonably priced and the chicken thing I got was delicious. I recommend this place for dinner...oh and try the raspberry was just as delicious!

After dinner we took the bus home and decided to stop into a new bar that opened across the alley from our apartment, The Blind Robin. And another great deal as it's awesome. They have $2 PBR drafts and I seriously don't remember the last time I found two dollar beers since I was an undergrad. I am thinking there will be some stumbling home on Thursday nights this summer (Friday's are usually off running days :-) ).

Thus ended my Thursday and now it's Friday and I have to find my advisor and go over some stuff for my analysis. Happy weekend all.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How about this for Elitist?

There are some new Pearl Izumi ads out there. I might have caught one while reading Runner's World, but I didn't pay that much attention to it.

Click here for the ad.

Now then.

I guess I'm not a runner. While I rarely run on a treadmill (count once in the last year), and I don't usually wear and MP3 player...but I have no problem with those people that do use those things. My favorite was the line, "if you have ever been at the helm of a jogging stroller then you are a jogger". I mean I don't care what my label is, but you can bet your life that the second I can after having a baby I'll be out there RUNNING.

It just seems a bit elitist to me. I never understood why the fast runners care how many people are in a race or what pace they are going and now apparently why they feel that they can even get a different label. They usually have a preferred start, they are not mingling with the "joggers". But those joggers have worked very hard to be where they are and I just wish they got all the respect that they deserved. Just because someone isn't running a 3 hour marathon doesn't mean that it's any easier for them.

I'm glad I don't wear that brand of shoes as I would probably buy something else since I'm not a runner.


rant over.

I'm off to play with MacBook. People who have one of these....when it's on a hard surface do you feel a slight (Jason says...very very slight) vibration where the heel of you hand sits? When I put the laptop on a placemat on my table I don't feel much, but if it's just on the hard table there is a slight vibration. I have read that other people have had this problem and so just wondering how common it is. Other than that all macs...working like a charm!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007



So you....

go to the Apple Store....and get a new one....90 days same as cash....sure thing I can figure that out somehow.

We are proud new owders of a MacBook.....woooot.

(although I have still lost all the presentations I have done which makes me do this :-( )

It's Dead

My laptop.

It died.

Along with all the presentations I have ever done (Yes yes yes...I should have backed them up).

I need to give a presentation next week....impartive that I have a laptop.

And I thought I was starting to have extra money this month.


(Someone hire my husband. He's coming out with a PhD in high energy physics in a few months and would be an asset to any company out there. And he's pretty.)

Back in the Saddle

Yesterday we headed to our favorite Jayhawk's condo to head out for an 8 miler w/ 10x100m strides. You could say that the running attitude by all 4 superstars was lower than usual when we started. I think everyone is still recovering from lack of sleep and lots of running over the weekend. But we do what we do, and changed into the running gear and headed out.

Jason and I didn't have our Garmin with us so guesstimated where 3.5 miles out would be. We knew we probably went a bit too far, but wanted to make it to the next water fountain since I was thirsty. Legs felt ok, not perfect but nice to shake them out and get them moving. We totaled 7.25 miles for this run in exactly 64 minutes, bringing us to an 8:50min/mile. Not too shabby since Jason and I were both pretty sore for the weekend.

After the run we headed to the track to do our strides. I definitely did the first few of these slower than normal, but was back up to speed by the end. I defiantly notice that my form starts to go during the last few. I really tried to concentrate on running clean which I think once I was thinking about it I was able to do.

After the running we headed back to the Jayhawk pad where the superstar duo served us a tasty salad and some pasta (thanks you guys). We also found out that the apartment above us is available...according to our rental agency's website. We did see lights on up there though when we came home so we are thinking that they just didn't update. But you never know.

Today is an off day. Then 10 on Thursday, 5 on Saturday and 13 on Sunday. Next week we have everyone's favorite...LT run. blech.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Dude, where's Jason's van?

Well, if I had to guess, I'd say it's the same place as Leah's van. But that's just a guess.

So Leah's already covered the details of the GMR, which only leaves me my legs to talk about. Well, they're about three feet long, normal amount of hair, rippling with muscles...ha, I kid, of course. They're a bit longer than three feet.

But before I get to the legs of the race (see what I did there?), let me just say that the GMR was one of the most fun things I've ever done. It was like a combination of a race, a road trip, and one of those character building high school trips (except without all the high school idiots). I'm really annoyed it won't happen again for another year and we all might just have to find another relay before the year is out. Van one, unite!

Other than the actual running, here are some notes the GMR:
  • Driving a 12 person van is super fun and I'm convinced we had the Cadillac of 12 person vans. It was really powerful and handled like a dream. I would argue that it cornered as if it were on rails, although apparently the people in the back seemed to think the turns were a bit dicey. That's not my fault. Blame inertia. Anyway, once we have kids, I'm totally getting one of these babies.
  • It is in no way annoying when people sing the same song over and over again. Really. Even if they only repeat the same four words. Really.
  • I miss Toby.
Okay, onto the race. Here's how it shook out:

Leg 1

I was pretty super nervous while waiting for Josh to complete his five miles. When we got to the transition point, we had plenty of time but I wasn't really sure where we were supposed to transition or what was supposed to happen with the transition. Luckily the volunteers gave pretty explicit instructions (which were: "get over here") and so it was pretty easy. After getting situated, I just had to wait for Josh and then run. Run. All by myself. Without anyone to pace me. Guh. To top it all of, my loop had a billion turns and I'm rather terrible with directions. Awesome.

But you know what, it ended up okay. The course was extremely well marked and there were a few course marshalls to help out. I noticed on my map that the first turn was 1.02 miles into the run, so I figured I'd use that to gauge my pace. After getting the baton (slap bracelet) from Josh, I took off after all the runners in front of me, matching their pace. I thought I was going sort of fast but I wasn't really sure. I knew I didn't want to pass them because I figured I would carp out and then get re-passed right away, resulting in utter humiliation (which I oppose), so I just kept matching them until the one mile point. And my pace was...7:30. Oops. Okay, so that's a bit fast. Still, it was only 6.3 miles, so I figured I'd maintain my pace and see how it would go. I was breathing kind of hard, but was keeping it under control. I didn't want to pass these people, but in the end I didn't have any choice. It seems that I'm not the only one that doesn't know how to pace myself and these women I was following started to fade. So, on the first hill I came to, they slowed and I passed them (note: first, but not last, hill). Then, since I was still maintaining my pace, I figured I'd go ahead and keep passing people. I was pretty fun.

There were lots of hills throughout but, despite my Chicago training, they didn't bother me too much. I'm sure it was just race day magic, but I was keeping a very strong pace and passed about a dozen people. Then I came to the next to last mile. And it was all uphill. Yes, that's right, it was uphill for a mile (well, I didn't have a Garmin, but I really think it was a mile). I had my time on my watch, so I knew I was almost done, so I just kept kicking it. The hill killed a bunch more runners, so I was able to pass a few more people and then, after the endless hill, a volunteer shouted that we had about a mile to go. Thank god. The last mile was entirely downhill and I was able to cruising into the finish. This was my best run of the day, coming in at 48:50 for the 6.3 miles for a 7:45 pace. Definitely better than I expected and a good start to the day.

Leg 2:

As Leah mentioned in her race report, we vegged a bit between legs and tried to get some rest. I didn't sleep (I think only Mike and Dawn got any sleep), but I did close my eyes for a bit which helped. I was pretty excited for my next run since it was only 3.5 miles and I knew I would be able to run it fast since, well, why not? It was such a short distance that I knew there wouldn't be any reason to slow down.

This leg was just a straight shot down a bike trail, so I wasn't worried about getting lost. Josh came barrelling well ahead of schedule and, motivated by his super-fast pace, I took the baton and left at a dead sprint. As you might guess, this was a bad idea. I was instantly sucking wind and my breathing was really ragged. Luckily there was no one around to hear this as I was hardly in good runner form. Still, it was a really short run, so I didn't want to slow down too much. Frankly, I just wanted to get it over with. So I kept running...and then my phone rang. This is actually Leah's phone and I knew the special ring that was going off. It was here Dad calling from the Dominican Republic, so I figured I'd better answer it. I'm sure it was a surreal call for him as I was sucking wind trying to talk to him and he couldn't stop laughing at the situation. I told him to call back in about an hour and half and hung up, but not before finding out that the Cubs were up 2-0 (they'd go on to win 9-1, but that's neither here nor there). After that rather odd exchange, I continued on. The little phone conversation really threw me off, but I had less than a mile left. I reached the local college, which is where I knew I was finishing, so I kicked it into gear...and then reached a hill. A hill like no other. It was 10 miles if it was a foot. 90 degrees straight up. And so I slowed. I really tried to keep going fast. Really. But my tired legs kept slowing down. But there was the finish! Thank god. Off went the baton to Leah and I finally was able to stop, vomit my lungs out onto the ground, and relax. I had finished with a nice time, although I was *way* overexerted myself. Definitely not a pretty run. Still. 26:30 for 3.47 miles is a 7:38 pace which is really pretty nice. I couldn't have gone another foot, though.

So we took off and headed to the next exchange. Hey, there's Leah! (honk honk, cheer, cheer) Whee, drive drive drive. And then Mike's phone rings. It's Leah. My stomach drops as I know this can't be good. She's unlikely to just be calling to chat. Mike answers and I can see that things aren't great. He looks a bit confused and then just slowly hands the phone to me. I understand why as I take the phone and Leah's somewhat worked up. I'm pretty good as sorting these things out, so I managed to figure out that she's lost. At first it sounds like she's on the bike trail but hasn't seen a sign or another runner, so I figure she's just panicking because they only put signs at turns. Then the call is disconnected. This really pissed me off as I figured we were losing signal and so I called back. We talked again and then I was disconnected again. This was really frustrating. After the last disconnect, I realized that Leah was hanging up on me, which was totally understandable given that she was trying to run. Had I realized, I would never have called back the first time, but I thought I was dealing with cell phone problems. So, what to do. I wanted to go find her, but I didn't know how this was going to happen. She didn't have any cross streets since she was first on some random grassy trail and then on train tracks. We drove to the train tracks and stood on them looking both directions, trying to see here. I really didn't understand how we were going to find her and felt pretty helpless. Thankfully, she called and said that she had found the trail, so we headed to the transition. Eventually she arrived and, although there was a bit of trauma, seemed intact. Still, a pretty scary situation.

Leg 3

I was pretty excited about Leg 3. Actually, I was completely terrified of leg 3 giving how raggedly I'd been breathing in the first two legs and now I had to go 7.16 miles. I was really worried that I would go out too fast and then have a crappy run. But then I discovered that I'd be running by the lake at dawn and I was excited again. I just figured I'd take it slow and get through the run and enjoy the scenery.

Holy crap was that a good choice.

This was possibly the most beautiful run I've been on. Ever. I took off from the exchange in the dark and headed towards the lake. I didn't see any red arrows, but I figured that they would use the bike path for the run so I went that way. It was right along the lake and the sky was starting the grow light just as I began my run. The horizon was blue, pink, and purple and I could see the pre-sunrise though the masts of the boats on the harbor. Of course, to do this, I had to keep looking over my shoulder since I was running north, which made the run pretty slow. I was okay with that. In fact, I was wondering how slow I could justify going at that point and not be totally ridiculous. I knew if I was slow enough I could see the sun peak over the horizon, but I also needed to get the run over with. In the end, I had to just give up on the sun and move on. I'd already been passed by two (super speedy) runners and didn't want to get passed by any more than I had to. So I picked up the pace slightly and got on getting on. And then I realized why the bike path wasn't chosen for the run as it dead ended. The guy who had just passed me informed me of this and suggested we head over the bridge to get back on path. This seemed like a good idea, so I headed that way. I found a red arrow again and I was all set. Right after I figured out my mistake, the van called to let me know which was good, but I was luckily all set anyway. I saw the van at mile 1 (or thereabouts) and handed off my headlamp to them since it was light enough and, free of that restriction, continued my run.

After (sadly) turning away from the water to head west, I encountered a few runners. I run behind them for awhile, matching their pace and taking my time. At some point around downtown Racine, I was passed by another runner who didn't seem that fast. At this point I decided that I wanted to catch that guy who passed me and so I took off. I passed the guy who had been pacing me and said hi to him. He seemed surprised and said that I was the first person to say hi to him during this relay. We both agreed that people took this thing too seriously and I moved on. I could see the guy ahead of me I wanted to catch and so I started really running. I was half way done so I wasn't worried about turning it on as I felt really good. For the last three miles I slowly gained on him, although he picked up the pace when he turned and saw he behind him. I never caught him (and wasn't every withing more than a tenth of a mile, if that) but it was good motivation to run faster. I didn't have a final time since I apparently didn't start my watch when I thought I did, but I ended up at somewhere around a 9 min/mile pace. Given my strong second half, that means my first half was around a 10 minute mile. Good thing I picked up the pace.

Seriously, I really, really lucked out with this run. After two pretty mediocre runs as far as scenery goes, I scored big time with the most beautiful run of the whole trip. Just awesome.

So, in the end, I was really, really happy with the paces of my first two runs and didn't care that my last run was a bit slow. It's really hard to not run your ass off when the runner before you kicks ass and you know you are being followed by a super strong runner. You don't want to let your team down. I think that's why everyone on the team exceeded their expectations and we maintained such great paces. It's an awesome team event and I can't wait to do another.

Dude, Where's my Van? You rock.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Dude, Where's Leah's Van?

This past weekend saw Jason and I running in the Great Midwest Relay which starts in Madison, Wisconsin and ends at good old Montrose Harbour in Chicago. This is the first time I had taken part in a race like this and I already can't wait for next year!

Things got off to a bit of a rocky start with long lines at O'hare holding up our van pickup. Meeting for dinner at 6:30 quickly moved to meeting at Mike and Barb's at 8:30pm and an 'eat on your own' policy enforced. We left The Jayhawks pad around 9:20 on Thursday night, got into Madison around 11:30 and after checking into the hotel and going through a team meeting we got to sleep at about midnight (while falling asleep to American Gladiator on ESPN Classic....which in a word of course is awesome).

We decided to all get up early and head over to check in the team. This would probably be done differently next year (yes already talking about next year!). There is no need for everyone to go check the team in, especially for the people in the second van who wouldn't even be running until the afternoon. After checking in we headed back to the hotel, got our stuff together. We also got our race t-shirts and Lisa and noticed that they were a 'little long'. It made a cute '80s dress on Lisa, and I think all she needs is a rad gold belt to complete the 'look',

Quickly enough it was time to head to the start line and for van 1 to head off. The whole team came to see Josh (aka Full Metal Lunchbox) start and soon enough the verbal, "on your marks, get set...go" came on and he was off. Leading the race for the first 100m too! Van 1 headed to the meet up point and Van 2 headed back to the hotel.

My Leg 1
I was the third runner in our van and after Josh handed off to Jason we headed to the next meet up point and I started to get a little nervous. What if I got lost, and what would it be like running alone (Jason and I have trained together for the last 3 years....and if I do run alone it's in Chicago so not much alone time there). Soon enough we see Jason, he hands off to me and we are off. I catch up with the girl in front of me and chat a bit with her. I realize she is a bit behind me so I keep chugging forward. At this point in the race the runners were still close together so I was able to keep my sites on runners in front of me. I caught up with 4-5 runners along the way and as I got close to the end I saw Josh who ran in the last little bit with me...which was *awesome* thanks Josh! This leg was very hilly which was a shock to my flat as a pancake Chicago running that I do, so I was very pleased with my performance. I ended up doing the 4.85 miles in 38:08 (7:51 pace).

I was followed by Mike who had a long 7+ mile run, then Lisa who and ending with our Anchor Dawn. Everyone did better than they had predicted. Nice job van #1!

We traded places with Van #2 and headed towards where the next van exchange would be. Along the way we found a pasta place and got some food. I ended up getting a giant Italian beef sandwich that I thought I was going to regret because it was a big honkin' amount of food. However, the next time we ate was after our last leg so it ended up being a good idea. We headed to the next van exchange point and had about 2.5 hours to spare before the second half of our team made it there. Dawn, who can sleep anywhere, passed out in the van while the rest of us hung out in this large grassy area and read and dozed on and off.

Soon enough the other van was there and it was time to head out for our Leg #2

My Leg 2
Well this is where things got a little hairy for me. I had a 6.2 mile or so run. I felt ok, a little nervous as usual. Jason came up the hill to the exchange and off I headed. The director at the position told me where I was going and that the bike path I was getting on was not right after railroad tracks that the map showed because there weren't any railroad tracks. There were two runners in front of me that I was slowly catching up too, but all of a sudden they disappeared from view. The course had these red arrows at turns and so I was keeping my eye open for that. I had gotten the first three turns done, but I hadn't looked carefully at the map and so I had misunderstood that the bike path was not actually bumped up to the road I was on, but actually at the end of one of the streets that connected, so I should have made a turn. I knew the turn should have been at about one mile in, and although I didn't have Garmin with me, I knew my pace and so when I hit 9 minutes, I knew I had missed it. I *never* get lost, so you can say I'm not cool under fire. I found two women walking and asked them where the bike path was too which they responded, "What bike path? I think you are in the wrong place there is no bike path around here. Maybe head down to Pearl street and you'll see it". So I head back to pearl street, and don't find it, but find two guys and asked them where the bike path was to which they said, "What bike path? Maybe if you go to the end of the block, turn left, you'll see it"

At this point I am *freaking* out. I can't get my breathing under control and I have *no* idea where I am and I don't look to be in the best of neighborhoods. I follow the guys advice, and do find a path...of course I use the word path loosely as it was tall grass that was worn down a little bit where people had walked on it. I think maybe it's mountain bike path and just keep heading on it. I had called my van numerous times in hysterics (so 4 people got to see the Crazy...Jason already knows of it obviously) and suddenly the "path" ends up on a railroad track. With no way off it. I realize that this is the railroad track that is on the map, so that the actual path had to be on the left. But it's a track with no where to go but stay on it. The sides were steep and so I had to run on the ties of the track. I was worried a train was going to come by, but luckily none did.

I got to the next busy road, found the bike path, this time paved and headed onward. At this point, I am still freaking out amid a panic attack and just want to get done but realize I have about 4 miles left to go. As I am running, alone, with no other people around I start to realize that I am watching way way WAY too much Law & Order Special Victims Unit reruns, because I start to freak out that someone is hiding or something ridiculous like that. It always happens that someone is alone on a running path.... My Dad who is in the Dominican Republic ends up calling while I am in the middle of this. The connection is terrible however and so I can't talk to him. and I keep freaking out.

In the end I feel RIDICULOUS because I totally could have been fine if I had understood the map better. If I could have just calmed down in the first place I would have been fine and realized where to make the turn, but I just couldn't get under control. I don't know what my pace was for the run, but it took me an hour to do the whole thing with the extra distance and the stopping and the keeling over from almost getting sick in the middle.

A big thank you to my van for understanding and to my husband for dealing with the Crazy while I was out there. Next year, I'll be reading all the pieces of my map. I also heard that many people got lost on that leg which makes me feel a bit better....although still ridiculous for my behavior.

ANYWAYS. Onward.

During this part of the trip we hit the time where the vests and lights were needed. Lisa and Dawn both had to run with the headlamps and the vests and flashing lights attached. It was super dark out and after Lisa finished she said that we really needed to follow Dawn as it was so dark out. So we did some leapfrogging with her. We would drive ahead, and then let her run past us, then drive ahead.....and let her pass us and so on until we got to Van exchange #2.

All of our legs for our round 2 were shorter than Van #2 was expecting. Jason had a 3 something, Mike and Josh a 4 something, Lisa about 2, I had the 6 miler and Dawn had about 5 miles. When we called van#2 to let them know that Dawn had started and they had about 45 minutes until we got there, we realized they had yet to get some sleep. They didn't look thrilled to be taking the baton, but they went on and we headed to the next van exchange to get as much sleep as possible. There was word that at this van exchange there was a church that opened it's doors to the runners and let people sleep on the floor so we were all excited about that. On the way there however, we got hit with a freight train....a freight train which stopped. The exchange we were trying to get to was on the other side of the train and so we were all a little bit annoyed at this point.

Finally the train moved on as did we. We found the church, got a room to sleep in. Everyone but Jason and I slept in the church, while Jason and I went back to the van to sleep on the benches. The room in the church was small and with us in there it would have been too crowded. Our van was parked right at the runner exchange point however and so every so often we would hear the screaming cheers of teams followed by the runners yelling (right behind our van), "Which way do I go?!?!?!". We slept in the van from about 12:30 to 2:30 or so, but not much all in a row.

At about 2:30 or 2:45 or something I texted Barb to find out where the kids were and found out that their final runner was just about to start. We went into the church to get our teammates moving and suddenly we were all in motion again.Josh started his run in the complete darkness and we leapfrogged him to Jason's exchange. Jason lucked out with his leg because he got to run right along the lake at sunrise. It was so beautiful out and we were all a bit jealous that he got to run this leg.

We headed to the runner exchange and at this point I over heard a guy say, "I heard that there is still a team that started at 9am here...that's crazy". I said, "Yeah we started at 9am" and found out that his team had started at 2pm! Those are some speedsters there! He also asked Mike if he was, "On the team with the 8 women." Which I thought was a little rude but whatever.

My Leg #3
Jason came motoring in and now that the sun was up and it was daylight I didn't need the nighttime equipment. I took off and found a rhythm. This run was just about the opposite of any run that I do. There were no people, it was on a gravel bike path, there were no people, it was quiet....there were no people. Next year....iPod for sure. It got a little quiet and a little lonely out there but yet something about it made it pretty nice. I passed two runner and got passed by one. This was a pretty uneventful stretch for me. Just motored forward. 6.7 miles done in 54:31 which ends up being a 8:08 pace and a nice way to end up my trip.

We got through the other 3 runners, exchanged vans and headed down to Chicago. We had found an IHOP online via Josh's cell phone and decided to go there for breakfast which was *delicious*. We got to Montrose Harbour at about 11:30 am and waited for van #2's last runner to motor in. We had celebratory beers and cleaned out our van and hung up in the shade. We got word that the anchor was on her way and we hoped that the van could find parking in time so we could all run across the line together. Luckily they just made it, and we crossed the finish line about 30 hours after we had started.

After the race Jason and I headed home to relax for a bit before going back out to meet the team at Trader Todd's. I was *so* tired that I was a bit on the dizzy side. I think I fell asleep during the Cubs game, but I kept waking up and it kept on being the first inning. So I didn't sleep much if at all. We headed to Trader Todd's and had a good time laughing with our teammates and all of us attempting to keep our heads from hitting the table from exhaustion.

This was a *fantastic* experience for me and I can't wait to try it again next year. It's a thing that needs to be treated as a running event and not as a road trip event. We had games and snacks and so on and so forth (which were never used)....but no real stuff to help fall asleep or warm clothes or blankets or anything. It's always nice doing something the first time....because you find out all the things you should and should not do the next time you try it. To check out a slew of more pictures check this album out :

GMR 2007

You can also check this album of picture's that Lisa took (she even has one of me running!).

My legs are still sore from the run. I think I probably did my sections a bit harder than I should have. The first leg was very hilly and I still did sub 8's which is probably why I'm feeling the soreness still. Hopefully all will be better tomorrow because it's on to week two of Pfitz. Stay tuned for Jason's report.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

2 States, 2 Days, 35 cities & towns, 36 legs

Looks like!

Congrats to Dude, Where's my Van? Analysis and pictures and stories a many from the Great Midwest Relay to come. A big thanks to Barb for all her hard work as our beautiful captain.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I See the Hook

I have been working on my Physics PhD for 5 years...well not quite 5 years. At this point 5 years ago I was working in Chicago for an engineering company and taking my big fat paychecks straight to our local pub and promptly spending them....that was the beauty of getting paid every two weeks....anyways....onto some history of me....

The first two years of the degree were spent in Bloomington going through the course work needed for the degree. The first year you take the 'core' courses which consisted of Electricity & Magnetism, Quantum Mechanics, Classical Mechanics & Thermodynamics. At the end of the summer following that first year you take a Qualifying Exam. This was a two day exam, 5 hours & 8 questions each day covering the material learned in the first year. At this point I was doubtful that I would pass the test. The test is funny because is a strict failing point and a strict passing point....and then there is a gray area in between. The department looks at how you did the courses, if you had started research and so on. After the exam was over on that second day, Jason and I jumped into the car and drove to New York City. We didn't think we passed and were going because...hey maybe someone would see us walking down 5th Avenue and think, "That girl is fantastic.....I'm going to offer her a job".

We didn't have computers with us but we did find an Internet cafe. We had an e-mail from our advisor saying that we should get together after the department met to talk about what happened and what was said. We sheepishly realized that we didn't tell him we were leaving for the rest of the week and wouldn't be there....we had been studying non-stop for the previous 8 weeks...we were getting out of there as fast as possible. I was about to respond to apologize, when I noticed an e-mail farther down from the Advisor with the word "Congrats......" in the subject. We read it quickly and found out that Jason and I had both passed our qualifying exam.

(The next day we got engaged on the Brooklyn Bridge....but if I go into that story this post will be even longer and since it's about career I'm skipping over engaged....then called everyone we knew to tell one was home :-) )

We get back to Bloomington and found out that Jason and I had received almost the exact same score on the test....but got nothing the same correct. We were two students in the gray area and Rick said that the department all stood up for us to pass. We had decided that we would have walked away with our master's had we failed and since we were expecting that, we were a little shocked but excited to be able to stay.

The second year you take classes that are towards your area of interest. For Jason and I this was, Quantum Field Theory and Particle Physics. Field Theory was a joke....well not really. We had a great teacher for that class, but it's a class for theorists and Jason and I were frequently a little lost. Homework sets took up roughly 20 pages per week. The particle physics class was taught by our Advisor which was a really good class. But it was a long year to say the least. The homework room was a second home to us and usually the night before the Field Theory was due, I would be happy to have an hour of sleep.

Towards the end of the second year, we were talking to the head of the department who asked if we were going to Fermilab. We hadn't heard anything but we talked to our advisor who said that was the plan. We figured out that we could count some of our undergrad classes (grad level taken as undergrads at IU) towards graduation and so....we were off to Chicago.

So three years ago, Jason and I came to Fermilab and have been here ever since. We have had good times and very very low times. There have been many tears shed (by me of course), there has been doubt at my worth, doubt at my ability to finish the degree, doubt that finishing was even worth it. But then it happened. After 16 months (the first year and a half was spent on a service project), my analysis came together. I ran the piece of code that has been haunting my dreams for the past many (many) months......and it worked. I have a result! I have a lot of work left mind you...error checks and systematic checks and so on....but I have a starting point. I have a light at the end of the tunnel.

There were so so so many times that I was about to throw in the towel : The core courses nightmares, the qualifying exam, Field Theory homework sets, our first months at the lab when we didn't have an office and were sitting in a high bay area with no phone and no computers and saw NO people, working on a service project that ended badly, starting work on a thesis and working on it for 6 months and realizing a fundamental mistake in the understanding and then coding, having to start from scratch at that point, nasty words thrown at my advisor for maybe some will say a good reason and I will say I am embarrassed about now.

But when I presented my work at the meeting last week, I was proud of myself (I'm never proud of myself). I knew the amount of work that had gone in to just get to the point where there could be that flickering light at the end of the tunnel and I knew that I had done a good job on it and it has made not throwing in that towel totally worth it. Yesterday there was a poster session at the lab and I was able to present the work that I have been working on for so long and it was fun. It was fun talking to people younger than me and laugh with the people that are older than me about the amount of bullshit it has taken to get through.

I don't know what's next. I always worry about that. Jason and I go back and forth between selling out for real jobs to help pay the bills, to staying in and maybe getting a postdoc position here or in Europe at the labs that are located there. We think about the fact that we could get a postdoc, and move to Europe and we get all giddy and excited and then realize...that well....maybe we need to move the party along. Are the skills gained worth the time in...and if we move to Europe..what about the Bears...and the Cubs what would they do without us in town rooting for them.

Maybe the point is we don't know....but these last 5 years have been (in hindsight of course) fantastic. I see the hook and why my advisor loves it and works his ass off at it. There is a nice (for the most part) community here and it makes people want to stay and work harder and make new discoveries. It's an experience that I would never want to give back even if I do deviate from the physics track.

Was this whole post just a cover up for the fact that I haven't been running much this week.......nah.

Tonight it's off to Wisconsin and we'll be GMRing tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I'm All Heart Mother Fucker....

Oh no. That's not me. That's Cuba Gooding Jr in Jerry Maguire.

I loathe (that's right loathe) being off a rigid schedule. This week was kind of up in the air because of the GMR relay this weekend. I did the first week of marathon training last week and will do week two next this week was kind of just....well I want to get miles in.

Yesterday we were at the lab for about 13 hours because of a career night...which unfortunately was terrifying. Basically the older scientists said, "There's no more positions at the higher levels." I take that to mean don't bother staying because you'll get screwed because there are no positions. I have been hearing that for the past 3 years. The kids that had left the field terrified me because the one guy that works for Allstate says he gives people he interviews live coding tests during the interview. I am a pretty good coder, but a lot of what I do is doing it to get it done. It's not pretty, but it's functional. Of course I realize that I can always work on making it pretty but I would hope that hiring managers would take me for what I am (which is awesome) and realize that I can learn the neatness and better organization as I go along. So if anyone out there is looking for a super cool PhD physicist I'll be graduating in about 8 months. :-)

We decided to not run last night since we got home at 10pm but to run this morning. 5 miles. Very Very Blah. Just not good. Some walking thrown in, averaging about 9:30 miles, just really off our game. We did run into the Lovely Lisa on the way though which was fun and talked to her about the race this weekend that we are all looking forward to.

I know that I do better with a schedule. For example, if I knew I had to do whatever the prescribed run was, I would have done it before the career night and showered here. As it stands though, I was like, ehhh I'll do it tomorrow. I'm chalking it up to bad mental, bad everything yesterday and hope that upcoming runs are better. I have never understood these bad runs. Weeks and weeks of good stuff and then all of a sudden BAM! craptastic run. I know it happens, it's just never fun when it does.

Another long day at the lab today, but then 1/2 day tomorrow and it's onto Wisconsin tomorrow night! Stay tuned for what will be a wacky filled few days.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Bleacher Bum and a Marathon Runner!

Well a fun weekend is over and done with and we are back to Monday morning.....BUT this will be a fun upcoming week with the Great Midwestern Relay happening at the end of it!

The past weekend was chock full of good times and I just about had to crawl into bed last night. Saturday was a pretty lazy day with a nice 4 mile recovery run in the morning and then napping and Cub baseball watching in the afternoon (I don't want to talk about the Big 'Z' hitting my secret-boyfriend Micheal Barrett......perhaps Barrett could have used a visit from me to console him and his black eye and split lip....maybe I would have been arrested for stalking....anyways). Another bad Cubs loss on Saturday but a nice show from Piniella kicking dirt on the umps and his hat all around the field.

Saturday night we met up with my step-mom's family for some good food and fun times at The Parthenon restaurant in Greek town. Jason, my cousin Chris and myself had no problem polishing off a couple bottles of whatever that good Greek wine was. We found out that Chris might have two extra tickets to the Cubs game on Sunday so we made new plans for running to accommodate that possibility. Add into the mix that we wanted to walk part of the Avon Breast Cancer walk with a friend of our family, Kay and still get to the ballpark in

We got up at 5:30 on Sunday morning and were out the door by 6:30 for our 12 mile run. Since we were up early, we headed to the lakefront path since traffic along Chicago Ave, wouldn't be bad at such an early hour. It's 4 miles to the lakefront from our apartment, so we then ran north for 2 miles making for a nice 12 out and back route. It was so humid on Sunday morning so when it's starting to sprinkle a little we were very accepting :-).

Nothing too interesting to report about the run, I just wish that we could be more consist ant with each mile. Although I am zoomed in on the graph, so it's probably jumpier looking than it actually is. But those first four miles weren't fantastic with the 4th one coming in at 8:24, then we slowed back down to where we should be and followed another downward path to the end. I don't mind doing that last mile fast...but would really like to see more consistency in the previous miles. Again as I add on distance this should come naturally. We averaged 8:45 miles coming in at eactly 1:45:00.

After the run we showered very quickly and headed right back out. We walked over to Damen and took the bus to Belmont, and from there walked to the lakefront path. We found out that the walker we were looking for, Kay, was still a ways North, so we walked to the Totem Pole and waited for her. When she got there we chatted and walked with her to Diversey. The Breast Cancer walk was *amazing*. Kay said that they had raised something like 8 million dollars just from the Chicago walk alone. After leaving her we walked back to the ballpark and met up with Chris and his friend at Murphy's Bleachers.

That's a lot of fucking walking....after running 12 miles.....and all done before 12pm!

What a *great* game to be at. I don't know if I have ever been at Wrigley for a grand slam. I'm sure I have been, but that was just about the most exciting thing that could have happened. Sean Marshall was amazing and it was nice to see the Boys in Blue keep on scoring. The guy behind us in the Bleachers had made a bet with someone that he would chug a beer for every inning that the Braves didn't score.....needless to say that ended up being pretty funny since they didn't score till like the 7th. In the end the Cubs win 10-1 and looked the best they have all year I think....maybe that's just because I was there. But they played clean, fundamental baseball. Let's hope this is the turning point for the season.

After the game, we walked back to Damen, caught the bus back to our neighborhood and then walked to our apartment. I just mapped out how far we walked.....8.5 20.5 miles on the wonder my legs are sore today! I usually underestimate how far we walk and yesterday was no different...oh well it was a great day in the city and it was nice to walk around.

Needless to say when we got home we crashed pretty hard. I'm not saying that I went to bed before 9pm.....but....well......that's all I'm saying.

This week's running plan will be a bit different than usual since we have the GMR on Friday/Saturday. I'm going to try to get in about 16 miles before that, so I'm thinking 7 tomorrow, 6 on Wednesday and 3 on Thursday.

Alright, Happy Monday everyone.