Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Sound of Hope, and my first loop of '08

As I mentioned in earlier posts, there's been a lot of construction -- rather, destruction -- in my neighborhood these last several months. Across from the rear of our building, on 57th Street, used to be a whole bunch of brownstones and low-rise buildings. "Back in the day," on Sunday afternoon somebody would usually practice their sax and we could hear it. It reminded me of my old apartment on W. 22nd St. which faced out on the backyard of a restaurant that had a Sunday jazz brunch. It's the only thing I miss about that apartment. Well, those brownstones are gone now, bought by and destroyed by Extell, to make way for what we're told is going to be Time Warner Center Junior -- shops on the bottom, hotel in the middle, residences on top. Right now we have a lovely view of the pit where this tower will eventually rise, and Carnegie Hall across the street. I was looking out the window today, in fact, before I went out for my run, thinking about the sax player and how much I missed it. When I got home, what did I hear but my friend the sax player practicing away! I thought this person was a victim of the 57th St. brownstone purge, but thankfully not. As soon as I heard it, I started to cry. With so many things in my life turning upside-down, to hear the sax again was an anchor to the days when this was a neighborhood. It's a good omen, it gives me hope.

For those who asked, yes, I'm in -- I did my nine qualifying races in 2007 and I have guaranteed entry into this year's NYC Marathon. Tomorrow morning is the first chance for those of us who've done that to claim our stake, and I'll be there. Then Fred's Team starts up in a couple of months and we'll be back on the training wagon again. Dear readers, and members of the Honor Roll, start saving your dollars because you know what's coming...

Speaking of running, haven't been getting in as much as I hoped this past week. That's the problem with being unemployed -- because you have free time, you book and book yourself and then there's no time left. Also, because you do have time, you tend to squander it -- oh, I'm free until X o'clock, I can mess around until then, and then all of a sudden half a day is gone. Now, hard as it may be to believe but I am the laziest person you could ever meet. Huh? But you run marathons! Yes, true, but on the other hand if there was a way for me to drive from my bedroom to my bathroom I would do it. Misplaced priorities. So having too much time on my hands is proving to be a bad thing.

The other thing that's eating away at my time is trying to get some pick-up work as a transcriptionist/scopist in these weeks between work (a scopist is someone who transcribes steno notes as opposed to transcribing audio or video material.) Turns out, not as easy as I thought (is anything ever?) It's one of those Catch-22 situations where you can't get work without experience, but you can't get experience unless you get work. I have most of the tools -- I have the computer, most of the software, I read steno, and with the steno machine I type 180 wpm -- but because I didn't graduate from a transcriptionist or scopist course I don't have the experience necessary to jump in and get some jobs. There are a couple of forums I started subscribing to, plus a transcription website that's been helpful in shaping my resume to make it look like I'm qualified (which I am, just not in the conventional way) and lots of job leads that might lead to some work. I was going to go back to school for these three more weeks that I'm home, but I don't think I want to spend the $$ to take basically 6 classes, which is all I'd get in before I have to go back to Florida. I'm heading down to school tomorrow to talk to them and see if I can work out a deal. Anyways, researching all these different things just takes a bucketload of time -- I sit down at the computer and zap, the day is gone.

But enough about me, onto, well, me. Running me, though. So yes, not getting in enough runs, but I'm really enjoying the quality of the runs. I never realized just how much better I run in the cold. I admire those who prefer warm- and hot-weather running -- I'm not one of them. Look at my paces for the runs I did this week, and mind you, I did not push the pace of any of these runs: 8:58 per mile on the humid day, then 8:16 for the 33 degree day Thursday and an 8:25 today for another 33, 34 degree day. I can't believe that I am that affected by the temperature that there would be that much difference between hot and cold weather. Boy, I'm going to hate running in Florida again, even though it will be good practice for summer. Yuck.

Skipped the Al Gordon 4 miler yesterday. Who is Al Gordon, you ask. Just read the race t-shirt: "In 2008 the former chairman of Kidder, Peabody will turn 107. He serves on NYRR's board of directors, gives to many research and social causes and still believes the discipline of sports can apply to a successful life. 'Keep moving' has been Al Gordon's lifelong motto. And what a life it's been." Yes, that's all on the shirt. Friday's promised snow and ice storms actually did happen, and the weather was just too dangerous. NYRR smartly called the race, making it a "fun run" instead and saying that everyone who registered for the race has it count towards the nine we need for guaranteed entry to NYC '09, regardless of whether we run it. I actually woke up early enough to contemplate going, but it was 31 degrees out, meaning that the roads were still icy. Slipping on the ice didn't particularly sound like my idea of "fun," and since I got the credit for it anyway -- back to bed.

To make up for yesterday, and because I wanted to, today I did my first full loop of Central Park since returning, my first of the year, in fact. I was dreading it a little, since I've barely done any hillwork for months. Florida is not exactly known for its rolling hills, you know. I didn't even think I was going to do the loop when I started out today; I set the Nike+ for 45 minutes. Tomorrow's supposed to be nice, too, and I figured two shorter runs instead of one longer one. But once I got out there, after the first few minutes of getting adjusted to the pace and temperature, I felt so good I just wanted to keep going. Besides, I signed up for a 15K in two weeks, I need to get a few decent runs in. The Park was crowded today -- people training for Boston, and also the More Marathon in April. I don't ever see a lot of people on the road in Florida, but I know they're there; they have Road Runner Clubs in Boca and Ft. Lauderdale, but they meet at times that don't work for my work. Anyway, I was surprised by how little I felt both Cat Hill and the Great Hill today. I'm pretty sure I've lost most of the benefits of our marathon hill training, but glad to see that some of it is still there. If I decided to do some repeats, I'm sure I'd be singing a different tune. I'm going to do a hill workout this week -- Sunday is the Coogan's Salsa, Blues and Shamrocks 5K, and Ft. Tryon Park is HILLY! That's a tough little 5K, but there is beer at the end. Mmm, 9am beer!

Off to the Oscars! More anon.

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