Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Much more interesting to me has been the familiarity of the boarding school lifestyle that the author conveys in her books and my experience. Here is a little known fact. I attended a boarding school in North Wales for 3 years. I was there between 1979 ~ 1982. My 13th, 14th and 15th year of my life was spent attending a boarding school.
Here are some of the similarities.
My school, Lindisfarne College was an old castle style building that was over 400 years old. It was apparently last occupied by a local coal baron before it was converted into a school. The building was built on a hilltop and the legend was that all land you could see from the building belonged to the owner of the house.
Ghosts. Yes, we had ghosts (stories). There is this man made lake about a mile and half in length by about half mile wide, with an island in the middle. The depth of the lake is perhaps 4 feet at most places. Supposedly, one of the daughters of the coal baron (don’t know which generation) drowned in the shallow water and she could be seen walking around the edges of the lake in the early morning hours. (Being UK, early mornings tended to be foggy and wet so it fit really well with the story.) Another girl fell to her death from the tower room (we had a tall tower which apparently were bedrooms for the family – gorgeous views of the Welsh country side could be seen from there) and she could be seen at night on the out side window ledge or on top of the tower, leaning outwards with her hand on the flag pole.
We had prefects. I believe each house had a head prefect and 2 additional prefects; the school had a head boy and a head girl (co-ed). Each house had a head of the house and just like the book; it was a member of the teaching staff. The four houses in our school were called, Cromwell House, Coxwold House, Peel House and Lancaster House. Each named after some famous historical figure. I belonged to the Peel house and it was named after Sir Robert Peel who apparently was a Prime Minister sometime or other.
We competed against other houses for the House cup. The house cup was based on academic points and athletic points. We competed in rugby, soccer, cricket, track & field and swimming. Academic points were based on actual grades by class. These were published so you always knew how you did against other students. My house won the house cup 2 out of 3 years I was there.
Each house had distinct colors. Peel house was maroon and gold. We wore Green wool sport coats with house color tie (navy background with maroon and gold stripe) and black slacks. The black leather shoes had to shine always, and there was a shoe inspection before breakfast every morning. The duty prefect was in charge of checking the shoes.
There was detention. However, points were never deducted from houses like they do in the Potter books. School cafeteria food was horrible. Plus we were never allowed to have seconds. Each house had a specific time to show up to the cafeteria. If you were not there when your house entered, then you had to skip that meal.
The teachers were called professors; they wore black robes over their suits and had to be at all times be addressed as sirs or ma’am.
Saturdays, we were allowed to get passes to go spend in close by towns. There were 2. Wrexham and Chester. Both were accessible by a train from the local town, which was about 3 miles away.
Oh, since the school was so far from London, I remember reporting to Euston Station in London to board the Lindisfarne train. Thinking back, the school chartered several train cars for the students. Last year I was there, this was changed to chartered busses.
The school was very strict. We were all young and long ways from home. Still, looking back, I have many treasured memories that I won’t trade for the world.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I messed up on the splits so I can only give you the mile 1 split and the overall time.
Mile 1: 9:35
Much slower than last few 5K distances. Still, it was a really pleasant run. The temperature was a little cooler, not as humid and slightly breezy. I saw the stars and a sliver of a moon. It was just me and my thoughts with no worries.
Monday, August 29, 2005
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Overall time: 27:01
After the run, with the exception of Sam Rodriguez, we headed over to a near by Denny's for breakfast. I might have eaten more than anyone there, as I recall, my breakfast was a plate of pancakes slathered in thick syrup, 2 eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausages and 3 cups of coffee.
The next 5K reunion is set for December 10th. Meanwhile, I need to concentrate on the Luke's 20K race this October.
Lastly, I joined the Houston Striders after digesting that big breakfast.
It was great meeting you guys! Sam, Jessica, Jen, Vic and Jon. (I met Jon before.)
Thursday, August 25, 2005
I again had trouble falling asleep Wednesday night. This whole week has been weird. (I'm still up and its almost midnight.) So the morning run did not happen. When I got out of bed, it was already 6:30 and that barely gave me enough time to get out of the house on time. Because of that, I got to do something I haven't done since last Spring... Run after work. I left the house around 6:45 PM, and made a mental note to run a slow 10 minute per mile pace. It was 90 plus and humid but graciously, the cloud cover kept the sun off my back.
Mile 1: 8:51 (Wow! I said 10!!)
Mile 2: 9:12 (Hey slow down!! All the sweat must be pouring out of the head.... it feels waaaay lighter than normal....)
Mile 3: 9:02 (Well at least I am close to the house now, so if I pass out, I'm sure someone will recognize me....hmmm, why is the sky turning dark.......oh yea, night time...)
0.1 mile 0.54
Looking back, the run wasn't that bad although I do remember thinking about the heat stroke article Jon posted a few days ago. The cool (cool? did I say cool? There was nothing cool about this run..) thing was that I was comfortable with the pace. I went faster than I felt. I think this is the first run I felt this way. What's up with that? Am I making sense? Maybe I need another cold glass of water.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Needless to say, I think I’ll need a grande Starbucks by lunch today.
There was a full moon out this morning. It cast an eerie pattern on the sidewalk I run on. I’m still not sure whether the heart was pounding because of the run or because I was a little jumpy. Even at that hour, some of the houses had their lights on and their occupants already busy with the start of the day. Some homes were doing morning laundry, some making breakfast and some were already leaving for the morning commute.
As Mile 1 passed by, my worries were leaving me, the stress bleeding away, I was happy to be running and ready to take on the world.
Run conditions: Mid 70’s, humid and calm.
Mile 1: 9:26 - nasty shadows….are snakes early risers? Is that a snake or a shadow?
Mile 2: 9:05 - smell of laundry in the air….
Mile 3: 8:55 - is that bacon and eggs I smell? Coffee too?
0.1 Mile: 0:54
Monday, August 22, 2005
On Sunday, not wanting to run on sore muscles, I instead went lap swimming. That was pretty interesting. I got in 30 minutes barely. I was tired and hungry. Visions of every sweet things I've eaten during my life kept floating by. I took a quick shower and went home to attack a banana and a piece of bread slathered with natural peanut butter. What discipline! Ouch.. darn muscles still hurt.
Tomorrow morning, I'm getting up at 5 to go run a 5K, just so that I can get back into the groove.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Thursday, August 18, 2005
It is not very often that I get to go west on business. Today was one of those rare occasions. I found myself on a 9:20 AM flight out of IAH to Sacramento, CA. Today was also one of those perfect days where nothing goes wrong. Well, almost nothing. I experienced a strong gravitational pull towards a Starbucks kiosk in terminal C. The aroma was just irresistible. Today's flavor was Ethiopian bean coffee and after succumbing to my weakness, a grande was ordered and taken into the plane for my ride west. I was luxuriating in the first class seat (complimentary upgrade) when the cup slipped from my hand. I didn't drop it but spilled some on my white shirt. Rats!
The Plane left on time and landed 15 minutes early. The weather in Sacramento this morning was just perfect. Low 80's, gentle breezes and no humidity. How great is that? After arriving at the plant on time, our customer bought me lunch at their company cafeteria which incidentally only served vegetarian lunch with bottled water (like, is this a California thing?). After a productive meeting, I set my GPS unit to find the Golden Gate Bridge and off I went to San Francisco.
San Francisco is really beautiful. I saw real runners running all over the place. The weather was perfect for running too. (60 degrees and cloudy at 6PM) I even saw folks running on the Golden Gate Bridge! Argh! Too bad I left my running gear in the hotel room. On my way out of San Fran, I crossed over the Golden Gate and drove through Marin County. I recall reading about Marin County and Mt. Tamalpais in Runners World magazine a few months ago and it felt really cool to be there. As I was thinking about all that, the exit to Mt. Tamalpais came up.
I have a noon flight back to Houston tomorrow. I hope to lace up my Asics GT-2100 for a nice morning run.
CO 1714: After 3 hours 16 minutes of flight time (That would be an awesome Marathon time...), our tired bird (Boeing 737-900) parked itself at gate A5 at SMF (Sacramento Airport). Holden deplaned fully rested and with a full tummy due to Continental's complimentary upgrade to first class. Thank you Continental!
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Other good stuff I quit. Regular Coke. Been drinking that regularly since I was 8 I think. Actually, I quit drinking carbonated beverages almost totally. My running mentor wondered why I felt compelled to ingest carbon dioxide when my body tries desperately to expel the same gas during my runs. How could I argue against that logic?
Sugar. Except for the 2 packets of brown sugar I add to my occasional grande coffees, I do not add sugar to any food I eat. Since most foods already have too much sugar in it anyway, this was no big deal.
White bread. I eat wheat instead.
Chocolates & Candies. Nope. I allow myself one right after a long run as a reward though.
Yikes, time to get back to work!
We went to catch a baseball game last night. Tickets were gifts from a friend of mine from previous place of employment up in Chicago. I need to thank him again. These were front row seats in section 110. To top it off, the 3rd base umpire came by and gave Alex a baseball! He was in heaven. We ate 3 footlong hotdogs, 2 soft drinks and 2 ice cream sundaes. Cost: $38. Too bad the Cubbies lost.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
This was my first run since the Half Marathon. I had some reservations about the knees but I got up around 7AM and pedaled my way over to Barbara Bush Elementary School for the 8 AM start. It was a little hot and muggy for my taste but what the heck, this is August in Houston. My goal was to beat the previous PR time recorded at this 5K.
Mile 1: 8:03
Mile 2: 8:30
Mile 3: 9:28
0.1 Mile: 0:51
Overall time: 26:53.
A new PR for race conditions! And it is only 4 seconds off my all time best of 26:49 that I recorded on a practice run a while ago. (It is written on a previous post somewhere...)
I was trying hard for a negative split but I got out of the gate too fast. By mile 2, I was fighting a losing battle against heat. I had stitches on my lower right abdomen which was unusual for me, plus I didn't even eat before the race. Then I started to overheat. By the last left turn on to Crown Ridge, I was fighting a desperate temptation to walk.
Never the less, the PR was sweet! After the race, the Luke's Locker folks held a raffle for a pair of running hats and a $25 gift certificate from Luke's. Yours truly won the gift certificate! (So I go to a race with $1 and come back with $25....) On Cassie's recommendation, I think I will be using that towards a water belt.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
I woke up this morning and have decided to run the 2006 Houston Half Marathon in 2:15. Running has made me fitter, leaner and much more energetic than at any other point in my life. What a great gift.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
I saw many runners with the fuel belt. Strangely though, I noticed that even during the later stages of the run, most of these folks had full bottles. So I wonder, do folks carry these as emergency fluids? So are they still stopping at all the water stops? Then that seems to be a lot of weight to be carrying around.
The Carb Boom packs came in handy. I ate them at mile 3, 6 and 9. After that, I think I'd have thrown up if I ate one more.
At water stations, I initially started taking one cup (which incidentally was mostly half full or 2/3 full) and I was typically taking one gulp and tossing the rest. During the last 4 miles of the race, I was taking two cups and drinking the whole thing. Definitely bad water management on my part.
So, what's the point? None, just rambling, thinking out loud.
Monday, August 08, 2005
So, the following day, I caught my noon flight up to Chicago (I took Chamber of Secrets with me on this trip). I drove down to Grant Park in down town Chicago to pick up my race packet and headed to my parent’s house in Skokie. After a spaghetti dinner at a local restaurant with my parents, I went to bed around 9:30.
5 AM came too soon. I must have been fatigued from the week long vacation. Never the less, I get into my running gear, check one last time to make sure the pins are secure, the chip timer secure on the running shoes, and off I go to the race. It was 6:20 AM by the time I parked the car and gear checked my car keys and I wasn’t sure what else to do. Even though I didn’t need to, I stopped by a port-a-potty. After a little warm up walk and jog, I placed myself right behind the 10 minute per mile pace maker. After what felt like the longest 15 minutes of my life, the race was finally on.
Here is my unofficial time based on my stop watch which I started as I crossed the start line.
Mile 1: 9:44
Mile 2: 9:52
Mile 3: 10:01
Mile 4: 10:11
Mile 5: 10:13
Mile 6: 11.12
Mile 7: 11:45
Mile 8: 13:41
Mile 9: 12:50
Mile 10: 14:21
Mile 11: 14:43
Mile 12: 14:50
Mile 13: 15:24
0.1 Mile: 0:58
Total elapsed time: 2:39:53
It took at least 2 minutes before I could get a good run going. The crowd was pretty thick at the start. But once I got going, I felt pretty good despite a strong sun that morning. The course started out on Columbus drive down to the Lake Shore drive and through the McCormick Place tunnel. As I approached mile 4, I saw the Elite runners coming back already. The course ran south to 55th street at which point it headed back up to downtown. This was also the point where the chip timers were checking the 10K time. The back half of the race was panoramically prettier. We got to see the downtown and the lake all together. The course wound through the museum campus, passing by the Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium. Finally heading back to Grant Park to the finish line on Balbo and Columbus.
I did a pretty good job of maintaining my pace through the first 5 miles. I felt some fatigue from the start, which I suspect was due to the bodily abuse during the vacation week. I also carried a bottled water to get around the massive traffic jam at the first 3 water stations. That worked really well. I think I will do the same in future runs. After the 3rd water station, I threw my bottle away and the crowd was not too bad at other water stations.
My problems started during mile 6. I started to feel the ligaments again on my outer right knee. At first, I just noticed the slight pain. Unfortunately for me, it got progressively worse and worse. Eventually, the same pain manifested itself on the left knee. I’m still not 100% sure what this problem is because there is no swelling so it must not be the actual knee that is giving me problems. It became so unbearable that I had to start walking to ease the pain. The run-walk ratio steadily got worse to the point that during the last 4 miles, I think I mostly walked. The only exception to that was the last 0.1 mile where I gritted my teeth and ran slowly through excruciating pain to the finish line.
I am glad I was able to finish the race. I am disappointed that I was not able to finish in 2:15 or 10 min./mile pace. Run or walk, I never thought it was possible for me to go 13 miles. Now I know I can. Determination and human spirit is quite an interesting natural phenomenon.
So my next immediate goal is to run a Half Marathon all the way at the 10 minute pace. This is what I will be training for. After that, the only question I have to decide is: whether to run the Disney Marathon or the Houston Marathon first.