Monday, December 20, 2010

Shaking the dust off

Hey to any of you out there still reading (also, thanks for coming back after it's been so long)!

Big stuff first. This September I moved out to Stanford in northern California to start a masters program in mechanical engineering, and have officially finished my first quarter. I met an awesome guy on the internet and he now takes up more time than any one of my classes, but I don't mind (he's a part-time Stanford student while he works at Sun, and graduated last June too from Harvey Mudd, totally not sketchy at all). I also completed the Norcal Warrior Dash on October 31 with just about no training, 3.5 miles or so in 35:something or other, and finished in about the top 40% of everyone and way better than that for women only. Here's a picture of me jumping over flames for good measure:
Also shamelessly stolen from the professional photography website that wants to charge $20 for the version without the watermark
But here's something else big: the Golden Gate Headlands marathon, April 2, and I signed up. Here's more about it:

Apparently it's got great views, but it will be a difficult double loop on a trail, so training on hills will happen. Luckily there's the dish, a very hilly 3.5 mile loop, about 1.2 miles away from my door, for when the runs get a bit longer.

Anyway, my boy is from Hawaii, which is where I am now and where I got to kick off week 1 of marathon training. This week I did 3-4-3-5 according to the plan, which really ended up being 3.7 - 4.3 - 2.6 - 5.3 but that's close enough. This coming week, the plan is 3-4-3-6. As long as I stay out of the major heat from 10-2, I'm okay. Made that mistake a few times this past week, though. Now I only have 15 more weeks to go, or 60 more runs including the marathon itself. I'll try to update at least once a week to give any thoughts I had on how the week went, or more if I have something to say. It looks like the plan will generally be:

M: short
T: slightly longer
W: rest
R: short
F: rest
Sat: loooong
Sun: rest

Rinse, and repeat. (The plan advises resting the day before and the day after the long run, so T/W can be switched, and the longest run is 18 miles.) Since I come back from Hawaii this weekend and head to New York the next day, the long run will probably have to happen on Friday this week. We'll see how it goes. Also need to gear up for the shock of east coast winter after all my balmy 70-80 F runs. Maybe I'll wish for it if I sleep in too much though, and get caught in that heat. Hmm.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Goodbye to bridge loops?

Yes, I intended this to be primarily a running blog. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing much running lately, not even since I became a college graduate at the beginning of June. Actually, make that any. At all the checkups following my second eye surgery, I grumble a bit about not being able to run like I want to. I make sure to ask about all the other details I can think of too--

Can I sleep on my back yet? (No)
Can I lift weights? (Only if they're very light)
Can I swim? (That should be okay)
Can I do anything besides the exercise bike? (Elliptical)
How long until I see with both eyes again? (Can't make promises)
How long until you'll be able to "call it" healed and I can go into maintenance mode? (6 months if everything stays fine...)

After the first surgery I looked forward to these frequent eye checkups, because every time I went I was allowed to do more things. At the end of June, though, I was told I could only do low-impact stuff and could still only pick from two sleeping positions. That's when I understood how worried my first surgeon was that the retina might detach again. (He's the one who, my mom says, returned after 3-and-a-half hours "looking like he'd been through the wringer" after the nighttime ordeal in February that took nearly twice as long as it should have. His partner did the second surgery, which was much less complicated except for that little hiccup where my retina wouldn't stay completely put and had to be fixed right there, hence the worry, I guess.)

So, turns out they were right to worry. This past Monday I was sitting in class (I'm tutoring for a summer program where we teach high school girls about mechanical engineering--staying local because I knew the air bubble would prevent me from being able to fly). I had been watching the air bubble's edge slowly retreat downwards, as the doctors said it would because everything in the eye is reflected along the x-axis. Closing the good eye and shaking my head slightly to make it move had become a new little tic since I began seeing the edge a few weeks ago. That day, I realized suddenly that everything had become much more dim and I could barely make out the formerly sharp dividing line as it jiggled. Doctor Number One had told me to call if I noticed any sudden decrease in vision, so I quietly slipped out of the classroom and called the office. Monday being July 5th, the office was closed (oh right) but I dialed "1" for medical emergency and spoke to the doctor on call, the new fellow (the old one liked to promise too much, like I might not even have to lie down for a whole week, ha). Unfortunately there was little point coming in since if something was wrong they wouldn't be able to do anything, so tomorrow would be better, etc. etc.

I spent the rest of the day worrying, trying not to snap at people, convincing myself that things would work out, verging on rage about the unfairness, and venting my stress to anyone at pika who would stand still long enough. Then at 9 am Tuesday morning I was in the doctor's office, within half an hour he had taken a few looks and decided my retina had certainly re-detached, and was laying out a plan of action which of course involved at least two more surgeries. The catch is he couldn't even see how bad it was because my cataract has grown so much, so I guess it was like trying to diagnose through a literal fog. He said he doesn't think it looks bad and it should be fixable.

So here's the deal: this Tuesday (three days from now), I will show up at 6:30 am (subject to change), and I will get a lensectomy, vitrectomy, membranectomy, silicone oil injection, and laser. You know, typical things a 22-year-old always wants. If nothing else goes wrong (and once they're sure it won't, maybe in 6 more months), I will get the oil taken out yet again and replaced with a new gas bubble, lie on my face, watch it disappear, don't fly, the whole drill. Dr. Number Two says he knows an important guy at Stanford Medical School, also an excellent retinal specialist, whom I'm sure I'll see a lot starting in September. Then, much later if I want (as long as everything stays fine) I can get a lens implant to replace the one they're taking. Apparently that's optional, though, unless I misunderstood, since sometimes people just use contact lenses. This detail prompted one of my pika friends to wonder just how much of your eye you actually need, since I apparently won't have (or need) a vitreous or a lens anymore, so I'll ask. Apparently the retina is pretty important, though, since that's the part they're actually worried about...

Ugh. If you're still reading, thank you. I just had to get this all out because every so often I get frustrated and upset about it all. All the things I can't do right now, everything I've been through and still have yet to come, the uncertainty and slim-but-still-present chance that in the end all of this won't even help and I'll just be half-blind forever. I would much rather not run for a year (or two, or...) than never be able to use the left eye again, so this is what I have to do. More updates to follow, I guess.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Not quite back, but here's a post

Turns out typing is pretty difficult when you have to keep your head horizontal. On my right side my bottom arm would get tired very quickly and/or lose circulation. On my stomach with the computer on the floor, both my arms were in awkward positions and there wasn't an ergonomic way to tilt both the keyboard and the screen. Sitting up, my hands were free but I had to crane my neck. So I saved most of the typing energy for gchatting with friends, which was time pretty well spent.

But, I've been upright for almost a week now (since Tuesday), I am! Unfortunately, the only exercise I'm allowed to do so far is the stationary bike, and possibly the elliptical, which are a far cry from all the running I was doing. I had just gotten to the point where starting my runs felt like such a natural fluid motion, and something to really look forward to, not just something to do because I knew it was good for me and maybe eventually I would enjoy it.

Well, now I just get to look forward to it for a longer time. I see a doctor again on the 29th, and it's possible they'll also let me swim. I can understand that having even less depth perception than before makes them hesitant to tell me I can go run through the streets of Boston, and they're also worried about all the jostling, but there's nothing wrong with a nice, safe, low-impact pool, right? Maybe I'll even become a triathlete after all this cross-training. And, probably the coolest part is that I can watch the progress of the bubble in my eye as it dissipates. The doctor said I would start to see a line, and I finally noticed it on Friday. Apparently it will move downwards as it shrinks, since even though the bubble is actually floating, what you actually perceive inside your eye gets automatically mirrored in your brain (along the horizontal axis). I actually find this part awesome.

Anyway, for the past two days I've done a stationary bike workout, and while it's not nearly as satisfying as "going for a run," it is nice to watch the miles tick by so quickly on the counter. I average about one every five minutes, or twice as many as when I run for the same length of time. So far I've gone 20 miles in two days, assuming it's accurate, which seems reasonable. And it's really only as boring as what I bring with me to read. Yesterday was an issue of Runner's World, and today was some Feynman physics lectures. Maybe next I'll try a trashy magazine...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I'll write a real post when I'm more up to it, but for now, running will have to go on hiatus. I just had eye surgery yesterday (round 2 of 2, I hope!) and need to lie on my side or belly for a week, so typing is a little difficult. Beyond that, the doctors say I should avoid strenuous exercise for a month, so no running until July, looks like. I guess having sight in both eyes again (coming in August? September?) is more important than running for right now. I'll keep posting here, especially about my two runs last week, but unfortunately the real action will have to wait. In the meantime, something to celebrate: I am officially a "Bachelor of Science in Engineering as Recommended by the Department of Mechanical Engineering" at MIT. Whew, that's a mouthful.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Two Great Ones in a Row

It's been tough to update this blog as often as I'd like--as soon as I get out of the shower, I'm off to another event for Senior Week, MIT's week-long celebration for the graduating class involving free food and copious amounts of booze. And the almost nightly house-warming parties as we celebrate our first apartments and the feeling of maybe being an adult that goes with it--albeit adults with cardboard furniture. No real estate for me, though, since I'm back to dorm life, grad student-style, once I get to California in the fall.

Anyway. Last Friday's run was awesome! My first run with my new iPod nano, which is unfortunately so light that it likes to leap out of my pocket, but which still made my longest run yet go down really easily. I started slow, plotted out the route in advance, loaded up an album, and off I was. I stayed in the zone until six miles later, when I returned after just over an hour and bragged to everyone I saw about how now I can run almost half a half-marathon. And then, of course, I ate copious amounts of food, one of my favorite parts of running.

Two days later, on Sunday, I had another great time. This one was short--my usual 3 miles--but I could tell this one was going to be good. Even though it was 80 degrees, I could just feel myself being faster and lighter on my feet. And my legs felt strong beneath me. I took maybe one quick walking break, but made it through my "finish line" with a triumphant under-half-hour time of 29:17--my fastest since high school. This run was the first time I decided to make a playlist, then shuffle it. Not knowing what would come next, and then hearing a song I loved, definitely helped pick me up and set a good mood.

My conclusion: the persistence seems to be paying off, so I'll keep going!

Friday, May 28, 2010

On Running Partners

On Wednesday (also my 22nd birthday!) I got up early at 8:30 so I would be ready to go with Tess at 9. Having someone to go with definitely made it easier to get out of bed--I'm just as likely to decide to sleep another hour as I am to put on shoes and get out the door at this point, so thank you Tess!

The run itself was still hot. My guess is about 75, and temps later that day definitely got above 90. Talking made it difficult to keep up speed, but the run felt like it went by really fast: 33 minutes felt like about 15. I could tell Tess likes to go faster than I usually go, so I appreciated her keeping to my pace. That didn't stop her from speeding along to pass people though, with me catching up eventually. She's also much bouncier, even after just coming off of a foot injury! I'm a little jealous of her natural speed, but I think it'll come for me with some patience and diligence.

I'm still a little wary of doing too many runs with a partner. For most of my running life, it's been a very solitary activity for me. I started going out to escape the house for little bits at a time, and just have some way to think. I remember very specifically my first non-gym-class run on my own, in high school. Through middle school my first step mother, Debbie, was a big runner, so she and my dad got me some pairs of shorts and sneakers and I'd go out with her for about 10 minutes at a time.

Then, one day in 9th grade my mom was picking me up from school. My sister, then 12, was in the front seat and very unhappy about something or other, so she started kicking things and managed to crack the windshield. That only made my mom yell even more, all the way home. As soon as I got out of the car, I ran up to my room, changed, said, "I'm going for a run!" then left them to their yelling match. That happened a lot in high school, and with my sister and mother filling the house with their fights, it was nice to get out alone and have some quiet save for my own breathing.

In 10th grade I made friends with Christelle, in my gym class, a french girl who looked like a model except for her height. When we discovered we both liked to run, and that we only lived a few blocks apart, we would meet every Monday or Tuesday and head out together. This went on for a few months until one day in December, when I wasn't feeling well and didn't want to go out, but she convinced me to anyway. I wore sweatpants, which I never did (I would wear shorts until it got below 20F back in high school) and a sweatshirt. I also cut the run short (which I also never did) and went straight home instead of detouring up the long, steep hill on McKinley like always.

After I got home, I got a fever and ended up missing nearly a week of school. After I got better Christelle wanted to run with me again. I did a couple times, but it was definitely no longer a regular thing and running again became a mostly solo activity. I've run with other people since then, like my dad and Debbie over thanksgiving weekends (though I much preferred circular routes to the out-and-back Debbie liked to do). Also in 10th grade, I decided to try the spring track team as well, but it was absolutely not for me--something I may get into in a later post.

Anyway, I had more mixed experiences with running partners after that. In 12th grade I ran with my high school boyfriend a few times, until one run in particular when we went on one of his routes, ended up getting lost, and went 7 miles by accident. My knees hurt after that one, since I had never gone more than 5 before and didn't do it on a regular basis. After that I was a little wary of other people's routines again, and it was almost summer anyway, which meant tennis for me.

So for now, running with friends will definitely be an option--it's fun, makes it go by faster, and we get to revel in our accomplishment together. But on days when I'm going to push distance more than usual, like I plan to today, I'm going to go it alone. That way I can really pay attention, take walking breaks when I need to, and go just as fast (slow) as I want.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Two hot sub-31's

Ugh, this heat! Today is definitely the hottest day yet. Today I also didn't go out. I'm trying to get up earlier--something that's become really difficult since leaving high school--so I can avoid the heat and get the run done before I have time to make excuses.

I've been successful on half of that. Running seems to be becoming more habit than not, and I'm ever so slowly getting quicker. Even though it may not feel quick enough to me. Patience, consistency, blah blah blah. I still haven't run two days in a row, because I'm a little wary of getting injured. I notice early in all of my runs that the bottoms of my feet seem to be getting sore, which would be a new injury if it developed into anything more. Hopefully I can keep that from happening.

The other half of the equation is much more of a problem: damn heat! On Saturday I headed out at 11 (yes, I know, much too late) and ran straight through some festival thing on the esplanade. I could see, or projected, a little exasperation on all the other runners' faces as we darted and dodged around people strolling leisurely with their ice cream and other festival food. But I escaped and made it home for my first 30:57, my fastest yet since I started running again.

Yesterday, two days later, I went out at 10 am--nice try, self, but still too hot. Things were a lot less crowded, and I finished with a sprint to try to make it in under 31 minutes again. Same time, 30:57. My heart rate reached 200 by the end.

I want to get faster, but it's a tough balance between staying fresh and non-injured, and the seconds that keep on coming. I will walk a little when my HR gets beyond 180, so that makes it slower. One nice holdover from my tennis days is that I recover really quickly, so the HR goes way down as soon as I stop running. Still, it would be nice to not have to walk. I'll get there, I know, it'll just take some persistence. And maybe some cooler weather: next attempt will probably be a 9am.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

All Greens and Grays

Yesterday was one of my favorite runs so far. I only intended to go on a 3-mile loop, but I felt so good I extended it to another bridge and did 4.5 again. The 55-degree air plus drizzly mist made the water look picturesque--the sky and river were both gray, with misty bridges off in the distance, and a few lonely sailboats bobbing up and down on the water. On land everything was brown with vivid shades of green that popped. I felt like I was running through a Hayao Miyazaki film, at the spots on my route where I could ignore the presence of cars. And, as cool as my new sunglasses are, it was nice to go without.

I felt faster too. Not having wind in my face meant I did this run 6 minutes faster than last time, even though I got a stitch as I was coming back to the Cambridge side. And I've found that other runners are friendlier when the weather is "bad"--something about rain brings out more camaraderie, and I exchanged a smile or a wave with more than half of the runners passing in the the other direction.

Unfortunately for my sleeping-in habit, the next few days will be very hot (75-80) around the afternoon/evening. Maybe I should start setting my alarm with more enthusiasm.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Real Freedom

Classes are over, the 6.115 project worked just enough and just long enough to get checked off, the project got written up, and the paper got done after a very long night. I saw the sun rise, went through a surreal sleep-deprived last day of undergrad classes ever, then slept forever.

I should have tons more time for running, and I do, if only the weather (and my new agenda) would cooperate a little better. After a joint birthday party Saturday night, I managed to run on Sunday, when the weather got pretty hot (11 am is not the best time of day to sweat), but I think if I practice my body can get used to some reasonable heat for summer. That was an awesome day because later I went to the Friendly Toast with my hall, which is one of the best brunch places nearby. We did have to wait a while, but it was worth it. Plus, everything tastes better after a run.

Yesterday was my one and only final, with cheat sheets and all. Controls. I wasn't too worried beforehand, and my grades are solid so far. I did find myself being a bit hand-wavey, but not enough to make me actually worry--I feel safe assuming most everyone else found it just as tricky if not more.

On the agenda from now until commencement, June 4: sell some of my stuff, pack up the rest, get loose ends tied up, celebrate my actual birthday, and spend time with all my friends who are going to disappear soon. And run! Today is a lovely Boston 50 degrees and rainy, but I'll see what I can do. The weekend promises heat...

Sunday, May 9, 2010


That's the only sound I heard for a good half-hour of my run today. (Also the sound my deadlines are making as they approach terminal velocity...Thursday, Thursday, eek...)

Anyway, today I decided to go long, and I'm really happy that I did. It's easier to do if I start out the run knowing I will--my mental preparedness doesn't really reach far enough to extend my runs on a whim at this point. Maybe in the future, after I've built up much more fitness. But I guess all that coughing gave my cardiovascular system a workout, because I was able to go at what felt like a decent pace much more comfortably. Until the wind hit me. I could barely hear my music at all, just tons of cold air coming off the Charles. At one point, as I was staggering sideways, I just yelled "oh my god!" which got me a smile from a passing biker. The paths felt a lot more empty than usual, but those who were out there all knew what I was facing.

I also made a point of keeping my heart rate below 180. In high school we'd run for 20 minutes every other or every third PE class, wore heart monitors, and had to keep our rates between 150 and 180. So today I let myself walk if I was getting too high, which was quite a bit when I was against the wind, to make sure I wouldn't tire myself out on my first longer run. Because of all the wind resistance and walking, the whole thing ended up taking me about 55 minutes. Much better than doing schoolwork for that extra half hour. And I got to try out my new sunglasses that I got especially for sports! All in all, a really good day (aside from the looming pile of work) and I'm excited to go out again...might have to wait until Thursday, though, when the whole mess is done.


...Well, almost. I've made it through a night or two without a coughing fit and during the day it's barely there, so I'm ready to start running again! Good news is, I've been able to get sleep, and my project now works (at least what I've done so far). And I only have one final (controls) which will be totally straightforward and come with cheat sheets, and be at the reasonable hour of 1:30 pm on a Tuesday instead of 9. The bad news is that HOLY MOTHER OF GOD I have until Thursday to get the whole micro-controller project running, write it all up properly, AND do an 8-10 page paper for my HASS (humanities class). (Other good news: I got an A+ on my last paper, so I'm not too worried; it's just that I need that time for other things that are more relevant...)

So it looks like I'm not getting much quality rest this week either. At least I won't be coughing up a lung while I'm mourning the lost sleep, definitely an improvement. And looking forward to sweating over a run, instead of my schoolwork!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Feeling Terrible

Ugh, getting more sleep would be easier if I could actually sleep through the night. For the past four nights I've lost anywhere from a half hour to 90 minutes of sleep because I'm having an extended coughing fit. So 6 hours of sleep becomes 5, 7 and a half becomes 6, etc. After a while it's starting to take a toll. I even skipped sailing class today, since having a coughing fit on the water surrounded by 15 other boats doesn't sound fun. I have yet to determine if this is allergies or a virus, but the latter would be preferable. I'm doubtful, though, because other than my throat and my lack of sleep, I'm fine.

At least things seem to be getting better with lab. I can almost make my bugs go away and come back at will by tapping the board, so I'm bringing it to the prof today to make sure nothing is loose. Running, unfortunately, will have to wait until I can actually breathe.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


So this week's been rougher than the last one because in addition to my 6.115 project (which is going horribly) I had to prepare two presentations. On Tuesday I also woke up with a sore throat, which has since turned into a cough. Since I'm singing in a choir concert tomorrow, I've decided to not run until afterwards to save my throat from the huffing and puffing. I still got outside today to enjoy the return of spring (after days of crazy wind and rain) by going sailing with my friend Rachel, on the sailing team. That was definitely the perfect thing to do today, and I feel very relaxed, despite the deadlines creeping toward me far too quickly.

In other news, I finally made it out on Tuesday to do my timed mile. I was aiming for sub-9, but managed to pull off a 9:04, which isn't bad. It's definitely somewhere to start from. I decided to time splits for each lap, which was pretty funny:
Lap 1 2:12
Lap 2 2:16
Lap 3 2:23
Lap 4 2:13

I was huffing and puffing pretty hard during the last one, when I realized I needed to step it up to get under 9 minutes. All I need to do is reach a point where I can sustain my first lap's pace for all four of them. Then go for sub-8.

Oh, and get more sleep.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Gorgeous Day (Also, I'm Slow)

Today was a perfect day to run, and I had plenty of company. I love running along the Charles on a day like this because on one side I have water and sailboats, and on the other rolling grassy mounds and trees in bloom. Two scenes for the price of one.

Of course, having so many other people around means I'm getting passed. A lot. Seriously, the only other runners I pass are going in the opposite direction. So my straight-ahead view is other people's backs, getting smaller and smaller.

I refuse to get frustrated--all the more reason to run some more, so I can get better. Today I wore my heart-rate monitor, so I actually timed myself too. 3 miles in 34:26--eek, that's a lot worse than other times I've come back from a hiatus. I did try some other paths that led me in wrong directions today, so I blame that too.

Still, I am trying. Pretty damn hard. My watch tells me that my average heart rate was 185, and I know I saw a 197 there at one point. If you subscribe to the whole (max = 220-age) thing, I got really close to my max, though I didn't really feel that way. I'd be curious to see what my max really is, but I'm tired enough today. I can tell I'm going to feel this tomorrow too.

Oops, and it's time to go to lab--the powers that be have kindly opened it up on this beautiful Saturday, and I can't help feeling guilty when it's open and I'm not there. Let's hope things work today.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On Timing

The legs are pretty sore from two days ago, but definitely in a good way. Anyway...

In high school, I used to think that if I didn't have time to run at least three miles, it wasn't even worth bothering. That made more sense then (when classes ended before 3) than it does now, when 4 weekdays out of 5 I only have an hour-long break (or less) between classes. Plus piles of homework that take much longer than 4 years ago. Also, I don't feel comfortable going out into Boston/Cambridge when it's dark, so it's tough to figure out when to go. Luckily it's spring now, so daylight is more plentiful.

Unfortunately, spring also brings some tricky weather of its own. Today there was a flash thunderstorm right before I was planning to go out, but it was sunny again by the time I got home from work. The problem with having only an hour to go out, though, is that a 3-mile run with a shower at the end cuts it very close and I have to rush. So, I decided that I would jog to the track, time running a mile as fast as I reasonably could (so I can see where I'm starting from and how much I improve later), then jog back. Unfortunately, the track is only open to the track team from 5-7. Ugh. So I ran back home again, not wanting to just jog around without knowing how far I was going.

So the benchmarking will probably have to wait until the weekend. A lot of my free time between classes has to be spent in lab nowadays, since I have a beast of a final project to finish before May 13. Thanks to Gmaps Pedometer, though, I discovered that I actually did run a mile today. We'll see how it goes when it's timed and official.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

First Step

Yesterday, I watched the Boston marathon for the first time. I had seen a marathon before, when my first step mom ran New York when I was in high school. I've never been fast, and sometimes running feels like the worst chore in the world, but I ran consistently starting at about 9th grade--until I got to MIT. Suddenly schoolwork came in piles that took hours and hours rather than assignments I could do in my sleep. And the excuses kept coming. I was on the varsity tennis team freshman year, which had tougher practices and much farther travel for weekend matches, so there was no time for extra runs on top of that (especially when it got dark so early). I got shin splints during spring season, after a winter off, which took months to recover from because I was inconsistent with my exercises. Then my running shoes were too old and my knees hurt, but I didn't have the time/money/inclination to get new ones. And the schoolwork kept coming, not to mention the northeastern winters that, while nothing new, made sweating outside for even a half-hour extremely unappealing.

My intentions were good, though, and during summers and other breaks I would be almost diligent again like in high school. But something would always come up--the start of a new term, or, like this past February, eye surgery that could not wait and required me to rest for about a month. Not that I would have kept up my running anyway. Classwork during the week, socializing during my free time, catching up on sleep, short daylight hours and freezing temperatures through the end of March don't exactly leave me with a burning desire to lace up my shoes.

Enter the Boston marathon, what I hope will be the kick I need to keep this up for good. It was exhilarating seeing the elites zoom by, as well as the "regular" people who came in packs much later (and from some of whom I got sweaty high-fives!). My friends and I were on Commonwealth, at about mile 25. I could see what toll the miles had taken on the runners. Some smiled and pumped their fists and generally riled up the crowd; some pressed ahead with a calm, determined look on their faces; some grimaced in pain, barely lifting their feet. But they had all come so far. Even making it to Boston means that they've already run a marathon already. And they were 95% of the way through this one, the big one, with all of the biggest hills behind them.

I want to know what that's like. For a while now, I've had vague intentions of running a marathon, but never any concrete plans for doing one. Today, though, I have taken my first step: a 3-mile run. Three miles is my baseline for what I know I can do after I've been on hiatus for a while. Of course, I'm sure this one took me over 30 minutes, and it was tough. But weather is on my side, and maybe even classwork: it is my senior spring, after all. Even if it's not, I'm ready to stop the excuses. Luckily, the more I run the easier it gets. Right now, I need to focus on getting my body used to running again so I can avoid something like my shin splints. Which means some serious consistency. I hope that by the end of this year I will have run a half-marathon. Perhaps a marathon will come in another year. And maybe one day I'll return to Boston, this time on the other side of the barriers.