Physical Therapy 2020: Week 0

I was working on a post to closeout 2019 and share my 2020 goals, when a wonderful thing happened. I realized I could run a little!

Linking up with Deborah and Kim to share this week.

New Years Eats

Had an amazing weekend in the Rochester area with my college roommate and her kids. We share an obsession with all things buffalo so the food to accompany endless board games were: buffalo chicken dip, a keto BLT dip that was my hands-down favorite and dessert was a Keto cookie dough dip. The latter was much better the next day once we doctored it a bit with more cream cheese – the called for sweetener was way too much.

I brought my PT bands and a small roller ball to Rochester. Having a large space (aka house in the suburbs sized living room) to do the four pages of knee/hip exercises was wonderful. My college roommate’s kitchen counter was the perfect height for the calf stretches that go back to my Achilles PT. By week’s end it was starting to feel better and I was curious whether that was seven days of PT exercises, or generally walking way less (and way fewer stairs) than when at home.

gorgeous approach into NYC
and over the Rockaways

Those two and an aerial view of the marathon route were my welcome home. Although my knee was sore from sitting (you don’t sit much when spending time with an eight and three year old), the commute back from the airport on Thursday wasn’t bad. I noticed on Friday that my leg/hip was tightening up as I sat at work all day. While I got out briefly for lunch, I didn’t go far so made the decision to walk to the gym after work.

As I was in the middle of an amazing book – seriously, loved Scott Fauble & Ben Rosario’s writing about Fauble’s 2018 NYC Marathon training – I was curious to see if I could cycle without pain. Victory! I followed that with the full complement of PT exercises including the ever indecent ball squeeze.

face of someone happy that running wasn’t too painful

I had a slow start on Saturday as I was tired and much as I wanted to run, I was afraid it was going to hurt. I finally got out the door around one and decided to run in the direction of the gym as I wanted to do PT anyway and this route had buses if it went pear shaped. I mixed walking and running as up/down hills felt worse, but it was overall OK. After most of the PT (didn’t bring band for clamshells as there’s a limit to Skirt pockets) and a short cycle, I ran back home. It was a busier road so I had many light breaks, but no walks. This felt great, mentally.

Sunday I expected the knee to be sore, and it was, but nowhere near as bad as it had been before the PT exercises. I had some errands, including Urban Athletics’ going out of business sale, and then went back to the gym for the PT. Yes, gym is the easiest place for PT as I just do not have the room at home (bucket list, Deborah’s in-home yoga space and the space for one!) It felt so good to purposefully walk at a speed that felt closer to exercise, even if I didn’t get step goal. Baby steps!

Plan for the week:

  • PT consult Monday. Run when I can, strength train when I can’t.

Review: The Plant Based Runner

On Reading

Yay, I can start a Weekly Run Down post with something other than PT, although I am still in and loving PT. This week I wanted to share my review of Jonathan Cairns’ The Plant Based Runner. Note: I received a copy of this book for review, but all opinions are my own.

Running, reading and relaxing in the lead up to the #NYCHalf Click To Tweet

Two main takeaways I loved from this book:

  • Know your why
  • Change the plan, don’t change the goal

Cairns is an overweight, divorced father turned wannabe vegan ultra runner. This book explores his journey between those points.  Although I don’t subscribe to the full extent of his beliefs and dietary choices, I really appreciate the path he took to them. He read a lot and read the information presented with a critical lens to arrive at the place that worked best for him and his progress as an athlete. He’s 100% correct, there’s information out there to support whichever side you wish to follow, you need to know your body and your why. And realize that nothing will change until you do.

I’m still surprised at how I ended up virtually giving up soda almost accidentally. We got more seltzer in the office and I found so long as I had the fizz, I’d drink. You can still pry the diet root beer from my cold, dead hands. I’ve mentioned a couple of times here that what I eat definitely has an impact on how I feel/run, but I’m not yet compelled to give up sugar, dairy and meat. I did love his advantage of Irish (or at least not American-English) slang for this poetry when it comes to refined sugar: white is shite.

Changing the plan vs. goal has been a huge part of this half marathon training cycle for me. I wanted to run three in three months (well really eight weeks!) and while the achilles injury changed the training plan, the goal is on track. The larger goal of the marathon remains on track.

While I have no desire to or interest in running an ultra, I enjoyed following his journey and the interspersed quotes and race recaps. Read more from the author on his blog or enjoy his amazing Instagram photos.

Physical Therapy

When I spoke with my PT about the hip pain on Monday morning, he decided to work on that first and decided it’s not the hip flexor, but rather the TFL. Per google (and LIz who was quicker than I was, “Tensor fascia latae“. Per my PT, it’s common in compensating for stability issues. This whole Achilles issue is similar to when I had a knee injury back in high school. Back, hip. We really are all connected like that old childhood song: leg bone connected to the foot bone. Not to mention all the muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Monday night he gave me the homework of working on breathing, activating my core and pressing my back into the floor. We’re working toward the Dead Bug and since I know I have the coordination of a dead bug, that isn’t going to end well. But we’ll get some laughs in as I try. Monster Walks on my toes are my new favorite.

That said, I still feel like I’m making progress and the Achilles is in a good place for the NYC Half, which is somehow less than two weeks away. It will be a week away by the time this posts. Plan is & remains to have fun and enjoy every step.

NYC Half Goals:

  • Have fun
  • Don’t re injure the Achilles
  • Finish smiling

Yep, that’s literally it. No time goal other than finishing. I may be one and done without some lottery luck, so want to make the most of it.

Weekly Run Down with Deborah and Kim:

  • Monday: snow day PT and a museum press event. The snow was a complete non event, but I’ll take the work from home day to review some documents that are hard to get to in busy open plan office. Capped it off with a lovely sunset walk with Darlene. When we could see the Verrazano Bridge it was surreal to think that in almost eight months exactly we’d be standing on the far side ready to run the city. Fitbit calls this 9.46 miles, I call it: never miss a Monday complete.
  • Tuesday: Darlene and I decided to meet and test our injuries. While it was too cold for a selfie, we got another gorgeous sunset. The weekend’s snow had done a number on the non-paved parts of the park and neither of our legs were doing well with the cold and hills so we took it easy in a three mile run/walk. Slow and steady better than crash and burn ahead of the NYC Half.
  • Wednesday: PT and talk about graduating out after the Half. More work on core and trying to figure out whether I can do Dead Bug. No formal exercise, dinner with friends.
#nevermatch, and proud of it
  • Thursday: as I dressed for our Office Run Group, a friend/colleague mentioned her admiration for my aggressive non-matching. This wasn’t even intentionally bad-I wanted a shirt with thumbholes and the black one is too hard to find sometimes in the dark of my closet and these tights were on top. What’s not pictured as much is the bright orange buff from Liz and neon yellow base layer. Beheaded to get full effect of colors without skin autocorrect. I’m a fan of comfort over matching, but this was some next level nonsense. Alas my coral shoes aren’t running shoes. On the actual run, it was a nice rebound from Tuesday. What I love about running with this group is that it pushes the pace. I know I give up on pace too early when I’m running solo, so this is a nice way to push it. He doesn’t push me beyond what he knows I can do, especially with the injury. Even slowing up as we crossed the pot-holed reservoir track, we had a good time and although I was sore after, I think that was the bitter cold. Post-run was a quick zip to the last open Payless in Manhattan to acquire a backup pair of the Mary Janes I love so much.
  • Friday: plan was to workout before a meeting, but meeting got moved earlier so this was replaced with a quick row and abbreviated PT exercises after work and before seeing a show. Patricia Kalember as Gloria Steinem is amazing and a behind-the-scenes tour of NYPL was pure magic. It’s rare that I see a piece of theater twice in a short window, but this was magic and resonant.
heaven is a place on earth
“A dream is like a river ever changing as it flows and a dreamer’s just a vessel that must follow where it goes.”
  • Saturday: that thing I said about what I eat impacting how I run? Yeah. It was a planned off day but the weather was remarkably decent and I wanted to go out so decided on a riverside shake out. I could not figure out why I had absolutely nothing in the tank. I’ve fueled many a run on cheerios and coffee. Why not this one? Oh self? You had a brownie for dinner last night. Turned this into a walk and some outdoor PT.
Happy drowned rat in Sidewinder Lotta Breeze capris
NYRR goodie bag
present to myself
  • Sunday: NYRR/New Balance hosting a shakeout run ahead of the NYC Half. Also a shakeout for my new capris which I want to wear for the Half. PURPLE! The weather was horrid and we lost an hour of sleep due to the clock change? What do I do? Play hopscotch to avoid puddles and had a blast for ~4.5 miles. It was windy too and sometimes wasn’t clear whether we were being hit with rain or river spray! We set off in 5M increments and I quickly realized the one I set off with wasn’t happening so ran on my own for most of miles two and three before dropping back to run with a duo of coach and runner who had run DC yesterday! and were moving way more my “speed”. Proud of myself for approaching strangers in the group run and we had a fun chat. Could I have finished faster? Absolutely. Was it more fun not to be alone? Yes. The ponchos I bought ahead of FLL were perfect and other than the neck area where rain got in because I couldn’t keep the hood up in the rain, I was dry. Was so glad for dry socks and shoes back at the Run Center though. Also awaiting us there was a free goodie bag that included the mug, fuel above and a 20% off coupon with which I treated myself to a hat. It’s purple! I never thought about a running hat as I so rarely wear ballcaps but the Yankee one I wore for Lebow and FLL is too hot for summer and gets gross, so curious to give this moisture wicking, performance one a go. Especially if I follow my current whim and wack my hair off in a few weeks.

Plan for the Week:

  • Monday: off, dinner with a friend
  • Tuesday: run?
  • Wednesday: PT
  • Thursday: run
  • Friday: volunteer at the Expo, maybe cross train. Finally saw the shirt & medal. I like the medal, and think I like the shirt color. Since I didn’t like the one for Poland Spring and won’t wear it on race day, I likely will not be wearing green for St. Pats.
  • Saturday: off
  • Sunday: NYC Half Marathon

Travel Tuesday: Mark Mason’s Walk the Lines

aka walking around London.

England book acquisitions

The rule for buying any books in England was as follows: not available for Kindle and/or some specific or unique tie. I think I did pretty well bringing back only 4* (one on the way from Amazon because I was still regretting not buying it at Stonehenge despite the font). The top two were charity shop purchases in Stratford-upon-Avon: love Marian Keyes and she’s not easy to find here, and Liz thrust the second at me as it was set partially on a bus we’d taken. The bottom two were London finds.

Other London Write-Ups:

  • Travel Tuesday: Pre-Roman Britain
  • London’s Churches: St. Paul’s and Westminster Abbey
  • London’s Castles and Palaces: Buckingham, Kensington and the Tower of London
  • Walking London
#TravelTuesday Review: @WalkTheLinesLDN walks the entirety of the London Underground, 269 stations Click To Tweet

Only in America is the BBC Correspondent on life in America in the early 2000s, which I found at the South Bank book stalls. I found Mark Mason’s Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground while waiting for my train at London Euston to meet Liz. After finding WiFi to ascertain it wasn’t available for the Kindle and was well priced, I bought it. What caught my attention? Walking. Of course. Fittingly, it’s the 80th book I finished in 2018 and I often lament that reading is a casualty of my love of walking. If I took the train more, I’d definitely read more.

I loved this book from its premise but rather than reading it on the train to & from Birmingham, I was staring out the window at the sheep. Yes, sheep. I got the bulk of it read on my flight home last weekend but didn’t want to carry it in my purse, so it took me until Sunday at the beach to finish it. Had Friday turned into beach weather it would have happened then.

Although it felt like I walked all over London, I didn’t hit even a fraction of his 269 Tube stations. As I read about places I was/had been, especially Pimlico early in his walk, I loved those moments of I know that place! That happens often for me in New York, but I think London is the first place it happened for me because of all the walking. I only took the Tube six times in London: to and from Heathrow, to Kings Cross (to do Platform 9 3/4 on the way to Euston), from Marylebone to hotel to drop off my bag and make a mad dash to St. Paul’s for sunset, to the hotel after a late-ish dinner/long day in South Kensington after Stonehenge and home from dinner on the South Bank in the rain. Taking the Tube would have been more time efficient (especially when going from South Bank Festival to the British Museum and/or Buckingham to Kensington Palace) but I really think walking nearly everywhere helped me better get the lay of London and incorporate sightseeing with “commuting”. I did some of this in Amsterdam too, although the weather wasn’t anywhere near as conducive to it.

The days I was fully in the city I averaged about 12 miles. Even the ones with transit were in the 8-10 mile range with the exception of Stonehenge which was full day driving. London is just perfect for a wander or focused walk. What helps is that the stations are so close together – it often didn’t pay to spend ~$3 to get between places A and B when it was just as easy or easier to walk. In doing so I managed to see things I wouldn’t have otherwise including: the book shops on Charing Cross Road, the theaters of Drury Lane, the Cleopatra’s Needle along the Thames, Churchill War Rooms and Downing Street and more. None of those were on my itinerary, but I was so pleased to stumble on them. While most of my walks were in daylight because I was otherwise too tired, the dusk walk from St. Paul’s back to my Tower Hill hotel was great in seeing how the city switched off.

Would I recommend my walk sightseeing of London to another visitor? It depends. There’s a lot of “lost” time so if you only have a short time, I might say hop the Tube. But if it’s someone like me who enjoys the journey and the unexpected finds along the way? Absolutely. I’d love to do a walk like Mason’s in New York, although I can’t imagine it would be anywhere near as feasible, especially in the boroughs. Manhattan though might be a bucket list when/if I ever finish the bridges.

Some moments that lined up well with my London sightseeing:

  • the “government buildings” on the south side of Vauxhall Bridge. I had a feeling when I ran that way on Tuesday that it was either MI6 or some other not so secret entity based on the number of armed men and CCTV. Haven’t seen much James Bond, but I do read Daniel Silva and Gabriel Allon frequents Vauxhall.
  • “one almighty temple to Travel known as VIctoria” yep. Aside from my last day when I got super turned around near Borough Market, the only time I came even close to that was walking back to the hotel from the V&A via Harrods. All the roads seemed to go kablooey around Victoria, which is a behemoth.
  • I loved his walk down Piccadilly from Green Park toward Hyde Park Corner and beyond. This was my first real exploration of London on Sunday morning (more, TK, when I post the London Palaces writeup) when I walked from Horseguards to Kensington Palace along Piccadilly because I wanted to find the Hard Rock Cafe. I don’t eat or shop there, but this tradition with a friend goes back to when we lived in Osaka and would use it for American food. Also, I started “collecting” Hard Rocks as a kid after my first in Toronto in 1993, and sometimes you have to. Besides, why not take the longer and more scenic route between two places when possible. You see so much. I saw the Ritz, which he mentioned but did not know about Burlington’s prohibition against whistling. It was also fascinating to learn why the line went so far south of Harrod’s — plague pits! Part of what made this book even more interesting is the people he interviewed: the city planner, the voice of Mind the Gap on the Piccadilly line. It added so much more to an already interesting book.
  • “The tourists at Tower Hill stand on the same ground where huge crowds used to gather for executions…” creepy! OK, maybe I’m glad I didn’t read this part as I stood there.
  • The Waterloo and City Line was super confusing. How is that even a line?  That said, I was glad to have it when I needed to get home from Waterloo in the rain. Although the connection from Bank to Monument is long, it was great to do it below ground so as not to get more wet.

Other moments I enjoyed:

  • I loved his idea of a personal Tube  line for the places and moments that are significant. For me in NY, it’s the Upper East Side and on  a running note, Central Park.

“Preferring Dickens to Disney is all very well, until you come face to face with Bill Sykes. Besides, to wish that London was immune from boom-and-bust economics is to wish away the city’s entire history. A few miles south of here they’ve turned boom and bust into an art form”

Part of what I loved the most about London – especially in The City where this description is from – is the layers upon layers of history. Discoveries like The Great Conduit when building One Poultry, and items extant from before The Great Fire are all over and it’s really only possible to find them when wandering. Or even walking with purpose like Mason did.

  • It’s sad, but also perfect, to realize that there was one part he couldn’t walk, the tunnel at Heathrow which has been closed to pedestrians. If there’s any place more non-pedestrian friendly than airports, I’m not sure what it is. Like earlier when he wrote of Wembley and other city icons not actually being in the city due to space constraints, airports are meant to be traveled to, before serving as the start or end of another trip. It’s eerie, and kind of interesting
  • One of the places on my ginormous google map that I didn’t get to was Olympic Park – it was just too far out. While I rarely watch the Olympics, I love visiting their “remains”. Mason’s walk was in the lead up to the Olympics where many sights were still being constructed and I enjoyed how he imagined their use. I did visit a couple spots where Olympic events took place, including Greenwich and part of the route of the marathon, which made me think of Becky Wade’s book as she was there for the games.
  • Loved his realization that the issue with the view from Tower 42 and Barnet church was that it was still man’s eye view. I never thought of maps that way and while I’m not a maps person, I liked how he used them throughout. Not just the literal journey planning, but to explain the city. To truly know the lines.
  • I agree with him that it is people, and stories that bring the cities, buildings and lines to life. London has a history, but we tell its story

The book? It’s traveling again now, back to Liz who mentioned she had it on her wishlist.

Review: Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run and #20BooksOfSummer

I’ve succumbed to #20BooksOfSummer, more on that later, and the first is Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run which Liz posted to me after she read it. Is there any better kind of friend than the fellow bookworm?

Never say never and all that, but there are two things in life I probably will never do: go vegan or run 100 miles in one day.  (For scale, I just crossed the 300 mile mark for miles, in 2018!) I absolutely never would run an ultra on a sprained or broken ankle, which he did at least twice. That said, Jurek made both seem very interesting. Much like Dean Karnazes’ escapades, I devoured this book and likely would have finished it even sooner given more reading time. In another similarity to Karno’s books, both men have great sidekicks in their crews: I see a lot of Dean’s Topher in Jurek’s Dusty, his former competition turned pacer. If you’re going to do insane things, you might as well have excellent company in doing so.

Eat & Run is part memoir, part recipe book and part look at the insane world of ultrarunning. Jurek transformed from a poor “Minnesota redneck” into a vegan ultrarunner under an oft-repeated quote from his father: sometimes you just do things. I wondered before reading this if Jurek was a child of hippies, hence the veganism, but no he grew up catching & eating his own fish in Proctor, a small town near Duluth. A hand-me-down set of skis lead to his discovering his talents as a Nordic skier and his running career came from a place of cross training for skiing. Even once he left his childhood home, rocky relationship with his father and small Minnesota town, it wasn’t a smooth path as he & his then-wife Leah faced significant debt due to his travel costs. At one point he even made his own gels due to losing a sponsor (wonder if that was before or after he criticized Dean K in part due to his sponsorships?) and camped at the finish line of Western States as he couldn’t afford a hotel.

Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run makes an appearance in this book as Jurek joined him to race the Tarahumara on their own turf after handily beating them in the Angeles Crest race. I really need to read that book. I think what made this such a compelling read is that Jurek didn’t use it to proselytize veganism. He explains why it works for him and the benefits he attributes to it without going over the top. This was somewhat how he weaved in the story of the Tarahumara and their efficiencies in running and living. As someone who has seen improved blood work in the time I’ve been running, I found myself wondering at several points whether the improvements he saw were related to veganism or simply the insane amount of mileage he ran regularly.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading his newest, North, when I have a chance.

Other reviews:

  • Neel at Blog on Passionate Running
  • Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home, a wonderful running book club

***

I’ve read about this challenge on Liz’s blog over the last few years and her introductory post this year finally made me realize how wonderful & freeing this challenge is. 746 Books is the host, and there’s a linkup there. I’m really bad about reading books I’m “supposed to”, so we’ll see how this goes. I’ll link here when I review them, and I’m using the hashtag as a Goodreads shelf. In no particular order other than the first

  1. Scott Jurek – Eat & Run
  2. Joe Biden – Promise Me Dad
  3. Chris Jones –Rise Up!: Broadway and American Society
  4. Bart Yasso – My Life on the Run, June 16-17
  5. Amby Burfoot – Run Forever
  6. Kevin Boyle – Braving the Waves, June 8-9
  7. Rick Steves – Travel as a Political Act
  8. Nobu Matsuhisa – Nobu: A Memoir
  9. Craig Childs – House of Rain
  10. Mike Pesca – Upon Further Review
  11. Terry Waite – Solitude
  12. Chas Newkey-Burden – Running: Cheaper Than Therapy
  13. Mirna Valerio – A Beautiful Work in Progress
  14. William Atkins – The Immeasureable World
  15. Michael Lombardi – Gridiron Genius
  16. Alyssa Mastromonaco – Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
  17. Daniel Silva – The Other Woman
  18. AJ Mass – Yes It’s Hot in Here
  19. Melissa Milgrom – Still Life
  20. Adharanand Finn – The Way of the Runner

Alternates

  • Will Gompertz – What Are You Looking At?
  • Don Thompson -The Supermodel and the Brillo Box
  • Sarai Walker – Dietland
  • Scott Sherman – Patience & Fortitude
  • Camryn Manheim – Wake Up, I’m Fat
  • Kati Stevens – Fake
  • Andrew Bomback –Doctor

This encompasses some, but not all of the NetGalley titles I have, and is a mix of print & ebooks as I’ve most definitely failed BookCrossing lately. Time for some of these books to move while I’m occasionally carrying a beach tote. Alas, I just got a $47 Amazon gift card from a class action so it’s likely Mt. TBR is going up and not down. I’m making progress with #BeatTheBacklist, I swear! I’ve actually read 49 books so far on the year and am ahead of pace for my 2018 goal.

Review: Finders Keepers

was: #AAM2018, You’re on Sacred Land AKA the conference blog that was never finished ***.

I think Craig Childs first crossed my radar during my New Mexico trip in 2015. I’ve certainly had House of Rain on my Kindle for some time and as I was sifting through a box of books I got from BookCloseouts in advance of a Memorial Day trip I happened upon Finders Keepers. Since AAM rekindled an interest in the people of the Colorado Plateau, I decided to take it with me. Alas it was a super busy weekend trip and I didn’t get the chance to start it until sitting at LAX for my return flight home. Once I started, I could barely put it down.

What’s the difference between a pothunter and an archaeologist, or a museum curator? That seems to be a primary tenet of Childs’ book, which operates under the question of To whom does the past belong? The book is now somewhat dated (2010) but still extremely relevant and resonant as more and more countries begin to ask for the return of their cultural heritage.

Although it draws significantly from the Native American populations in the southwest due to Childs’ extensive travels in the area, the book also identifies other sources of issues: from well-documented situations such as Marion True and the Getty to the Elgin Marbles and the looting of the museums & other cultural heritage sites in Iraq to lesser known areas such as Guatemala’s Peten. One thing that he didn’t touch on, that I found myself wishing he would was other cultural heritage destruction such as the Bamiyan Buddhas. While that was less archaeology and more acts of war, it isn’t completely dissimilar to the question of what happened in Tibet after Chinese invasion, which he did touch on.

The book is a mix of Childs’ own travels as a younger man where he lived at the intersection of archaeologist and pothunter, historical looks at cases that covered the world, and meetings with members of Native American tribes, museum staff and private collectors.

The Four Corners region was of particular interest to me, as it was really my first interaction with the Native American tribes of the southwest. From the Navajo at Four Corners to the Anasazi I “met” at Mesa Verde.  I didn’t recognize the name San Juan County, but that’s the location of Salmon Ruins, my first introduction to the pueblo people. As horrific as a character he was, I really enjoyed the way Childs recounted the story of Earl Shumway as a lens into pothunters and private collectors. Do they really have a lesser claim because they weren’t working officially on behalf of a museum?

The book doesn’t answer that question, but it leads the reader down the paths to consider the question through the various lenses. As George Johnson noted, and Andrew Vasicek further explored, Childs wasn’t perfect in his own actions and that I believe allowed him to see the good and bad in all the actors involved in dealing with artifacts. Among the high profile and complicated figures he explored was Thomas Hoving, former director of the Met. Hoving admitted his actions weren’t always clean:

“My collecting style was pure piracy, and I got a reputation as a shark,” he wrote, adding that his little black book of “dealers and private collectors, smugglers and fixers” was bigger than anyone else’s. ~ Randy Kennedy

Yet he also shaped the way the Met and many other museums look today. Does the good outweigh the bad, or vice versa? Does anyone know the answer, or will it forever be open for debate?

“Navajo traditions are rife with death taboos and rumors of sorcery-makes sense in the Southwest, where bones are constantly weathering from the ground. The Navajo have learned you don’t touch dead people’s things. They aren’t yours. They just bring trouble. This is the Indiana Jones side of archaeology, the curses and chilling adventure. But in the real world, archaeologists do not believe in curses. They do their jobs.”

Sounds like we could learn a lot from the Navajo.

***

What made me start thinking about the anasazi and other pueblo people?

The Museum of Northern Arizona‘s new installation Native Peoples of the Colorado Plateau, which we stopped at en route to the Grand Canyon on the first day of AAM.

This newly-renovated, long-awaited permanent exhibition displays the story of ten tribes of the Colorado Plateau: Zuni, Acoma, Southern Ute, Southern Paiute, Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai and Dilzhe’e Apache, and Diné (Navajo). Through over 350 objects selected by 42 tribal consultants, this exhibition reflects tribal histories, values, and cultures.

The museum’s bookstore was wonderful “trouble”.

I loved that they incorporated so much tribal input, which really set the tone for the conference which highlighted in many ways how we were on sacred, native lands. It’s a difference in perception from the East Coast where we (or at least I?) think of native lands as the contemporary reservations. I really need to adjust that. The Hohoham were honored and mentioned throughout the program, including a moment of silence before one keynote address. I need to read more on them

That was amazing in a conference whose official theme was Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion where the tone was set early with the code of conduct and reinforced on arrival with pronouns available for badge holders. I will-eventually-write up the conference. It was amazing to meet MuseumQueer and many other new friends.

Ball court, Pueblo Grande

The ending of the conference was just as amazing as the beginning as I lucked out and got a ticket for the excursion to the Pueblo Grande Ruin and Mesa Grande Cultural Park. I knew this was a somewhat crazy decision as it was 100+, but I felt like this was a trip I needed to do: much like Mesa Verde, it’s amazing to see the Native American history in situ vs. in a museum.

We stopped first at Pueblo Grande where our tour included a walk around the ruins, ball courts, kiva and other pre-Columbian architecture (and amazing desert plants!) I found their canals to be amazing and was wowed that they still contained water whereas the Salt River is mostly dry. Planning for the Phoenix Metro uncovered some of the Hohokam architecture and while Childs didn’t specifically speak of the Hohokam in this book, he talked about the vital role of salvage archaeology as cities evolve and grow. I’m amazed Pueblo Grande is extant in the shadow of Sky Harbor Airport.

finding shade, Mesa Grande

Compared to Pueblo Grande, which is also home to a small museum, Mesa Grande is much less developed. It’s operated as a site of the Arizona Museum of Natural History and due to the lack of indoor space, it’s only open from October to May. It opened in 2013 after a century-long quest to preserve and interpret the mound which was believed to be a religious center for the Hohokam people. We walked around and over the mound (which felt slightly wrong, to be honest) and while we had an amazing guide, I didn’t take in as much as I did at Pueblo Grande as it was just too hot. I understand why it isn’t open in the Arizona summer.

I look forward to returning to the world of the Hohokam and people of the Colorado Plateau either in person or in another book. Besides Childs’ other books, this is definitely sending me down a rabbit hole of more to read on this topic. Just ordered Hoving’s Making the Mummies Dance, which has been on my wishlist for some time. And I need to read David RobertsLost World of the Old Ones and In Search of the Old Ones.

 

 

Review: Michael McEwan’s Running the Smoke

There are a lot of books I’m supposed to be reading: library books and NetGalley queue, to name two sources. I also needed to buy a new book like I needed a hole in the head, but then the London Marathon came around, a conversation bubbled up on The Runners’ Bookshelf and I fell into this book. Liz had the privilege of reading it while en route to London to spectate

Michael McEwan’s Running the Smoke

What an amazing read.

I think what I loved about this book falls into two tracks: that it was a collection of runners’ stories rather than one runner’s story of his/her London training & race and that those featured ran the gamut from world class runners and athletes in other sports to every day people who found meaningful reasons to run the London Marathon. While the elites are always amazing, I can definitely relate more to the everyday runners.

I can’t even begin to pick a favorite as these were all amazing, but the ones that resonated with me the most were:

  • Dick Beardsley & Inge Simonsen’s finish line sportsmanship after running a very close race. Neither man should have lost, and neither did. I think it particularly resonated with me due to Desi Linden & Shalane Flanagan’s sportsmanship in Boston last week.
  • Claude Umuhire’s stories of survival were amazing. The Rwandan genocide is one of those news events that I remember watching unfold on the news and like Sarajevo, it comes back to me when reading. His subsequent struggles with homelessness were just heartbreaking, yet he and the other 25 runners featured here really fought to overcome their challenges.
  • Similarly, I’m in awe of how Jo-ann Ellis and Kannan Ganga ran in memory of their son and partner, respectively, after each passed away due to cancer.  It’s one thing to run with artificial limbs as Jamie Andrew did after his mountaineering accident, but another to run with such a large and fresh hole in the heart. But what a way to honor those gone
  • I loved the sillies, from Lloyd Scott’s deep-sea diving suit to John Farnworth’s football free styling. Not everyone needs a Reason to run, and this was a nice counter to some of the heartbreaking stories that McEwan told so well.
  • 7/7 survivor Jill Tyrrell was perhaps the perfect culmination. Like 9/11 (and later Boston in 2013), 7/7 defined London not in it being a victim of an attack, but for its resiliency. For Tyrrell personally, but all of these runners overcame something, or many somethings to survive and thrive. Almost fitting that Tyrrell and other 7/7 victims were among the first adults treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital since the Blitz, another time London had been under siege.

Miscellaneous thoughts:

  • Although I know that “fancy dress” means costume, my mental picture of these runners was still in a fancy dress, even men running in deep-sea diving suits. Now that would be a sight.
  • I love that these were all edited together in one “voice” and style. One of my pet peeves about International/US editions of books is when they don’t stick in one format. Either do pounds/kilos/stone and color/colour. Don’t mix and match, it’s too confusing and jarring. I have more patience for distances varying as those do even in one country.
  • For whatever reason, I always interpreted “fell pregnant” to mean an accidental pregnancy. It took me a few stories to read it’s the same as US English’s “got pregnant” yet seems so much more elegant.

A really wonderful book, and one I’d wholeheartedly recommend whether or not you have any interest in running in general, or the London Marathon specifically. It’s not exactly a guide to London in the same way Liz Robbins’ A Race Like No Other is to NYC, but it certainly feeds the travel itch.

I’m going to regret asking this due to the size of Mt. TBR, but what other running reads have you enjoyed? If you’re looking for further recommendations, Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home’s Book Club and The Runners’ Bookshelf never let me down.

Review: Runner’s World Race Everything

No, thanks. But wow

How do you know a book is going to take you on a wild adventure? I’d say a subhead like that one is a good indicator! Oddly, Antarctica was on my bucket list back when this was actually a travel blog, so in some ways this has come full circle.

Race Everything: How to Conquer Any Race at Any Distance in Any Environment and Have Fun Doing It

I really love all that Bart Yasso has to say, so I was excited when this book was announced. Early reviews seemed to indicate that there wasn’t enough new material for it to be worth retail, so I was glad when the library had a hard copy ahead of a weekend with some travel. This is a slim enough volume though that it fit easily in my purse.

This book is equal parts a race memoir and training tips. A lot of Badwater Bart’s personal details are known due to his frequent writing for Runner’s World, but I enjoyed some new to me details, such as the specific races that his Lyme flares affected. I liked his history with some of the iconic road races-like him, some of these races have aged and are no longer the race they were, so this was a nice look back through running history as well as Yasso’s running history.

I appreciated that the general training plans (the Runner’s World standard ones, I think) were accompanied by race-specific ones. Of particular use is his plan to “callous” the quads, which he covered in his chapter on Boston. This isn’t anything that can’t be found online, but it was nice to have it in one volume.

Overall, I’m glad I read this but glad I didn’t buy it, as it isn’t one I’d keep and there wasn’t a ton of material if you’re already familiar with Bart’s Runner’s World career. And if you’re a runner at all involved in the online running community, you probably are because there’s a reason he’s a legend. David Willey’s foreward set the perfect tone. The book gave me some nice training tips I plan to implement and some races I might think about (running definitely re-scratches the travel itch! But hasn’t rekindled Antarctica fire), but nothing earth shattering. A fun, light read. My one complaint, he kept writing “breaking” when he meant “braking”. It was slightly distracting

***

On another note…

Although it’s not one of their offered books, I think this is the first running book I’ve read since I learned of the Taking the Long Way Home book club. Another running bookclub? Win, even though I’m bad at actually doing book club read alongs. I’ve read a few that they’ve suggested (Your Pace or MineRun the World, Running Like a Girl and 4:09:43) and have a few (A Beautiful Work in Progress, The Long Run) on Mt. TBR, it’s mainly adding to Mt. TBR and I so love it. I look forward to their 2018 suggestions.

Review: Run the World

I can’t remember when Becky Wade’s Run The World  first crossed my radar, but it made a visit to Mt. TBR prior to this reading as when I downloaded it from the library, I was 4% in. I didn’t recall any of it, so re-started and finished it this week. If I had any quality reading time this week I probably would have finished it in two days-it’s just that compelling and readable.

Becky is a 2012 Rice University graduate who took advantage of a Watson Fellowship to travel the world and visit with runners in a number of countries. As I mentioned on the Runners’ Bookshelf, what I loved about this book was that it’s a gap year travelogue at its core.  Although she didn’t officially turn pro until a race in her second country when she won 50 Euro at a race in Ireland, I consider this the first memoir I’ve read by an elite pro. She certainly came across wiser than her age.

Wade’s adventures began in London where she was able to be a spectator for the Olympic Marathon before nearly getting run over when she met her first group of Parkrunners in a Teddington park in which she frequently trained. (I subsequently learned it was the park where Parkrun was born. Also, that sentence is my running TBR in a nutshell: Michael McEwan’s Running the Smoke and Debra Bourne’s parkrun are both stalking me.) In between those extremes she trained with and learned from a number of elite Kenyan runners and had the chance to meet Usain Bolt via one of her flatmates. The kindness and network of strangers was a theme throughout, with Wade spending far less on accommodation than anticipated as someone always seemed to know someone in her next destination.

After England, the other countries that Wade visited were: Ireland, Switzerland, Italy, Ethiopia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Sweden and Finland. She wasn’t able to visit Kenya due to the Watson Foundation’s policies with respect to travel advisories.

Each was an interesting stop in its own right but the two I enjoyed the most were Ethiopia and Japan. At the outset of the Ethiopia chapter I thought two months here? and wondered if it would start to drag as I had no particular interest in Ethiopia, but I couldn’t have been more wrong once I met the “Yaya Girls”, with whom she lived and trained. It wasn’t just the runners she met that I enjoyed, her writing really brought the secondary characters such as the woman in the market who watched their bags to life. I enjoyed their interactions with her as much as I did their party at Haile Gebrselassie’s after the Great Ethiopian Run.

Japan intrigued me because, well, everything about that wonderful country does.  The second time I was living there one flatmate was a runner but I never thought much about Japan’s running culture. Wade got the best of both worlds with time spent with expats and locals as she explored a thoroughly foreign world  and foreign running landscapes with concrete far outnumbering trails, especially in Tokyo. And of course, the ekiden. I haven’t run The Way of the Runner but now I feel it joining the the others in glaring at me.

I really didn’t want this book to end. I enjoyed Wade’s travel and running experiences, and watching her grow. Although her volume isn’t anything I can even comprehend, I enjoyed that she had some of the same struggles when approaching the start of a race. It really brought to light the differences between distance and track specialists. On the distance front, the coda of her first marathon really brought the book and lessons she learned over the year together nicely.  I hope she writes again.

On an unrelated note, they’re calling for a major storm tomorrow, the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Guess Poland Spring won’t be the only water on the course. Alas, rain means no adoraboo shirt as it’s a cotton tee. So alternate flat me is ready to go if all NYRR systems are go. More on that tomorrow afternoon.

 

Original shirt
Rain outfit

Review: House of Spies

The British prime minister owed his career to him; the pope, his life. Even so, he was not the sort of fellow to shamelessly collect on an old debt. The truly powerful man, said Shamron, never had to ask for a favor.

aka Gabriel Allon takes on Morocco.

Aside from the typical concern for Gabriel Allon and his team, there was some anxiety leading up to the release of House of Spies on my end. I was going to be traveling to Montreal on business and would a Kindle pre order automagically arrive on my Kindle at the stroke of midnight on July 11? When I fell asleep, it hadn’t. Probably better for my sleep. The first thing I did when I woke to go for a run was check. It was there! Not that I could start it until my flight that evening, but I was thrilled to know it was there.

Waiting and I do not get along well. Two nights I had to lock this in my mailbox (down 64 stairs) so I could sleep. Luckily I had some long subway rides and two bus trips to give me reading time. I really do miss Friday night Harry Potter releases where I could do nothing but read those weekends.

the only down side of Daniel Silva’s release day is you know you’re 364 days from the next one. Did I mention I don’t do waiting?

On to the book…

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Preliminary Review: The Black Widow

Cari with Daniel Silva, July 2016

Sweet 16. The Black Widow, published on July 12, is the sixteenth Gabriel Allon book. It really seems like just yesterday I fell in love with the Prince of Fire/Arcangel while in Kagoshima over the New Years holidays.

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