Floraphage

Adventures in flora, fauna, food, and the great unknown.


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Take a breath and slow down.

This post’s title should probably be my new mantra. Training for my second half marathon has been a weird mix of exciting and awful—on several runs, I’ve managed a sub-11:00 pace, but just about every run has been somewhere between grueling and generally unpleasant. Despite my increased pace, for the most part I never felt like I was pushing myself too hard—only when I was actively trying to push my limit did I feel seriously out of breath—but I was unhappy on every run, and the only fun part of training was after it was over. Thursday’s run was so bad that I cut it down from four miles to two, and I felt completely demoralized afterward. I’ve been dreading the half marathon and longer training runs something fierce.

Well, today was nine miles, and by slowing way down—we’re talking ~12:30 per mile pace—I finally found my groove again. It was good deal slower than my past race paces, not to mention my more recent training pace, but it did mean that I actually (almost) enjoyed it again. It just goes to show you that sometimes we have to continually re-learn the same lessons year after year. I might not break 2:30:00 for my second half, but at least I’m feeling better about my chances of actually finishing it strong.

Moreover, spring has finally returned to the Pioneer Valley, and we made a brief trip to Boston late last month for a wedding, so it’s looking like the worst of the endless-winter slump is behind me. We have two more trips into the city scheduled this month—one to see the brilliant Eddie Izzard, and of course one for the half. The latter will be especially nice, since we’ll be there for the weekend and will have the pooch with us.

Fire and ice at the Hawthorne.

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I miss Boston *so much* right now. Delightful & classy wedding reception at the Hawthorne.

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We’re looking forward to even more-exciting adventures in June—more on that next time—but for now, I’m enjoying the mid-60s weather, pulling the skirts out from under the bed and stashing the wool sweaters, and, after a number of hectic weeks at work, taking a breath and slowing down.

She thinks she's people.

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Lions, lambs, etc., etc.

So much for writing more often. Winter has come and gone… er, okay, maybe not so much gone—but at least it’s March. Despite a temperature of −2°F this morning, I started running again after weeks of procrastination, only to realize later in the day just what a good idea that was. After all, I’m running my second half marathon in May, and the training program I’ve picked is 12 weeks long. Which means I need to start training, oh, this week. (Yeah, that one certainly crept up on me.)

I feel a bit guilty for not having cataloged winter on the blog, so I’ll give the abbreviated Instagram tour, which at least covers the last month or so:

Another sub-zero morning. #mortalkombat #getoverhere

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This afternoon in Sunderland. #westernmass #pioneervalley

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Snowy Sunderland.

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True love. #puppylove

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I’ve enjoyed this winter immensely, but I’ll still be glad when the snow-turned-ice finally melts and reopens some of my preferred running routes again. My first summer in the Pioneer Valley was lovely and not at all oppressively hot (I am not typically much of a summer person), so I am strangely looking forward to the approaching change of season.

And there’s hope! Just this morning, a bit of spring was finally peeking through—albeit in our kitchen.

Accidental kitchen garden.

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The things that carry us

Worst to first. April 15. Watertown. A run to remember. Beard nation. Forging west. Ninety-five years. The past twelve months—even the past six—have brought some stark contrasts for both my life and the city of Boston. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park, so perhaps it’s fitting that the Red Sox should end 2012 on the lowest of notes, only to rise again from the ashes, a triumph not entirely unreminiscent of ’04. Before yesterday, it had been almost a century since the Sox had won the World Series in America’s most-beloved ballpark. The year was 1918, and Babe Ruth was still playing for our boys in red. Soon after, the curse was upon us.

But as interesting as the history is, that’s not really what this season was about. Even before the bombing of the Boston Marathon, 2013 was a sort of rebirth for the team, with plenty of new-old blood (that is, new-to-us veterans) joining the ranks. These guys had a reputation for being good in the clubhouse, and they would go on to prove it throughout the season.

April 22, 2013.

April 22, 2013.

The events in April changed the city, drawing the the citizens of Boston closer together—and the Red Sox even more so. One of the first things that my husband and I did after the tragedy was to snag $12 bleacher seats to a game at Fenway. It was a chilly April night, and the Sox were up 9–3 against Oakland before we decided we were too cold to see it through to the end. But before walking back home along Beacon, we watched Mike Napoli hit a grand slam and Will Middlebrooks belt a three-run homer, and we basked in the spirit of Boston’s reawakening, in the magic of Fenway Park. It breathed life into us, to be out in “our <bleep> city,” even though—or perhaps because—we knew that in just two months we’d be leaving the hub for our new home in the Pioneer Valley.

The combination of the Boston Marathon bombing and my leaving the city that had been my home for 11 years hit me hard, and becoming a runner myself and cheering on the Red Sox (we’d go to another game on June 6, undoubtedly the most exciting one I’ve ever seen at Fenway, and followed them religiously on NESN mid-June and beyond) have been a salve against my heartache. Running the five-miler in the 2013 Run to Remember was a huge accomplishment for me, but I needed something else to carry me through the pain of leaving the city I loved so dearly. Life goes on, with or without us; I had to keep running. I trained hard, working my way up to a 10-mile run earlier this month—and in three days, I’ll be running the Princeton Half Marathon. I’ve battled some knee pain, but when I think about where I was back in April, about how when all of this began and I couldn’t have run 50 meters without cursing, I’m amazed at how far I’ve come.

A run to remember.

A run to remember.

Not unlike the Red Sox. Watching them play last night was a complete and perfect joy. These guys weren’t idiots, and nobody cowboy-ed up. But even with the yackety-sax hilarity (read: disbelieving screaming [“Really?!”] at the television) of the attempted run-down on Jacoby Ellsbury, game six had that magical we’ve got this, ain’t nothing gonna stop this train quality of the inevitable. The knowledge of the game-seven buffer surely helped, but with the fire of David Ortiz’s bat, the heart of Dustin Pedroia, and the beards of… well… just about everyone, there was a sense that even though—as Red Sox fans know well—it wasn’t over until it was over, this was destiny.

June 6, 2013.

June 6, 2013.

Walk-off home run by #34. June 6, 2013.

Walk-off home run by #34. June 6, 2013.

October baseball. Feet falling on leaves falling on pavement. It’s been a tough year, but these things have been my salvation. I don’t know if Boston needed them—but I did.

Boston Strong.

Boston Strong.