New Year, New Year

rc2_8828 This morning, somewhat against my better judgment,[1] I ran the New Year’s Day Dash, a 5-mile (road) race. Thanks in part to a few friends pacing me the first mile and a half (or perhaps I mean letting me hang with them before they took off), I finished in 40:34, a personal best and about a minute faster than my time last year. Perhaps that will be auspicious.

Everyone has been posting about their New Year’s Resolutions: go to the gym, lose ten pounds, eat healthy, get eyebrows under control. Some good ideas, some not so good. Well, I already go to the gym and I don’t really want to lose any weight, and my eyebrows are a lost cause. Instead, I’ve been thinking about books.

I read a lot. But after Goodreads sent me an email congratulating me on reading three books last year, I started going through my records and memory, as best I could, because surely that couldn’t be accurate. And, luckily (surprise), it wasn’t. I just didn’t review everything I read.[2] But I also have a bad habit of reading in parallel, so I might get halfway through something, then put it down and not come back for a year. Also, I read a lot of books for work–last year, I edited books on topics ranging from screenwriting to the rhetoric of the gross anatomy lab to Asian philosophy to nursing. So if I feel like I read constantly, it’s because I do . . . but it’s not always reading for pleasure.

Having come to this determination, I have made a list of books I want to read in 2015. As a writer, it helps to keep the mind fresh, and I begin to find that it’s important to find an escape from the grind of reading to edit, which is a different type of reading. I have to shut down that part of my brain sometimes. There’s no theme to these books, other than for most of them I saw reviews in different publications and found them interesting, and they’re in no particular order. I can’t guarantee I won’t get distracted or add or subtract from the list, but I’ll see how far I can get with it. My other resolutions are to finish reading/blogging about Ulysses, remember to water the plants in my office, and get my SADs under control. Let’s do this!

  • Hawksmoor, by Peter Ackroyd Review
  • The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
  • Tender is the Night and The Crack Up, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (maybe)
  • Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
  • A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, by Eimer McBride
  • Island, by Aldous Huxley (maybe)
  • Viviane, by Julia Deck
  • Without You, There Is No Us, by Suki Kim
  • The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, by Michael Chabon Review
  • Relentless Forward Progress, by Bryon Powell
  • Dune, by Frank Herbert
  • Gligamesh, by the people of Babylon
  • The Way of Kings, by Branden Sanderson
  • Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer
  • Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir, by Lauren Slater (maybe)
  • Blind Descent, by James M. Tabor Review
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Tom Stoppard
  • Blueshift, by Claire Wahmanholm (a pre-publication copy kindly provided by the author)
  • I’m not going to say I’m going to read Being and Nothingness, by Jean-Paul Sartre, but every year this time when my SADs get bad I try to.

Are you reading anything interesting next year? Or, alternatively: Any other resolutions?


You can check out book reviews I’ve posted here on the book review and book reviews tags, because apparently I suck at metadata. Also check out the writing category for reviews of films, plays, and other stuff (I promise most of it is not bitching about how difficult it is to write a novel).

[1] Against my better judgment ought to be the title of my blog sometimes. This particular race was against my better judgment because it was cold and I was up late the night before and also I have some tendonitis in my ankle.

[2] I usually only put reviews on Goodreads if I’ve written a review of them, and I only do that when something interesting strikes me about the books to write about.

New Year’s Resolutions

Or, “In Which I Start to Get My Race Schedule Together.”  These aren’t exactly resolutions, since I don’t really make those (does “stop getting injured” count?).  But I guess they’re things I’ve been thinking about since the beginning of January.  I’ve also been thinking about my diet, which isn’t going well.  Bah.

In order for me to explain why signing up for a bunch of races is a bit more troublesome this year than other years, let’s look at some results from races in my 2011 season:

  • Lupton Metrish Invitational (3 miles): 28:54
  • Mad City 50k: 4:57:57, 4th place women overall, 3rd place in my age group
  • Ice Age 50k: 5:58:14, 3rd place in my age group
  • Run to the Rhythm 5k: 22:36, 2nd place in my age group
  • Waunafest 10-mile: 1:23:42
  • Madison Mini Marathon (13.1 mi): 1:50:50
  • Safe Harbor 10k: 45:20, 2nd woman overall, 1st in my age group
  • Literacy Network 5k: DNS
  • Baltimore Marathon: DNS
  • Haunted Hustle Marathon: DNS

I’m pretty good at shorter distances, not awesome at middle distances, and good at ultra distances.  You might also spot a pattern toward the end of the season if you look closely.

Yes, I went down with an ankle injury at the end of September, 2011 and my mileage is only now getting back to where it was (in the 35-40 miles per week range).  So I have been understandably hesitant to fill up my schedule with races, worrying about every twinge, every bump, every step that suddenly could trigger more weeks of PT and swimming instead of running.  But then I got an email from the Badgerland Striders (the group that runs the Ice Age 50 mile/50k/half marathon race in mid-May) telling me that registration for those races has opened.  I am in no condition to do the 50k again (nor do I want to–I’m doing no races this season longer than a half marathon), but they do have a half marathon which a) is through beautiful countryside and b) is on challenging trails and c) fills up really quickly.

There isn’t really a good term for “leap of faith” for atheists, since atheists don’t particularly take things on faith.  And I suppose I do have some empirical evidence that I’m getting better (I run largely pain-free and have been logging about 40 mpw lately).  But regardless of whether it was a good idea, I signed up for the half marathon at the Ice Age 50.  This joins a few other events on my calendar:

  • Lupton Metrish Invitational.  Of course.
  • The 10-miler at the Syttende Mai the following weekend.  B has agreed to run with me!  I’m very excited.  We didn’t race together at all last year except the Lupton Metrish Invitational.
  • The 50-miler at the Centurion Wisconsin in August (yes, a bike race!  I’m excited.)  A friend who is a Serious Cyclist has been giving me advice, so while I don’t expect I’ll place or anything, I think I can put together a training plan and make a good showing of it.
  • Figure-8 the Lakes, also August, probably 50 mile distance (a group ride instead of a race; a relative of B’s suggested she would do it with me.)
  • A fall duathlon, probably the Dousman Duathlon.
  • Half marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival.  Okay, I was injured in Fall of 2010 and 2011, so this is really beginning to sound like a Dutch Book is being constructed against me (i.e., it’s a losing bet).  But I need to try this again.
  • Half marathon at the Haunted Hustle.  Ditto.

I’m kicking around a bunch of other races, but nothing is for sure:

  • Grandma’s.  Dan and Claire said they’d do the half if I did it, but it’s in Duluth.  Also I’d probably have had to have registered in November 2011 or something.  Actually, I looked it up–it’s a lottery and it hasn’t opened yet.
  • Dances with Dirt–nice location (Devil’s Lake, and there’s a half), but it’s in July.  Not good running weather.
  • Waunafest 10-miler–a fun race, but half of it is through an industrial park.
  • A triathlon.  I’m afraid at this point.  You’ll notice I didn’t list my tris above because they were kind of terrible failures (my duathlon was pretty good but not spectacular).
  • Other actual bike races or duathlons.  There are not a ton of duathlons that I can reasonably get to.  I don’t know.
  • Madison Mini Marathon.  Possibly the most over-hyped local race there is.
  • There are a lot of local 5k/10k races.  I’ll probably at least do the Berbee Derby and the Literacy Network runs, since they have good t-shirts and I do them every year (except when I’m injured).  But what else?

I’m open to suggestions, Internet.  I don’t like to travel more than an hour from Madison for a half (Baltimore is an exception, since I’d be going there anyway) and no more than 30 minutes for anything shorter than 10 miles.

To finish, here’s a great picture B took of me (with his iPhone, no less!) before the start of the Ice Age 50k last year.  You’d guess I’m always happy right before a race.  (After a race–different story entirely.)

Oh, about my repeated placing in ultra distance (i.e., longer than 26.2 mi) distances: it’s kind of a cheat.  There aren’t many women my age running those races, so I have a better than average chance of placing.  It seems lots of younger women are busy having kids and careers and things that prevent them from training for 60-70 miles per week.  Most ultrarunners seem to be middle aged, which makes sense–the kids are old enough to amuse themselves for a while on a Saturday morning.  So it’s not me, it’s everyone else.