Master of My Domain

The running world has some interesting vocabulary words. A woman runner who is over 150 pounds can choose to run in the “Athena” division, or, according to this obviously reliable site, in some races, though not those in my neck of the woods, you only need to be 140 pounds to be an Athena.   Men over 165 pounds can run in the “Clydesdale” division.

You need to self select to be listed in these divisions, but I suppose the theory is that runners over a certain weight (no matter their muscle mass? their height?) run slower?  Not really: according to the results of a recent race, one of those Athenas outpaced me by nearly 4 minutes, though I would have placed 2nd if I ran in that division (I’m not eligible, but it wouldn’t take a lot of extra food and drink to be eligible).  BUT, why place yourself in that division for the pleasure of just being listed as having placed in that division? Or are those women (more women select that division than men, it seems) making the statement that their weight (for most, 150 at least is still about average for American women) doesn’t really hurt their performance?

Another interesting term is “Masters”: “Masters” are not the best of the best, but a division for men and women who run races after age 40.  Most races already group us by age (40-44, 45-49. etc), but for some big races, there is also a special division for all Masters.  Unlike the Athenas and Clydesdales, everyone over 40 is automatically eligible to place in the Masters division.

I’m guessing that the thought behind this category is that older runners are slower runners. Of course, in a recent half marathon I ran, the 3rd place overall finisher was a woman in her 40s! Or perhaps such a category gives hope to those who were fast in their youth, but now creaky with old age and injuries? Since I didn’t start running competitively until I was 40, this lost youth issue presents no problem for me: in fact, I’m looking forward to running and winning in the 60-65 division someday (of course, all those fast 40+ year olds will be aging with me…I may need to move).

In a recent race, I placed in the top 10 of Female Masters.  It was not my best time (damned tight quads) . It was a hot day (and I’ve been training in unusually cool weather). And, lucky for me, the really fast 40something women must have been running other races that day. But still, it’s nice to be recognized out of a crowd of hundreds of runners.

But I think Female Mistresses has a much better sound: don’t you agree?

The Eye of The Tiger

A colleague and I have been giggling for weeks over this song.  It came up during a faculty meeting, oddly, and he and I were the only other folks who remembered the Survivor tune created specifically for Rocky III: it seems our other co-workers were either not into popular culture 28 years ago, or under the influence, so to speak, and thus missed the fabulous early 80s.

Since that meeting, my colleague and I have heard this song regularly–almost weekly–on a variety of tv shows, the radio, at his kids’ concert. We call each other up every time we hear it and have a giggle over it.   It’s quite discombobulating.

But, tomorrow is the half marathon I’ve been training for, and that song is going to be on my Ipod’s playlist.  It’s the perfect running song.  So think of me running in my  running skirt, bopping along the 13.1 miles and singing:

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the cream of the fight
Risin’ up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he’s watchin’ us all in the eye of the tiger

Oh, if you missed this song, here ya go:

Running Skirts?

Last week during the Sunday half-marathon training run, the coach chatted with us about running skirts.

It seems, running in a skirt is the latest thing, and something she highly recommends, especially for long runs.

She demonstrated the “go off the trail, pretend you are stretching while what you really are doing is peeing” move that she says is a vital skill during long races.

In fact, during last year’s trail half-marathon, I do remember envying the men who blithely freed themselves from their shorts and  started peeing against a tree, not even bothering to hide what they were doing, often only a few feet from the trail.

I’m getting me one of those skirts, but I think I’ll need to practice the “pretending to do lunges” maneuver, and I assume one wears a g-string of sorts under the skirt?

Forthcoming, February 2010

As I whined about a few days, I am in the midst of grading.  I have 18 papers left, and, dear reader, my eyes literally hurt. My fingers are numb. My brain has rebelled. The essays are mostly fine, so at least I don’t have constant ogida.  The stress is mostly all of the other stuff I need to do (finish writing several projects; lecture/class prep; search committee business; working on my college’s blog–I’m an editor–etc etc etc).

I did manage to do other things this weekend (a department gathering at a local pub; running both mornings; chores; lunch with the hubby at yet another local pub).

So, this is a placeholder posting, identifying more for myself than for anyone else what postings are potentially forthcoming next month:

  • Mary McCarthy’s 1963 best selling novel, The Group, has been reprinted by Virago Press: I’ve been reading the latest re-views and recently reread the novel, and I have oodles of reflection: who would have thunk it?
  • I finally started using the little Nike/Ipod thingy that tracks my distance and speed when running.  It’s no GPS device, so it’s undoubtedly not entirely accurate, but I’ve got to say that I’m even more motivated to run each morning than even when I was only mildly obsessed pre-Nike/Ipod thingy (note: I actually do not wear Nike running shoes–so this posting will also be a review of the many pouches available to the anti-establishment running shoe wearers). 
  • Amazon has made Kindle software available to PC users: I’ve downloaded a slew of “free” e-books (Alcott, Austen, etc) to test out on my Netbook.
  • The trials, tribulations, and joys of teaching Chopin’s The Awakening in a general ed. survey class where male students outnumber women students (a novel that is on a dream high school reading list that Dr. Crazy has started, but not on very many actual high school reading lists, like Quills, mostly because it’s a beautiful novel about SEX).

I Ran Like Hell

Despite the injury I’ve been recovering from; despite running a 5K earlier in the morning as part of my weekly group training; despite being dressed up in an apron and donning red braids and a plastic cap, I ran like hell on Halloween during a local 5K race: 27:46.

[Serious runners, please stop laughing. Everyone else, bow in awe.]

Since it was a fun run, I also placed higher than I ever will again: 2nd in my age group (and in my town, mine is quite the competitive age group), 41st overall (out of 150+ runners).

Not bad for an old hag!

[Correction Nov 11, 2009: It seems I HAVE run a faster 5K recently: s recently as June I ran a  26:06 3.1 mile race.  Great. Now THAT’S my goal for the turkeyday run.]