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Hers: I Ran Over A Bridge

This is the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.  Formerly the Triboro.  (Thanks for the unnecessary name change, MTA.  I’m sure that the confused tourists driving around Astoria looking for the Triboro also agree it was an excellent use of our tax dollars.)

Triborough

Anyway, last night, I ran across it.  How cool is that?

Now, to clarify, I ran the caged-in bike trail alongside the right lane of the bridge, and did not run amongst the frenetic cabs and 18-wheelers.  Despite occasional evidence that points otherwise, I am not an idiot.  The trail picks up on Astoria and let’s you off on Ward”s Island, where the bridge splits and can take you to Manhattan or the Bronx.  If you want to run further than Ward”s Island, I’m sure it’s possible; however, until I have a GPS, I am not looking to get lost near the island’s only notable landmark, the Manhattan Psychiatric Hospital.  So I ran there, then ran home.

A good thing about running over a bridge is that is keeps your mind off of the “running” part.  Instead of concentrating on the cold, the pain in my knees, or the blister forming on my toe, I concentrated on the NYC skyline in the distance.  I also counted yellow cabs and stray beer bottles (apparently bikers are also heavy drinkers?), checked out some interesting graffiti (graffiti artists cannot spell), and planned an escape route, should a car crash through the barrier and knock me off the bridge (still planning).  As my normal mentality during a run is “this-sucks-i-want-to-stop-i-wonder-what-i-should-make-for-dinner-ouch-ouch-ouch,” I consider this change to be a vast improvement.

In addition, it’s also good to know that, should my car break down and I need to get over to Ward’s Island at a not-very-quick pace for some urgent business, I have an alternate means of transportation.  As in, myself.  With all the crazy that flies around our apartment every day, a visit to pysch ward might come in handy sooner than we think.

My run totaled about 4.5 miles.  Thinking back to several months ago, when training for a 5K was enough to induce full-on panic, this is a fine little achievement.  I even signed up for a 10K on Thanksgiving, for which I have entered into an entirely new form on paranoia.  I’ll be running this race with Greg, or rather, Greg and I will be running at the same time, but he will finish 20 minutes before me and meet my sweaty little body at the finish line.  Hopefully, he will be waiting with cranberry sauce and stuffing.

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His: Against the Wind

Now you wouldn’t believe it if I told you.  But I can run like the wind blows.  From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I WAS RUNNING!

-Forrest Gump

forrest-gump (1)

Now Forrest knew from an early age that he liked to run.  Running got him him a football scholarship to Alabama.  It saved his life in ‘Nam.  And it made him a pseudo celebrity when he ran across the country several times.

Me on the other hand, I’m still not convinced that I like to run.  I run because I HAVE to.  Mentally, if I didn’t run, I don’t know what I’d do with myself.  This is a far cry from my earlier life when I didn’t just dislike running, I LOATHED it.  Running was a punishment at soccer practice when I was a wee lad.  Then it became the hardest part of practice when I was in high school.  IThere was no way anyone in their right mind would just go out and run for no reason, I thought.  Oh me of little faith.

After high school, it was on to college and a run free lifestyle filled with late night fried food and lots of Keystone Light.  I was a pig in slop.  Four years later, I was on to Wheeling, WV where I was working for a minor league hockey team (GO NAILERS).  I addressed this in an earlier post, but there was nothing to do in there so I became active.  I had a free gym membership through work and I took advantage of it.

I remember being on the treadmill for a mile and a half and breathing like a fat kid with asthma.  But somehow I stuck with it.  I would do that for a couple of weeks, then increase by half a mile.  Eventually, I was doing 5, 6 and 7 miles with ease and even got a coworker off of his ass to start running.  Oddly enough, I remember telling him that I had no desire to run further than what I was doing at the time.  But it’s funny what a person will challenge themselves with and what they’re capable of.

I ran my first half marathon in January of 2008 in a time of 1 hour 34 minutes.  After running thirteen miles, I became obsessed for lack of a better term.  If I could handle that, then I could certainly handle a full marathon.  So I signed up for my first in May of 2008 (and only so far but I am signed up for the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon).  I ran the Long Island Marathon in a time of 3 hours and 19 minutes.  While I took a hiatus from running races, I have since gotten back into it recently with the past Sunday’s 5k (sixth place overall).  Ally and I also have a 10k on Thanksgiving Day in Wilmington, DE.

What I’m trying to say is that I don’t really know why people run, but for me it was out of shear boredom.  Now it has since become out of necessity.  This isn’t a call to everyone to get out and run because it’s not for everyone, but there may be something out there waiting for you that you don’t know about yet.

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Hers: Meet Him

For the second time in the 5 months that I’ve had it, my camera is broken.  It is currently in transit to Elks Grove Village, IL, where the lovely people at the Canon Factory Support Center will fix it and send it back to me, so it can undoubtedly break again.  I’m not annoyed by this or anything silly like that.  Its a really fantastic little piece of equipment, and when it’s working, it takes great pictures.  Just not right now.

Unfortunately, this leaves us in a bit of a bind as far as blogging goes.  What fun is reading about what we do if you can’t see the pictures that go with it?

Luckily, we have a back up plan.  After all, we can’t let our faithful readers (also known as my mother, Greg’s mother, and a few assorted others) down.  So, I am taking it upon myself to do a little interview of sorts.  For the few readers who don’t know us personally (Hello!  I think there are about 6 of you?  Welcome!), here’s a quick question-and-answer session with the “His” of Venus and Mars Bars.  Enjoy!

Allison: Ok, are you ready?

Greg: <<Ignoring me>>

A: Greg, you ready?

G: Mmhmm.

A: I need you to answer some questions for the blog.  I’m interviewing you.

G: Make it good.

A: Tell the readers why you started blogging.

G: Because you told me to.  (Don’t say that. -A) OK, because I like to write, I like to be healthy, and I thought we could tell people about our experiences and be kind of funny about it.

A: What did you eat today?

G: A granola bar and a Full Throttle energy drink for breakfast; a bowl of tortellini salad, a 1 oz. cup of peanut butter, several mozzarella sticks and jalapeno chicken tacos, a few pieces of maple sausage, and a sample of Red Velvet cake around lunchtime; and a bowl of collard greens and beans for dinner.  I was at a trade show for work today.  Not normal.

A: Why is being healthy so important to you?

G: like to exercise so I can eat and drink whatever I want.  So being healthy is important to me because it allows me to do just that.

A: If you had to choose your last meal on Earth, what would it be?

G: Chicken and rice with Campbell’s mushroom gravy, made by my mom, with Green Giant corn in butter sauce. (Not something I made? -A) No, if I’m not going to be here tomorrow, I don’t need to be healthy today.

A: OK, time for a confession.  What are your bad habits?

G: Picking at my nails.  (Greg, that’s disgusting.  Do you want people to know that? – A) Yes, it’s my bad habit.

A: If you could dine with any celebrity chef, who would it be?

G: I guess Wylie Dufresne.  He seems like the most down-to-earth, normal, friendly guy and I find that whole molecular gastronomy thing is really cool.  I know a lot of people aren’t attracted to that style of cooking, but I think it’s amazing.  If I’m going to dine with somebody, I want somebody that’s fun and who will make me great food.  Wylie seems like he could do that.

A: What’s with all the running?

G: There’s not a lot to do in West Virginia.  As I said in an earlier post, I was a little chunky from college, and I was bored.  Once you start, you just want to keep pushing yourself.  When you run 3 miles, you want to run 5.  After 5, you want to run 7.  It’s pushing yourself, and it’s a good time.  Everyone needs a hobby.  I like movies, television, and I can run.

A: What’s something you’d like to be better at?

G: Cooking.  For you, for me, and because I like it and want to be better at it.  I like to be creative, and I want to be good enough at cooking that I can create new things.

A: What’s something people don’t know about you?

I clear my schedule every Tuesday and Wednesday night to watch So You Think You Can Dance, and sometimes I imitate them to make Ally laugh.

A: Any last words?

G: If Eddie Murphy can be raw, then this is me, medium rare. (Greg, no one is going to know what that means.  I don’t even know what that means.  Say something else. -A) Pass me a beer. (Don’t say that either. -A) Wu-Tang.  What?  These are MY last words.  Can I have pretzels and peanut butter now?

 

So there you have it.  Now, you know Greg a little bit better, and we’ve gotten through another post until my camera is fixed.  Mission complete.

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Hers: An Important Introduction

Oh my goodness.  It seems that Greg and I have been so busy talking about ourselves that we’ve neglected to mention a very important member of the Venus and Mars Bars team.  A contributing editor, if you will.

Meet Reilly.

Hi, I'm Reilly.

Hi, I'm Reilly.

Reilly is a 2-year-old red nose pitbull and an irreplaceable member of our family.  Reilly’s favorite hobby is chasing squirrels, and he enjoys eating red bell peppers but does not like shrimp.  Reilly prefers to sleep with his head on the pillow and will push you out of bed if he does not have enough room.  He is a Sagittarius.

I love my mom and dad.

What's your sign?

Reilly holds several important positions at Venus and Mars Bars.  Most importantly, he is the Director of Eating Shit He Is Not Supposed To.

Some of Reilly’s recent projects include:

Post-Its, several clothes hangers, tofu, a pumpkin, a hat, a Banana Republic sweater, 4 collars, 1 leash, a hairbrush, an entire cantaloupe, a lint roller, Scotch tape, a couch cushion, a bath towel, the TV guide, a notebook, all the measuring cups except for the 1/3 cup, and a box of Brillo pads.

Thankfully, with the exception of One Night We Will Not Discuss, Reilly has an iron-clad digestive system.  Taking him for a walk is the equivalent of an archaeological dig.  What goes in always comes out, often with hot pink Post-It notes flagging the way.  This skill set has earned him the title of Poop Master.

I eat a lot of fiber.

I eat a lot of fiber.

Reilly is also a highly-skilled nap-taker and was recently promoted to Sleep Supervisor.  While he prefers to do most of his napping from 9-5, he often works overtime to get the job done.  Reilly has an incredible work ethic.

All in a day's work.

All in a day's work.

Occasionally, Reilly also does some freelance work as a Gas Manager.  This role generally involves slinking up behind his co-workers and releasing deadly fumes.

It wasn't me.

It wasn't me.

On several occasions, Reilly has been known to clear an entire room.  After several run-ins with upper management, it seems necessary that we fill this position permanently with a less-potent candidate.

Reilly may pop up on the blog from time to time, so it seemed appropriate to give him a formal introduction.  He is currently accepting applications for Full Time Belly Scratchers, so if you know of anyone interested, please email us at:

venusandmarsbars@gmail.com

Please rub my belly.

Please scratch my belly.

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His: Run A Muck, What the F*#!

So as Ally was running her first 5k ever, I was recovering from a 5k of my own, albeit a very different one than hers.    This past Saturday, me and three of my city dwelling friends hopped in my car, drove north to Harriman State Park and took part in the New York Runamuck Mud Run which is a beautiful 5k trail run through the park and along Sebago Lake.  The catch, however, is that not only do you have to traverse some pretty difficult terrain but there are obstacles,  a 100 yard water crossing and a 90 foot mud pit at the finish line. 

We Attempted A Loose Pirate Theme

We Attempted A Loose Pirate Theme

THIS RACE WAS FREAKING AWESOME!  I didn’t think it was possible to have that much fun while running.  There are six total races on the day. 

Our Final Approach

Our Final Approach

 There is an individual race, a two person team race and a four person team race.  After the first three are done, the process starts over again for the costume division which in itself is worth going to watch.  We ran in the four person team race and our team name was appropriately the “Dirty Mud Pirates.”  I assure you that I had nothing to do with our name or, for that matter, our slogan, “We do it in the Mud.” 

We started slow, allowing much of our pack to clear out so we could try to pass easier.  This plan sort of back fired early when the trail became only wide enough for a single file line.  On top of that, there were also points that were so steep and rocky that everyone had to walk.  It soon became evident that this was not about winning at all but having the best time we possibly could.  THAT became evident when, at about 1/2 mile in, at the first mud pit, one of my teammates tackled another one. 

King Leonidas and His Spartans Ran Too

King Leonidas and His Spartans Ran Too

Needless to say, the tone had been set for the afternoon.  I’m not saying we dogged it.  On the contrary, we went as fast as we could, but we also may have hurt our time with some tomfoolery.  I’d say we lost a good three minutes by making sure that our entire team had been submerged in the lake. 

Yes, They Ran In These

Yes, They Ran In These

We emerged from the lake refreshed and ready to finish strong.  We cleared the beach obstacles like kangaroos, leaping as if our lives depended on it. 

It Really Is As Fun As It Looks

It Really Is As Fun As It Looks

 All that was left was to hit the giant mud pit, get under a final net and cross the finish line.  We took that mud pit and made it our bitch with several belly flops and one perfectly executed front flip by yours truly.  We gathered our team and crossed the line in unison at about the 38 minute mark which definitely put us in the top third despite the shenanigans.

So if you ever wanted to exercise, then exfoliate and drink beer while watching people in costumes do the same thing, then Runamuck is definitely for you.  Also, they have live music (I got kicked off the stage after I tried to help the band perform that Kings of Leon song).  Seriously, this was an incredible day and I highly recommend it.

Post Race Celebration

Post Race Celebration

Post Race
Post Race

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Hers: My First 5K

This morning, I kicked some ass.  Granted, a good bit of it was my own, but still, there was some mighty fine ass-kicking going on in NYC today.  I ran my very first 5K.  What do you think about that?

I signed up for the Liz Padilla Memorial 5K 2 months ago, and I’ve spent the past several weeks training, worrying, and swearing my way to this morning’s race.  I had some good runs, some really bad runs, and a minor run-in with a pile of dog shit.  I showed off my first running blister like it was my first born, and I used bags of frozen vegetables to ice my wonky knees.  I also learned that it’s ok to still think running sucks a little bit.  Everything came to a head this morning, when I woke to a big pile of nerves and the panic that, “Crap, I have to run 3.1 miles, and I really hope I don’t embarrass myself.”

Stretch stretch stretch.

Stretch stretch stretch.

We arrived in Park Slope with an hour to spare, due to my neurosis and general disdain for being rushed.  This came in handy when we parked on the opposite side of Prospect Park and had to walk a mile to the starting line.  Not good for the nerves. I signed in, picked up my goodie bag (by the way, Brooklyn Bar Association, thanks for the new Tom Jones CD.  Great swag.  Can’t wait to put it on my iPod.), and progressed into a full-on anxiety attack.

Stretching with my swag bag holder, Lady Gaga.

Stretching with my swag bag holder, Lady Gaga.

I stretched, retied my sneakers for the fifteenth time, and did a quick appraisal of the other runners.  Young guy in the singlet with the shaved legs?  He’s going to beat me. Girl with the GPS wrist thingy running sprints?  Definitely going to beat me. School children from P.S. 161?  Might have a chance. Older man fueling up the donut and can of Mountain Dew?  Jackpot.

Clearly trying to psyche out the competition.  Ha.

Clearly trying to psyche out the competition. Ha.

I said my goodbyes to my personal cheering section (thanks to Greg, sister Adrianne, and soon-to-be-runner Lindsay), and walked a good 600 feet to the starting line.  (Again, Brooklyn Bar Association, poor planning on that.)  While everyone else listened to the announcer and planning committee, I concentrated on not throwing up. I situated myself next to DunkinDonut McDew and tried to motivate myself.  Greg ran 26 miles.  You can run 3.  You might even beat this guy next to you.  Don’t stop running. Finally, the gun went off, and I had to either get going or get run over.  So off I went.

Look absolutely miserable.

Look absolutely miserable.

My legs felt good, and mile 1 breezed by.  I chugged along, happy with my pace, and happy that I was not the last one running. Actually, I was pretty far from it.  My iPod kept me distracted, and I concentrated on the “thump-thump” sound my sneakers made on the pavement instead of the “thump-thump” of my heartbeat.  I cruised past the mile 2 marker (I use the term “cruise” very liberally) and realized, “This is more than half over.  I can DO this!”  Eat my dust, McDew.

Run run run.

Run run run.

I ignored my sore legs and plugged along to the 3rd mile marker.  I silently cursed the warmer-than-normal October weather (Al Roker, you lie.  It was hot today.) and tried to think motivational thoughts.  Because I am terrible at this (also why I am terrible at yoga), I settled for “I bet Greg will buy me Starbucks when I’m done” and kept moving.  Once I spied the brightly-colored balloons marking the end of the race, I picked up the pace, smiled for the photographer, and cruised my little butt right over the finish line.

I run for Starbucks.

I run for Starbucks.

And then….that was it.  I finished the race in just over 3o minutes, which was exactly what I was aiming for.  I finished it in one piece, and I felt good.  More importantly…I was not last.

Happy that I'm done.

Eating an orange like the real runners.

I don’t dream about first place finishes and PR’s, but I’m starting to hate running less than I used to.  I’m not very good yet, but for me, that’s fine.  I’ll get better.  Tonight, I’m going to relax, maybe eat some ice cream, and give myself a little pat on the back.

Done.

Done.

Actually, forget that.  I’d like to give myself an additional kick in the ass, so I signed up for another 5k in 3 weeks.  If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to the anxiety and the swearing.


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Hers: A Confession

I overheard Greg talking with a friend the other night, and what he said really stuck with me:

“No one likes running when they just start out.”

What?  Did I miss that memo? Because here I am, thinking I’m supposed to be enjoying this, and I still think it sort of sucks.  My knees hurt, my toenails are in survival mode, and I accidentally blew snot on myself yesterday.  If running was a blind date, I would have high-tailed myself out of there at the first sign of snot.  And now you’re telling me that it’s ok to hate this? At least, for now?

That’s not to say I’ve hated all of it.  I am running further than I ever thought I could, my endurance is up, and I’ve recently acquired several new running outfits.  I have to (grudgingly)  support any hobby that allows me to buy cute outfits.  Still, the love affair I envisioned, with the wind blowing through my hair and the arms raised in victory, has not come to be.  Not yet, anyway.

Snappy new running outfit.

Snappy new running outfit.

Part of the reason I’m yet to fall in love with running is the pressure that comes with it.  I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to be good at this.  If I’m going to run, I need to go far and get there quickly.  I have actually lost sleep over my upcoming 5K—what if I’m awful?  or I get a cramp?  or if someone’s grandmother passes me?

I live with someone who decided to run a marathon on a whim, trained not-so-seriously for a few months, and then blew his goal time out of the water by 40 minutes.  (3:19?  Are you serious?)  Greg is tall and lean, a natural athlete, with long legs and an even longer stride.  He is the human equivalent of a gazelle.

My, Greg, you look handsome.

My, Greg, you look handsome.

I, on the other hand, am more like a wiener dog.  My short little legs have to pump twice as hard, and I don’t have the natural rhythm of a runner.  This doesn’t make for leisurely jogs; on the contrary, I feel like a frenetic jumble of limbs, getting whipped in the face with my ponytail.  I feel like I have big shoes to fill, and each step has been a reminder that I’m not quite there.

Little legs, big attitude.

Little legs, big attitude.

So when I heard Greg confess that he, my very own Marathon Man, used to hate it too, I felt a little bit of hope.  Just because I’m not as good as I want to be doesn’t mean I can’t get there.  It’s far more important to remember that I set a goal for myself and I am achieving it.  I’m allowed to hate every second, for the time being, because I know the feeling of finishing will make it worthwhile.  I am doing something I didn’t think could be done, and that’s pretty great.

For the time being, it’s ok that my motivation to run is so I can be finished sooner.  It’s fine that I chant profanities in my head instead of motivational phrases.  I’ll even accept it if Grandma finishes before I do.  No one is going to be at the finish line thinking I should have run faster.  Not even me.

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