race report: Superhero 5K

The Superhero 5K in Cambridge, MA, will always hold a dear spot in my heart—last year’s was the first road race I ever ran in my life, after a knee surgery and physical therapy and many months of training. After a great experience last year, I was obviously going to run it again.

This year I dressed as Guy Gardner, the douchiest of the Green Lantern Corps:

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And I beat last year’s time by 10 whole seconds! Go me!

The other runners were awesome as usual, going all out on their costumes (looking at you, Doc Ock). I’m a little disappointed in the race organizers, though. I never got my race pint glass (for being an early registrant), and as far as I could tell they weren’t giving out participant medals at all even though they were listed when I registered. I did get my t-shirt, and I’m honestly only in it for the running, but it was a little disappointing to not receive all the bling I’d been promised.

MATERIAL THINGS ASIDE, it was a great race. I love all the strange looks we always get going through Central Square. (Although it seemed like traffic had no warning and people in cars had to stay put for 30-40 minutes while we ran through. Sorry guys.) See you all next year!

Autumn/Flash Gordon approaching

And then, somehow, it was September, and Autumn was in the air.

I’ve been making an effort recently to slow my life down a bit, to make sure I take some time to stop and smell the roses—to be more thoughtful about what I’m doing each day and not just bulldoze my way through work and come home too tired to do anything other than watch MST3K and fall into bed. I’ve started doing yoga every day that I run, and some days that I don’t, and I’m trying to read more and watch less TV and cook more and just generally slow down and improve my life. We’ll see how long this lasts.

One of the things I’m reading right now is this:

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Flash Gordon: Spaceman with a Sword.

I found this at Boston Comic Con last month, buried in a 50% off box behind a bunch of $1 comics. I’d seen the Flash Gordon movie and some of the old serials, but never read any of the comics. I have to say, I’m sold. This book is amazing. Flash Gordon is going on a mission to find a missing spacecraft, and along the way there’s a jailbreak at a space prison, a sexy ice queen and crazy ice monster on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and then they get transported to a far-off planet and it gets even MORE crazy. The stories are completely ridiculous and kitschy and oh-so-earnest and fabulous.

One of the things I love most, I think, is the juxtaposition of the serious, masculine, realistic art with the complete goofiness of the story elements. Before you ask, no, I’m not really sure what I mean by “masculine,” either—the art just seems rugged and manly, somehow, in a way that isn’t inherent to some more modern art. There’s something funny and intriguing to me about this serious masculine style being used to represent pretty butterfly men and Flash Gordon fighting an ice monster/space triceratops.

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Butterfly men and Flash Gordon’s chin.

The back of the book has an essay by Dave Schreiner and some old pencils and layouts by Frank Frazetta and Harvey Kurtzman, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

I also have a collection of the Flash (DC’s Flash) that I’m working on right now, and then I guess I should find a book without pictures to follow up with. Maybe it’s time for some Dickens.

I hope everyone out there in the internet-land is doing well! Anyone in the middle of any good Autumn reads right now?

Disney Princess Half Marathon, take 2

I was supposed to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February 2013. Instead, I dislocated my kneecap multiple times and had knee surgery in December of 2012, aka no half marathons for me in Feb ’13. We did go to Disney World, since we’d paid for everything already, but I didn’t run. So as soon I got through PT last year and was able to run again, I set my sights on 2015. (2014 would have been pushing it for both my training and my budget.)

The race sold out the day it went on sale last week. I was working at a conference in Florida with approximately a 20-minute window around noon when I would be able to register. I was ready. So was everyone else. The site was broken from about noon til 1. I was not hopeful. However, thanks to some very accommodating coworkers, I was able to persevere and finally register around 1pm. I’m in!

So—Disney Princess Half Marathon 2015, here I come!! Now I just need to figure out a costume. I have a bunch of ideas, but I’m leaning towards… well, I’ll just point out the newest member of the Disney princess lineup and leave you to draw your own conclusions:

I've always known Leia was secretly a Disney princess. I mean, she talks to animals and ends up with a Prince Charming/Scruffy-Looking Nerfherder. Duh.

I’ve always known Leia was secretly a Disney princess. I mean, she talks to animals and ends up with a Prince Charming/Scruffy-Looking Nerfherder. Duh.

half marathons: 2, Grace: 0

‘Sup.

A fact I have come to acknowledge about myself: when I am preparing for something and it becomes apparent that I will not succeed to my full expectations, I stop preparing. For instance, if I were, say, training for a half marathon and it becomes apparent about 4 weeks out that I am just not going to be able to physically run my ass that many miles (13.2), I will probably stop training. A normal person would probably keep training and do the best they could even if they knew they would fall short of their goal. Not me. I just stop.

It’s a character flaw, I know that. Recognizing the flaw is the first step in overcoming it, right?

Anyway, I didn’t run the Runners World Half Marathon at the beginning of June. Now you know why.

I haven’t run since then. I don’t know why. Maybe tomorrow.

So that’s two half marathons that I have signed up for and not run. (In my defense, I couldn’t run the Disney Princess Half because I dislocated my knee.) Third time’s the charm, right?

#bostonstrong

BlRN7ziCAAAf1qrI always get chills when I get to the bit about the runners who ran those extra two miles.

Some shit’s going down tonight, I don’t even know, they were detonating backpacks while I went through Copley I guess and there’s someone in custody and honestly I just would wish people stop trying to blow up other people.

race report: Cohasset Road Race by the Sea!

Yesterday I drove down to Cohasset, MA to run the Cohasset Road Race by the Sea, a pretty 10K (6.2 miles) along the coastline of Massachusetts. It was a glorious, perfect blue day.

And…. well.

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This is the excited face of someone who doesn’t know the hell she is about to endure. Also, 50% of my running pictures look like this. I need a new pose.

This was my first-ever 10K race and I will just say I did horribly. I went out too fast, I wasn’t expecting the hills (maybe I’ll look at the course map next time?), and at about mile 3 I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make it. I did finish, which was my main goal, but I had to take a short walking break in the middle (secondary goal was to run the entire thing, boo), and I barely finished ahead of the race’s oldest runner, an 80-year-old man. I mean he’s obviously a badass because he’s 80 and running 6.2 miles (what have you done lately?), but it still didn’t make me feel great since I consider myself a relatively-fit 28-year-old. In my defense (sort of), I woke up this morning too sick to go to work, so that might have had something to do with yesterday’s performance, but I am still not happy with the result.

The other 50% of my running photos look like this. Fierce pre-race Grace.

The other 50% of my running photos look like this. Fierce pre-race Grace.

The race itself was great though, I would totally run it again. The route was beautiful quaint New England and the race was very well-organized; bib and race shirt pickup was as efficient as a local election, but with much better organization than any election I’ve ever participated in. Everyone was friendly and smiling, and the team managed over 1000 runners easily. And having had some horrible experiences with the Color Run, I was even happy at how smoothly the parking experience went. (It’s the little things, guys, that really aren’t that little.)

So next year I will hopefully be in even better shape and prepared for the hills and not fighting off a pre-sickness and we’ll have a similarly perfect blue day to run the 39th Cohasset Road Race by the Sea!

The finish line, calm and waiting.

The finish line, calm and waiting.

unpopular opinion: Captain America II is just kind of an OK movie

~~~WARNING: RAMPANT SPOILERS~~~

captain-america-winter-soldier-poster-evans-610x872Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Captain America: The Winter Soldier Rides Again or whatever the movie is called. There was wit, there was action, there were some very necessary Cap-as-a-man-out-of-time moments. I think this movie contains my favorite 30 seconds of Nick Fury ever, and small touches like Natasha wearing an arrow necklace (Black Widow + Hawkeye = OTP) really added depth to the Marvel story as a whole. The action was impeccable—the elevator! Bucky and Steve mano-a-mano! Every scene with a car!

But while I liked all of the individual pieces of the movie, as a whole they didn’t add up. I enjoyed the heartbreaking scene with old lady Peggy, but narratively it didn’t need to be there. (Maybe it would have been a good post-credit sequence?) The first third of the movie dragged for me, until the actual Plot showed up and there was a clear reason for the movie to be happening.

Mostly, the surprising/not-surprising twists annoyed and bored me. (I wasn’t kidding about the spoilers, guys, stop now.) We all know they’re not going to actually kill Nick Fury. He’s a spy. He’s the spy. Even his death lies. And we all know Robert Redford is the bad guy the instant he strolls on screen. The people I saw the movie with argued that those things weren’t supposed to surprise the audience, they were just supposed to surprise the characters. OK. That’s a perfectly valuable narrative device—except that for the entire movie the audience knows that the Winter Solder is Bucky Barnes and is waiting for Steve to figure it out and react to it. You can’t hang all of the major points of the movie on the same narrative device. You just can’t.

On that topic, I was also disappointed in how little Bucky Barnes actually meant to the story. That assassin could have been anyone and the only thing that would have changed was the final “I won’t fight you” fight scene. There was so much going on, and I think the Bucky story suffered in the grand scheme of events, which is a shame because there was so much potential there.

As an entry in the Marvel universe, the movie is overall satisfactory, and I’ll definitely rewatch it and enjoy it. However, I’ll be rewatching it the same way I watch, say, Watchmen—because aesthetically I enjoy all of the individual scenes, characters, and jokes, but not because I enjoy it as a movie event. Which is a shame.

The Guardians of the Galaxy trailer looks amazeballs, though. Bring it, Marvel.

long run report: 3/23/14 (plus, overcoming the 3-mile wall)

(for those of you who aren’t here for the running, I promise the next post is about comic books)

Distance: 5 miles (longest run evahhhhhh)

The snow has finally melted.

Still gloomy outside and icy in the water, but at least the path is clear!

Still gloomy outside and icy in the water, but at least the path is clear!

This means I can run on the reservoir again and not destroy my body trying to run up and down hills. Hurray! And today it meant I had a nice flat 5 miles to run, scoring my longest distance ever. Hurray again!

It’s very fulfilling when you pass your previous longest distance (in my case, 4 miles and a bit) and then you can spend the final mile going “every single step you take from here on out is your longest run ever.” And then if your music randomly shuffles to Final Countdown at the end, that helps a bit too.

Getting to 5 miles has been a longer journey than I expected. After my knee surgery and PT, I got back up to around 3 mile runs in time for my first 5K in October. Now it’s March, which means it’s taken about 6 months to add 2 miles, which seems excessive. I could blame the cold and snow (I only run outside) or I could blame my own laziness (usually valid), but I think in this case I just mentally couldn’t break past 3 miles. 3 miles was my goal distance for so long, because it was a good “starting” goal, that when I got there I just couldn’t readjust my thinking to the new goal of 4 miles. I knew I wanted to run 4 miles. I signed up for a half marathon, so I knew I needed 4 miles and then some. I just couldn’t do it.

But I hate to fail at things. I’m signed up for a 10K in a couple of weeks (this one) and I think that helped me do it—I don’t want to fail at that 6-and-a-bit miles, so I’ve been able to finally bust through my 3-mile wall.

I like to think I have enough self-discipline that I don’t need an external impetus to succeed, but maybe that’s just not true.

*signs up for more races*

long run report: 3/2/14

Distance: ~3.25 miles

Funny story (funny/not funny), my Garmin couldn’t find me today so I wasn’t able to track my time or mileage properly. Sigh. Has anyone else had this problem? Is it because it was overcast? It worked fine in the same area earlier this week.

Anyway, I was trying to find a flat route today, since I’ve (accidentally) done hills for my last few runs and I’ve been feeling it in my feet. Went partway around the reservoir until it got icy, then retraced my steps.

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This part is so much nicer in summer.

So my run ended up pretty flat but not quite as long as I wanted. Then I came home and had pancakes, which meant I had to say “pamcakes” a lot, because Hellboy.

Hellboy_Pancakes1Pamcakes2If you think this post on running has simply turned into an excuse to post Hellboy comics, you would be correct.