Friday, May 30, 2008

In Training

I am currently in training. For what am I training, you might ask? It's a complicated question. I just ran the Vermont City Marathon on Sunday, and I did train for it, but I wouldn't say I exactly train for the events I sign up to run. After all, while I ran a respectable 3 hours and 26 minutes, I'm not breaking any speed records. No, I sign up for the events to make myself train. I know that if I don't train for a marathon, I am going to get hurt, so marathons are motivation. Shorter races -- 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons -- when I run in them, are like training runs themselves. Add other competitors, spectators, timing chips, and start and finish lines, and suddenly I run just a little bit harder than on a normal morning jog on a dirt road.

What I'm in training for is to maintain my physical and mental well-being. If I force myself to run in the morning, although it might hurt and although I might not feel like it, I always feel better physically and I feel better about myself. Like I accomplished something and did something good for myself. So much of it is mental. For example, if I eat a cookie on a non-exercise day, I swear I can feel the calories and fat going right to my stomach and my mid-section expanding. However, if I run, I feel like I can eat three cookies, and they don't touch me.

Is this all in my head? Maybe it is. I don't just run, though. I play pick-up ice hockey, and I rock climb. All of them have the same effect on me. At hockey, I always play as hard as I can. In fact, I usually keep score; I noticed that everyone else plays a bit harder too when there's something on the line. Last night, the white team won 8-7, and -- let me tell you -- people were scrapping at the end trying to lift their respective team. Hockey complements my running, because it serves as a tempo run and a speed workout. When I run, I just run. A good clip, but the same steady pace. Hockey is all about short, explosive bursts. You skate at full-speed for two minutes, then rest. Meanwhile, at the end of a hockey session, many players are sucking wind. Not me; my running endurance makes me a third period player.

And, finally, rock climbing is the glue that holds it all together. The yoga session of my weekly workouts. Climbing is a full-body strength, stretching, and balancing workout, and it's the exercise that keeps my muscles and my body toned. It's like doing the trim when you paint a room; it's a small piece, but it makes everything look sharper and more complete.

I am a strong believer in cross-training. Maybe I'll never be "great" at any of my big three sports, because I never fully dedicate myself to any of them. But because I regularly exercise -- and all of my workouts complement each other -- I feel great... and I can have two helpings of everything each night at dinner.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


It comes in all forms. A nasty face when a kid tries to eat peas. The wag of a tail when you scratch your dog behind the ears. A pat on the back. A thank you.

Positive feedback keeps people going. Other feedback keeps them honest. Either way, feedback is a critical part of everyone's diet. Without it, how would you know where you stand in the world? How would you improve?

This weekend, I dealt with a minor bout of writer's block. It's nasty stuff, writer's block -- especially if you're a writer! Here's what happened: I submitted a project I've been working on to an editor. There weren't really any guidelines on this particular piece (see... already a minimum of feedback), and the topic was very broad. I had tons of material for it, but a relatively limited word length to work with. I really wasn't sure if what I wrote was what the editor wanted.

In that climate, I began work on another piece. I have to say, the ideas weren't flowing. The lead was tough to write, so I skipped it and moved on. Still, my muse was singing off key. Nothing clever, nothing smooth. It felt like everything I wrote read poorly. And I found that my mind kept wandering over to the earlier piece. "Is it what she wanted?"

Yesterday, I got an email from the editor. Not only was the article good, she said, she wanted to work with me on a couple more projects. Positive feedback (or any feedback, see, because if she said she didn't like it, I could have fixed it!) is the breakfast of champions. And, once again, the words are flying from my head through my keyboard and onto the monitor.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Best of Burlington article

Make sure you run out and buy the summer issue of Best of Burlington magazine. Great photos, excellent articles, really well-laid-out... and, best of all, an article by me about everyone's favorite place: the bike path! I noticed that they're sold out at Borders and Barnes and Noble, but if you see it anyplace, spread the word. It's an excellent new publication!

In other news, not to sound too much like a letter from my grandmother, but I am getting ready to plant my starters. That's right: I'm a gardener now too. You might wonder what motivated me to take up gardening. Well, it's simple: I love to eat! Garden-fresh cukes (pickling sized are best, although I don't like pickles only the cukes), tomatos, etc. I started the seeds as long as a month ago, and I am putting the squash, zuccinis, beans, radishes, lettuce, and cukes in the ground today or tomorrow. The tomatos, basil, and anything else I want, I'll have to buy starters at the store, because I drowned mine apparently. Oh well, it's a learning curve!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Welcome Summer!

Memorial Day weekend -- aka "Marathon Weekend in Vermont" -- 2008 has come and gone, and that means the unofficial beginning of summer! And I have to say, I have not looked forward to summer like I am this time around in a long time.

What's different? For one, a new job: I'm a "writer" now. Okay, okay... I've been writing for a long time now, but this is different; I quit my job and I'm writing! Now do you get the picture? Either I'll be publishing a whole lot more, or I'll be losing those extra few pounds I've been worried about! I'm not just writing, though. I am also interning at Eating Well magazine (buy it -- there's lots of good stuff, including recipes, yumm!) to learn how the magazine business works. See? There's method to the madness; I couldn't have done that and worked my old job.

Also, I have a dog that runs and a girlfriend (soon to be wife) who rock climbs, and I plan to do lots of those this summer. And, of course, I'll keep everyone posted on the excitement on this here blog!