Busy night at Court Square Tavern

Court Square Tavern was packed last night for a Friday in July. This comes in part because a group of us have decided to reclaim it, to make it into what it needs to be - Charlottesville's most awesome bar. Or at least, an antidote to every other place in town.

For the record, I don't know what every other place in town is like. I only know that the Tavern is a place where I feel at home. Last night, the woman who first introduced me to the place was in there, which felt like serendipity because that means the service might be back up to their standard.

Why do I love the place so much? Maybe because it's always there for me. It's a place I can go and feel at home pretty much no matter what. Sometimes I feel like this existence is nothing more than a series of stages on which we play our lives. If we're not on those stages, we don't quite feel alive. The point of life is to make sure that we're playing an interesting part, on whatever stage we end upon.

I don't really work there anymore. I may work once a month, and maybe more in the fall when things get a little busier. These days I'm playing the role of patron and booster. I want the place to be a success.

Even when the Tavern wasn't there for me, it was there for me. After the fire, I plowed myself into my business, and did pretty well. I kept hoping it would come back, but because it did not, I had to make up a third of my income.

And now, it's there for me again in different ways, helping to meet people, having fun in what I would consider to the most overlooked spot in Charlottesville. When they come in, so many people are amazed that the place even exists. Two blocks away from the Downtown Mall. But, downtown Charlottesville is more than the Mall. No other restaurant exists north of Market Street. We are a valuable institution.

Are we excellent? Are we going the best culinary experience you've ever had? Likely not.
We're a tavern! You come to the bar to meet people and to talk to them and to learn something you didn't know before. Or, you come and you talk to people and find out you have common interests. We don't have loud music. We're not in a cavern. We're practically a living room, only with tables and chairs and someone who brings you drinks.

And, we seem to be back to the way things used to be, except without the smoking.


Lunch run report

My bus will be here in 10 minutes to take me back to work. I left my office in Court Square at 1:00 PM for a quick run. It was nice to go to work in my running clothes. Now I'm showered and waiting for the bus, eating a black bean burger with two slices of cheese. I sort of mistimed my run. I had hoped to run for about an hour and ten minutes, but I left the house without my watch today. Instead, I ran for about 55 minutes through the neighborhoods north of the Downtown Mall.

Turns out, I don't like to run without the watch. It's an incredibly useful device. I've never really worn a watch as an adult. My parents gave me a Mickey Mouse watch when I was a teenager, but I stopped wearing it because I was allergic to something on it. Now, I'm allergic to not knowing what time it is when I'm running.

I've more or less ditched the iPod, though. It's too much hassle to run with it, and I like to be able to take in what I'm listening to. I enjoy hearing birds, listening for cars, eavesdropping on snippets of conversation, and in general being in tune with my environment.

Now there are 7 minutes left. I've drank 32 ounces of Gatorade and I need to go prepare another 32 for the bus ride. I also have to find a shirt. One consequence of all the training is that I have four shirts that actually fit me in. I have a closet filled with clothes that are ridiculously over-sized. Eight months ago, I wore XL. Now I'm an M. I'm still not really used to that.

It was hot and humid outside, and I enjoy running in the heat. I generally like running in everything except the rain. Of course, now I'm really picky about what I wear. I would like to have more technical shirts and socks, but I've not been able to get many yet. With time, right?

And, with that, I'm out of time and off to the bus. I hope the online thing is correct.


Seeking a balance in training

I'm sort of at a crossroads with the training, in that I am not entirely committed to going to bed every Friday by 10:00 AM so I can run my long run. Don't get me wrong. I would love more than anything to run several miles every Saturday morning, but Friday is the only night I get to go out. And, going out is a vital ingredient in my quest to build a social life.

Yet, so is running. I have enjoyed meeting people so far in the marathon training program, and I am definitely not going to drop out of it. I still plan on running in the Richmond marathon in November. I'm going to continue to boost my mileage each week, but I do have to seriously weigh what my goals are, and achieve some sort of a balance. Do I want to run as fast as I can, or do I simply want to finish?

That is not a decision I have to make today! This entry is mostly a place to organize my thoughts on the subject. I also promised I'd update folks, so here we go.

I do need to figure out a way to keep better records. My life is still somewhat in an organizational crisis, to put it mildly. I'm working a full full-time job, still trying to run a business, co-parenting two awesome kids, and I'm trying to train to run a marathon. Thanks to the donation of a car from my friend Nick, I'm also re-learning the guitar and actually gearing up to write songs.

Let's go back through the past two weeks of training in reverse chronological order. Today I went to the gym for the first time in 15 days. Since I moved back into my house in Charlottesville, it's much more difficult to get to Gold's Gym. I'm still trying to find the time to go three days a week, but I'm also not hard on myself if I don't go. My plan is to seriously work on weight-training after the marathon, but to continue getting acquainted with the equipment until then.

Yesterday, I went on an amazing run through the City, about 6 or 7 miles or so. I didn't map it out, but I felt pretty good at the end. The rain cleared up for exactly the time I needed. I ran with no pain except on a couple of downhills where my right knee kept telling me my form was incorrect. I made some adjustments, and things got better.

I took Sunday off. But, that's okay. I had a fantastic day for reasons that have nothing to do with exercise.

On Saturday, I overslept past my alarm and woke up at 6:08 AM. The training program began at 6:00 AM. My back-up plan was to go run the Fairview 5K, but I failed to get the correct directions and so I drove around looking for the pool to no avail. Got home by 8:00 AM to start a long-run, and aimed to simply run for two hours. Off I went, and everything went swimmingly. Went from my house up to the University of Virginia, to the track, down to Barracks Road shopping center, up the huge hill on Barracks Road, to the downtown mall. Here I had a sip of water. Ran down to Riverview Park, ran the loop, but on Chesapeake Street at about an hour and a half into the run, my body just stopped. I wasn't in pain. Didn't feel particularly tired. I was just out of energy. I didn't bring anything with me, and so, I just accepted it and walked for a while.

Do you know how when a cell phone's battery dies and you keep turning it on anyway, hoping that there's more juice? That's kind of how I was. I'd run for a bit, then stop.

And you know? I accepted it. I knew that I needed nutrition to keep going, but I didn't have it, so I didn't feel bad about it. A previous version of me would have been upset the rest of the day. But, I just took it in stride, and made my way home as best I could.

Quickly on the previous week. Ran 5 miles Thursday night to test out a knee problem that cropped up on Tuesday afternoon when I tried running. The night before I'd run 8 miles, 3 more than I should have. I had miscalculated the cumulative amount I had run in the past 7 days. And, my knees definitely let me know that I needed rest and wasn't actually ready to run 40 miles in a one-week period!

The reason I'm training is to learn how to train. I've always been the kind of person who just does things quickly, always resisting other people's advice. I can't be like that anymore. That kept out a lot of good ideas. But, again, that was the past. Everything now is about the future, and about learning to accept my limitations. Learning how to ask for help. Learning that while the world can be a scary place, there is certainly something fantastic about being human in the 21st century.

And, that future includes a marathon. This fall will see me training as best I can, despite the many demands on my time. I know this Saturday I'll be out at White Hall at 6:15 AM, aiming to run 14 miles. My training to date has me on schedule for that, and I am so looking forward to it. I aim to run about 7 miles tomorrow morning, and to run a very easy 3 on Thursday night.

Of course, to do that, I'll have to find a babysitter! Anyone want to look after two awesome kids for an hour? I'll barter audio production services or in-kind babysitting. Heck, I'll even write a song for you in exchange.


Racing Forest Lakes, adding the miles, stopping the bleeding toe

My middle toe on my right foot is bleeding. I have no idea why, exactly. It must have chafed against my sock while I was on my run tonight. Two friends of mine who are expecting their first child have been looking after the kids an hour at a time so I can get another hour of running in.

This week I've got my miles up to about 27, which is right about where I wanted to be. I skipped a long run on Saturday in favor of running a 5K for the Kiwanis Club. Someone had asked me if I was planning on running it, and I decided to put that over the long run. The start time was later, and I wanted to try my feet at another run.

I got there at 7:00 AM, amazed at the commitment I seem to have to running. I jogged from my car to the registration table, filled out my card, and then ran the first part of the course and back to warm-up. For the first time, I had a watch on me so I would have some sense of how much time had passed. On my first long-run, I ran way too fast, according to running friends. This time, I would start off slow and try to run at a steady pace for the whole three and a bit miles.

Unlike in March, the weather was warm at the start, and you could tell the sun was going to get hot. The race was set to start at 7:30, and sure enough, we were lined up at 7:32. I got up about maybe three rows from the start and got into position. When the flag dropped, I sprinted out as fast as I could to get some space between me and other folks. And, I settled into what I thought was a pretty good pace. No one really passed me for a bit, though a long line of people went sailing off into the distance.

The first half mile was more or less downhill, before heading back up a hill. I was trying to go as slow as I could, or so I thought. When we got to the first mile, I looked at my watch. 6:24! I've not run that fast since high school! But, I immediately knew I'd gone way too fast and that I needed to slow down. I slowed the pace as best I can, but still wanted to move as fast as I could.

I want to do well. I want to learn how to do well. To go as fast as I can without hurting myself. I want to train so that I can learn how to do this well. Even though I suspected I was going to crash out, I kept on running as fast as I could. Suddenly the course dropped down onto a footpath, and something about those narrow spaces make me want to run as fast as I can. The first section was a steep drop, and someone behind me started flailing behind me. Somewhere on this footpath was the next marker, and I saw that I had run the second mile at 6:56, and we'd begun a steady incline up. I thought I was doing fantastic, but knew somewhere that I was going to start slowing down.

And, sure enough, coming up a steep hill, though back on the road, I started feeling my stomach acting up. I hadn't had anything to eat, but did have a cup of tea. Something started coming back up, and I quickly knew I was going to need to stop and just let nature have its way with me. So, I pulled over, convulsed a bit, and then started running.

Convulsed is a little strong, but I didn't want to just come right out and say I puked.

But, then, I started running again. I felt fine. This happened to me on my first race as well, and I know from practice that I do tend to get nauseous if I burn out too long and let adrenaline get the best of me. On my training runs, I love the mad sprints I make myself do to get through traffic lights (especially at the corner of Ridge-McIntire-West Main), but I know that I need to slow down for a few seconds when I get to that point.

So, up I went, and still crossed the finish line at 22:03, according to the official results. Within site of the finish line, I saw my result and tried to push myself a little to get just under 22:00, but I could tell I didn't have it in me. So, even though I'd beaten my best time by more than a minute, I was disappointed that I haven't yet learned how to really respect pacing. The 5K is a great race to train on, though, and I'm going to try to work in at least one a month in order to get used to that feeling of competing.

Five days later, my toe is bleeding a bit. In total, I've managed to run 27 miles in the past six days. Tomorrow is a rest day and then I hope to shoot for 12 or 13 miles on Saturday morning. I'm eager to start getting the miles up, and it will be nice to do so with other people training for the marathon.

I'm really enjoying this.