Life of Megan

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Primitive run

Yesterday, I checked the weather around 1:00 to discover storms were expected later in the afternoon, when I had originally planned my run. The rain was falling steadily, and as I checked over my gear, I discovered I had left my watch at Jud’s apartment. Using the Forerunner is difficult in the rain because the GPS device seems to struggle to maintain a signal throughout the run, waiting outside as it searches for the five nearest satellites can be trying. My heart-rate monitor, which I rarely use anyhow, was at home. I did, however, have everything else I would need to run and then shower and change later. I decided to go out for a primitive (technology-free) run.

I planned to run my normal on-campus route, down Dryden Rd and then along the Recreational Way, hoping to hit the 0.25-mile marker (approximately one mile from the lab) before turning around. My “ideal run” goal was to reach the end of the trail before turning back, putting my total distance near four miles. I walked a little to warm up before starting. The rain was still falling steadily.

There is something about running in rain (when it is above 45 F or so) that is good for the soul. The steady pattering drowns out the noises from the road, so the runner hears only her feet striking the ground, her steady breath, the wind she generates, and the occasional chirp of an encouraging bird.

Add to these effects an utter lack of technology, the inability to monitor progress in any objective sense, and you have the setting for a great run.

And so it was that yesterday, as I reached the recreational way, I realized I was having fun. Nothing hurt, nothing felt forced. I wasn’t thinking about how long it would be until I needed to take a walking break or how long I could go without them. I was listening to the rain and the birds and noticing that the leaves are finally starting to change around here. I let go of all the things I normally worry about and enjoyed the trip instead. I just ran. That was enough. I turned around at the end of t he trail, stopped briefly to adjust my contact, and picked up the pace for the trip back. I reached the lab easily, fully aware I could have run several more miles, but also sure that I had gone far enough and needed to get back to work.

Yesterday’s run was amazing. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the negatives with running. Plans seldom go as well as one would hope, especially in running. In a hard training program, you adjust to a constant soreness in your legs as you constantly push yourself a little harder. You think about the races you’ve failed to start, the mileage goals you’ve failed to accomplish, and the nagging injuries that may be coming back to haunt you once again. And then, if you’re lucky, you have a run like the one I experienced yesterday. And all is forgiven and forgotten, and you can’t wait to hit the road the following day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

"My Name Is Earl"

is the funniest TV show I've seen in ages. It's nice to see a comedy with decent actors again (man, I miss Frasier!). Some of the expressions produced by Jason Lee and other cast members had me giggling throughout entire commercial breaks. I love the narrative style of the show and the quirky comments that give the characters depth. I was skeptical at first, but now I'm hooked--and so is Jud.

In other TV news, Gilmore Girls was less sucky last night. It started on a pretty good note, with Luke ranting about how one Jedi could win a fierce duel simply by obtaining the high ground. I think I'll still give it a chance. Biggest Loser won't be intersesting until later in the season anyhow.

Next week Amazing Race starts!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Chicken stock

Last night, I made chicken stock for the first time. I don't know why I didn't try this before, but I'm glad I did. The recipe was from a Cooking Light cookbook.

  1. 1 (3.5 lb) broiler/fryer chicken (no giblets)
  2. 1 onion, unpeeled and quartered
  3. 10 parsley sprigs
  4. 1 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  5. 1 tsp. salt
  6. 6 garlic cloves, sliced
  7. 3 bay leaves
  8. 8 cups water
  9. 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a stockpot capable of holding more than four quarts. Add the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.
  2. Remove the chicken from the pot and cool slightly. Remove the meat from the bones and reserve for later use. Return the bones and the skin to the pot.
  3. Stir in vinegar and partially cover the pot. Let the stock simmer for another hour.
  4. Strain the stock through a sieve into a large bowl. Discard the solids. Cover and chill the stock for at least eight hours. Before using, skim the fat off the top of the stock.
This yielded about 6 cups of stock. The recipe also called for 2 carrots, cut in 2-in pieces, to be added from the beginning, but I left these out because I'm allergic to them.

The stock tastes delicious, and I can't wait to use it in dishes. I think that as long as I can plan ahead, I will never use canned stock again.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A new page

I am now officially a New York resident. A Yankee once again. I don't know if people in the South are nicer or more refined than those up North, but I do know that I feel much more at home up here than I did in Tennessee and South Carolina. But then, I live in Ithaca; the people here are weird.

At any rate, I got a NY driver's license and registration on the same day. Curiously, I walked away with the plates but have to wait a few weeks for the license. For now, I have a piece of paper that says I have permission to drive. Naturally, the NY DMV confiscated my old license (this was also the policy of the SC DMV). This means that I have to carry around my passport if I want to purchase any sort of potent potable in town. Jud has been dealing with this for a while now. At first, places were accepting the combination of paper DL and Cornell ID, but apparently, someone made a bunch of fake Cornell IDs. I'm not entirely sure what new residents who don't have passports are supposed to do if they want a beer. At Wegman's (our nice grocery store), the policy is to card everyone, so you could be in your forties and denied the ability to buy beer because of New York's non-instant driver's license system.

My big complaint about Ithaca is that things work too well. We can't complain about the police because they drive the way we're all taught to drive. They use turn signals, go the speed limit, and stop for pedestrians. Coming from South Carolina, and especially from Rock Hill, this behavior is most unsettling. To make matters worse, our DMV is efficient. All the forms you could possibly need, including instructions and tips, are online. New drivers call in advance to schedule their tests. They have about six employees waiting to help those who have forms, and three to help people who just need information. I arrived at the DMV late Friday morning, waited less than five minutes in line, and was out the door in less than half an hour. Harrowing. You don't even have to do the eye test in one of those terrible machines--you just read an eye chart. There's a certain level of disservice we Americans have come to expect, and despite what many people think, I believe we genuinely enjoy complaining about it. How can you say you've been to the DMV if you haven't waited forty minutes in line, only to reach the front, find out you've filled out one line incorrectly, and be sent to the back for a different form? Still, it's a lot more fun to complain about efficiency. =)

I also registered to vote in New York. I am relieved I will not have to get myself out of jury duty in SC once again (I've been summoned twice to jury duty in Rock Hill). There seem to be a lot of interesting local elections here that the students embrace, so it'll be nice to participate.

As for running, I cancelled the Philly Distance Run because giving blood last week affected me more than I had anticipated. Now I am essentially starting over, trying to maintain a moderate 25 mpw while increasing the amount of time I actually spend running. I am doing one continuous run per week, a few 3-4 mile runs with walking breaks once per mile or once per 15 minutes, and an 8-mile long run with progressively fewer walking breaks. Until now, I've been 4:1 run:walk intervals. My goal is to run anything 10K or less continuously and anything longer with breaks at each mile (since I know I will never master running and drinking water from Dixie cups).

And now it's time for me to get back to work. =)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


Well, school is back in session, and I'm busier than ever. I am taking two classes, nonlinear finite elements, and [statistical] thermodynamics. Both are pretty challenging. I am also trying to get more reserach done this year than I did last year.

On top of that, I discovered a new computer game that is a lot of fun, I'm still trying to do running, and I am working on my website.

Phew! I'm still going to try to post at least once per week, but be patient with me.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Go Tigers!!!

What an awesome way to kick off the season, Clemson!