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soy diary

wasn't quite what I hoped for

I was so looking forward to this weekend, after four months of hard training, finally the end was near. The finish line will be there. It will be just beautiful. That's what I thought Saturday morning during a short two-mile job along the East River. I was feeling good, body and mind perfectly conditioned. I headed out to the airport early afternoon. On the news traffic report was not favorable, with back up on Van Wyck, but the train situation seemed pretty bad anyway, so I called for a car service for my deserved ride. After a long crawl on Van Wyck, I finally arrived at JFK, still more than hour to spare. Although I had now 'prohibited' liquid items in my bag, I somehow cleared the security. The woman checked my boarding pass I printed out the previous night and my driver's license, and she circled gate number 11. So I headed to gate 11. There were some people waiting at gate 11, but there was no flight info or airline personnel at the gate. I looked around to see if there were other marathoners. Not really. There was a couple who could be a marathoner. I sat down in front of a TV screen and took out my book. I sat there patiently, thinking it was like waiting for a flight to Cuba, because there was no action at the gate, no information, no announcement, and I don't know if the flight was delayed or what. The scheduled departure time approached but there was no action at the gate. I thought there should be an announcement of some sorts, but it was pretty quiet around there. I just returned to my book. It was past the departure time when I finally realized that there was a monitor of departure flights information behind me. There was no 'Burlington' on the monitor. I located a airline counter not far away, and asked the woman, 'Where is the flight to Burlington?' She punched something into the computer and said, 'It was gate 23. Where were you?' 'I had gate 11. I was right here.' She said I missed the flight. I had to walk all the way to the other side of terminal, where my flight was, and they re-booked me on the later flight. 8:35 pm. At least I won't miss the race. I didn't want to spend 5 and a half hours at the airport, so I went home. Hour and a half trip on dreadfully slow subway- for weekend service change A train ran local all the way to Manhattan. I was going to miss the pasta dinner and all the activity at the hotel. I had a quick dinner at home and soon it was time to return to the airport. Second deserved cab ride was at least quicker without much traffic. This time though, there was no passenger going through the security checkpoint, and the bored security personnels, all six of them, hovered around my bag. They said I couldn't take the sunblock lotion. 'But I am running a marathon in the morning! I'm going to need that!' They said I had to check my bag. 'Why didn't I have a problem going through here earlier today?' I was furious. But I had plenty of time. I go to the airline counter and checked my bag. I went through the security, and of course the first thing I did was to check the departure gate on the monitor. I had been changed again. They didn't start boarding us until 10 minutes to departure time. I sat next to a friendly teenager who was coming home from a school trip down in Mississippi. She told me that black widow was everywhere down there. 'It's so different there. I'm glad to be home.' She and her friends right behind me were all so impressed that I was running the marathon next morning. The flight kept moving around slowly, and we didn't take off another 40 minutes. I finally arrived at the quiet hotel and settle into my room at 10:30. If I go to bed by midnight, I should be able to get almost 6 hours of sleep. That'll be ok. But I was so flustered after whole day of travelling ordeal, I kept tossing and turning. I kept getting up to go to bathroom. Overall, I didn't seem to get much sleep at all. I was very tired when alarm went off. It will be all right. I got on the first shuttle bus to the start at 6:30am, because I still had to pick up the race number. I was feeling pretty good, right at the front of the start. All the training should pay off now. The sky was clear. The gun went off. The crowd cheered. I was already feeling the rush. So the race was on. In the first mile the first laugh was the sight of an elderly man in nothing but a speedo and a construction helmet singing and playing the accordion for us. It's going to be a great race. Warm temprature is dangerous since you tend to go faster than you should. And I did. With all my knowledge and experience. Steep down hill in mile 2 also didn't help. I went faster. Then after we left the city center there was quiet stretch on highway, kind of boring and long, with a help of Brazilian band. Heading back to the city I passed a guy wearing yellow suit- I couldn't really tell if it was banana or Pikachu. Then someone called 'hey Chiquita!' so I figured it was a banana. At mile 8 I was already slowing down. Slower than my goall pace. It's not even mile 10 and that was not a good news. But I was still feeling good. A lady pointed at me in sideline, 'hey, you're smiling!' That made me smile even more and made a few more spectators laugh. But I felt my legs are getting heavier already. It's not even half way! I blamed on all mix-up at the airport. I blamed the lack of sleep. There was nothing to be done. It didn't get any easier. I was expecting flat course, but compared to the streets of Manhattan, it was hilly enough. It was gently up or down. Second time around the city center I high-fived Darth Vader in front of a comic store. Down to South Burlington, a guy was blasting Rocky's theme song from a boom box in front of his house for the runners. A guy in front of me put his arms up to do a 'Rocky's run.' So it had great energy, lots of kids to high five, plenty of water stations and sprinklers going on yards for us, but my race was tough. By mile 10 I knew I wasn't going to run my best, and I gave up mentally. At mid-point, I didn't know why I was doing it. But I kept going. I walked about a hundred times. I thought about quitting. I thought it was anther 'worst race ever.' What's the point of finishing if I was going to finish in 4 hours? I stopped looking at my splits. But I travelled all the way up here for the race, why not at least finish my 10th marathon? And the kids cheered me on, adults cheered me on. Then somehow I was already there in the last four miles on bike path, supposedly scenic, and I was hoping for the lake view, but it was mostly through the woods. Nice shade, but I could've use views too. For all the agony and walking, I still finished in 3 hours and 29 minutes. Of course they had Ben & Jerry's for us at the finish line, and I thought it was a very nice little race after all. Back in the hotel I enjoyed dipping in swimming pool and jaccuzzi with other runners. I'm a little sore today and glad to be home. I'm already exploring for the next big race. I might have fallen from the horse but I'm getting right back up.
on may 26, 2008 @ 09:38 pm [link]

Show time at SOY

Another day of little sunshine in the morning then rain on and off. It feels unseasonally cool for Mid-May. I already changed the content of my drawers to summer clothes, but tanks and shorts days seem like still two months away. But time goes fast. So fast these days. Only 4 days to my 10th marathon. Jenny came to endulge on spicy tuna bowl, and we were so in sync with this subject of time going so fast. I told her my crazy idea; when I have my cooking show, I want to invite her to hula-hoop in the background. She is a professional hula artist. She loved the idea. And since she happened to have her hoops with her, she gave me and a bunch of customers a quick hula show right on the sidewalk in front of store as she left. It totally made my day.
on may 21, 2008 @ 11:58 pm [link]

Just another Saturday

Finally I got my beauty sleep, although Coco woke me up a hundred times beginning from very accurate 6 am wake up meow. I told her to shut up a hundred times back; I was determined to stay in bed. This was the first Saturday I wasn't running, probably the very first time this year. I got haircut with Akiro san early afternoon. It was such a beautiful afternoon, so I decided to go shop for some flowers at Union Square green market. I came across Dance Parade by Tompkins Square Park. I didn't know what it was. There was a float coming down on St. Marks with dancers of all ages, colors, mostly casually dressed, with a troop surrounding it that included some drag queens of course. Good parade always have to include some dressed up gay people over 6 feet. A tatoo covered leather wearing old man, classic East Village type, was having a blast in the sideline, dancing to House music coming from the float right in front of me. I was happy because it felt like good old East Village. The air smelt like that very first summer I got my apartment on 10th Street in 1990. Casual, fun, there was no attitude, seemed somewhat disorganized. It was not choreographed. Some were dancing their hearts out. Other's were just walking the parade. It almost seemed accidental. But we were all having fun. It was a good old party where you didn't have to know anyone. Union Square market was so full of people and flowers and vegetables. One of the vendor was talking to his customer; "Did you see Dance Parade? It was amazing!" Maybe I missed the amazing part. I heard that Toy Tower on Avenue B is being demolished. What a shame. We're losing another unique icon of the neighborhood.
on may 18, 2008 @ 01:42 am [link]

Thank Who It's Friday

Another week has gone by, surprisingly quickly, although at times it seemed like a nightmare that I cannot wake up from, more training newbees, more interviewing, more running, more baking, more gyozas, a lot more spicy tunas, but all is good for now. Suddenly the big race is just around the corner. I had a good workout in the rain this morning. It's always good at the track in the morning when it's so miserable out. Almost nobody's there. There was a few other dedicated crazies there, running or walking. I was hungry all day which was a proof that I kept burning after a good session. I don't have a God to thank to but I'm so very much grateful it's Friday. I thank to all my staff, new and old, all my customers, long-time royals and some new annoying ones. Such as the last caller this evening. She kept calling and hanging up because I had to put her on hold. We were in the middle of the late rush, with my sometime Friday guy Elliot busying across the little dining area like a 'big baby' as he calls himself. Then finally I was ready to take her order and she was rather indecisive about her order. 'How long?' '45 minutes,' although I though it could be a bit faster, because I was tired, annoyed, and hungry. Very hungry. We also had two more tables and six mouths to feed in the house. Then she shrieked, 'Why? You're like right next to me.' That was not true. Columbia Street is not right next to us. But I got through it, and I'm proud of it, although I screwed up on my second attempt at rugelachs this afternoon. Hopefully Coco let me sleep in, but she is so right on time. So is my new Mexican boy Saul. I'm grateful.
on may 17, 2008 @ 12:44 am [link]

so it went on

Only a week from the bad race- it feels like ages ago, since it was the beginning of the long bad week. Sudden departure of Cesar put me in serious staff shortage, which I already was after the longest worker Atsushi left last month. Timing couldn't be any worse since next week both of my new girls are going out of town. Just two days of not being able to make deliveries frustrated many of my regulars. "I'm sorry, we can't deliver today." "WHY???!?!?!!!!??" I'm sorry, but we just don't have a secret vault where we keep a back-up delivery boy. So I was running around, back and forth, cooking, cleaning, asnwering the phone, waiting on customers, and I must say it was hard to keep a smile which I think I did most of the time. At the end of each day when I finally looked at a mirror I looked terrible with greasy hair and all. I wonder sometimes how long I'm going to be able to do this. So my legs never got enough rest all week; I was struggling in this morning's run. I just couldn't get up to my regular speed. My legs wouldn't go. It's only two weeks to go to my big race.

After a rough week I was looking forward to this afternoon's cooking class. This is when I transform myself into an entertainer. I would welcome my students with open arms like a stand-up comic, "Hello! Glad to have you here!" Today's was a private group class, which is usually fun and relaxed. Four cute Phillipino girls and a Dominican guy. We were still waiting for one more, but we decided to start after waiting for 20 minutes. First half hour with this five was just fine. Crammed into the tiny kitchen, we began cooking rice, cutting up veggies and fish, and my show was on. Then when the last of the party finally showed up, the pace began to change. She was a super bubbly lady from New Jersey, a mother of two, and since she met most of the others for the first time, she was so busy getting to know about everyone. She was constantly asking question about their lives, what they do, where they live, about their husbands and kids and pets if any. In my show, I'm supposed to be the prima donna, the center of attention, but I was no more. I was like surrouded by teenagers yapping, giggling, talking about whatever. I tried to shift their attention over and over but my role was reduced to a babysitter of these teenagers. So this woman was doing the most of talking. I never got to my favorite anecdotes about sushi making which I always receive with laughs. Well, but they were there for a socializing activity, I supposed. So I cleaned up while they kept yapping, and I had to ask them to leave after the time was up. Half an hour later when I came down with my load of laundry they were still yapping in a circle in front of the restaurant. They seemed to have fun, and that's important. Finally my long week is over, and next week may be even longer. At least I can catch up with my beauty sleep tonight, with an interruption of kitty alarm by Coco which is terribly accurately around six o'clock in the morning. She would meow with all her might until I get up. Half asleep I stumble into kitchen, wrap a little piece of pill wrapped around in 'pill pockets' which she would receive with purr. Open a little can of fancy feast, pour fresh water, and crawl back into bed. If she bothers me again, I just tell her to shut up. She then usually leaves me alone for the rest of morning.
on may 11, 2008 @ 01:11 am [link]

More nightmarish adventure or just another run

Quiet Friday. I took advantage of slow business and wrapped up a little early. I laid out my uniform and happily went to bed. Saturday morning I was running the Brooklyn Half Marathon. Six hours of sleep would be precious. It was going to be a test of my hard workouts- I've been running so well I could even run my personal best. So I thought. Maybe I was a little excited I was tossing and turning for a while. Then I was probably half asleep. And still tossing and turning. Eventually I realized that there's a car alarm going outside that's disturbing my effort to fall deep into sleep. It was right outside of my window. I put ear-plugs, closed the french doors tight, and crawled back into bed. I could barely hear it now. I thought I could fall asleep. Then my cat Coco started nagging me at the foot of the bed. Just making nagging sound. Grrrrrmmmmaaeeaaoww. Grrrmmmmmmm. I told her to shut up a few times. It usually works. Not this time. I raised my voice but she stops only about two minutes. She just wanted me to open the door so she can go into the other room. I open the door, and heard the car alarm still going steady. I went back to bed, but now I hear the car alarm more I can't sleep. I got up and fed Coco. I looked outside the window and saw police car on the opposite side of the alarm blasting bastard. Good. Maybe they are going to do something. But still nothing happened for quite a while. I grabbed my cat and put her on bed, and closed the french door again. Then she started nagging me again. I just tried to ignore everything and sleep. Just rest. The night before my first marathon, I was too excited I hardly slept. I still ran it in 3 hours and 30 minutes. It should be all right. Just rest. Pretend I'm sleeping. Eventually the alarm seized. I was curious if the car took off. No. It was still there. I went to sleep. I tried. I was too disturbed already. Eventually a few surburbian dudes loaded the car and it took off. I was surely safe now. But I was too flustered. It was already 3 a.m. O.k. I got three hours to sleep. But I tossed and turned most of the precious three hours, it seemed. I surrendered to my fate at quarter past six. This weekend F train wasn't running at Delancey to Brooklyn, unfortunately. My plan was to catch B train at Grand Street, instead of taking uptown F to West 4th then transferring to Brooklyn bound F. Looked like I just missed a train when I got to the empty platform. I sat down, and realized I didn't even bring a book. I sat there, patiently. After two D trains and thirty minutes later, I realized B was not coming. They don't run on weekend. D goes to Coney Island anyway. So I got into the next D train with a few fellow runners. The journey began very slowly. The train stopped at every underground traffic light. Then we had to switch trains at Pacific Ave. It was a long ride to Coney Island. Whole bunch of runners got off the train, and we were heading to the start. Only 15 minutes to go. I jogged to warm up, picked up my number, threw my bag onto the 'late bus' to be transported to the finish line, and got on the line at Porta johns. I really had to go before the run. It's been a long morning. The line was still long. I felt I was in the wrong line- it was moving ever so slowly. Thousands of runners lined up at the boardwalk above. So what if I was late. I'm having quite a shitty day. So I patiently waited for my turn, finished a quick business, and run to the start. I heard the horn before I was able to reach my corral. I jumped into the crowd. So there was grey sky, blue grey ocean, and pale yellow sand. Panels of boardwalk bobbed under our feet. The diagonal lines of the boardwalk made me dizzy. Off-season empty Coney Island was nice. Fat Russian ladies cheered us from windows along the way. After 2 miles we left the ocean behind then we were off into the street of Brooklyn. Easy 4 miles. Then I was going to pick up. Mile 5 I still wasn't picking up. Mile 6 I passed Superman with heavy looking drapery as his cape. He could ran easier without the cape, I thought, but He wouldn't have been as Supermanly as he was. Some happy faces cheering on along the way. I was running steady but couldn't pick up. Lack of sleep was my good excuse. Straight up on Ocean Blvd, then we reach Prospect park. In the park there was a guy flourescent yellow green wig with matching leopard pring coat gave us high fives cheering us with British accent. He looked like a celebrity and someone among a runner recognized him but I think he was just a local character or something. Gently rolling hills in the park with flowers everywhere. The sky was still gloomy but it was a nice run. I made it through the busy evening business, and I can't believe I'm writing all about it at one thirty in the morning. I can sleep late tomorrow at least.
on may 4, 2008 @ 01:31 am [link]

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