A Weekend with the BSO

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall empty before a rehearsal

Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall empty before a rehearsal

I survived my crazy week!  My training plan did not, but hey, I didn’t come out the other side with a cold, so I consider it a win.

This weekend, my choir sang with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.  It was an amazingly cool opportunity, so I’m going to gush about it for a few minutes.  Music geek and all.  Plus it’s something I want to remember.

We performed Leonard Bernstein’s “Chichester Psalms,” a far cry from “West Side Story,” but still featuring some of his favored rhythms.  It was a piece I wasn’t familiar with before, but now I will need months to get it out of my head.   It’s a very challenging piece and a lot of work, even though it’s about fifteen minutes long.

Yes, that’s right, all this work for fifteen minutes of singing.  Because we had to clear out of the space, on Friday night for example, the concert was scheduled to start at 8 but likely started a few minutes late because that’s how concerts work.  By 8:35, I was in my car on my way home.

It’s been fun to see reviews in the newspapers.

From the Baltimore Sun:

Except for a few uneven balances, the Cathedral Choral Society from Washington National Cathedral delivered the psalm texts with admirable polish, not to mention character.

(Hey man, you try singing over a giant orchestra!)

From the Washington Post:

The first half of the program was all Bernstein: the symphony, a product of his earliest years, and the “Chichester Psalms,” a mature, after-“West Side Story” composition. Both are spiritual, maybe, but viewing spirituality in its most muscular form. The Cathedral Choral Society (J. Reilly Lewis, music director) was the chorus for the Psalms, and I must say it was nice to hear it in an acoustical setting other than the echo-y spaces of the Washington National Cathedral. The men managed the challenges of the tongue-twisting “Lamah rag’shu goyim” crisply, the chorus fielded two excellent soloists for two small appearances, and the performance was alert and nicely balanced.

(The acoustics of our beloved Cathedral are always panned – but you can’t find a more beautiful setting.)

Watching Marin Alsop conduct was an honor.  She wasn’t her normal dramatic self when conducting the choral parts because she was so careful to make sure that we knew what we were doing.  Not all orchestra conductors are so attentive to a chorus, and it was great to know that she wasn’t going to lead us astray.  But when the chorus was silent and she was conducting the orchestra alone, it was absolutely fascinating to watch.  It’s very different to be able to watch from the front and see her face and her expression.  Absolutely phenomenal.  And the BSO is an amazing orchestra.  I will be buying tickets to see them more often.


Wednesday Workout Recap

Another AMAZING week!

Monday – Rest Day

Tuesday – 7 miles with 4 at tempo.  I struggled to find my groove on this one, but pushed through.  1:35

Wednesday – It’s going to be very hard when I lose my mid-week rest day.  Soon (very soon), I want to add in biking this day.

Thursday – Flipped Thurs/Fri workouts because of the Cherry Blossom kickoff on Friday, so tonight, I did 5 miles on the treadmill.  1:06

Friday – 3 miles early in the morning, but the downside to this workout was that it was about 10 hours after my last run, so it was harder than it should have been.  40 minutes

Saturday – Definitely feeling the running today.  My hips are achy, so lots of foam rolling.  I don’t want to end up inadvertently pulling my back again.

Sunday – 12 mile run!  My last long run before Space Coast.  It wasn’t the prettiest run, and I finished in 2:48, but I just set out to run and not think about pace. I listened to Neil Patrick Harris’s autobiography while running and it was the perfect distraction for a run I wasn’t all that pumped about.

Two whole weeks of hitting every workout!  Spoiler alert, I kill that the following week.  But hey, it was good while it lasted.

Returning to the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler


That’s right, after a short hiatus, I’m returning to the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler in 2015.

But how do I know this since the lottery doesn’t open until December 1?  That’s because I’m one of the 2015 Social Runners for next spring’s race!  I am so incredibly excited to be able to share and train with so many runners.  As I said in my intro at the Kickoff Party on Friday night, I’m here for the slow runners, the ones who are afraid they won’t finish.  Of course, I love the fast runners too, and I’m super excited to chat with everyone running, but if you are a slow runner and worried, please get in touch with me.  We’ll get through that race together!

I’m actually really impressed with all that the CUCB folks have pulled together for this race.  There’s a huge team of social runners and bloggers out there to chat about the race and encourage each other.  Check out the race blog and be sure to follow @cucb on Twitter.

If you’ve never run this race before, give it some consideration!  It’s a great ten mile run through some gorgeous scenery.  The lottery opens on December 1 and closes on the 12th.  It’s a relatively cheap race – only $42 (plus the processing fee), and it’s worth every penny.  If you’ve never run a ten miler before, it’s a great first race.  It was my first race over 5k, and you’ve seen the races I’ve run since.  Thanks to Cherry Blossom, I got hooked!  So come on out and run with me.  We’ll work through the training together.

Busy Week Ahead

Who has big weekend plans?  Not me :)  I have an event to go to tonight, but tomorrow and Sunday, I plan to hang around the house and get things done.  And by things, I mean a whole lot of laundry, plus I have to finish putting the ornaments on the Christmas tree.  Because it’s Christmas season at my house.

Next week, however, next week may kill me.

My choir is singing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra next weekend.  It’s a really cool opportunity, and I’m glad that I agreed to do the extra concert series.  That said, it’s exhausting.  Here’s my schedule for the week.

Monday – Rehearse in DC from 7:30-9:30.

Tuesday – No singing!

Wednesday – Rehearse in Baltimore from 5:30-10 (with a dinner break)

Thursday – Rehearse in Baltimore from 7:30-10

Friday – Concert in Baltimore at 8:00 pm

Saturday – Concert in (well, near) DC at 8:00 pm

Sunday – Concert in Baltimore at 3:00 pm.

Doesn’t seem too bad until you realize that Baltimore is 45 minutes away from my house without traffic and probably an hour from my office, again without traffic. So that means that with the rehearsals ending at 10pm, I probably won’t get home until 11.  And on Wednesday and Thursday, I’ll have to go straight from work to Baltimore.  I have no idea how long that drive is going to take, but for those people taking a bus provided by the choir, they’re estimating 2 hours.

I am lucky that I have a very understanding boss who will let me leave work early.

I also have a race coming up the following week, so I have to make sure to get in my training.  Thankfully, this week has been my big week (with 12 on the schedule for this Sunday, yipes!) so next week is a step back.  I should be able to get through the schedule, though I might lose my Thursday run.  Could be worse.

In some ways, preparing for these concerts is like preparing for a race.  Sometimes I enjoy the rehearsals, sometimes I hate them.  And there are weeks (like this one) where I wonder why the heck I’m doing it.  And then the concert happens and I realize that all the work was worth it.

But man, I’m going to miss sleep a whole lot.

Winter Is Coming


Yesterday, when I left for work, it was in the 60’s.  This morning, when I left for work, it was 42 degrees.  Hello, fall.

I’m honestly a big fan of fall and winter.  I love being able to bundle up in sweaters and coats and scarves.  I’m not a huge fan of being cold, but there’s just something so comforting about cold weather.  Plus I much prefer running in the cold to running on a hot summer day.  And running in the snow?  So much fun.  I always feel like I’ve accomplished something huge when I go for a run and the snow is falling.  It’s as if it makes me extra powerful or something, even though the run always ends up being fairly slow.

Another benefit to winter running?  It’s actually advantageous to sleep in and start my run later in the morning.  In the summer, if I want to get a long run in, the earlier I’m out there, the better.  In the winter?  It’s much better to wait until the sun has been up for a while.

Plus I need less sunscreen.  Yes, you need to wear sunscreen in the winter.  But when your arms and legs are covered in clothing, that’s fewer body parts that need sunscreen.

One of the reasons I like cold weather running has to do with my heart rate issues.  When it’s hot, my heart rate is generally higher to begin with, so it’s really easy to hit 185, which is the point at which I make myself slow down.  In the winter, it’s much less of a problem, so I end up running significantly faster because I’m not having to slow down to slow my heart rate.  And I can run faster and feel less run down.  It’s a win all around.

Of course, DC winters frequently involve lots of cold rain.  That is not fun weather and I absolutely do not run outside in it.  It generally makes me grumpy.  So I’m hoping that the predictions of a colder than average winter are correct.  Colder = more chance of snow instead of rain.

I’m sure in a few months, I will be lamenting how cold it is.  But for now, I’m looking forward to the winter.  I don’t know how those of you living in climates without seasons handle it.  I love the variety.


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