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Catsup November 25, 2013

Posted by KG in Albanian, Family, Kosovo.
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In the nearly 13 months since I have written a blog entry, I have, in ascending order of pride in accomplishment:

  • Become, according to work, professionally proficient in Albanian
  • Successfully moved to Kosovo
  • Run numerous races, including my second half-marathon
  • And become a father

I suspect anyone still reading this blog already knows these things, but consider this a half-hearted attempt at lazily trying to restart blogging.  With a now nearly-8-month old, time is at a premium, but it wouldn’t be bad to squeeze in some time for reflection.

Shumë gjera të thënë — apo jo? November 5, 2012

Posted by KG in Albanian, Language, Running.
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Obligatory lazy blog entry.  There are a ton of things I need to write about.  Like diving deeper into the now-distant memory of running that half marathon.  And my first two months of studying Albanian.  And… well there’s the hard part.  There’s not much more, really.  Running, Albanian, running, Albanian.  Life has settled into a steady and frankly pleasant rhythm, with occasional superstorm-caused disruptions.

The race.  It was quite an experience, the largest race I’ve run ever, even larger than the 2008 Cherry Blossom 10-miler.  We (the wife, my mother-in-law, and I) made amazing time Friday evening driving from DC to Baltimore, making the packet pickup and dinner at my folks’ stress free.  We turned in early and woke up to a freezing morning, the first frost of the season.  Miserable when planning a long run, but with a 9:30 gun time I opted, wisely, to roll the dice and dress for warmer temperatures.  The large crowds on the light rail down to Baltimore were great for keeping me warm.  Unfortunately the crowd also meant those standing on the train, including me, nearly broke our necks when the conductor made a sharp turn.  Though my neck ended up fine, my sunglasses failed to survive.  Those of you who know how attached I am to my running sunglasses can predict how upset I was with that particular development.

Fortunately, that was the worst thing to happen to me until after the race.  I made it to the start with plenty of time for a pit stop, and hit the hills of the course at a faster-than-expected pace.  At Mile 7, the course flattened and I spotted the family once, and then again at Mile 8.  The back five were fast and furious (and downhill!), and I finished with a sweet negative split.  Sadly, the good feelings ended there and a series of snafus ensued: the finish had a single, tiny Gatorade stand we were hustled out of.  The finishers corral was incredibly chaotic, the food spread terrible (who wants crab chips after running 13.1 or 26.2 miles?) And to top it off, Baltimore light rail decided to run sporadically, and my family had some drama causing them to miss making it to the finish.  They were many miles away and stranded while I was waiting in downtown Baltimore, with no ID, money, phone, or Clif bars.  Thank goodness for the good hearts of my fellow runners, and for a few strokes of resourcefulness; it took a bit of time, but we were eventually reunited. All the mess didn’t diminish the race buzz completely, but it did knock it down a few notches.  Lessons learned: plan megaraces more carefully, and avoid Baltimore light rail at all costs.

Running a half felt great, just hard enough to not kill me.  Albanian?  Also not killing me, but definitely making me sore in the head.  While the lifestyle is relatively gentle, the intellectual effort is less half marathon and more Badwater Ultra.  Looming deadlines have been replaced by vocabulary words at the edges of my brain, grammar constructions I know one day only to forget the next, and an endless search for some better studying tool.  The chaos of Albanian definitely hurts.  I’ve spent most of the evening studying colors and have seen far too many words presented as the definitive one for “pink” and “blue.”  Next up: loading some vocab onto the iPod to listen to while running.  Will this be the thing to finally drive those pesky interjections into my conscious memory?

Ndoshta!