Monday, December 27, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Marathon recovery went super-well last week. I only took one day to rest from the marathon, & went out Tuesday for an easy recovery run. My legs felt great & it wound up being a super speedy 3 miles when I was expecting a death march. I felt great all week so i started thinking... I needed to shake the bad marathon heebie jeebies off of me, so I decided to race the Frostbite Series 10 miler this past weekend after some friends suggested it. It went great! Snow was on the ground, but the roads were nice & dry, & it was 22 degrees with a nice wind. My dad was in town for Christmas so he went out with me to be my cheering section. He & my friend Brent, plus Amanda from the racing team took some shots out there & I think they look cool with all the snow :)

The course was rolling hills, so that's why my splits are kinda crazy. Here they are:

Mile 1 - 7:35
Mile 2 - 7:29
Mile 3 - 7:55
Mile 4 - 7:33
Mile 5 - 7:55
Mile 6 - 7:44
Mile 7 - 7:39
Mile 8 - 7:55
Mile 9 - 7:18
Mile 10 - 7:44
.13 mile - 59.97 secs (7:39 avg pace)

Total time was 1:17:46 (per Garmin - with 7:40 avg pace) & official time was 1:17:41. Course measured slightly over (I wasn't the only one who had more than a 10th over) & so, by my watch, 10 miles was 1:16:46 & is just a few seconds slower than what the race predictor said I was in shape for. I am very happy with how this race went, especially given the weather & hills. The last bit up to the finish line was pretty icy so I should have probably run in the grass (snow) instead to bring it up to the line a little quicker, but all in all it was a good race & I feel much better ending my year with this than that terrible marathon! :)


I also went ahead & (tentatively) planned my racing schedule for 2011, which can be found ----->
Not only are we planning on a 70.3 in September, but I'm also very excited about my first timed bike ride in May, the Vino Fondo. It looks like an awesome, challenging event & I'm going to do the Midi Fondo which is 84 miles through Missouri's wine country & features plenty of climbing. From now until May I will be looking for the perfect cycling cap that I can wear at the main rest stop & at the finish. I'm not sure what I'm looking for, but I'll know it when I see it. I hope I look better in it than this kid.

Looking forward to just chilling through January now & just running when I want to, working on the pool, & doing some quality spins. Hopefully I can get out on the road if a nice Saturday or Sunday presents itself, but I won't hold my breath :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

This Ain't My First Rodeo

They say the third time is the charm. Good things come to those who wait. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, whatever that means, (not sure if that's relevant here). Once again, I have been defeated by the marathon. This time when it hit, it hit hard. Below the belt, even.

I will cut to the chase, since we all know that running is about numbers: 4:14. Those are my numbers. Not anywhere near my A, B, or C goals. Based on my recent half marathon finish, I was in shape to run a 3:34:21 marathon. Awesome. I knew it would be a lot of hard work in those final miles, but I felt like an 8:10 pace would not be difficult for me at all. Even running the half, finishing in 1:42 with an average pace of 7:49, was not difficult & I felt like I could have run it faster when all was said and done. I decided to pace 8:10's from the start with my A goal being sub-3:35. I was in excellent shape, training went well, my 20 miler was the kind of run they write songs about, & I honestly felt like this was a reasonable goal. Here are my splits up to 10 miles:

1 - 8:10
2 - 8:09
3 - 8:10
4 - 8:08
5 - 8:10
6 - 8:07
7 - 8:10
8 - 8:09
9 - 8:10
10: 12:27

Oh, I'm sorry, does something look out of place? yeah... it happens. What? Sh*t. It's humiliating, disgusting & it will happen to all of us one day. This particular day, I didn't think this was going to happen. In fact, NEVER in training have I had any kind of bathroom issues. Now, I've thrown up during training lots of times. Mostly that was due to those disgusting gels we have to choke down. I found one that works for me, & have never had an issue with them before. I use the apple-cinnamon Hammer Gel, & love it. I don't think this was the issue. I still don't know for sure, but for whatever reason, I started getting BAD stomach cramps & knew that if I didn't duck out quick I was gonna have an accident. This was a small marathon, & the course was a 3.275 mile loop. There were no porto johns along the loop, & the only bathroom was inside the student center at the beginning of the loop. Of course when this happened I was not near the student center. What did I do, you ask? Get me really drunk & I might tell you sometime ;)

I managed to make it to the half in 1:50, so I thought I could perhaps meet my B goal of 3:40. I was thinking that if I quit focusing on the stomach pains they would go away. Mind over matter. I tried my ipod for a while to keep my mind off of it, I prayed, I tried thinking of a song in my head & running to the beat of it to numb my mind... The above scenario happened a total of  FIVE times during this race. It's something I didn't expect, have never experienced, & wasn't prepared for. I'm not posting the rest of my splits, because it's embarrassing & what's the point? I will tell you that the one time I did go in to use the facility at the student center, my mile split was almost 17 minutes due to waiting in line. What a train wreck. I didn't cry, & still haven't, but it's hard to watch your dream just be taken away from you due to something that is out of your control. 

As athletes, we have all heard stories of this happening to others. Heroic stories like Julie Moss (above) dragging herself across the finish line at Kona after the same disgusting scenario. Mine is not heroic. I gave up. I'm not getting down on myself, I'm simply stating that once I saw that even my C goal of sub 4:00 wasn't going to happen, I said screw it. I walked a lot. At this point, I was severely dehydrated. Though I was going through all of this, I thought I should still take my gels & drink water, so I did. Not sure if that was the right thing to do or not, as I wasn't prepared. I started feeling nauseous at around mile 18, & after mile 20 I started throwing up. This happened three times, & then during the last loop I had no stomach issues whatsoever. All I remember from the last loop was a guy telling me to open my eyes, that I might run off the road. I was a full-on marathon zombie by that time.


I was extremely glad to have Jenn & Ashley there to help me through all of this, even though I was probably being mean to them. If so, girls, I'm sorry. I get like that when I lose control of my bodily functions. ;) Anyway, Ashley caught me as I was collapsing at the finish line, & she got me over to a chair inside the student center where I refused to drink my water like a child. She's a nurse & was very good at just telling me I had to do it. She was right, because really within a few minutes I was perking up & didn't feel like I might die any minute, nor did I feel like puking any more. In talking to her, I may have had too many electrolytes in my system & not enough water in the end. I don't know, but it was nice to have people there to take care of me & bring me things: like my medal. Thanks Jenn! We drove home from Springfield after going to get something to eat, & had to stop at Kum & Go for a big cup of water that I was instructed to drink all of, and I did. Like a good girl :)

All that being said, I don't think I'll ever run another loop course. This one was kind of crazy, with a lot of sharp turns & winding in & out of things. It actually crossed paths at one point so you had to be careful not to run in to others, or be run in to. The whole loop was on campus, so we got to run around the track inside the football stadium (once per loop, so a total of 8 times) which I really liked. It signified that the loop was almost over as we headed back into the quad & over to the student center again. They had Christmas music playing over the poor-quality PA in the stadium (also in a loop! - SAME songs over & over). Toward the end, when I was all but delirious, it started to remind me of Groundhog Day. I half expected to hear Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" over the PA. What a wild ride.


Well friends, I know some of you will say that my time is great, & I should be thrilled that I finished a marathon, & all those nice things... Well, I'm really not. I feel like I wasted 16 weeks of my life, & I get to be sore for no particular reason. I will probably not be able to walk well tomorrow, as the muscle soreness sets in, & it will be hard for me to do my job. I guess I can take pride in the fact that I saw the thing through. I mean, I did pass the finish line a total of 8 times during this crazy thing, & it would have been easy to just duck out. To say I've had enough. That's just not my style. The fact that I couldn't just poop my pants & roll with it like you see some other people do during races will weigh heavy on me too. Maybe I just don't have what it takes to race this distance. The marathon is the only distance that I've had trouble with... three times. I won't figure it all out now, but I am going to put this notion of running a marathon to rest for a while. After all, running is supposed to be fun right? I'm going to work on strengthening my body, getting leaner, running some, & giving myself a bit of a break through January I think. We will see what lies ahead for me in the spring...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Strut That A**

The video below is hilarious, if you haven't seen it, but be forewarned that there are curse words in it so probably NSFW. Anyway, after watching this video "strut that a**" became what Jamie & I would say when we had to push through & finish a run. It made us laugh so hard that it cut through the seriousness of what we were feeling when we were lost in the ghetto or dieing from heat exhaustion.

I plan on using this motto on race day for sure. I have decided, after talking to my husband, that I will run the full marathon this Sunday (it is very awesome to have a husband who is a coach). My concerns, as it turns out, were not for myself but for my family, should I get seriously injured. He reminded me that he would be home on winter break & that he would help pick up the slack around the house. All I need to focus on is my job, & I can handle that. This led to my decision, & I feel like a big weight has been lifted. 16 weeks is a long time to train. I had a stellar 20 miler, & there is no reason for me to think that this race won't go well. The main concern I have is that the course is long. We will be running 8 loops of their "5K" course, which is actually 3.33 miles or something, making it 26.74 miles in total. It is quite possible that I won't meet my goal & that will make me very sad since I've had such an awesome 16 weeks of training (up until the end) but I will go out there & give it my best shot. All I really want is one good, clean marathon, if that exists. I feel like the first one was a bust (I followed a pace team that basically sealed my doom - even the pace team didn't meet their goal at the end), & I was badly injured on the second one, unable to run at all for 3 months with a muscle tear in my hip. I trained, I did everything right, I got a little injured at the end & have had a bad 3 weeks leading up to the race. I have kept running to a minimum to try to keep the injury to a minimum. This is concerning to me, but hopefully I haven't lost too much fitness. Anyway, I've made my decision & I am all in. I will totally strut that a** on Sunday :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Countdown to marathon!!! We are looking at 15 days until the big day, & with a lot of good training as my base & ALL the major long runs behind me wouldn't you know... I'm injured :( Just when everything was going great & I thought I had it all figured out... Last weekend was my longest run of 22 miles, & I had a bit of a shin/calf thing going on, but I thought I'd be OK. & I was. Actually, I was heading out the door to do my loops at the park & my car wouldn't start. I was out of Hammer Gel too, so was gonna stop at a local running store on my way to the park. Not happening when my car wouldn't start... Instead of boo-hooing & deciding not to run, I used my sooooper fantastic brain & decided to RUN up to the running store, buy my gels, & then run over to a different park (which has trails) to do some loops there, & then run home. It actually went really well, considering the hills on the trails, & I wound up with exactly 22 miles for the run. Not bad. I did an easy 3 mile shake out run on Sunday, & decided Monday would be my day for a track workout since we had a lot going on last week. Everything felt good, though I did notice the shin was a little funny, & the track workout went off without a hitch. I wound up with 8 miles that night, including my 10 x 800 meter workout which went perfectly. The next day my leg was killing me, & I headed out for a 5 mile run only to decide that 2 miles was all I could handle. Ouch! (I have been icing, stretching, foam rolling, etc. this whole time, mind you.) So Wednesday rolls around & I'm actually feeling pretty good. I thought I would give it one more run before I decide that I'm actually injured & it's time to take a week (or so) off running. aaaaaaand we have a winner. ouch. So, while "all the hay is in the barn" I still am trying not to freak out that I will have to take some time off here. I really want to run a great race & don't want to lose any fitness, but I can't risk a serious injury. I said it at the start of marathon training, & I'll say it again: there is NOTHING wrong with the half marathon distance. If this leg continues to be a problem, I will bump it down to the half, no question. I have an awesome base right now, so I should come out of there with a stellar PR if I have to go that route (and still be able to walk the next day). In the meantime, I decided to replace this weekend's long run with a 50 mile hilly ride (which would act as an interval workout with all the hills & would be great for leg strength - see? soooper fantastic brain), since there's no way I'm running right now. The weather had other plans...

It's probably safe to say that if you see more Christmas trees on top of cars than bikes, it is probably too cold to ride. This morning's weather tricked me into thinking this crazy idea was actually a good one. The sun was trying to peek out from behind the clouds, the trees were standing straight & tall (leading me to think there was absolutely no wind) & I was full of hope that we could get in all 50 of the scheduled miles.

No dice. We were wearing 2 pairs of gloves & our fingers were frozen stiff. The wind gusts were too much. We had crosswinds, headwinds, tailwinds... it was really whipping around out there & that is no bueno when you are cruising hills. Really, if we could have gotten the fingers & toes situation under control we could have gone on. Not happening, however.

See? I'm not the only crazy one. I had my partner in crime, Lisa, that I met on the century ride in October. Turns out she lives just down the street from me (small world!) & is just as crazy as I am ;) We did wind up with 25 good miles with plenty of climbs, but after some mechanical problems & the fact that we were the only signs of life for miles (apart from a group of  3 other cyclists who appeared to be just bat-sh#t crazy, & one runner) we decided that a cup of coffee & a nice warm hoodie sounded just about right. 

As soon as I got home I put my awesome hand-knitted socks that my mother-in-law gave me into the microwave (try it!) & put them on over another pair of socks. Nice & toasty :) Then I plopped onto the couch with a hot cup of coffee & decided to share this with all of you.


I mean, it seems pretty standard to me. not much happening or worth reading, but I hate to think that what we wonder about later in life is the stuff we didn't do. The risks we didn't take. I really don't like the question "what if?" A better question is "why not?" You have one life. LIVE it :)


Perseverance: diligence, hard work. 

Synonyms: constancy, continuance, cool, dedication, determination, doggedness, drive, endurance, grit, guts*, immovability, indefatigability, moxie*, persistence, pertinacity, pluck, prolonging, purposefulness, pursuance, resolution, sedulity, spunk, stamina, steadfastness, stick-to-itiveness, tenacity

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 9 years old. I have always been the kind of person that likes to be in control of my own environment & the whole concept of a bicycle was very scary to me. My bike was baby blue with a banana seat, & my friend taught me how to ride it in our col-de-sac after many failed attempts from each of my parents, since I basically refused to learn. Like most girls, when I turned 13 or so riding my bike was no longer "cool" & so I gave it up, even after my parents bought me a lavender 10-speed Schwinn. Needless to say, I was reluctant to get a "racing bike" as an adult after my husband suggested it. "Racing"? ummmm. No.

I finally listened to him, because he's super smart, but I decided on a second-hand beach cruiser instead. After sitting on an actual road bike, being folded up in that unnatural position on that stiff seat, I realized that I was terrified! I lacked the confidence & was scared of something that I felt I couldn't control. So every night after I put the kids to bed I went out for a ride. I started by going to the end of my street & back several times on the beach cruiser. The next day I would go a little further. I used to be scared to pieces to go down this tiny little hill in my subdivision & kept the brakes on the whole time. I finally got to where I would go around the entire neighborhood, several times in a row. I loved riding that bike in the summer at dusk. It made me feel like a kid again & I was gaining confidence.

My husband was starting to get into triathlon & finally convinced me to go ahead & get the road bike. I wound up with a Trek 1.1, an entry-level road bike. No frills on this baby, but I did have them put on pink handlebar tape & pink bottle cages because that is the best color in the universe. I started out really s  l  o  w once I started to ride it. I would load up the bike & take it up to a local bike path that was completely flat & free of cars to practice riding it there.

I would read & learn about cycling every chance I could get, & we watched the Tour de France every night. Feeling more & more confident I decided to get the clip less pedals & shoes so I could get more power in my pedal stroke. My plan was to take the bike back to the bike path to learn how to ride with the shoes, & how not to fall over since I would now be connected to the bike. My husband had other plans: he had entered us in a local sprint triathlon. I had already been swimming for cross-training purposes, & my running was going well. This is the shortest triathlon, & the distances were to swim 400 meters in a lake, ride 12.5 miles on the bike, & run 3.1 miles. Very short distances & I was already up to riding over 30 miles, with swimming 2000 meters or so at a go, & running was a no-brainer. We decided to stay overnight since the race was over an hour from our house, & after checking in to our hotel we went down to St. Joe's State Park to check out the course. I had no idea what to expect, but was excited. That excitement quickly turned to fear as we drove the bike course. Having never gone down a single hill, or getting ANY practice time with the clip less shoes I was absolutely terrified.

On a positive note, the lake was beautiful, calm, & clean so I felt the 400 meters was going to be a breeze. The run was completely uphill, but "bring it" was my feeling as far as that was concerned. We went back to the hotel & I continued to think about the bike course & started really feeling like there was just no way I could do it. No way in HELL, I believe were my actual words... Finally, I just started crying. Like a baby. Laying in bed in the fetal position & bawling like a baby. I don't remember being this worked up over something in my whole life. My husband, being the awesome coach that he is, talked to me about everything & helped me work it out. Sometime that night I finally came to terms with the fact that I wasn't going to "die" & that this thing was gonna go down bright & early the next day. There was no way I wasn't going to do it. So... we went to dinner & talked about it some more, then I took the bike over to the vacant furniture store parking lot next to our hotel & I practiced by myself with my clip less shoes until I felt comfortable in them.

The next morning, even though I had still not gone down (or up!) a single hill, all the anxiety was gone & I was ready to go. I was actually very surprised at how easy it was! I was in great shape, so just 12 miles on the bike was no big deal. I gained a lot of confidence from this race & even came in first in my age group (OK, it was a small race & I was the only one in my age group - lol). After this experience I was finally ready to take the road bike on the road (what a concept!) It's funny to me now that I would put my bike in the car & drive 1.2 miles to the gas station so that I could ride in the bike lane. & only the bike lane. Once it ended, I turned around & went back the other way. Scared to death the entire time. I decided that the only way to learn was just to go out & do it, so I wound up doing the no-drop group ride from the Trek store where I had bought my bike. They were so nice & helped me with shifting & all sorts of other things, & we rode 30 miles on the road WITH CARS! :-0

I was gaining more & more confidence each week from riding with this group that I finally decided to start going out on my own from the house. I'm really blessed to live in this area. We have all the stores you could ever hope for within 2 miles from our house, but it's just a 5 mile bike ride to some of the most beautiful & quiet roads you could ever hope to ride.

I did a local bike tour through this gorgeous area & discovered even more awesome routes & roads, & can get in some great rides now all on my own. I really can't believe that I went from being scared to death of a bicycle to now flying down hills & housing turns like a (semi)pro.

Before the season wound down I decided I wanted to train for the Ride the Rivers Century. A 100 mile bike tour. I still don't know that many cyclists (& most of the ones I know are men) so I went by myself to the ride. I hooked up with a guy & gal that I knew from the Trek ride & stayed with them until the first aid station at around mile 25, then was by myself for a long time. I hooked up with groups for a time & then either passed them or got dropped. I learned a lot about drafting with large groups of guys, which was cool. I just remember trying so hard to keep up with them so I could have someone to draft off of, but we were cruising about 24 mph on the flats & it was very difficult for me. I was spinning my little heart out, & I kept hearing "Come on girl! U gotta work harder than that!" when I was up at the front - stuff like that. It's different riding with men, & it seems like one of two things usually happen: 1) they turn in to hot shots 2) they feel the need to protect me ... ... ... neither of these two scenarios are desirable to me. Also, when drafting, sometimes their over-abundance of sweat can fly back & hit you. Once a random guy's sweat flew into my mouth. Puke! On a side note: one guy I ride with actually puts a Sham-wow in his helmet to absorb the sweat. Gross.

I actually had a (guy) friend that I ride with tell me "What are you doing riding those roads by yourself? I told you to go down "X" road (flat!) & go down to the freeway & back to your house" ummmm kthanks. How is that going to help my fitness or bike handling skills?

Anyway, after the main lunch stop I was thrilled to meet Lisa. Between the 2 of us, & another guy (I forgot his name) we forged onward & drafted off each other since headwinds were brutal. We stayed together till the end of the ride & it was so nice to ride with another woman for a change! I wish there were more of us! Yesterday I rode 50 miles solo & came across plenty of other cyclists, all guys in groups of 3 or more, but only ONE other female. She also was solo... I know there's a lot to think about when deciding to get a bike for cross training purposes or otherwise: 1) Will I actually use it? 2) Will I enjoy it? 3) Can I pull off the spandex? The answer to all three of those questions is YES!!! Truly, if I can do it ANYONE can. Don't let your fear define you. Continue to evolve into the person that God is making you to be. <3

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Strength in Numbers

Summer training can be especially brutal in the Midwest. It is disgustingly humid & temps can be 80, sometimes 90 degrees, by mid-morning. With fall's arrival the runner is pleasantly surprised at how effortless a once fast-pace run can feel after the temps have fallen & the humidity has let up. The fall racing season is now upon us & I wouldn't miss it for the world! Last weekend I was rewarded for my summer training with a half marathon PR at the St Louis Track Club Half Marathon. In fact, most of the racing team was too. The weather was perfect, & so was the course in my opinion. Slight rolling hills through beautiful Clayton Missouri & Forest Park, & lots of familiar faces made it a breeze. Above is my after shot, but no medal as I had left it at my friend Jackie's house. D'oh!

Since it's hard to get out the door in the morning, or to get a good night's sleep for that matter with little kids, I decided to spend the night at my friend Jackie's house. Some friends were picking us up in the morning & it was just easier. We went out to "carbo-load" on pancakes & ended up with some protein & a little bit of extra-crispy hash browns as well. Delish-dish, I might add. It was daylight savings time so I was trying not to freak out. Jackie assured me that her alarm clock was only 20 years old & that if you shook it before bed it always went off in the morning. Greeeeeat. We layed in bed in a food coma & watched a movie. It was an awesome relaxing night, & I did enjoy sleeping in her daughter's bottom bunk with glow in the dark stars on the bottom of the upper bunk. Oh, & the alarm clock did, in fact, go off. Good times ;)

Here are just some of the Fleet Feet Racing Team members that were out for the race. Others were out hanging around on the course, & some just came out to run friends to the finish. Just an awesome day & with support like this, PR's all the way around were inevitable. My plan for this race was to try to pace about 7:50's, but to ultimately finish sub 1:45. Nothing to lofty, just to have a great race. About 2 miles into the race, another racing team member & I discussed our goals, noted that they were the same, & decided to run together (both stating that we hoped we didn't go out too fast, as is my tradition). I had never even formerly met her, & this just proves how amazing this group is. Katie & I started chatting & before I knew it I looked down at my Garmin... 6:35! Waaaay to fast. We slowed it down, & I accusingly asked, "Didn't you look at your Garmin?!" Her husband was also running & he was wearing the Garmin that they shared!! I thought, "oh boy... I am in charge!!" A scary thought indeed. From then on out we stayed at a nice even effort, despite the hills, chatted, & just had fun. It didn't even feel like a race. I have gotten so used to racing by myself & just getting in full bad ass mode that this was completely foreign to me. The weather, the course, meeting a new friend, & the awesome support out there all lead to a 3:35 PR for me.

Sorry it's tiny, but here's a pic of Chris, who ran a stellar race with a huge PR & ran me to the finish, & Jamie who also ran a PR & followed into the finish right behind me. So proud of everyone who came out for the event & really happy to be a part of this organization! & did I mention... it's FREE!!!

Anyway, my Garmin splits are as follows (for those interested, or just scroll down lol) Tried to get the elevation profile, but it looks like they deleted the link. There were quite a few hills to contend with. Nothing major, but that's why my splits are all over the place.

1 - 7:48
2 - 7:46
3 - 7:41
4 - 7:58
5 - 7:56
6 - 8:09
7 - 7:38
8 - 8:04
9 - 7:44
10 - 7:56
11 - 8:04
12 - 7:51
13 - 7:35
221 ft - 00:12.19  For a total of 1:42:21, with an average pace of 7:49, & one happy chick :)

Would I have run this race the same way if not for Katie, Chris, Jamie, & all the awesome support? The world may never know... I do know that since I have started training with others running has been much more enjoyable. You look at running as an individual sport, & that's true. Your mental stamina & your two legs are the only things getting you to the finish line. But the friends you meet along the way & the support you give each other can hold a lot of weight. I love seeing my friends accomplish & succeed, & to see so many familiar faces on race day is an awesome feeling. In that way it doesn't feel like you are doing it all on your own.

I thought about all these things as I headed out for this weekend's solo 20 miler. Jamie is taking some time off after the half marathon due to some knee issues & I have the December marathon to train for, so out I went. It was cold & windy, & I chose a park with a flat paved trail & planned to run the inner loop a gazillion times to mimic my marathon course. It was really getting to me mentally after a while, as I rarely run with my ipod anymore, so I ran some other configurations to get those miles to fall off a little quicker. I have to admit, even seeing some of the same faces each time I completed another loop gave me a little bit of a mental break. Depending on the weather (since I wouldn't want to subject my family to standing in the cold watching me run in circles all day), I may be heading down to the marathon by myself, running it by myself, & coming home all by myself. At first, I thought "No big deal. It's just running. Something I do by myself almost every day." I am starting to second-guess myself. Not because I think I can't do it, but because it would be so much easier if I had some support. Someone in my corner. & someone to help run me to the finish. I guess the thought of my husband & kids left freezing on the side of the road may prompt me to run a bit faster, but that isn't what I really had in mind. I came home from the 20 miler (which went waaaay awesome BTW -  fairly even 8:45's & finished last 3 miles in 8:00, 7:49, & 7:40), got in the ice bath & texted Jamie to ask if she would come down to help pace me in the final miles. She said it sounded like fun, & knees willing she will be there. I know that I can run the miles, all the data says that I can do this, but running is so mental & I am such a head case that I think having her there will make all the difference. Just to run beside me. Running has taught me a lot about myself, but the number one thing I have discovered: I'm not a complete & total bad ass. News to me ;)

Sunday, October 31, 2010


After our run-in with scary dogs & guys hollering at us last week, my dad went ahead & got my running buddy Jamie & I some mace. Of course I feel like, "Ohhhhh daaaaad..." BUT it's a great idea. Even if I never use it I'll feel more comfortable having it when I'm running alone, or when we accidentally re-route ourselves to a sketchy part of town. We wanted to avoid that for this week's long run, so Jamie & I met at a nice park with a fitness path that had a lot of loops & was full of runners, cyclists, & families walking six abreast (scoot over please!). We had a great time talking about things that won't be divulged here, laughed, & did not come across any perverts or weirdos (apart from a guy who was roller-blading & singing at the top of his lungs). It's a good thing because I had not yet picked up the mace from my dad's house. We have a half marathon next weekend, so Jamie ran 13 with me & since my knees are feeling fantastic now I went ahead & finished my scheduled long run of 18 miles. They say that 18 is the magic number, meaning that if you can run 18 miles physically & mentally you can run 26.2. We held a consistent pace, felt fantastic, & I finished fast & strong. I couldn't be happier with my training than I am right now.

I left the park feeling awesome, & headed directly to the grocery store on the way home to pick up my 20 pound bag of ice for the ice bath, some beer, & bananas. The standard, I call it, & staples for every runner. It was a pretty cool morning, but was warming up, so I left my warm up pants in the car, put on my jacket & headed in to the store. Enter the split shorts: thin, nylon shorts that are split up each side & are build for performance. So I run in to get my items, & surprisingly in the liquor section I hear someone say "You have nice legs...would you mind flexing your calf muscles for me?" I turn to see a strange looking man in his 40's, who was visibly excited & nervous, & looked like he didn't get out much. I said, "No, & you're f*ing weird." & I walked away. I'm certain that he watched me & my shorts walk all the way down the aisle, & I think I just threw up a little bit in my mouth. Here is a composite sketch of the individual in question:

I headed straight to the checkout, where I spotted the store manager. I told him about my run-in & was able to identify the pervert. The manager walked over to the guy, asked him to leave his things & exit the store. After watching the guy drive off, the manager then walked me to my car. Women get in these situations all the time & it's horrible. He didn't threaten me, or invade my space, but I was still violated. If I had my mace with me & used it I would be the one breaking the law. I understand that I was wearing decidedly flimsy shorts in a public place, but in no way was I "asking for it" or anything that he must have been thinking. While what I said to him probably wasn't smart in hindsight, it was my first reaction & I hope it sent a message to him that I wasn't afraid of him & that he could take his comments & shove 'em. Anyway, I went home & continued to have all kinds of different emotions. We're down to joking about it now, but I hope I never see that guy around here again.

In conclusion, be careful out there. Guys too. There are a lot of crazies out in the world & the more you're out there the more likely you are to encounter them. Even though, with our tights & headlamps, we may look like our own personal super-hero, most of us wouldn't know what to do if we were attacked. I'm glad I have my mace & hope I never have to use it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


The long run is definitely the most anticipated run of the week for marathoners. It's the run that all the other runs that week revolve around. It is the run that our weekend inevitably revolves around. Somehow the statement, "I'm sorry, I can't go to your daughter's birthday party because I have to run 20 miles," doesn't cut it, so we work it out to work it in. We have high expectations for it, really. It's not like the Thursday tempo or the Monday shake-out, in that you have a chance to see what you are really made of. Most of the time you run a portion, or not all, of these long runs alone, with no one getting you back to your car but yourself. We painstakingly prepare for this run (read as: gorge ourselves on nachos & beer the night before), and we hope that we meet our goal in the end & still have enough energy for our family. They all inevitably have a story attached, & this is no exception.

My running buddy & I were going to preview the course for our upcoming half-marathon here in town. I wrote out all the turns on a piece of athletic tape, stuck it to my forearm, & off we went. Gorgeous buildings & homes, tree-lined streets,  lots of other people out riding their bikes & running. We had a lot to catch up on (read as: gossip) & as usual the laughs were in no short supply. It's very hard to run when laughing, by the way, but it does pass the time & a (reliable) running buddy is an awesome thing. We were talking about our goals for the race, taking note of the course, & knocking out the miles. We wound up missing a turn & somehow ended up in a sketchy part of town (read as: scary). After being hooted & hollered at, & nearly killed by 3 german shepards (I didn't mean to look them in the eyes!) we decided to ask for directions. A very nice man pointed us in the right direction, to which we decided just to turn around & go back the way we came. My running buddy (who is much smarter than I am), is only training for the half marathon & only needed to get in 13 miles, so we wound up safely back to our cars in 13.23 miles after keeping a nice even easy pace. The course is great, & I look forward to race day when I can run the other half of it.

Now, I forgot to mention that I ran a 5K (5 seconds slower than my PR) the day before. It was a great race with an awesome post-race party. I did partake in a couple of pumpkin beers after taking 2nd overall & coming so close to my PR. This race was to be a fitness test, so I could see where I stood for the upcoming half-marathon, & would know how to pace myself appropriately. I do, however, believe that this race, possibly my post-race debauchery, & the fact that I ate a huge (I mean HUGE) plate of fried chips with nacho cheese all over the night before, led to the most epic bonk imaginable. This was a true caloric bonk, & one that I've never experienced before. I am meticulous when it comes to nutrition, & I try to always make smart decisions when it comes to fueling my body. "To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art." - La Rouchefoucauld  Aaaaaand, I didn't listen to that guy, clearly. So, to set the scene, my running buddy is getting me a water out of her car so I can refill my Nathan handheld, she's saying "Thanks for the run," & I am seriously wishing that I was headed home to ice-bath heaven myself. But, like a good little soldier, & for fear that my all-knowing Garmin will somehow realize that I hadn't met my milage for the day & would inadvertantly b#tch-slap me back to reality, I trudged onward. Pretty sure I shouldn't have stopped to chat, & pretty sure I should have taken a Hammer Gel  for a run that long, but whatever. I've run 16 miles many times before. Things were going just fine & then all of a sudden WHAM! out of nowhere it hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm telling you I was tingly all over, head to toe. My teeth were vibrating, I felt like I was no longer wearing shorts (I kept checking & they were there) - I'm not even making this up. I felt possessed, & I looked at the Garmin to see that I had fallen off my pace by nearly 2 minutes. Pushing along as hard as I could & it felt like I was walking. I mean, I'm no stranger to the phenomenon that is bonk, but this was ridiculous, "What did I do wrong???" & so, with .4 to go, I decided to stop. Not to stop & walk, as is customary, but just to stop & stand.

I found myself in front of a huge sculpture of a shoe, made of shoes, & it felt like some kind of crazy acid trip or double rainbow effect "What does this MEAN?!" A lady walking by asked if I was OK, & I didn't even look at her. How rude! "I'm never like this!" I thought. Finally, she said, "You better get going." She was right. Less than a half mile to go, & I forced myself to finish the torture session - no cool down, no stretching, just straight into the car, straight to the grocery store (where I found myself eating 4 chocolate covered almonds that someone let spill from the bulk food bin - I'm sure they would just throw those away, right? This will plague me for years to come). I then went home & got something to eat (or as my husband would call it "The Feeding"), took my shower of shame, sunk into ice bath heaven & took a nap. I am a statistics girl, & so I will be looking back over the numbers & what I ate to figure out what could have caused me to crash so hard. The long run is also where we learn what works for us, what does not, what causes gastrointestinal discomfort, etc.  I now know that smothered chips do not work for me. In my disillusioned state, I also realized that I only shaved one leg & so.... dear reader: off I go to finish what I started.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Off to a bad start...

Last year I ran my first marathon after having three kids & losing 55 pounds... yada yada here's the link to the story:  Anywhooo, I had such a great time that I decided that just 7 weeks later I would take the ankle express for another 26.2 miles - this time in Indianapolis. Bad idea... I wound up tearing my left rectus femoris (hip muscle) & getting tendonitis so bad in my right leg that I couldn't straighten my foot. You counted right... that's 2 legs out of commission. A few days on a walker, then several weeks in an air cast, followed by several weeks of physical therapy was a huge wake-up call. I'm not indestructable as it turns out. ouch. Also, I know that I can run a stronger marathon (see personal record's below), so I'm anxious to prove that to myself.

Finally, after adding swimming & cycling to my life, I'm able to run pain-free. It's a ridiculously awesome feeling. Problem is, I don't just do things in moderation. Just not my style. I decided that since I was doing so much cycling, & loving it BTW, that I would just go ahead & do a century ride before the season ended. That equals 100 miles, & that is officially a long way to ride. Training went well, until a couple of weeks ago when I made the rookie mistake of riding in cold weather, & rain, without covering my knees. Nothing huge, just some achiness & soreness... that won't go away. The century ride was brilliant! I had no knee pain, just achiness & soreness when it was all over. Bummer is, the run seems to aggrevate it so now I have a dilemma... I'm finally ready to run another marathon. I've got one in my sights. I've started to train for it. Such is life... 26.2 miles is a really long way to run. No really. The guy who did it initially, in Greece or wherever, dropped dead when he arrived. I can't risk a serious injury, & so... I may have to put the brakes on the whole operation. I'm still holding out hope, but... in the meantime, I will continue to swim, bike, and run when prudent. I will continue to show up at scout meetings, bake sales, school conferences, and the like. I will do my best to mingle & mix with regular (read: non-running) people & have meaningful conversations with them about regular things. I will be patient, and I will wait for the run...