Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me!

My treadmill arrived last week!  It is not new; the wood-paneling, carpeted belt, and strange holes where the now missing weights used to go give it away.  It is, however, new to me, and I love it!  I went to Play it Again Sports and found a model with at least 2.0 Continuous Horse Power (CHP for short), good incline possibilities, and a max speed of 12 MPH.  12?  I think that I have never run faster than 6-minute pace ever, and I do not see that changing until next fall at the earliest, but I like having my options open.

So the delivery guys carted off our elliptical and put my new treadmill in the garage, near our little television.  I ran 2.5 miles the day it arrived while the bambino was napping, and I can tell already that this treadmill is going to be fine.  It speeds up quickly and doesn't make any weird noises, and those are really my only criteria.  I can't tell if it's loud or if any treadmill in a garage would be loud, but that's not an issue.

Last post, I said that I wanted to practice yoga 4-5 times per week and run or walk 3-4 times per week.  I've been doing very well on both fronts.  I do yoga nearly every day, usually in the evenings.  I'll start prenatal yoga classes in January, and I don't want to look like I don't know what I'm doing!  Seriously, the yoga has really helped me these last few weeks; my back doesn't hurt, I sleep better (which is impressive), and I have more energy.  And fewer headaches.    I've been running at least three times per week as well.  Last week, I ran in my neighborhood as well as on trails nearby.  For one of the runs, I took one of my dogs on a 2.5-mile trail run. The poor thing was out of shape, apparently; he used to run far ahead of non-pregnant, 9-minute mile me, but this time he stayed just behind me as we jogged leisurely 11-minute miles.

This past week, we've been visiting my parents for Christmas.  It was a lot of fun, with a lot of very good food and several games of Mexican Train and Dominoes.  The bambino was, of course, spoiled rotten by his grandparents, great-grandmother, and uncle.  He loved every minute of it, too!  Between all of the eating and playing, my dad and I went on two runs around the neighborhood.  The second run was on Christmas day, so he got to try out his new Garmin 110.  It found the satellites quite a bit faster than mine, and it seems really easy to use.  I think this will help him run outside a bit easier; it's nice to know where you've been and how fast you're going.

With less than a week left in 2011, I can truly say that this has been an amazing year.  I have...

  • set a PR in both the 5k and marathon, two big goals for me.
  • won a race!  I was first female overall in the Resolution Run January 1.  I can assure you that this will NOT happen this year, although I will run it.
  • started to grow the family.  Baby girl (named Alfie by my son, after his favorite Thomas character) will arrive on or around May 1.  This is the most important and exciting event of the year!
  • moved into town.  This is such a big change, and we're still adjusting, but it's been a gift to have time, neighbors, extra money from not commuting so far, and a place to run.
Next year will be a bit different for me, goal-wise.  I'll think about that this week and let you know what I've decided!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Running in my Neighborhood

Thursday afternoon, I did something completely new, something I have never done before: I put on my running clothes, opened the door of my house, stepped outside, and ran.

I only ran 1 mile, but it was a happy, fast-ish mile during which I smiled the entire time.  After moving last week, getting sick, and not running or doing any type of cardio for more than a week, one mile was the perfect amount.  I came home 10 minutes (and change) later, happy and calm.  In my short run, I saw neighbors, counted outdoor cats, and scoped out where to get into one of two parks that back up to our new digs.

What got me back on the bandwagon?

  • Being settled into our new house, even halfway.  Sure, there are still boxes.  Yes, there's a lot left to do and there are no paintings on the walls.  But we're here.  The closings are done, the bills paid, and we get to live here for the rest of our lives.  Seriously.  I'm not doing this again.
  • Eating a lot.  This goes with being settled, but I think the stress of impending moving/closing/etc. really curbed my appetite, and for a pregnant lady, that can really zap energy.  I felt like poo last week and didn't' fully recover until the last few days.  Recovering meant a better appetite, so I've been filling up on clementines, pickles, ginger dressing, spinach, and mint-chocolate chip ice cream,  I love being pregnant!
  • Yoga.  Starting Sunday, I began doing 20 minutes of yoga pretty much every day, with or without Little Man helping me out.  I immediately began sleeping better, and my back isn't as sore.  I do what I remember being legal from prenatal yoga last time around.  I'll start going to prenatal yoga classes again in January.  I can't wait!
  • Convenience.  It takes me three minutes to drive to and from work.  I get home when the sun is still up, even in December.  And I live on a quiet street that happens to have a perfect one-mile loop.  Really, how can I not run?  Tomorrow I will notice when it's light enough to run in the morning and see if I have enough time before school to get in a quick workout.  I do not have a fancy headlamp for running in the dark, and I am also paranoid, so I have to have daylight.
For the rest of December, I have a few goals:
  1. Practice yoga 4-5 times per week.  Whenever I'm diligent in my practice, I feel better.  It's a no-brainer.
  2. Run or walk 3-4 times per week.  The dogs will get to join me on this, at least some of the time.
If I can do these two things for the rest of 2011, I feel that I will have started some really good habits in my new home.  2012 is going to be an incredible and busy year, so I need to be physically and mentally prepared to face it. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Settled In

We survived the move!  We moved in Wednesday, closing on two houses (selling and buying) while navigating movers and a U-Haul, with the help of amazing friends who will be paid in Mexican food and margaritas.

At 18 weeks, I can't really help as much as I would have liked.  I thought I kept it really light, but Thursday I was sick as a dog: leave work sick.  I never do that.  I was a vomitous, tired mess.  Friday was a little better, and yesterday I felt human.  I have learned my lesson.  I have to take it easy.

Speaking of 18 weeks, we found out Monday (busy week, right?) that we're having a girl!  I am excited to start decorating, and our families like the idea of shopping and hand-making for a girl.

The bad news about overdoing it on Wednesday is that I still haven't been for a walk in my neighborhood, let alone a run.  There is an easy 1-mile loop for walking, there are trails less than .25 miles away, and today I found a playground exactly 1 mile away.  I've put countless loops on gmap-pedometer.com that range from three to ten miles, but I haven't done any of them and I don't even feel guilty.  I think I'll go for a walk with the dogs tomorrow if I'm still feeling good, and maybe I'll run Tuesday if I feel up to it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Two Weeks From Today...

... We will be in our new house!  
... We will know if bambino #2 is a boy or a girl!
... I will be able to walk to the end of my street and hop on a 1.5-mile loop in the woods!
... I will have to go to school and teach a full day after closing on TWO houses and moving with a toddler.

I'm not as excited about that last one, but this is the price we're paying to have a shorter commute, more family time, and more chances to be with friends.  Yes, December first will be a long, tired day, but I'll only have to drive three minutes (yes, three!) to get home.  I could walk or run, but I wear fancy clothes to work.  I'd love to know how people manage the walk/run commute to or from work.  Are there showers in the office?  Do you take all of your clothes for the week and then change into them at work?  It's intriguing but confusing; for now, I'll just enjoy the short commute and run before or after school.

Speaking of running, I haven't this week.  I've logged three workouts on the elliptical, but there's just been precious little time to go outside.  My goal for the week is to work out five times, so I have until Sunday to fit in two more.  Hopefully at least one will be a run.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Changes, Changes, and More Changes

November must be the month for change...

  1. Our adorable two-year-old will turn three next week.  He's already practicing saying "NO" to us, so he should fit right into the horrible threes, as I've heard them called.  Honestly, he is amazing.  His moments of toddler terribleness are few and far between, and he redirects pretty well.  I can't believe how big he's getting!
  2. Speaking of big, I can't believe how big my belly is getting.  I'm fifteen weeks pregnant this week.  According to the bathroom scale, I've gained no more than two pounds, but my belly is large.  Enormous, or so it seems.  Last time around, I never bought maternity workout clothes, but I might need a shirt this time.  Yikes!
  3. We are moving closer into town at the end of this month!  While it's sad to say goodbye to the goats, sheep, turkey, and duck, I cannot wait to have a five-minute commute and both trails and roads to run out of my front door.
Some things haven't changed- I am still running, although not as often lately.  This is not really because of the babe in my belly, but because of planning a move, travelling to see friends and family, and teaching.  I ran three miles today, and it felt great.  We also went hiking this weekend while in Sewanee for Homecoming.  It was lovely.  I love being in the woods.

I have also completed a tentative plan for my March 2013 marathon.  It consists of three periods: 8 weeks of getting back into running (July1-September 1), 8 weeks of foundation (September 3-October 27), and then a 20-week marathon plan that tops out at 40-45 miles.  While writing the plan, I knew I was a little crazy.  2013 is a long way off!  It feels really good to plan for a big race, though.  I've only run two marathons, but I loved both of them and know that I can do even better.  I do not expect to get a PR in 2013 (at least in March...), but that's not really what that race is about.  It will be my dad's first marathon and my first marathon after baby #2, so finishing whole and happy will be more than enough.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I'm a Planner

My dad wants to run the National Marathon in March of 2013. I just found out that it is now the Rock n' Roll USA Marathon- perhaps that will make it bigger and better?  This year's race was fun, but after the half-marathoners finished, it felt tiny.

Anyway, I have said I will run this race, too.  My deep desire to make training calculators is now kicking in, times two: one for me, one for dad.  The trick?  Well, the race is 18 months away.  And, oh yeah, I'm pregnant, so I can't train anyway.

I still run- I ran 3 miles and change today, and I'll run tomorrow as well.  It's slow but rewarding.  Fast forward to April or May, and I'll have a newborn and will not run for at least 2 months.  (Last time I started running at two weeks, and that seemed a little early.  I even ran a 5k when the bambino was 6 weeks old.)  So that puts me around July 1, 2012, as tentatively building back a base.  If a marathon training plan usually lasts about 4 months, and the race is (on or around) March 15, I would need to start my plan by November 15.  So that gives me 4.5 months to build a base of 25 miles per week, building up to bi-weekly long runs of 10-12 miles.

If I begin training on or around November 15, I could do a December half marathon as a checkpoint race, like the Mistletoe Half in Winston-Salem.  The problem is that it is December 3- a little early, right?    There's the Ocean Isle Beach Half Marathon at the beginning of January, but I'm probably too cheap to go all the way to the beach when it's too cold to play in the water.  Or I could do the Cannonball Half Marathon again, which is in October, so technically before I start training...  You see how I ramble when I start thinking about running races.

Long story short, I have a long time to plan my next race.  I hope to convince my dad to do the National Half Marathon (or whatever it's called now) this March so that I can spectate and offer unsolicited training plans via mail, text, and facebook.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Busy Bee

I have not run one time since last Saturday's race, and I do not feel guilty. My pregnant body gets as much recovery time as it needs, and it was a busy week finishing up the quarter at school. And then on Friday...

We got an offer on our house. It has been on the market since spring, and we were just about ready to pull it off and stay put. But Friday brought an offer which we quickly accepted, so we spent the weekend looking for a new house. We have it narrowed down to a few choices, all of which are close to school, church, and parks for running. They are in neighborhoods as well, which is totally new for us. The toddler and the new baby will live somewhere where people walk dogs several times a day, children trick-or-treat, and you have nearby neighbors who might just become friends. They will grow up close enough to their own friends to invite them over after school. That is just so exciting!

Running geek that I am, I have already mapped several courses from each potential house. I will no longer whine for a treadmill, because I will be able to simply run from my front door with a stroller or a dog (or two) or any combination.

So, no running last week or this weekend, but that's all right. I hope to run a few times this week to get back into it, but by early December, if everything goes well, I will be running as much as I possibly can!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cannonball Run Half Marathon

The race went so well!  Dad set a new PR of just under 2:35, and he's already talking about his first marathon (National Marathon 2013- I'm in!).

We started the morning with a pre-race photo shoot.  First we compared bellies, and then we posed for something rather more normal.
I want you to know that Dad is sticking out his belly- way out- for effect.  
But it's still a pretty funny picture.

The race was smaller than I expected, but the volunteers were so nice, and there was plenty of water and sports drink.  There were also plenty of port-potties.   Thank goodness!  The family met us at mile 7 and again just after mile 8 to cheer us on and take some photos.  Then they went to a Fall Festival while Dad and I tackled the notoriously hilly course.  Seriously hilly.  We gained and lost 600 feet each over the course of 13 miles.  If that's not a lot, then I do not want to live where you run.  It felt brutal.

Our wonderful cheering section.  They are saying, "Go runners!"
Dad and I also received high fives from the bambino.

This is how hilly the course is.  Do you see just above my father's right knee?  
He said near the end that his quads were aching.  We got home and 
uploaded the pictures, and there's his crazy leg.  Is that normal?

The bambino enjoying the Fall Festival.  
There was also face painting and a very popular hayride.

After finishing, we met up with the family at the Fall Festival.  We ate lunch and headed home, and then the parents headed back to their neck of the woods.  What a great Saturday to spend with family!

I am officially done with anything strenuous.  I will keep running, but my longest run will be five or six miles, and as of this week it's time to add back in some yoga.  I might do a few 5ks this fall or winter, but they will be slow and for fun only.  I promise.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Saturday's a Racing Day!

As a college rugby player, that title is a variation on a favorite post-game (i.e. Drinkining) song. Tomorrow morning, my dad and I will race the Cannonball Half Marathon. My outfit is all set, my garmin will be charged, and I am so ready to spend two hours and change with my Dad. He's just that awesome.
But tonight we will go eat pasta, followed by a few rounds of spades. My mom (who is also awesome) and I are a team for this monstrous card game. We are also ahead.
So, to recap- pasta, spades, sleep, race. Sweet!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Running for Two

These days my pace has slowed considerably; I've gone from a really good first half of the year, race-wise- 22:05 5k, 3:44 marathon, both PRs- to running 10-12 minute miles.  And I couldn't be happier, because I'm running for two.

Baby #2 is due on or around May 1, 2012.  We are, of course, over-the-moon excited.  I plan to run as long as I can through this pregnancy.  With my son, I ran until about 30 weeks.  It wasn't fast or pretty, but it felt great to move.

This time, not only am I running, but I'm going to do a half-marathon with my dad next Saturday.  Crazy? not really... A challenge? perhaps.  Dad and I are at about the same pace right now, so that is good.  I religiously wear my heart rate monitor, although I do not keep my heart rate under 140 beats per minute; that old guideline was thrown out in 2002, but nothing has replaced it.  Very frustrating for a gal who likes to know what the experts say.  My midwife says that overheating is the real risk for exercise, and I am careful to not overheat.  I let my heart get up to about 155; if it goes over that, I walk to bring it down.  I guzzle water on short runs, Gatorade and Gu Chomps on long ones.

The Cannonball Half Marathon is pretty darn hilly, but I train on these hills all the time.  I've done this run twice before, but I look forward to running it differently- with someone to talk to!  My dad is just about my favorite running buddy (sorry, Brian...).  His goals for this race are to finish below 2:30 and to not curse.  We'll see how that goes.

So, that's the big news around here.  I ran 8.5 last Sunday, and I will run 10 tomorrow.  The cold snap that came in last night will make my last long run just about perfect.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Running on Fumes

Mental fumes, that is.  Twice in the last week I have done truly stupid things related to running.

Sunday morning, I woke up bright and early to run 6 with a friend.  In a house with an early rising toddler, this requires the stealth of a ninja.  Ninja I am not.  So, I eat cereal in the bathroom while getting dressed, and at the last minute I went into my closet for my shoes.  Grab 'em, put 'em on without even lacing them, and hurry out the door before the bambino can hear the jangling of the lock.

I arrived at the park a few minutes early and did what any self-respecting station wagon owner does- I opened up the back to have a nice seat to wait for my running buddy and tie my shoes.

Oh, my shoes.

My right shoe was a silver and blue Mizuno Creation, the shoe I planned to wear on this particular run.  On the left, however, there was my Brooks Ghost 4, silver with bright green tread.  Had I tied my shoes at home, even in the dark, I would have noticed the different lacing.  It was okay, all in all.  I only noticed my mismatched shoes when I looked down.  This is pretty funny because the Creations are easily half an inch taller than the Ghosts.

Yesterday was day #1 for Girls On The Run, which I am doing in collaboration with a nearby school.  I was so excited, I knew it was going to be fun...

And I did not bring anything to wear.  At all.  And I live thirty minutes away from school.

The solution was that I went to Target and bought some new runnin' duds.  Instead of buying less-than-stellar running shoes, I wore my spare Chaco sandals that I keep in my classroom.  Several of the girls at GOTR asked about my, er, unorthodox footwear.  We all make mistakes, I said...

So there you have it.  I am running, I am being active, but somehow my brain is not involved.  I guess it's better than my legs not wanting to be involved...

Monday, August 22, 2011


I've been a horrible runner lately.  I have serious trouble managing my time when I have to be at school and I want to spend time with my family.  Yes, this is nothing new, and I'm working on it.  Once the weather dips back down from the 80-90 degree range, it will be easy to run in the afternoons, but right now it's pretty miserable to push ye olde jogging stroller at 4:30 in the afternoon.

That said, I miss having an exercise routine.  We have the elliptical at home, but it makes me feel like I'm cheating on my running.  So today, before anyone else was awake, I tried to bring back an old friend- morning yoga practice.  I did fifteen minutes of mostly standing poses, and it felt great.  I plan to add five minutes a day until I'm up to around 30 minutes, which is all I get before the bambino comes running out of his room, ready to tackle (literally and figuratively) the day.  I miss how flexible I used to be.  I miss how strong my back, shoulders, and abs used to be.  I know yoga will get me back there, because when I did it regularly I felt amazing.

  • I started doing yoga in college.  Yes, I got credit for stretching on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  
  • I practiced at home for years, and then I took prenatal yoga when I was expecting my son.  It made me strong, mentally and physically, for birth and motherhood.
  • The baby and I attended mom and baby yoga for the first several months of his life.  While the teacher was the same amazing woman from prenatal, she pretty much attacked us new mothers (in a loving way) to get us back in shape.  Painful but amazing.
  • After going back to work, I continued to do yoga with and without the baby at home up until last summer, when I began training for my first marathon.  
Why did I quit?  I didn't plan to, but running took up my time and yoga time with a toddler is actually wrestling time.  So now, early in the mornings before the wrestler awakes, I will get back to my practice.  I have books, magazines, cards, and sequences online.  If it takes twenty-one days to make a habit, I've only got twenty left!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adventures with Stevia (and a Long Run)

My dad and I are running the Cannonball Half Marathon here in Greensboro in October.  I have 54 days until go time, and I have been really lax about training.  Why?  Well, part of it is that a half-marathon sounds so doable after a marathon.  Hubris? Probably.  Will it bite me come October?  Again, probably.  Also, I started school two weeks ago.  Working sure takes a bite out of running time, especially when the only showers at your place of work HAVE NO SHOWER CURTAINS.  That's just not going to happen.  Add to that the heat wave that has just begun to abate, and it (at least partially) explains my lack of running.

Yesterday I ran 8.5 miles with a friend from my son's school.  It was great to run long, and she was also a fan of taking walk breaks.  It was fabulous.  I tried my first Chocolate Mint Gu, and I loved it.  I had Gu down my sports bra and Gu Chomps- watermelon, of course- in my skirt, with a water bottle in my hand.  I was well-fueled.  It was hilly and humid but not quite as hot as it's been.  Right as we finished the thunder and rain came, so the timing was perfect.

When I got home, I decided to make my favorite brownie recipe.  I always made them as a child and memorized the recipe by about age eleven.  Yesterday, however, I tried something new- stevia for baking.  The bag said to substitute it cup-for-cup with sugar, so I tried.  After dumping the gloopy, slightly-curdled looking mass from the mixing bowl to the pan, I decided to read the rest of the bag.   It said to substitute stevia for up to half of the sugar in the recipe; also, it might require more egg white or baking powder.  Oops.  The resulting brownies were short, hard, crumbly, did not taste sweet, and tasted like egg.  Disappointed?  You betcha.  I still ate some, and the bambino thinks they are delicious; then again, he hasn't had much experience with brownies...

This week the weather is supposed to be a little cooler.  I plan to take the bambino for at least two stroller runs and then run longish on Saturday or Sunday.  Friday my parents come to town to play Spades, maybe I'll even get my dad to run with me Saturday... We'll see!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I am OLD!!!

So Thursday morning, we decided to rearrange the bedroom.  Not a big deal at all.  We turned the bed, swept, and then I attempted to lift the bed to pull the rug out from under it.


Suddenly my back hurt and I was on the floor.  I caught my breath and got up, which is when everything went blurry.  I did not pass out- I remember carefully falling back to the ground while recalling how to take a tackle in rugby ("knees, hips, shoulders, nice ball").  Instead of "nice ball", I gently placed my head on the ground.

Two hours later, two ibuprofen later, a heat pad later, here are the things I have learned:
  1. 30 is different than 29.  If I had done this two months ago, I would be fine, because I would still be young.
  2. Everything you lift requires balance, which means it requires lower back muscles: a teapot, a teacup, the toddler onto the potty (ouch!), a book, my foot to scratch my knee (only tried that once), the iPad... everything
  3. Those sticky heat pads are amazing.
  4. It is an excellent idea to own, in a family, at least one automatic transmission automobile in case of injury.  I know that I could not put in the clutch on our Honda if you offered me a million dollars.
  5. My son can be incredibly gentle when he really believes he has to.  He has been so kind and has not climbed on my.  This is highly unusual.
  6. My son has a wicked sense of humor.  When I move wrong, it takes my breath away.  So on our way to his room, he started panting like Mama.   Too bad laughing also hurts...
By Friday I was only walking like a troll when I had been sitting too long, and the ibuprofen continues to help.  Little Man and I even went on a short stroller run, which I finished up with walking lunges because I know they'll help my back and they make my passenger laugh.  He calls them "funny yoga walkin'".

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Summertime Excuses Not to Run

  1. It's already too hot outside.
  2. Too many kids on scooters trying to kill me.
  3. If I ran, I'd have to shower.
  4. My running clothes are all dirty.
  5. The gym (and its air-conditioned treadmills of bliss) is 20 minutes away.
  6. There are spiderwebs all over the trail.
  7. Everyone else is having their first glass of wine (normally this is an excuse for afternoon/evening runs, but you never know).
  8. Breakfast/lunch/dinner was too heavy.
  9. I feel dehydrated.
  10. I feel too hydrated and there are no potties on the trail and there are too many other runners and bikers to pee in the woods.
Just a little silliness, really, as the heat wave makes running outside pretty darn difficult.  Little man and I ran Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, and each time I was bathed in sweat for almost an hour afterward as my body tried to cool itself off.  The stroller's nice breeze prevented my passenger from sweating even a drop, but I looked like a swimmer.  Even in the heat, though, the runs felt great.

And then came yesterday.  Forecast of 100 degrees and a heat advisory; sometimes it's not an excuse not to run, it's a good idea.  At least when you're running with a toddler.  So I took a rest and yoga day and will do the same today before working at the running store.  Today is an excuse day: excuse #1, actually.  I could have left the bambino at home, but by the time I got up at 7:00, it was already hot and steamy and, well...

I can always find an excuse not to run.  I am not as good at hearing how lame those excuses are and going out anyway.  Tomorrow morning, for instance, I need to run 6 miles.  It's the first long run in my training plan for the Cannonball Half Marathon in October.  At 7:00 a.m., it will be 77 degrees and 82% humidity.  Yuck.  I will make some lame excuses and hopefully acknowledge how stupid they sound and then run.  I have no goals for time on a hot, humid day, but I have to run.

Monday, July 18, 2011

home and halfway through the year (plus a little...)

After a fun-filled week and a half of beach and family, we are home.  I ran 8 times at the beach, covering 24 miles and setting a PR in the mile.  Little Man fell in love with all things ocean and, if asked, can tell you all about the amazing rides on the Ocean City Boardwalk.  He and I did one of those spinning, up-and-down, vomit-inducing rides.  He started spinning us and the 100-pound weight difference between us did the rest; we spent the entire ride revolving at breakneck speed.  He giggled, yelled happily, and smiled.  I just yelled and held onto his little wrists for dear life.  I held on so tight that I was surprised that he didn't have bruises this morning. He was slippery!

In January I pledged to run 1,000 miles this year.  As of July 12, I have run 381.4 miles.  I can safely say that I will not make my goal at this rate, so I am changing it to 800.  This will still require some work, because I have more than half to go.  I have to run an average of 76 miles per month for the next 5.5 months.  Can I do it?  Sure.  Will I do it?  Gosh, I hope so.  It doesn't have to be fast or pretty, but I want to make my goal.  I really do.

Looking back, I've completed a lot of goals already this year.  I have set personal records in the mile, the 5k, and the marathon.  I plan to run the Cannonball Half in October and the Greensboro Gobbler in November, and I really want to finally run a 10k.  There's a great one in September... we'll see.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mile Race and Two-a-Days

The beach is great!  Little Man is finally old enough to love the water, as well as rides and other silliness.  Just a few pictures of our stay so far...

in his "ocean jacket"

Riding a Thomas lookalike in Ocean City

Sunset.  Do you see the moon, Mama?

My silly boy

Monday night at 6:30, a few hundred runners lined up for the American Mile race at the end (that is, the literal end) of Longport. There were people sporting race shirts from as far back as the seventies and LOTS of kids who ran really fast. Everyone in town who was not running was spectating.

The race started and the dodging of small children began. My favorite group was three ten-year-old girls who ran slowly, in a line, with their arms stretched out to both sides so that no one would pass them. Thankfully their arms got tired pretty quickly. We ran with the wind at our backs on a very flat road with no turns: perfect conditions. It felt easy. I finished in 6:30, and I had no clue if that was worthy of a win.  Dinner seemed more important than waiting around for awards, so I walked on home.

See how happy I look?  This is right before I started
passing people...

Last night a very kind friend brought over my lovely bronze medal for a third place win in 30-39.  I am beyond happy.  (I may have worn the medal until bed time...)

My dad and I ran TWICE on Saturday, I ran twice on Monday counting the race, and I ran solo yesterday.  My Garmin is FULL of workouts since I didn't bring the USB port to transfer them.  Since we pretty much sit around all day, my legs feel fresh even with the extra work.  We rode to the Atlantic City Boardwalk this morning (bikes are allowed until 10:00 am) and Dad and I will most likely do 5 this evening.  So, I love the beach.  And we get to stay longer!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Beach Running

We arrived at the beach early this morning; that is, in the middle of the night. The plan was to split the trip into two days, but we changed our minds and got to the beach just before 2:00 a.m. It was so great to wake up, even a bit tired, and already be there.

My dad and I ran together for the first time in a while is morning. We did three easy-ish miles. We are doing the Cannonball Half Marathon together on October 8, and it will be his first half in a few years. This week we will do a few long runs as well as a mile race on July 4. A flat mile race followed by food and fireworks- what could be better? There might also be a quest for a new pair of running shoes for him, if we can find a running store in the area.

After the run we hopped into the perfect and unusually warm ocean. That must be the perfect cool-down! I plan to run solo tomorrow before it gets too hot. It will be hard to take a rest day here, because the weather is great and the days are blissfully free. I love vacation!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Where the heck have I been?

This spring, when I thought of summer break, I pictured long stroller runs and maybe a 5k or 10k pr.  The lack of school, students, and stress seemed like the perfect gateway to running.  Moreover, James really likes the jogging stroller now.  He truly enjoys riding with his blankie-bear and a snack while naming the animals he sees along the way and pointing out every runner, biker, and skateboard.

But the reality of summer in the south is this: you have three, maybe four hours in the morning where it's not too hot to exert yourself outside and when the sun won't burn through the sunscreen you so carefully put on.  And those four hours become much less since I refuse to set an alarm clock during summer break.  We wake up around 7:00, have an easy breakfast, and by 8:00 there are only two hours left at most on an average day.  Sometimes we run, but more often we walk (because James will run and walk along with me), go to the playground, or simply garden here at home.  My earlier dreams of running with the little man almost every day would sacrifice other activities that he loves.  There are also glorious days none of the grown-ups have work, and on these days we hike or go somewhere exciting during those cherished heat-free morning hours.

I have always struggled with fitting in time for running and family.  What seems different is that I don't feel guilty right now when I don't get in a run.  I've accomplished a lot in the last year: two marathons, two 5k PRs, and mastering the jogging stroller.  If I slack a little bit this summer, I know I can get it back.  No worries.

Yesterday we ran and it was great.  Today we worked in the garden, and that was great, too.  We picked blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, chard, spinach, tomatoes, radishes, and beets.  Tomorrow?  Who knows?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Running of the Green Race Report!

My parents arrived Friday evening for a quick visit.  It was one of those quality-time-with-the-grandson-and-spades-and-wine-for-the-big-people visits, this time with the addition of a 5k for everyone!  James was so excited to see Meme and PopPop.  After he finally went to bed, unwilling to be serenaded by his grandfather ("move" - "where?" - "out") we settled into the 2011 season of our spades battle.  Mom and I started out ahead, but by 11:30 we were somehow slightly behind.  Oh well, the game continues until New Year's Eve!

But that late night did not help the race.  We had a leisurely morning and got to the race, at the Greensboro Children's Museum, about 15 minutes before the start.  This was a small race- two port-a-potties small.  Dad, Mom, Jenn, and James started near the back, and I found a place near the front, surrounded by Girls on the Run participants excitedly clutching their water bottles.

The race began with all of the kids running very fast and the adults dodging them as they gleefully sprinted to their inevitable slower pace.  The race was small enough that I could see the front "pack".  It was a great feeling.  At about the half-mile point, my buddy John passed me.  This is not surprising because he s very speedy; what was humiliating was the fact that he was pushing not one but THREE children in his double jogger as he yelled, "hey, Margie!" and breezed on by.  I would hate him but it is impossible.  He's just too dang nice.

I would say that the spades and wine kicked in when I realized that my first mile, at 7:13, was going to be my fastest by a lot.  To run under 22 minutes, I needed to average a seven-minute pace.  Normally I like to get progressively faster during a run, but the way I was sucking air made me think that maybe that wasn't going to happen.  Oh well.  The course was lovely and wove through old neighborhoods as well as downtown.  I passed a few people, but just as many passed me.  I am proud of the fact that I didn't quit or get angry at myself at not making the goal.  I spent about a minute on the what ifs and then just enjoyed a fun race through my city.

I finished in 22:39 and ended up winning my age group!  My buddy and co-worker Paul also won his age group, so now we both have new shirts, although mine is way cooler.

(the camera on the computer put the words backwards,
but there was a mirror effect.  So, here I am with my conjoined twin.)
My dad's goal was to run the race, his first in a while and his first since foot surgery, in about 36 minutes.  Well, he finished in under 32:00!  Amazing.  I am so proud.  He didn't even look like he was going to die, and I didn't hear him curse at the end.  Jenn, my Mom, and James walked the course, and James hopped out at the end to run the finish line.  It was so incredibly cute, and he really got it.  He's seen me race enough times to know that crossing that line was a big deal.  So cool!

After the race, there was a puppet parade and free entrance into the Children's Museum.  We visited the amazing Edible Schoolyard and James spent a lot of time playing with cars, trucks, dump trucks, trains, airplanes, and pretty much anything with wheels.  It was great.

So, I end with some pictures.

I thought I looked at the camera.  I really did.

James running into the finish chute.

And done!

How cool is that puppet?

more puppets in the parade

proud Mama

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Ah, the cautious optimism of that last post.  I had just had a great running week but knew that one week could not be a trend on its own.  The following week I only ran twice, and neither one was during the week!  I could blame it on outside forces (Monday- rain, Tuesday- school, Wednesday, church, etc.), but there was time.  I know it was there.  I am not good at finding it when my pre-planned schedule goes to pot.

Last week was better than zero but still sub-par.  I ran Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Monday was speed work, with four speedy quarter-mile repeats.   Thursday I ran with the bambino, and Saturday I did five miles in forty minutes, which is very fast for the distance for yours truly.  Clearly, when I get into my running shoes and out the door, I run hard and am proud of the effort.  But how do I get out of the door?

Take this week, for instance.  Yesterday (Monday), I packed my running clothes in a very chic Target bag (as in, the whitish plastic one from the checkout- absolutely nothing fancy or lovely, just reusing) and took them to school.  I had a school event at 6:00, but I figured it would be okay to run in between and show up slightly sweaty.  It would not be the first time.  Instead, I looked out the window at 3:50 as the students were leaving and said, "you know, it looks a little like rain.  Better just stay in and grade."  This wouldn't be so terribly bad, but instead of grading I played hearts on the computer.  Sad.

Today I am home with little man, who has a bit of a fever.  He napped for three hours this morning, and I napped for two.  I never nap.  Hopefully it will give me energy to go to the track tonight.  There's rain in the forecast, but I also registered for a 5k this weekend.  I may be lazy, but I am also cheap.  If I paid money for a running event, I will at least try to put in a good effort.

Friday, April 29, 2011


This has been an amazing week for running. First off, we have gone for three family exercise outings, where Jenn rides her bike ( much faster and independently) while James and I jog. This let's me feel like I am still getting family time while also getting a killer workout. I am not used to pushing a toddler, but it is doable. James and I ran yesterday evening sans Jenn with the local running store group. Very fun, and James got a super bright light to play with. ( maybe I was supposed to return it after the run. oh well, he likes it...)
Pushing a nearly thirty pound baby up hills while trying to run fast is a new challenge. James now does this funny heavy- breathing sound that I assume is an impersonation of how I sound near the top of a hill. It is cute. He also likes going on these runs now, and this is key. He gets a juice, some cereal, and has a great time. He gets to flirt with passers- by who invariably think he is adorable, because he is.
Then this morning I ran long- well, 10 miles. It felt so good to run without the stroller that I averaged 8:12 over ten miles! Good music helped, too. I ended feeling like I could have gone further. Then I ate a lot of food. Yay.
So, that makes 20 miles in six days, over five runs. The nice weather and family exercise time are helping me get more regular, but I will not pat myself on the back until I manage to get two good running weeks in a row. We shall see...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I am a Slacker

I ran Monday, meant to run Tuesday, had a meeting Wednesday, had a visitor to the house Thursday, meant to run Friday but it was raining and I'm a wimp.  I did run today, but just 3.5 miles.  I want to run more, but life keeps getting in the way.  Every week I make plans, but some weeks( well, the majority, actually), I only run about 50% of my planned mileage.
What's confusing lately is the pace for my basic, run-three-or-four-after-school miles is going down.  My pace is now between 7:30-7:45 for regular old runs.  If I plug my 5k or marathon times into a training pace calculator, it tells me that my easy pace should be around 9:00.  So I'm faster than expected for my finish times.  What does it mean?

I think it means that if I were to actually build a good base of 25-35 miles per week, I would be a much faster runner.  35 miles sounds enormous to me right now, but in reality that's just 5 miles per day on average.  It could look like this:

  • Monday- 5
  • Tuesday- 5
  • Wednesday- 5
  • Thursday- 5 
  • Friday- rest
  • Saturday- 10
  • Sunday- rest
...or like this...
  • Monday- 5
  • Tuesday- 6
  • Wednesday- rest
  • Thursday- 6
  • Friday- 3
  • Saturday- 10
  • Sunday- 5
... but it would take more time than I'm willing to give, at least during the school year with a twenty-five minute commute.  Aiming for 25 miles would be much more doable; it could look like this...
  • Monday- 4
  • Tuesday- 6
  • Wednesday- rest
  • Thursday- 6
  • Friday- rest
  • Saturday- 9
  • Sunday- rest
...or like this...
  • Monday- 4
  • Tuesday- 5
  • Wednesday- rest
  • Thursday- 5
  • Friday- 3
  • Saturday- 8
  • Sunday- rest
...and wouldn't take much more time than I already devote.  The problem is that devotion doesn't necessarily lead to me running as planned.  This week, for instance, I planned to run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, but it just didn't happen.  The plans are fine, but I am not getting it done.  I only have five weeks of school left, so maybe I'll make better habits this summer.  Fingers crossed... 

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Not that kind, of course!

As of today, I have run four days straight and six of the last seven days.  This probably sounds normal to a lot of runners, but I have a hard time fitting in more than three-four runs per week.  My post-marathon goal- well, one of them- is to run more consistently.  I'm not pushing for crazy long runs, I just want to get out there more often.

Monday- 3 miles

Tuesday- 2.5 miles in the woods (I forgot my garmin, but it's all good.)
Wednesday- 5 miles

Thursday- 4 miles

Holy cow!  That's a lot of running for yours truly.  Tomorrow is a rest day.  I'll probably do yoga with the bambino; he especially loves to do downward dog and then use his head to balance instead of his arms- I will try to get a picture.   Even though baby yoga almost always degrades into jumping on Mama's belly, airplane rides, and push-ups with toddler on the back, it is really fun.  Not exactly restful, but the stress does melt away.  Saturday I may run ten miles with the local group, but I don't really have a desire to go long yet.  We'll see.

On a non-running note, I have been a single parent this week since my better half has been on a field trip.  The family will be reunited tomorrow.  I am beyond excited.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

What Now?

The marathon is done.  The (running) goal of the last four months, the thing that I've trained for, worried about, planned, and fretted over is no longer on the horizon.  It is finished; 100+ days' work ended in less than four hours.  This past week I had no planned workouts.  I did lots of yoga, waited to run until Friday, then ran Saturday, too, because I chose to.  It felt really good.

It felt really good, but I need to have goals.  Sure, I could run just to run, but when I don't make it a priority I find it difficult to carve out the time.

With that in mind, I have five races set between now and October:
April 23- Eggstravaganza 5k
May 21- Running of the Green 5k
June 25- Fun Fourth 10k
July 4- American Mile
October 8- Cannonball 1/2 Marathon

I want to work on speed with the 5k races and the mile, and I've never run a 10k!  As long as I finish the June race, I will PR.  That's a cool feeling.  The April race is more for fun than to set a PR.  It's the day before Easter, the prizes are chocolate, and there is a kid's race.  It also allows enough time before the May 5k to see if I'm on track to break 22:00.

My goal for April is to run at least four days per week.  I know it's possible, but it will take some time management (or a treadmill?).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

National Marathon Race Recap, Part 2

Here are some pictures from the race.  I don't run with a camera, so these were taken by my personal paparazzi squad (try saying that three times fast).  The pictures from the official race photographer are ready now, but they are awful.  I honestly thought I was looking at the cameraman and smiling every time; either there were two at every stop, or I was smiling at some random man with a zoom lens.  In almost all of the photos my eyes are closed, and in quite a few my hair is plastered to my head.

So, the pictures!
Can you tell I'm happy to see my family at mile 20?  Yup, I was.

A quick hug before going on.  No, my bum is not really lumpy; those are the rest of my chews.

At the finish.  I look serious.  And I have two chins.

The Bambino trying on my medal.  He says he's going to be a runner.  So cute!

Little Man helping me stretch after the race.

I have no idea what I thought was so funny, but I love this picture.  I appear to be on the Metro, still wearing my lovely space blanket.

I have yet to run.  Monday and Tuesday I couldn't walk normally, so running seemed silly.  Today  with school church, and weather, it just wasn't going to happen.  I'll try to go for a few tomorrow, but I feel absolutely no pressure to run if I don't want to.  I haven't run without a plan in a while, so I plan to revel in this before moving on to the next race, which will be a 5k on May 21.  A sub-22:00 5k will be mine!  Mine, I say!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

National Marathon Race Recap, Part 1

After much fretting (whining) about the weather, I finally decided to pack a whole lot of possible clothes and just see how I felt.  We left Friday for D.C., arriving at the Metro station around 5:00 to ride the train with my parents to the Expo.  This makes sense to any parents of toddler boys but possibly to no one else.  Our dear little boy talks about trains all the time.  When he figured out that he'd get to ride a train on our trip, he started planning: "Meme ride big train?  Pop-pop ride big train?  MINE ride big train? Together?"  It was pretty adorable and a great way to catch up instead of sitting in traffic.  The Expo was fine; at this point in the evening we realized that the little one had suspect pants, no change of diaper, and one long Metro ride before anything could fix the situation.  Hilarity ensued and we got out of there fairly quickly.

My dad graciously agreed to drive me to the race start so that I wouldn't have to get there on my own or try the Metro, which wouldn't open until 6:00.  I didn't really sleep the night before; every hour I woke up to make sure my alarm clock was still working, which of course it was.  At 5:00 it went off loud and clear and I bolted out of bed.  I had my lovely breakfast of peanut butter toast and coffee and then we were off!  The traffic was not pretty.  I was so glad my dad was driving so I could just freak out quietly about how close it was getting to 6:45.  We finally got to the stadium parking lot, Dad dropped me off, and I went off on a double quest for a potty and pins for my race number.  I had gotten pins at the Expo, and they were still in the pocket of my jeans, tucked away safely in my bedroom.  Oops.  I found the line for the port-a-potties and in that (very long) line I found pins.  The race officially started well before I got to the front of the bathroom line, but thanks to chip timing I did not even consider leaving the line.  Decidedly worth it.

So, for the actual race!  The first few miles were cold and a little sardine-like, but at about 3 miles I settled in and felt good.  I could feel my hands and toes, I was thankful for my mom's gloves because I'd forgotten my own, and my music was perfect.  I went pretty fast up until the half-way point.  Some of my mile splits were below 8:00!  I'd look down at my Garmin, see the lap (mile) average, and say to myself oh crap, this is going to hurt me later.  I tried to slow down but could not.    That 8:00-8:15 pace felt great, conservative even at times.  I knew, however, that I could not keep it up.  I had not trained hard enough to run that pace for an entire marathon, so I was really scared about how exactly my body would finally implode.

Well, at the half I began to find out.  It wasn't dramatic or painful; I simply slowed down.  My pace went from  too fast to just a little too fast, hovering around 8:30-8:40.  Mind you, this is still faster than I thought I'd be running at all during the race.  My family managed to catch me right around mile 14 for the first of several meet-ups.  They had these great shirts that said Team Margie and DC Marathon 2011 on the front and, when put together in the right order, made26.2 on the back.  Little man was the period!  Seeing them picked me up a lot.   I managed my first-ever race pit stop around mile 15 or 17.  It was totally worth it.  The only problem was pain in my right ankle, exactly where I experienced it in February.  It felt like my laces were too tight across the front of my foot, but they weren't.  It hurt but I was pretty sure it would go numb, so that's what I bet on.  As luck would have it, it did!  (More on that later).

I saw the family (plus a family friend!) again at mile 20.  We saw each other from far away this time, and I stopped to hug the little one.  The body and the mind are so connected, and I see that the most when something as simple as a wave or a hug from loved ones can literally make my legs feel better.  I was tired, a little achy, and worried about finishing strong.  Suddenly I saw them, talked briefly with them, and raced away feeling lighter.  Magical.

I didn't hit a wall with my first marathon, but I think that's because I didn't really push myself in terms of pace. I found miles 22-25 very difficult this time around.  The pain in my ankle came back and my calves were getting tight.  The course was flat at this point but windy.  Miles 23 and 25 were my only splits over 9 minutes.  Even my port-a-potty mile was under 9:00.  I am proud for getting through those miles and finishing strong.  I picked the pace back up and felt fast and in control as I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 3:44:31, a 6-minute PR and much faster than I expected.  I am so proud!  I found the family soon after I crossed the line.  I proudly wore my medal and my space blanket on the Metro to a glorious lunch of seafood enchiladas and coffee.  My right ankle hurt like hell, my left wasn't much better, and I didn't care because I was done.

More later, with pictures, too.  Thanks for reading this ramble!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Taper and the Weather

After my lackluster longish run Sunday in which I jumped a fence and begged an apartment security guard for access to a toilet, I think this week might follow a similar vein.  I ran today, but it was 80 degrees.  That's really hot compared to the normal 50-60 degree weather for March.

Speaking of weather, guess what the forecast high is for Washington, DC on Saturday?  FORTY.  FORTY DEGREES. My tank top and shorts are no longer appropriate.  According to a cool what should I wear feature on runnersworld.com, I should wear shorts, long sleeve shirt, a vest, and gloves at the beginning.  I have plenty of shorts and capris, but I was dead-set on my tank and don't know how my other shirts will pass the chaffing test.  That's a bad thing to find out race day, you know?

I'll run again tomorrow (after going to the dentist for my first-ever fillings) and maybe Thursday, and that'll be it until 7:00 Saturday morning.  It will probably be 34 degrees and overcast.  I'll be the blue-lipped girl in corral 4.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

One Week Out and (four-legged) Running Buddies

I cannot believe that the race is next Saturday!  My bib number is 327, and I am in corral #4.  I've never been in a race with corrals before.  I don't know if I think it's cool or if it makes me feel like cattle.  I might use a pace group on this race.  Historically I do great on long runs holding on to the coattails of faster runners; why not try it for a race? The question is which pace group: 3:40, 3:45, or 3:50?  3:40 qualifies me for Boston and is 30 seconds faster per mile than my 21-miler and thus within the realm of possibilities.  On the other hand, my training has been really lacking this time around, and 3:50 equals an 8:47 pace, just 5 seconds faster than my 21-miler.  That seems a little too safe, you know?  It's also my time for the last race, on a much hillier coarse.  So then 3:45 sounds reasonable, and if I feel great at the half, I can speed up.  Who knows...

I've picked out my race outfit: Nike compression shorts (too big, but that's another story...), my Off n' Running race tank, my favorite oh-so-soft Balega socks with the little puff on the back so that they don't slide down into my shoes, and my New Balance 759s.  I'm kind of disappointed about wearing them, because I love my Brooks Ghosts, but the latter are dying and now also smell like cat pee.  Great.  I have some arm sleeves, too, but they are shiny black and look a little too serious.  Also, the one time I wore them I got under-arm blisters.

Today I took Jack and Scout, my two wonderful mutts, to the trails for their first run together in a while.  Usually I run with Jack alone these days; Scout used to be my most athletic dog, but she tore her ACL and shredded her meniscus a few weeks before our son was born.  Ever since, she's just like any injured athlete: she desperately wants to run but can't really keep up.  And since she's loyal (and doesn't speak English), I can't trust her to tell me she needs to stop.
Here she is right after surgery.  She's such a good girl!
I let her come along because I knew it would be a slow one anyway.  The sun was shining, it was nice and hot, and the dogs could not remember what the heck to do when running together.  The leashes got tangled, Scout fell behind, Jack peed on his leash more than once, they waded in the lake and shook their loving wet, muddy bodies all over each other and yours truly.  It was, in short, perfect.  Our pace was around 11:00/mile because I didn't want to stop and start the watch every time one of them did one of the things mentioned above.  It was one of those runs that reminds me it's not always about the time or the distance or even breaking a sweat (which I didn't).  It was just fun.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I made a friend!

This week's runs have been great!
Monday- 3 miles
Tuesday- 5 miles
Wednesday- 3 miles
Thursday- rest with yoga

Today I planned on 14-15 miles.  Since this is "Spring Break"- in quotes because it was only two days due to snow- I got to run long on a weekday.  Also because it's Spring Break, I had dental appointments.  Yes, plural.  Yesterday and today.  Today's appointment ended at 12:00, giving me time to grab lunch (sushi- good choice?), run an errand, change clothes in a public restroom, and get to runnin'.

I knew it was going to be a boring run, but I had prepared for it.  I had my shuffle, some Gu chomps, and a Gatorade bottle which I left on the top of my car.  The plan: three five-mile legs, each ending at the car for a snack.  Oh, the boredom.

I ran the first leg.  No one was at the park.  Lunch time on a Friday is not popular for exercise, apparently.  It was pretty windy, too, but that breaks up the monotony.  I crossed paths with two runners, a few bikers, and a dog walker, but that's all.  I got back to the car ready to lose the jacket and slurp some Glacier Freeze.

And there were the two runners!  The man talked to me, but I couldn't hear him with my loud music.  I took out my ear buds and we chatted.  Then the woman said she was running 9 more.


Dork that I am, I unhesitatingly said, "Can we run together?"  Thankfully she only looked at me strangely for a split-second, and then we (re)introduced ourselves.  Turns out we knew each other from the running store!  We negotiated pace- I love how runners always swear they'll slow each other down when it is so not the case- and took off.

My new running buddy and I ran 9 miles at about 8:30 pace.  We talked about our families, our children (who go to the same school!), racing plans, and all the sorts of things two runners talk about: arm sleeves, shoes, race fuel.

So, my planned boring run turned out to be fast, challenging, and really fun.  I'm thankful for a monotonous first 5 miles to highlight the next 9.  My legs are happily sore from a lot of running and a little yoga, but the red wine is helping.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Runnin' Music

Until I got my second-hand iPod shuffle (thanks, Gam, for the Christmas check!) I ran with no music. I wasn't against music on a run, I was (and am) just cheap.  But those solo long runs started to get to me and, flush with holiday moolah, I got a tiny blue iPod.

Turns out, I love listening to music when I run!  It did take me a few tries to work everything out.

The shuffle holds a relatively small amount of music, but it's enough that you count the time in days.  I filled that sucker up with my favorite songs (albums, groups) and went for a run and pressed "shuffle."  Well, in days of music, there are some songs that you really like and that just don't work for a run.  Songs about dying, for instance.  Slow movements of cello concertos.  Thankfully I discovered this on a treadmill run and didn't trip into oncoming traffic while repeatedly pressing the "skip" button.

So back to the computer I went, this time editing out the slow stuff.  It was hard to delete favorite songs.  I felt like I was breaking up with them.  It's not you, it's me- I'm just looking for something different right now.  They're not really gone, just relegated back to itunes, but it still feels like a divorce.  After the purge, I even turned the first twenty or so songs into a playlist.  This is the playlist that fires me up.  These are specific fast songs that motivate me and sometimes even push me to go too fast.  It contains...

  • Ani Difranco (Gravel, In or Out, Fire Door, Arrivals Gate)
  • Amy Ray (can't name them all.  pretty much everything fast she's recorded, including but not limited to Lucy Stoners, Blender, Driver Education, and Black Heart Today.  and "Let it Shine" multiple times.  I can't listen without crying a little and pressing repeat.)
  • Bare Naked Ladies (Hello, City and One Week)
  • They Might Be Giants (Birdhouse in Your Soul, Ball and Chain)
  • Indigo Girls (too many to count...)
Yes, I have bought new music since high school and college, but I like this stuff.  Ani and Amy make me run fast, and I try really really hard not to sing along.  Sometimes I do sing along, and it's loud and out-of-tune.  Part of being a well-adjusted grown-up is figuring out what you like and following it, right?  I love music, and I love this music.  Other favorite artists that made the short list are...

  • Dixie Chicks
  • Todd Snider
  • Keb Mo'
  • John Prine
  • Paul Simon
  • Simon and Garfunkel
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Tom Petty 
  • Eric Clapton (including Cream)
  • Grateful Dead
  • Bob Dylan
  • Cat Stevens
Maybe a few (okay, a lot) of these artists seem mellow, but I'm not a big pop/hip-hop aficionado.  I love acoustic guitar, two and three-part harmony, and angsty and political lyrics.  The storytellers on the list (Todd and John, and Paul Simon to a point) can lose me for a few minutes in a song the way I get lost in a good movie.  I don't always want to get lost on a run, but it's nice to have the option.

My next trick is going to be podcasts.  I listen to a lot of NPR.  I'd love to listen to episodes of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, Car Talk, The Splendid Table, or This American Life during a long run.  If you haven't heard of these shows, you should google them.  They are free to listen online and funny, smart, and sometimes moving.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

21 Miles!

I did it!  So, first the basics:

I ran with the awesome posse from Off n' Running, the best local running store ever.  If you want to argue this point, I am an excellent arm-wrestler.

My job was to set the pace for my three fellow 21-milers.  They tend to speed up, and since their normal long-run pace is my just-trying-to-hold-on long-run pace, I like it when they ask me to lead.  I can run 8:50-9:00 miles forever, apparently.

I ate two Hammer Gel Espressos and a packet of Gu Chomps Watermelon, which I love.  The gels are getting harder and harder for me to stomach, but I know they provide much-needed energy and I do like the caffeine.  The water stops included Gatorade.  I am quickly falling in love with Gatorade during long runs.  Forget water; it's so boring and unsalty.

My favorite shoes (Brooks Ghost) are dying and I'm too cheap to buy another pair with so many other perfectly good shoes in my closet.  This week I wore my new pair of New Balance 758s.  They are fine, but they're not my favorites.   I have a pair of Mizuno Creations waiting in a box, too, but I've never run in Mizunos so I should probably wait until post-race to experiment.  I guess I will do New Balance for the race, because I simply cannot justify spending money to have preferred shoes when I already have good shoes.

As always, my sports bra drilled two lovely holes in my back, but other than that there was no chaffing or blisters.

And now for a little refection...
January was the month of the flu.  February was the month for ankle weirdness.  I started to doubt my ability to compete.  For me, all competing means is running in a way that makes me proud.  I don't have to BQ, I don't have to beat my previous time, and I don't even have to get a certain time.  I do have to run strong.  That's what competing means.  So if I wasn't sure I could do that, how was I going to even get my butt to the start?  And what would that mean for the generous people who have helped me raise money for Girls on the Run?  I am so thankful that this last long run was so strong.  I haven't put in as many miles as I wanted to, but Saturday's run proved that I will be fine.  March will be the month of the race!

Not only do I get to run a race, I get to run a race in Washington, DC around monuments and the Mall.  My family gets to come with me.  We get to stay with my parents, and they have colluded to create some plan for being visible during the race.  I can't wait.  My dad has already asked me about post-race food (mac and cheese, ice cream, cider).  I am so excited and so grateful.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

New use for a the wine chiller

My mom left her high-tech, bendable, velcro, freezable wine chiller here after the marathon New Year's Eve spades tournament.  There it languished, ignored in the freezer, until last week when I needed something to ice my ankle/foot unpleasantness.

It was heavenly.  It stayed cold, fit onto my foot, and stayed there because of the little velcro strips.  I should have taken pictures!  I will return it to my mom, but not until I get through the race with no more injuries.  IT would be just as good for achilles or calf injuries, but my thighs are definitely too big.  My favorite part was not feeling little broccoli spears poking me as I try to ice my injury.

Thankfully the foot is all better.  I really had to dial back the running last week; my long run was a whopping 7.5 miles!  By Monday it was just about better- just a twinge here and there.  I ran 4.5 Monday and 3.5 today; I would've run Tuesday, too, but my wardrobe choices were appropriate for 70-degree Monday, not 40-degree and windy Tuesday.  Oops.

Saturday my running group is doing 21 miles, so that will be my twenty miler for this race.  I know that most of the runners will be faster than I am (around 8:30 pace), but I'll keep up as much as I can and enjoy the camaraderie at the end.  I think I'm mentally prepared for 21 miles, but physically I am far behind.  January was the month of the flu.  February was the month of the ankle.  Now March is race month!  Where did the time go?  I am simply unprepared for this race, but that won't stop me from running it.  Come race day, I have no idea what to expect from myself and maybe, in some weird way, that will free me up for greatness.  If nothing else it's important to know that I'm not in peak shape.  I will run more marathons in the coming years. Maybe they'll be faster, maybe not.  I will be proud of this race, too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

National Marathon, here I come!

Six weeks from today, I will run my second marathon.  The race is in Washington, DC and I am running for Girls on the Run, a great cause that empowers girls through training for a 5k.  Today was my longest run yet, and all in all it was good.  Here are the juicy details:

The Good...

  • I love running with this funny, entertaining, and fast group of people.  There were seven of us who stayed together for most of the 13 miles, so there was always someone to talk to or listen to.  I love hearing about other people's training and racing plans.
  • Gatorade on the water stops kept me going without needing as much food fuel.  In 17 miles, I only had one pack of watermelon Gu Chomps, and I gave two of those away to show how great they taste.
  • Getting to know people a little better.  I now know someone who worked at the Grand Canyon.  How cool is that?
  • The slowest mile was 9:05, and my last mile was 8:13.  My average over 17 miles was 8:47!

The Bad...

  • My ankle, which I thought I had angered by tying my shoes too tight but which I have apparently strained, behaved during the run but is now swollen and tender.  We're going for a bike ride this afternoon; I hope that doesn't exacerbate the issue.
  • The hills were crazy evil on this course.  I know it's not the mountains or anything, but the hills were numerous and rather steep.  I'm sure there were downhills, but who remembers those?
  • Although I ran for just under 2 1/2 hours, which is awesome, the elapsed time between beginning and ending the run was 2:49.  So would I be able to keep that pace without the frequent breaks?

And The Funny.

  • Running the first four miles on a less-than-attractive street, I mentioned how grateful I was to be running with two guys.  These two gallantly  told me that in the event of an incident they would run away and I'd only be safe if I could run as fast or faster.  Darwinian running, anyone?
  • I refused to take a course map because I knew that having one would give me an excuse to not keep up.  Fear of being lost was my motivation.  Very effective.
  • We had about 5 minutes between the first 4 miles and the other 13 with the big group.  I knew I needed to pee but didn't want to cross the street to find the bathroom.  So instead of a very short walk, I ran desperate for a potty for 13 miles.  Never again!

If my ankle feels up to it, I'll run a few miles tomorrow.  Since my goal for the rest of February is to keep the mileage up, I plan to run Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday as well as sneaking in a few miles during a church retreat this weekend.

So, it's six weeks out from the race and, barring anything horrible, I will run tolerably well.  Four more weeks of training and two weeks of taper, and then at this time on March 26 I will be reclining on a couch, eating copious amounts of ice cream, and probably sporting a shiny new medal.

Monday, February 7, 2011

All Better (but is that rib broken?)

First, if you cough a lot while sick and then one of your ribs suddenly sticks out, say, 1/2-inch further than its partner, can you safely assume that you broke it?  Is there another reason that a rib would protrude?

I guess it doesn't really matter.  It doesn't hurt any more, so I'm not going to ask someone to put it back or anything.  I once broke my nose in a car door (I have depth perception issues) and didn't find out it was broken for, say, a month or two.  The doctor then kindly offered to put it back where it went, but who would voluntarily have their nose broken again?  That's just wrong.  It still works, and you can't really tell it's crooked.

But I digress...

I'm all better, with a whopping seven weeks to train up for this race.  I ran 14 miles Saturday, and they weren't that bad.  My legs do still hurt, but that's to be expected when your weekly miles aren't what they should be.  I even managed to sneak in three miles today between school, picking up little man, and going to a Magnet Fair open house to brag about my school. (I love doing that since I love my school).  I'll run 18 or so Saturday and try to keep my weekday miles up.  I'm optimistic that 18 won't be that bad, especially since my buddy Brian wants to run 17 of them with me.  Do I believe that he'll really run slow enough for me?  No, but he's really funny and running out-of-breath but amused trumps running at a comfortable pace but bored.  It's true.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still (Friggin') Sick.

Thursday I was optimistic that three days of illness was all I'd get; it is now Sunday evening and I am just now starting to feel a bit better.  No eight miles Friday because me fever was back and I couldn't breathe.  No eighteen miles today because I haven't had a real meal since Monday and have officially lost all the holiday weight.

I've never gotten a flu shot before.  I always said it was because I've never had the flu.  Now that this fact has apparently changed, can I go ahead and sign up for next year's flu shot now?  Pick a date, any date- I will be there early with a sleeveless shirt.

I now have 53 days left until the marathon and have yet to run over 15 miles.  I have seven weeks to prepare, and two of those should probably be a taper.  So five weeks to go from 15 to 20, five weeks to have really solid weekly miles, five weeks to make my legs, lungs, and mind ready for this race.  I will probably not be able to run a 3:40 this time, so I will play with the numbers a little this week to find a better goal that fits where I am at this point.  It's only my second marathon, and it won't be my last.  I can qualify for Boston another year.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The flu/virus/cold that's been going around my school (15% absent yesterday?  yikes!) caught me Monday afternoon and did not want to let go.  I went to school Tuesday but could barely speak; Wednesday I laid on the couch all day, napping.  Today I was so excited to be able to get out of bed and shower without being out of breath.  I returned to school, but my voice stayed away; maybe it'll come back tomorrow.

Instead of running 18 miles tomorrow, I will try to run 8.  If I can do that without collapsing in Country Park, I'll try for 18 on Sunday.

I know that there's a lesson here, and I think I even know what it is: you can plan all you want, but life will sometimes force you to change course.  I haven't ever had a running injury (perhaps because I don't run all that much?), but this little bout of nastiness teaches the same lesson.  Sticking to the plan while ignoring the current situation would be stupid and counterproductive.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Two Birds, One Stone: The Long Tempo Run

After a sub-par running week (after Monday's 15-miler, only a short tempo run Tuesday and 1.5 miles Friday) and standing around while administering the SAT yesterday, I did not have high hopes for today's run.  It had to happen after church because that is the little one's nap time, but I'm not as fresh and it's hard to know what to eat.

We went to the car wash (James' new favorite thing) immediately after church, and the line was so long that I trekked through the mulch and down a hill (in my church shoes) to buy a burrito at Taco Bell- dangerous before a long run, I know, but it was close by and I was starving!

I explain all of that because this was an awesome run.  I started of under at 8:50 pace and never looked back.  I put in a few speedy miles but realized I wasn't slowing down enough in between to not die at the end.  So my 12-miler turned into a great tempo run.  The pace fluctuated between 8:20 and 8:30 most of the time.  The last mile was right at 7:30, and I still felt good.  It was 40 degrees, and after the wind, snow, ice, and frigid temperatures of the last few weeks, this was teeshirt weather.  The sun was shining, there was no wind, and the Greenway wasn't an ice-packed obstacle course.  I didn't feel hungry like the last time I tried to run long after lunch.  There were lots of other runners, walkers, and bikers around, too, and I love to wave to people. It breaks up the monotony.

The other momentous part of this run was that it was my first long run with music!  My little blue iPod shuffle kept me motivated, but I might have been singing along to songs without being able to hear the volume or pitch of what was coming out of my mouth.  Oh well...

Long story short- It was a good run and I know that music kept me from getting bored.  It made me pick up the pace, but I could handle it.  This was big confidence booster for the marathon.  If I can run 12 miles at marathon pace now, I think I'll be able to run 26.2 at that pace in March.  I'd never run more than six miles at race pace before the last one, and it exceeded my expectations.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

15 Miles and I Got Tagged!

I had planned a long run for Sunday, but the weather was so nice that we decided to go to the zoo instead.  Monday's chill and drizzle sounded fine for a long run but not so great for running around looking at animals.  We made the right choice; here are a few highlights:

James really likes to throw rocks.

As always, the zoo was amazing.  It's a large zoo with lots of walking paths, and even on a cold winter day the animals come out to play.  Because there were very few people there, some animals were much more active and entertaining, like the polar bear and gorilla.  James is still talking about poe-bears (polar bears).

I had my long run Monday morning.  The only problem was my choice to wear shorts instead of tights, but it wasn't that bad.  I prefer shorts, and the top half of me was very well layered.  I started at a 9:05 pace and fifteen miles later had whittled that down to 8:58 in spite of black ice patches and long swaths of Greenway still covered in snow.  My legs felt good and I didn't feel hungry like last week.  I know I run better in the morning, so that really made a difference.  I think I won't do any more afternoon long runs, even though the timing is more convenient.

I cannot believe that I only have 9 weeks left before my marathon.  I have completely fallen of my original plan, but it'll be okay.  I need to get up to at least one twenty miler.  Perhaps the long runs will look like this:

  1. 16
  2. 18
  3. 14
  4. 20
  5. 14
  6. 20
  7. 16
  8. 10
  9. RACE
Or maybe it'll be like this:
  1. 16
  2. 14
  3. 18
  4. 14
  5. 20
  6. 14
  7. 16
  8. 10
  9. RACE
I'll try to figure it out this week.  The issue is not whether I'll be prepared to finish the marathon, because I know I can do that.  I just need to see if it's feasible to beat my last time and even (possibly) run a 3:40 which would qualify me for Boston.  This week's pace certainly gave me hope.

Also, wonderful runner (and pull-up diva) Abby tagged me, so today I will share seven random things about myself.

1. I love to play rugby.  I played in college and tried to play after graduation, but without a women's team in town I stopped.  I am drawn to rugby because my hand-eye coordination is really poor.  There are positions in rugby where you pretty much hit people, and I was good at that.  I played hooker (yes, I know, hehehe) for three years and then played inside and outside center, which require a little more ball handling.  I loved tackling someone and making them fly through the air, with me attached, and then landing on the ground and doing it again.  It's a brilliant game.
2. In high school my mom and I did Jazzercise together.  It was awesome.  Neither of us have a lot of dancing skills (to put it mildly), but we had a lot of fun and made a point of finding a spot in front of the one woman who invariably wore a thong leotard with tights (yes, tights) every week.
3. I like all vegetables.  Every one of 'em.  Haven't met one I don't like.
 the little one eating raw hot peppers from the garden.  yikes!

4. The first team sport I ever did was soccer at the YMCA.  Memories: my socks were so big that they went to my thighs and still had room to fold them over for an attractive contrasting color effect; my team won zero games the entire season, and the only one in which they tied was the only one I didn't attend; I taught the other defense players to do the can-can, which we did during a game at least once and may explain why we didn't win.
5. My dad and I have done two half-marathons together, although I'm pretty sure he'd put that in slightly different terms ("My daughter made me run two half-marathons").  I've already chosen our third, and it's in October, and he's not getting out of it.
6. My son is getting interested in running.  He says "Mama run!" with a big smile and likes to run, too.  I can't wait to sign him up for a kiddie race so that he can run with other tykes and get a little medal.  He also thinks Kara Goucher is cute.  Good taste, no?  
watching Mama at the Baltimore Marathon

7.  We live on a farm with chickens, goats, one sheep, a turkey, a duck, and the normal cats and dogs.  We have a big garden with fruit trees, berry bushes, and grapes.  It's a lot of fun and also a bit of work.

berries from the garden

feeding the birds

So, that's that!  I'll be tagging someone else in the next few days.  I hope you enjoyed the randomness!