Friday, November 18, 2011

Check Out My Guest Post

You guys should all go to Rochelle Melander's blog over at The Write Now Coach. Why? Because I'm her guest today! I met Rochelle online after noticing some of the great coaching work she was doing in Milwaukee. She is an author and writing coach who is currently participating in National Novel Writing Month. Her blog features posts this month to inspire others who are also participating in NaNoWriMo.

Rochelle has just released a brand new book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). Laying the foundation for fiction and nonfiction writers alike to write a book in less than a month (and survive), Write-A-Thon provides the blueprint to do it all in less than a month! Write-A-Thon contains three sections: Training, Write-A-Thon, and Recovery. Each section utilizes introductions, brief valuable essays filled with practical tools, and just enough encouragement for the writer to press on and finish what may very well be the challenge of their life (or simply the challenge of the month). Perfect for accomplished authors or those who simply write, Write-A-Thon provides the complete guidebook for brainstorming, writing, and finishing that book (preferably with all sanity intact)! 

In honor of her new book, Rochelle is giving away a copy of the book to one of our readers. There are three simple ways to enter:
1. Comment on this post.
2. Follow my blog.
3. Comment on my guest post here.

Do one, or all three. You'll get one entry for each action taken.

In addition, for the first 50 people who buy the book and email her a receipt, she will send you an encouraging postcard during November via snail mail! (

Have any of you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicago's Perfect 10 Race Report

The Race
Chicago's Perfect 10 is a new race this year. They offer a 10 Mile option and a 10k option. Both start and finish at Navy Pier and run through Grant Park. I do love running along Lake Michigan, and they were giving medals for a 10k - so I was in!

The Morning
This race called for a VERY early morning for me. The race organizers changed the start time to 7:00am just four days before race day. (There was some conflict with the Parks Dept.) So my plan of taking the train into the city was nixed since the trains don't run that early on Saturdays. They moved packet pick-up to 5:00am. I was nervous about lots of people picking up their packets that morning and wanted to be safe in case there were long lines. So I left my house at 3:30am to get there shortly after 5:00am.

Did you hear that? 3:30 AM! I remember days that ended at 3:30am. Starting at such a time seems unnatural. This meant I had to actually wake up about 2:45am. In order to prepare, I went to bed at 9:00pm. Seemed like a good idea in theory. But I tossed and turned until 12:30am - which is closer to my regular bedtime. So with just two hours of actual sleep under my belt, I gave up and just got up before the alarm even went off.

The drive into Chicago was the easiest EVER! Apparently, most people believe they shouldn't be out at such a ridiculous hour on a Saturday either. Driving all by my loneseome on the Eden Expressway was a little eerie. I felt like it was the apocalypse or something.

The Expo
I arrived at Navy Pier shortly after 5:00am. There were a few athletically dressed folks meandering through the parking garage, but we certainly weren't fighting over parking spots. So that was one great perk of the early hour.

I made my way up to the expo and picked up my race packet. I didn't have to worry about lines. There was no one there yet. And they seemed to be very well-organized. Race shirt was nice - a long sleeve tech shirt. I'm not a huge fan of red though.

The 10 Mile runners got the same shirt in a dusty blue color. I LOVED that color! But, it wasn't worth the extra four miles. Those folks deserved the "cool" shirt. I didn't spend a lot of time looking at the booths at the expo. I was tired and just wanted to relax a little. I texted Lynn and Timre who were both meeting up with me this morning.

Timre lives in Chicago and was heading over with a friend of hers who was running the 10 miles. Timre and I agreed to just walk the 10k together since neither of us had been training properly at all. Lynn would be running the 10k.

Soon we all met up outside the expo. Its so nice to have friends to do these events with. Even though we are all at different levels and abilty as far as running is concerned - we can meet up before, during, or after, and share our experiences. I just love that.

The Start
It was cold. About 35 degrees. Most of the runners stayed inside Navy Pier until just before the start of the race. It was nice having such a big indoor venue (and indoor bathrooms) with the starting line directly out the door. So we didn't freeze to death before the race even started. Loved that. Timre and I lined up at the back of the pack and took a few pictures.

I made it abundantly clear that I was not running this race. It was just my way of easing back into training and logging some miles. I was sleep-deprived and unprepared. There was a generous time limit for the 10kers, so I wasn't at all worried about time.

The Run
Have I mentioned how much I love running walking in Chicago? If I lived in Chicago I swear I would run every day. Its so beautiful. Here are a couple pics:

I realized two things during this 10k.

1. I am ridiculously out of shape. I kept comparing times to when I was running regularly and I couldn't believe the difference. It is much easier to lose your endurance than it is to get it back.

2. I could never be a power-walker. I noticed this in Boston when I was walking with Lynda too. Her and Timre both have very fast walking paces. I don't. And things seem to hurt more when I walk. I'm actually more comfortable at a slow jog than I am walking. I just didn't have the endurance for it.

Overall, it was a good experience. I did have to run to catch up to Timre a few times. She was perfectly okay with leaving me in the dust if I didn't keep up :) So anytime I stopped to take pictures or if I slowed to a "normal" walk I found myself having to run just to keep pace with her walk. I was thankful to have the extra push though.

At the end of the race we were handed one of these little beauties:

It totally made the early morning worth it. I'm a sucker for the bling.

The Recap
I liked this race. It was smaller than some of the Chicago events. They had 3,000 registered, but I don't think that many showed up since there was some who were angry about that last-minute time change. But for those of us that showed up, it was perfect. The course wasn't crowded and was well marked. They seemed to have plenty of volunteers. For an inagaural event, it seemed to run very smoothly. I especially appreciated the race day packet pick-up. So many of the Chicago races don't allow for same day pick-up and it means an extra two hour trip just to pick up a bib number. I hate that. (Unless they have a really great expo....but they usually don't.) I would definitely do this race again.

And I'm guaranteed a better time next year :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No Excuses!

Today is the one day of the year you can't use the "I don't have time to exercise" excuse. You have a free hour today. Go use it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back to Basics

This past week has taught me quite a bit.

Most importantly: in order to keep my crazy life from overwhelming me, I need to focus on the simple things. The basics. Because worrying about whether or not I can reach an impossible deadline or run a marathon next November is not going to help me accomplish either. But making sure I get those 30 minutes of exercise in - that will help me do both.

I didn't get my long run in this week. In fact, the longest run I got in was only three miles. And calling it a run really does require quite a stretch of one's imagination. And its not because I'm not motivated. I am. I think a big part of it is that I haven't found a route I'm comfortable running. I recently moved and my new neighborhood is not nearly as well lit as my former one. I'm on a cul-de-sac with lots of wooded areas. The kids enjoy it. But it just freaks me out. We all know how well I deal with strange noises and shadowy figures. I'm a wuss. I really took for granted how I could walk out the front door of my old house and run for 1, 3, 5, or 8 miles without too much effort put into the thought of where to go. Any route I take from this house puts me on dark streets and past creepy woods, without a sidewalk in sight. And, oh yea, there's a cemetery too. Maybe its just because its Halloween and I HATE Halloween. Yep, I said it. I hate it. Its the worst time of the year for me. I can't wait until November 1st when I can start decorating for Thanksgiving and Christmas, planning menus, and enjoying much merriment without passing houses decked out in orange lights and spider webs.

Also, since I'm basically starting over after a long running hiatus, I'm more self-conscious about running. I miss the solitude of my old running trail. Running there really helped me focus on the run and not worry about who was peeking out their window and whether or not the tech fabric was doing its job of containing the jiggle. So that is the excuse I have for not putting as much effort into the "runs" this past week. I'm really not so far from that trail. I may just have to get in my car and drive there, at least for the longer runs.

So getting my 30 minutes of "other" exercise in each day has helped me feel a little better about the measly number of miles I've logged. And cutting up all those veggies instead of throwing them out at the end of the week - I feel good about that. I also realized I haven't been drinking the amount of water I should be. So I got back into the habit of filling up a half gallon container and drinking that each day. We forget about those little things once we've been running awhile. We get more concerned about the stats on the Garmin, or whether or not those compression socks come in the right color to match that cute running skirt, or if the awesome Bondi Band people will be at the next expo....and so on. But I had to remind myself that, when it comes right down to it, its the basics that really matter.

Move more, eat the right fuel, drink lots of water, and get enough rest.

I'll let the professional runners worry about negative splits right now. I just need to find a running route that keeps me safe from zombies, town gossips, and my overactive imagination.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


You would think good health and a personal sense of accomplishment would be incentive enough to stick with an exercise plan, right? But, I suppose if that were that case we would all have a lot more company out there on the trails and in the gyms. Truth is, I just don't do much unless there is something in it for me....or if there is something painfully horrible that will happen if I don't.

So I'm being very conscious this go-round about keeping myself on track. I'm using rewards, reminders, and any sort of motivator I can think of as I embark on my next round of training.

Races. I love races. So each time I finish one race I will allow myself to sign up for one or two more.

Clothes. I don't even have to buy many. I have so many cute clothes I bought last year that I can't fit into right now - so I can pretty much just shop in my basement as I lose weight.

Running Gear. There are some items I've really been wanting to buy. So I put together a little list of these "prizes" that I will allow myself to indulge on as I hit certain goals.

Vacation Planning. I love me a good vacation! And, if I could, I would spend all day, every day planning them out. So now I'm using it as a reward. On Sunday nights, if I have completed all my training for the week I will sit down in front of the computer with a drink and celebrate with a new destination :) I have a few trips in the works to spend the time on too. I suspect by the time November 2012 rolls around, my little trip to Tulsa for the marathon may just turn into a two week romp along Route 66.

Training Schedule. I plastered all eight pages of Jeff Galloway's training plan for the Tinkerbell Half on my bedroom door. I can't go anywhere or do anything without seeing it staring me right in the face.

30 Minutes a Day. Jeff Galloway's plan only calls for three days of running a week, so I'm also including an additional 30 minutes of walking or cross-training each day. This is on my daily To Do List and seems pretty easy to accomplish since I don't call it "training" :) I track this, along with other daily chores, at a Its amazing how important it is for me to get to give myself a little stamp each day. Its like I'm five - but it works.

Mastermind Group. I have started including my fitness goals, along with my business goals, when participating in my mastermind group. Knowing that I will have to report the following week on my progress keeps me accountable.

101 Kicks in the Butt. I printed out this article from Runner's World and I have it in a document holder on my desk. So if I ever feel sluggish I can just scan it and pick out a tip that works for me that day.

Seeing Myself on Video. I have to put together some videos in the upcoming months. And while I think I look a supermodel, its apparent that YouTube does not share the same perspective.

This Blog. The comments I get here and the people I meet through this blog have given me more inspiration and motivation than I ever imagined. I seriously think you guys know more about me and understand me better than people I talk with in person every day. So I'm going to be more diligent about posting - at least three times a week.

Route 66 Marathon. This is a HUGE motivator for me. I had hoped to do it last year. I realized over the summer that I was nowhere near where I needed to be in order to participate. This year I will not allow myself to back down from the challenge. I even have people who will be there to cheer me on next year - which makes me think it was just meant to be to happen in 2012!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Training for 2012

I miss my bloggy friends! I'm so thankful I'm friends with some of you on Facebook so that I could at least keep up with all the fun stuff you are doing. I didn't consciously intend on taking this long of a break, but it happened. Things got overwhelming for me. I moved, started school, dealt with a death in my family, and I'm launching a new business. It took some serious fortitude to just get through some of those days. But now I've just returned from a two week vacation in Florida, which was exactly what I needed!

As much as I gripe about training, every time I take a break from running I realize that I miss it. So I've signed up for a couple races and climbed back on the wagon.

I was supposed to have run Disney's Wine and Dine Half Marathon on October 1st. But plans changed when my teenage son realized Homecoming was that weekend. We butted heads about the vacation for a couple weeks and then I realized that I needed to back down for this particular battle. I didn't want to take the boy kicking and screaming, and I tried to remember what it was like to be 15 and in the midst of your first real relationship. I soon realized that we could compromise on the vacation. So we left a couple days later and stayed a few days longer. It all worked out. The boy had a fantastic night, I still got my Disney fix, and no one was emotionally scarred in the process.

The biggest casualty of this compromise was the race. I didn't arrive in Orlando until the wee hours of the morning on October 3rd. So, even though both my son and I were signed up to run the half - it just wasn't in the cards. And, truthfully, I was so ill-prepared that I can't imagine I would've had a good race. I did, however, have an amazing vacation! I just love Disney World during the Food and Wine Festival! Its my favorite time to visit. And I do believe next year I will be taking my first solo trip to Disney World so that my two teenagers don't miss out on all the happenings that became an issue this year.

I kind of feel like I'm starting from scratch here. I'm armed with all sorts of great information I've learned over the past year, but my body is back at square one. And that's okay. I will own it, take my baby steps, and work towards my next half in January!

I updated my race schedule to include the races I'm planning on for next year. I'm most excited for the Tinkerbell! I just can't wait for that one. Have you seen that medal? Its awesome.

And the Tinkerbell in the middle spins....and it says Inaugural on it. I'm a sucker for any "special" medal that you can only get that year. And when the marketing folks put the words "Special Commemorative Medal" together - well, I usually just sign up right then and there. That's what they did over at the Boston Athletic Association with the new Distance Medley they created. You run the 5k in April, the 10k in June, and then the Half in October. You get medals for each of those races and then a "Special Commemorative Medal" if you run all three. I'm already planning on the 5k, so I'm seriously considering those other two. Its only two more flights to Boston, right? I mean, you get an extra medal. It makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

Here is another medal I'm gonna travel for:

Its big. It has moving parts. AND it lights up. Yes, please!

Next year will also be the year for my first full marathon. I've decided it will happen at the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, guessed it! They give a special medal for first-timers there. Its perfect for me. I'm scared, but I'm starting my training right now!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Plan, The Execution, and The Bright Side

This was my plan for the day: Get shit done. Run six miles.

I've been spending many, many hours in front of my computer reading, and researching, and connecting with people about some new business ventures. And while its all very exciting and mentally stimulating, I'm finding myself frustrated with how little is actually done at the end of the day.

So today was less about planning and more about executing. Hence, my declaration - twitter style.

This morning I was aflutter with activity. Crossing off check-boxes; tackling actual, real-life projects; opening actual, real-life mail with envelopes and was all quite productive. Then, in one of my whirlwind trips down the stairs, I stepped on my foot all funky. Ouch! My initial thought was: I knew I should've gotten those miles in first thing this morning!

Its not a major injury or anything. Mostly it feels fine. But at certain times it just lets me know its mad by shooting a sharp little pain up to my brain. So my brain decided that I would continue working on the plan and just move the run to later in the evening after my foot felt better.

I did end up logging some miles, but only 4.2 miles. And I had to walk them. The foot didn't hurt too bad until after the first mile. Then I would just get these sharp pains every now and again. Not constant - just intermittently. But it bothered me enough to call it quits before I reached the 6 miles originally on the books.

However, in my effort to silence the negative self-talk that lives inside my head, I've decided to look at the glittery lining of my little scenario.

1. Sometimes the plan needs to adapt to changes in the situation. That doesn't mean its a fail.

2. While 4.2 miles of walking is no 6 miles of running - at least its not a big, fat zero!

3. Even though my plan was not perfectly executed, I didn't abandon it completely. (This is a win for me since I would normally have relished the excuse to sit on the couch and watch old Disney movies all day while my poor, little tootsie was resting.)

4. I got uncomfortable and didn't die.

I just can't help but think that if the plan for the day had been:
Run six miles. Get shit done....this all may have turned out differently!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Not Giving Up

I'm not a very good blogger.

I get that.

I seriously don't know how some of you other bloggers manage to get your posts up here every day, looking all perfect, and saying just what I want to read. I truly admire your dedication and the hard work you put into your posts.

I won't beat myself up too badly about my lack of posting. This blog is meant to be about running. And, frankly, I haven't been. So there's not much to write. I have had a mighty productive couple of weeks plotting out the course for the rest of my life. You know....little things like that. Its this sort of cathartic chaos that calms me.

And today I stopped long enough to realize that the Wine and Dine half marathon in 80 days away.  OhGeezOhMan. And Mr. Jeff Galloway says I should've had a long run of 6.5 miles on the handy dandy training calendar. Oops.

I kind of thought of giving up on the whole running thing for awhile since I have so much going on. Which, in essence, would mean I would be giving up on this blog too. Don't worry - those naughty thoughts didn't last too long. So since I wasn't finding inspiration in myself of late, I decided to go find it where everyone else goes to look for it.....YouTube.

And sure enough. The YouTube Gods worked their magic and I was presented with this little number.

Good grief! To paraquote Humphery Bogart in Casablana: I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that my problems don’t amount to a hill of beans in comparison.

I don't know where competitors get this kind of mental toughness. It is definitely my weak spot. I'm just too much of a princess. And when things hurt - I stop. I need to learn to get uncomfortable. So, that is what I will be doing. I will try not to whine too much in the process.

But I've learned that there is absolutely no reason why I can't see this through. And even on days when I feel like giving up - I'm not gonna. I'm scheduling that long run for Thursday next week since I will be out of town again over the weekend. You hear that? Thursday! If you don't hear from me, its because I'm avoiding you and I don't want to fess up that I didn't git 'er done.

No excuses.

Unless I tear a hamstring. Because, seriously, I just can't take that kind of hurt.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Helpful Resources

I thought I'd take the time to put all the helpful stuff I've learned, and websites I have been using in one place. I really didn't know where to start when I began running, but found some truly helpful websites, people, and products along the way.

And I am not cool enough for any of these people to pay me or give me free stuff. These are really just things, places, and people I love.

In the spirit of full disclosure: the links I have to products available at amazon are linked to my affiliate account. So I will get a nominal kickback. But it doesn't cost you any more to use the link and I only list them here if that is the cheapest place to get the product online.

Coach Lesley at Racing it Off : Lesley is awesome. I trained with her as my coach earlier this year and it was great to have the personalized attention and those motivating emails. I learned a lot from her and will be asking her to train me for my full marathon next year.

Jeff Galloway Wine and Dine Training Schedule : I'm using the beginner version of this schedule since I've been slacking a bit these last few months. He recommends running three days a week in his program. But I'm gonna add a fourth day because that is what I was doing with Lesley and I think it works best for me. I find I have a hard time sticking to a schedule if I have too many days off.

Rails to Trails : I love this program. They take abandoned railroad tracks and repurpose them into running and biking trails. I have a trail near my home that I use frequently. And when I travel I check to find trails I can use in other cities. I'm still not comfortable running in town, so I find I push myself much harder when I have the privacy of these types of trails to shelter onlookers from the jiggly're welcome neighbors :)

Dailymile :  I love, love, love dailymile! Those of you following me there may not feel the love since I've been MIA lately, but its just 'cause I have nothing to enter. Not to worry though - I will be back! Dailymile is a wonderfully supportive community of runners/walkers/athletes. It keeps track of your mileage each week and allows you to send and receive motivation to others. You can also build a profile that lists your upcoming races. Its fun to meet up with other dailymilers who are running the same races you are.

Log Your Run : I use this site mostly to keep track of the mileage on my shoes and to post workouts to Facebook. Dailymile also allows you to share workouts on Facebook, but its a little too much info for some of my friends over there. I don't need some of my not-as-supportive Facebook friends mingling with my uber-cool dailymile friends. There are lots of free tools on log your run. I don't use many of them, but I really like knowing how many miles are on my shoes.

My Fitness Pal : This is a really easy-to-use site for logging your food intake. I like to keep track of my calories, protein, carbs, fiber, and sodium. But you can set it up to track whichever nutrients are important to you. The food database is huge and there have only been a handful of times when I've went to enter a food that isn't included. Although, it is simple to manually enter new foods into the database and use them again in the future. You can also track exercise and get historical reports. There is a community section there too, but I don't utilize it.
FRS : I love these products. Sometimes you can find a good deal on their website, but amazon usually has them beat. I tolerate these FRS Healthy Energy Pineapple Mango Chews way better than some of the other energy gels/beans out there. My favorite energy drink is the new apricot nectarine and the low-cal citrus pomegranate. My fav protein drink is the blueberry acai. (Those I get directly from the FRS website when they offer free shipping.)
Xagave Organic Raw Agave with Fiber: I am seriously in love with this stuff! You can use regular agave nectar too, but this particular brand tastes awesome and has the added benefit of inulin which adds fiber and calcium to the mix. Agave Nectar is a low glycemeic sweetener that has fewer calories and a higher mineral content than regular sugar. I bake with this stuff, my kids sweeten their tea with it, and I especially like it drizzled on grapefruit. This particular configuration from amazon comes with two bottles that have flip-top caps (convenient for said drizzling) and lasts quite a long time. They do sell other sizes though.
Green Tea : I am a huge tea drinker. I like all sorts; red, chai, white, green, and black. My favorite in the summer is green tea though. A few months ago this Yogi Blueberry Green Tea sucked me in with the "slim life" claim on the box. I bought it because it is organic and it was a heck of a good deal. It also has ginseng and garcinia cambogia which is supposed to suppress your appetite. I can't attest to those claims, but it is pretty darn good and I've been drinking lots of it. I got six boxes of the stuff for a little over $14.00 and I'm stocked up till the end of the year!
Spinach Smoothies : I have gotten LOTS of feedback on this post. I find myself craving these drinks and have tried all sorts of variations. Spinach/Frozen Cantaloupe, Spinach/Frozen Mixed Berries/Banana, Spinach/Frozen Strawberries/Kiwi, etc. But my all-time fav is still the original Spinach/Strawberry/Banana one featured in the post. I have been adding chia seeds to them lately though. Chia seeds are totally getting their own post soon :)
Food Inc : This movie totally changed how I look at food. You can watch the entire movie on Netflix if you are a subscriber. I eat way more unprocessed and locally grown food now. It makes a HUGE difference in how I feel.
Much of the motivation I get comes from other bloggers. Here are some of my very favorites:

Also, signing up for races motivates me to keep going. I find nearby events using and searching for running events near my zip code.

This blog does A LOT to keep me motivated. Interacting with other bloggers and folks who comment go a long way to keep me chugging along.

John, The Penguin, Bingham : Making us back-of-the-packers feel good about ourselves.

And here are some movies that always make me feel like I can accomplish anything once I'm done watching:
Spirit of the Marathon : You can watch this for free at I found it inspirational.
Without Limits : The incredible story of Steve Prefontaine. Available on Netflix if you've got it.
Run for your Life : The story of how the NYC Marathon got started and how Fred Lebow started a movement.

Bondi Bands : These are great! I'm wearing one in my profile picture, and just about every time I run. I don't like wearing hats. These do a great job of keeping the sweat out of my face and keeping my ears warm during chilly runs. : This is not a product, but my go-to place to buy most of my running gear. They don't always have the best selection, but when they have something in your size - you need to snatch it up right away. The inventory changes frequently. I find the best way to use the site is to search for the particular size and brand I'm looking for first. Otherwise it can get a little frustrating since not everything is available in all sizes. I have gotten phenomenal deals here. The Saucony Progrid shoes I'm currently wearing were retailing for $140 - I got them here for $72. Also, they have a good selection of plus-size workout clothes. I like the Nike Dri-Fit duds and usually get them here for 50% off.

Garmin Forerunner: I can no longer even leave the house for a run without my Garmin. I have the older 305 model, which you can now get on amazon for pretty darn cheap. I'm sure the new model is great too. I wrote a post about my Garmin, Gary. He totally changed the way I run. I love the stats and using the heart rate monitor. The only thing I dislike about this unit is the wristband. Hated it! But I rectified the situation with this much more comfortable replacement bandand have been in love ever since.

I hope this helps someone. I remember feeling a little lost when I first started out. I've tried a lot of things that I just didn't like or just didn't work. I hope this saves some legwork for those just starting out.

I will continue to add to this post as I find helpful people, places and things. Right now I'm searching for some anti-fog sunglasses. I sweat like crazy and can never run with sunglasses because they just end up a yucky, foggy mess. Any suggestions?

What are some of your favorite websites/people/products?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chicago Rock n Roll 5k

Looky here! A race report the *actual* day I complete the race! I know you guys are all sorts of impressed with me now.

Truth is, I almost didn't make it to Chicago today. The logistics of this race were proving to be a major pain in the patookey. And then my daughter suddenly got sick Saturday morning. My friend, Dee, also didn't think she was gonna make this race due to a schedule conflict. But, thanks to my daughter's equally sudden recovery, and Dee's change in plans - we were able to make everything come together!

My friend, Lynn, had posted about this race on Facebook awhile back. It took me all of about 1 1/2 minutes to sign up once I learned it was a 5k AND you got a medal. I love my growing collection of medals. And I especially like adding to it when I only have to lug my butt 3.1 miles :)

Check out our cool sequential bib numbers. We must've been within seconds of each other when filling out those online registrations.

So, lets back up.....

Dee lives about an hour and 15 minutes from me. I live about two hours northwest of Chicago. Lynn lives about an hour southwest of Chicago.

Dee was gonna spend the night at my house so we could leave bright and early Sunday morning to make the 8am race start. Lynn scored a good deal on a hotel room downtown and decided to stay in Chicago Saturday night. Dee and I had originally planned to take a train into Chi-Town, but after some contemplating - decided to drive. The Sunday train schedule kind of stinks for those of us north of the city. And the race was by Montrose Harbor anyway, which is about as north of Chicago as you can get.

We arose at 4am in order to get ready. We left the house a little before 5am, stopped for gas, picked up some coffee, and had an uneventful drive south of the border. We arrived at our perfect parking spot a little after 7am.

We had to pick up our race packets so we got into a ridiculously long line that led to ONE tent. This was really the only thing that could've been better about this race. They did not have packets organized by last name, or have separate lines organized by race was just one big ole line leading to one little ole tent. It was kind of a cluster. The volunteers did their best to get everyone through, but it was a little unorganized.

After we attached our bibs and timing chips we needed to pitstop at the potties. Holy long line, Batman! We had to wait longer than we wanted, and we were cutting it awfully close to the start of the race. But, we did make it. Had we taken the train, we probably wouldn't have made it.

I was supposed to meet up with a fellow blogger before the race and had to text her about our time crunch. She was already lined up at the start line while we were lined up at the porta-potties, so we decided to meet afterwards.

I did not run much of this race. The three of us decided to stay together and ended up chit-chatting the whole time. Lynn is way faster than Dee and I, and we told her to run her race and meet us at the end. But we all decided this was gonna be a more laid back 5k for us. Dee was having some pain in her leg. And I am just so miserably out of shape right now, that we all enjoyed the slower pace and the company.

Once we finished we got our cool medals.

And picked up our finisher flip flops. (I totally had to sneak that medal in again. Its a great medal!)

And I finally got to meet up with a blogger friend from "From Couch Potato to Half Marathon Competitor". Timre is super nice and offered to pick up my race packet from the Soldier Field 10 Miler I had to flake on. I had to help my Mom up north that weekend and felt pretty bad about cancelling on her. I offered to give her my t-shirt since I now have the dilemma of not being able to wear it since I didn't run the race. Worse yet - its a really cute stinkin' shirt! Sure. The shirts I get for the races I run and am "qualified" to wear always manage to be butt ugly. This is, perhaps, one of the cutest shirts I've gotten and runner's code forbids me to wear it. Thankfully, the shirt also runs really small and I couldn't wear it if I tried. If I were to manage to get it over my head and my ample boobage it would pretty much serve the purpose of a sausage casing. And I fear I would never get it off without the help from a magician schooled in the art of straight-jacket escape. It is SMALL! So, now it provides incentive. And if I lose enough weight to fit into the darn thing - I'm totally wearing it. Go ahead. Judge me. But fitting my large self into that shirt will take much more effort than it would have to run the 10 miles. So, I'm changing rules on this one. But just for this particular shirt. I promise to abide by the code otherwise.

Timre had to leave us quickly, but it was great to get to meet her. And I was super thankful for her lugging my race goodies out to me.

Another perk of this race was free beer. Our bibs each had two beer tickets on them. Granted, it was 9am. But our fearless threesome was braving the beer garden anyway. I don't drink much, but a beer actually tasted pretty good right then. I think we all enjoyed the festivities more than we thought we would. Soon people were giving us extra beer tickets right and left. Some guy even gave me an actual beer so I didn't have to get up to get my own. Sa-weeet!

Here is our collection of beer tickets from random people.

And here is all of us enjoying said beer tickets.

We made it until closing time, which came promptly at 10:30am.

Dee was nice enough to drive Lynn downtown to her hotel since the cabs up by Montrose were few and far between. We freshened up in her room and then had a nice brunch at the hotel. I'm convinced I exerted myself more during the buffet than I did the 5k. There will be no calorie deficit for me today, despite the mileage.

After brunch we said our goodbyes to Lynn and headed back to my place. We ran into crazy stupid traffic backups and it took us almost 40 minutes just to get back up to Montrose. But we were full and happy, so we managed the traffic much better than folks who had somewhere to be.

Overall, this race was great. They had some snafus with packet pickup. And they advertised two water stops on the course and we only saw one. But the perks were great.

The medal was substantial - especially for a 5k. The post-race snackage was better than average. There was some really great roasted red pepper hummus, all different types of popchips, bagels, fruit, and, of :)

All three of us are all in for this one next year.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reevaluating and Redesigning

Some of you may have noticed some changes over here at Run, Kelly, Run. I've been tinkering with the look of the blog, changing colors, experimenting with different layouts. I think I find something I like, then I change it a few days later. Its all rather representative of my state of mind lately. I just wasn't sure what I wanted to achieve with this blog.

This thing here has grown and evolved as I have. And I felt like it was in need of another update because me and my blog just haven't been "on the same page" lately. Last year the blog focused solely on me getting across the finish line for one race - my first half marathon. And when I accomplished that I wasn't sure what was next. It seemed logical that the next step would be a full marathon, and so I set that goal. But as this year progresses I realize that running 26.2 miles is not my priority this year. I know it is possible. I've seen many friends, virtual and otherwise, achieve this goal in the same length of time. But I don't have the desire to make it a priority at this point.

So I had to do a little soul-searching on what my priority truly is this year, in terms of running anyway. And I realize it is that same Wine and Dine half marathon I did last year. I really want to repeat that race when I am more prepared. I would like to drastically improve my time. And, most of all, I want to enjoy the experience and finish the race still smiling and ready to celebrate with my friends. Last year I was so miserable I just hobbled back to my room at the Boardwalk, with help from my dear friend, Dee, and with stops at each bench along the way. There was no partying or excitement. Just soreness and a definitive resolution that I would never do such a thing ever again.

My second goal is to run the Tinkerbell half in January. After the race last October, I went back to a life of no running or training. I spent the winter getting lazy and fat. Having a January race may just be the perfect solution. And, of course, there is that inaugural medal. And I seem to be motivated by shiny things that say "Inaugural" on them. Plus that will make me eligible for a Coast to Coast medal at next year's Wine and Dine. So - one race, two special medals....seems like a no-brainer.

Another goal is to finally get that full marathon checked off the bucket list. For some reason, I don't want to do this one at Disneyworld. I'm really drawn to the Route 66 marathon. I think its because they give a special medal for people who run their first marathon there. And you know me and those "special" medals. Plus I really want to integrate a Route 66 road trip into the whole thing. Not sure how those logistics would work out, but I do like the idea of that particular race. So Route 66 marathon in 2012 instead of 2011. Its still a goal, just a longer term one.

So I'm scrapping some of the other races I planned on running this year and focusing on these goals instead.
  1. Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Disneyworld: be well-trained, finish smiling, and drastically improve time.
  2. Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland: be well-trained, finish smiling, and overcome training in the winter in Wisconsin.
  3. 2012 Wine and Dine Half Marathon: get me my Coast to Coast medal!
  4. 2012 Route 66 Marathon: Finish in an upright position.
I think this is a much more realistic plan for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Racing to the Finish!

Okay, so in my last post I left Lynda and I at our water stop in Wellesley - about 13 miles away from the finish line. We needed to hightail it to downtown Boston in order to see my friend, Deb, finish the Boston Marathon.

The original plan was to leave the car in Wellesley, catch a train into town, and then walk to the finish. But the logistics of picking the car back up that night were proving to be difficult since a train would not return to that station after the race.

But we just needed to sit down and think about it for a minute. We both plopped our weary bodies into the car and looked at each other. Without talking we conveyed sentiments of, "What the heck just happened? and "Why do I feel like I just got run over by a truck?"

I do believe the first words spoken, although I'm not sure by whom, were, "Holy crap!" Then we acknowledged our lack of food, once again. We had some chips or something in the car and then came to the ironic realization that we were both thirsty and had nothing to drink.

Towards the end of our clean-up we noticed they were starting to open up parts of the streets. If they opened enough of the route to get us to our hotel in Newton we could catch the train from there and wouldn't have to deal with the headache of getting a cab to retrieve the car. We thought is was worth a shot and started driving behind the officials.

We progressed slowly, but I was pretty confident we'd make it. Once we crossed one of the major highways we'd be off the marathon route and home free. While Lynda was driving I was observing all the runners who were forced off the street and had to move to the sidewalks. All the water stops were packed up and no longer handing out those little paper cups I so look forward to when I'm running. I wanted so badly to just hang out on the side of the road so that each of the runners who were still out there could feel the same support their faster cohorts received. I am one of those slower runners. And I know all too well what it feels like when volunteers are cleaning up and I am still trying to reach that finish line. These folks still had about TEN more miles to go and they were all on their own. I saw nothing but determination in those faces. I would learn later that some runners wouldn't finish until 11pm that night. There would be no medals for them and no names announced over the loud speaker. They were pushing themselves for nothing more than the pride in saying, "I did it! I started something, and I finished it." I can't imagine what thoughts were bouncing around in their heads, what demons they were fighting, or what goals they had set for themselves. But I imagine there are some pretty remarkable stories from those runners who choose to finish the marathon on the sidewalks and in the bike lanes of Boston.

We made it to our hotel relatively quickly. The timing of when we finished and when the roads opened back up was just about perfect. Had we been staying any closer to the city we certainly wouldn't have been able to drive back. We hurried to the train station. I was surprised to see several people getting off the train who were wearing their finisher medals and sporting a post-marathon wobble-walk. Wow! We were almost 30 minutes from the finish line and these guys had already put their 26.2 miles in for the day. My mind drifted again to the runners still out there who had so many miles left to go.

Our train station was at the end of the line, which made it nice because it was easy to find a seat. But the train filled up quickly. By the time we got to downtown we were crammed into those cars pretty tight. We literally had to fight our way off the train when we reached our stop. People were just pushing in trying to get on and we were yelling, "we need to get off here" and no one would budge. It was not enjoyable. You had to physically shove people to the side and step over them to get through. Crazy!

Once we were downtown we headed towards the finish line. We knew we would make it now! The sidewalks were shoulder to shoulder people. It reminded me a lot of Bourbon St. in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. It was a fun, festive atmosphere. Everyone was friendly and cheerful. There was just A LOT of people! We continued to push and weave our way towards the finish. There was no such thing as personal space anymore. In fact, I'm pretty sure things got friendly enough that someone somewhere owes me a drink :)

Eventually we found a spot right up at the rail so we could see everyone turning the corner onto Boylston Street. I seriously could not contain my excitement. I was clapping and yelling for everyone. And it was super cool because I recognized many of the runners from mile 13.2. You would think they would all start to look alike, but that wasn't the case at all. Lynda started pointing out people she remembered too. It was highly emotional.

Then I saw her! I saw Deb! She was smiling from ear to ear. I was yelling her name, but it took her awhile to notice us in the crowd. She ran over by our side of the street and I had my camera all set and perfectly framed.....and then.....I hit the power button. Yep. I just turned it right off. Once in a lifetime shot and I turned the freakin' camera off. Deb didn't realize this and had to keep running of course. She was almost to the finish!

The guy next to me said, "I got a great picture of her." Which, to a normal person, in a normal frame of mind, would mean hey, let's exchange email addresses and you can hook me up with that great picture you got of my friend running her first Boston stinkin' marathon.

Nope. Instead, I blurt out a quick "thanks", tell Lynda, "I'm gonna go see her finish", and bolt off. I just left my friend there in the dust. Left Nice Camera Dude hangin' and thought I could run to the finish line on the sidewalk. Yes, I was delusional. I can see that now. But, at the time, I was channeling my inner action star and gazelle-running through the crowd with my feet barely touching the pavement. It was all very surreal. Sadly, what was happening in my mind and what I was able to make happen in real life were two totally different things.

I didn't make it very far when I realized the finish was much further than I thought. And Deb is much faster than I. So I really don't know what I was thinking. I was just caught up in it all. But I admitted defeat and looked back to see Lynda in the distance. That bright green jacket was mighty handy in situations such as this.

The plan was to meet up with Deb and some of her other friends at the Westin, so we headed that way. The rest of the night was more relaxing. We waited in a ballroom that the Liver Foundation had set up while Deb showered and got her massage. Later we walked to the nearest Au Bon Pain for a sammie with Deb and her husband, Dave. We were all ecstatic at the thought of actual food. Dave graciously offered to drive us back to the hotel so we didn't have to endure the train ride home. This decision also required that we forgo the post-race party. I was hesitant about this. I REALLY wanted to go. I could tell Lynda was on the fence too. But we were beat, and the thought of being crowded in the train with all those people in order to go to a party where we would be crowded with all those people was just not appealing. The private car ride to the hotel won and we called it a night.

I spent the next day in Boston sight-seeing with Lynda. Afterwards, we had an amazing farewell dinner with Deb, drinking some of those....

and then I left bright and early Wednesday morning back to Milwaukee. It was a whirlwind of a trip, but not one I will soon forget.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Volunteering at the Boston Marathon

I was so excited for this day! I knew it would be full of new experiences and interesting people. Plus I was just so excited for Deb. She had worked so hard for this race.

It was another early morning for us. We had to get to "our" water stop before they closed the roads. We were stationed at Mile 13.2 in Wellesley. It was a beautiful little town. We had scoped it out the night before to make sure we knew where we were going. We arrived early enough to wander downtown for a coffee. By the time we returned the water stop organizers had arrived and other volunteers were filtering in. It was a little chilly, but I thought it was perfect running weather!

We were handed our jackets and hats. The jackets were made by adidas. They were green with black stripes - the opposite of the marathoners' finishers jackets, which were black with green stripes. I really liked them. And kinda felt bad that the marathoners had to pay $85.00 for theirs. I certainly wasn't working as hard as they were. (At least that's what I thought at this point.)

There were about 30 of us scurrying around setting up tables, coolers, and big ole jugs o water. We had 18 tables. Nine on each side of the street. The first three on each side were Gatorade and the others were water. We chose the very last water stop. We knew that's where all the cool kids were coming.

It took a couple hours to set up. There was lots of cups, lots of pouring, and lots of wind to battle. But I couldn't get over the beauty of our location and the near perfect weather. (Other than the wind, of course. Which, apparently was working to the runners' advantage. Just not helpful if you're setting up 100s of paper cups and plastic banners.)

Here are some pics before the runners started coming through.

And there is me and Lynda in our stylin' orange Liver Foundation hats and "matching" green jackets.

And I seriously loved these signs that were along the route.

We got a last minute pep talk from the organizers telling us how hard these next few hours would be and giving us some pointers. They handed out some great pins that were replicas of the medals all the finishers would receive. We also got tickets for the post race party at the House of Blues later that night. I know I've said this before, but it was all very exciting.

Here is Lynda demonstrating the proper way to execute the two-finger pinch-and-release technique. No one warned us that by the end of the day we'd have to do this while holding four cups in the other hand.

We saw the wheelchair participants first. They don't stop for water, so we just got to join in with the rest of the crowd cheering and taking pictures.

We also saw some of these guys. They were walking the marathon course in full gear and looked seriously hot and miserable. I didn't see any of them take water, but maybe they did. They kept to the other side of the street.

Soon the elite runners started coming through. We didn't need all the water stop folks since there was usually just a few runners at a time, so I took the opportunity to take more pictures.

I love this one because it shows a great action shot of the lady at the table in front of me.
After a few pics I joined in on the fun. I did take another short break to update my Facebook status to: "handed water to a Kenyan at the Boston Marathon". In a life of normally un Facebook-worthy events, I needed to take advantage of the coolness of it all. It was one of those days where you are just living life. No worries, no mundane tasks vying for your attention - just the pure bliss of doing some exciting, and maybe even a wee bit meaningful.

After the elite athletes came through everyone was totally pumped up. It was a great sense of community. But I was oblivious as to what was about to happen. The wave of runners passing by grew and grew with each passing minute. It is all a blur as to how it happened or when it happened. But there were thousands of runners reaching for cups on both sides of us. We were running back and forth to the table trying to keep up with the demand. A runner would catch my eye or give me a nod to signal they were eyeballing the small little cup of relief I was holding. Some would point to one of us as they approached so there was no confusion. It was actually a little stressful trying to make sure the paper cup went from my hand to theirs without hitting the ground. These were still very fast runners and no one was slowing down for drinks. Every second counted.

The hoards of people never stopped. It was a constant stream for hours. I have never seen that many people in all my life. And I was stationed smack dab in the middle of them all. There were times when I couldn't move for fear of being run over. Everyone was super appreciative. There were lots of thank-yous and friendly smiles. I still remember some of those faces. The determination and perseverance. I knew each one of them had their own story.

At one point this guy stopped next to me and said, "Hey, watergirl."

Umm...hi. (Really, in my head, it was more of a Joey-esque How YOU doin'? But a meek little umm..hi was all I could conjure up in the real world.)

He was a good looking, tall, ray of sunshine. He was waiting for his wife and friend who were using the porta-potties. He was just beaming and you would've never guessed the man had just run 13.2 miles. He joked, "How 'bout those Kenyans? Are they very far ahead? You think I can catch them?"

"Ya know, they did pass through here awhile ago. But you might be able to catch them if you have a little kick left in ya."

We exchanged witty banter and he helped me hand out water. It was hysterical. He stopped running the Boston freakin' marathon and started handing out water to the other runners with me. He was selling it too, with calls of "Get your water here! Best water on the course!" Once his wife showed up she got in on the action too. She was equally as good-looking and as charismatic as her husband. At one point I left them both out on the course while I refilled cups at our table. I don't know if they were famous or not. But there was a photographer who ran up and started snapping all sorts of pics. They were certainly celebrities in my eyes though. They brought a nice dose of humor and humility to the middle of the day. As they ran away I looked up from our table and I saw him waving above the crowd and screaming, "Bye water lady!!!!!"

Lynda was watching all of this from behind me and not sure what was going on. I filled her in inbetween trips to refill with more cups.

I did not at all expect this volunteer gig to be as difficult as it was. It truly was almost nonstop work. Lynda was surprised too. Those big jugs of water don't lift themselves. And trying to keep on top of the water and cup supply for hours on end really didn't seem like it would be so exhausting. I have a WHOLE new appreciation for those race volunteers. There were over 20,000 runners who ran past us that Monday. I'm not sure how many I handed water to, but I do know there were at least that many cups to clean up!
I thought there would be street sweepers or something. Nope. We picked all those cups up with rakes, shovels, and garbage bags. Whew!

I had left my water post to get a little head start on the cleanup since things were dying down a little. Soon I heard Deb yelling my name. I was so happy to see her!

Lynda got a picture of me........

taking this picture of Deb.

I'm glad it wasn't as busy so we could chat a little and get some more photo ops.

After Deb left to run another 13 miles Lynda and I worked on the monumental clean-up job. Then we raced to the finish line ourselves in order to see Deb finish. I'll finish the day up in another post. This one is getting a little long.

The Boston 5K

To say this post is overdue is a bit of an understatement. But I'm writing it anyway.

Getting ready for my trip to Boston was overwhelming. It was just really difficult timing with my classes. So by the time I got to the airport Saturday evening, I was feeling a little wiped. My day had been a flurry of cleaning and list-making and laundry and packing.

I called my Mom on the way to the airport. She was staying with my kids and assured me she was on her way. I called the kids to make sure they knew I loved them. And before I knew it I was in the familiar surroundings of Mitchell International Airport. I even scored a mighty fine parking spot right near the door on Level 3 of the parking garage. Things were looking up!

I was cutting it pretty close to boarding time, so I hightailed it to the gate. I had printed my boarding passes online and was only taking a carry-on, so no need to visit the fine folks at the ticket counter. I breezed through security relatively painlessly. I actually enjoy traveling alone. It is so much easier.

Turns out I was cutting it closer than I thought. I found my gate and realized I hadn't eaten all day. So I was gonna grab a sammie for the plane. No go. They were just about to begin boarding. No big. I would just get something during the flight. Again....that would be a no go. I'm so used to my three hour flight to Florida that I forgot this flight was just barely two hours. So they were not serving anything but snacks. Oh well, I could eat something once I got to the hotel.

I boarded the plane and took my super-comfy Business Class seat. Oh yea! That was certainly one of the best decisions I had made all week. When I was checking in online I saw the flight was full. I had a choice of a window seat back in the tail end of the plane or a few options of middle seats throughout the plane. The bad thing about not traveling with my kids is that I don't have the comfort of sitting next to little people who don't mind my cushyness spilling over into their seats. The good thing about not traveling with my kids is that it is much cheaper to upgrade one ticket than it is to upgrade three. So I splurged. It was worth every, single dime! The seat was awesome. The free vodka and cranberry soothed my nerves. And the nice flight attendant was practically throwing snacks at us. Not the ONE bag of pretzels the poor schumks in the back of the plane got. No. We got to choose from a basket of cookies and snack mixes. Multiple times. Its the little things that make me happy :)

So it was an uneventful flight. I got into Logan around 10ish I think. I called my friend Lynda who had flown out from California two days prior. She had a rental car and offered to pick me up. This went waaaay beyond the call of duty. She was driving in a strange city, in a strange car, at night, in the rain. She had to wait in the cell phone lot until I landed so I scurried out to the pick-up location. While I waited I called my Mom to make sure she made it to the house safely. She still wasn't there! What the heck? I'm already in Boston and she was still 30 minutes from my house. Apparently, she needed to stop to do some shopping. I gave her some flack about it, but was thankful she was almost there.

Soon Lynda pulled up. I waited at the back of the car for her to pop the trunk for my bags. I had forgotten this was a rental and poor Lynda had no idea where any of the buttons were. She gets out in the rain and had to  use the key....oops. I suppose I could've just put that in the back seat. But I did just get out of Business Class and I was accustomed to being waited on.

The ride to the hotel was a quick one. Lynda gave me the run-down of her last two days. She had attended the expo with Deb (who is running the marathon on Monday) and filled me in on the goodies they bought. We finally get to the hotel and I realize there is nowhere nearby to eat. Oh well. Thank goodness for the snack fairy. It also dawned on me that I had to get up in a few hours to run a 5k. When was this a good idea?

Now here is the fun part. I walked into the room and Lynda had already picked out her bed. There are all sorts of presents strewn on my bed. It was like Christmas! I really wish I had gotten a picture, but I was just too excited to think of it.

She had picked up my race packet for me, so that was there. The shirt was AWESOME! No advertising on it at all, which I LOVED! She had picked up a poster from the expo for me. Some samples of sunscreen and wraps and whatnot. Plus there was the Bondi Band I had "ordered" from them. They found the exact perfect one I wanted. She gave me a tech shirt from the Princess that didn't fit her and a cool hanger for my medals. It was pretty awesome. I totally recommend rooming with Lynda if you ever have the chance.

We figured out logistics for the next day and chit-chatted for awhile until finally going to bed sometime after midnight. I did not sleep well at all. It was kind of noisy in the room above us. And it rained all night. So, again, I was really not looking forward to running.

I think we got up around 5am or something stupid like that. I got all primped up. The irony of drying my hair before I went out in the rain to run 3.1 miles was not lost on Lynda. She just shook her head and looked the other way.

So lets speed this breakfast, short walk to train, 25ish minute ride into downtown, found friends near the start line, rain had pretty much stopped.

Deb was there to support us which was super awesome of her. We were also meeting up with a Massachusetts friend who was running with us. (Well, really running in front of us!) I was tired, but really enjoyed the excitement of the city. You could feel the energy and anticipation all around. And it wasn't for this race. It was for Monday. And everyone knew it.

The three of us: Lynda, Tracy and I waited for the race to start while Deb found a place near the finish. Lynda said how she only has about 40 seconds of run in her at a time. I was totally cool with that. There would be no PR this go-round. She urged me to go ahead if I felt like it, but I was more than happy to take it slow and easy this morning.

The race started and Tracy was gone like the wind. After about two blocks I realized I might not have 3.1 miles in me after these last few days of hell. I was beat. So the walk break came quickly for me and Lynda. I enjoy city races. You get to see so much from the those streets that are usually packed bumper to bumper with cars. The crowds and volunteers were awesome. We were eyeing the jackets they were wearing knowing we'd get hooked up with some ourselves the next day.

Right after the first water stop we encountered a nice little hill. Neither of us were amused. We talked, we ran, we walked. I'm not sure it really qualified as a "run". But I was suprised at how much effort I had to expend to lug myself those 3.1 miles. My laxidasical training and lack of sleep were catching up with me. But I was so enjoying the scenery and I wasn't gonna beat myself up about it. This was just a different kind of run for me. By the time we neared the finish line I was ready to just be done. So when Lynda got all geared up to run again, I was ready to take off. But no sooner had we taken two steps than I looked over to my left and she had stopped. And with a face as serious as I'd ever seen, she says, "I only had two seconds in me that time." Oh man! I still laugh out loud thinking about that. It was hysterical!

About 50 minutes later we crossed the finish line. Deb was there to cheer us on. Tracy had finished long before us. We shuffled into a tent to get out medals. Which were very cool. Here is a picture of the finish line before we started.

After getting our medals we hooked ourselves up with some bagels and fruit and were off to find the Westin for brunch.

Since we were volunteering with the Liver Foundation the next day, we were invited to brunch with the runners. I was just so happy to see food and wasted no time in filling a plate. It was great food for a buffet. The program was a little long, but I was happy to sit. There were a couple speakers from The Biggest Loser there. They would be running the next day. I know one of them was Patrick House. I forget the other girl's name. Elizabeth, I think.

After brunch we said goodbye to Tracy and Deb and went to check out the expo since I hadn't been there yet. It was crazy busy, but I just wanted to check it out. Lynda talked me into registering for the Wine and Dine there in order to save the $10 usually charges. Plus the price increase had happened the day before and they would let you sign up at the cheaper price. So I HAD to do it. Plus I got a runDisney tote bag out of the deal. I love me some free stuff. Other than a stop of the Bondi Band booth, I just didn't have it in me to fight the crowds. So we headed back to the hotel to shower and rest.

I will tell you all about volunteering at the marathon in my next post. It was truly an amazing experience. I was so inspired and overwhelmed by the whole day. I met remarkable people and witnessed the power of human determination up close.

Friday, April 15, 2011

All or Nothing

That's me! Either I am 100% onboard, rockin out 20 miles a week or I'm avoiding all physical activity and logging a big goose egg. I really need to figure out how to find a happy medium when life demands it.

But when things get crazy I tend to lose complete focus on myself, my nutrition, my training, and even my sleep. I'm not so good with balance.

I'm stressing out with the end of the semester coming up. There are lots of projects and papers due. I have to have my portfolio in tip-top shape for an inspection in two weeks. I'm getting ready to go out of town this weekend to support a friend of mine in the Boston Marathon. I'm super excited about it. But the timing is not ideal and I'm not sure how I'm gonna get everything done. Plus my Mom is driving down to stay with my kids and my dog while I'm away. I'm oh-so-grateful for this. But it does involve cleaning all the nooks and crannies. Much more so than if I were boarding the dog and dropping off the kids. And, oh yea....I haven't even filed my taxes yet!
On top of all that I'm dealing with some other issues that are demanding much more thought and energy than I can currently afford. And we might as well just mention that I'm sick with worry about my half marathon on May 7th.
I know everyone has their own struggles and worries. And mine likely pale in comparison to some. But that is why I haven't been around. I'm too busy stressing out about all these things that seem incredibly urgent each day. And neglecting things that I should be doing, even if they don't seem as urgent. I'm just not sure how to squeeze it all into 24 hours. Like I said, I need to work on balance.

But regardless of how these last two weeks have been, I am SO looking forward to Boston! I just know it will be an amazing experience to be right in the middle of such an incredible event. Plus a break from the craziness of my life will do me good. I hate leaving the kids. We always travel together. I homeschool them. We're pretty tight. I don't even remember the last time I was away from them for four whole days. But now that they are 13 and 14, I suppose I need to know what it feels like to actually have a little time for myself.

It will be a whirlwind of a trip. Here's a little breakdown of what it will look like:
I won't get into town until late Saturday night. Then I wake up bright and early Sunday to run the BAA 5k. Afterwards I'm going to a Team Brunch hosted by the American Liver Foundation with some friends. It will also be my first chance to check out the expo. Monday is the big day and I will be reporting bright and early to the water stop at mile marker 13.2 in Wellesey for my seven hour shift. At 3:00pm I will be frantically trying to get downtown to see my friend cross the finish line. That evening we'll be at the post race party at the House of Blues. Tuesday will be the only day I really have to do anything not race related. I had wanted to revisit the Boston Public Library to follow up on some leads I found there a few years ago about my family tree. But, realistically, I don't think I'll have enough time.

I promise to share all the details of my experience once I get home.

And sorry about the "Nothing" last week. I'm really shooting for "All" next week. And maybe someday I will learn how to balance the two.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Doggy Incident

The plan called for my long run to be on Friday this week instead of Saturday because of my scheduled 5k. But Friday it rained all day. One of those soakers that just never let up. And, to be honest, I wasn't feeling 8 miles that day anyway. I really like Sundays as my rest day. It works best for me. But I decided to make it up on Sunday, so that was the new plan.

I haven't been doing my runs very early because it is so cold here in the mornings. So I figured I would get out there around 10ish. But as the morning progressed I realized there was just so many other things I wanted to get done. It was cloudy and windy. I was totally looking for an out.

Then I logged into dailymile to see how everyone else was doing on their long runs. I saw that Nora over at Nora Does Grandma's gave me a shout-out on dailymile saying how inspiring I was to her. Awww I was gonna have to run that lousy eight. Besides, I'm kinda addicted to watching the little bars turn green as I add up my mileage for the week. I was at 15, but I wanted to be over 20. And today was the last day. So no more procrastination.

I begrudgingly got into my running clothes and headed to the trail.

About a mile and a half into my run is this big farm with a ginormous field. There are these two dogs that are always roaming around there. They usually leave me alone and watch me from a distance, but it still freaks me out a little. There is not a human in screaming distance, so I just imagine having to deal with rabbid, Pet Semetary-like monsters one of these days all by myself. (I think we've established my over-active imagination in The Scary Run post.) But, like I said, they will usually just perk up, take notice of me, and watch as I ever-so-calmly walk away. But inside is goes a little something like this:

Today I approach the clearing by the farm and hope, like I do everyday, that they are not there. Then I see these two black figures waaaaay in the distance running full-speed right at me. Oh my goodness! They are still pretty far off so I do a quick turnaround and slow things to a walk and move quickly and with purpose in the opposite direction of the attacking canines. I hear the jingling of their collars and the panting of their breath as they get closer and closer. I tried to remain calm. Stayed walking at a steady pace. And just looked straight ahead while I tried to mask my fear....'cause I hear they can sense such things. By now I am well away from "their" field, but they were still following me. I even heard one of them growl, but I didn't react. Straight ahead. Walk with purpose. Not afraid. Nice doggy. At one point they were so close that I felt the cold nose of one of them on my leg as he checked me out. Seriously too close for comfort. I was wearing my heart rate monitor and you should've seen that thing spike!

Finally, after a full five minutes, I couldn't hear them any more and I thought it was safe to turn around and look. They were both in the distance, pacing back and forth on the trail near their farm. It was as if they were warning me not to come back. I swung around quickly so I wouldn't catch their eye and just walked until I couldn't see them anymore. Then I ran back to the car, with only three miles logged on the Garmin. Boo!

After this Doggy Incident and The Scary Run, I'm just not feeling the love from my beloved trail anymore. But I decided that I would not be deterred and I would just drive to a different section of the trail and get my five miles in over there. Of course, then I had to go potty. There was a port-a-potty by my car. Its not like I've never used a port-a-potty before. But I live two miles away. It just wasn't happening.

Once I got home it started raining. Lovely. I waited a few hours and decided to get the rest of those miles in around the neighborhood. The bad thing about that, is that there is always a shortcut home. And around 3 1/2 miles I succumbed to the shortcut. My knee was bothering me and I've never had any pain in my knee before. I think it was just a little sore from yesterday's exposure to the hillyness of the forest preserve. But it was all the excuse I needed.

So I got in 7 miles of the 8 I was supposed to get in. But it certainly did not qualify as a long run. I'm bummed about that. But, it could've been worse. It could've been a zero.