Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Scary Run

I know its Thursday, but I need to tell you about Monday's run. Actually, I can't really qualify it as a run. It was more a runish-walk, if that.

I was having a crazy start to the week. You guys know the drill. Just way too much to do and not enough time to do it. And it seemed like there was a deadline looming for every single thing on my To-Do List. So I would work, work, work on something Sunday night that was due Monday morning. Then I would work, work, work on something all morning that had to be submitted at 1pm. And then get the daughter somewhere at a certain time, and pick the son's friend up at a certain time, and, oh crap! I need to get gas cuz the Mountaineer does not work on love and kind words alone. For the record, it has been like that ALL week. On one hand, I'm being uber productive. On the other hand, I'm sleep deprived and really looking forward to the weekend.

Okay, back to Monday. So I knew I had to get five miles in. And most of the day it was just in the back of my mind, but there was certainly nothing I could do about it in the midst of my chaos. Around 5:30pm I stopped to take a breath and feed the children. The lingering thought in the back of my head, you know, the one about those five miles? Well, it found a way to jump to the front of the line and I couldn't ignore it any more. I got dressed, laced up the shoes, and headed to the trail.

Once I got there I knew I had made the right decision. I needed a break from sitting in front of a computer and the peacefulness of the trail was a welcome change of pace. I didn't care about my pace right then. In fact, I told myself I would walk the first mile just to decompress a bit. I tried to pick up the pace after that, but the legs weren't moving. I wasn't sore or anything. It had to be a mental issue. I didn't have it in me to push myself. I tried to give myself permission to just walk/jog/wog the thing. But I felt guilty the whole time.

At 2.5 miles I reached the turnaround point and enjoyed the serenity of a gorgeous sunset. It was postcard Wisconsin farmland with a painted violet and orange sky offsetting the silhouette of a solitary barn and silo. It was like I was on a movie set. And then it dawned on me. I started this runish-walk awfully late. And I'm moving awfully slow. Its bound to get awfully dark once that sun goes down. I sure hope I'm not on one of those scary movie sets!

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am easily startled. I can not handle scary stuff. Complete wimp over here. So I tried to pick up the pace. I mean, I wanted to get out of there. But my legs were not cooperating. I had to fight for every inch of ground I covered. Had I known I was gonna totally flake on this run, I would've stayed in town. I don't mind walking in town at night with street lights and other humans nearby. But on this trail it seemed much darker and I was very much alone out here. We all know that is when all the really bad stuff happens in the scary movies.

I tried to keep the positive thoughts flowing, but they were interrupted by the wildlife scurrying around. Remember me? Easily startled? I wish I had my heart rate monitor on just to see the effects those furry friends were having on me. Plus, have you ever heard of the Beast of Bray Road? Here's a picture of him:

I don't know if its just a Wisconsin thing. But, apparently, we have werewolves here in the Land O' Cheese. Normally, I would not be inclined to believe such tales, but I live about one mile from Bray Road. And my mind is still traumatized from watching Pet Semetary when I was a teenager. So I really didn't want to take any chances. I just wanted to be back at the car.

So I'm practically speed-walking by now. Because, for some reason, the legs were not running. It was all very slow motion - you know, like in the scary movies. I used to read a bunch of Stephen King when I was a teenager. I don't know how on earth I did it. 'Cause now I get nightmares if I see a bad movie poster or a trailer for a horror movie. They say those things are approved for all audiences....but I beg to differ.

You wanna know what I see next? Someone had written the name "Kelly" in the mud of the trail. Really big. Like two foot high letters scratched into the trail. Oh. My. Gosh. That is totally part of the foreshadowing thing that happens in those scary movies. I seriously couldn't breathe. It was getting pretty dark by now. And after a second or two I realized the name written was "Katie". Whew! Thankfully the scary ending was meant for someone else. But my heart was still beating at a mighty fast clip.

Still. I needed to get the heck off of this trail. I was only about a mile to the end and the adrenaline was helping me move a little quicker now. Then, right at the head of the trail, at the entrance by my car....guess what I see? A man in a Carhartt jacket with his hood up. Oh. My. Gosh. Seriously? There are no houses around. They guy was clearly not working out. Just standing there. With his hood up. Right at the entrance to the parking lot. Waiting to kill me.

It was really dark by now. And I had nowhere to go. I totally had to run up to the guy. This was it. I was gonna die. I knew running would kill me some day. I mean, who would be on a trail at this time of night just lingering around?

I was worried the man could actually hear my heart beating. It was pounding away like a high school band at homecoming. I hoped he wouldn't sense my fear as I said, "hi". Hopefully, he would be disgusted by my fat, sweaty self and just walk away. But he said "hi" back. In a creepy, soft-spoken, I'm-gonna-kill-you-and-hide-your-body-in-a-cornfield kind of a way.

Then I saw it.

The most welcome sight I'd seen all night.

A little rat terrier came bouncing out of the brush. Whew! That's what scary-looking, hoodie-disguised men do on a trail at night. They let their dogs take a pee!

I got in my car. Locked the door. And swore never again to be on this trail at night. I better start that 8 mile run that's on the schedule this week reeeeaaally early!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Frozen Ponytail Run

It was 28 degrees on Saturday. It was snowing and crazy windy. Not the best of conditions.

My daughter had a friend sleeping over and I had promised to take them shopping at the mall. But I was determined to get my miles in. I made them some blueberry muffins to eat in my absence, left a note, and headed to the trail.

The beauty of running the trail is that the out and back route makes it so I only have to force myself to do 3.5 miles. Then I have no other choice than to finish all seven. Had I had the choice at mile 4, mile 5, or mile 6 to turn home - I just may have taken it.

A little after mile two, I realized my butt and thighs had frozen solid. The rest of me was just fine. So I had two theories. Either,
  1. All that 60% of water we're supposed to be made up of was residing solely in my butt and thighs, hence the blocks of ice I was toting around.
  2. Fat freezes faster than muscle.
I'm not sure. But strap on a big ol' block of ice to each of your thighs and to each of your butt cheeks and this will give you a pretty good idea of how I felt around mile two. I picked up the pace just to try to thaw out my poor gluteus maximus. That must've worked. Or I just went numb. Because I didn't feel the pain after that.

Once I pushed through the initial butt-freeze I felt pretty strong. I was running more than walking and just trying to get to that 3.5 mile marker. Then I realized that 7 miles was the longest I had done on this particular trail. The longest run on this trail to date was 6 miles. So I got a little further into the trail and it was beautiful! It was a little more wooded than the first three miles. The path was less worn and less sloppy. Apparently, only the cool runners make it this far. So I did a little Sound of Music, open-armed turn-around and caught some snowflakes on my tongue. If they ever make a movie about me it will make a nice scene and give the composers a chance to write some pretty music.

The joy of my turnaround was short-lived when I realized I had to repeat those miles. The wind was picking up and I was ready for a cup of coffee. But those fourth and fifth miles totally flew by.

The last mile seemed longer than normal. But I felt such a sense of accomplishment when I finally reached my car. I took off my Bondi Band, which was doing a nice job of keeping my ears warm, and felt something hard in my hair. Then I realized it was my hair! My ponytail had totally froze during my two hours of quality time outside. I also realized I hadn't seen one other person the entire time I was on the trail. Either I was the only one stupid enough to be out there, or, as Lucy would say, I was just a total badass.

Oh yea...and then we went shopping. For SIX hours. I should so get extra credit for that!

Rockin' Out my Week

I turned a major corner last Saturday. I'm not entirely sure how it happened, or even what happened. I'm just glad it happened. Part of it probably had to do with me not feeling all sick and yucky anymore. But it was something else too. I just felt better. Happier and stronger and 100% more positive.

Now, last Saturday was supposed to be my first race of the year at the Get Lucky 7k in Minneapolis. I canceled the hotel for that trip early in the week when I was still sick. I had faced the fact that I hadn't trained and would not be running. I even had a cool St. Patty's themed outfit ready, complete with blinking shamrock necklace and festive hair accessories. So I was pretty bummed. I probably would've tried to suck it up and run if it weren't 5 1/2 hours away. Oh well.

So Saturday I wake up feeling great. It was bittersweet. 'Cause had I known earlier in the week, I wouldn't have canceled. But I was REALLY happy to be feeling a little more like myself. It was a beautiful, sunny, 58 degree day. I grabbed my son and decided I would walk on the trail a little. I wouldn't really call it a run because we mostly walked, but we did cover some mileage. Six to be exact. I still had a lovely hacking cough that reappeared from time to time. But it was great being on the trail with him. I don't run with music, but my son is never far from his iPod. So I was surprised he didn't bring it. It was just him and I talking about all things running and making plans for how he would complete his first half marathon in October.

So you wanna see what 58 degrees and sunny looks like in Wisconsin?

That is only one section of the trail though. Most of it looked like this:

But still. It had been above freezing all week. And above 50 for three days prior to this. This was a patch of mutant snow that would not melt. And, a week later, it is still there! (Although, thankfull shrinking.)

Monday began a new training week and I was determined to get in all my runs for once. Lesley over at Racing it Off has been coaching me and giving me all sorts of good running advice. All I've really given her are excuses lately. But Monday's five miles - done.

Tuesday was a rest day. Wednesday was supposed to be five miles, but I rescheduled it for Thursday.

Thursday I got those five miles in. Although, I had every excuse in the world not to. I found the time in the middle of my day and just did it. Yes, the mid-day shower was inconvenient. I had to drink a protein shake instead of dinner while I was headed out the door. And I had a four hour night-class that started that week so I didn't finally get home until 10pm. But, those five miles gave me all the energy I needed to motor through my crazy day. And I was mighty proud when I laid my head down on the pillow that night. Not to mention, it was kind of funny to listen to everyone in class griping about dropping their kids off somewhere or having to make dinner before class started and I was just thinking, "Dude - I just ran five miles and managed to get my kids fed." Yes, I kept it to myself. But it was a proud moment, indeed.

Friday I went out for three miles, which actually felt easier than I remember three miles feeling.

And then yesterday I ran for 7 - count'em - 7 miles. Can we talk about this run? This was an epic run and deserves its own post. You can read all about it here.

So, in case anyone is doing the math - that means I got in all 20 miles this week. (Not including the 6 from last Saturday.) I know some of you do way more than that. But I like how 20 miles feels to me. I almost feel legit.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm Running Boston!

Yea, its not what you think.

I'm running a great course in Boston.

And I will cross the Boston Marathon finish line....

But I'm just doing the 5k. No qualifying time required.

This will be the closest I EVER get to the Boston Marathon!

But its so exciting for me. And not just because of the 5k. That was really just an afterthought. I'm most excited to be volunteering on the marathon course the next day and to cheer on my friend, Deb, who is running the Boston Marathon this year.

I told her that I would be there to cheer for her. I'm not certain she believed me since I live 1100 miles from Boston. But I meant it. Deb has been a big inspiration to me and a huge help in running my first half last October. She is always there for me and other new wannabe runners, freely giving advice and information without making me feel like a great big dork. I appreciate that.

So in January I filled out an application to volunteer on the course. I wouldn't find out for several weeks that I was accepted, so I didn't tell Deb right away. Then one day she sends me an email to volunteer with the charity group she is running for. I transferred my application to them and was in. Another friend of Deb's also signed up for that volunteer opportunity and is coming from California to do so.

A few weeks after that, Lynda (from California) emails me to ask if I'd be interested in running the BAA 5k the day before the Boston Marathon. I mean, we'll be there anyway, right? Registration opened up on March 2nd and I was sure to be online early to secure my spot. A day later I got confirmation that I was in for the 5k. It all just kind of fell into place.

I've been to Boston twice before and I love it there! And I'm really excited for the course. Lord knows I will be bringing up the back of the pack when I cross that finish line, but I'll be proud to do it. Although, not nearly as proud as I will be handing out water at mile 13.2 the next day to all those elite runners who worked so hard just to enter the iconic race.

I imagine it will be a very humbling experience.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Has it really been a month since I last posted?

Apparently I've meandered into some sort of time vortex or something, 'cause I barely remember this last month. I suppose I could be repressing the memories in order to claim my 38th birthday never actually happened. And, therefore, I've still got 3 years until the big 4-0. 'Cause less than two years....that just freaks me out.

But the truth of the matter is that I spent the better part of three weeks ridiculously sick. I'm thankful I don't get ill that often, because I make a really, truly pathetic sick person. I just don't handle it well. And this time around really kicked my butt.

Thankfully, I'm on the mend and feeling much better. But now I need to make up for three weeks of complete unproductively. No training. No working. Minimal cleaning. And barely even keeping track of all the assignments I'm behind on. Ugh!

But I'm looking forward to finally getting some stuff done this weekend. And all the snow has FINALLY melted from my front yard. My happy-dancing was cut short when I noticed a winter's worth of dog poo waiting to be cleaned up. But it is practically perfect running weather. So there is that. And I will look on the bright side and look away from the poo for now. Both literally and figuratively, as it may be.

You would think with all of this down time I would've been able to keep up with everyone's blogs. But I haven't. Just more evidence for the time vortex thing. I'm really perplexed with how that happened. So, it will take some time, but I will get all caught up with everyone soon!

I'll be changing up the race schedule a little later. I had to cancel this weekend's run because of a lingering cough from the bronchitis. But I've added some fun races to make up for it.

Now to start with the training.