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.