Yaktrax: 3, Blizzard: 0....Starbucks: 473

I made it out two more times over the holiday trek to Nebrasky for a couple of decent snow runs. That bitch-a$$, weak-thumb, lame-o, second-tier Nebraska "blizzard" didn't slow me down, oh no, I had to keep on mooovin...but I digress to the dangerously precipitous edge of falling into a full-on "Break My Stride" song-and-desk-dance.

Starbucks, however, did manage to kick my doo-pah1. I lost count but there were faaaaarrrr too many visits to that little den of heaven/hell for one week-long trip. We are talking multiple-visits on some days. Yeah. So now I am back at work, in steep withdrawl...but surely nothing a little New Years Eve 5k can't cure?

Stay tuned for an insightfully (though perhaps caffeine-depleted) crafted post on my 2010 goals--running and otherwise--tomorrow. Should be more fun than cleaning out my pantry, which is what I did last NYE. Cheers to being over 30 and having kids...and not being able to get a dependable babysitter.
1 - Nebraska-Polish terminology for "butt"


Yaktrax: 1, Blizzard: 0

I am back in good ole Nebrasky for the holiday festivities again. Luckily, we arrived at the in-laws the day before a nasty, windy, wintry blizzard hit. However, Shortie2 being the not-good secret keeper she is, inadvertently slipped and mentioned that one of my Christmas gifts was a pair of Yaktrax. SCORE! So, when the snow rolled in on Wednesday, I promptly started begging (and pleading and whining and begging some more) the hubs to open that gift early, so I could go for a run in the snowy glory. (I may or may not have used guilt and dangled the horror of another broken bone or head-injury possibility, resulting in a costly medical bill and sad, sad holiday in front of him. And more importantly, in front of my young, impressionable, and easily frightened Shorties. Yes, yes, once again I get the Mother of the Year Award...)

Of course I won. Gift swiftly opened, instructions skimmed, rubber contraptions strapped on, winter tech layers laid, fleece headband secure.

I had a superb 6.13 mile run in the snowy, non-windy goodness. It was the perfect snow run and after 2 days cooped up in the house due to the horrid 50-mph winds, I am extra glad I weaseled the Yaktrax gift and went. Plus, the looks of shock and open-mouthed gaping stares on the faces of all the snowblower folk and neigborhood drivers was well worth it, "Is she MAD?!" Why yes, I am. Thanks for noticing.

Thursday brought a slightly less-satisfying indoor 3 mile run at the local Y before it closed for the holiday/blizzard. On a 1/20 mile elevated track. Yeah, that was 60 hardcore laps. You better believe my ass was cruising faster than usual to get that over with. But, now I don't have to feel guilty about the holiday goodies and extra beer consumption. Here's to hoping the snow wind ends and I can get those Yaktrax out for another spin.

Happy Christmas! Hope you all are enjoying food, family, and good running [gifts] yourself.


The Non-Blogging Blogger

Yeah, yeah, I've been all anti-bloggy lately, I know. I've just been like, doing a lot of stuff1 in the real world and the thought of blogging made my eyebrows twitch, so I basically abstained. But now I am twitching TO blog again, so la-dee-dah here I am again, alighting like a little peanut butter-encrusted2 fairy back upon blogland.

I have been running, more or less, the last month. Though I definitely wouldn't call what I am doing training by any stretch of the imagination, I have mainly been running for fun (hey, it's above 30 degrees! I should go outside and enjoy it! I think I will!) and friendship (running group) and occasionally to purge myself of the peanut butter coating (horrid indoor track punishment sessions). It's been working out well. My foot has held strong and all traces of the Evil Stress Fracture are gone. I would like to think that I've been much more aware in my running since that horrid event, but I am not sure of the reality of that. But I will say that I haven't done any stupid things like two-a-days or going longer than I am ready for, or heck, even going sub-8 minute miles (I know, sloth). But I am calling this my "off season" in preparation for what is definitely going to be on my plate next spring: the Colorado Colfax Marathon on May 16. Depending on how the early spring goes, I may also visit my BFF in Louisiana and tackle the Mardi Gras Marathon on February 28, just for fun and for the experience. But Colfax is definitely ON.

And finally, the Highlands Ranch Running Club (HRRC-yo) is finally legit with a blog of its very own....perhaps we can spice it up with some guest bloggers?! Any volunteers?

The holidays are just around the corner, and with it New Years Resolutions (I suppose this year will be Year of the Marathon Redux) and I am already thinking about what else 2010 will hold...the last couple of years have been big goal getters for me...what will I do with 2010? Hmmm....

1One large task that has had me blog-averse has been a curricular book-writing project. After writing all day for work, writing for blog didn't appeal. Plus I haven't been racing or doing anything runningly-interesting so I didn't see the point. Sue me.

2I have had the most insanely ridiculous obsession with peanut butter the past month, that I have completely given up trying to curb it. I am all-peanut-butter, all-the-time (and NOT just the m&m's folks). Which is really only inconvenient for my Shortie1, who is deathly allergic. Whatev.


Pseudo-Race Report: Wildcat Mountain 1/6 Marathon

On Saturday, I ran my first pseudo-race. It was a certified* 1/6 marathon course of 4.4 miles.

The first HRCA Wildcat Mountain 1/2 Marathon was held on Saturday. The HRRC running group had 6 members who were planning to race; the rest of us non-racers met near the course start and ran a portion of the course before turning back to cheer our fellow clubmates on during the race.

In true Colorado fashion, the weather was iffy. (The race had 235 racers, but as of late afternoon on Thursday, just 42 people had registered for the race--guess no one was too motivated to lose $50 on the race fee if it ended up being snowy weather.) It was kind of chilly and damp and we had a bit of snow Friday night. The course was mostly cross-country style dirt and grass trail through the backcountry around Highlands Ranch. But, miraculously, it wasn't nearly as muddy as I figured it would be.

Us non-racers ran out a couple of miles and decided to come back along the course, passing the racers as they started the first 2 miles. It was kind of fun to be going the wrong direction on the course, and I could see the wheels turning in each racers head as we passed, "Why are they running the wrong way on the course? Why are they smiling? Who are these strange runners on the course, clearly not racing but out here in this marginal-ass, chilly, damp weather nonetheless? Did they do the whole course already? Is is that easy? Are they that good?" (While I can only wish I was indeed THAT good, we actually DID have a running star in our midst, a real pro runner: one Cassie Slade. Athlink HER ass, she is GOOD.)

We got to cheer on our running group mates, which was cool. And we got back to the start in time to chat a bit (heck, I even had time to go inside the Rec center and do a core workout) and still see the winners finish. Even though it was cold, it was a good time. The HRRC runners had a good showing, with one of our own winning the race (yay Kyle!).

*It's important to remember that the certifying body may have permanent peanut butter M&M-induced brain damage and be slightly lacking in exact math skillz--yeah I know 4.4 is more than 1/6, but it is close enough and I don't really care that much about precision anyway.


Early TG Spirit

Because Thanksgiving is fast approaching, because it is my favorite holiday, and because I am in a dang thankful frame of mind this week, I am going to bandwagon it and do a gratitude list today, too. Here is what I am presently thankful for:

1. The Healing Power of the Human Body - Healed (praise Jebus I'm healed and whole-ish) and able to run again.

2. Mad Men - Don Draper, nom-nom-nom. By GOD I love that show. Full stop.

3. Comcast OnDemand - so I can watch the entire season of Mad Men over and over and over and over again, until the next new episodes start...Don Draper, nom-nom-nom.

4. HRRC* runners - what a great group of folks that I am so glad to have met and gotten to know.

5. Peanut Butter M&Ms - because nothing says, "I defeat you, stress!" like saying it with your mouse raised and a mouthful (and I do mean FULL) of peanut butter M&M's.

6. New Running Shoes - Asic's 2140's I love you! I resisted giving up my 2130's but so far the 40's are a decent replacement. Plus they are pink. Yay/yay.

My week so far has involved high amounts of stress...which I am now *smartly* managing with small doses of low-mileage running, meditation, and peanut butter. I have worked up to 3-4 miles, and am *smartly* running every other day and gradually adding distance. Emphasis on gradually. I got to run with the running group again last Saturday, and turned in a nice, foot pain-free run of 3.64 miles. Then did about 3 miles at the track with a couple of other running buddies on Monday. Planing to do a *smart* run of 2 miles or so tonight. And the fact that I can once again say that, is all I need to be thankful. Well, that and the M&Ms. And maybe a bit of soft porn (i.e. Mad Men) here and there...but that's all I really need. Really.

*Highlands Ranch Running Club, for the uninitiated


First-off, congratulations to all you runners who did the New York Marathon yesterday. I find it extremely humbling that Meb won the Marathon yesterday with a time that was faster than my last HALF marathon. Wow, it just amazes me to see the elites run that fast, for 26.2 miles. Simply amazing. My goal is to one day run ONE mile at that pace.

In my own running news, I am happy to report that I completed my first mile in nearly a month this weekend. Saturday I purchased my new Asics 2140s (pink and white--cute but they will be dirty quick in the winter muck) and then took them out for a spin at the track. FInished a mile and the foot felt fine. Felt fine the rest of the day, and weekend too. And, it STILL feels fine! Woo hoo! Now, my lungs on the other hand were a different story. I have been swiming some and walking and trying to stay moving in my running sabbatical; however, nothing compares to running for keeping me fit. After that single mile, I looked and felt like I had done 5. But, I know that it won't take long to be running 10 again with ease. And I look forward to it eagerly.

Though I am running again, I have completely resigned all hope of running a full marathon in 2009. BUT, early 2010 seems doable. I am scoping out alternatives for my marathon...Miami in January? New Orleans in February? Bataan Memorial Death March in March? (eh, maybe not...)


How Glad Am I Not To Be Wearing The Boot in The Blizzard?


20" of snow at my house, so far. Still snowing through the day.

In running news, I did manage to complete 4/10 mile (4 laps at the indoor track) on Tuesday night. No pain, no tenderness. Progress. Though I am thinking I won't be doing the running club group run scheduled for Saturday morning. Unless at least 10" of snow can melt by then...


The Boot Gets The Boot

Well running friends....my AWOL time is nearing its end. It has been 3 weeks and 3 days since I fractured my metatarsal and was confined to The Boot. Per the doctor's instructions, I have behaved, worn the boot, and let my foot heal to the best of my ability. It is no longer tender, nor in pain...I can walk without a limp. I spent the weekend around the house sans boot, and still all felt fine.

I have been swimming and lifting weights in my forced running sabbatical. On Saturday, I tried my old yoga class to see how the foot held up. All was well. Sunday I did a test lap on the track after my weight/core session...and, well, one lap was all I managed. The foot felt a little weak (to be expected) yet not exactly painful. It was somewhat tender afterward, so I decided I will give it another week before trying running again. Also, I believe that my 10-month old shoes with 700+ miles on them may have been somewhat of a causal factor in the fracture in the first place. On my test lap, I was very, very aware of what my footstrike was doing; I felt a distinct oddness/hollowness in the forefoot of my right shoe; just in the area where my stress fracture occurred. Why didn't I notice that before I broke my foot?!

Anyway, who doesn't love a reason to buy a new pair of running shoes?! Perhpaps in pink this time, rather than blue?! Asics 2140's here I come...


Broken Foot Benefit #22

Warning: this post is not about running. Males may want to disregard at this point...

I am in Austin for work this week. One thing I was really looking forward to doing while here, is going for some good runs on the lovely local trail system. Since that ain't happening, I guess I will have to focus on work instead...booo. Or try the lap pool at the schwanky hotel spa. Ooh, and the steamroom, definitely the steamroom.

Anyway, while frantically gathering all my crap to pack last night, I came across one surprise benefit to having a broken foot. Typically, it takes quite a bit of strategic planning to pack for a work trip, especially when there are also "casual" activities on the agenda. I am forced to choose shoes that do at least double-duty. I am forced to choose outfits that correspond to those that certain pairs of shoes. But NOT this time! Fancy heel that only goes with one dress? Bring it! Clarks Wallabee? Why not! Black flat? Toss it in! Comfy mid-heel? In you go!

Because I only have to pack ONE shoe (the left one), I was able to include twice the shoeage! And I could choose my preferred outfits, not just the ones that would go easily with my shoe. Also, I did not have to pack 3 running outfits...so that lightened the load. Unfortunately, I am not sure the presence of the perfect shoe on the left foot can overcome the distraction of the hideous black boot on the right. Sigh.


Denver Marathon Gets The Boot

Well, boys and girls, despite all your well-wishes and my fervent hopes (bordering on anti-fracture prayer obsession), I am indeed today in a boot. Stress fracture on second metatarsal bone. 3-4 weeks of no running and limited walking. Spectator status for the Denver Marathon on the 18th.

Luckily, I am well past the crying phase and have moved into the, "hey, my foot doesn't hurt as much with this big bad-ass boot on," and my persepctive has shifted.

Good things about my broken foot:
- The bone I broke heals relatively quickly and generally without complications or future issues
- No high heels for a month
- Boot is black--as opposed to the electric blue one I had when I broke my ankle and had surgery on it in high school--and therefore matches all of my clothing
- No surgery
- No crutches
- Getting sympathy votes
- More time to read
- Running timeslot(s) can become daily meditation timeslots (more on that later)
- Good reason to finally try swimming again
- Less laundry, without running clothes to wash

Bad things about my broken foot:
- No running for a month
- No Denver Marathon, which means no extra-special Mile-High Experience medal
- Snow season is approaching--like, tomorrow--in Colorado
- Though black, boot is still ugly
- Driving a stickshift? Not so easy
- No running for a month

So, as you can see, the list of good things is actually longer than the list of bad things. Yes, I am really disappointed I don't get to do the race in a couple weeks (I really wanted that extra medal, dammit). My one big goal for 2009 was to run a marathon. Finally, after so many years of running, I committed myself to prepare for it and do it. I stuck with it, through ups and downs, intervals and lsd runs, and I was this close to making it....then, BOOM: failed.
And then yesterday I was thinking and it occured to me that I had run two half marathons this summer. A half, plus a half equals....a whole marathon. So, technically, I did achieve my goal of running a marathon this year; just not the way I had imagined or planned to do it. But life rarely gives you just what you are expecting; and that doesn't make the accomplishments any less valid or the ride any less fun. So, though disappointed, I am now actually kind of ok with the whole situation. Course, I may feel differently when the painkillers have worn off.


I might cry

Seriously, I might just cry. Seriously. I mean, seriously.

Rewind to Saturday. I ended up going for a run in the afternoon instead of the morning. I went on the nice, soft dirt trails at about 3:00. Beautiful day, feeling good...except for a very slight discomfort in my right foot. Ah! My shoe must be tied to tight. Easy to fix. Shoe loosened, continued on run. Foot discomfort gets more pronounced. 3 miles in, foot discomfort is now actual pain. Every strike of my right foot: pain. I stop to stretch, thinking perhaps it's a cramp or a tight muscle somewhere. Continue on run. Enter stronger foot pain. I now cannot run but must walk and the whole situation is bringing stinging tears to my eyes. I still have a mile home, I am in severe pain, and yet it's a beautiful fall day, the kind you just live to run for. My race is in two weeks and this feels like a very, very bad sign.

Flashforward to today. My foot is still in pain, it is swollen, I cannot walk without a limp, cannot bend it, cannot do steps. I fear fracture. Tomorrow I go see some fancy schmancy foot specialist that happens to be here in Vail (which, Vail, by the way is faaabbbbuuulooouuusss, it even snowed the pretty kind of powdery mountain snowflakes tonight). I have resigned myself to the distinct possibility that I will probably not be running my first-ever marathon in two weeks at the 2009 Denver Marathon. (SOB!) But I guess as long as I can heal whatever is wrong, and eventually run again....I'll be all good. Right after I stop crying and feeling sorry for myself.

The "X" being the spot in which centers the
severe pain; the arrow pointing to the region
to which the general swelling and puffiness radiates.


Back in the Saddle

Thanks guys, for your well-wishes. And Jeneric, you are right; I think I will have a great marathon experience, regardless of my time or whatever life throws at me. I am just too excited for the experience, not to enjoy it! Thanks for reminding me of that.

And, after a week of ill, I am finally feeling better and got back in the saddle and went for a run last night. I managed 25 minutes, and it wasn't as bad as I expected, but I certainly wasn't challenging any land speed records. (Or any underwater or outer-space speed records either, for that matter.) It felt like 6 days of illness had managed to undo 14 weeks of training. However, tomorrow morning I am back with the running group for a long run on my favorite Highline Canal; here's hoping I can still breathe afterward. Then Sunday I am off to Vail for a company retreat for a few days, and will try some at-altitude running to see how that goes. Running amidst the yellow aspens is just too enticing to pass up!

Only 2 weeks to Denver!!!!!!! Gaaahhh, I can't wait!

Happy weekend everybody, and good luck to those of you racing this weekend!


Not Exactly a Marathon Taper

Turns out back, is really more like "back" since I because I haven't been running, I haven't been blogging. Why haven't I been running, when here I sit, less than three small weeks away from the Denver Marathon? Well, let me tell you:

Now, while I generally do welcome any and all prescribed
breaks from house/kid duties, this is not exactly the directive you want to
get from your doctor, three weeks out from your (first, for which you
have been training for months) marathon.

While I do still feel pretty much like roadkill, I am hating not being able to run1. Quite honestly, I would be inclinced to ignore the good doc's advice and run anyway, if I thought myself capable of actually completing a decent run without going into respiratory distress. And so the very worst part of the last few days (aside from the crabby repurcussions on my poor family, of course) is that I am physically unable to run, despite the beautiful weather and the strong desire to do so. So, sadly, my new goal for the marathon has simply become to finish it come hell or high water. I don't care how long it takes, because at this point I will be glad to be running again by then. It really sucks to spend months doggedly training for something, a singular goal, only to have it slip through your fingers, just out of reach....sigh.


1-My last run was last Thursday, a 5-miler. The weather was good and I actually felt ok at the time, except that I felt like I was having a hard time breathing, which was odd. I thought maybe it was just the incredible shrinking sports bra I had worn that day corseting my ribcage. About 4 miles in, I started feeling better and settling into my groove, so I figured I must have just needed a longer warm up for reasons unbeknownst to me (yeah, like perhaps because of the fact that my body was trying to fight of The Consumption). I was feeling good enough that I would have kept going beyond 5 miles, had I had more time. ANYWAY, I proceeded from there to the gym, had a good work out, still felt fine. Woke up Friday with a cough and a little achey, but still sort-of fine. Well, by Friday night, I was wishing I might actually die, rather than continue to feel the way I did then (extreme body aches, bad cough, high fever, exhaustion). The good news is that it isn't H1N1 or even the flu at all...the bad news is it's some other respiratory virus (on top of the sinus infection I was already on antibiotics for) that has lasted muuuuuccchhhh longer and made me feel waaaaaaayyyyy worse than the flu. Suh-weet.


Blog Sabbatical: Officially Over

Weeeeell, in case no one noticed (highly likely) I've been taking a little sabbatical the past couple of weeks. I got hit with a triple-trifecta of craziness (yes, that's 9 degrees of crazy) that forced me to temporarily abandon my lowest ROI activities, one of which, unfortunately tends to be blogging. (I'm sorry blogging, I do love you and you are important to me. It's just that, quite frankly, you hover near the bottom of my Top 8 Most Important Activities and you tend to be the most congenial when ignored: the kids get in my face and yell or poke me, the hubs whines and pouts, work witholds financial reward, the dogs poop on the carpet, Running pimp-slaps me, and the PB M&M's 1 haunt me if I ignore any of them...so...I'm so sorry, but you drew the short straw. Luckily, I know you'll forgive me. Heck, you probably weren't even mad in the first place.)

Anyway, I am back from busy work projects, busy home projects, busy kids activities, busy long holiday weekend with guests, and super-busy marathon training weeks. Plus I was sick somewhere in there, though I think I only officially allotted a day for it as there was simply no time to dwell any longer on it. BUT, antibiotics in hand, soccer in full swing, marathon taper coming, and 3 rooms re-decorated and I am BACK, baby.

I've got a gazillion running stats to update on Daily Mile (thank you gizmo for keeping track of them for me as I didn't have capacity in my temporal flux capacitor to do it on my own) and some running observations to spew, so my darling blog you are back to Top 3 5 8. Top 8 for sure.

1 - The peanut butter M&M's have made a reappearance on the top shelf of the panty (at first I thought they climbed out of the trash can and came back to haunt me, but no, hubs bought them...coincidence? I think not)...and I've determined that as long as I stay under eating the 5.4-pounds threshold, my running doesn't seem to suffer, either. Win-win!


You know what's not good fuel for a run? 5.4 pounds of peanut butter M&Ms. I finally threw them in the trash yesterday afternoon, lest I become a hard-core addict. And not that surprisingly, my run yesterday afternoon was furiously...meh.

I ran while Shortie1 was at soccer practice (new practice locale=right next to awesome running trails, highly auspicious) and at 2 minutes in, I already needed to stop and catch my breath. This was not going to be good. Damn M&Ms! My legs felt ok but I was panting and out of breath. I've only done this section of trail once or twice and it's generally comprised of rolling hills, but nothing too tough. It was hot, though, at about 90 degrees.

I kept plugging along. I was hoping to do a 9-flat or maybe sub-9 pace for the whole run. My first mile clocked in at 10:15. Uh oh. Mile 2 was about the same. At mile 2 I turned back so that I wouldn't be late meeting Shortie1 at the end of practice. It was at this point that I realized that it felt MUCHHHHHH easier going back. I was easily doing 7:55 pace! Then I realized that although there were rollers, I was actually going downhill. Soooooo....I had actually been going up a long gradual hill the whole way out, and didn't notice...well no wonder I was was huffing! I did end up running a negative split, keeping the pace faster the 2 miles back.

Overall run stats:
4 miles in 38:something (forgot what gizmo told me
Peanut butter M&M burps: 43.5
Bugs swallowed1: 2
Prairie dog2 sightings: 3,289


1 - Perhaps they were attracted to the scent of peanut butter emanating from me?
2 -
They were everywhere on this trail...and didn't run away when I approached, but stared me down--ballsy little things!--and I wasn't sure if perhaps I ought to be more afraid of them than they were of me. Do they bite? Will they chase me? I just didn't know. I ended up chattering at them as I do to my own (non-prairie) dogs. (Yes, cute guy who passed me on the BMX dirt bike, I am crazy, burping, red-faced, slow-running, self-talker. Carry on.) This seemed to freak them out enough that they just stared but left me alone.


Life and M&Ms

So while I can allegedly hold out for Mindf*ck, I cannot apparently make the same claim about Life (or M&Ms1). Life has gotten in the way of my running the last few days, and the whole "marathon training plan" has looked a lot more like "paint the entire effing house, eat Dairy Queen, host impromptu visitors, forget about cooking, and don't even think you'll have time to run, sister."

So since Life had other plans for me last week, I ended up taking 4 whole days off running. In a row. (Not even a nice long walk or hike to bridge the gap!) I know!!!! I am choosing to pretend that I was actually just resting up for the next few hard (mileage-building, back-to-the-track-workout-type) weeks I've got coming. And house painting (the kind where you hang off a 32-foot ladder and oh-so-carefully paint the entire exterior of the house...with a brush) is cross-training, right? Well, now that the interior painting is done and the house put back together, and the exterior is 80% (...ok maybe 70% done, hubs gets the rest), I am back to the training plan. Today that started off with a nice, brisk 4.4 mile-morning run. The weather was actually quite chilly and fall-like--I even wore a long-sleeve, something I haven't done since about March--and made me salivate in anticipation for the upcoming fall running season. My gawd, but how I love to run in the fall!

1 - I guess Life hadn't quite released his grip on me yet today, as a busy morning resulted in me forgetting my lunch and midday snacks and thus forcing me to supplement with a gyro and approximatly 5.4 pounds of peanut butter M&Ms. Peanut butter is a power food though, right?


Boob Pictures

Ok, not really boob pictures, but I am trying to humor the male viewers. Is that wrong? (I don't really care.)
Well, I didn't exactly manage a Twice on Tuesday yesterday, but I did do sort of a reverse two-a-day, if you will: ran 4-ish miles last night at 6PM and then ran 6 miles this morning at 6AM. So, only a 12-hour sleep break in between. (Well, that and some wine.) My legs were tired by mile 4 this morning and my tummy was kinda ooky...guess the homemade fish tacos and red wine were not the best choice to fuel up with last night. Lesson learned.

In order to kill two birds with one stone--1-appeasing Jamoosh, Vanilla, and the other gods/running blog boys, and 2-prooving that I have enough skillz to rip off my race photos for free and doctor them in photshop--I am posting some old race pics from my last half marathon. I am still trying to get my hands on the team pics from WWR, as yet unsuccessful.

Here I am!

Here I am again, averting my eyes from the camera's evil stare.

It's my Identical Running Outfit Twin (IROT)!
Except she has a tighter tanktop...and cleavage!
And cool sunglasses! And I bet she's faster.

Triple bonus: me plus TWO IROTs!

Not me nor an IROT, but I'd like to order two of these,
make them to go, and give me a side of sweet potato fries, thanks.
I think you girls will agree.

I don't typically get this kind of drama in my races.
He/she is either going balls/boobs-to-the-wall, or about
to fall on his/her face. A vote?

This is pretty much the ideal race outfit.
I am guessing she finished Top 10.

In race news, I just signed up for my Labor Day race, the Park to Park 10 Miler, which I am pretty excited about. (I also steathily signed up hubs without his actual permission, simply because I don't want to have to get up that early and head to the race and figure out the parking logistics alone, and because my folks will be here to watch the Shorties so I am going to take advantage of that shit.) This will be my first 10-mile race, so it's a guaranteed PR! What's not to like about that?!


Beating the Mindf*ck Since 1993

So Nitmos' post the other day got me thinking (I know, NITMOS got me THINKING? Wha? How? Is that even possible?!) about Mindf*ck (MF). More specifically, about how often I do (or don't, depending) let this randy fool have his way with my running. Like a horny 17-year old boy that just won't take no for an answer, convincing you that if you really loved him you would just let him do it, Mindf*ck weasels his way into your pants--er, head and makes you succomb to his smooth caresses. And before you know it, you are wallowing in the guilt of:

a) not pushing yourself to achieve what you know could have, whether time or distance ("I'm just not that fast/I just can't run that far")
b) cutting a run short, just because you were "tired" ("I'm too tired to do 8 miles; I'll just do 5")
c) skipping a run entirely ("eh, I'll do it tomorrow...")
d) skipping a week (or God Forbid more) of runinng...and you aren't injured..or doing any other cross-training sport ("I think I need a week off from exercise")
e) quitting during a race ("I just can't run anymore...")
f) all of the above ("I'm just not a runner" or "I "don't like" running")

Last week, was kind of a toss-up for old Mindf*ck and me. On Tuesday, he got to second base with my morning run, inflicting a case of SRS and cutting it short. Oh, but Tuesday evening I claimed an "early curfew" and held him at bay to finish those 3 cheated miles. Take that MF! No love for you tonight, beyotch!

Then on Thursday (for spousal harmony reasons) hubs and I both ran again at the inside track. I planned to do about 20 or 30 minutes...and then, 6 minutes (that's 7 already-boring laps) into my run, the iPod ran out of juice. Whoa, running inside is barely tolerable at best (and that's giving it a LOT of credit), and that's with the assumption of constant iPod music being pumped into my frontal lobes in order to sedate me into staying on the track. But running inside (35 or more laps) sans music? Uh oh. No dice. However, I quickly realized that this is JUST what Mindf*ck wanted. He was buttering me up with cheap wine, hoping to get me drunk enough to agree to bump uglies with him later. Realizing this, I knew I could not give in so easily. If he expected to get this run to strip, he was going to have to work harder than that. A LOT harder (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

So when at 20 minutes I had to start dodging and weaving through the S-L-O-W mom-walkers going two-and three-abreast, I again considered nuzzling up with Mindf*ck. Hey, I did my 20 minutes, I am not a complete slug; maybe MF deserves a little kiss? But when I felt MF's fingers circling my waist, pulling me tight, tugging at my shorts...oh no, this fool ain't deflowering me! So I slapped that cad in the face and kept on running. For 40 minutes. 40:39 to be exact. And then I smiled over at old Mindf*ck and went home with my husband.

After this stunning Thursday victory over him, I couldn't believe when I saw MF skulking around the parking lot at the trail on Saturday morning. I was up for my first-ever 16 miler; he couldn't possibly think I would let him touch me again after the affront two days prior?! And on this important day in my training?! He started jogging slowly behind me, but I was just feeling to good to let him catch up and start sweet-talking me. I chugged along, enjoying the trail and waving at all my fellow runners.

By miles 10-11, which I managed to run at 8:35 pace, he was nowhere to be seen, so I guessed he had given up on me and gone home to get friendly with his hand instead. Imagine my surprise when I rounded the bend at mile 14 and there he stood, off to the side in the bushes, wearing only his Burberry raincoat....(he knows how to dress, I'll give him that)...but, wait, there aren't any rainclouds? Then *BAM!* he opened that raincoat and showed me his full glory. Shocked, I stopped to walk. I tried not to look but couldn't avert my eyes. He crept closer....then my favorite Blackeyed Peas running song came on the iPod and it broke the trance. I shook my head, got my wits about me, decided that I was not going to be MF's next Penthouse "It Happened To Me" story and picked up the pace again to finish out my run. As I ran away, I looked over my shoulder and saw him standing there alone, raincoat drooping, stunned look on his face. He looked so forlorn and lonely. I laughed, waved, and ran on home. Run tally: 16 miles in 2:49 (including water refill stop).

I've been running since I was a sophomore in high school in 1993: 16 years. There have been ups and downs; good years and bad years; high-mileage years and low-mileage years; fast years and slow years. I may have made out with MF here or there over the years, but I'm still here and still running....so on the days I feel weak and tempted by his smooth talking ways and hansome facade, I'll just remember that no matter how good it feels at the time, there is always the chance that Mindf*ck will pass on some incurable running STD that will sideline me for good. And I'll keep my shorts on, knees pumping, and feet moving.


Decompression Shorts

So I was in a little ongoing email conversation with a friend of mine, in which we were discussing one's need for individual "decompression time." And I responded with, "well, running is my decompression time...guess that's why I like the long runs so much...2 hours ALONE." And it hit me that this was really true. I am an only child, and have always been a little more on the independent side of the fence (you could call me a loner, but I don't really like to be alone all the time, it's more that I need time alone to recharge my batteries so I can enjoy being around people again).

Well, now that I have work--a job that is people-intensive--spouse, kids, dogs, organizations, kids' activities/sports, cleaning, cooking, laundry, groceries, etc. I don't get much time all to myself anymore. Yet, I don't need it any less. I just make-do with less. And it occurred to me that, though running IS an addictive drug, the Alone Time is the real whatfor that I've SO enjoyed adding distance to my running this year. It's the increased time alone! (yes, I too was in shock when this occurred to me...I always thought I ran for the t-shirts or medals. Or maybe even for the glamorous race pics. Yet there I stood, reeling at the contradiction this new truth presented.) The glorious, magnificent, heavenly, QUIET, time alone! I do run with buddies a bit, but the vast majority of my runs are solo. And I love that.

Perhpaps I should create my own home-made running clothing article...say, maybe some de-compression shorts to celebrate this breakthrough?

Perhaps my de-compression shorts might look a little something like this?

In non-running related news, I was in line to drop Shortie1 off at school this morning, when a mother approached with her school-age tyke trotting alongside, and another little one in a stroller. A (though she was clearly not a runner, it was a baby BOB, of course) stroller covered with mosquito netting and heavily-blanketed. A stay-at-home mom, of course she knows all the other stay-at-home-bunko-club-neighborhood-moms milling around (I'm not bitter though, do I sound bitter?!). Natch. And (as they tend to do) they then begin loudly discussing their little darlings. Hers have apparently been infected with H1N1 for the past two weeks, the smaller of the two (the mosquito-netted-and-blanketed one) further developing secondary infections. The bigger of the two, coughing and hacking like an emphysemic old hag. And standing in the kindergarten line with my Shortie. Awesome. Just one more thing for me to worry about.


A Light Case of SRS

Thanks to Morgan for introducing me to the ailment that clearly afflictd me yesterday: Sucky Run Syndrome. I got up for a 5:30 morning run, and since I had until 7:00, figured I would do about 8 miles. Well, it was so frickin windy that it blew all my motivation away (not to mention blowing my ponytail completely out, not once, but TWICE) by mile 2. I ended up cutting it short at 5 miles.

So, since it was Tuesday and my morning run sucked, I decided that I must make it a Twice on Tuesday again and do a two-a-day with an evening run at the indoor track. That run was slightly better and significantly faster, and I ended up doing 25 minutes which was probably in the neighborhood of 3 miles. So, I ended up with my 8-miler after all. (And I would like to thank my hubs for being a good sport and letting me draft him around the track, which probably accounts for the speediness.)

In other news, I did have a very successful solo 14-miler last Saturday, probably my best long run (without running company) to-date. It was, of course, on my favorite Highline Canal Trail. Also, there are some great contests going on this week: Cross Country Squared and Red Head Running are each giving away $100 to Dick's; Runner Dude is giving away $50 to Running Warehouse. And finally, I have been off my regular allergy medicine for about a week now, and I think that is the major source to blame for my SRS and the tiredness that I've had all week, despite going to bed early. I'm not sick, but the misery of my allergies has got me all itchy, stuffy, sneezy and generally grumpy as a result. BUT, I go in for skin testing Friday morning, which will hopefully result in qualifying me for allergy SHOTS instead of daily medication for the rest of my life, as I have been doing for about 10 years now. And you better believe I will be packin a Zyrtec-D for the second the testing is over!


Race Report: Wild West Relay 2009

So I hinted that this race was not at all what I expected, and it truly wasn’t. It completely blew my expectations out of the water. Going in, I thought it would be grueling, uncomfortable, long, potentially hateful, though possibly "fun" in a runno-masochistic sort of way. Yet for some reason, I wanted to do it anyway. It turned out to be manageably challenging, pretty dang comfy (for a rented Econoline van), the shortest 30 hours of my life, and absolutely addictively fun. I absolutely LOVED this race. I think it was a mix of the camaraderie--both of my teammates and the runner population as a whole—the sport, the excitement, the challenge, and the absolutely breathtaking scenery.

My team ended up with a 7:00 start time and planned to meet at the starting line at 6AM., Because I had opted not to drive up to Ft. Collins the night before, I had to get up at 3:30 in the morning on Friday in order to get going and arrive on time. Of course, I was up until nearly midnight Thursday night (freaking/packing/freaking some more/unpacking my over-packing/freaking yet sill more) so this promised to potentially start out very badly. But, I think because I was so excited and nervous, I didn’t really have any extra emotional room left over to be tired Friday morning. I was in Van #2, which meant that we wouldn’t actually be running until close to noon. So I spent a leisurely morning lying around and getting to know my vanmates. We made a breakfast stop, a grocery stop, and then headed up to the first van exchange to wait. At the inactive van waiting area, I kept seeing other runners and thinking, “wow, that guy/girl looks REALLY familiar” and it was kind of an odd, surreal thing. I mean, EVERYONE looked familiar, but obviously I didn’t know 99% of them. It was all a very déjà vous experience.

waiting at van exchange 1
hey kid, don't I know you?

I only knew 2 of my 12 teammates before-hand, and both of them happened to be in Van #1, so I was essentially stuck with 5 strangers for the duration. Except that “stuck” isn’t the right description because these 5 people turned out to be some of the coolest, nicest, funniest, simpatico runners I’ve ever met. I cannot imagine 5 better people to be randomly teamed and plopped into a rental van for 30 hours with. I think the great company definitely made the race more fun, but my overall feeling, constantly throughout the entire race was one of, “These are my people. I found my people.” (So this is the point when I go a wee bit Hippie Anne on you before you know what’s hit you, in order to explain the significant personal magnitude of this race for me.) I think that’s part of why I like racing so much, in addition to my regular running: the community of like-minded folks who don’t think you are nuts for getting out of bed at dark-thirty in the morning in order to run 3 or 6 or 13 or 26.2 or 50 or 100 miles (ok maybe 50+ is a teensy bit nuts-o), just for the fun of it. The sheer number of racers at this event validated that I am not [as] crazy as the looks and comments from all those non-running coworkers and acquaintances lead me to believe. Or at least, there is a large population of other runners out there who are the same amount of crazy as me; and that in itself is comforting and validating.

As for my runs, I ran legs 12, 24 and 36, which logistically speaking are the best legs to run IMHO. I got plenty of rest time upfront. I got to run into the van exchanges, which were the most heavily-populated with cheering crowds and music. I got to take a hot shower (commence 17-year-old-boy's-fantasy: 25 naked, in-shape chicks, 4 to a group shower, in a high school locker room--you're welcome GQH) after leg 24 and the promptly fall asleep for 5 hours all warm and clean. I got to run into the finish, joined by the rest of my team to cross the line together. Perfection!

amazing mountain views

Amazing! Cows! Next to the highway! Mooing loudly!
At the start of my first leg!

My first run (leg 12) was about 3:00PM on Friday. It was sunny and hot and about 8500’ elevation, but I only had 2.5 miles so it was completely manageable. My second run (leg 24) was a heavenly, wondrous 5.5 miles at 3:00AM on a rural highway, under the full moon and a gazillion stars. I passed several runners on this leg, as though it was at 8000’, it was fairly flat with just a few gently rolling hills. The thought I kept having over and over and over as I ran was, “THIS is why I run.” It was so dark, quiet, peaceful, and the weather was perfect (about 40 degrees or so). I just felt so happy and grateful to be there and able to do that run. I felt strong, fast, and free, and my heart was full. It was probably one of my top 3 runs of all time. I then got some good, solid sleep after this run and felt refreshed when I woke up Saturday morning to enjoy a hot pancake breakfast at the van exchange site.

van exchange #2, early, before it got busy & turned into a
full-on party scene. what, you didn't know
that Woods Landing, WY is where the Partay People go?

the sweet little babbling brook where i cooled
and de-stunkified my feet at van exchange #2. it is now
classified as a Superfund site...

My last run (leg 36) of 5 miles was about 1:00PM on Saturday. It was back down at about 6500’ and was another lovely leg that ran along the river in Steamboat., where I could hear and see all the tubers having fun on the water. It was warm and sunny and I SO wanted to jump in the water and join them! This run for me was just ok; I was hot and by the last little uphill at the end, my legs were starting to get tired. I knew that Hubs and the Shorties would be waiting for me at the end, so I was eager to see them, along with the rest of my teammates. And I was ready for some food!

My camera battery died. Must. Get. Pictures. From. Vanmates.
especially the one of us cleverly putting bunny ears on one
another at Rabbit Ears Pass. It was a lot cuter going on minimal sleep.

My team (the Greatful Treaders) finished the race in 30:16:50 0 with an average pace of:09:08 and 61st out of 142 teams overall. We were 10th in our division (Mixed) out of 33. It amazes me that the winning team finished in only 19 hours and 37 minutes, with an average pace of 5:55. That freakin knocks my shorts off! (really, literally, they are sitting here next to me on the floor as I type this now! Ok so maybe that’s because I changed out of them after my run and left them in a sopping wet heap on the carpet, but whatev.) I know they passed us at some point, but for the life of me, I never saw them. Obviously they were going too fast for me to notice more than the swift breeze sent up in their wake. 12 people running 5:55 up THOSE mountains for 200 miles! Now THAT is some serious crazy.

Ok so perhaps I may have already decided which (more challenging, more miles) leg I want next year. And I might have been mulling over trying the 6x6 Ultra category. And it’s possible that I have been secretly googling “ultra running races” the last few days. Full-on Nuts-o, here I come.


And Twice on Tuesdays

So I finally did my first, official, planned two-a-day yesterday. Started off the morning with a 5:00 AM run of 6.5 miles on my hilly route. After the hills of the Wild West Relay last weekend--at 8500+ feet altitude (race report coming soon...let's just say it wasn't AT ALL what I expected...)--I realize that consistently running my hilly routes more often, as I have done this summer, has really made a difference. My legs simply don't get tired, and I am able to keep my pace consistent on the uphill. This is definitely a good thing.

My second session of the day was after work, at the rec center on the indoor track. I did 31 minutes, which was probably about 3.2-ish miles. Surprisingly, my legs were not tired, as I expected them to be. I did 10 minutes at 9:30 pace, then sped up to 8:15 pace for 11 minutes, then back to 9:30 for 10 minutes. If I'd been outside, I probably would have kept going, as I felt pretty good. However, the indoor track was monstrous and I was not enjoying all those right-hand turns, so I threw in the towel and did some core work instead.

Overall verdict: Thumbs-up for two-a-days


Wild West Relay Freakout: Phase II

Is it me, or does the route look a bit hilly?
As I wouldn't want to unfairly steal someone else's hard work,
I will fairly steal by giving the correct credit for this lovely
poster to: "Runner/cartographer Paul Petersen of MarathonGIS
has created beautiful poster souvenir maps of the WWR route.
They will be for sale at the finish line for $20 and will be
packed in a mailing tube. "

So last night I actually took the time to read the "last minute instructions" from the race director...holy shit, there is a lot of important stuff to remember in there! A sampling of gems:

"The Friday forecast (and it will probably change between now and then) for the Fort Collins area is currently for a high of 84 degrees and isolated thunderstorms. So remember to bring your sunscreen AND rain gear, and take extra effort to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! The first 13 legs do not offer much if any shade.Walden will have a drastic change in temperature as a low of 41 degrees and scattered showers are forecasted for Friday night, so don't forget warm clothes." HMMM, A RANGE OF TEMPS ANYWHERE FROM 40-90, POSSIBLY WITH RAIN AND LIGHTNING. PERFECT.

"If you want to leave your car at the tour center during the relay, Budweiser requires a parking pass to be placed on your dashboard - you can download the pass here. Any cars left in the paved Tour Center parking lot WILL BE TOWED. Violators will be responsible for the towing and impoundment fee." FUCK, NOW I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT REMEMBERING TO BRING THAT PASS.

"...So running down the road with your ears shut off from reality is one of the most unsafe things you can do. So headphones/earbuds/iPods, even if in just one ear, are prohibited and violators will have their entire team disqualified." YEAH, YEAH I KNOW IT'S UNSAFE TO WEAR AN IPOD...BUT I COUNT ON MY TUNES TO KEEP ME GOING SOMETIMES. LIKE WHEN I HAVE TO RUN 6 MILES AT 2:00 IN THE MORNING. COURSE, I DO NEED TO BE ABLE TO HEAR THOSE COWS COMING...

""Open Range" is a ranching term. This means cattle are roaming freely and are not penned in by fences. You will encounter this situation on the Wyoming section of the relay route. There's nothing quite as scary as coming around a bend in the dark and finding black cows standing in the middle of the road." YEAH, I'LL SAY. IF I ENCOUNTER A COW, THAT BEYOTCH IS GETTIN' TIPPED.

"In the cattle country sections of the route, there are many cattle guards. The purpose of a cattle guard is to keep cattle on their owner's property. Placing a piece of plywood on the guard to make it easier for runners defeats the purpose of the cattle guard. DO NOT RUN OVER THE GUARD - slow down and cross carefully - prevent getting a sprained ankle or worse." WTF DOES A CATTLE GUARD LOOK LIKE, AND HOW WILL I KNOW IF I'VE ENCOUNTERED ONE?

Ah, so THAT'S a cattle guard. Shit.

"In addition, any road hazards have not been marked! Keep your eyes open and run within your self." DO I KNOW HOW TO RUN "WITHIN" MYSELF?! I'M NOT SURE I DO...

"A common comment after a relay is how someone found themselves off the course. The signs are put in place many hours before runners appear. Therefore, anything can happen to them – the wind could blow them down or some idiot could move or steal them....Remember, a relay race is a form of an adventure race - runners and teams must pay attention and take responsibility for themselves. Therefore, if you get off the route, especially if you were not carrying a map, you will receive no sympathy." BUT I DEPEND ON THE SYMPATHY VOTE!

"Leg 36 starts on the Core Trail and goes through downtown and residential Steamboat. Study the route map carefully before you run this leg!!! The leg also crosses Lincoln Ave (the main drag through Steamboat). There is a stop light at this intersection. You are required to wait for a green light to cross. Steamboat will ticket jaywalkers. STUDY AND BRING YOUR MAP FOR THIS LEG!!!!" SHIT, THIS IS MY LEG. FUCK NOW I ALSO HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT REMEMBERING TO BRING MY MAPS. PREFERABLY LAMINATED. (AS ANOTHER BLOGGER RECENTLY NOTED, I TOO NEED TO GET IN THE MAP, JOEY TRIBIANI-STYLE, TO FIND MY WAY. AT LEAST IT WILL BE DAYLIGHT WHEN I DO THIS....I THINK.)

Wait, WHY am I doing this again? Oh yeah, to get this shirt, designed by Drew Litton:


WWR Freak Out

The Wild West Relay is in two days and I am fairly-well freaking out. I feel totally unprepared for what to expect, no idea how I'll hold up in that environment, nor how well I'll run in the [real tall, real high] mountains. Seriously, I am really freaking out. At least work has been busy enough to somewhat distract me from a massive meltdown (however, my anxieties have found me in my dreams as for the last week i've been having stress running dreams every night. You know, the kind where you are running in a race and can't catch up or something goes wrong, or you are naked and sweating profusely? Normal anxiety dreams + running. Yeah, those are fun.). Unfortunately I now find myself with one project wrapped up and a small block of free time in which my freaking has found a nice home. Five more minutes until I move onto a new project...and the freaking will go back to being a low, dull, distracting ache in the back of my head.

But first:
- How will I apply body glide to somewhat intimate parts (i.e. sportsbra areas, bikini line where built-in running shorts underwear rub when they get wet with sweat) with 5 strangers looking on?
- I have been instructed to be "self-sufficient." Exactly what mix of food do I bring to tide me over 30+ hours, with running sprinkled in?
- How much water will I really need?
- Is it rude to bring a book and expect a little reading time while on the road? Or will everyone expect me to talk to them the whole time?
- Don't even get me started thinking about the outfits I'll need nor what will happen if (ok let's be honest, when])I have to pee every half hour...

Ok now it's time for me to distract myself again with work, before I start to pull out my hair and wander through the halls muttering and foaming at the mouth. Tomorrow I'm sure I will share more freaking out, probably centered on my legs of the race, and the hills/heat/middle-of-the-night running. Or nutjobbing about my lack of ownership of a blinking head lamp and sleeping bag.

And on the home front, I am glad to say that apparently a 5-year old can be fairly easily placated with a purple Hello Kitty battery-operated toothbrush and one gold dollar coin. Point Tooth Fairy.


All New Luddites Marathon Training Plan

So, not that it is exactly news to me (or likely many others who know me AT ALL), but I have reconfirmed that not only am I not a math rockstar, evidently I am also a little fuzzy with a calendar. It all centers on my marathon training plan.

Now, I'd like to claim to be all scientific and hi-tek like Lam, and use something ingenious like The Grid. However, I am neither and so use less of a "Grid" and more of a "simple-chart-type system," which I lovingly call the Luddite's Marathon Training Plan, for my training. I am doing the Denver Marathon on October 17. I have a 16-week training plan. Hence, I need to subtract 16 weeks from the 17th and start on that date, and then do what the plan says each day. Easy, right?

Somehow, I either started on the wrong date, forgot what training week I was in, or both. When you "tweak" damn near every training run on the plan, this can tend to happen. So, my response was to take my original training plan, which was really just sort of a calendar-y table in MS Word, and slap it into Xcel to see what simpleton customization and basic math I could weasel out of it. Here is the result: The All New & Improved Luddites Marathon Training Plan...Now with Math! (for calculating* your over/under stats, guaranteed to make you feel like a rockstar or an utter failure...depending.)

As you'll notice, I could call the "Over/Under" column simply "Under" based
on my training habits. As a wise woman once told me, "Think of the training
plan as more of a guide than an exact plan." Those are obviously the words I live by.

And to answer the question I know you are all going to be asking...yes, the plan is available for purchase from me for the low, low price of $5.95 per spreadsheet* cell. You do the math on that my friends.

*Validity and correctness of equations contained in training plan not guaranteed by seller.


The Tooth Fairy Has A Lot on Her Mind These Days

So it's been another super-busy week. Work is crazy (no surprise) and on top of it, Shortie2 had a birthday last week. So that involved present-buying (of COURSE Target no longer has the Spiderman bike that is the only thing he's been asking for since April...and I won't mention how we've been caught in that trap BEFORE on present occasions; can't believe we made that rookie mistake...again!) grocery-shopping for funfetti cupcake supplies, Shorties' cupcake-making-to-take-cupcakes-to-the-preschool-class episode (followed by mom's remaking new batch of cupcakes because Shortie-made cupcakes included unhealthy doses of saliva and cough-sniffle germs which I refused to knowingly subject the rest of the preschool to), balloon-run ($10-fucking dollars for ONE mylar balloon? Really? I don't care that it's a big, awesome, fire-truck shaped one....TEN DOLLARS FOR ONE BALLOON????), card-and-goodie-bag-supply-run....etc., etc.

Then the weekend was full of still more fun activities like riding the alpine slides and nasty, sketchy (and probably highly unsafe) rides at Heritage Square...hiking up The Hill, going for runs (both mom and dad), and all the rest of the regular household duties. Then on top of all that, I have the Wild West Relay this week, which I am totally stressing/obsessing about. So when Shortie1 lost her 4th tooth yesterday (thank GOD, she's been whining about it wiggling for AGES) it was just the straw that broke the proverbial duty-worn mythical fairy-type creature's back. Yes, I am referring to the fact that the Tooth Fairy was apparently, ahem, a little overloaded, and may have gone to bed early last night, and thus forgotten she had a very important stop to make at the M2 household.

Let's just say Shortie1 was not amused this morning. She was already pissed the last time the Fairy visited because the Fairy was evidently more careful with her tracks and did not leave large sprinklings of "fairy dust" (very similar to Martha Stewart glitter, in case you were wondering) all over the floor like she had on the last visit. Woops. Now THIS time, not only was there no fairy dust, but the beyotch had the nerve to make no visit at all! I fear Shortie1 is starting to lose her faith in this tooth-stealing ephemeral being-ette. And of course, her first question (naturally, with an endearing and slightly pathetic little crushed look on her face) was, "Didn't the Tooth Fairy think my tooth was good enough to use in her castle?" Because that's why the Tooth Fairy needs all those little teeth in the first place: to use as building material so she can add on to her tiny little castle wholly constructed of kids' teeth. Obvi.

So now, this mother must face the task of seeking out the Tooth Fairy (does she have a website (apparently she DOES!)? We know she has a cellphone because that's how she knows to come to your house...she gets a text when your tooth falls out, alerting her with your name and address, duh) and seeing exactly what her excuse for missing our house last night was...

a) Swine flu
b) Had too many stops to make on the east coast over the weekend and couldn't make the red-eye flight to Colorado
c) Ate some bad oysters and was laid up in her castle puking her guts out
d) Had the Annual Fairy Convention and got drunk with Tinkerbell

Perhaps I should stop making up such elaborate backstories for the fictional creatures that visit out house. It leave a lot to clutter up the head; and my Shorties are going to really kick my ass someday when they find out about all the many, many lies they've fallen for. But hey, it's good fun in the meantime. (And I am comforted by the fact that at least I don't have imaginary email correspondence between my kids and the Fairy like This Guy...)


Race Report: 2009 Downtown Runaround 5 Mile

What you can't tell by this post-race pic is that my clothes are, literally,
completely soaking wet with sweat. I love humidity!

This was a race I not only hadn't planned on running, but didn't even know existed. It was happy coincidence that we were visiting the in-laws for a family reunion in Columbus, NE the weekend of the race. Upon arriving, my father-in-law excitedly asked my husband and I if we wanted to sign up, as that was the last day to do so. I am always up for a race, and somehow managed to talk my race-averse spouse into joining me...clickety-click and a credit card number later, we were all set to run the 5 mile race.

The course for this annual race traditionally starts and finishes in downtown Columbus, NE, and makes a trip over the only hill in town, the Viaduct bridge over the train tracks, along the way. However, the Viaduct has been shut for repair for about a year, so they had to alter the course for 2009. The result? A fabulous, flat, tree-lined and shady route around Pawnee Park and Wagner/Spires Lakes. Oh yes, this race had all the makings of a faster race pace for me: flat? Check. Shady? Check. Elevation below 5,000 feet? Checkedy-check.

Though well organized (Our race numbers were folded, 4 safety pins handily included, a sheet of race-day instructions, and a coupon for a free Big Mac placed inside of individually-marked envelopes at packet pickup. How considerate! Although the inclusion of the Big Mac belies the relative unimportance of healthy living in this community...) the race was a little more throwback old school and casual than what I'm used to in Colorado. There were no timing chips, it wasn't an officially measured course, the route was loosely monitored by volunteers, and I have yet to find the full results posted anywhere....but, it all went off without a hitch.

That's me over on the left side, midway back, in the hot pink.
I always wanted to be famous.

I started out at a pretty good pace (8:09) and was FINALLY able to maintain it consistenly all the way through the race (8:20, 8:23, 8:25, 7:54, :20). I just kept telling myself it was a tempo run and therefore I was not allowed to slow down, I had to stay consistent. The utter flatness allowed this to actually happen. While I did miss the requisite uphill-downhill I am used to at the CO races, it was fun to continually pass a lot of people on the 1-3 miles. Mile 3 I was pretty much running by myself and then started to catch some of the people in the next wave in front of me and pass again during Mile 4. There was one guy I had seen way up ahead the whole race (he was wearing a red shirt, as was my hubby, so I initially thought it was him--he naturally took off and left me from the start--and was trying to see if I could catch up) and I was finally closing in on him. I kicked out the last mile strong and sprinted the last .5...and he was toast. But, alas, I never did catch that shirtless guy.

Passing people is fun. Especially because I so rarely get to do it.

American Tights, you're history. Red Guy, I'm coming for you.

Hey, I warned you Red Guy. (he's there, behind me, in the background)

The official finish.

Final clock time: 41.42 PR yay!
Final garmin time: 41:38
"Official" race distance: 5.0 miles
garmin race distance: 5.1 miles

No idea how many finishers or where I placed--there was a 2-mile and 5-mile race and total count was 939 for both races--will update if they ever post it. One thing worth noting is that the winner of the 5-mile race finished it in just over 25 minutes. Which, sadly, is still faster than my fastest-ever 5k race time.


Downtown Runaround Quickie

Full race report coming, but for now: great race, nice and flat, 5mi PR 41:38. This being Columbus, NE, the race was full-on Old Skool with no timing chips...so obviously the race results are not posted, so don't know exactly how I did in the field of about 900. Stay tuned folks.



Ah, vacation. How sweet you are...and so where am I, you may be wondering? Am I in beautiful San Francisco, preparing to run the half or full marathon? Negative. Am I by the beach, sunning and relaxing? Alas, no. Ah, perhaps camping in the serene Rocky Mountain wilderness, with nothing by my wireless card and a bear-proof cooler, and a long leash for Shorties 1 and 2?Still no.

If you have been reading this blog since my last "vacation" in the spring (though I wager most probably haven't) you may recall that all my "vacations" involve trekking back to the Motherland: Nebraska. Nebraska. Nebraska. In July. Yes, folks, I am once again in the Flatlands, visiting relatives. While calling it vacation might be a bit of a stretch, a Polish family reunion is the impetus for the trip. I know there will be Polocks, of course there will be beer; I am praying for [drunken] polka.

While it is nice to have a couple days off work, and it is fun to see the in-laws, the best thing (ok second best--the best is that it's flat here despite being wetly humid and exponentially buggier than Denver) is that we arrived in town today to have the father-in-law announce that there is a 5-mile race on Saturday, and were we runners interested in participating? Hell yes. So, just like that, my "fun" family (by marriage only) reunion turned into a racing trip, whee! Since we actually remembered the camera for once, I will attempt some action shots of the excitement that is sure to be the Run Around Town.

Tomorrow I will show my full geekiness and write about my and semi-failure (which turned into a-bit-less-of-a-failure due to my sheer and utter stupidity) on my current training plan for the Denver Marathon in October.


I Am A Downhill Whore

If there is a Downhill within 10 miles of my house, I've had my way with it....numerous times. I realized yesterday on my morning run that I actually strategically plan my routes to seek out and take advantage of Downhills. Oh, I'll huff and puff and grit my way through doing the requisite ugly friend, Uphill, as long as Downhill promises me a sweet hookup afterward. But when it comes time, I won't take my time and savor Downhill--oh no--I'll let go and just fly through him, they way I can't make myself do with old ugly-turn-out-the-lights-put-a-bag-over-his-head-and-pray-for-it-to-be-over-soon Uphill. The feeling of running fast on Downhill is one I just can't get enough of.

Yes, it's true. I can admit it: I am a Downhill whore. Do they make porn for that?

Yesterday I did about 5.2 miles in 50 minutes. Downhill count: 6. Today I am skipping my morning run and instead going for a rafting trip on the Platte with my old college roommate who is in town. I think I'll save my rendezvous with Downhill for tonight. Oh, the anticipation!


Dog Days of Blogging

I think my crazy-busy two weeks of work before the holiday have completely fried my brain. Either that or the dog days of blogging have set in...I could blame the heat, or the post-holiday slow week, or Michael Jackson's death (because really, who can function in the aftermath? certainly not all the crying facebook/twitter commenters participating on cnn.com yesterday. hey, i only watched it for the music and to catch a glimpse of diana ross' hair) but mostly it's probably the fact that my life lately has been kinda boring. Run. Work. Kids. Sleep. Repeat.

I simply don't have much to write about today (and not for lack of trying; I've been rolling around in my noggin what mental diarrhea I feel the need to get out of my head over the last few days, but keep coming up constipated. and you know constipation of any kind is never good.) other than the fact that I had a lovely early morning run with my old pal Cross Country Squared this morning. She is in town for worksy-type activities and I somehow got her to drag her bones out of bed and meet me for a 5:30AM run. Glad she did as it was good to see her again and catch up, and the chatting just made the 5 miles fly by. And a little shout out--I want to heartily thank her for hanging with me, when I could tell she would have gone a lot faster (and probably farther) on her own.

We did my relatively flat post office loop of 5.28 miles in 47:39 (plus a potty break for me halfway through; my bladder is the size of a peanut, I'm used to it) for a 9:01 pace. Good start to the day.

Depending on the heat and how my day goes, I am considering trying a two-a-day today and doing some track work tonight. But don't hold me to it, now that Michael's gone.


Two-A-Days: Workout Genius or Masochism?

So, lately I have been considering doing some two-a-days, just in order to get in the mileage that I want. I've been running pretty consistently in the early mornings, which I have come to luuuurrve, but there have been some days that I've been tempted to join running buddies for a second run in the evening--either because I didn't get in quite the miles I wanted to in the A.M. or just because I would like to run/chat with the folks that are assembling that day, for the camaraderie. I haven't done any of the organized group speedwork or long weekend runs since before the Rocky Mountain Half, and quite frankly, I am missing the group action (yes, I can already anticipate a potential comment from Glaven on that, and I will preempt it by saying "yes" to anything he might infer. And it's even better if we're talking about including pre-run bunches of bananas my friend, bunches...)

Anyway, does anybody out there subject themselves to two-a-days? Are they feats of scheduling and workout genius or just pure masochism for (hypothetically-speaking, of course) someone who ought to perhaps consider incorporating other activities into "her" repertoire? (I have fond memories of collapsing into bed every night after two-a-day volleyball and soccer practices back in my sporty high school youth. I used to love them! So I am thinking I might also enjoy the occasional running two-a-day, as the marathon training gets into full swing over the next few weeks. Ok, yes, it occurs to me now that perhaps I lean toward the masochistic side of the house as I realize I enjoy the "pain" (although it's not really actually painful, not in a BAD way. I mean I don't DO real pain, except the puke-threshold kind and that's completely good for you. Right? And it feels kind GOOD to sweat where you feel like you've been wrung inside out. C'mon, you KNOW it does or you wouldn't be here reading this you running geek) inflicted by my dear Running.)

Anyone, anyone? Bueller?

As for my real, non-hypothetical running, yesterday morning I did a lovely 5 miles at 9:00 pace with a running buddy on part of my favorite Highline Canal Trail (wildlife encounter=1 mangy-looking coyote). Today I am "off" and will instead cross-train with weights and core work at the gym. As it's supposed to be 96 today, this sounds like a great plan.


Race Report: HRCA Independence Day 5K 2009

I haven't done a 5K since March, and I have been running well and training a lot since then, so I was really interested to see how I would do this time. In true Highlands Ranch fashion, the race course was pretty hilly. HOWEVER, since I have made it my mission to conquer these bitch hills in my hood, it was noticably easier this time around. My legs definitely felt stronger, as did my lungs. And of course, there was the fact that it was only 3 little baby miles, so you know, CAKE.

It was a clear, warm, sunny morning for the 8:30 start. After all the pre-6AM running I have been doing, 8:30 felt like such a luxury. A hot, sunny luxury, that is. But, I had fueled up with my trusty cinnamon raisin bread, took at Gu just to see if it would make any difference on a short run, and hit the porta-pots before we took off. I ran into a couple of my running buddies at the start line, so that was nice.

I had set the simple race goal of beating my last 5K time. HOWEVER, I had also furiously scanned last year's race results to see how fast the finshers were, particularly in my age division. I deduced that my secondary/secret goal was to try and hit 25:00 or an 8:30 pace. I knew it was probably do-able, but it would be a little new for me to, you know, actually run hard and race during a race. I seem to tend to lay-up and not run races as hard as I could, probably due to some obscure fear of not finishing at all, lest I get too tired or something. (which is ridiculous, because of course I would still finish, even if I had to walk the dang course...on second thought, it's probably more of a deep-seated fear that I will run so hard and fast that I will want to puke and then I will actually puke and all those other runners will think, "wow how disgusting, doesn't she know you have to TRAIN to race, you can't just meander off your couch or out of frickin yoga class and think you can be a runner, by god, what a disgrace...) Anyway, I felt that I would actually run this one hard, and actually get myself out of breath and be hands-on-knees panting by the end. Or something reasonably close to that, but maybe a little, you know, easier...like an 8:30 pace.

Lest you all be bored and stop reading before you get to the Grand Finale*, I will say that I came respectably close to my super-secret 25:00 goal with a respectable 26:29. A nice 1:20 faster than my last 5K time.

26:29 (PR)
9 in my age division (woo hoo, I cracked the top 10!)
24 female (top 25!)
118 overall finisher out of 411 (not top quarter...but really close...and I chicked at guy at the uphill finish, so totally strong showing)

*While yes, it would appear that with a 26:29 time, my pace was a close-to-goal 8:33...I am sad to say it actually was not. My splits?
Mile 1-7:31 (woo-hoo!)
Mile 2-8:20 (ew, that hill hurt a little)
Mile 3-9:52 (oh shit, I'm feeling that 7:31 now...I better just, you know, walk that 20 yards up that big hill right there...uh oh, that's another hill just after the downhill, isn't it? and crap, the last half mile to the finish is all back uphill again isn't it? I better just slow down a tad now, so that I can make sure and run that last bit to the finish where all the many, many people are LINED UP to watch the parade that's starting at 9:00; thank God I'll at least be done before that thing starts...right? yes, right I will be, crap it's hot out here...would it be weird if I just took my shirt off now? ok so just run and get done and get your water, fool)

The good news is that the 7:31 and 8:20 miles didn't really hurt that much while I was doing them...and on a little flatter course, I think I could definitely sustain that faster pace. Must. Find. Flat. Course. Also, I don't have criticism on the shirt design this time...but only because they ran out and I didn't get mine yet. I'll be sure to post when I get it, though, if it's as expectedly hideous as the others.


Found: Perfect Pre-Morning-Run Food

So, after my awful, exhausted early-morning-run last week, I decided that perhaps I should re-think my pre-early-morning-run food choices. Perhaps a banana is no longer good enough (i'm sorry Banana, please don't be upset; I do still love you and will continue to scarf you frequently at other times of the day)?

Since I've been running more often in the early morning, I've noticed the not-entirely-unpleasant-yet-kind-of-annoying-and-completely-unexpected side effect of apparently losing some weight (yes, I know, many people kill to lose a few pounds while I have done so by doing nothing more than altering the time of day that I run, while still maintaining my daily Starbucks addiction and penchant for all things chocolate and way more pizza indulgences that I should be allowed; I know it's completely unfair and I ought to just be thankful) which is actually, slightly annoying. Annoying because it was unintentional and now many of my work clothes are a bit saggy--not a good look for a suit. But I digress...so I decided that perhaps I am now lower on body fat than before, thus not having as much to burn on an early morning run, a measly (but delicious all the same) banana simply isn't going to cut it to keep me going for more than a 2 mile run. And if my a$$ is waking up at 5:15 to run, I'm damn sure going more than 2 miles.

So, last weekend at the grocery store, I spotted some cinnamon raisin bread....hmm, I like bread...I like cinnamon...I like raisins...I'll give it a whirl. At 100 calories a slice, it isn't decadent, but 2 slices is enough to give me energy without making me feel too full that early in the morning. I am happy to say that my runs all week (yes, there have been multiple 5:30am runs this week; it is just SO nice then without the sun and heat, and with all the birds chirping) have been 3,000 times better. (perhaps even 3,001 times better) I even had a strong 7 miles yesterday morning without being completely pooped out by the end. Still had energy left and rocked out a grueling day of work.

Cinnamon-raisin bread, you have earned yourself a permanent spot on my grocery list. Well done, very well done humble bread.


Wild Hair Up My...

Yeah so, I am officially signed up for the Wild West Relay team I was considering joining. My crazy, endurance-mad coworker (who I will not name, but if you know me and happen to know who he is, you know he is an awesome but crazy-ultra-man who does things like 24-hour ski-race UP mountains and such) talked me and a couple of others into it...and $133 later, I am officially running slot 12 of the 200-mile race from Ft. Collins to Steamboat Springs on August 7-8. WTF I am thinking, I don't know.

This is the little bucket of madness I have subscribed myself to filling.

Ultra running has always sounded so ridiculously ridiculous to me, yet by the time I got to the end of reading Born to Run, it had begun to sound completely and utterly natural. A measly 26.2 miles is chump change compared to 125 miles through Death Valley in the summer. Or running down a deer, you know, for dinner or a midday snack. So obviously, it was in the wake of finishing this book that I fell prey to my convincing coworker and decided that the Wild West race was small fries and that I was totally(!) up(!) for(!) it(!!).

Now after a week of 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 12th guessing my decision, I'm not so sure (too late, sister, you already paid and the team is counting on you)...I don't do well without out enough sleep...this is 24 hours in a van with 4 strangers...minimal sleep...no showers...sweaty feet...random food choices...limited bathroom facilities, and what if I don't like my van-mates? That's a lot of hours in a small metal box, with sweaty bodies, if they are annoying...

I'm sure they will be fine and it will turn out to be great fun; my slot is actually only about 13 miles total (3-5-5), it's rated a level "3" on a scale of 1-12, so it is well within my abilities. I bet I'll enjoy it in the end. And if not, hey at least I tried and I have a good excuse to get out of it next year.