Thursday, November 22, 2007

Atlanta Half Marathon Race Report

Okay, so I guess I shouldn't be totally surprised that I did not run my best race ever. And, I'm not. It is what it is. No worries. I definitely have a few comments though.

That's a surpise, huh?

Little patience while I bitch about MARTA, k?

Sooooo.......MARTA proves it is NOT smarta. Again. See, I am one of those rare breeds and I am actually from Atlanta. Born at Northside Hospital. Lived in family housing at GA Tech as a baby. I've had addresses in Atlanta, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Marietta and Roswell. And for as long as I can remember the slogan for MARTA has been take MARTA its smarter. And in the 36 years I have lived in metro Atlanta? I have yet to experience the promised genius of MARTA. I think those guys in the horse and carriages outside the Westin might actually be a more reliable, quicker choice.

Generally, I have nothing bad to say about Atlanta Track Club. But the fact that they keep recommending in their race packets for people to take MARTA is starting to piss me off. Please, stop doing that.

Nevertheless, Doug and Steph and I parked at the finish. It took us less than 30 minutes to get to the Ted from outside the perimeter and that was with getting a little lost trying to find the stadium parking. I know you are wondering why park at the finish and not the start but this is because--at least this was the thinking--it is better to jog that mile to the MARTA station from the finish before the race rather than after. Especially today considering the weather forecast. Oh yeah, and there is also lots of stairs to go up and down at the MARTA stations. Certainly not on my list of favorite things to do after a race.

Well, this is the absolute last time I am depending on MARTA to get me to the start of a race or really, anywhere that I need to be in a timely fashion. It is a just a joke.

We got to the finish about 5:40 am. Race starts at 7 am. You'd think an hour twenty would be plenty of time. You'd think. We waited forever for the train. More time than it actually took to ride said train. Absolutely ridiculous. We got to the start about 6:58. Of course, I had to pee. I heard the race start from inside the portolet. As I sprinted to the start I heard "Happy Thanksgiving Runners! Have a great race and if you hear thunder take cover."

Exactly what I want to hear.

So I was at the back of the pack and had to dodge and weave and dodge and weave. Oh well. I really didn't set a time goal for this race since I am STILL sick. Doug was merciless with his ribbing at my hacking and sniffling. (Hope you don't sick Dougels!Mwah! Kisses) I figured under an hour 50 was reasonable. I ran 1:42 last year and had hoped that I could get under that but knew when I woke up this morning that any sort of Atlanta PR was not going to happen.

That first mile I ran mostly on the sidewalk or in the grass. I started crying about a minute in, remembering last year. I said my prayer for Evan, told myself I'm not allowed to quit and just dealt with it.

Mile one came in at 7:30. I had no idea how far back I started. I passed lots of people. I believe the rain also started at the end of the first mile.

I hit 2 miles at 15 minutes and the crowd was still very thick. It was totally pouring. It sucked.

At 3 miles I started to feel dizzy, my head hurt, my shoes were soaked and heavy and it was still raining. I really wanted to quit. Remembered that I wasn't allowed to quit. Cursed a little bit and figured well, only 10 more miles. I've run more than 10 miles in rain. I can deal. For me, it always helps if I go down my running list of things that have sucked or were painful to get through the tough times in a race. I ask myself: Worse than labor? Nope. Worse than OBX? Nope. Worse than broken pelvis? Nope. ING Heat exhaustion? Nope. Losing Evan? Never.

So I had my pity party really early and hit 3 miles in 23 minutes.

Mile 4 was 30 minutes.

Mile 5 I had a coughing fit. Some guy made a SARS comment. It came in around 38 minutes. I think it had stopped raining or was just lightly so.

Around mile six I passed the butcher chasing the turkey. I commented that he must be regretting that plush now. The turkey asked if we could swap outfits. I told him I had a cold and was miserable enough as is. He persisted and said that it would keep me warm. I picked up the pace and ran on. I think 6 was around 47 minutes. I asked someone what the last split called was and I calculated I was about 2 or so minutes behind.

I don't remember mile 7 but this is when you start the climb into Atlanta. This is when the fun ends(--not that I was having any). You start seeing smiles fade to grimaces. Cheers fall to curses. This is where you realize that yeah, I'm earning that turkey this year. And those bad things--as Steph says-- that you did to sweet potatoes? Inconsequential. You realize, as you meet hill after hill, that your waist-- your weight will be immune to all that fat and calories this Thanksgiving.

Mile 8 was around 1:03.

Mile 9 my nose started to run. It kept the pace that I had lost. Sniffing, wiping--didn't help. Total snotty mess. Oh, yeah. The wind kicked up here too. Whatever, I thought. Really I think those last 4 miles are always windy. Must be a top of the hill thing or something.

I don't remember mile 10. Probably more snot, wind, wet heavy shoe misery.

Mile 11 my nose had stopped running but then I had another fun coughing fit. I could hear myself wheezing and people were looking at me with that--uh-do-you-need-help-cause-you're-kinda-scary-sounding-but-I-really-don't-want-to-be-the-one-to-help-you-because-I-totally-don't-want-whatever-is-wrong-with-you-so-I'm-just-gonna-look-concerned-but-not-say-anything-look. I wished I had my inhaler with me. But I figured that if it got worse someone at an aid station would probably have one. Next time I decide to run with a chest cold I will definitely remember to bring it.

Got some water and recovered. I have no idea where the mile went but it seems suddenly I found myself in the last mile and was like, yeah, I'm done. I cranked out the last mile the best I could and passed a ton of people. Some guy encouraged me and yelled after me that I "looked great!" Yeah, right. I know I look like ass. But thanks for trying.

Saw the Olympic Rings and sprinted it out to the finish. Clock read 1:47 something. Garmin was 1:45 something.

It was frustrating because I had zero muscle/joint/body discomfort. I think even with the weather had I not had this never ending freaking cold I would have had a super race. But yes, I am very happy I did not run the full. I always forget how much those hills in the last 10k suck. They aren't terrible for the half but they are just torture in the marathon. So props and cheers and hugs to all the full marathoners today!

And great job to all my half compatriots: Steph, Doug, Wes, Wes's Dee Dee,-- and my Dee Dee (Dee Lo), Paige, Toby, Danielle, Sarah, and Diana. Sorry if I forgot any shout outs. I really hope everyone had a much better race than I did. Let me hear your Turkey race run down.

Now go, go eat your turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, beer (drool). You deserve it.

Pam and Justin. We are thinking of you today. Like you, we are still missing Evan. Prayers, hugs and thoughts for you.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What? I'm fine. Really.

Every time I answer the phone someone--Lala, Tara, Dee Dee, Steph et all-- says "Wow, you sound bad." Or "I have the same cold."

"What?" I say. "I'm so much better. I ran six miles today. I was fine. Little tired, you know, but fine."

Then they say, "I don't think you should run." Or "So you're just doing the half, right?"

I assure them that I am fine, really, feeling better. I just sound bad because I was coughing. My voice is probably rough from that. My vocal cords probably strained or something. But really, my head? Chest? Clear now. Here listen. You hear that? I took a deep breath. Haven't been able to do that since last Wednesday. I'm better. Really.

Lala and Tara counter with; "Well you still sound congested."

I'm not. I promise them and assure them that I am just waiting to see how bad it is going to rain before I decide which race.

And last night I asked Ryan if it was raining really bad and I did the full if he and the kids would could meet me at the Starbucks on Peachtree Hills with some dry shoes. You don't even have to come if the weather is nice I told him. You know, just if it is bad, I would really like some dry shoes.

Are you serious?

Yes. I explain that the last 10k will go much better for me if I have dry shoes.

He just shook his head.

And then he didn't say anything but he looked at me with that one eyebrow raise thing that I can't do as I coughed so hard last night that I almost threw up. After I finished he said "Sounds like your going to do really good in the race. I'm sure the dry shoes will make all the difference."

I told him that I was better. Fine. I just needed to cough that last bit of phlegm out. I said this as I took 2 teaspoons of cough expectorant/suppressant and thought, to myself, that probably carrying my inhaler with me for race might be a good idea.

Apparently though there is still more phlegm and I am so glad Ryan went to work early so he hasn't heard me hacking all morning since the cough syrup has worn off.

So yeah. Maybe I'm not exactly totally well. But I swear. Yesterday? I thought my cough was gone.

Oh, and I checked the weather. Uhm, yeah, this is the forecast for tomorrow between 7-10 am: 80-100% chance of rain. Chance of thunderstorms. Showers definite. Temperature 56-52 degrees (looks like it is going to drop through the day)

I am taking the hint. I don't want to but I also don't want to DNF because at mile 20-- when I run past the aid station in front of Piedmont Hospital-- I decide to skip the Powerade and instead check myself into the ER. I know, if nothing else. The last place I want to be on Thanksgiving is in a hospital.

So I am sorry to all the hard core character building marathoners. I want to hang with you but I just can't suck it up. Too many strikes against me. And to all my peeps in the half. I'm in for the rain dance.

Now, I am off the Expo and then to take the kids to see the Lenox Santa and ride the Pink Pig.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Turkey Day Roll Call

Okay who's doing what race on Turkey Day?

For those doing the Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Marathon or Half Marathon I want to hear half or full and when you are going to the expo.

And for those undecided runners you can still register at the expo. Today is the last day. You can switch races until Wednesday at 7:30 pm.

And for those that will not be getting up at the crack of dawn to run or make a turkey the race still needs volunteers. I hear you get a cool sweatshirt for your time. Application is here.

Finally, for those that ipod I want your top 5 running songs.

Edited because I need to know what everyone is planning on wearing for the race. Right now I am thinking skirt (navy) and Run Like a Girl shirt (orange). But last time I wore the orange shirt for a race was OBX and it rained really bad. Not that I think the shirt caused the rain but you know it may not be so lucky.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What to do What to do?

Help me decide. Please.

Thursday, Thanksgiving, November 22 is the 2007 Atlanta Marathon and Half Marathon.

The Atlanta half marathon was the first race I ever ran. That was 9 years ago. I'd only been running for six months. It was a huge accomplishment for me and I loved the challenge. Not to mention it was just the thing to stave off that holiday weight gain.

And I've signed up every year since --except in 2000 when I was 7 months pregnant with Carmella. I missed it in 2001 because I woke up race day with a chest cold and it was pouring rain. I ran it in 2002 6 weeks pregnant with Beau. In 2003 I trained and registered but ultimately decided not run since I was nursing an infant every three hours around the clock. Sleeping seemed more important at the time.

I have run this race in rain, wind, sunshine and freezing cold.

It is my favorite race.

In 2005 I decided to step it up since I was not seeing improvements in my times. I trained for and ran the Atlanta full. It was my first marathon. Needless to say this race is important to me and I plan on being there next Thursday whether it is for the half or the full.

But really I want to do the full.

Yes, I know, I just ran a marathon 10 days ago. I've recovered from that. I ran 10 miles totally pain free on Thursday. Sprinted out the last part of 6 miles uphill on Wednesday. I've run all week except yesterday and probably won't today. And that is because I seem to have caught the kids' cold. I feel pretty sure I will be well by Thursday but I am resting, taking it easy just to be sure.

The other reason I want to run is because last year Thanksgiving became the saddest day my family has ever experienced. Last year when I ran the half I ran crying; thinking of my nephew at Children's.

I tried to make deals with God that day. I tried to make deals with Evan. I told both of them that I wouldn't quit, I wouldn't ever quit because he, Evan, couldn't quit. Considering my lack of sleep, coming off bronchitis and my heavy heart I actually ran a good race. But it didn't matter. God wasn't in the mood for making deals with me that day and we lost our little Evan.

So Thanksgiving will be a painful and sad day. And I plan to run, sick or bad weather, to remember my nephew. But just like how 3 years wasn't enough I don't think 13.1 is enough. I think I owe him more of my mind that day. Not to mention the pain of the marathon might, at least in my thinking, somehow assuage this horrible heavy pain of loss.

I know.

I am being naive.

But believe me, I know nothing can ever hurt more than the pain of losing someone precious in your life forever. So I don't think for one second running a marathon is going to do that. But. . .

Okay, I know this notion sounds totally masochistic--and really I am not like that-- but I can't help but think if I indulge in a little physical pain I can somehow manage the mental anguish a little better. Yes, it may be an apples to rutabaga thing but it is the best I've come up with so far: because physical pain, in my opinion, is always easier to manage. You can name it. You can placate. You can get through it. It is this other pain-- this loss--I just don't know what to do with; how to manage. Shrug, I guess my thinking is if I can manage the physical pain then maybe I can manage the other. Maybe so, maybe not.

Also, I think running for almost 4 hours is a nice way of praying.

So yeah, that is why I want to run the full.

My problem is this cold I now have and the weather says a possibility of thunderstorms. I would rather not run through rain on race day. Certainly, I'll do the half in rain but after OBX I really don't care to pack it in for a full marathon in the cold, pouring rain--especially if I also have a cold. Just sounds like a recipe for pneumonia.

So what do you think? Encouragement would be helpful. Opinions please.

I have to register by Sunday. Cost for half is $35. For full it is $50. I can switch--or register-- at the expo to either the half or the full but the price for both goes up. So if I register for the full and switch to the half I don't think I have to pay any extra. But if I sign up for the half and switch to the full then I will have to pay $35 more.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Turkey Cupcakes (by request)

Okay, this is for all my mommy friends who have little ones and might have volunteered to bring a dessert to their little one's Thanksgiving Feast. And you know if I made it then it can't be all that hard.

I cannot take full credit for these as I looked at a few different turkey cupcakes recipes I found on the Internet but those seemed a bit more involved than I was willing to do. So armed with my Internet pictures I went to Publix and perused the candy and cookie aisle until I figured out an easy way to make the turkey.

*Box of yellow cake mix
*Chocolate Frosting
*Mini Chocolate chips
*Mini Milano cookies by Pepperidge Farms
*Candy corns
*Red Hots or Red crystal sugar or red sprinkles (my kids didn't like the red hots so I used the red sugar on leftover cupcakes when they wanted more)
*black decorating icing (small tube)
*white decorating icing (small tube)

Make, bake and frost cupcakes according to directions. Then sprinkle with mini chocolate chips. Place 8-10 candy corns in cupcake for the tail feathers. On a Mini Milano use the black icing. Make two dots for eyes and one for the beak. Press a mini chocolate chip over the dot for the beak. To make the wattle use the white icing and then place a few red hots or sprinkle red sugar. Stick turkey head in cupcake. Voila! Turkey cupcakes. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

2007 Chickamauga Marathon: Race Report

See how I wrote 2007 there in the title?

Well, that is because I plan on doing this one again. And so yeah, maybe I've only done 4 marathons but Chickamauga is my favorite.

Wait, I think this picture about says it all:

That is me seeing the clock and throwing up my arms and cheering for myself. Unfortunately what I don't have a picture of is me, right after I cross the finish line, jumping up and down and punching the air like I just scored a touch down.

I had an amazing race.

No, not that perfect race--at least not in my book-- BUT it was the best race that I have done so far. So much right came together for this race that the only fault I have with it is with myself for not pushing harder. I know I could have. I learned so much from this race about me as a runner. And next time I am putting that knowledge to use.

Wait, here is another finish line picture:

Before I get into all the boring details let me give a quick rundown of the marathon. It is mostly in the Chickamauga Battlefield Park. It is a rolling double loop course. There are hills and depending on where you train you will either find this course extremely difficult or just somewhat challenging. The second loop, though the same as the first, felt infinitely more arduous. In my limited experience I would say this course was similar to ING GA but easier because you don't have the final push, I mean death walk, up Peachtree. But there is a hill at 22 and 24 miles and then it is pretty flat to the finish. The course itself is gorgeous but it does look very similar throughout: wide open grassy fields with deer grazing, marble monuments, civil war markers and cannons. Lots of winding asphalt roads (no cement)and lots of fall foliage. Very very pretty-- the epitome of south east fall scenery.

The race is also small and very intimate. Only 500 people ran it. So you will probably find yourself alone on the course. There is also not a lot of spectators but the ones that are there are very very enthusiastic. There are tons of very well stocked aid stations: water, every flavor of powerade, ibuprofen, bananas, oranges and cliff shot blocks. Porto lets along the course. There was also rolling medics on bikes that patrolled the course. There was a huge after race spread--pizza, cokes, food etc. They even frame the bibs of those doing their first marathon. Honestly I cannot think of a single negative thing to say about this race.

Okay, on to the boring details . . .

Let me begin at the begin.

We--Ryan and I-- drove up to Chattanooga Friday after lunch. Bubbles and Poppy took the kids in their car and Meme and Pat and baby Pat went in their car.

We met up with Poppy and Bubbles and kids at the expo. Poppy was running the 10 mile and he needed to get his number. Kids were collecting as much swag--which wasn't much--as they could get their hands on. Meme and Pat went straight to the cabin on Lookout Mt. that we had rented.

I only mention the expo so I can bring up the shirt. The expo was probably the smallest for a marathon that I have been to. BUT the shirt they gave me was the bestest ever. And here is the secret: Chickamauga Marathon is the deal of the century. I paid $40 for the race and I got an Asiacs technical shirt. In a woman's size. In a good color. With a nice design and a perfect fit. I want to wear this shirt everyday to run in. It is that great.

After the expo we headed to the cabin. Which if you do this race next year--which I think you should (but don't tell too many of your friends)--I highly recommend bringing the family and renting a cabin. Our cabin was about 15 minutes from Chattanooga and 35 minutes from the start--though had we been more map proficient it was only about 20 minutes. Here is a few pictures of home for the weekend:

The family in the backyard (and probably Bubbles's Christmas card photo):

Horses in our backyard:

Fire pit:

Hello! Smores! Is there a better carbo loading food than that?

I went to bed when the kids did. Everyone else stayed up and had a good time. That part sucked, as Lord knows that I do not like to miss a party, but I definitely did not want ride the hangover train.

I didn't sleep well but I didn't expect to. I had "banked" my sleep all week by making sure I got 8-9 hours every night in anticipation of my inevitable fitful race night sleep. Basically I laid down for 7 hours. And since there are periods that I don't remember being awake I have to think that maybe I was asleep then.

I woke up at 10 til 5 am. I got in the shower and took--to my dismay-- an invigorating ice cold shower. Poppy determined that the hot water heater had been turned down. Yay me for being the guinea pig. Not exactly how I wanted to ease into the morning but it certainly woke me up.

Had my usual Uncle Sam's and coffee. Did the debate of what to wear. And Poppy and I headed out around 6:15. We got to the start--which was at a church. We got our timing chips and hung out inside the heated church with clean, well stocked restrooms and coffee and chatted and stretched. At one point Poppy asked me if had something--I don't remember what--but I answered--what don't I have? Everyone within earshot laughed as I had Garmin, ipod, fanny pack with Gu's, phone, mittens, water bottle etc. I was a total girl scout. Even while running someone commented that I might shave 30 seconds off each mile I dropped some of my stuff. But you know, until I get that sponsor and sag wagon I'll just carry my own crap. Better safe than sorry. It may annoy me but it would bother me more not to have it all. I's needs my stuff people. And yeah, those same people who laughed at me sure did like to know what Garmin said pace was.

Around 7:15 I headed to the start after one last potty break. I ran into Gary, who is the brother of a friend from high school. I see him all the time at races and never say anything but decided to be social. He remembered me and said he had just done Marine Corps 2 weeks ago. I did see him on the course and he was about 1/2 mile ahead of me. I saw him at the finish and he said he had to drop out: Achilles issues. I encouraged him to do the Atlanta half at Thanksgiving.

I also ran into Wes! who was running the 10 mile. We chatted and he wished me luck. It is always nice to see friendly faces. People! Come talk to me at races. I'm chatty. I'll talk to anyone.

I noticed that there was a guy with a handmade "3:30 pacer" sign pinned on his back. I asked him if I could try to hang with him and told him that I would fade as my goal was under 3:40 but knew I probably had a 3:30 in me on a magical day. Our conversation was cut short by the race start. Guards in full dress with flags sang the National Anthem. Everyone around me sang. I did not. Not because I am unpatriotic but because I see no need to embarrass myself right off the bat. After some quick directions we all got in our places to prepare for the start. I lined up next to the 3:30 pacer. I pointed out to him that we were front and center and asked if he was planning to bolt out with a sub 6 pace. He said no and we moved a few spaces back and left.

And pop went the gun.

Or maybe someone said go. I have no idea. I just go when everyone else does. Seems the thing to do.

3:30 pacer and I introduced ourselves. His name was Dave. He is an ultra runner and he explained to me his strategy for the race: negative split and walk breaks. He said the first few miles would be 8:10ish and over the course of the race we would push the pace to 7:50. I pointed out to him at the first mile that we were 7:45. We slowed the pace but still remained under an 8 minute pace for the first several miles.

I prattled on nonstop about who knows what. I normally put my head phones on and check out. I have never carried on a conversation for more than a mile in a race. But I chatted, okay I ran on at the mouth for the entire first half of the race. No music. Just chatting. Who knew? It was nice and the race flew by.

In our group was Andrew--he was 16 and it was his first marathon. Joey who was 26 and it was also his first marathon. Then there was Dustin who was also 26 and doing his first marathon. He was always a bit a ahead and I hung with him when Dave and the other 2 did their walk breaks. I had my doubts about the walk breaks.

Note: Garmin had us ahead on the course from about the 2nd mile marker. By the end of the race I had 26.56. Other people commented that their GPS was long too. I think this is probably because the course was curvy and you couldn't take the short arc-- which I assume was how it was measured.

The first half came soon and though I'll have to look but I am pretty certain that the 1:45 split was 1-3 minutes slower than I ran at OBX and GA ING--I think those were 1:43 and 1:42 respectively.

The course was rolling hills but it felt pretty easy, nice and comfortable for the first loop. Though I was apprehensive knowing such would not be the case the second time around. Sometime around mile 14 I decided I would try one of Dave's walk breaks. It was up a hill and only about 15 seconds. This is where the wheels started to come off. As I suspected it was hard for me to get started and get back to the pace. Over the course of the mile I fell further and further back. And even when they took their walk breaks I still couldn't catch back up. So I tucked my head down, turned on my ipod and kept their backs in view. By the 16th mile I looked up and they were gone and I was totally alone on the course. Somewhere around here there was a fork and I was going to go right but just then 2 men came along and passed me. They went left. Whew! Lucky they passed or who knows where I would have ended up. I was totally in lala land and somehow missed seeing the big giant white arrow pointing left until I was on top of it. Der.

I was really feeling sorry for myself and I was hurting. Nothing specific just that general all over achiness. I wanted to quit. But it really wasn't an option since I knew Ryan and the kids were not on the course. I wouldn't see them until the finish. So I just kept plodding forward. My thinking was if I have to finish I am going to keep running--even though it hurts--because walking or stopping is going to make it take that much longer.

Then in the 17th mile going up a hill I got it: the second wind. Totally came out of nowhere. I guess counting down the miles and no longer being in the double digits mentally helped (--or more likely the Gu's kicked in). For some reason saying to myself less than 75 minutes seems totally doable. Or maybe it just took me getting use to that pain. Whatever the case I started to pick up the pace. Around this time running up a hill I came upon Andrew (the 16 year old). He was walking up the hill. I patted him on the back. I gave him a sympathetic look and told him to hang in there, he could do it.

I had been passed a good bit in the 14-17 miles where I had my pity party. But by 18 miles I was beginning to pass some of those same people and also new people. Even though I was feeling better I was being conservative as I counted the miles down. A lot can happen in that last 10k. I was worried mile 22 was going to be my undoing. It usually is. But it never happened. In fact I just kept feeling better and better. Even had a smile on my face.

I hit 22 miles at 3 hours and 2 minutes. I just kept pressing the pace and really started passing people. In fact I don't think anyone passed me at this point. I saw Joey --the 26 year old--in mile 24 and told him to run; that in less than 15 minutes it would be over--10 minute miles I said: you can do it. He shook his head at me but I looked over my shoulder and he had started running. He crossed the finish line shortly after me.

I felt strong until right after I passed the 26 mile marker and then suddenly felt the beginnings of a calf cramp. I seriously thought it would take me out but I choose to ignore it and it never manifested and I was able to sprint the final stretch.

Final time was 3:37:27--almost a 6 minute personal record from the 3:42:43 at OBX exactly one year ago. Even more so it is 31 minutes faster than the 4:08 I ran at the Atlanta full (my first marathon) 2 years ago on Thanksgiving. And it is also nice that I have a another Boston qualifier that once I finally get the funds together I will be eligible to run it.

Icing on the cake came a bit later when I found out that I was first in my age group--8th female over all. That said there was only 15 in my age group and only a hundred or so women. Even still, I am happy with myself. I like that I continue to see improvements in my race times. It is nice that I haven't yet hit that age ceiling.

It was a great race and I think my troubles in the middle miles had partially to do with my body maybe not digesting the GU's very well or me taking that 3rd one too late. I had one at the start, one at 5 miles and then another right before 14 miles. In retrospect I should have had it at 11 miles. I had my last one right at 19 miles and I think that was probably about right. I think my other problem was that I was somewhat unprepared to feel pain so early in the race. Generally I am pretty much pain free til closer to the 20 mile mark. Once I accepted that I could run with pain and that in fact picking up the pace helped, I was able to put the wheels back on and get it done. I am always somewhat conservative about my pace after the first half as I worry I won't have enough gas. But Saturday I felt like by the 20 mile mark I was just hitting my groove again so I sort of feel like I held too much back.

I don't know. On the otherhand, I am thankful for Dave--the pacer-- because he forced me to go out several minutes slower than I had planned. I had thought I would hit the first half at 1:43 and then figured the second half in 1:53-55 or so (never optimistic about a negative split). But then again I could have slowed more--so who knows. The marathon is such a beast for me to pace. But I do think experience is teaching me what I am capable of, what works and what doesn't. Still on that learning curve, I guess.

And so . . . in this post marathon afterglow . . . I am serisouly considering doing the Atlanta full on Thanksgiving. I have until Sunday to decide and register. I keep thinking my sanity will return and I will stick to the do-the-half-on-Thanksgiving plan but the more I think about it the more I want to run the whole thing.

I'll let you know what I decide.

In the meantime go ahead and put Chickamauga Marathon on your calendar for next year.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Rumor is there was a celebrity running. This guy says it is Lance. I don't know. What do you think? I will say I did see that guy --not the blogger-- around the 3rd mile. He was right in front of us and Dave commented on his ugly shoes. And then we started a conversation about running shoes. I didn't really look at the guy but I didn't get that tingly feeling that I would think I would get if I was in the prescence of a 7 time Tour de France winner. You'd just think that I would have some notion about it. And honestly, even if it was Lance I probably would have sprinted after him just to check if maybe he brought Matthew along too. Drool. So. Very. Yummy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Promises, promises . . .

So I had no Internet this weekend because we were being all rustic and staying in the great outdoors in a fancy log cabin with heat and a hot tub and running water and satellite TV --basically everything but Internet.

I know I said I would post a race report Monday when I returned but I am too tired today to write it up. We got back early evening yesterday and today I had a really bad case of where-the-fuck- did-I-put-everything Monday. After hobbling like a stiff legged chicken with its head cut off this morning I indulged myself in the bike and a little brick run with Steph. Whew worked some kinks out there. Thanks Steph! And then after doing all the laundry from the weekend I also squeezed in a swim and some good stretching this evening. So while the stiff achy legs are feeling much better I am pretty exhausted. Just need to chill, ya know.--with my wine and Dancing with the Stars . And a nice yummy steak. Ahhhh. . .

So . . . for those that care, I promise to post a full Chicakmauga race report tomorrow or Wednesday by the latest. And for those that want pictures and details of Seeing Rock City, Ruby Falls and all the other marathon weekend festivities I promise to get that up along with pictures too.

I will tell you that I had an absolutely fabulous race. Really, I had a fabulous weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Mystery Reader

Just like there is a peak in training there is a peak in the taper and I think I have hit the the height of it for sure. Just riding the crest of taper madness for one more day.

Yesterday I rushed around getting stuff together as we leave later today for our weekend in the mountains: tons of laundry--though still not packed--almost, payroll, shopping, and made lasagna (yes from "scratch")for tonight's dinner. Not entirely certain this will prove the best pre race dinner ever but I generally have a pretty tough tummy so hopefully I won't suffer GI issues tomorrow.

Later this morning I am the Mystery Reader for Carmella's class. I anguished at the library yesterday trying to decide what book to read. I ended up picking this book. I worried it might be too scary for first graders but I ran it by Carmella's teacher and she thought it was wonderful and said she also had the Old Lady who Swallowed the Fly that I could read too--instead of Earl the Squirrel.

So in my madness I decided that I would go one step further and make cupcakes as a surprise treat. I have never made cupcakes before so I was little worried but I they turned out alright. For this I did use a mix. I can definitely cook just not the best baker. You have to be more exact with measurements when baking and exactness is not my strong point--nor is following directions.

Okay, Martha Stewart I am not and if you can't tell I decorated the cupcakes with spiderwebs and made little flies out of craisons and green icing. Ryan was making fun of me and said the kids wouldn't be able to tell what they were--much less care. But I told him that my artistic ability was about that of a first grader so I happen to think they will be able to tell.

Okay, going to pack and then off to the race!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Last Dance

Today was my last workout before the Chickamauga marathon on Saturday. Ready or not I am trained. Now only 2 more days of not getting hurt or sick. Kids keep doing stuff like sneezing and coughing and saying they are sick. I know they are just picking on me but they better keep their runny noses away from me.

My plan this morning was an easy 10 miles--yesterday I had a 7 mile general aerobic pace run and it was very easy. This morning though I found I had a text from my bike honey. She was dangling an easy short ride in front of me and cheater that I am I gladly accepted.

Only problem was that it was very cold today. Okay, right, sorry, very Georgia cold --my car said 32 degrees. That is cold for November in Atlanta. It was probably high 30's low 40's for our ride. That is pretty perfect running weather but not so for the bike.

I spent the better half of my morning before meeting Steph trying to figure out what would be most appropriate attire. See, I've got running clothes, I've got ski clothes and I've got hiking clothes. Warm bike clothes I do not have. I dressed in my favorite running Nike tights. I never wear the padded bike shorts anyway--though I have a pair-- so I am okay with running tights to ride in. I have found the upper limit of my comfort level without a padded crotch is around 30 miles. No comments please.

Finding the right top proved more difficult. I have extra anxiety about bike attire because of Wes, my brother in law who does the criteriums and buys himself $400 jeans. My sister, his wife, has told me that for the bike people that it is all about the outfit. See, this is most definitely not the case with runners. Anyone who has toed the start line at any race can tell you that.

I settled on my underarmour turtleneck--I call it my scuba shirt--and a ski fleece. I had a hat on too but ended up ditching it. Then I also brought a light weight technical running top, my sleeveless bike jersey, my Nike windbreaker--I call it my Discobreaker cause it is pink and shiny-- and 2 hats.

I ran before Steph got there. I decided immediately that I needed mittens. So I ran over to Kohl's and bought some mittens. Much better but after that first mile I was dying I was so hot. The run ended up being 3 miles at an 8:03 pace. My plan was marathon pace but I should have started Garmin after I warmed up. To get to close to marathon pace I had to run the other 2 miles more in the 6:30-7:30 range. So not exactly a marathon pace run. Oh well. Short and sweet. Marathon pace, I guess, will be a bit of surprise. The minutes will fall where they do.

I was so freaking hot after my run that I ditched the fleece and went for the Discobreaker. The mittens I kept. This proved a pretty decent combination. I was comfortable, even a little warm at the end. But my toes were Popsicles. Maybe just some warmer socks next time? Steph suggested plastic bags per her husband but I am thinking he hasn't heard how important the outfit is otherwise he would know that plastic bags are not tres bike chic.

Anyway we did about 20 miles. I think pace was around 15mph. I forgot to stop Garmin at many lights. At rate we certainly weren't going to break any records but it was a great ride. I'm glad I got it in.

Now? 2 full days rest. I should also mention that my appetite is out of this world. I am eating good; just way too much. I am thinking I might not even need Gu's as I am fairly certain by race day I will have reached camel status. Only my food store will be on my stomach, ass, thighs--basically everywhere but my back or unfortunately, not my chest.

Good luck to anyone else who is reading and will be out there Saturday at Chickamuaga. And good luck to Charlie at Richmond-- yeah, only 2 weeks after Marine Corps. He is only a little insane. And, yeah, I respect that.

Psst: Race goals . . .
1) To finish
2.) To PR-- sub 3:42
3.) Under 3:40 (okay really, close to 3:30)

Week's totals:
Run: 41 miles--assuming I finish the marathon
Bike: 45 miles
Swim: 1 mile

We are doing the whole See Rock City and Ruby Falls and the Chattanooga Choo Choo and renting a cabin for the weekend. Don't know if I'll have internet or not so I may not post until Monday.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Sigh, boring taper workouts. Time to fold laundry, time to make fancy yummy dinners, time to wipe counters and scrub bathrooms; time to do all the housewifely things that I really do not love--time I would rather be spending doing hardcore workouts.

Yesterday, though not ass kicking, was nice on the bike. Easy. Little annoying because Greenway was packed. Apparently other parents do not find it necessary to scream at their kids to "Get to right! Get over! Biker coming through!" And said kids that do not scoot look petrified when you yell "Hey! Pay attention! Don't hit me!" Cause, like I don't know if they know left from right. So calling out "On your left!" is just confusing to them. Then their parents make eye contact and offer a sheepish grin as apology. Whatever, fine with me. So be it if it has to be me who teaches your kids trail etiquette. My goal is not to wreck. So be it if I gotta be the bitch on the bike who is the trail compliance officer. There are clearly posted rules and I am obeying and so can you. And yes, I do have some anger issues. But see, I look so non-threatening. And I think that is what is so confusing. Grrr.
But yeah, it was a nice bike. Almost 25 miles in an hour 24. Easy peasy.

Today the kids had no school. Teacher workday or something. Steph had work meeting. No bikie with my girlie. So I gymed it. Again, easy peasy. Treadmill run. Purposely reigned myself in so as to not screw myself for the Chickamauga marathon that will be taking names and kicking my ass on Saturday. I had intentions to practice marathon pace--8 minute miles-- but it that feels too slow on the treadmill. So it was 7:50 pace for first mile. Hit 2 miles in 14:50. 5k in 22:20 and 4 miles in 29:20. Finished the whole 5.25 miles in 38 minutes. Even still, I think 8 minute miles for 26.2 miles is going to be very hard for me. I know how it will go down: first half split: 1:40. Second half split: 2 hours. Joe? I will be channeling you. Mr. Thank you very much I ran a negative split 3:30 marathon in an Iron man. Hello hero. Promise me it wasn't as easy as you made it look.

Yeah, okay. I am a teensy bit jealous.

So what.

Anyway, I spent sometime on the mat stretching. Man. I am tight. Ridiculous. I am thinking I should devote a little time each day to some stretching. Thought about lifting some weights but figured nothing but hunger would come out of it so I decided to swim.

Changed for the pool. Thought about the 10 x100's in 2 minutes but since I had no Steph to motivate me I just swam solid for 30 minutes. I lost count around 600 meters. We'll call it a mile but I am sure it was a little over. Changed and collected kids.

We did our errands. The kids were soooooooooooo good at the grocery store. I actually got compliments on how cute and well behaved my kids were--moi--my kids--Carmella--and--Beau--from several people. I kept looking around thinking surely they are not talking to moi. Totally weird. Hey, maybe we've finally turned "that corner." You know, the corner that people keep assuring me that Beau will turn. Seriously, I am sure it was just a fluke. Wait, is there a full moon tonight? Are there cameras on me or something? I'm suspicious now.

Then more cleaning, boring house-wifely stuff, more laundry folding (just so you know I could fold for everyday for 2 hours and there would still be more to fold, put away. Gag. Who are these people and where do they find the time to dirty so many clothes?). Then a long walk with dog and kids on bike. Then playing with kids and all the neighborhood kids (we apparently are that house, you know the one where kids migrate, multiply) in the yard.

So this is what people do when they don't run/bike/swim for 2+ hours a day. Huh. You know. This isn't so bad. . .

P.S. I heart italics

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Parable of Pink Bear

As a parent you want to help your children not make the same mistakes you have made. You want to ease their way in the world. You know, maybe make life not so hard. Maybe spare them some of those painful life lessons. To do this you might tell them stories of your own painful experiences in hopes that they will relate and learn from the story how to avoid having a similar fate--learning a difficult, painful lesson the hard way.

But sometimes you find, despite your best laid intentions of story-telling that the actually story proves way more interesting and the lesson becomes lost in the telling.

And such is the case with the story of Pink Bear.

Yesterday was a lovely day. While driving home from our bike ride we had the windows down and radio turned up. We were all singing along; the kids in the back were seat dancing too. Then I noticed in the rear view mirror that Beau was holding Husky (his stuffed husky dog) out the window. Now Beau does not have a particular attachment to Husky exclusively. But he does like his little stuffed animals and rotates between Husky, Shushu (teddy), and Cici (Bald Eagle). He always brings one of his stuffed animals with him even though he shows no particular preference to anyone in particular.

Nonetheless I knew that if Husky flew out of his hands it would bring much discord to what had so far been a harmonious day. And with Ryan out of town I desperately needed the harmonious day to persevere for my sanity alone. So I told Beau to stop holding Husky out the window, telling him that he might fly out of his hands and be lost forever. Beau assured me that he was holding on tight, that Husky was most certainly not going to fly away.

I turned off the radio and rolled up the windows and asked them if I had ever told them the story of Pink Bear? No?

Once upon a time when I was a little girl I loved teddy bears. And my most favorite beloved teddy bear was pink bear. Pink bear was, well pink and also had a music box and even though the music box was broken I still adored Pink Bear.

One time Pop and Lala and Justin and I were driving to Grandma's.

Here the kid's interrupt and want to know where was Pookie. Isn't she my sister? Did we leave her home alone? How come she couldn't go to Grandma's with us. Was she bad? And, by the way, where is this Grandma. Is it Grandma Virginia? (Ryan's Grandma) Or is it the first Carmella (my great grandmother)?

I explain that Pookie wasn't born. I was only 4 and Pookie wasn't born until I was 5. And it is a Grandma they never met. She is in heaven, I assured them. Now be quiet and listen.

So on the ride to Grandma's we had the windows down and I was holding Pink Bear out the window.

Beau wants to know what Justin was doing?

What? I don't know. Probably being carsick or drooling. I don't know. That doesn't matter. So I was holding Pink Bear out the window . . .

Beau asks if Justin is Baby Duncan's daddy? And then wants to know if he is my brother?

Carmella tells him that Justin is my brother and is indeed Duncan's--who is their cousin-- daddy. She also tells him that Patric is Daddy's brother and Baby Pat is also their cousin.

Beau nods and adds that Patric is Meme's daddy.

Nooooo. Patric is Meme's husband. Peter is Meme's daddy.

Who is Peter?

Never mind, just be quiet and LISTEN! Please.

Okay, so I was dangling Pink Bear out the window when he was suddenly ripped out my hands by the wind. I screamed and cried and carried on until Pop turned the car around and went and found Pink Bear.

I was so happy to have Pink Bear back and quickly forgot about Pink Bear flying out the window only moments before. Foolishly I held Pink Bear out the window and again Pink Bear was ripped out of my hands. And again I screamed and cried until Pop went back and got Pink Bear.

Pop got Pink Bear back and warned me not hold him out the window again. Saying that he wasn't going back to get him this time if he flew away again. Well, of course I didn't believe Pop so of course I held Pink Bear out the window again. And of course Pink Bear flew out of my hands again. But no matter how much I cried and screamed Pop would not go back and get Pink Bear. Pink Bear was gone forever and I never saw him again.

And kids, that is why you do not hold your stuffed animals out the window. They will fly away and be lost forever because Mommy will not go back and get them.

But Mommy, Carmella interrupts: Why don't we just drive to your Grandma's house and look for Pink Bear. I am sure it is still there.

Ugh, no. Of course Pink Bear is not there. This was like 30-- a long time ago. Besides, I definitely looked when we drove back home and then again the next time we went to visit.

And then Beau said, well you could just go to the store and buy a new Pink Bear. Carmella agreed that this was a good idea. Maybe if I just asked Pop nicely, you know said please, that he would buy me a new Pink Bear.

Ugh, no. Pink Bear was special. You just can't buy another Pink Bear!



Then Carmella said that she was pretty sure that Pink Bear was still there. I probably didn't look hard enough.

Ugh, no. You know what, never mind. Forget about Pink Bear. I rolled the windows down, turned back on the radio and watched without comment as Beau held Husky out the window; unconcerned and without consequence.

Some days, as a parent--no matter how hard you try-- you just don't feel like you are explaining things right. Sigh. I guess there are just somethings--no matter what you say or do -- that they will have to learn the old fashioned way; you know, the hard way.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Yasso's got nothing on Carmella

So here I find myself yet again in the taper madness. I know I say it every time but man, I hate the taper. I feel fat and out of sorts. You know, I happen to like my training regime-- okay, no, maybe not the peak training regime. Wait, you know what? Yeah, I do like that. I just don't feel like I've accomplished anything if I don't feel completely dead on my feet. I suppose that might be a tad masochist but I really do like that heavy leg-I-can't-make-quick-movements feeling I get after hardcore workouts. I also like the short but hard workouts that jazz you up. What I don't like is how I feel all sluggish and thick in the head during the taper.

So Chickamauga will be my 4th marathon and even though I've done a dozen half marathons and a triathlon I am still trying to figure out how to taper. I figure eventually I'll hit on the magic formula but until then I continue to struggle through this trial and error taper approach.

Regardless of all that I do know that during the taper-- wait, more specifically, a week out from your A race-- is not the time to try new workouts. But nonetheless I found one. Tried it, did it, whatever. I really can't take credit for it since it wasn't planned; it just sort of happened.

Yesterday I decided since I had 8 days until the marathon squeezing in one last 16 miler wouldn't hurt--might even help. I didn't run it hard, just took it easy and enjoyed myself with an 8:40ish pace.It was a nice run on a nice day.

The kids have been all about their bikes lately so I promised them I would take the to the Greenway trail for a ride after school. I debated riding or running along with them. I decided I should run since I just bought new shoes for the marathon and need to break them in a little. I coerced Lala to come with me despite her complaints of old lady back problems. We took puppy girl Lola too. I figured I could easy jog along with the kids. I was thinking it would be walking with a little running. Not even a workout.

Uhm,. Okay. How come no one told me that when you take the training wheels off your kids' bike they are really fast?

Holy Mother of God did Lala, Lola and I get a workout.

Carmella took off as soon as she hit the trail. I was like what! Wait! I was flat out sprinting to keep up with her. No kidding. Lucky for me Carmella stopped right around the half mile mark. I caught my breath while she graciously waited on Lala and Beau. When they caught up I told Lala that she was on Beau duty. Lala was breathing hard but nodded that she understood.

Then Carmella was off again. I sprinted after her, dragging puppy girl with me. Again Carmella stopped at the half mile mark and waited on me. Once she had Beau and Lala in her sight she was off again. By a mile and half I was dripping in sweat. Carmella in contrast wasn't even breathing heavy. Whose idea was it again to take her training wheels away? Oh right, mine. What the hell was I thinking?

By the time we reached the 2 mile mark Lola was about dead. Carmella waited until Lala and Beau caught up and I handed Lola off to Lala. Puppy girl was dead weight. I've got to get that Husky in shape. She is good for the long but she has no endurance speed.

At the 2 mile we turned back and Carmella continued on with her version of Yasso 800s and I just tried my best to keep up. I was not really planning another speed workout before the race--you know thinking I was good having raced a half marathon 14 days out-- but nevertheless I got one in. And maybe next time if I don't run 16 miles in the morning before Carmella 800's they won't seem so difficult.

So here is how last week worked out:
Sunday: No workout. I had planned a recovery run but decided I needed a full day rest.

Monday: I was really surprised to find myself sore and still tired from (I guess) the half on Saturday. My workout felt really hard. I did my usual 5 mile recovery. Maybe I ran it faster since I brought Lola for all 5 miles. Around the midpoint of the run I tripped and since I have Lola tethered to my waist I went superman like flying and then she drug me through the dirt for a few feet. I was surprised to find that only my pride was hurt. I was dirty and totally embarrassed. Thankfully I was only a spectacle to the cars driving by.
After my run Steph invited me to a swim. Her knee was bothering her so no bitches bike ride. Dissappointing but probably just as well. I did ride my bike to the Aquatic center--not quite 5 miles--to meet her. I am so stupid but I am still trying to figure out how to dress myself for the bike. It was pretty windy and I was hot, then cold, then hot, so I was glad that it was a short, albeit uphill ride. At least, I figured home would be downhill.

We hit the pool and did a 400m warm up and then we did my 10x100's in 2 minutes workout. On paper this workout doesn't seem so hard but it really kicks my ass. The goal is to do a 100 in a minute 30, rest 30 and repeat. Inevitably I blow my wad by doing the first 3-4 100's in a minute 20 and then drag through the next few. By the 6th or 7th 100 I am ready to quit but Steph is totally not a quitter so we got it done. I think all my 100's came in under a minute 30 but they were hard fought. We did a 500 cool down and then got cold and called it a day. Then I rode back home and was very cold. I swear I spent the rest of the day trying to get warm. Yes, I know it was in the 60's.

Tuesday: So sore in the arms and very tired. No workout. At least I don't remember one.

Wednesday: Only had time for a quick 6 miles.

Thursday: Another easy 6 miles after I dropped kids at school. Then Ryan made me go to work with him. I hacked away at shrubbery for a few hours with a machete. Not fun.

Friday: Arms totally sore from machete workout. 16 miles at an 8:40ish pace. 8 Carmella 800's at what felt like faster than 5k pace but admittedly may not have been since I am sure I was tired from the 16 I ran in the morning.

Saturday: Took the kids to ride their bikes again at the Greenway. Carmella and I had a conversation how she was to take it slow. I ran behind her and in front of Beau. We got in just over 4 miles in around 34 minutes. It was nice and easy and I only had to sprint a few times. This jogging along while they ride might be just the ticket. However I feel like crazy mom yelling for my 4 year old to "Pedal Hard! Keep up!" Some people walking on the trail were giving me dirty looks. Whatever. They have no idea that I have spent the last 4 years chasing Beau around.

The Totals:
Run: 41 miles
Bike: 10 miles
Swim: 1900 meters.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Some prefer the treats; Others? They like the tricks . . .

And by tricks, you do know I mean turn them.

I mean I know I said we were poor and that I needed to figure out a way to make some extra money but I am kidding, really.

I was hooker witch for Halloween. Just for pretend. I wasn't going to dress up but I found my fabulous orange and black socks and, you know I only have an excuse to wear those once a year, so I dressed up. For socks.

Beau told me I looked beautiful.

Carmella bemoaned that I am always a witch.

And Ryan muttered "No kidding. I mean, you look hot honey."

And now Beau is my favorite.

See, I'm easy. And now it totally makes sense that I would like the tricks, doesn't it?

We went to Aunt Meme's and Uncle Patric's to trick and treat. Baby Patric was Bob the Builder, Carmella an angel and Beau a red Power Ranger:
And with the retro setting:
Carmella, I mean peaceful sleeping angel:

Baby Pat, I mean Bob, the Builder:

Beau, I mean, evil Power Ranger that steals Bob's drill:
And wakes peaceful sleeping angel:
Who fights the evil Power Ranger for the good of tools everywhere:

And then they all make up :

And go trick or treating: Booing there, spooking here and getting treats everywhere:

With their entourage:

And got lots of candy!
The end!
I hope everyone had as nice and as spooky of Halloween as we did!