Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Regarding the Country Music Marathon Race Report

I am in the process of typing it up BUT it is taking me forever. . . Aside from the usual distractions we have a bit of a potential tragedy brewing. Kitty boy Thor appears to be finishing up his ninth life and is not doing well. He is usually a 16-18+ lb cat. Today at the vet he weighed 8 lbs. They think something is wrong with his liver. Thor is my cat from college but has been living with Lala and Pop for the last 14 years of his almost 18 year life. To say the least, Lala is not handling this well.

I am also struggling with my asthma brought on by my grass allergy. (Apologies to Steph for cutting short our bike ride today.) It is making me very tired, little lighted headed, short of breath etc. Being at the vet with Lala today did nothing to help since I also have a pretty bad cat allergy. Ugh.

So while I take my sweet time typing and getting my pictures up from my weekend please check out Charlie's, Fishstick's and Chris's blogs for some of the details of my very fabulous time in Nashvegas.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Get Out Your Cow Bells

It is a race weekend!

Fishstick and I are heading to Nashville later this morning. I am very excited to run the marathon and visit with my friend Chris. Not so excited about the weather. Hope it isn't so terrible. But I am sure I will be fine as I have certainly run more races than not in less than ideal weather conditions and done just fine. Though, just to be clear, I do not like to run in rain or hot and humid conditions. Just so you know, it does not make me happy. But, again, really, I'll be fine.

No solid goals or rather high aspirations I should say. It is the same old ABC goals: 3:30, Pr (sub 3:37:27) and BQ (3:45:59). Okay, there is always that D goal to just finish and have a great time.

For those that like to stalk my bib # is 2256. Supposedly there will be an option to track live results on the webpage. I couldn't find the link but I am little dumb lately so it is probably a link that is glaringly obvious, probably big and flashing.

In other racing news this weekend Steph and her husband Doug are off to do their first tri of the season. Testing out their wetsuits is the word. Good luck guys! Steph, I know you are going to blow the swim away.

My brother in law Wes is racing at the Athens Twilight criterion. That is always a fun race to spectate. I hope you win Wes and at the very least have a great time.

And don't forget about the Tour de Georgia this weekend. Brasstown Bald leg is Saturday. Should be exciting.

Good luck and have a great weekend everyone!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reassuring Pats

Disclaimer: this is the pre marathon post of self doubt.
This weekend was a tremendous and inspiring racing weekend. Charlie, who will also be running the Country Music Marathon this Saturday ran a new half marathon PR. Sprinting in at 1:27! Then Sunday I was glued to my laptop watching the woman's Olympic Trials. Magdalena ran such an incredible race I hated to not see her just run away with it but to watch Deena masterfully, and effortlessly-- I should add-- show us how a marathon is done was equally awesome. But I have to say when I saw Blake Russell coming down that final stretch and could clearly see the moment on her face when she realized that she had made the team. Well, that made me cry I was so happy for her. I have no doubts that both Deena and Magdalena were equally proud and happy for their Olympic teams spots but I saw and felt Blake's pride and overwhelming joy as she crossed the finish line. Congrats to all the women. I think they all ran an amazing race and are going to, like the men, represent the USA well in Beijing.

And today as I watched the elites finish Boston I was further captured by the spirit of the marathon. I want to race tomorrow! No. Not really because I am grateful for the rest and a few more days of prep.

The bubble of inspiration seems to be diminishing though and doubt is creeping in. I am worried that it has been too long since I ran a run over 20 miles. Yes. Right. I know. It has been 22 days. And right. I know. I ran an awesome 18 miler 10 days ago. 15 miler 5 days ago and then there was that fabulous run I did Saturday that I pushed to that "comfortably hard" pace for the entire 10 miles. I have Yoga'd myself silly. Been ridiculous in the pool and I have lifted weights and have been amazed by my strength gains. I feel stronger than I did the week going into ING and sense, I might have the energy to be really powerful on Saturday. But then again, I don't know. . .

I feel like I have not been training. I don't feel worn out, tired, or beaten down. Clearly, something is missing.

I am beginning to imagine injury. There is none but nevertheless as I sit here typing I am icing various points on my leg--calf, Achilles, hamstring, foot. I worry about sickness too. I swallow. Sore throat? No. I sniff hard. Sinuses clogged? Nope. Very suspicious. Once, when I was 22, I went to the doctor--an internist who specialized in infectious diseases-- because I hadn't been sick--at all, not even a cold--in 2 years. I told him I thought I might have a disease that was killing all the other diseases. I could see he was trying hard not laugh since I was dead serious. He ran a bunch of tests and was equally serious when he gave me the results and then patted me on the back and assured me that I was the healthiest person he had ever seen. Sigh, I think I might need to see him again. I sure could use a reassuring pat on the back now.

See? Taper madness has really set in. The dreams have even started. Last night I dreamed the ridiculous shoe dream. The one where I run a race in totally inappropriate shoes. Last night it was my high heel stiletto Cheetah clogs. I am sure tonight I dream I end up missing the start or run the wrong course or run all the way to the Mississippi even.

We won't even discuss the food. Okay, maybe we will. Butter. Why oh why do I love the bread and butter in the taper? Crusty french bread and salted butter. Oh. My. God. I am fat. I am not even going to bother wearing jeans this week. Skirts and dresses only.

And seriously, we will not discuss the amount of 420 I consumed at the Sweetwater Earth Day fest yesterday. But I will show you Carmella's Christo like installation that she did for Earth Day fest, which let's face it, is really just an excuse to get drunk in a park (and for some, I guess get high). Please note the boys in the hammock in the tree.
Wait. Need a better picture?

Friday, April 18, 2008


I completely lose my focus in the taper. The cut back of the taper is a challenge for me because it messes with my ingrained running habit. I like to run between 40-50 miles a week. I don't like to run much over 65 miles in a week because the running becomes forced. At the same time I don't really like to go below 35 miles. I will accept a week of as low as 30 miles so long as I am doing lots of other stuff like cycling or swimming. Anything less than 30 miles a week is just uncomfortable for me as I have pretty much been a 30 miles a week runner since I started running 9 years ago.

But since I am balancing recovery, training and taper to gear up and perform well at Country Music Marathon next weekend I am trying to not worry so much about my numbers. I know I really have nothing to gain as far as fitness but do risk the potential of injury if I push too hard. My plan has been to balance the running with cycling and swimming. It is, or rather was, a good plan.

The problem?

Well, my bike exploded yesterday.

The other day I found it laying in the garage. One of the kids must have knocked it over. I checked it over--not really sure what I was looking for since my bike knowledge is negligible at best. I do know that my derailleur was already bent. James, the bike shop guy, asked me a while back if I had crashed or fallen. For the record I have never crashed or fallen (yet)--well, at least not on this particular bike. But the bike was once Lala's and when she clipped in she fell. A lot.

I explained all that to James and he said it would eventually need to be replaced but was fine for now.

And it has been fine.

Well, until yesterday.

I noticed immediately that it wasn't shifting great. I thought the chain might be misaligned. I even stopped and looked it over; poked at the chain, looked at the derailleur, touched the sprockets, got my hands a little dirty. . . But knowing all that I know about bikes I really couldn't see anything to adjust or that looked off. Just to be safe though I figured I would stick to the surrounding neighborhoods rather than hit the open road and risk running in to trouble in heavy traffic.

This proved a very wise decision on my part. I didn't really have trouble until I hit my first significant uphill--about 5 miles in. I was downshifting and all the sudden I heard cracks and popping and pings and knew that it couldn't be good.

The plastic shield (I guess that is what is) had shattered and some metal rings had popped off and were scattered all down the hill. I had to call Lala to come get me.

So . . . does anyone know how long and how much this is going to cost me to fix?

I am thinking the bike might be out until after the marathon. Sigh. Figures. Just when the weather was finally getting nice (read warm) enough to bike (read too hot to run). . .

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If not through laughter and irony then what?

I always say that I think one of the most admirable traits a person can have is the ability to laugh at themselves. But today when I received a forwarded email with the subject line "JobMarket2009" from Meme I had a feeling that I would no longer be able to count myself as one with the ability to find humor in all situations--especially considering how well my own job search is going.

Uhm, NOT!

However, I am happy to report that my sense of humor still prevails and that I need to share the laughter with those that might find themselves in a similar predicament:

And this is particularly apropos for us since we do, after all, own a landscaping company.

Oh the irony!

I should mention that Carmella asked me this morning if I was worried that I might never find a job. I admitted to her, "a little." She said that she never worries. And I told her that is how it is suppose to be-- that you are not allowed to worry about stuff until you are an adult.

Oh, and for the record, the kids-- I think-- are more desperate for me to get a job than I am. They are dying to stay at the after school programs. Everyday they have suggestions for me at places I could work and things I could do: Publix, Library, Gas Station, Artist, Chef, Dog Walker etc. Though Beau is pushing for the "boring job that makes lots of money."

Okay, carry on all you happily employed peoples.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Girl in Skirt

Homage to Man in Black. Right. I know. Again, with the Johnny Cash. What can I say? It is good stuff.

Well, you wonder why I always run in skirt.
Why you never see me in shorts and a singlet shirt.
And why does my appearance seem to have a feminine tone?
Well, there's a reason for the skirt that I have on.

I wear the skirt for the slower or injured gals,
Running in the back, behind the faster corrals.
I wear it for the runner who has long tried to qualify
But the cut off times for Boston they never could satisfy.

I wear the skirt for those who've never read
The words Pete Pfitzinger said.
About the road to marathons through tempo and GA runs.
Why, you'd think He's talking straight to Olympians.

Well, I am runnin' okay, I do suppose.
In my streak of personal bests in little skirts.
But just so I'm reminded of those that might be hurt
Up front there ought to be a girl skirt.

I wear it for the men in tempo shorts
And the women who've been chaffed in the sport.
I wear it for the boys chasing from behind
But never want to pass 'cause the view's so divine.

And I wear it for the thousands that will run;
Believing that the Peachtree is lots of fun.
And I wear it for Georgia's Marathon for the thousands that will walk;
Still believing that the hills might have been just talk.

Well, there's races that never will be mine I know.
And Pr's are hard to come by every time I hear a go.
But 'till I see all the girls running in a skirt like they do in tennis.
You'll never see me in a split-leg short at the finish.

Oh, I love to wear a skirt everyday!
And I tell the men who stare, "Hey, it's okay."
Yeah, I know it may not be right but I can't help that I'm a flirt.
So 'till I'm faster (and win), I'm the Girl In Skirt!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Walking the Line

When I was in 4th grade my best friend Catherine and I use to roam the woods that backed up to our neighborhood. Those woods also backed up to Dodgen Middle School. And in those woods, off the school's back parking lot, were cables strung between some pine trees. There were three, about 3-4 feet off the ground and about 10 feet long.

Catherine and I assumed they were for practicing walking on a tight wire. We imagined that once you got to middle school instead of having to do square dancing you got to learn circus tricks. Obviously this did not prove the case as I went to Dodgen for 6th and 7th grade and we never once used them for anything. We were still doing the same old square dancing and four square crap that we had done in elementary school. I can only assume--since I moved before 8th grade- that maybe it was in 8th grade then that you got learn circus tricks.

At any rate, Catherine and I used the cables to play on and we would pretend--what else? That we were tightrope walkers. I have to admit, we were pretty good. Though sometimes we did use the sticks we balanced with to keep us from falling over.

I think it is unfortunate that we never got to put our tight rope walking skills to use. Not that I am planning on joining the circus--especially after the spectacle I made of myself last Sunday in Yoga. Let's just leave it that I will definitely not be sending my resume to Cirque du Soleil.

Nevertheless, I do find myself walking a thin line-- spanning the tightrope, if you will, between the Georgia ING marathon and the Country Music Marathon while I try to juggle recovery, training and a taper. And yes, absolutely that is a nod Johnny Cash. Now I am not a fan of county music but I do love me some Johnny Cash. Wait I think we need a song break. (I love to run to this song, BTW. The freight train rhythm helps me keep an even pace.)

Alrighty then! I am officially signed up. And I am so excited. Fishstick signed up for the half and my old friend Chris has graciously offered us up his guest room. Not to mention I found a $15 off coupon for the marathon--so how could I not do it? Besides, the one and only time I've been to Nashville I had a blast. It was all just too tempting for me to turn the opportunity down. Also, it should be said that since I am looking for a job my commitment to marathoning in the future is tenuous and is probably going to take some hit once I find said job. So, who knows this could be my last hurrah--I hope not, but you never know. . .

So the Stick and I will be rolling into Nashville on Friday the 25th. We will be eating at Chris's restaurant Germantown Cafe. He has promised me a tasty pre race meal and I encourage everyone who doing the marathon to have your pre race meal here too. Or if you can't make it for dinner Friday go enjoy dinner there Saturday night before the concert. And if you live in Nashville already you better go eat there sometime because the menu looks freaking delicious and I know Chris will take good care of you.

Currently I have no goal for this race. Well, okay that isn't true. I should say my only expectation is to finish but of course my goal is to Pr. I don't expect to but I will definitely aim to.

Last week was a great week. This week? Not so much. I knew I would be tired but I completely underestimated how tired. The fatigue could be due to the ridiculously high record pollen counts we've had this week but certainly that is only partially to blame. I'll admit, maybe I did too much last week. But honestly I am happy with how it went. The way I see it, fatigue is an aspect of hard training. Injury though is another thing. And when you push your body when it should be recovering injury is a very real risk. Luckily, all my week did was make me tired. So this week I recovered ( or am recovering). Considering that this week was the kid's spring break it is better that I pushed the envelop with my body last week since I knew I would not have the time for such training this week. So it is working out. Again, see, with the optimism. Such a bright and shiny spot in the universe am I.

And at CMM in two weeks I will get to found out how well I walked the line. Bring it on!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spring. BREAK!

You know what?

I think I am an optimist.

You know, one of those people who finds the silver lining. Hey! Look. That glass-- that one right there? It is half full.

All I can think is how great it is that I didn't really do much in the way of rest and recovery last week after the marathon.

Because otherwise, this week?

This week would be really frustrating for me if I was all rested and raring to go but couldn't because not only is it spring break for the kids but Atlanta is all decked out in her pretty yellow dress. I posted that picture to try and show you how hazy it is here from the pollen but also because those turtles chilling on that log? That's me.

No worries, I am not a total turtle but my workouts have been slow and way easy. And I think that is okay since I wore my butt out last week and then got myself schooled at yoga on Sunday. So I am welcoming the easy workouts I've been doing this week. Today, for example, I did an easy bike at the Greenway while Lala and the kids played with clay and bird watched:
Truth is that my workouts are easy because in part it is all that I can manage physically. Not to mention, all this pollen makes me sleepy. My first allergy symptom is always fatigue. Next the ball (or rather the snot)will get rolling with a sore throat and not end until I have a sinus infection. Upside is that I always lose weight when I have sinus infection--and the worse the infection the greater the weight loss. See? Silver lining.Optimist. I don't know. I just liked that picture of the ducks. They're a couple. They were sleeping. I took it today on our bird watching hike. I am burnt out on bird watching, by the way. (Wes, I feel for you. Your childhood. I can only imagine . . . Lala referenced your Dad's book a bazillion times.)

Anyway, I am combating the pollen as I am not optimistic about what happens to me once grasses start blooming. I was preemptive and took my first ever Claritan today. Maybe I can avoid the snot after all. Word on the street is that you need to have the allergy meds in place before you get attacked.

So yeah, look at me. All chill on my slacker workouts. Not stressing at all. Really. I'm not. Promise.

Okay, a little but I am not letting it get in the way of fun even if I am not spending spring break at the beach.

Yesterday, I hosted a play date for kids and Mommies. Unfortunately not all my Mommy pals could make it and as it ended up it was as expected- just the "Losers": Memee, DeeDee, me, T, oh and all the littles.
I made Momosas: Champagne, Orange Stoli and a splash of OJ. Bwhahahahaha. . . So everyone had fun! We even invited the husbands to come play when they got done at work. So it was an eight hour play date.
Meme on the electric razor:

Deedee on Carmella's bike:
The kids had lots of fun too as not only did they get play all day with their oldest friends but also because I gave them chocolate and Tara gave them cupcakes:

The rest of this week is going to rain which will be great because it will wash us clean of the pollen but bad because I will have to think up indoor stuff for us to do. Admittedly, I am not so good at the indoor stuff but I thinking maybe it is time they both learn to roller skate. . .

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Need to Clarify

I feel from the comments from my last post that there is a need for me to clarify a few things.

First, the cake in question that Carmella turned down was Publix cake. So, can you really blame her? The child has taste buds and is not fooled by bright colored icing. And, for the record, I didn't have any either. Then again, I also don't go so crazy for cake. Now pie, well there is something getting excited about. Especially lemon pie (but not meringue--meringue is gross). . .

And okay, oh boy! Charlie. Chris. Stick. I am excited! I promise to sign up for Country Music Marathon this week. The more I read about this race the more excited I am-- well except the hills. Not too excited about trudging up hills again. But marathons are like a long exercise party. And lord knows I love parties and love me some exercise. I can't wait!

Lastly, I feel I should clarify that the woman I pushed out of the way at ING was NOT the one in this picture. Nor was she that big. That woman in the picture had at least 80lbs on me (I know this because when pregnant with Carmella I gained 60lbs and was no where near that size. Also Ryan weighs 70lbs more than me and is not that size). Besides, no way could have I shoved her out of the way. The girl I shoved out of my way was taller than me but closer to my size. She was just a clueless walker who got in my way at a crtical moment.

And, for what it is worth, I am VERY impressed by that woman in the picture with me. Yes, all those people annoyed me because they were in my way but I knew then that it wasn't their fault. They were trying to finish their race too. It was the race organizers that used poor planning in their finish line logistics fault. That woman impresses me because I remember after I had Carmella and had 30 extra pounds on me how uncomfortable running was for just a few miles. So in my book that woman is one tough chick to get up and out there and run/walk a half marathon. I am ALWAYS impressed by people who have the courage to meet a challenge. Not so impressed by those that sit around and make excuses why they can't-- or worse, criticize those that do have the courage to get up off their butts and do something.

I take serious issue with the people who are mean to me while I am making efforts towards being fitter and healthier. And, if I am being honest, I do suppose I find it a little more annoying when those hateful remarks or actions come from a person who could absolutely benefit from a little exercise themselves.

So just to be clear, NOT a hater of those that struggle with weight issues. Just a hater of people who are ugly to me. I think the world would be a better place if everyone got up off their buttocks and went for a run, bike or swim. And then, coming back to the subject of cake-- you could have it and eat it too.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

On Being Odd

Yesterday I took Carmella to a classmate's birthday party. Usually, at her age, you drop them off but the place for the party was too far for me to drive back home. So I just hung out.

When it came time for cake I could see Carmella was anxious and uncomfortable. I went over to her and she said ever so quietly, " Mommy, I don't want any cake."

Carmella does not like cake. Carmella also hates to be rude or draw attention to herself. I assured her it was fine for her not to eat the cake and just say no thank you.

She still looked upset at the prospect of having to say anything negative so I asked her if she wanted me to say something for her. She nodded and seemed quite relieved. There was another anxious minute when someone else tried to force cake on her but she politely said no thank you and a crisis was averted.

So Carmella had no cake and nothing terrible happened. I could see her physically relax once the whole cake thing was over and they got to go play again.

After the party was over and we were in the car Carmella confided that " Mommy I don't like being odd."

I froze and I thought; Oh my God she knows that she is weird.

But then Carmella said " I really liked it better when I was even. You know, like when I was six. It is going to take so long for me to be eight. I just don't like being odd."

In other odd news I have felt really pretty darn great since the marathon. I am seriously considering the Country Music Marathon at the end of the month and have pretty much started training for it. So here is how my "recovery" week has gone. Yes, I know I am being naughty and I am sure I will feel terrible next week. But hey, I felt strong this week so I took advantage of it.
Sunday: marathon

Monday: 4 miles on the treadmill. Walked for 2 minutes and then bumped the pace to 6mph and climbed the ladder to 7.5 mph until the 3.1 mark and then climbed down. Came in just under 37 minutes.

Tuesday: Pretty day so Lola and I ran the 3.1 loop at Columns on the trail. In the afternoon I hit the pool and swam 30 minutes. Swim felt amazing.

Wednesday: Beautiful day and was so bummed Steph couldn't ride. I hit the Greenway with my bike. I rode out to Webb Bridge and then rode over to Tara's to say hello. While in a bike lane on Webb Bridge some horrible woman rolled down her window and yelled at me to "Get on the sidewalk!" We exchanged finger gestures. Somehow she missed this sign:
And trust me, not to be ugly but . . . if ever there was someone who could have benefited from a little time on the bike it was this woman. That is all I am saying.

Anyway, after stopping by T's I rode back to the trail and did a 1.5 loops. Guessing mileage for the day was around 31 miles.

Thursday: Woke up feeling really good. Decided it was time to hit the hills. Did 10 miles at a moderate pace on my hilly loop. All good. Happily, no complaints from the calves or the quads.

Friday: 6 miles on the hills recovery.

Saturday: Bit hungover this morning because I enjoyed some cocktails here last night. Waited out the rain. Finally it cleared up and I got in 14 miles. Nothing fast but I ran a consistent pace. Would have been perfect at 12 miles but I still managed.

So the "odd" totals are:
Running: 63 miles--remember 26.2 of those were the marathon so not really a true big mileage week.
Bike: 31 miles
Swim: 1 mile

One last odd tibit: Thank you to Dusty and Jason and everyone who helped me get my resume together and for all the great advice/support/direction as I look for a job. I also really appreciate every one's well wishes at my interview this week. I was called back for a second interview and offered a position. Unfortunately I will be turning it down. It is an outsides sales position that is commission based only. While I would love to do outside sales (though, ideal is writing marketing content)and have no problem with commission--as I think I can sell the heck out of anything--I do need something with benefits and some sort of base. I mean, I think, having one income (read small business owner) that is pretty much commissioned based is enough for one household. So still looking.

Oh, and as always, thanks for reading and indulging my self absorption.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

It Sucks Because I Am Running Up a Hill (or alternately, The Georgia ING 2008 Marathon)

Race Day:
It is 4 am and I feel like I have not slept at all. I have a glass of water and then a cup of coffee and a bowl of Uncle Sam's. I finish breakfast and then hop in the shower and try to wake up. I get dressed.

Around 5 am Pookie gets up. She is, unsurprisingly, not so chipper. I decide that I should have another breakfast--half a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter. More coffee, more water.

The day before Pookie had made fun of me for bringing my own cereal but now admits that she has trouble getting things--you know what mean-- moving before a race. I advise her on the Uncle Sam's. It does, after all, tout itself as a "natural laxative" on the box. If that doesn't get your palate whet I don't know what will.

Doubtful she pours a bowl for herself and then eats it while making fun of my outfit. She keeps making comments about the "special marathon" I am doing. I even pose for pictures for her.

I didn't have my camera so I have no pre-race pictures and she has not sent me the ones she took. But here is my picture in the special outfit after the race. Please note how my hair--despite being braided-- still tried to turn into dreadlocks.I am so pretty.

I know that this is not the cutest outfit ever and that my socks look way dorky but hey, they work! All week I had worried about my calves. They had felt heavy and tight in every single run I did. I massaged and iced and stretched. And I have to say that my calves felt fresh the entire race--no cramps, no heaviness whatsoever. In fact, they still feel good and I have run twice, swam once and cycled 30 miles in the 3 days since the marathon. I wish could say the same for my quads. . . I am still sore in the quads. Damn Atlanta courses. Every time with the sore quads.

Anyway, Wes--our driver,Pookie's husband, lush-- is sorely hungover from getting home at 2 am but nevertheless he has us at the race by 6:15 am. In the car Pookie, coins a new term and happily informs us that she had indeed Uncle Sammed. She suspects though that she might be Uncle Samming all through the race.

Wes drops us off and I make Pookie jog down to the park. She does her usual complaining that she always does before a race. For the record Pookie acts like getting up at 9 am is the crack of dawn so it is understandable why she complains so much on race day. I always take this opportunity to be even more chipper and annoying than I naturally am in the morning.

We hit the Johnny on the Spots and as Pookie exits her Johnny on the Spot she triumphantly exclaims that she Uncle Sammed again. We stretch a bit and then I walk her to her corral. Apparently in her corral, which was corral 3, she got bored and texted Fishstick who was in corral 5. They spent prerace texting animal sounds to each other: hew haw, nay nay, moo etc. Silly girls.

On my way to corral 2 I run into Steph. She informs me of some secret Johnny on the Spots on Baker street. So we hightail it over there for one last potty break. Clearly I am over hydrated.

Steph moves to the back of the corral and I seed myself with the 3:30 pacers: Floren and Jerry. I chat with Greg who I met had Chickamuaga and also Caroline and Erin from Big Peach while we wait for the start. We sing the anthem and then at 7:03 am someone says "Go" and without much fanfare we are off and running.

Oh man, I think, I still feel tired.

I chat with Caroline for part of the first mile. She is running the half and is looking for Erin who we lost at the start and who is also running the half. Erin runs up on us and they go off together. I stick close on Floren's heels. Everything feels very off. It is still dark and I am so tired. Not leg or body tired but just sleepy. I feel like sleep is sitting on my head. Then I start to feel that nag in my bladder again. Ugh. Damn faulty bladder.

I am annoyed at my discomfort. My body awareness. I like to not think about my body and right this second that is not possible.

It is still very crowded in those first few miles but at least everyone is running and the dodging and weaving is minimal. In the second mile I am directly behind a tall male runner. Suddenly he veers left and all the sudden I am right in front of a cone. Surprised, I leap over it. This earns me an "Impressive!" from the guy on my right. I mumble "Thank God it is mile 2 and not mile 22 or there would have been a completely different result."

I have no idea what our pace is but it feels wrong to me, slightly uncomfortable and I am questioning how the heck I am going to hold it for 24 more miles. Then I realize that my left foot is completely numb. I puzzle over it but still stick on Floren and Jerry's heels. No one is really talking. There is just breathing and that running marching sound and all I can think about is why is my foot numb. What does this mean. I start getting bored and my obsessing over my foot gets worse. I start entertaining thoughts of a DNF and realize that today? Today I am really not so much in the mood to run a marathon. Ugh, this sucks I think.

I had planned to not listen to my ipod but brought it just in case I lost the pace group. Since no one is talking anyway and things are not going well I turn it on and try to focus on something other than my foot. This song is on.

Instantly I start to chill out and relax and focus on following Floren and Jerry's feet and finding my groove. I forget about my foot. Forget about everything and suddenly I find myself in mile 5 and that somehow I have passed the pace group. I glance over my shoulder and I see their little sign. I slow down and by the sixth mile I am back with them. During this time I have my GU. I am also carrying 20 ounces of Gatorade but I am not to drink it until after the 20 mile mark. Already I am annoyed by carrying it. Later though I know I will be happy that I do not have to navigate over to the aid stations so I hang on to it.

At mile 8 we start up a terrible hill. I think this is our longest incline and I am prepared for it. I tucked my head down and just run on the pacer's heels. During this time I begin repeating to myself what will become my mantra for the race: "It only sucks because I am running up a hill." I say it over and over. I look up periodically to see if the hill is over and it isn't. I feel like we never go down hill. It seems like we are running up a hill for over 20 minutes. The wind is starting to get bad and I am getting cold. I keep reminding myself that it is only sucking because we are running up a hill but then all the sudden I find myself standing still.

I am shocked to be not moving. This has never happened before. There is intense pain in my hips and the right side all the around to my groin muscle is cramped. I take a breath and say- out loud: "Okay, I guess I am going to walk for a minute."

I have no idea what happened. I still don't. The pain was only for a second but it stopped me in my tracks and came out of nowhere. It felt like I just stood there and watched the pace group slip a way. While I walked for a minute I had this dialogue--not sure if it was interior or exterior:

Maybe I should quit and call someone.
I look around and realize I have no idea where I am. I know I am about to run into Decatur because I remember this part from last year (which I don't remember it being this terrible) but I have no idea where I am in Decatur.

I ask myself: Do I feel okay?

No, I'm cold.

I decide to put on my long sleeve shirt that I luckily decided last minute at the start to not toss and to hang onto just in case. The wind is really bad.
Maybe I should eat something, I think. I open up my Clif Blocks and munch a few.

Then I ask, Do I want to quit?

Emphatically the answer is yes.
But then I ask; Will I regret quitting?

Yes, is the immediate answer.

So then I ask,Will I regret finishing-- no matter what the time?

No, is the immediate answer.

And with that I start running again and decide that I will reassess at the half point.

And so I run on; trying to find my groove.

I don't really remember anything about miles 11-15 except I do remember crossing the mat at the halfway point and decide to run on.

At mile 15 it was still sucking but the Beastie Boys "Get It Together" come on my Ipod. I will not include a youtube of this one since the song is full of all sorts of inappropriate cuss words but it use to be the only thing I could put on while driving in the car when Carmella was an infant and having a melt down. She would instantly be calmed and would in fact "get it together."

I look at my watch and try to do some math. I know that 3:30 is impossible but sub 3:40 isn't. A PR is still a possibility but it will be close and I will really have to hold, even push the pace to get it. I knpw that that will be tough to do considering I still have Druid Hills coming up and that 3 mile climb to finish. Not to mention, I still have to pee and it is not going away like it did in Chickamauga. I debate whether or not I should stop. I know that stopping will risk any chance at a PR but I also know that stopping and getting back on pace is easier to do at 16 miles rather than at 20 or later miles. I rationalize that the sensation could still go away. While having this inner argument I suddenly see the mile 16 marker and a Johnny on the Spot next to it that is empty.

I run right to it. I cannot believe how full my bladder is. You know, I've had 2 kids--one of whom I ran until my 34 week of pregnancy with. So I really don't expect much from my bladder but damn I am impressed. Even more so because I haven't peed on myself at all.

Exiting the Johnny I feel like a new woman.

"Open the Door" by Magnapop comes on and suddenly I have renewed energy.

I am in Druid Hills--arguably one of the toughest portions of the course. But this part of the course is like all my long training runs with the rolling hills. Plus it is so pretty. I start passing lots of people and even began seeing some 3:30 pace groupers that had also fallen behind. Since I have no idea what my time or splits are I see this as a good sign. I also note that I have not seen the 3:40 pace group yet so I am still running a PR from last years time. That really motivates me.

Miles 16-24 feel my strongest. I smile at people, encourage people, wave at the crowd and thank the volunteers. Finally after 2 hours I am starting to enjoy the race. The race has really turned around for me.

Everything is going really well but I am starting to really have to work in the 24th mile. I have been playing leap frog with a guy who-- I might be wrong on this-- I think has a 3:20 pace group sign. He is faster than me but keeps stopping to walk. Right before 25th mile he passes me again and calls back over his shoulder "Come on 3:30 girl!" Ugh, I think. I have wanted to rip that damn 3:30 pace sign off my back the entire race because I basically feel like I am wearing a sign that says "Hello! Look at me! I'm a failure!" It is completely demoralizing to be advertising a pace that you clearly can't maintain. Always better to be the sandbagger I think.

I grumble to him that 3:30 was a stretch, explaining that I had only wanted to beat my 3:37 Pr. He says, "Well if you pick it up you've got it!" And with that I pass him and do not see him again. That was exactly what I needed to hear.

And then, even better, this song comes on:

Gotta give a shout out to all the GA bands;)!

And then all hell breaks loose and I hit the 25th mile. I am still feeling pretty good. I certainly have the energy to run the pace and fight my way up the hill but I do not have the energy to do it and weave around the walls of half marathoners and the kids in orange shirts. It is insane! I have never experienced anything like this. There are even people walking in jeans and ladies with pocketbooks--clearly spectators who are not part of the race. And all the kids with "13.1" on their backs. I can't figure it out as they look way too fresh to have just run a half marathon-- not to mention they too are in street clothes.

So while I am trying to dodge and weave I am actually no longer even sure I am still on the course. I keep looking for other marathoners. I see 2 this entire time but they are all the way on the other side of the street. Every other second I have to yell out "Runner coming through!" Or "Marathoner! Passing!" And some of the kids will turn when I say this and rather than move to the side take this as a call for a challenge and start sprinting me! But after about 50 feet they come to a stop and I have to try and navigate around them again. I keep looking around for an official and finally I see one. He looks at me and says "Marathoners go right."

Then all the sudden we are being directed onto the sidewalk and I say "Really? The sidewalk?" I am so confused! I have no idea where the finish is. I know it must be soon but all I can see is yards and yards of plastic orange fencing and hundreds (or so it seems) of half marathoners. Oh to be tall!

The course keeps narrowing and it feels more and more congested and it is getting harder and harder to get around people. I feel like I am Alice and I have mistakenly fallen down the rabbit hole. The whole scene is so surreal and crazy. The course winds around and finally I can see the finish around a curve. The crowd is intense and cheering and I start trying to do my final dead out sprint. I can't, there are just too many people. And right then, at that second, a half marathoner stops dead in front of me. I completely lose it and shove her out of my way. As I do this and run past I scream at her that is a race and you do not stop until you cross the finish!

As I round the curve I see my Dad and Ryan and call out to them. They seem surprised to see me. As I approach the finish I look up and see the race clock and it reads 3:38 xx. I am simultaneously disappointed and completely pissed off as I know I have missed a PR and I know I was so freaking close. Oh boy am I mad! Later I come to find out I missed a PR over Chickamauga by 52 seconds. That sucks.

I cross the finish and someone hands me my medal and a space blanket. I am hot (probably just from being mad) but take it because I know I will be cold in few minutes. I wander around and try to figure out how to get over to where I saw Ryan and my Dad. I sit down and my phone rings. It is Ryan. The first thing he asks is if I am in the medical tent. That makes me laugh-- remembering last year and how much more it sucked. And that even though I didn't run a PR I did run 6 minutes faster this year and at the very least, if nothing else, I do not have to go to the medical tent. Oh, and best of all? I am done. See? All good.

Okay some pictures.
Me right before the finish and after I knocked that girl out of my way so you can't see how mad I am.
A picture of the orange shirted kids and what I had to run through at the finish.

Me right after I finish and Beau congratulates me by punching me in the quad with that stuffed bird. Kids are great! So very cute.

Me and Lala. She is sporting Pookie's medal.

Me and Fishstick:

Pookie and Fishstick. They both ran the half. Pookie got a Pr of 1:50. If you'd like to follow her training method it is called not really running much at all. Fishstick ran 2:20 with a sinus infection. Her training method is more regimented and actually involves running.

We did make good use of my space blanket. Allow me to introduce super Marlow.

My nemesis for the past few days:

Video of finish line 10:30 to 11:00am. I cross at 3:39 on the clock.

Final stats:
Clock time 3:39
Chip time 3:38:18
38th female finisher
278th overall finisher

Final words: This year's race was much better put on though the finish still needs a lot of work. I would do this again and I would recommend this race. I hope it swells to the sucess of the Peachtree and the other big marathons. But it should be said that this was by far the most challenging of all 5 marathons I have run. It is a tough course.

Ugh, Ps! Sorry about all the tense switches. I know that must been annoying. I have a tendencey to write in past perfect--which is a no no so I tried to switch it to present. I have been writing/editing this for 2 days while my DSL goes in and out and I just had to publish before it went out again. Damn Bellsouth.