Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Marathon

On Thanksgiving I ran the Atlanta Marathon. It is the oldest marathon in the South and one of the 10 oldest in the country. And it is the only marathon run on an Olympic marathon course in the U.S.A.

This was marathon number 7 for me-- 2nd time running Atlanta. It was my first marathon 4 years ago. I ran it in 4:08.

Honestly I didn't have high expectations for this race. I haven't had a good race all of 2008 and I've been battling lots of over training issues recently. Of course I wanted to PR and it is no secret that I have been chasing a 3:30. But really I figured on this course a success for me would be qualifying for Boston again and that is 3:45.

So the bad news is, no 3:30. That's okay. The way I look at it is that when I finally get my 3:30, (and I will) then I will have to set a new, more difficult goal. And since 3:30 is proving pretty damn difficult I am fine having that goal still.

But the good news is that I did run a PR and icing on the cake I nabbed first in my age group.

Here are the details:
Time: 3:37:07 chiptime (3:37:22 gun time) Yes, I know that is only a 20 second off my PR at Chicamauga but trust me. Atlanta is a way tougher course. So I see it has a bigger improvement than it first looks.
Half split: 1:45--I actually thought I skated in under 1:45 but no. I was hoping to hit the half at 1:42-44 to bank some time. The first 1/3 though ended up being tougher than I remembered.
Overall Place: 150 out of 730 finishers
Gender Place: 14 out of 178 women
Division (35-39 age group): 1st out of 33. Hell. Yes!

On to the boring details.

The day before I didn't run. I was trying all sorts of new and crazy stuff after my DNF at the Silver Comet Half in October. First there was that week off from running during what should have been a peak week. I had planned to follow my peak week of 72 miles with an even bigger peak week of 80 miles. Well, clearly my plan did not work out at all. Instead I rode my bike, swam, did yoga, and lifted weights and debated what to do about my training.

After a week off from running the swelling in my legs was down and I was able to resume running without pain or calf or tendon issues. I held the mileage at 53-42 miles a week during November up to the race. I cut out the heavy cross training with the bike and swim. After my last long run of 21 miles 3 weeks out I just ran faster shorter runs and did lots of yoga and lifted weights to strengthen my lower leg muscles and maintain upper body tonality. I had never done a 3 week taper for any of my marathons. So I was really worried about how this would play out and also how fat I was going to get.

So not running the day before the marathon was new for me and I kept myself busy with Thanksgiving preparation, making signs for the kids to hold at the race and making sure I had everything together. I asked Ryan, thinking he would laugh in my face, if he and the kids would drive me to the start and drop me off. I am a person who believes it never hurts to ask. Being this type of person means that I am okay with hearing no and in fact I expected it. But surprisingly he agreed. I mean Ryan hasn't driven me to a race since before we had kids. Wait, here is me after my first ever race the 1998 Atlanta Half marathon--he drove me to that (ah, young love):
I was asleep by 10:30--almost unheard of for me the night before a race. I slept lightly but slept and got up at 4:45. Made coffee, took the dog out, had a glass of water, small bowl of Uncle Sam's cereal and a whole wheat bagel and cream cheese with salt. I showered, dressed and stretched and then woke everyone up. We were in the car and on the road by 6:14am. One minute ahead of schedule. I listened to my ipod to tune out the children. Their morning chatter was making me anxious.

To short cut through more boring exposition here is the cliff notes version of why running the full on Thanksgiving morning is better than doing the half:
1. You can park at the start and the finish--they are the same and there is plenty of parking. No MARTA. I mean really, that fact alone makes the extra 13.1 worthwhile.

2. Speaking of plenty there is basically enough johnny on the spots that every marathoner gets their own. No wait lines to pee. Again, yet another stand alone reason as to why the full is better than the half.

3. A tent. With a heater in it. And coffee and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Water and Gatorade. I don't like doughnuts so that isn't enough to make me want to run an extra 13.1 mile s but I know plenty of people who might want to.

4. You don't have to go line up until about 5 minutes before the start. So not a lot of standing around and freezing.

5. The start time is 7:30 am not 7 am like the half. Oh and you only need to get there about 20-30 minutes before the race. Really, you could just show up at 7:25 and have no problem.

I met up with Doug (Steph's husband) in the tent with the heater and the doughnuts and at 7:20 something we headed over to the start. I kissed Ryan and the kids good bye. While Doug and I walked I steered him towards the front. I told him it would matter in the results where we seeded ourselves since they went by guntime not chiptime. He laughed at me and asked if I thought I had a chance at winning. I laughed back and said no but did say that second place woman last year was around 3:30 and 4 years ago when I ran it I was 4th in my age group. He pointed out that the field was twice the size this year but still lined up where I decided we should. I was further affirmed in my lining up choice when the girl in front of me said her goal time was 3:30. I also, at the point, let go the silly notion of any kind of placement award. Oh well. Boston or bust was the goal. Mama needed a 2010 BQ qualifier since my 2009 will be going to waste since we are taking a trip to New Orleans in May. Damn finances and stupid bad economy.

And with little fan fare we were off. The first few miles are easy: little baby rollers. Tiny blips until mile 6 when the first bad uphill comes. Then there would be another to follow that would top out at the 8th mile. And then I thought it was all easy peasy until mile 20 when the hill hell of a last 10k would begin.

It was cold but I was heated up before we even finished the first mile and Doug kindly held my fuel bottle while I un-shirted and tied it around my waist. Doug and I goofed off and joked for the first few miles--throwing up our hands and waving our fingers and saying "Jazz Hands!" Don't ask. It was my idea.

I told Doug that this course was a "tour of bars I have been to" marathon. I had to remind him of this point when were in the 6th mile and I suggested we make a pit stop and see "the ladies". He thought it was funny that I knew where those clubs were.

Doug, like his wife, was my keeper and kept reminding me to keep it reigned in. But really that wasn't so hard to do. The 7:54 average we were maintaining didn't feel as easy as I had hoped. I know for me to run a 3:30 marathon an eight minute pace has to feel like nothing. I could tell my heart rate was higher than it should have been. Not a lot but was still high. I don't really know all that science but I do know that if an 8 minute mile is the pace you want to hold for 26 miles--especially 26 miles where the hilliest part isn't until after the 20 mile mark--the 8 minute mile pace needs to feel like you are on a walk with your grandma. And it just didn't feel like that. Now it didn't feel impossible or like I was going to die, it just wasn't easy. So I was worried.

Apparently this must have read on my face. Steph, Doug's wife, was volunteering at the 5 mile water station. Later, after the race, she told me I didn't look good then and she didn't think the race was going to go well for me. I wasn't hurting--body felt pretty good-- but I was worried and aware that even though I was running sub 8 pace (we hit 5 miles around 39:xx) it wasn't going to last. Remember, I've run this race before so I was concerned about the later carnage that was going to happen. This is my 3rd marathon where I run up Peachtree to the finish. The previous 2 (Atlanta 2005 and GaING 2007) were a death march that I walked most of the last 5-10k. And that just wasn't the vision I had in mind for my 2008 Thanksgiving marathon.

I have to admit that as much as I liked having Doug's company-- and he was probably keeping me from going out too fast-- it was driving me crazy that he seemed to be having an easier time with the pace. Right before our first big hill at 6 miles he stopped to pee and easily and effortlessly caught up to me. Grr. . .

Then coming up the long hill to the 8th mile (Corner of Piedmont and Peachtree) he was all still happy jazz hands while my heart rate was in the attic. See, here we are at the end of that hill.

Here is closer one that it is unfortunate looking of me (in mid blowing kiss pose) but just look how happy and easy Doug looks. There was that small part of me that hated him, wanted to trip him. Sorry, Doug. You know I love you!

It really took me awhile to get beyond the hills at 6 and 8 miles. They had done a number on me. Just as I would start to feel better a little false hill would be there to take me out. It was then that I started to remember how the first time I had run this course that I felt like the whole thing was uphill.

The 11th mile is always a rough patch for me anyway in any long run I do, so at least I was expecting it to suck then. I really don't know how to get past that. In training I have tried making my mid length runs closer to 16 miles rather than closer to 10 but nothing seems to have done the trick. 11 miles is still a down spot for me. So it annoyed me when Doug stopped again to pee. I even thought, ha! I am going to drop him. Punish him for making it seem so easy.

But no kidding within 3 minutes there he was at my shoulder doing that damn jazz hand thing that I started. Happy Doug. Pissed off Nat. I resigned myself to the fact that eventually I would be getting dropped. I did have to pee and I remembered that in 2005 there was a Johnny-on-the-Spot around 15 miles that I stopped at. I figured that would be a good stopping point and I could bail out of the pace gracefully under the guise of a potty break.

I worked hard to stay with Doug and the little pack we had around us. We passed a few people and I don't think many, if any, passed us. I know the men where chit chatting but I was having my pity party and was trying to listen to my music and just wishing that the half point would hurry up and get here. And finally it was.

Then I was annoyed that there was a little hill. It was suppose to be downhill and flat now. What the hell is this little hill now? I didn't remember that hill from the half--since I thought we were now at the start of the half marathon course, nor did I remember it from the year I ran the full. So this made me realize that I wasn't in too great of shape since this "hill" has always been there and I never noticed it before. Not good, not good at all. My hamstrings were feeling tight. Not bad but there is a feeling I get in the hamstrings when I run my tempo or faster runs or shorter races. Never had it in a marathon. I was also feeling like vomiting. I had just had my second Gu and I felt certain the first was still sitting there in my tummy. I knew I had to get my heart rate down so the Gu would digest. I just had that full feeling and it isn't a fun feeling to run with. Doug was still being the cheerleader usually his wife is and was trying to encourage me as the miles went by: More than half way done Nat! He would say, or; Now we are going to have flat area! Soon a downhill! Jazz hands! Why oh why did I start that stupid jazz hand thing? Add that to the list of "Dumb Things Nat Thinks Up During a Marathon".

Finally sometime in the 15th mile my Johnny-on-the-Spot appeared and I told Doug to go, I would catch him if I could. I tried to hustle but I did take advantage of my little break. After wards, I was feeling much better and typically the 15-22 mile range of a marathon is my strong suit. Not to mention this was the fast part of the course. I probably only lost 40 seconds stopping to pee and figured I could catch Doug in no time.


When I started back I couldn't even see Doug. And worse there were now a few women in front of me that hadn't been there. (I did manage to pass all the girls but one and then only one other would pass me the rest of the race but not until mile 23).

I was shocked at how much had changed in the half minute or so I had been gone. So I started running! I switched the screen on Garmin from the average pace setting to current pace. Current pace never went above 7:30 and I even saw 6:46 at one point. After a few minutes I had Doug and the guy he was running with that had a bright green singlet that said "Go Daddy Go" in my sight. But no matter how hard I tried I couldn't close the gap significantly. I kept thinking if I run like mad I will catch them and then I can rest. Then I realized how irrational that sounded and after a bit at a 7 minute pace I got a hold of myself and said if I catch them I catch them. Chill.

So I slowed it down but still kept the pace below 8 minute miles but well above a 7--because 7's for me is barely manageable in a 10k so they definitely have no business anywhere in a marathon.

Around 18 miles I came up on Ryan and the kids:
At this point I was feeling great! This is was how I had wanted, expected to feel. That just goes to tell you what uphills do to me. I feel like I weigh 15 extra pounds. On flat and downhills I feel like I am flying! I love it.
Here is some video Ryan shot in the 18th mile. Sorry it is sideways.

I finally caught Doug in the 19th mile. This is the only true downhill on the course and it is huge and it absolutely trashes your quads. But I love it! I love it in the half and I love in the Peachtree. I am, if nothing else, good at running the downhills. I know that doesn't say much for me as a runner but it is my gift.

I couldn't believe how fantastic I was feeling. Mile 19 never feels this good! I basically said hi to Doug at the top of the hill and he told me to "go get 'em!" I ran as fast as I could manage down that hill and hit the 20 mile mark at just a few seconds over 2 hours and 40 minutes. Almost spot on for a 3:30 pace.

Sigh. If only that last 10k wasn't all up hill! Even if it was rolling hills 3:30 would have been in my reach. So I knew as I started up Cardiac Hill (did I mention the hills in this race have names? They had a contest to name them.) that 3:30 was gone. I wasn't sad because I had known since the first few miles it wasn't mine to have. I was just thrilled to have gotten where I was feeling this good. Keep in mind every race in 2008 I have felt like absolute ass and here I was at mile 20 of a marathon feeling like how I use to feel when I ran. It was a great feeling.

And, even better, I was happy because I had an hour and five minutes left to run the final 10k and I could still qualify for Boston. Talk about having no pressure. I could have walked and enjoyed myself. Stopped and had a cup of coffee. But my goal of a PR was still within reach and so I had to hang on that ledge. And hang for dear life I did.

By 22 miles I was at 3 hours and one minute. For a 3:30 you need to hit the 22 mark in 2 hours and 56 minutes. Yeah, mile 20 and 21 were slow! But I was still okay, not going to bonk, not too uncomfortable, and still hanging on the ledge. And I just couldn't run any faster if I tried. Believe me I wanted to but I had Scarlet O'Hilla, Grade Expectations and Capitol Punishment left to go. There is no real downhill until 25.5 mile mark. Just uphills plateauing.

I kept visualizing what I had left; where I had to go still. And during this time I thought my thoughts about Evan and how nothing hurt more than that. And when I would start to waver, wanting to walk "for just a bit", I reminded myself about the 23.5 mile long run I had done through Indian Hills in training and then in the afternoon that same day the 4.5 trail miles I ran at a 9:30 pace. I could do this, slowly but I could do it.

So keeping those thoughts with me I told myself I could run all the way up Peachtree to the finish. Seriously. I don't know how much I can stress this: Yes, in the Peachtree road race and in the Atlanta half I have always run up Peachtree Road-- no problem-- but at both Ga ING and in my first marathon I walked so much up Peachtree. So just running--no matter how slow-- was just huge for me. I was so dang proud to be running up those hills, not walking up them! More than time that was my goal for this marathon.

Sometime around the Fox Ryan and the kids drove past me. Beau had his window down and was yelling to everyone "Walking is Not an option!"

I am sure a lot of people thought that was really, really cute.

I felt like the morning was just flying by. Normally at this point in a marathon time seems to be slowing down but I didn't have that feeling at all. Yes. My legs felt like lead weights but I wasn't in pain! I felt better at mile 24 than I did at mile 21 of any of those 10 long runs I did in training.

After I passed Underground I kept looking for Mitchell Street. There is a tiny downhill right before you run up past the Capitol. It seemed like it was taking an eternity. Finally. Mitchell Street and I started running as hard as could manage and passed lots of people. I was like; Out of my way people! I've got places to be!

I looked at Garmin. Oh boy, a PR was going to be close. Run, don't let it go!

I was trying to do all sorts of silly math. I wasn't sure how far I had to go exactly since Garmin was off. And I wasn't sure how far "behind" the clock I was. I figured I had to make it up Capitol Punishment in less than 2 minutes. My friend Karen from Big Peach was volunteering, saw me and started running up Punishment with me yelling Go Nat! Towards the top I asked her to take my hydration bottle and was thankful that she did.

Hills! All. Done. Yeah!!!

Home free! Go go go!

Come on down hill! Here it is! Go! I have lots to give but am soooo glad to almost be done! I glanced at Garmin; he was flasing a sub 7:30 pace. Go Nat go!Pick it up, pick it up!

I just flew past people. Heard them yelling my name. Oh, it all felt so fabulous and horrible at the same time. Then I saw the clock 3:37:22--whoo hoo! Barely a PR but a PR nonetheless. I'll take it! So happy. Other runners call out to me congrats and great race. Yes, yes it was! Best marathon so far for me! Just think. If I hadn't stopped to pee I could have come in under 3:37. I'll have to remember to pee on myself next time. (kidding)

And here is that finish line video:

Some finish line photos:
So happy and feeling great! Carmella made me a wood and weed bouquet:

I'd been running the race a few steps behind the vomit and tummy trouble line. My stomach really started to hurt upon finishing.
Doug coming in. He ran 4:27 at ING as his first last spring and 8 months later he runs 3:51 at Atlanta. He even set a 6 minute PR at the half split. 36 minute PR on a tough course is amazing!!!! Thanks so much for running with me!

The Aftermath:
As always Peachtree Road did a number on my quads. I don't know what it is about that road but after every race on it (well except the Peachtree, 10k's don't leave me sore) my quads are trashed. And they feel the worst ever after this race than any others. Good news is my calves felt pretty good. Say what you will about my compression socks but they make a difference for me during and after a race.

I ran 3.4 miles Friday after down on the Column's Dr trail while the kids rode their bikes. Felt good running and then after wards it was so much worse; everything stiffer, my fatigue inordinate and I was just worthless the rest of the day. I even watched an Adam Sandler movie. I hate Adam Sandler. That is how paralyzed I was. My thinking is that I shouldn't have stopped running. It doesn't seem to hurt until you stop.

Today I did an hour of yoga. It was embarrassing how uncoordinated I was but my legs feel so much better, looser for it. I plan on running tomorrow and then am looking at doing some local 5k's in December. Figure it is about time I run one of those. I was hoping to do the Alpharetta Marathon but it looks like they canceled it. So now, since I have designated myself "home town girl" because of the crappy economy, I am looking at Callaway Gardens or Aviation marathon in Jan, or Snicker's in March and of course Ga ING. Any others that I don't know about? Thoughts on any of those?

Thanks, as always, for reading and being so encouraging!

Shout outs to Anne and Tara and Carrie. 3 of my oldest friends and they all ran the Atlanta Half for their first ever half marathon. Heck, I think it was Carrie's first race. You guys are awesome!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heaven's Proximity and Thanksgiving Day

As many of you know, if you've been reading this blog for awhile,November 24th is the 2nd anniversary of my nephew Evan's death. For those that haven't been following along for a few years, my nephew Evan died the day after Thanksgiving in 2006 from complications from bacterial meningitis. He was a few months shy of his third birthday and his loss has caused my family inexplicable pain and we still miss having him in our life every single day.

My sister in law Pam, my brother, family and friends gathered at a park to release balloons to remember Evan yesterday. My kids and Ryan and I couldn't make it out to their park but we also released balloons to remember Evan at a park near us. To explain to the kids what we were doing we told them we were sending notes to Evan in heaven.

Carmella had no problem with this and wrote a very sweet note telling him that she missed him everyday and hoped that he was having fun in heaven and she loved him always.

Beau, ever my little scientist, commented as we watched the balloons disappear from sight that he just "didn't think it was going to work." He explained that surely a plane or lightening would take the balloons out before they and our notes could reach Evan in heaven. Heaven, he explained, was very far away. There was even mention of Mars and Pluto.

Carmella told him that of course the balloons would make it. Heaven was closer to us than planes and planets, she explained, somehow, to Beau. And then there was much running a muck and it was starting to rain harder and then Beau face planted in the mud and we took that as our cue to leave.

Two weeks ago, when I did my final longish run I found myself remembering Evan and Thanksgiving morning--the day before he died. Evan sometimes has a way of sneaking into my thoughts when I do those long runs. It is okay, most times welcomed even. Not sure why but it can be motivating somehow; the anger and that overwhelming emotion of loss. At the very least, it is a diversion-- something else to focus on, unspool in my head and get me through the miles. And since I am in the taper for Atlanta marathon I can't help but think of my past Atlanta half marathons/marathon races. Especially the one I ran on November 23rd 2006.

I never wrote a post about the race and just had a blurb in one of my posts that I ran it and it was my best time for the course. At the time, the race was such a small, insignificant part of that terrible Thanksgiving day because it was about 2 hours after finishing that race that we found out we would lose Evan forever. But since then, I have found, my memory of that day is entangled in running, or rather more specifically the Atlanta half marathon-- and by default the Atlanta Marathon since the last 13.1 miles of the full course is the half marathon course.

And anyone who has ever run a marathon will tell you the real running doesn't even begin until that second 13.1 miles. Or sure there are those that argue even about it being the last 10k but regardless I think of the first half as just a warm up. (Right I warm up that run wayyy tooo fast. Neither here nor there.) I personally don't even consider that I am running 26.2 miles until I hit the half point. Up until then I am just thinking about getting to 13.1 miles. That is all I am doing. Not at all worried about what might happen after that point. Which, right, might be why I have such a tough time in the last half. What can I say, I am often guilty of not seeing the big picture.

Anyway . . . my point is that I can't help but think about Evan now on that course and so I have wondered how that will play out for me in what can be the valley of darkness already in a marathon. Ever since I signed up for the full marathon I've been riddled with this question.

And on my last long run two weeks ago and throughout this taper this is how I have answered it for myself: I have lit upon the notion that I will tell myself I got through those 13.1 miles two years ago on an impossible day under such impossible duress and ridiculous obstacles that surely I can get through it easily having only run 13.1 miles. Which of course, I'll be the first to admit, that everything sounds possible in theory.

Allow me to further explain where I am coming from on this. Keep in mind my thinking process also has to do with how crappy my races have been this year. I feel like I haven't been able to "suck it up" where as I use to consider myself queen of sucking it up and getting it done in a race. I have not had the best of luck in races in general: bad weather, race disorganization, lack of sleep, injury, sickness, bad weather etc. But really, I've come to realize the Atlanta half marathon 2006 really stands out as a triumph over adversity in terms of a race. (I know. One might be inclined to wonder why I keep doing these things. I sure do. And I don't really have an answer other than I seem to think they are fun.)

Race day here is how I found myself: Even taking out the equation of what was happening with Evan the odds were not in my favor to have a good race that day anyway. I had raced the Silver Comet half marathon less than a month before and nailed a pr at that time of 1:41--an almost 15 minute improvement of my fastest half marathon at the time. Two weeks later and 12 days before the Atlanta half I had ran the Outer Banks Marathon in pouring rain and cold and set a new 23 minute marathon PR of 3:42. Then a few days after the marathon I came down with bronchitis and a sinus infection. So Thanksgiving morning I was on day eight of a two week course of antibiotics. I was definitely better --able to smell again and breathe without hitting the inhaler every 15--but the doctor had instructed me not run or if I did to "take it easy." (It is funny, but I just recalled--upon writing this-- that I actually passed that doctor in the first mile of the race.)

So those facts alone were points indicating that I probably wouldn't have a great race. But of course I still wanted to run-- no matter how ridiculous of an idea it was to run. I love this race. Why? Seriously, I don't know. But I do!

But add to those strikes of why not race that I had a family crisis going on and well, most rational people would have bagged the race. However, we had been given hopeful news of Evan on Wed afternoon, so ever the optimist I went through my regular pre race rituals and laid out my clothes--number pinned to my outfit and ready to go. Though I admit that when I climbed into bed at 11 pm that night that I knew I might not be running.

At midnight my mom called and asked me to come down to Children's-- the latest news was not good. I didn't ask questions or really think but grabbed my clothes on the way out the door and drove down to the hospital. My sister, who was also signed up for the race was there too. From about 1 am until 4 am we just sat and stared at each other and had those inane conversations that seem to only occur in ICU waiting rooms. Finally we were told that we would not be able to find anything out until the neurologist came on duty at 11 am and that Evan was stable.

So since we were up my sister and I decided we would go run. The choice, at the time, seem logical: sit in ICU waiting room or run 13.1 miles. I mean, sleep wasn't even on the table so really, those were our only choices.

Oddly it was the most perfect weather for racing as I have ever had running the Thanksgiving race not that, at the time, I thought it was going to make any difference. I was just looking for a little distraction, alone time with my music, thoughts and doing the thing that makes me feel good: running.

I remember trying to convince my sister to come closer to the front but she wouldn't go any closer than the middle of the 8 minute milers. I wished her luck and walked up closer to the 7's. We were off and as we rolled down Peachtree Industrial towards day light the heaviness of the day hit me. By the end of the first mile I was a heaving, crying mess. I wanted to be done. I couldn't do it. Sometime around mile 3 I pulled myself together and began my mantra that got me through the race: I can't quit cause Evan can't quit. Funny the deals we will make. Like we really have that sort of control and bartering power.

I was so tired and sad and worried and wanted nothing more than to quit. But I didn't and ran as hard as I could that day because getting done would get me back to the hospital where I decided, after starting the race, was actually where I was suppose to be.

I vaguely remember crossing the finish line and knowing that I had a run a great race but didn't care at all. There was no elation or joy in finishing as there usually is; only relief to be done with it.

I found my brother in law and waited for my sister to finish. She had also ran her best time and had a similar race experience to mine. There was nothing to be said and we went to her house showered and back to the hospital where the day further unraveled in its horror and despair.

As I have gotten closer to the marathon, which is now only two short days away, this memory gets clearer. Every run I have done it has edged its way in. At first I have that knot of sadness in my stomach that makes me want to throw up but then it turns into this crazy anger that is like a fire. I find myself breaking my promise to take it easy in the taper and it is like it was that day-- wanting to get it done and over and move past it-- and I just run as hard as I can.

So see, here I am two years later and I still have that same emotion: pain-despair-frustration-thing-that-I-don't-have-a-name-for- and nor do I know how to get past it-- over it, beyond it. But what I do know and have been thinking is that maybe, maybe I can manage it. Maybe even harness it. . .

And so here is what I am hoping: that the thing that gets me through those last dark and painful miles of the marathon will be the understanding that nothing ever hurts worse than the pain of losing someone forever. So this, this little thing, this thing that I do called running? Is infinitely easier. Suck. It. Up.

And with that (assuming I keep this cold at bay that I feel is brewing) know that I--marathon runner 794-- will be going for broke on Thanksgiving morning.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Down for the Count

Of two.



Wednesday my Kindzia streak of consistently working out everyday for at least 30 minutes since 12/31/07 ended.

That's right. I caught Beau's stomach bug.

Holy moly. It was awful. I haven't been that sick in well, since last December when I had pneumonia or whatever the hell that month long chest rot I had then was. Really, though, this time was much worse than not being able to breathe. I just laid in my bed for 2 days and writhed in pain. I will spare you the ugly details since I can assume that you have probably at least once in your life succumbed to the perils of a stomach bug.

And I do feel lucky because my kids are older. Nothing. I mean nothing is worse than having a stomach bug and having to care for a toddler. Baby, not great. Preschooler, still not good. Kindergartner and second grader? Still not fun but with the older ones there is considerably less laundry as they are proficient in getting to the toilet to upsie or you, know, downsie. And babies, well, most of them are breastfed or still mostly bottle fed and well, a stomach bug on a liquid diet? Really how is that any different than everyday? But the toddler. They are mobile. And diapers? They leak. Oh God. It is everywhere.

So yeah, that was my silver lining. I don't have a toddler. Oh, and I also got lucky in that only one of my kids was sick when I was. Right, the easy one. Well sort of. No, not really in this case.



Bless the sweet pea's heart. She thinks just being human is creepy. So she is sort of a pathetic patient because she is so freaked out by the very idea of bodily functions so it is so much worse when they actually happen to her. Beau, on the otherhand, is sort of in awe about. He is like, whatever. I threw up. Can I go play at my friend's house now?

With Carmella there is hyperventaliating. Crying. Pacing. Writhing. Yeah, like two of me. We were in competition for who was more pathetic. And since she is seven who do you think won? Right. Like I've said before. She is always the better person. I was most pathetic.

-----------------------Oh, and Ryan would like me to mention "how awesome he is."

And by "awesome" I think he is referring to that he didn't come within 20 feet of me or Carmella without at least first spraying down the air with Lysol--which I can assure you did nothing for my nausea. He made Carmella sleep with me in the Hazmat room--aka, our bedroom.

Okay, he did do lots of laundry but that was only because I told him he couldn't go hunting unless he did. Oh, and he did take and pick up Beau from school.

So yes, that was pretty awesome. But. I think he just knew that there was the potential that I might survive this little bug and there would certainly be hell to pay then.

And I will say that mostly, in my opinion, it was pretty awesome that he didn't get said bug because that would have meant I would have been the one doing all the laundry and taking/picking up Beau to/from school and that would have meant I would have had to drag my half dead self out of bed. Which I promise you, wasn't going to happen.----------------------------------------

So for 2 days Carmella and I have laid in bed moaning, not eating or drinking and pretty much just about dying.

Today though.

I deemed us well.

I based this on the lack of vomiting for over 24 hours, no fever and that we both managed to eat something other than a saltine last night for dinner without dry heaving.

So, I sent Carmella to school, along with Beau. I planned to run.After copious amount of laundry and decontaminating happened, of course.

She came back home at 9 am.

She has been fine since she came home so I think she was just freaked out about the possibility of getting ill at school. She said her tummy hurt. I, of course, didn't believe her. We are well I told her. But she had already been to that damn school nurse so I had to take her home. They all ganged up on me, what could I do?

Well, I'll tell you.

I went by her teacher's room and got lots of work for her to do. My thinking was that Carmella rather enjoyed her lay-in-bed- watch-TV-and-color-puppy-pictures-and-vomit-vacation. I mean, she did make puppy pictures for at least 14 of her closest BFF's. Who makes stuff for their friend's when they are sick? I'll tell you who, fakers!

So, I was a little merciless making her do math homework, social studies, reading, art project and even write a story. But she had writer's block and still hasn't finished the story. She also does not appreciate at all the fabulous Face Book suggestions received either. I think they have further crippled her creativity. So "The Talking Crayon Box" remains an unfinished masterpiece as of this blog post writing. Sorry, guys. Thanks for trying.

Finally though the rain brought, my hero, Ryan, home and I was able to get much jonesed for run in.

I should mention now that my running of late has been going better. Taking a week off seemed to be just the ticket. Though, since the weekend-- when the stomach bug first showed up on my radar-- I have felt a bit off. Even still I managed 10 miles close to marathon pace on Monday. On Tuesday I wasn't feeling myself but hit the gym for my "how far can I go in an hour" treadmill run.

After a sad first mile at an 8:20 pace I cranked it out and got it done with 8.26 miles for the hour. And that was with taking a one minute walk break after the first 4 mile mark (which I hit in 29:20 something) because I was certain I was going to lose my breakfast and decided I was going to quit. But I rallied and decided I could finish out the hour. And I did. Overall average pace for the entire workout was 7:16 pace. An hour and half after the treadmill workout I had to take the kids to tennis. It was nice out and I was bored so I did an easy 4.5 miles. I think the average pace for that was 8:20 something pace. All and all not a bad day. Well, until I got the upsies. And the downsies. And the fever. And the body aches. And the chills. And two days where I thought for sure it was the end of me. And for part of the time I kind of hoped it was.

So, yeah, well that brings us to today. Friday. The day I willed myself well. I should have known my tummy was still a bit shaky but I ignored it and forged ahead with my coffee and Uncle Sam's--aka, NOT.A.GOOD.IDEA. Lunch was hard to get down too--brown rice, Lima beans and tomatoes. I don't know what I was thinking. But still I thought: I. Am. Better.

You, know, ignoring all those gurgling and quarters dropped down a pipe sound my digestive system was making.

I was fine.

So I went out for my run. Left Ryan with Carmella and told him to get Beau.

Yeah! Outside! Fresh air! My ipod! Me!

Ever the optimist I thought I maybe could do my 16 miler I was suppose to do on Thursday. I brought a Gu and $2, just in case. No water though or Gatorade. What? Why would I do that? That would be smart.

Ryan asked me how far? How long?

I said, I don't know. At least an hour, maybe two or more. . . hopefully.

About a mile in I was ready to turn back. My body was not right!

But I make no decisions in that first mile (or while running up a hill for that matter)--just my little rule.

I reasoned, well it has been 2 days. . . maybe I am just running too fast.

So I slowed down, my tummy threatening to rebel. As I reached the first of my 3 miles of uphills I considered walking but just tucked head and got through it, oh so painfully slow.

It started to rain and I worried about my new beautiful shoes and thought I should just do 6 miles. But then I thought about the 2 days I have languished in bed, dying and decided I needed to at least do ten miles to stay on track. So at the 3 mile I turned off to head into my 10 mile loop. And the tummy stayed there, on the vomit line but never crossed. I never felt great but it never got worse. At the 6 mile I was thirsty and licked my lips. Salt. Ugh. Gross. My spit was thick. Disgusting. Nothing was good. But with less than 4 miles to go I just plugged along and finished. Average pace was 8:42. Not terrible but 30 seconds slower per mile for the same run that I did on Monday and felt way less arduous. Really, in my mind, today should have been faster considering the 2 days of bed rest I had.

Do you count sick days as rest days?

I do. But maybe I shouldn't?

And so now I believe Carmella and guess that maybe she wasn't faking when she said her tummy still hurt. And maybe I even feel slightly guilty about that . . .

Sigh, I just want us all to be healthy!

Oh, one last thing. Since everyone thinks Beau is so funny here is the latest Beau drama, for your entertainment:

He has been an absolute pill the last week and a half at school, well and at home too. Mostly for his usual: talking too much, insubordination, being "wiggly" (seriously, that is what they call it). So I guess yesterday his teacher had had it and told him today he was being moved next to her at a desk by himself. Just so you know in the classroom they sit 5 kindergartners to a table. There are 15 kids in his class, 2 teachers. No one, but the teachers sit at desks. But in the older grades, they all sit at desks. Beau knows this.

The teacher however--for whatever reason-- did not at all inform me of this move. Beau did.
He enthusiastically informed me of it.
As in he had no clue this was a bad thing.
He was proud about it even.

This morning Beau came downstairs for breakfast and very excitedly told me that he was getting "his own desk" today. Next to the teachers, he informed me; nodding, smiling, brown eyes wide. All explaining why he jumped out of bed and got dressed lickety split for school. He had something to look forward to!

Carmella, having had the same two teachers for kindergarten and me, having had to sit at my own desk by the teachers when I was in kindergarten, knew exactly what this meant and that it was not good.

Carmella began by cataloging for Beau all the naughty children that had had to sit at the solo desk in kindergarten, many of who-- she furthered-- were still quite naughty in second grade. The desk, she told Beau, was bad news for him.

Beau tried to argue how he no longer had to share a table, emphasizing again, that he, Beau. Was getting his own desk. Next to the teachers even. You know, near the front of the class.

We tried, in vain to tell him this was not good. It meant he was naughty.

Beau wasn't listening, he was too excited for his new desk, his new position--you know, the one next to the teachers.

So I shot an email off the lead teacher explaining that Beau wasn't getting that the solo desk was punishment.

And this afternoon she shot one back to me that she tried making the solo desk "unpleasant as possible" for him by telling him stuff like his desk "had no table captain".
You know.
Beau may not always have all the sails of his ship flying but, come on. Everyone knows at a table of one you are always the captain.

She also told him his desk didn't have a number.

Now this would have devastated Carmella but Beau?

Any table that he is at is number one in his mind.

Numbers? What are those?

She also told him that he couldn't line up until she told him he could. Which I am sure this was the most frustrating part for him but I think kindergartners don't get to do anything without being told to do it. So really, how is that different?

So when he came home from school today I asked him if he was sad at his desk by himself. And he told me emphatically No! It was great! And best of all he didn't have to sit next to, I will call her Betty but that is not her name, anymore. Apparently Beau really doesn't like Betty. He has mentioned before that she is not his favorite but I didn't really pay attention. Apparently, she picks her nose and has bad breath. Which is weird the nose picking would bother Beau since he is a staunch nose picker himself but I think when it comes to girls he operates on a bit of a double standard.

So that was my day and what I learned today is this: I can't will myself better, Carmella doesn't lie--ever. And Beau? You just can't take that kid down. Unlike his Mama, he isn't going down for any count--ever.

Okay, Cat. I promise. Your post is coming. I am having title trouble.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Running Favorites

I know Oprah has her favorite things show or whatever it is called and I suppose this post is going to be kind of like that but it has to do with running and I don't have any freebies to give away.


But people do ask me frequently what I like and what I wear and all that good stuff--as if I have any idea what I am talking about. But since I have many friends who have recently taken up running or have finally decided to step it up and run their first half marathon I thought I would put it all down here. Keep in mind this is what works for me so it isn't the end all be all.

Okay, let's get started.

Where to shop?

First off my favorite running store is The Big Peach. I really don't go anywhere else and they are my go to people for all things running. They now have 4 metro Atlanta locations: Brookhaven, Decatur, Kennesaw and Marietta. They are knowledgeable and passionate and an absolute great resource. Most of the stores have group runs out of the store. They also have a trail running series so you can find out about all the local trails. They do seminars on a regular occurance that are free and cover all the various aspects of running.

Even though I go to Big Peach for just about everything I do occasionally order online.
I have ordered compression socks from Revel and found them to be affordable and fast. I also found their over the calf compression socks to be the most affordable. Suddenly these socks are everywhere and they run over $40+ a pair. Revel still offers Oxysox for under $25.

I have, in the past, ordered running shoes from Kelly's. Never had a problem.

I also love Not just for swim apparel but they sometimes have the best prices for running and triathlon apparel. Definitely worth a look.

Speaking of triathlon Team Estrogen has the cutest stuff but it is sometimes too pricey for me. Look there first and then Google what you like for a better price is my advice before buying. I found a Zoot tri top for half the price it was at TE on Ebay.


Bottoms: I like running skirts. My current favorite is the Brooks Running Skort. I wore this for GA ING marathon and Country Music Marathon and for most of the long runs I do. I like this skirt because it has 2 pockets-- one with a zipper even. And it has a draw string so it doesn't slip down as a lot of my other skirts do. It doesn't cause me chafing but I don't typically have that problem anyway.

I also like Skirt Sports skirts. I have 4 and have worn them in marathons, half marathons and 10k's. They even have "skirt chaser" shirts for the boys, if you men are so inclined.

I don't really like the full length tights. I do have one pair from Nike but I always roll them up. I do like the capri length tights. I have a few pairs of Champion capri length from Target. I like these because they have a draw string. I gotta have that drawstring; without it the pants slide down my hips and I spend the run hitching up my pants.

The only shorts I wear are Nike 2.5" low-rise compression shorts. I like these for the gym or really hot days outside. I also like to wear them when I do long brick training. I'll wear them under my bike shorts and then pull the bike shorts off for the run. I hate running in padded bike shorts. These are my "get away" shorts.

I will do whatever but I do love Nike tanks, triathlon tanks (extra pockets!) and my favorite is of course one of my "Run Like a Girl" technical shirts by Reebok. I tried to find a link but I guess Reebok doesn't sell the shirt anymore. But it is just a light weight short sleeve technical shirt.

If it is colder I usually go the long sleeve technical top route.
Or, even better, I have a few 1/4 zip mock fleece tops from Target.(I know, again with the Target. I am little cheap about somethings.) Sometimes you can find them on sale. I bought 2 last year on clearance for $10 a pop.

This is my a favorite cold weather running shirt.

However I don't really need to break this out for running until it is below 40 around here unless I am cycling. I'll throw it on under one of my summer sleeveless bike jersey's.

For really cold I like a light weight vest rather than a jacket. Running distance in cold weather is all about the layers. A vest is great because if you go light weight long sleeve under the vest you can always pull the under shirt off and stuff in a pocket or tie around your waist if you get hot. I have two vests: a fleece one from the Gap that I've had for years and it works great. I also have a windbreaker one with down from Target. Keep in mind; it doesn't have to be running specific to work for running. I use a lot of my stuff I bought for skiing for when it gets really cold. I've even worn my unlined ski pants over running tights on a super cold day.

A light weight wind breaker is nice to have but really when the wind is a problem it is usually pretty cold so that Underarmour shirt I recommended and the windbreaker vest seem to work best for me.

A rain jacket I don't have. I did have one once but they get really hot. I've found it is just best to suck it up and get wet when it comes to rain. Typically it is a bit warmer and humid when it rains. A rain jacket can feel suffocating. So in the case of rain technical light weight fabrics are a must--no cotton--and some sort of hat with a brim to keep the rain off your face. I prefer a visor but ball caps work too.

Socks: As mentioned I have a pair of over the calf compression socks by Oxysox. I use these mostly when my legs are already fatigued from--as is often the case with me--over training. Some days are just Oxysox days. But for the most part I wear Asics Hera low-cut socks. I love these. They have arch compression and they don't slip down like other low-cut socks do. They are also thin. I prefer a thin sock. They are, however, not warm.

Shoes: I like Brooks. What works for me may not work for you. I am a slight over-pronator with low, flexible arches. I have wide feet and I like extra cushioning. Brooks works well for me.

I just recently bought Trance 8 but in the past I really liked the Infiniti and was once a huge fan of the Adrenalines. I do try out other brands before I buy but I keep going to the Brooks-- it is just what currently is working for me.

I also have their Cascadia trail shoe.They are a bit stiff but I like them--I do wear my regular running shoes on trails for the most part.

I have tried other brands in the past: New Balance use to work well but I found they wore out very quickly which is why I switched to Brooks. I like Asics and Mizuno too. Nike has never worked for me. Which is a little sad because they do make a stylish shoe. My feet hate them though.

I don't have any racing flats so I can't speak at all about the pros or cons of those or even the need for them. I am just not there.

Sports bras: I am small chested so what works for my little girls probably won't work for the gals with bigger girls. But I like those Championseamless racer back bras from Target. I think they around $15. Typically though for the marathon I will go with my Moving Comfort bra. It offers better compression support that can be nice when you are running for a long time. After a few hours every little jiggle can become painful. This bra keeps even my skin from moving. Also, for me at least, no chafing.

If any of my friends who are more blessed in the chest could pipe up with their favorite sports bra I am sure it would be appreciated.

Mittens: I find that even though I can get away with short sleeves and a running skirt to about 40 degrees I can't keep my hands warm once it gets in the below the low 50's. Cold hands and worse, numb fingers is a huge distraction. But if you're like me--a kitten that is always losing her mittens--you don't want to spend a lot of money on nice gloves. So again, Target is your friend. They have a 2 pack of mittens for a $1.50. Just buy black so that if you lose one you don't have to worry about wearing one pink and one black mitten. And if your nose tends to run in the cold weather like mine does the mittens also make a great kleenex. And since they were so cheap you don't mind tossing when they get too snotty.

Hats: I like a dryfit ball cap or a visor for most runs. But for the cold I like those head warmers. They keep your ears warm but you can also push it down around your neck if it gets too hot.

Other tips and tidbits:


For 3 hr runs (around 21 miles)I have been using one Roctane Gu at 6/7 miles in and one Vanilla Gu at 11/12 miles and 16-36oz Gatorade (depending on how hot it is) in addition to water throughout the run. I have to do the Roctane first. My tummy gets disagreeable the longer I run and things stop working as efficiently. So I use the denser stuff earlier in the run and go lighter as the run progresses.

For runs that go over 3 hrs I will usually bring a package of shot blocks or Luna Moons to munch on too-- eating one or 2 every mile or so.

For runs under 3 hours I usually do one Gu and 20oz Gatorade and water to wash the Gu down.

For runs under 2 hours I don't bring anything but may stop for water at a fountain if I get thirsty.

I buy the individually wrapped powdered Gatorade at the grocery store.
I bring my hand-held bottle. The hand-held is preferable to me over a fuel belt. I find it is easier to just stop and refill the bottle (mix Gatorade) than it is to run with the fuel belt. I also feel ridiculous wearing a fuel belt. But that is just me.

I also plan my routes with Quik Trip's and Walgreen's and CVS's on the route so I can make use of the clean potties and most often, free water. QT will let you have free ice if you bring your own bottle--so will Starbucks. I do bring a few bucks with me just in case. Target does have Powerbar gels and Sharkies in a pinch.

I am not going to say much else on the nutrition aspect of running since that is a very individual thing and a bit of trial and error. Keep in mind basic rule of thumb is every 45 minutes take in about 100 calories maybe drink some water. Everyone is different. Find what works for you.

One last thing; my "secret" pre-race/long run weapon is pretzels dipped in peanut butter: carbs, salt and protein. Wash down with some water and you got yourself a little bit of an IV drip going. Lance's peanutbutter wheat crackers worked great on the bike for me and didn't cause me tummy woes on the brick runs after.

When it rains:
I already mentioned the necessity of light weight clothing (arm warmers would probably be better than long sleeves in this case) and a hat with a brim.

But what to do before the race?

This can be problematic since you almost always have to get to the race start 30 minutes to an hour before the start (sometimes as much as 4 hours!) and often there is no shelter to stay dry. For me nothing is worse than standing in the rain and having to start a race sopping wet. I see most people wearing garbage bags to keep dry but I just feel ridiculous and well, you still get wet.

So if I know it is going to be raining at the start of a race I will go to the dollar store the day before and buy an umbrella. This way I don't have to stand around in the rain getting cold and wet waiting for the start. Right before the gun goes I either hand my umbrella off to a volunteer, spectator or toss it in the trash. To me that was a dollar well spent.

My opinion on Gadgetery: I know men heart the gadgets and for them that is part of the fun of any sport. I really think that is why men are more into cycling and triathlon than women: all that glorious equipment and potential gadgetery. But I am girl who likes things simple--I especially like not having to read an owner's manual on how to work something.

These days everyone thinks they need a fancy GPS/HR monitor to run even a few miles. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with that but it is absolutely not a necessity. It is an extra expense and if you can afford it then I see no reason not to have one--especially if it will make you happy. But to be certain, you don't have to have it.
Agreed. It is nice to know your splits and maybe what your heart rate is doing when you run up a hill but for me I can tell that mine is up--I don't need a monitor to tell me that. And well, I don't really care what my splits are for the most part. And in a race ultimately it is your over all average pace that gets you to the finish line. And you know, doing the math yourself and figuring out splits yourself can make the time go by faster. Not to mention, you can make pace bands to wear that will help you with this if you are not numerically gifted.

However, it is nice to know how far and how fast you ran any given run. A basic watch with a stop watch function is really all you need. I know, I know that is so old school. And will help you figure out exactly how far you ran. Even when I use my Garmin I find it so unreliable (because it loses the signal from clouds, trees, making turns etc) that I often "mapmyrun" anyway. There is usually at least a .2 mile to over a mile discrepancy. Depending how fast and how far you ran that can mean almost a minute difference per mile for the average pace.

Honestly, the only gadget that I really want is my Ipod. But if you run without music I would not suggest starting now. It is a crutch. And I need it. I love it and I don't want to run at all without it. But sadly, most races make you leave your Ipod at home. So do not start using one if you don't already; otherwise you'll be sad like I am when I have to race without it.

Race Etiquette:
Read this.
Some things I want to expand on:

The start: Keep in mind those at the front of the start line typically plan on bolting out at a sub 6 pace. If you cannot maintain that pace you have no business being at the front of the line. And if you plan on walking at the start of race start all the way at the back.

Passing: Often there is a lot of dodging and weaving in a race--especially if it is a popular one. If I need to cut in front of someone I like to give them a head's up. Since most often (myself included) people are wearing headphones I give a visual--instead of calling out-- of the direction I am going to go by pointing with my hand before I make my move. I also do this if I need to spit and move as far over the side as I can. Nothing is grosser than being spit on in a race and having to run with someone else's snot on you. I know you are excited about your race and bettering your time but still remember that there are other people out there trying to do the same.

Also, do not just stop in middle of the course. If you need to slow your pace and walk please move over to the left side and look behind you before you do.

Similarly at the end of a race-- and this is especially true in the half marathons that share the course with full marathoners-- do not walk 3 or 4 abreast. Keep in mind that if you are running over 2 and half hours for a half marathon you are more than likely going to be in the way of those finishing the marathon who run an 8 and under minute mile (for the races that share a finish line but may follow different routes that converge). At the end of a marathon it is very hard to weave around walls of people who are running/walking two times slower than your pace. Besides, it is always proper etiquette to yield to the faster runners in a race. It is a race after all.

Volunteers: Thank them. They are not paid and they are there to make sure you have a great race. So be nice to them and try to at least aim your trash at a trashcan. Don't make their job any harder than it needs to be.

Other Resources:

Runner's World: articles, discussion boards, up to date running news.

McMillan Calculator: Not an exact science but a good tool to help you figure out pace goals and paces for various distances in training.

MarathonGuide: Calendar of US marathons.

Half marathon guide

Find US Races


Common Running Injuries

Okay, that is all I can think of for now. Feel free to add your own tips and tidbits in the comments.

PS. I forgot to include for the boys Utilikilts. Be sure to check out their comprehensive sight and most excellent photo gallery. There are plenty of models to choose from and some have some of those extra pockets that I love for Gu's , cell phones and dollars.

PPS. Paul, I think a kilt would look great with some compression socks. ;)
Joe, no need to be confused any longer.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Subtle Nuances

Today when I picked Beau up from school in carpool his teacher said "Five kids went home sick today with vomiting." And before I could ask any questions she cheerfully added,"Have a great weekend!"

Pretty sure she thought "sucka" after she popped him in my car and slammed the door shut.

I asked Beau if his tummy hurt or if he didn't feel good and at first he started to say no but then quickly changed his mind and said yes, his tummy did hurt! Very bad. And adding that he thought he would feel better if he had some candy. . .

Beau had a similar tummy ache yesterday and the day before that could also only be cured by Halloween candy. So today, like I did yesterday and the day before, I ignored Beau's "tummy ache" and proposed "cure". I did tell him if his tummy really did hurt we should probably go to the doctor. He might have caught a stomach bug, I told him.

"No", he said, confused. "I got no bug."

And no more was said of tummy aches or Halloween candy.

And we went about our afternoon. The kids played at Bubbles house while I ran some errands and most exciting--besides doing my last 21 miler this training cycle today--. . . got some brand new running shoes! Brooks Trance. Way too expensive so they better be worth it.

It only took me like two hours to decide once I finally narrowed my choice down to three. I had to run in each pair at least three times on Big Peach's treadmill and outside and harass two of their employees in my decision making process. Let me tell you, they earn their pay check when I come in the store.

These are by far the prettiest running shoes my feet will have ever donned. They are silver and orange! Orange! Can you imagine? My favorite color. Oh boy. I have such high hopes for them. Soon to be dashed, I am sure. 20 days and counting down to the Atlanta Marathon. . . Come on legs! Get strong!

Yeah, so, anyway . . .

After I picked the kids up from Bubbles, Beau started complaining again that his tummy hurt. Yet he, along with Carmella, insisted on stopping at Moe's and picking up Friday-night-Mommy-doesn't-cook-dinner. Burritos they chanted. In between burrito cheers and while we waited Beau kept complaining that his tummy hurt. He even had various theories on what might remedy it: candy--of course, sitting down like a frog, leaning over awkwardly, laying on the gross floor, pushing his sister, hanging on my legs, possibly a burrito with no chicken--just beans and rice, cheese dip, a cookie, chips and salsa and so on. I decided a cheese quesadilla would be our safest bet.

On our way home we had a lengthy discussion about vomit--or as Aunt Boo would say "the upsies". (She can't even say throw up or vomit without wanting to--it makes her sick just to utter the word. Hence "the upsies". Sounds more polite at any rate.)

The reason we had the discussion about the upsies in the first place was because I brought up the point of if he needed to vomit he needed to do it in the toilet and most definitely not on his bed or the furniture or any of the rugs.

But the reason the conversation was lengthy was because Beau told Carmella and I all about everyone in his class that had the upsies today and all the special details of that. He then went on to entertain us with all the infinite and fantastic possibilities of up chucking. Oh to be a boy. I swear parenting Beau is like having a frat boy in permanent residence.

When we got home he kept complaining how his tummy hurt and how he "just needed to relax and eat his dinner on the couch--with a bucket." You know, in case he got the upsies.

I explained that we don't eat dinner laying on the couch with a bucket, especially if we are going to be having the upsies. We had a brief argument about this where he was rather emphatic and all knowing about what goes down when one gets the upsies.

At some point Beau asked me why his tummy hurt and told him he probably had caught a stomach bug. He said no. He didn't even know what one looked like. He'd never seen one. And I just ignored him and told him to either eat or go get in the shower and ready for bed.

Well he kept complaining and finally went upstairs to the bathroom. I followed him and while we were standing in the bathroom he threw up everywhere--wall, toilet, floor, himself, and narrowly missed me. And while he was standing there--half covered in vomit--he was looking around and finally said "I don't see it."

"See what?" I asked.

"The stomach bug," he said. "Where is it?"

After we got all cleaned up he insisted we look on the internet for pictures of stomach bugs so he could see what one looks like and know if he saw one or not. And despite my mad Googling skills he is still doubtful and maintaining that he has never seen a stomach bug.

Though later, while I was reading him a book he did admit that there might be four stomach bugs in his tummy and they are having a party. Every time his tummy growls he says, with big knowing brown eyes; "See. Hear them?" he asks. "Party," he says.

And I asked him what he thought might get rid of them.

"Throwing up? A shoe?" He said, questioning.

"A shoe?" I asked.

"Yeah, you know. To smash them-- like you do a roach," he said.

I've put him to bed with his bucket and his Gatorade and his water and admittedly, I am a little worried that he might try to swallow a shoe or I will find him in the middle of the night beating his tummy with his shoes. Regardless though, and definitely most importantly, it had best better not be with my new yet to be worn most beautiful running shoes ever. You can betcha there will be some upset for sure.

Oh boy. It is going to be a long night, a long weekend. And, I predict, one with little running.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Small Town, Sunday

Two weekends ago kids and I went to the family stomping grounds: Bainbridge, GA. Oh, to be clear that's my family's stomping grounds.
Not Ryan's.
His family?
They're from Long Island. And Ryan, the damn Yankee, wasn't with us because he was out doing his that very un-Yankee thing that he does--deer shooting.

Kids didn't want to ride with me for most of the trip. Carmella changed her mind after lunch. So for most of the ride I was solo. I tried "listening" to a book on tape. Some Patricia Cromwell novel. After about 3 hours of listening I realized that I had actually read the novel and that it made it that much easier to follow along. It was really hard for me. Maybe it is an ADD thing but I kept having to rewind because I couldn't keep my mind engaged.

Later, I entertained myself by taking pictures of me driving:

And pictures of my parents in their car:

That's Itty Bitty. Mom's new mini cooper. She does have a regular size car-- a small SUV in fact-- but their dumb asses wanted to ride 5 hours to South Georgia in a clown car.

My dad then complained the rest of the weekend about how much his back hurt. Carmella wizened up and got in my spacious Ford Explorer. I should also add the Ford Explorer that carried all their crap. As you can see from the picture Beau loved riding in Itty Bitty even if it meant he couldn't eat or drink anything in Itty Bitty.

When we rolled into town we went straight to the Boo Barbie Surprise party where you can see from the previous post much fun was had by all.

The next morning I pawned my kids off on my mom and dad and took a solo ride out around town. I first rode out to my cousin's on the outskirts of town to try to convince her to come ride with me. Apparently preparing brunch for 20 people means you can't spare the time for a 2 hour bike ride. What ev's . . .

Here is the picture I took riding out Lake Douglas road to her house: Yes, I took it while pedaling. In fact, most of these were taken while moving so that accounts for their some what poor quality. I was trying very hard to both not wreck and break yet another digital camera.

My cousin had directed me to ride out Lake Douglas road towards Climax (yes that really is the name of the town). So I headed out on the now two lane country road towards then fine town of Climax. My cousin said the second stop sign would get me to 10 miles. I never made it to even the first stop sign. After passing the speed limit sign that advertised 55 mph I started to think about things. Mostly I thought, Wow, I've never ridden on road with a speed limit over 45 mph. And then when that car passed me going at least 65 I turned around and high tailed it back to town.

The first place I decided to go was my great grandmother Ebie's house. I wasn't sure actually how to get there but when I saw Broughton St and saw this vantage point I knew how to get there.
This is her house, or rather was:

In my undergrad I wrote a poem about it, about this scene, this view. It is called Rescue. You can read the poem here if you want.

Some of the things I wrote about in the poem are gone: the flea market that was once a church, my great grandmother, my grandmother, the porch swing . . . but some things are still there and are still the same:

BrownLee Glass Company:

The tinted glass windows:

One of the houses I imagine no one lives in:

The Southern Bell building that makes me believe Florida is one street over:

The hanging Spanish moss:

The always empty street:

I rode further down the street and took a picture of my favorite church in town. The Episcopal:
And yes, it is my favorite because it has a red door.

Though I am not a religious person I do love that in this town you are never a 1/4 mile away from a church. Seems there is one on every street.

I rode over and took a picture of the church my parents got married in. The Presbyterian:

This is the Methodist Church.
I think this was Lala's church but she got married in the Presbyterian-- that was Daddy's church-- because she thought it was prettier. At least that is the story that I remember but I may have it all backwards because the Methodist church looked grander to me.

I decided my next stop was the cemetery. I knew the direction but wasn't exactly sure of the way. I found it though.

I love that the cemetery is called 'Oak City'. It's the epitome of Southern Gothic: a city populated by century old oaks and tombs. Does it get any more romantic and macabre than that? All that Spanish moss and marble. Sigh. My heart gets all a flutter. I had wanted to walk around and find all my family's markers but I was in my cleated bike shoes. With the exception of the main drag the roads in Oak City are dirt. Not the Georgia red clay that you see up here above the gnat line but that gray sandy dirt that is fine like powdered sugar and is all over the coastal plain of south Georgia.

Okay. Truth. What really happened and why there are not pretty pictures of the marble markers and tombs is that I got scared.

I realized after about two minutes that I was the only living person in Oak City. So even though it was a bright Sunday afternoon and the cemetery was quiet and serene and beautiful it was still a whole city filled with dead people-- and yeah, it was a little creepy. What can I say? I was all by myself in the middle of cemetery on my bike with no cell service. People, I had to ride across the tracks to get there.

So my chicken-ass hightailed it out of there.

As it was I didn't have time to ride over the my grandmother's Adelaide's house or the house my grandmother Anne lived in with her second husband Lee Roy or any of the other places. I had to get back to my cousin's and get my kids and come home.

It was a very nice Sunday ride. Sometimes, just like when I was little, I still wish I could live there.