Monday, March 31, 2008

See, What Happened was that I am Blond and Lola Ate My Homework

Okay, there are no excuses.

Wait, there are always excuses but in the end, when you peel it all away, it doesn't matter what excuse you have: it is what it is.

And what it is, specifically, is that I am not 3:30 marathon material.

Sure, I could say that maybe if I did X and followed X plan I could run a 3:30 marathon, heck maybe even faster. . .

But that is never going to happen because I don't have faith in the X factor because I know even if you do everything perfectly you still may not succeed. And I also know--from experience--that sometimes you hit jackpot even without much effort or plan. So me? I don't try so hard.

Don't get me wrong. I definitely try but there is always an element of self sabotage at work. Self sabotage as self preservation. I could go on and on and bore you and myself with psychoanalysis bullshit but really what we are talking about are just excuses. Like I said, it is what it is.

But. . .

What it is--I think-- is that it is funny how I self sabotage.

Let's set my crazy marathon training aside. Never mind that I let the speed work slide. Never mind that half of December I was recovering from all that November racing and then spent the other half coughing up a lung from bronchitis or pneumonia or the flu. Never mind that January was totally miserable because of injuries. I still ran through it and the training really came together in February. I still worked pretty darn hard and got in plenty of miles and more than enough solid long runs. It wasn't ideal. And yes, I am sure I didn't taper "properly". But do I ever?My training, while far from ideal or perfect, was no different this time than it was for any of those other 4 marathons. So I was trained and feel I am as close to 3:30 material as I was in the fall. Which, clearly, is not 3:30 material.

So I am not even considering my training at fault. My training is always helter skelter. I always think it is lacking. It doesn't seem to matter: sometimes I have great success and other times not so much. It is what it is.

But where I think I went wrong--where I think there is an element of self sabotage clearly at play-- was in the night before the marathon. See, I came up with a hair brained plan and it was just dumb all ways around it.

I don't even know how it got started but somehow I decided the best idea was for me to stay at Pookie and Wes's house marathon eve rather than drive to their house in the morning and have Wes drop us at the start--like we did last year. I think the original rational was that I would get a little extra sleep staying at their house.

I should mention that I am not a good sleeper in general-- even at my house, in my own bed. I rarely ever get a solid good night's sleep. So I definitely do not sleep well in strange places. Well, unless so drunk I don't know that I am in a strange place, which, btw, really never happens. Well, at least not anymore. . .

My other thinking in the plan to stay at Pookie's was that this would be a perfect opportunity for her to highlight and cut my hair. I have a job interview this week and it was the only time she could do it. And believe me, it had to be done. Seven months is too long to go between highlights and hair cuts. Look, here is my hair on Easter.
Please note. I am not wearing a hat. Those are my roots. Yes, they go below my ears. Yes, I am also excited that my hair has grown that much in seven months but then again, look at the ends. It is bad.

On Saturday morning while I did my swim-- clearly at the height of my taper madness--I decided it would probably be best if I brought Lola to stay with me at Pookie's. That way Ryan wouldn't have to deal with kids and the dog in the morning while they cheered me on. (We weren't going to be home all day and Lola can't stay in her crate for 12 hours. That just isn't nice. This is not to say I am nice but I am definitely not cruel). That way Lola could just stay in her crate or outside at Pookie's house until we got back from the race for the post race celebration. It all made perfect sense. Because you know, Ryan, who was not running 26.2 miles and was only doing what I do every single day, absolutely was the one who going to have a challenging day.

So I spent Saturday afternoon setting out outfits for the kids so all Ryan had to do was get them dressed in the morning. Then I did some laundry and made sure all the kids stuff was ready for school on Monday so that I wouldn't have to do that Sunday night when surely I would be too tired. Then I packed myself and Lola up and headed to Pookie's.

When I got to her house she was still at work. Wes and his cycling team mates were all having beers. The had done "the Tucker ride." I only mention it because they told me like I knew what "the Tucker ride" was. I don't. But you know I was all about chilling with a beer and talking some bike and some marathon.

Wes and I decided it would be best to put Lola and Marlow--Lola's cousin, Pookie's dog--outside in the backyard.

I should also add that Marlow makes Lola look like the world's most well behaved obedient dog ever. So you can imagine how it is when they get to play together.

While I waited for Pookie to come home and chatted with the boys it started to rain. But neither Wes nor I thought, mmm, we should get the dogs and bring them in so they don't get all wet and disgusting. Well, we did eventually think that but it was way too late as they were already horribly dirty. Not to mention wet and muddy.

Then Pookie came home and Wes and his compatriots wisely split the scene. But not before I warned him that he better be back and ready --read sober-- to take us to the race start no later than 6 am. His friends laughed at him and he looked pained but promised to be back in time. He did though, before leaving, set the coffee maker to have my coffee ready at 4 am.

Pookie and I set about making ourselves dinner--steak, salad and baked potatoes. While we were cooking it became apparent that the dogs would have to be cleaned before coming in. Problem was it was still raining.

So while Pookie finished getting dinner ready I went outside--in the rain-- with shampoo and bathed the dogs. It is never fun to bathe a dog, much less 2 dogs and even less fun to do it in the cold and the rain. The dogs didn't like it too much either.

Then dogs and me got dried off. I cleaned the floor from the mud and water. And finally Pookie and I sat down to eat. After dinner it was finally time for her to do my hair.

I absolutely hate to have my hair done. It takes way too long and involves that other thing I don't like or do well: sit still.

She didn't finish with the cutting and highlighting until nearly 10:30. I had wanted, planned, to be in bed by 9 pm. Sigh. I figured that was okay since I have run many races on very little sleep. Adrenaline would get me through it. Plus I was blond again and everybody knows that having blond hair just makes you run better.

I put Lola in her crate in my room and I think I finally fell asleep at 11pm.

But visions of GU and even 8 minute splits did not dance in my head.

At 11:52 I woke in a panic worried that the alarm that I had set on my cell phone would not go off.

I decided I better test it.

So from 11:53 until 11:58 I tested my cell phone alarm 4 times. Just to be safe I also decided that I should set multiple alarms. I set it for 4:00 am, 4:03 am and 4:05 am. I used different tones too-- you know just in case I dreamed I was in a dance club or being chased by Interpol.

Then I had to pee. I pee-ed, got back in bed and tried to think of nothing. I thought about everything. Freaked myself out. My heart raced. Lola made all sorts of racket and I fretted that she would keep me up all night.

Then, for awhile, I don't remember anything.

Then I woke up because Lola made a noise. It was 1:06 am. I had to pee anyway. Damn hydrating plan. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Pee-ed. Got back in bed. Tried to think of nothing. Thought of everything. Lola made racket. Damn pinch collar, metal crate.

Then, for awhile, I don't remember anything. I have to think that I was sleeping.

Then I bolted up in a panic that I overslept. Checked clock. 2:47 am. Sigh. Needed to pee anyway. What the hell? Damn sucky bladder.

Fell back asleep, I think. So very exhausted.

Woke up panicked again that I overslept. Checked clock: 3:56 am.

Resigned to wakefulness I heaved an annoyed sigh. I questioned why I wanted to run 26.2 miles anyway as I lay there in the dark, eyes wide open, listening to the rain fall outside. Committed, I turned off the alarms. I heard the coffee grinder kick on. Damn, 26.2 miles is really far and already, I am so tired . . .

Sunday, March 30, 2008


I am at BBQ at sister's so full report later. But . . . 3:38:18 finish so no pr.

Honestly I am not surprised considering how my training went this winter. Not to mention this course was so freaking hard. I got a hip cramp (new one for me) that stopped me cold in the 11th mile. Considered quitting but decided to at least run to the half and then decide. I really thought this would be my first ever DNF for any race. Then I had to stop to pee at 16 but it was worth it because I felt so much better. And then at the finish--not kidding--to cross the finish line I had to shove half marathoners out of my way. So, yeah, I am happy with 3:38. Oh and the weather was perfect. Hey and it was 6 minutes faster than last year's time, so that is something . . .

Okay, getting in trouble and NAT needs a beer. . . Congrats to all that ran today. I know there were a lot of PR's!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Visited Expo

Went to Expo today with my brother-in-law Wes. He was picking up Pookie's number. We had lots of fun.

Expo is great this year!

If you have kids you should bring them because they have bounce houses and other fun stuff. Wes and I even saw a bar (probably not for kids) but sadly did not partake. We also got lots of great swag. I even bought a new skirt because it had strategically placed pockets and one with, get this, a zipper! I know. It doesn't take much to get me all hot-- just some pockets for GU, dry wick material and a zipper. I made Wes buy Pookie one too. Wes, for a guy-- wait, I'm sorry-- for a straight guy, is really fun to shop with. Thanks for being my escort.

I saw tons of people: Big Peachites who I totally harassed. My friend Dee Dee and all her girlfriends (they are doing the half) and told me about a new restaurant on Holcomb Bridge that not only has tacos (mmm, tacos. . .) but also a mechanical bull on the last Thursday of every month. I am so there! I even met a reader of my blog. I am so sorry I totally spaced on what you said your name was because I was so shocked that people not only read my blog but recognize me from it. Very cool and it definitely made my day and it was super to meet you. Good luck! Heck, good luck to everyone!

And a special thanks to all the people at Big Peach. I know you guys are all working so hard at this Expo and helping make this race come together and most of you are planning on running the half. Well, except for super Kate. She's doing the full. She said she would probably "take it easy and cruise in around 3 hours." Go super Kate!!!! You are awesome. I hope you nab first GA woman and get a cool prize.

And after being downtown and trying to navigate away from the dome and seeing all the damage the tornado did to Atlanta I have made a minor adjustment to my race day outfit:
Good luck, rest up and enjoy the race!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

#785 and the Metaphor of the 22nd Mile

I am dim and not feeling very clever these days. Things are not so bright over here and I feel like I am perpetually stuck in the 22nd mile of a marathon. Maybe it isn't the 22nd mile for you or maybe you have been so lucky in life to never experience the self doubt, fatigue, hopelessness and frustration that happens when you hit a hard spot. Really, I envy you but I also hate you (but not really). Me though? I am not so lucky.

Anyway, that is why posting has been light of late. I've been down. In a rough patch but I am thinking of it as my 22nd mile and I always get through that no matter how much I just want to quit or sit on the sidewalk and cry. So I will get through this too.

Not searching for pity here and I am not trying to be all secretive. But the gist of it is that I am currently looking for a job. Again, maybe you are lucky and never had to look for job but it has never proved a fun challenge for me. The uncertainty, the what ifs and the future is somewhat frightening. I feel quite overwhelmed by life right now. I hope, I really do, but I just don't know if it is all going to work out. So it is, the 22nd mile of the marathon.

I'm dealing but not always so positive these days. Ironically my friend Fishstick commented while I was lamenting my current situation that I am always "so upbeat and positive." Of course I felt flattered because right at that second I felt anything but positive. But I thanked her and explained that I was relieved that is what she saw as that is how I want to come across. I know no one wants to hang out with a self-wallower and people just don't like being around negative people. People want to be around people that make them feel good. And me? I don't like to be alone. I want to be the one people want to hang out with. I want to be the one that makes people laugh and brings them up. And most of the time it is so easy to be that person. But these days, admittedly, I am having a hard time with my commitment to the positive and happy. I'm trying though.

Okay enough of that!

Moving on to the finish line and, hopefully, success! Roll it out: Com'on number 785! THAT is my number for the GA ING marathon. I am bib number 785. And for those that like to race day stalk click here.

My current plan is to go out with the 3:30 pace group--or try to since last year I was unable to line up with them. But if that happens again I promise to not try and chase them down from the 6 hour pace group as that didn't work out so good last year.

I am not hopeful about a 3:30 but I figure it is a reasonable goal to shoot for since I ran 3:37 at Chickamuaga. My main goal is to just do better than last year which is 3:44. And anything under 3:37 will be considered a successful race.

The taper is going as the taper goes: I feel fat and lazy and antsy.

Here is last week's breakdown:
Sunday: 22 miles. I don't know about time but it was a really strong run. Probably one of my strongest long runs.

Monday: Here was where I was really naughty and did a recovery run on the Leita. It was just 4 miles but it did a number on my lower leg muscles.

Tuesday: I took it easy and hit the Greenway for just 12 miles on my bike. I finished in under 45 minutes.

Wednesday: I met Steph and she was naughty and let me run too fast at the Leita. Again it was just 4 miles and my legs were none too happy. I swam for 30 minutes afterwards.

Thursday: 5 miles on the treadmill practicing paces from a sprint to recovery.

Friday: 10 miles with last 6 hopefully at marathon pace. Felt right.

Saturday: 6 miles easy at a recovery pace and then Steph and I were naughty again. We rode 30 miles on our bikes around Roswell. But it was totally worth it because it was so much fun.

Running; 51 miles
Cycling: 42 miles
Swimming: 1 mile

And the taper continues:
Sunday: Since it was Easter and Ryan was out of town in the morning I was hard put to get my workout in because the gym nursery was closed and I only had a short window before church. So I after the kids hunted eggs and had breakfast I drug them up to Carmella's school armed with toys, a jump rope and a soccer ball. I instructed them to play on the field while I ran for 30 minutes around the track. You'd think this would have been easy but darn kids kept complaining about hands being cold and wanting to go play on the playground. I relented them on the play ground since they were only out of my sight for half of the track and I gave Beau my socks for his hands and ran sockless. Not ideal but I got it done! I have no idea how many laps since I lost track after the sock hand off. Guessing at least 3 miles but no way was it more than 4.

Monday: 30 minute continuous swim.

Tuesday: 10 miles easy

Wednesday: 6 miles easy

Thursday: Plan is 6 miles with pick-ups.

Friday: Is 3-4 miles on the treadmill with 2 miles at marathon pace. 30 minute swim maybe. I swam way too fast on Monday (was being bit of show off) and now my lat is sore. Dumb ass.

Saturday: Swim or walk for 30 minutes with some strides for good measure thrown in.

Sunday: Marathon!

Okay, now I've got questions:
Half or Full?
What is your number?
What are you wearing?
When are you going to the Expo?
Are you being a rule breaker and wearing your ipod?
Time? Goals?
What are you doing after?

And one last thing . . . I already know what Monday will be like (thanks Baraboo!)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Way to Blow Good Friday

Oh yes, the taper . . .
I ran 10 miles today with Lola. We went out easy. Mostly because the first 4 miles are uphill. Then we hit what I hope was marathon pace for the last 6 miles--could have been too fast but may have been too slow. No Garmin, no watch. It is all a mystery.

Marathon pace, if that is what it was, felt quite comfortable. Yesterday I practiced various paces on the treadmill over 5 miles: marathon pace (8 min), long run(8:45) 10k (7 min), tempo (7:15), and some heart pounding sprints(6:10)tossed in for good measure. The first 4 miles today felt like long run pace and the last 6 felt somewhere between tempo and long run pace. Que sera sera . . .

I ran late morning and noted that I saw lots of men. I don't usually see men. Men are typically at work when I run. Generally, if I see anyone when I run it is women or retired men-- okay, so I do see some men. At any rate, I was puzzled and then it hit me: Good Friday! Oh yeah, Easter! Bunnies and eggs--as if the kids have talked about anything other than that all week . . .

I promised the kids when I dropped them at school this morning that we would dye eggs for Easter this afternoon. So when I got back from my run I googled how to hard boil eggs.

Yes, I have hard boiled eggs before but it is a once a year thing, so I forget the timing. Timing, is everything, you know.

In my search the perfect timing for hard boiled eggs, I also looked up the process for doing blown eggs (snicker).

I really hate eggs and hate even more how hard boiled eggs stink up the whole house and refrigerator. So I was seeking an alternative.

In case you are on the fence about hard boiled eggs or blown eggs,  to help you decide the website had the directions for both processes and offered this gem: if you are going to save the eggs for reuse next year you should do blown eggs.

What! Really?!

You mean you can't pack up your hard boiled eggs like you do your Christmas ornaments? So, that's what that smell in the attic is. . .

And in case you are on the hard boiled or blown fence, let me help.

I do not recommend the blown technique.

But should you not follow my recommendation and  decide to blow eggs anyway,  take my advice and do the following:

1.) Dye the eggs first. They float when empty and it is hard to put weights on eggs.

2.)  Definitely use a nasal aspirator like they suggest to blow out the yolk. Or go to a craft store. Apparently there is some tool made specifically for egg blowing. Egg blowing. (giggle.) It is a thing.

Note: Even though they recommended not to use my mouth, I uhm, used my mouth. (Why would I not?)

3.) Let it be said, blowing out eggs is like giving birth. I was afraid all the blood vessels in my face were going to bust from blowing so hard.

Wow, that sentence is all kinds of wrong. . .

After I blew 14 (Oh my god! So.Very.Wrong.) eggs I was done. I ended up hard boiling the rest. So my house was stinky.

Next, I don't know what the hell happened but I think I was briefly possessed by Martha Stewart. I decided I had to buy some ribbon so that we could use the blown eggs and decorate a tree!

Do not do this.

I am sure there is some trick to it but apparently when I was trying to figure out exactly what that trick may be I was most definitely not possessed by Martha. It took me freaking forever to thread the ribbon through the eggs and yes, there were 3 egg casualties. Nevertheless here is the eggceptional tree:

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Ack! The Leprechauns got a hold of my blog randomness

Happy St.Paddy's Day! The Leprechauns wrecked havoc at Beau and Carmella's schools today and apparently they got a hold of my blog because what comes next is randomness. Or, is it because of happy ending? A beer so dark it looks like motor oil but luckily tastes like coffee, bitter chocolate and beer, and well, I'm not so sure a happy ending is what I am in for . . . High gravity beers are the debbil I tell you! The debbil!

Okay, so this is the infamous Thor. Last week Pookie cut off Lala's hair and Lala put it on Thor's head and took a picture and has asked me everyday why I haven't put the picture on my blog. (Uhm, because I am not a weirdo cat person???)

Not much fazes Thor. His misson in life is to eat as much canned cat food as possible. So he didn't care about the hair. But I am betting in another week or 2 Lala will care and will be wanting that hair back from Thor. Not to mention she will be saying terrible things about Pookie behind her back-- no matter how cute her new kicky haircut is.

I got Thor from Fishstick on my 20th birthday. (Her cat had had a bunch of kittens and Thor was one of the only ones from that litter to not have six toes. I think there is some cousin or brother sister inbreeding in his heritage for sure.)I drove back to Athens with him in my Jeep with the top off. He was in a crate but he was so freaked out that he meowed all the way home and was so hoarse that for 2 days afterwards when he would meow no sound would come out.

Thor lived with me at UGA. I took him to the GA Bar and to class sometimes. I tried walking him on a leash once but that didn't workout at all.

He is sort of a crazy cat. Wait, I know, all cats are crazy, but really, Thor is different. He doesn't really get he is a cat. At least he doesn't like to hang out with cats. He likes to hang out with dogs and when my parents had some, goats. He isn't afraid of the vacuum cleaner but is petrified of the blue coat hanger. He can't walk past a glass surface or mirror without rubbing his paws all over it like he is washing it. He has almost died like 5000 times because he thinks he is so tough and gets in fights with cats and raccoons. One time he got his kitty butt kicked so bad I had to give him shots and clean out his wounds that looked like raw chicken. It cost a lot of money and showed me that I am totally the one you want around if you happen to lose a limb or have some horrific injury because I didn't throw up at all while taking care of Thor.

Thor really isn't my cat anymore. Partly because after college I lived in apartments that I could not have pets in and then because when I married Ryan he had a dog named Thor. He was a golden chow mix and Thor cat beat him up. So Thor cat lives quite happily at my parents. So yeah, that is the Thor cat story. Any questions?

And since it St. Paddy's day I would be remiss if I didn't post at least one Pogues song.
Because they are the best!

Okay here's another: The Pogues concert--from the If I Should Fall From the Grace of God tour-- I went to in 1989 at The Roxy with John S is still, to this day, the best ever, most fun concert I have ever been to.

But a word of warning. This is NOT the song you want to listen to while running up a 3 mile long hill. Trust me. I tested this out myself yesterday on my 22 miler during miles 14-17.
Okay and a happy one:
Happy St. Paddy's and may you all have a happy ending being all silly and punch drunk. Woo hoo.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Still Life with Burnt Toast and Side of Butter

It is an intriguing and brilliant piece that serves as a visual conceit on the marathon taper. Clearly what we are seeing here is the work of a master. It is apparent that the artist is paying homage to the classic Flemish still life tradition however the sober imagery of severely burnt toast suggests the gloom that permeates postmodern still lifes.

The image of burnt toast never fails to rattle the soul. It is a meal wasted; carbs rendered inedible. To a marathoner in the taper for who "carbo loading" is the very essence of being there is nothing more macabre than a wasted carb loaded meal: Even one as simple as buttered toast.

Admittedly burnt toast is a very tired symbol. So over used in both painting and literature that it has evolved as a modern cliche for "burn out". However in this particular taper piece the artist has in some sense "reinvented the wheel" by using the burnt toast to be representative of the leg muscles rather than the runner as a whole.

More specifically, the burnt toast is referring to the lower calf muscles. You can tell this is the intention because the toast is cut on the diagonal rather than left whole or simply halved. Clearly this diagonal cut is symbolizing the angles of a well developed calf. And the fact that there are two pieces of toast, both equally burnt, suggests the "burn out" is severe. This is supported by the darkness of the toast. Aside from the black and deep sepia color, the exaggeration of the toastedness is additionally depicted with visible brush strokes and heavy handed paint on the toast whereas in other areas of the painting there is a lighter touch. The effect is genius as the viewer can see, almost taste, how unpalatable the toast is. It is that burnt.

The image of the butter certainly holds a special place in the postmodern still life pantheon. The artist's choice of butter as a spread is referring to the appetite that rages in the marathon taper.

Butter, long revered as a symbol of fat, is communicating the potential weight gain that is a direct result of marathon tapering. It is also telling of how the body is so "freaked out" that there just might be another 4 hour run looming in the near future that the body is desperate for nutrients, calories, fat. Certainly, the butter depicted here is a nod to survival instinct and to the human body's anthropological need to hoard fat. Not to mention the tapering marathoner's appetite-- for who this meal was prepared-- is probably completely out of control. At first glance it does appear that the butter speaks nothing of the water retention that is wrecking havoc on the marathoner's usually chiseled physique; but upon closer examination we can only assume that the butter used here is of the salted variety.

Finally we would be remiss if we did not touch briefly on the artist's choice of a still life to depict the madness and despair that so often punctuates the marathon taper. Without a doubt this is very telling of the workouts embodied in the marathon taper: Like a still life they are inanimate, artificial and mundane. . .

Blah, blah blah. . .
Uhm, soooooo . . . .this week has sucked.

I am as burnt and stale as a piece of toast.

Oh yeah, and I am getting fat. . . mmm, butter.

I won't bother with the specifics of the breakdown cause it ain't pretty but here are the totals:
Running: (hangs head in mortal shame) 30 miles O.M.G.
Cycling: 42 miles
Swimming: 3 miles
Walking/hiking: 2.5 miles
Moving on. With the emphasis on the "moving" and the(being)"on" parts.

Still managed to be streaking.

Carmella has strep throat.

I need a job.

Friday, March 14, 2008

She's only 7 and I'm scared.

I mean if it is already like this and she is only 7 what the hell is it going to be like when she is 13 or 15 or God forbid (and willing) 16 and driving???

Today at her school it is "Hat Day". I see this for what it is-- yet another creative way that her school is nickel and diming us but hey, that's okay. It is a great school.

The Hat Day gig is that the kids pay a dollar and they get to wear a hat to school for the day. Personally, I do think it is a little wrong to put a fee on wearing an accessory but I get that they are trying to get some extra money for something or another at the school. For this reason I won't raise a ruckus that her unalienable right to wear an accessory is being infringed upon. Besides, before I even had a chance to give Carmella a dollar she told me she had it taken care of. She just needed help picking which hat to wear.

Hat Day only showed up on my radar a week ago but I am guessing it has been on Carmella's mind a lot longer. Not much gets by her. So you would think she would have had which hat figured out.

But no.

Now Carmella has plenty of her own hats: berets, beach hats, cowboy hat, knit hats, crochet hats etc. Apparently none of these would work and to hear her tell it; she doesn't have any hats! I completely understand because I don't have any clothes! Despite the closet packed full of, well, clothes.

But I'm a hat girl so I pulled out all of my hats. None of these worked either.

Ryan pulled his hats out. No. That was just silly.

Beau offered up his pirate hat. Plueeasseee!!! Don't be ridiculous.

So this morning there were big ole crocodile tears. Sobbing even. Because None! of the hats were what she wanted. My compassion for a fashion catastrophe is huge but my patience for a hat tantrum at six thirty in the morning is not.

So she sat quietly at breakfast while big tears slid down her face.

I finally realized the one hat she wanted was the one I had forgot about even though I just wore it the other day: My military style camo hat with a pink emblem on it.

I told her I had just the perfect hat for her. I was going to make it for her! I joked that I was making it out of Beau's dirty underwear and my stinky running socks. You can imagine how that went over. So there were more tears until I presented the camo hat and then the tears magically disappeared.

And off to school she went. But I bet you a hundred bucks that hat was off her head before she even reached her classroom. Cause a hat? That is totally going to draw attention to her. And Carmella? Does not want attention.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ride to the Capitol 2008

Yesterday morning I did the 3rd annual ride on the Capitol. But before I headed out I read of this cycling tragedy. The entire story is just devastating and what I find particularly frightening is that this was a group, supported ride. Certainly, when I head out solo on the streets I know I am pretty much risking life and death but on the rare occasions that I get to go on a group ride I feel secure and relaxed. This story made me realize that I will never be able to feel relaxed or should I feel secure on my bike where there are cars present. And this is absolutely what will keep me from ever fully embracing the sport of cycling. I just like living too much.

After reading the story I seriously considered bailing on the organized ride. As much as I love to ride my bike the risk of dying while doing it is not worth it. I don't love it that much.

However, I rationalized that if any time I was going to be safe on my bike on a road in Atlanta the ride to the Capitol was it. The ride, (albeit slow going out) is police escorted, and the road is essentially blocked by the peleton. Not to mention there is sag support. Really, the greatest obstacle of this ride is to avoid hitting one of the other few hundred cyclists around you.

The weather yesterday was less than stellar for bike riding (but great for running!)--40's, overcast, even a bit drizzly. But the ride was good. And I was quite grateful to James of Roswell Bikes who lent me his leg warmers. See. I just love the Atlanta cycling community. Everyone and I mean everyone I encounter is so friendly and very encouraging. I met so many nice people yesterday. I think a lot of people view cyclists as elitist but every cyclist I have ever met practically begs you to get involved in the sport.

I really hope this ride continues to be an annual event and that every year more and more people get out there for it. Because I think, in this case, there really is power in numbers. The more cyclists that brave the road; the safer the roads will be everyone. I mean really. How great would it be if you could ride your bike around the corner for a gallon of milk rather than have to drive your gas guzzling car for 3 miles? I think, that would be awesome.

In other news I am way tired this morning. Not because of the ride but because I had an evening out with the kittens, aka Fishstick and Pookie. Silliness, of course, ensued.

I know, it does look like I am about to drag Stick down the street by her hair.
But really what is going on is us-- unsuccessfully--trying to reenact the painting in the window of this gallery. Yeah, I don't know why. That is just how it is with the kittens: silliness. It ensues.

Yesterday was a good day: I got to ride my bike and I didn't die, I got to meet new and friendly faces and then drinks and silliness with friends. A good day indeed.

PS Steph, Stick brought us our awards from the 10k.

PPS. I wrote and edited this while Beau sat next to and talked nonstop to me. Sorry. But I am sure you understand if you have a four year old. The chatter. It is maddening and unending.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Dearest Geppetto

Thank you so much for your concerns regarding my shoe needs. Yes, I too was thinking that something mythical and only possible in fairy tales was going to work for my low arches, slight pronation problems and wide feet.

However, I think you will be relieved to hear that I will not be needing your cobbling expertise after all. I definitely appreciate the offer and will keep you in mind for perhaps a fantastic glass stiletto--or are those only for the likes of Cinderella?

Besides it sounds like you really have your hands full with that puppet of yours. Believe me, I completely understand as I have a little boy too, albeit not a wooden one, who also seems to have trouble with stretching the truth and getting into all kinds of mischief. What can you do? Boys. . .

Anyway, I am so happy with my new shoes that I even penned a song about them. I know what you are thinking--singer songwriter you are not Nat. But no worries I borrowed the tune from here. Scroll down and click on the Bumble Bee Tuna song if you dare. I apologize and warn you in advance that you risk getting this maddeningly repetitive song in your head for years if you do. So much that you too might be inspired to think up silly lyrics to it like this:

Run Run Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti
I love Inifiniti, Brooks Infiniti
Run Run Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti
Love a running shoe made with MoGo

Huhuhuhuh, skip digigitydigity digity
Run Run Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti
I love Inifiniti, Brooks Infiniti
Run Run Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti
Love a running shoe made with MoGo

The best shoe for me is the shoe we call Brooks Infiniti
The best shoe for me is the shoe call Brooks Infiniti!
Huhuhuhuh, skip digigitydigity digity
Run Run Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti
I love Inifiniti, Brooks Infiniti
Run Run Infiniti, Brooks Infiniti
Love a running shoe made with MoGo

Thanks again for all your thoughts and advice. I really appreciate it.

I remain, your faithful friend and greatest fan (because let's face it--a talking puppet? Very cool indeed!),

Saturday, March 08, 2008

All Signed up and Ready to go!

So I got through it. My monster week. And you know what? It didn't feel all that hard. I would think that by today I would be toast but I'm not. Very weird. But yeah, ask me next week when I'm dragging and just can't figure out why. . .

Here is the break down:

Sunday: 10 mile run
Monday: 6 mile run and an hour bike (17 miles). I am bummed that this wasn't longer.
Tuesday: 5 mile hard treadmill run and an hour continuous swim.
Wednesday: An hour continuous swim
Thursday: 25 mile run. Holy moly I am I glad that is the bank.
Friday: 6 miles hilly recovery run. I was pleasantly surprised that my legs, my calves, felt totally fine. I was expecting a struggle and at the very least some mild discomfort but I was all good. I credit the new shoes.
Saturday: 10 mile general aerobic pace with some fartleks thrown in. Again, legs felt surprisingly fresh. Clearly, I must have someone else's legs or this is some serious DOM.

I ran from the Big Peach in Brookhaven. I declined the group run on the ING course as me and hills? Yeah we've spent enough time together this week (see 25 mile run and yesterday's recovery run). Instead I ran the first part of the Atlanta (Thanksgiving) course on Peachtree: Out to the start from the Big Peach store, and then back to the top of the hill that bottoms out at Peachtree hills.

Those that have run the half on Thanksgiving know that it is the only flat/fast part of the Atlanta course. And yes, that is the how and why behind my decent run today. As those snow showers, the bitter cold and wind gusts certainly were conspiring against me. But it proved all good. In fact, on the way back, the wind was pretty much blowing me up that slow incline on the return. I had been dreading it going out but it felt like someone was pushing on my back. At the very least it was much better than going out on the downhill when the wind directly in my face.

Other news of the day is that I am officially registered for the GA ING full.

I am hoping that I can send in my past marathon times and get a seeded number. The application said seeding was available for women with marathons faster than 3:45 in the past year. That's me but the cut off was 2/24/08 to get it in. I am hoping they cut me some slack. I really don't care where my placement is just so long as I can start the race with runners and not walkers this year. No offense meant to those that walk. I just like to start running my pace right off the bat and would prefer to not have to dodge and weave for 4 miles like I did last year.

Run: 62 miles
Swim: 4 miles
Bike: 17 miles :(

So is there anyone else that reads here that is in for the full-- or are all of you doing the half? Halfers: Steph, Pookie, Fishstick, Dani, Sarah, Lauren and all those Peachites. Full? Doug? What say you.

Oh, and today I am thinking that maybe I am not going to have a cold after all. Did I dodge the bullet? I definitely feel better today; less snot like and food tastes like food and not phlegm. Mmmmm. . .

Okay. [looks left, then right, then left]

What the heck is going on? First someone else's legs and now someone else's sinuses? This is way weird.

Okay, who's legs and sinuses do I have?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Sounds Like a Train

Right now. This very second. Until 8:45 pm this evening. We are under a tornado warning.

The sirens are going off; the news makes it sound dire.

Yet, it isn't even really raining.

And me?

I'm grilling chicken. Hope it finishes before the tornado gets here.

I'll let you know how it works out.

Well, I guess, I am off to seek shelter. Kids are already practicing their "take cover" positions. And by take cover positions I mean that they are sitting on the couch watching Sponge Bob Squarepants.

Beau said he wants to see how it spins. He told me it goes in circles. It's cool, he said, while gesturing with his hands what I can only guess is "tornado" in sign language.

Carmella is saucer-eyed freaked out. Or wait, maybe that is the TV 20 mile stare.

PS. Tornado smorndao, I got in my 6 mile recovery run today--outside even. Felt pretty darn good. Sinus infection is coming along nicely. Everything tastes/smells reminicently like snot.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Hansel and Greta Long Run

Except instead of a bread crumb trail I left a trail of snot. Now, with the collective Ewwwwwww . Seriously, there is a 25 mile route from Marietta to Historic Roswell and back marked with snot.

Gross, but I got 'er done!

It was a tough course today with lots of rollers. But it was a solid, strong run (despite the sinus issues). Legs, calves, feet felt pretty fresh. New shoes are awesome! It did get a bit ugly and uncomfortable in mile 23-24 when I had to run on the soft shoulder of the road because there was no sidewalk. It hurt and slowed me down. Generally by those last miles I like to tuck head and pound it out. The uneven terrain made that impossible.

Temperature was 45 when I started and about 70 when I finished. Changed three times before I left. Dressing for long runs has become a bit of a science experiment. Finally settled on sleeveless technical shirt, skirt, ball cap and over the calf compression socks. Out of all the runners I saw today I was the most under dressed but nevertheless I still got quite toasty in that final hour. Ended up tying the shirt to my sports bra and ran like that. Was still hot even then. Definitely not acclimated to the heat anymore. Last fall when I was doing long runs in 80-90 degree weather 70 would have have felt down right Arctic. Going to be screwed if it is hot again this year at ING.

Time came in around an 3 hours 45 minutes. Give or take. I was gone a little less than 4 hours. I am guesstimating the time by subtracting 15 minutes for the 3 times I stopped and the various traffic lights I had to wait at (about 4 major ones). My stops were: At mile 9 to pee and refill the water bottle. At mile 16 for another pee break (really more to keep an eye on hydration than out of necessity), buy Gatorade and throw away snotty mittens that had served well as a Kleenex. I stopped the last time at mile 20 to buy water and ice and have a GU. (For what it is worth this is how I do all my long runs. At this point I know I can run a marathon straight through. Subtracting time doesn't pad the run for me. Time spent running is time spent running.)

Currently I have slight sinus headache and am worried that I will be sick come tomorrow and unable to finish my planned workouts. But at the very least I am pleased to have gotten the monster run done and am looking happily at that taper sitting on my horizon.

Slowly, but surely, it is all coming together . . .

Recall that last week we had terrible storms-- a tornado--blow through here. Lots of trees came down and the area is still a mess. There has been lots of clean up going on.

I just got back from dropping Carmella at school. On the way back to our house I hear this from the backseat:

Beau: Ohhhh . . . .Now I get it!

Me: What's that?

Beau: Trees fall down. And that's how you get wood sticks! Did you know that Mommy?

Me: What!? Wood? Comes from trees? I did not know that! This is totally new information for me.

Beau: See, (points to tree, explaining) that's where wood comes from. Now you know.

Me: Thanks Beau!

I love it when Beau explains stuff to me.

Wish me luck. Sucking it up for the long run today. Head cold seems better today but could just be the calm before all snot breaks loose.

I felt like tail yesterday, so we'll see. Did get a decent swim in but then laid on my behind the rest of the day. (Trying to tone down the curse words. Steph gave them up for lent and I hate for her to have to read them and then have to do a bunch a hail Marys because of me. Or whatever it is you have to do.)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I can tell.

The universe is about to conspire against me.

This is suppose to be my peak week and then I taper down to GA ING. And my plan for this week was this:
Sunday: 10 miles-general aerobic pace. Check!
Monday: 6 miles recovery and bike (wanted it to be longer but it didn't workout that way.Bike is just superfluous this week so it doesn't matter.) Check!
Tuesday: Treadmill speed session (5 miles) and an hour swim. Check!
Wednesday: 10-12 mile general aerobic run. Possibly gym bike in the afternoon.
Thursday: hour swim
Friday: 25 mile long run
Saturday: 4-6 miles at recovery.
Total running miles for the week would be just over 60.

Found out this morning it is going to be cold and rainy on Friday. 70% chance. And, I'm sorry call me a wuss but I am not running my longest hardest run in the rain. Been there done that for a marathon. Absolutely I will suck it up for a race but not for a training run. Just ain't worth it.

So this morning I figured I could switch Wednesday and Friday workouts. On paper this works out fine. But. . .

First problem is that I am little toasted from the previous days workouts. In general I prefer to not run the day before a long run or, at the very least, go easy the day before. Yesterday was not an easy day.

Second and biggest problem is that last night I had a sinus headache and took a Congestac (decongestant and expectorant) to ease the sinus pressure. As a result, I didn't sleep well and I feel dehydrated today. I figured I could suck it up, as
lord knows I've run with a cold, bronchitis even, but as much as I tried to rally myself it ain't gonna happen. I did try. But my head has that swimming sick feeling. I turned back less than a 1/4 mile in. I know I could make it 10 miles but I just feel like 25 is not a good idea.

So . . . new plan is swim an hour to 2 hours this morning. Rest and hydrate today. I'll have to forget about the bike. The bike fatigues my quads too much to do the day before a long run. Hopefully this little cold will go away enough so that tomorrow I can do the 25. It will be a little warmer so the weather at least will be good. Then Friday I can do an easy 6 and hopefully Saturday I can manage some childcare so that I can get 10 miles in.

I know even without this long run I am prepared for ING but I've never run a marathon without having done a 24+ miler in training. I really think not doing one would shake my confidence too much.

So yeah, I am stressing here. I am worried that this cold is going to progress and I will be too sick to complete any of my planned workouts. Arggghhhh!!!!!!!! This is a key week and it is important to me to hit my workouts this week.

And I'll admit that it is probably more important for me mentally than physically.

Off for a swim . ..

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Georgia Rides to the Capitol

FYI: The 3rd Annual Ride to the Capitol is next Tuesday, March 11th.

The intent of the ride is to raise awareness and support for cycling in Georgia.

The ride departs from Roswell at 9:45. 21 miles from Roswell to Capitol. If you ride back that's 42 miles (in case simple math isn't your thing). Pre -register and you get a lunch too.

Not a bad week day ride at all.

Skip work. Come join the fun!

I didn't do it last year but did the first year.

I am going to try and be there this year. You should too.

The Story of My Red Right Shoulder

Normally I am singing about my red right ankle: ( I absolutely love that song.)

Today I ran 1 easy, 3 hard and 1 easy mile on the treadmill to finish 5 miles in 37:41 (pace range was (9-6:20 mile). Then I hopped in the pool and swam an hour straight through. For the first 15 minutes of my swim I was puzzled by the soreness in my right shoulder. I couldn't pinpoint anything that I had done that could account for it: Monday I ran and rode my bike, Sunday I ran, Saturday I ran, Friday I did swim but that was 4 days ago. . .

And then I remembered that I had done this on Sunday:
That is me with Ryan's recurve bow. Pop found it in his basement and gave it to us. (Have I mentioned how much I love my parent's basement?) Pop says it once belonged to some guy named Collicot and Collicot was a big guy.

Me? I'm not so big.

The bow is lots of fun but it has 45lb pull which I think is just a tad too much for me. I think I could handle a 35lb or even 40lb. Then I could pop those arrows off with no problem. As it is I really have to strain when aiming.

Anyway I hope to get better because it is a fun activity and well, who doesn't like to be good at stuff? And I am thinking, if I keep it up with Collicot's bow I might find that my red right shoulder is probably what is going to drag me through that 5k swim in June.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Some Moms

Some moms, when they are asked to be mystery reader at their children's school on Read Across America day just come in and read a book as asked.

Other moms . . .

Like, oh, I don't know, like say . . .me?
Come dressed as a pirate.
(please note my reliable sidekick parrot)

Ryan felt so bad for Carmella he said he wished she had a cell phone so he could call her and warn her.

All the other kids loved me though and Carmella's teacher thought it was hysterical. I also gave all the kids pirate outfits so they could be pirates too. We were all arrhh!! and Where's the treasure matey! And Gleaming Booty!

Off to ride my bike for attempt 2 today. Got a flat on attempt one. Luckily Lala came and got me. James at Roswell Bikes repaired tire. Beautiful day. Wish me luck!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Some Good News and Just News and Some Not So Good News.

So wow. It turns out that I got first in my age group and Steph got second. That is the good news.

The not so good news is that I was even slower than I thought: 44:33. Right. It is less than a minute off my PR last year. But still, I want to be faster or at least as fast. So that sucks. Guess I better be working harder in training. This is what I get for slacking on my speed workouts. Lesson here is that attained speed doesn't stick on its own good will. Apparently you still have to put in the work to maintain it. Damn it.

I would be totally happy if I could run 7ish minute miles and they weren't hard. But they are and I don't like that. I want it to be easy, effortless. See how lazy I am? Fishstick did say that yesterday I looked like it was effortless. It wasn't but glad that it came off that way.

Yesterday after the race I stopped by Big Peach. My favorite Peachite was there: Joe.

Joe is, at least in my opinion, a very talented runner. He wins lots of local races, like last week's trail run at Red Top mountain. And he ran Chicago this year as his first marathon ever in 2:29 (or maybe it was 2:27, whichever it was way fast).

Joe is kind enough to offer me lots of advice and ideas on my training. Yesterday we talked about my shoes. I asked if the newest version of my shoe was different as I sort of felt like I was fighting them and that a lot of my issues began after I bought them. He conceded that it was a stiffer shoe than the 7's-which I have been wearing. We discussed that maybe it was time for something new and to take a look at my form. I figured right after a 10k when my legs were slightly fatigued was probably the perfect time to pick out any form issues.

So he watched me run and agreed that I am not so much the over pronator. He said it was rather mild. I do have low arches. And I told him about how at the end of long runs I notice that my foot will hit my calf but he said that was a fatigue thing. I'll agree with that.

I tried on and took different shoes for a test run around the parking lot.

I decided on the Brooks Infiniti. Joe said I am to run in them all week (but not my long run) and go see him Thursday (with cookies) to assess the shoe situation. If they aren't working out then he is going to do something to my Brooks Adrenaline's--but he wouldn't tell me what. Very cloak and dagger.

Oh, and I was all set up to sign up for the GA ING full. But Joe told me I still have time. He marveled at women's ability to recover quickly from races. He said something like we had all these extra "stores". I told him it sounded like he was calling me fat.

Besides, I pointed out I run about 2 minutes slower per mile at any distance than he does. Of course the recovery is easier, quicker. Hey, at least I get to be fast at something, right?

Anyway, my plan is for next Friday or Saturday to do my 24 miler and then make a final decision about GA ING. If it goes rather well then I will sign up for the full and do either a 16 or 20 miler the next week and then a 2 week taper. Come race day, if I am feeling great I will race it; if not, it will just be a super fun dress rehearsal for the Country Music Marathon.

Oh, and Joe has told me--for pretty much the last time he says-to go get a sports massage already. So he gave me a coupon and referral but locals I want to know who you use, what to expect and how much it costs. My plan is to get the massage after my long run and right before I hit the taper so my legs, my calves will be all shiny and perfect to run a marathon.

Oh yeah, last week:
Sunday: 5 mile trail run
Monday: 24 mile bike in an hour 20 at the Greenway
Tuesday: 2 miles and then 18 miles.
Wednesday: 5 mile trail run, 30 minute swim
Thursday: 5 mile run that sucked and hurt. One hour on the bike at the gym for 22 miles hill workout.
Friday: Hour swim. Got called a "machine" by the lady in the lane next to me and she marveled at my technique. Yeah, that made my day.
Saturday: 10k race

Run: 41 miles
Bike: 46 miles
Swim: 3 miles
Off to try out new shoes. . .

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Great News, Bad New and eh, Just News

So today I ran the Chatthochee Road Runner's 10k. But that is the "just news" part of the post. No PR, at least I don't think so. Clock at the finish read 44:20something and the guy with the wand who deactivated my chip did it after I crossed the finish and was walking. So what was the point?

I ran without my Garmin because my charger is broken. So ran it blind and unplugged.

And good lord, people, maybe you shouldn't be running that fast if you have to breathe like that and hock up that much crap from your lungs.

That ain't right.

Though I totally appreciated when the gentleman in front of me pointed towards the ground and then spit a big ole lugue. Disgusting but at least I was prepared for it and did wonder if I'd had my ipod on if I'd of noticed his gesture.

I didn't have a great race. My calves were not cooperating. The course has some tiny hills in the first half and is mostly downhill the second half. I was great on the downhill when I didn't have to engage my calves. But downhill courses are a rarity around here so my claves need to get it together--more on this later.

The highlight of the race for me was seeing Fishstick right before mile 4. She yelled out to me "Hi Nat! You look great! You are the best looking one out here! Go Nat!" Or something like that. She said most everyone looked all "doom and gloom" so she started making up cheers: Who loves a 10k? YOU LOVE a 10k! She said her cheers were not met with much fanfare. She's right about the runners out there today-they were all rather dour.

Anyway, great day for a race, easy course-- just wasn't my day. But I think it was Steph's despite being up all night with sick kids and eating Chinese food. I think she ran a PR . . .

And Dani it was great to see you and I hope you had a fantastic race.

The GREAT news part is that I have a new niece! She was born this morning at 3:30 am. So barely clearing being a leap year baby.
Oh, yeah?
Her name?
Miranda Evangeline.
How perfect is that.
She weighs 9lbs, 3 oz. and is 21 inches long.

And this is that bad news part.

I called Pam to congratulate her this morning and she told me that Miranda is in the NICU because of some breathing problems. It really isn't clear what is going on. They are giving her antibiotics as a precaution. Pam said Miranda was grunting and seemed to be having trouble and the nurse told her that some babies had a hard time with the transition from womb to world. It is all rather vague. All I know is that Miranda is in the NICU and Justin and Pam have already endured more pain than any parent should ever have to shoulder. So please, keep them and Miranda in your thoughts and prayers.

And now I must go pick up all the Girl Scout cookies and sort and then spend next week delivering. So that is the other news: The cookies are here.