Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Over the Rainbow (Or better: yet) Kicking that Damn Leprechaun to the Curb and Running Like I Stole His Gold 2009 Georgia Marathon Race Report!

So Dorothy sings: Somewhere, over the rainbow, skies are blue.
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true.

Huh. Who knew? Not me!

But sometimes, I think, perseverance pays off.

And sometimes, I also think, it boils down to a lucky day.

And other times, it is because Silly Lilly calls it (thanks GB!)

I, on the other hand, for not one second before-- or even during-- the race thought it was going to happen until I rounded the curve to the finish and saw the finish line clock flip to 3:30.

And imagine my happiness after crossing and hitting my watch and seeing 3:29:58 and later finding the official chip time and it being faster.

So yep! Apparently 3rd time was the charm. . .

Natalie Fischer #2018

Age: 37 Gender: F


Clock Time3:30:27
Chip Time3:29:51
Overall Place188 / 2076
Gender Place25 / 713
Age Grade66.2%
Division place(W30-39)



Me after I finally found Ryan and right before my lips turned blue because I was.so.very.cold. Always with the pretty after a marathon.

Me being silly after the race with Pookie--she did the half and was unhappy with her 1:53 time--which I have no idea what she was expecting with her yoga-centric training regime that did not include much running.
Me with celebratory Sweetwater at Brick Store Pub in Decatur waiting for my celebratory hamburger. Mmmmmm beer, red meat.

Okay. The long winded blow by blow tale of my race:

This was the first marathon where I had someone else watch the kids the night before. It was great not having to get them ready, make them breakfast and fight with Beau about something inane. So huge thanks to Bubbles and Poppy for having them over to spend the night and keeping them all day Sunday too! Whew! How lucky am I? Those with littles know.

Also, Ryan was even nice enough to let me have the bed all to myself. Mostly because he didn't want to be blamed for keeping me up with his snoring and snuggling. I can't say I slept great but I definitely got more than I usually do before a race. And I won't say I woke up all refreshed like a spring day but I also didn't wake up feeling like Atlas either. So definitely off to a good start.

I got up at 4:30 am. Had coffee and Uncle Sam's and then a whole wheat bagel with cream cheese and salt. Water. Then I showered and stretched in the shower (right, naked stretching. No. I will not be going to naked yoga) and got dressed (no naked marathons either for that matter).

Ryan and I left about 5:45. In the car I realized I had left my hat at home. Small moment of control freak freak-out but I decided that it would be okay, that it was probably an unlucky hat anyway.

I reaffirmed myself with my mantra of the day: Positive attitude. It is a great day for a race and I will be happy and take whatever the day gives me. I love running and I am doing what I love.

I know that is pretty zen for me since I am in general negative and pessimistic. But I was channeling the happy for this race so even if I didn't believe it I tried my best to pretend and embrace it. I had to keep reminding myself of the happy a lot though.

Then I found my sunglasses so it was all okay. I have no idea why I thought I would need them. Guess it was my sunny outlook: it was so bright I might need shades????

As it was I did not need them and I wore them on my head until around 23 miles when I finally got tired of readjusting them on my head and tucked them in my sports bra realizing the sun?
It wasn't coming out.
That's right.
was the sunshine!
Hey, on a dark and cloudy day even the pessimistic shine like the sun if they just smile a little.
Or something like that. . .

It was dark and kinda cold and little breezy at the start. We had Lola with us so Ryan wouldn't walk me to my corral so we parted ways and I guess he went over to my sister's.

I found my way to corral two and realized I was at the back end of it. This did not make me so happy and I was all about the happy on Sunday. So I politely as I could excused me and pardon'd myself up towards the front. When I got almost to the front Pookie saw me. I was not happy that we were smack in the middle of the corral as I prefer to be on the sides but we were sardined in and could neither go forward, back, right or left. I noticed that the 3:30 pace group was parallel to us so I figured it would be okay.

I never untie or tie my running shoes. I just slip in and out of them but I must have tied and retied them 10 times standing there waiting for the start. Finally it was go time and we were off. I took this time to embarrass my sister by yelling Go Pookie!!!!! Run Pookie!!!!! Yay Pookie! Pookie is my sister!! And she was like 'shut up asshole.' She LOVES me!

I chatted with her for a few minutes and then out of the corner of my eye I saw the 3:30 pace group catch up to us and was like uh, yeah this is my cue for game on. I wished Pookie a good race and took a deep breath and started focusing on the race.

I turned on my ipod and took in the city. The sun still wasn't up but the lights from the city were bright enough so it wasn't dark at all. As I ran down the road I saw parts of the city laid out before me; framed by the diminishing night sky. The sun was starting to break through the clouds and rays of light were wrapping around and reflecting brilliantly off the glass facades of the buildings. It looked to me like the sun was hugging Atlanta. It was a very peaceful and hopeful sight to me. So I just chilled out and told myself again; it is going to be a great day! I am going to have a great race. And at that moment I felt so happy I teared up a little. Not one for emotion I checked myself and found that I was at the first mile marker.
7:42! Perfect. I was very happy with that.

By the time I hit the split for the second mile marker I realized I really was feeling good! No tight calves, no pain, no lethargy. I just felt good. It was going to be a good day! Oh boy was I happy!

Hit the split for mile two: 7:32. Uhm, a little fast but damn I felt good!

All week I had practiced my super secret never gonna happen marathon pace which was right around 7:40. It had felt good all week--energizing even-- but that was on the treadmill with no incline. No way could I hold that on the hills-- not to mention-- much less for 26.2 miles. I doubted that I could even hold an 8 minute pace. Self doubt found it's way in as I reminded myself that this was my 3rd marathon in 4 months. I had struggled with illness and slight injury since my 2nd marathon in January. Really, I wondered, how much could ask of myself today?

As I pondered this I hit the split for the 3rd mile: 7:32--Holy crap! Two miles in a row exactly the same? 22:47 for 3 miles. Really fast but not impossible.

I tried to reign myself in. It was way too early with way too many hills and miles ahead of me to get excited about anything. I hit the split for mile 4: 7:52. Better!

I told myself right then that I would be grateful for whatever the day brought me. Just run, I said. And I hit the split for mile 5: 7:10. calm down woman! Miles and miles to go.
And I smiled and I ran.
Somewhere after hit the split for mile 6 (7:46) my friend Joe (my shoe guy, see previous post for picture) passed me. My first thought was holy crap what is going on. Joe, who I didn't think was running is a 2:28marathoner. I should never see Joe in a race. But he looked easy and I told him happily that he would see me crawling across the finish because I no business running this fast right now. And he was gone.

7 Mile split was 7:35. I just stopped caring. I toyed with the idea of completely ignoring the watch. Forgetting it. But I was worried that I might end up regretting that in the final miles. As I contemplated this thought I completely missed the mile marker for the 8 mile split. I realized that I had either missed it or slowed a lot on the long hill we had just run up. I asked and yep it had been at the aid station. So I got 8:41 .

As a result I have mile nine coming in at 6:37. Yeah, that's not right but averaging them it seemed that I was falling pretty close to that super secret marathon pace and boy was it a fun pace to be running.

Around this time I saw a pace group in front of me. I thought at first it was the 3:30 pace group. But then I started noticing the stragglers and they had 3:20 pace group signs on their back. Hmm. Yeah that's not gonna happen, don't look at them.

As it was I had to look down because by then I was at the terrible hill that made me lose the 3:30 pace group last year. I recalled the terribleness of that mile and that I had had a horrible hip cramp that stopped me in my tracks and made me think I should quit. I thought all about that as I ran up into Decatur--or where ever the hell it is. When I hit the split at the 10 mile marker--7:54--I was instantly I rallied.

I had made it up the hill still under the 3:30 pace! Boy that was hopeful. The hill still went on and finally at mile 11 I was still happy to see my split be 8:02. I didn't care. I had made it past the part that had darken my race last year and I still felt good. This really, really surprised me.

Okay, so I really don't like this section of the course. You'd think this wouldn't bother me having done a double loop course on an airforce base 2 months ago but it is kinda ugly. You just run along side the rail road track and they have all these "clever" signs cheering you on. But there aren't a lot people so it is just weird and desolate. The signs make you think there are going to be lots of people but there are not. And the signs? They don't make up for up it. In fact, they kinda annoy me. But whatever. Run faster! It is boring!
12 mile split: 7:43

I don't remember the 13th mile except that I was kind of surprised by the mat. I guess it was the 13.1 cause I had 8:27 for that split. The d-tag has my time wrong. I know it is wrong because I crossed the mat, hit the split and saw my watch flashing 1:40 and freaked out a little. I ran 1:41 at Museum of Aviation in January and that race is flat and I thought I had gone out too fast there. Story of my life I tell you (but hey, it works!)

I was feeling the start of side stitch and knew that meant my Gu wasn't going to digest and I needed to get my heart rate down and everything would probably be okay. I saw an empty porto potty and thought okay I'll have a pee break. I knew I risked losing any chance at 3:25ish but also knew that I would have an even worse race if that Gu continued to sit in my tummy. I definitely didn't need to slow down but sometimes a little break is all you need. So I stopped. I did have to pee so at least it wasn't wasted time spent in a porto potty.

As I exited I started running but I think I was too fast because I started feeling a little like hurling. So then I was at the water station and decided I would just sip my water and walk through it. And this what I did.

Even with all that stopping when I hit the split for 14 I had 7:32. Of course the mile was short because I had hit the 13 at 13.1 but obviously I was feeling yucky because I was running too fast to digest the Gu.

I started feeling better but it was not the greatness that I had been feeling. I really didn't care-- I just didn't want to be miserable during the race. I wanted to have great race--whatever that meant.

I've already had my miserable race on this course 2 years ago when I had to go to the medical tent. A pr, sub 3:30 all that would be nice but I really cared more about having a good race and feeling good. So I basically told myself that it was okay to walk the aid stations. And I did. With this strategy I knew that I would still easily run sub 3:37 for my 2nd fastest marathon. And I was happy about that. Really.

Around this time of apparent deep contemplation and walking aid stations I started missing mile markers. So miles 15 and 16 came in at 15:34. That's about a 7:45 pace right? So still on track for a PR even with my aid station walking.

I should also mention that I took sips of water at every aid station but refused the Gatorade. It was the lemon lime kind which I hate. It makes me think I am thirsty which makes me want to drink more. And with my tummy on edge I figured it would be better not to aggravate it. It was a cool day so I also figured I didn't need it so much. I had had 2 Gu's (one at mile 5 and over miles 12-13 I had another. Then later at 19 I had a half a Gu.).

Miles 16-20 you run through Druid Hills. Normally I like this section. Bit rollers. More up than down but you can get a rhythm going. And I still like it but Sunday it felt really hard and much hillier than I remembered from previous years. I was definitely having to work and my pace was definitely fading.
Mile 17 was 8:04
Mile 18: 8:03
Mile 19: 8:14
Mile 20: 8:49
Fading and fading fast. But honestly I didn't care. I was still very happy with my race. Even though I was slowing and it was getting hard I was not in the valley of darkness. I was still walking the aid stations and most of all I was still smiling. At least I think I was.

Mile 21 I guess I was doing better: 8:04 and at 2 hours and 45 minutes.

This made me really happy. The way I saw it I had 50 minutes to do 5 miles and nab a course PR. I was totally fine with that.

But I was also approaching the 3 hour mark and my mental acumen and patience starts waning big time at that point.

So my thinking was this: If I can get to 23 mile in around 3 hours I will let myself walk as much as I want.

This must have rallied me because mile 22 was 7:27.

And then I was running with the half marathoners and it gets a little dicey having to wind around the walkers. If I am at mile 22 of a marathon and they are at mile 9 of a half marathon and we started at the same time, well, we ain't doing the same pace.

I kept looking for the 23 mile marker and never saw it. So that was a little disheartening to be looking for something and not find it. Also the end of mile 23 or maybe the first part of mile 24 you run out of Piedmont Park and up--I guess that is 10th street. That hill totally sucks! And this was the first part of the race where I had a really negative moment. I was running up that hill and the wind was in my face and I was sad and confused because I never saw the 23 mile marker-- but was assuming and hoping I had missed it and wasn't running a 14 minute mile. Logically I knew I had missed the marker but since more than half the people around me were walking a 14-15 min pace I have to admit I was confused and doubting myself. So I stopped and did walk for a few seconds.

Then I told myself come on! Whenever it gets tough at the end of a run or race I always tell myself: The faster I run the sooner I will be done.

I know that sounds very simple and not like something you need to remind yourself of but I get really really dumb at the end of a marathon and it can be more comfortable to walk. So I have to remind myself that by walking I am actually prolonging my discomfort.

So I was running again. The splits for 23/24 were 17:37--3 hours and 10 minutes.

This is the point where math is hard and frustrating. I had 26 minutes to traverse 2.2 miles and nail a course PR and my second fastest marathon. And to run a PR I needed to run the 2.2 in under 18 minutes. Certainly I am capable of that. But it was just too close and I was tired and it was all. up. hill for the next 2 miles. And I just didn't have it in me. I didn't even want to try to fight for it. It would hurt too much and I wanted to be happy.

So I said I am just going to run and however and whenever I get to the finish I will get there. I quit looking at my watch, even pulled my arm warmer over it. And these hills in those last 2 miles? They are nothing. I had already run up all the hard and steep ones but these just wear on you physically and mentally. Not to mention there are all those people walking the half marathon going double the pace you are.

But I didn't care.
I was almost done!
My race had been great and I just had a little left and I knew I would be thrilled once it was said and done.

But then, my right calf rebelled. It was the absolute strangest sensation. It felt like there was snake in there trying to crawl out. It wasn't particularly painful but was just so disturbing and I thought, "well that can't be good."

So I slowed down to walk and waited it out and it didn't happen again. So I started running. And the snake in my calf stirred again. I decided maybe it was an electrolyte thing. I happened to be at an aid station so I grabbed some of that Gatorade and drank it down. I doubted it would work but I figured with how little I had left to go at least it wouldn't make me sick. So I ran on.

The snake in my calf would do its wiggling thing and freak me out and I would walk for a minute. And any marathoner that passed me would pat me on the back and encourage me. And feeling compelled by their encouragement I would start running again. And so on and so on.

This whole run, calf freak out and walk process was very frustrating. My pain was really no different than it ever is at the end of a marathon so I definitely could have done my hang on/get'er done pace but the snake in the calf thing had me very concerned since I had no idea what it was and what it meant.

I started imagining that it would reach a point of no return and completely freeze up on me and I would be one of those people that crawl down the final stretch to the finish. I found the thought somewhat entertaining since it seemed an ironic and humiliating ending to what had been such a great race. I pushed the negativity aside and went back to my zen thinking and told myself: I will take whatever this race gives me.

So I was fine with it. I had made my peace with whatever was to be and would run as much as could, walk if I had to and crawl if necessary but no matter what I would cross that finish line with a smile on my face because damn it! I was having a great race!

Around this time the 3:30 pacers came up on me. They are Floren and Jerry. I know them because I ran with them for 10 miles last year and have talked to Floren a few times since last year's race--whining about my inability to run sub 3:30.

I have to say I was a bit surprised to see them. I had assumed they had long passed me and I just hadn't seen them. I will admit though seeing them gave me a bit of that sad twinge you can get in a marathon when yet another one of your goals passes you by (even if you tried to not have goals because damn it your only goal was to have a great race!)--which actually often is literally the case. As they passed me Floren patted me on the back and encouraged me to "come on." I think I weakly told her that I was trying.

I let them go but then instantly was annoyed with myself and started running.

Floren said something of the effect of "you are awesome" when I caught up to them. And I had a little burst of energy and passed them. But then the calf wigged and I got scared about what it was and what it meant injury-wise and slowed again to walk. I tried not to look at the 3:30 group as they passed me again but I saw Floren kept looking over her shoulder at me.
Oh the guilt!
I was the Pokey puppy!
I looked up as the distance stretched between us and got mad about it and started running again. Floren turned back again and saw that I was running and waved me towards them.

They were probably 100 feet in front of me and I just kept my eyes on Floren and Jerry and the 3:30 sign. I didn't notice anything else but started to hear the crowd cheering and I knewmeant the finish had to be close. And She Was started playing by Talking Heads on my ipod which I had been about to turn off but instead let it play:
And she was lying in the grass
And she could hear the highway breathing

And she could see a nearby factory
. . .

The crowd of spectators began to thicken and the 3:30 pace group disappeared from my sight around a curve as I entered the finish area. I knew I was almost there. So I kept running, ignoring the crazy thing my calf was doing and figured it just didn't matter anymore. I was almost done! I started smiling again. A big smile. At least it felt huge.

She's making sure she is not dreaming
See the lights of a neighbors house

Now she's starting to rise

Take a minute to concentrate

And she opens up her eyes
. . .

And as I round the curve I see the 3:30 pacers fly under the finish line and I see the finish line clock flip to 3:30. I have less than 100 feet to go, maybe even only 50 feet. It is so close. So close that it dawns on me that Holy Crap! I just ran my 3:30 GA marathon!

The world was moving and she was right there with it (and she was)

I throw my arms up and cheer for myself, smiling huger and see that I made it in the 3:30 window as I cross the mat and under the finish arch.

The world was moving she was floating above it (and she was) and she was

The 3:30 pacers rush over to hug me as I hit the stop on my watch and see 3:29:58. I almost start crying.

She was glad about it... no doubt about it
She isn't sure where she's gone
No time to think about what to tell them
No time to think about what she's done
And she was

And maybe if I hadn't been so dehydrated I might have managed actual tears but seeing how I am not one who cries in joy anyway it is doubtful.

But my emotion?
My happiness at that second?

And she was looking at herself
And things were looking like a movie
She had a pleasant elevation
Shes moving out in all directions

I keep replaying it in my head over and over again it was that great for me. Hard to believe there could be so much joy and magic in just a few seconds but there was, is. Whichever. It was an amazing moment for me. Best finish of any race ever!

I had such a fantastic race. And I am so, so very grateful for the experience.

So what is next???

The Twisted Ankle Trail Marathon on May 16th.

My goal?

To not die.

I hope everyone else had as fantastic of day as I did. And if not, all I can say is that eventually they happen: there are good races, bad races, horrible races and then really awesome races that just make it all worth it.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Running Down a Rainbow

Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream . . .

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9 . . .

Number 9?

Number 9.

Is it a lucky number?

Well you know I looked it up and it is, kind of...

In China it is. Apparently, in the Chinese language--which I do not know--the number nine is a homophone for "longlasting". . .

In Christianity there is 9 Choirs of Angels . . .

And there are 9 Noble Virtues:
1. Courage
2. Truth
3. Honor
4. Fidelity
5. Discipline
6. Hospitality
7. Self Reliance
8. Industriousness
9. Perseverance

There were 9 muses in Greek Mythology until Plato came along and added Sappho as a 10th honorary muse. Way.to.go.Plato.

9 is the atomic number of fluorine . . .(I do have good teeth from all those fluoride treatments as a kid. . . )

There are 9 planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth (this is where we live), Mars, Jupiter (this is where boys go to get stupider), Saturn, Uranus (Not mine! Yours!),Neptune and Pluto.

Okay, so maybe I am reaching.

Maybe I am searching for meaning where there is no meaning but hey, at least I am not reading my horoscope or tarot cards.

The point though is that tomorrow I am lucky because I get the opportunity to run my 9th marathon in 4 years. My 3rd in 4 months.
My 3rd attempt on the Ga ING course in 3 years to run 3:30.

Is 3rd time gonna be a charm?

No, no I don't think so. But that is okay. Maybe someday but I don't think tomorrow will be that day.

But I am optimistic about having a GREAT race tomorrow and excited and feel blessed that I get to toe the line in the town where I was born and have grown up and get to run with 15,000 other enthusiastic people --okay maybe just 14,999 since Pookie is running and I don't think she is so enthusiastic about it--- participating in the sport and race I love.

But this race. . .
It really is going to take some luck for it to ever have good weather.

March in Georgia is crap shoot. And by that I mean the weather totally sucks. You may get a nice day here and there but for the most part it is old bitch winter leaving out our back door in one pissed off mood. Really, spring here is just an argument between winter and summer and in March it is pretty clear that winter is winning the argument.

The past 3 days we've had a ton of rain--and I ain't knocking it; we need it! But I am just so tired of running in the rain and the cold. I want some good race day weather already!

Along with my other taper activities--shopping, obsessing over how fat I am getting, worrying about each and every pain--I have been stalking The Weather Channel.com for the past 10 days. And here is what the latest from TWC says to expect tomorrow morning:
7 am
Partly Cloudy
39°F real feel
10% chance of rain
74% humidity
11 mph wind
sunrise Sunrise 7:29 am

8 am
Partly Cloudy
39°F real feel
20% chance of rain
73% humidity
10 mph wind

9 am
Partly Cloudy
39°F real feel
20% chance of rain
68% humidity
12 mph wind

10 am
Mostly Cloudy
40°F real feel
20% rain
65% humidity
14 mph wind

11 am
Mostly Cloudy
42°F real feel
20% chance of rain
61% humidity
15 mph wind

So not totally terrible but that wind might feel like a wind tunnel and with that humidity my hair is definitely not going to look good. Like that is news.

However I am still optimistic!


Because I've been reading signs!

Yesterday I went to the expo.

Beau and Carmella--of course-- had fun and collected lots of swag. Beau even got to do circus tricks:

But while I was there I saw Joe:
He was very busy but he still stopped and told me good luck. It has to be lucky to have the guy who sells you your running shoes to stop when he is that busy to wish you luck. Right? That is what that means. . .

And my sister? Pookie? She put the blond in my hair! No hair cut this time. Don't want to make that Samson mistake again--you know, like last year when I had my hair cut the night before the race. That didn't work out. But I feel good about the blond. Maybe not faster good but brighter, happier about being slow. . .

See foils? That is Pookie is mixing the magic in the background. She is running the half. She hasn't trained but will still do good cause that's her thing.

See me getting the bleach!
See me and Pookie. Can't you tell how much she LOVES me!

And then, most important. When the kids and I were driving home from the expo the rain stopped and I saw blue in the sky and I saw the sun. Okay, so I think the sun heard about my blondness and was trying to tell me that even though I am blonder and brighter he is still the brightest of all. And I get that. Not trying to compete with sun. I know I won't win. But then as I pulled into my neighborhood I saw a rainbow arching over us.

Look! I said to the kids: There is a rainbow leading to our house!

And Beau, with the inherent optimism of children asked if that was where the gold was.

No, not likely, but surely--it means something good. . .

Now you scientists be quiet and don't ruin the magic and my faith in silly supersitions. Life, I think, is more poetic when you believe in something.You know, that dare to dream the dreams you dream thing . And, I have heard sometimes, dreams really do come true. . .

Everyone have a great race tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I went to see The Pogues!!!!!

Okay. So it was 2 weeks ago, but I remember it like it was just last week.

In case you have somehow missed it The Pogues are my most favorite band ever! If you know anything about the Pogues then you know how awesome they are and that they are only sort of still together. They haven't put out new music since 1996 and rarely tour and even rarer, come to the US. And even rarer still come to Atlanta. In fact, I think I have seen the Pogues and Shane McGowan every time they have been in Atlanta: 1989, Shane with his band The Popes in 1994(or was it '95) and then two weeks ago at the Tabernacle.

I can remember the first time I heard The Pogues. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and I was dating this guy (who I will spare his name because I don't want to make him mad.) We had been together for a few months and the relationship was getting a little stale. I remember we were riding in my car and he popped a tape in and said "You have to hear this band. The Pogues. John says they are awesome."

Ugh! John! I thought. Having never heard of The Pogues but completely over anything related to "John" (since just about every guy I knew had a some kind of man crush on him and his name and "cool" were constantly finding themselves together into conversation with me.) and also because of my waning interest in this particular boyfriend-- I flippantly told him; "I hate The Pogues" and popped the tape out and tossed it back to him.

I'll admit, I could be, back then, a little bit of a bitch.

Okay, I can still be a little bitchy but only sometimes-- like when you don't let me have my way. (I am kidding. I never get to have my way anymore. I have kids. Having my way ended when they happened.)

Shortly after that I was in a car accident and totaled my car and broke my pelvis. I spent the rest of the summer in the hospital, at home in bed or hobbling around with external metal bars screwed into my hip bones and on crutches. If you think I was bitchy before you can only imagine how being crippled for 6 weeks made me behave. So that yeah, that guy and I broke up. I will say he was (and still is!) really cute and a very nice guy. No hard feelings, right?

By the time school started I was still on crutches but had had the metal rods that held my pelvis together removed. John, you know the guy everyone but me thought was completely awesome, was in my World Lit class. He thought it was really funny to call me "crip" and made fun of me everyday.

After about a week or two of this and me not being completely stupid--having been down this road with other guys before-- knew this meant that he liked me. And me not being the patient type asked him out first (worst you'll get is a no and little ridicule. And, clearly, I'm okay with that).
We went to the Piedmont Art's Festival.
We had a great time and when I dropped him off at home he asked me out.
The conversation went like this:
John: "Uhm hey, Natalie. I've an extra ticket to The Pogues next Thursday. Wanna go with me?"
Me: "The Pogues! I LOVE them! Absolutely!"
John: "Great! See you at school Monday!"

So Monday after school I went to see my orthopedist and got the clearance to give up the crutches and was declared healed-- though he did ask me to use a cane and to take it very easy and to do nothing physically active until I finished up my 6 months of physical therapy. He ran off a list of activities I could no longer do: gymnastics, aerobics, running, dance, and even PE--all out of the question.

I told him no on the cane and okay to everything else. Then I went to Turtles and bought The Peace and Love album and listened to it all week to familiarize myself with "The Pogues" so I would not look like a total idiot in front of John who, by the way, I had changed my mind about and was thinking he was pretty awesome after all (well, for awhile at least. You know how teenage girls are).

So I showed up at the Pogues with John, fresh off my crutches and thinking that every single one of The Pogues songs sounded pretty much the same.

In case you have never been to a Pogues concert let me give you an example of what the crowd's enthusiasm is like: This is the last half of Fiesta (the final song) in the encore from the March 9th 2009 Atlanta show. We had been right up front for most the show but I couldn't take the abuse of the pit (or the stink--someone ate A LOT of onions)so we moved back for the last songs:

Anyway, I have to say back in 1989 I had NEVER been to a concert anything like that and definitely think that was exactly the sort of physical activity my orthopedist had told me to avoid but whatever! After the first song of that show in 1989 I was a die hard Pogues fan. I had the absolute best time and no concert, until two weeks ago has come close to rivaling the fun I had. And I didn't even drink then! Okay, well at least not at the Pogues since we were underage.

My husband, Ryan (aka Grizzly Adams) wasn't such a huge Pogues fan but went as my chaperon to the show and is now too a die hard convert saying it was one of the best shows he has ever been to. Personally I can't imagine what could top it since my number 1 and number 2 are Pogue shows and number 3 is the Pixies when Ryan and I saw them at their reunion show at the Fox a few years ago. Good times. Good times.

I sure hope that I don't have to wait another 20 years (especially since I don't think Shane is going to live to see another 20, but you never know) to see them live again. I have to say that I feel pretty darn lucky to have seen them twice and I hope and I pray that they will come back next year.

And those not privy to my Facebook page here is some of the photos and other videos from the show:

On my way in the car driving ITP, riding shot gun and drinking a pint! Soooooo excited!!!!!

Me and Pookie (my sister). Please note my hair. It is sober in this picture:

Crowd before the show. Everyone has giggled about the dude with the tiny bad ass mustache. Set list courtesy of Dogwood Girl's husband.

I have cute picture of me trying to make out with Dogwood Girl but not posting it since I don't want to make her mad since she has some pictures of me that she could post on her blog in retaliation.
Must stay in Dogwood Girl's good graces. . .

Me and Steph! (she has no incriminating pictures of me since she never brings her camera. Of course, I have no incriminating pictures of Steph either because she is in the always good girl club. Psst. It is cause she is lawyer and is smart.)

Pogues coming to the stage and before all hell breaks loose.
All hell breaks loose and we are going . . . we are going . . . where little girls get trampled and pressed up against the stage! Woo Hoo!

Getting crushed in the pit when they opened with Streams of Whiskey!Arghhhhh!!!!!
My shirt strap (made of chains) got ripped. I had to tie the chains together. Then my hair and clothes made a fast downward spiral.

Shane McGowan!
Spider Stacy singing Tuesday Morning!
In the pit! Love it!

I did though, I will not so proudly admit, almost get in a fight when some guy shoved me out of the way. It was one of those "You will not put baby in the corner" kind of moments. Only it was a little less 1959 and a lot more redneck and I'm a gonna kick your ass kind of moment cause I am klassy when I have a few pints (yes really, only a few. I'm a light weight). Ryan was holding me back and I was like I can take him! I can take him! He's tiny! I'm a marathon runner!
It was totally the beer talking.

Okay! Done now with the getting smashed and thrashed about.

Me and Ryan after the show.
Or, our hair on The Pogues.
See, see how drunk my hair got? It took me almost 2 days and 3 shampoos and conditioning to get all the knots out.
My hair?
It had a fucking fantastic time!

More videos:
Rainy Night in Soho! Every band has their ballad!

I hear you talking in my head
I'm not singing for the future
I'm not dreaming of the past
I'm not talking of the fist time
I never think about the last

Now the song is nearly over
We may never find out what it means
Still there's a light I hold before me
You're the measure of my dreams
The measure of my dreams

Aw, just makes me fall in love. . .
One of my all time favorites: Sally MacLennane

Okay, people, here's the bottom line: Yes. I love beer.
Yes! I love to drink!
Absolutely! I love to have fun.
And yes, The Pogues epitomize that lifestyle.
But the fact of the matter is that they are amazing musicians with an incredibly unique sound and some phenomenal-- on the level of modern poetry-- lyric writing. The pairing of Shane McGownan's gravelly and "been through the ringer of life" voice with the peppy and uplifting Irish/big band sound is just so . . . tangible. It is like complimentary colors: red and green, blue and orange. The sounds both belie and endorse each other; a fine and complex pairing.

Just look at this:
from Thousands are Sailing written by Philip Cheveron
. . .Thousands are sailing
Again across the ocean
Where the hand of opportunity
Draws tickets in a lottery
Postcards we're mailing
Of sky-blue skies and oceans
From rooms the daylight never sees
Where lights don't glow on Christmas trees
But we dance to the music
And we dance . . .

I am sorry but that speaks for more than just good old Irish drinking music. There is darkness, there is optimism and hope and well, reality.

Well, again I have run out of time about all that I have and want to say but I think you should give the Pogues a listen and even if you don't like their sound I still think --if you get the opportunity-- it will well be worth your money and your time to see them live. Might change your mind.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Switching Horses Mid Race and Jumping the Fence to the Inside Track

Or alternatively;

Hey there impostor; if you wouldn't bite off more than you can chew and you might find that even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and then.

Or the Jog for a Cause Race Report.

Or, don't be a loser and just stay home already!

But you know, every dog has got a few fleas and sometimes good sense is just not part of the equation with me.

Okay, so, you know how I wrote a few posts back about how the running was good? Well, as I properly predicted, pretty much since I wrote that sentence the running has NOT been going good.

Same old story here: dead legs. My calves are swollen which makes my feet hurt which makes running not impossible but very uncomfortable and slow. Just a general un-pleasurable experience. I did not hit a single one of my planned workouts last week. I will say I did have about a month of hitting every single workout and rocking them but the streak came to a banshee screeching, earsplitting, Natnonstop whining halt last week.

I really don't know what is going on but I took a huge step back and really tried to not to freak out. ING marathon is looming 2 weeks away. My training is done-- I just need to rest and get to the starting line uninjured. Even still, I kept all my fingers and toes crossed and hoped all would be resolved and I could nail my planned 10k (Jog for a Cause) on Saturday.

I didn't run Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday (okay, I tried each day but the legs just weren't up for it). Instead I rested (Tuesday), rode my bike (Wednesday) and did yoga (Thursday). Friday I tested the legs out on a 6 mile run. It did not go well. It was better but definitely far from 100% or what I would all ready to nail a 10k PR ready. But I thought maybe I just needed a run to shake the legs out and Saturday morning they would be golden for the race. And you know I think I am an optimist (also known as dumb) and think that you just never know until you try.

Saturday morning arrived after a fitful night of sleeping next to Grizzly Adams (aka my husband Ryan). Please note the Bin Laden beard:
The beard showed up after we went to the Band of Horses show on New Year's Eve. The lead singer has this creepy kidnap and molest you beard. It was about a week after the show I noticed that Ryan had stop shaving. The kids call it "the thing". When I asked him the other day about when he was planning on getting rid of "the thing" he told me he was going to grow it out until next year's NYE Band of Horses show.

It was then that I remembered at the show Ryan had been in line to buy beer behind 2 "hot college girls" who were discussing "how hot the lead singer was and how cool his gnarly beard was." I put the beard and the eavesdropping on hot college girls conversation together and guess he is thinking those hot young college girls will talk to him next year. Good luck with that honey!

So I got no sleep race night. No biggie. I never get sleep race night and have put up some great marathon times on 3 hours of sleep so surely I could rock a 10k-- uncooperative calves aside.

Strike 2 was that it was barely 40 degrees and raining. Geez, could I please have some decent weather for a race? Where o where for art thy temperate and fairer days? Why has thee forsaken I?

I had no idea what to wear. The weather site I consulted said "real feel" was 37 degrees and that there was a 9mph wind. Not really sure if that is windy but it sounded like it was a little. And rain and 37 degrees sounded pretty damn cold to me.

Since my calves were feeling crappy I decided to wear my over the calf compression socks--which I had also slept in. I wore my skirt with a draw string since the others without a draw string fall down when they get wet and heavy. I couldn't decide on a top. I put on my under armour sub zero compression top and then packed extra tops, socks and dry clothes to change into after the race. Of course, I forgot an extra pair of shoes.

Strikes 4 and 5 were that I could not find a rubber band and while I was searching for one Beau got up and did his litany of morning demands. Demands I tried to meet whilst I ran in vain (read much f-bomb dropping to scare rubber bands out from hiding) around the house trying to find one.single.GD F-ing.rubber.band.to pull my f-ing long ass hair back with.

I could not scare the rubber bands out --though I will say upon returning home I found out that it was because they were nestled snuggly in American Girl Doll hair.

Grizzly Adams, annoyed by all the racket I was making, told me to just leave and stop on the way to the race at a gas station and buy some rubber bands. So that is what I decided to do, after taking another moment to fight with my five year old.

Okay, just so you know, gas stations--at least the 2 I stopped at--do not sell rubber bands. Resigned to dread locked hair in my future and drove over to the race start thinking really, how bad could it be? It was just a 10k, right? I'd wear a baseball cap and all would be fine.

As I drive to the race-- noting the rain, the 39 temperature my dash is flashing, my disorganization, my fatigue-- I ask myself "what the hell is wrong with me?"

"Stick to your plan," the angel on my left (dumbass) shoulder aserts.
Best laid plans of dumbass and stupidass, I think.
Like arguing with a fence post.

So I get to the start-for those familiar with the area the race started in front of the AMC theaters on North Point Parkway. The course is North Point Pkwy, right on Haynes Bridge, right on Mansel Rd and right into the parking lot: repeat the loop for the 10k.

I sit in my car and start filling out my registration form. I hesitate over the 5k or 10k box. I recall how the last time I did this course (William's Run in 2006) I remember thinking then: why would anyone run the 5k when there is an opportunity to run a 10k--especially when they cost the same?

I think about downgrading to the 5k but then dumbass pipes up again with the whole "stick to the plan" crap. I listen because I have NOT been sticking to the plan all week. I WANT to get back on track!

I run over to registration area, hand in my form, pay, get number and my shirt (nice! Black technical. Can't beat that for $25!) and run into Brett. We discuss our outfits and I decide I am going to be hot so I go back to my car to change shirts. I change to a short sleeve technical top. I decide against arm warmers and I am a sad kitten that I left my mittens at home. I jog back to Brett's car, tell him I need to pee (again!) and then meet back up with him for a warm up.

Brett and I jog in the rain and I tell him he is running too fast for me for the warm up. This of course does not bode well. My calf really feels okay but I am just tried. I think I will be able to suck it up. After we warm up we still have a few minutes so I go pee (Again! You know me. Never one to waste a potty opportunity).

I meet back up with Brett and few others at the start. We all go to line up. A guy thinks he recognizes me and asks if I ran the Jingle Jog. Yes, I tell him, I wore a costume. We all laugh and introduce ourselves. It is Ace and Coldfire from the Beginner Triathlete board. We commiserate on the cold, the rain. Ace and I swap sad stories of calf issues and not running.

Friday I had stalked the times for this race for the past few years. The fastest woman's time for the 10k was slower than my 3 fastest 10k times so I seeded myself up at the front but off to the far right side. I ask the boys around and behind me to please not run over me.

It starts to rain harder and I am just ready to get this over with. I am a little worried that when the guy with the horn says go there is going to be a pile up because someone will slip and fall. I don't want to fall down. The road looks very slick.

We are off and no one falls. For about the first 30 seconds I think everything is going to be okay; that this might turn out to be a good race. I am passed by a LOT of boys but do not see a single girl.

At about 3 minutes in I guess my mind has gotten the note from my body because everything is sucking. I note that we are at a little hill and decide that must be why and try to ignore the tightness building in my calves and wave to Zimmer as he passes me (Bastard!). I watch Brett and Coldfire fade into the gray horizon ahead of me.

I pass some high school boys walking because they had blown themselves sprinting for their lives in the first half mile. They have this disoriented what the hell just happened look on their faces. It is kind of cute. Cute from the perspective of one who is more than twice their age, female and now passing them. Ah, there's that hubris knocking. Do not answer when it comes knocking. Hide and pull down the shades like you do when the Jehovah Witness's come by with their pamphlets.

About 5 minutes into the first mile I realize I am painfully cold! I am so damn tired of being cold in races! Being hot may make my head swim but being cold freaking hurts! I regret my lack of mittens, arm warmers and hate hate hate with all my heart on the rain. My calves are tight and my feet just plain hurt. My socks and shoes are already soaking wet. While I am having this pity party a tall blond girl runs past me. I think maybe she is doing the 5k. Then I decide, I don't care either way. I am just not happy. I do not want to be running.

Finally the first mile split: 6:57

Holy crap that is slow!

My split from my 3 fastest 10k's the first mile has come in between 6:23-6:45. This is not good. I know PR is out of the question and wonder if I can even pull it together to run under 45--which I do in training all the time (and it never feels this terrible).

We have a little downhill and I think I am picking up the pace. Calves still suck and feet still hurt but I am thinking about my hips and quads and hammies and they don't hurt. I pass quite a few guys that had run themselves out in the first mile. I get a few annoyed looks and few "go get 'em's" too. So I am surprised when I hit the split at the second mile and it is 7:22. What the fork?

Not good, not good. Okay, I decide. No good can come of this. I need to make a call. Time for some race day assessment:
Can I finish?
Of course. I ran 6 miles yesterday and an 8:30ish pace.
Can I pick up the pace and negative split it?
Not looking likely. Calves are getting tighter and more pained.
Next question, can I at least keep this pace for the rest of the race?
Maybe but maybe not.
Last question: Is this going to injure me for ING?
Maybe but probably not. Assuming things go how they always go my calf will just be tight and I won't run well until all the swelling is gone. It does feel like something might pop but so far that hasn't happened.

At this point I mentally envision myself on the 4th mile; out on the second loop. I think about how it will still be raining, I will still be painfully cold, I will be sad about my time and there is a real chance that I might have to walk a bit. Really, it is the walking part that will kill me. I do NOT like to walk. Especially not ever in the cold rain.

Just then, around 2 and half miles a woman pulls up on me. I actually have no idea if other women have passed me or not--except the blond one that I never saw again after we turned off North Point Parkway. I only notice this woman because she WON'T pass me. She is hanging RIGHT ON MY SHOULDER. I try to slow a little and she is still there. Then I speed up a little and she is still there.

Hmmm. This has never happened to me before. I figure this must be some sort of race strategy cause she doesn't seem like she wants to be friends with me. No hi, how ya doing, I'm Sally I love 5k's and 10k's in the rain. Cute skirt!

Nope, none of that. She doesn't even look at me. I do notice that her calves look nice and her hair, short in it's perky pony tail, is nothing like the knotted dreaded mess I got going on in my baseball cap. She also looks a little older.

I wonder if she is doing the 5k or 10k.

I guess probably the 10k and she is trying to decide the same thing about me. Am I her competition or not? So then I am annoyed because this is absolutely the last thing I want to shoulder for the next 3 or so miles considering how crappy my legs feel and how miserably wet and cold I am. Not to mention my hair looks so much worse than hers. I can't have race pictures with my nappy hair next to her perky pony. Geez, can't I at least look like a cute loser?

We continue to run next to each other and then take the turn into the parking lot and prepare to head out for the second loop.

I hear the man calling 5k go right, 10k go left. And there it is, just a hundred feet in front of me, calling my name: The Finish line. I can see the clock! Oh, so pretty the yellow digital numbers framed in black, glowing. I feel gravity pulling me to them. And I go right, without really giving it much consideration. I don't even speed up for the final sprint into the chute. In fact I think I probably slow down.

As I enter the chute the man calls out: First Female Overall!

What?! Oh nooooo!!! No no no no.

And he yells out "Congratulations!"

I shake my head no and wave my hand at him to as if to say no, not me. I'm a quitter, not a winner I think as I walk across the finish line and then hit my watch. Final 1.1 mile: 7:50. Total time 22:10. Geez, that really sucks. Even if that was my 10k split time that wouldn't have been good for a PR. Yuck.

I walk down the chute and there is no one else (at least that I see) behind me or in front of me. The girl tears off my bib tab and I tell her that I signed up for the 10k and she looks blankly at me and puts my tab on the ring and says "but you ran the 5k right?"

I agree that this is true.

The next girl in the chute hands me my time card to fill out. I tell her that I signed up for the 10k and only did the 5k. She looks at me like "yeah, so?" and waits for me to take the card out of her hand. I do and wander around for a second figuring out what to do; who to tell the mistake. I feel like I have cheated.

I see the tables to fill out my card--I had walked past them in my daze the first time. I pick up several different pens and think they don't work but realize they don't work because I am so cold I can't press the pen down hard enough to write. I manage to get most of my name and time down and then decide to go ask someone what to do.

I see the lady taking the cards. I hand her my card and she says "Oh you are first!" And I tell her that I actually signed up for the 10k and she said,"Oh! Well go do your other loop!"

I explain that I decided to just do the 5k because I was having some trouble. I was trying to explain to her that I wasn't sure if it was fair that I win the 5k when I had planned to do the 10k but I could not articulate that because I think dumbass and stupidass were in cahoots and had frozen my cognitive processing completely.

The lady then asked me if I did the whole 5k and I confirmed that I did and she said well then it is okay and filled out the rest of my card for me.

I walked off and as I did I saw a woman hand in her card. I felt terrible since she would have been first had I done the 10k as I planned. As it turned out she was first female master.

I ran to my car and I thought about changing into my dry clothes but it was still raining and I wanted to see Brett finish. I grabbed my camera in hopes that I could snap a shot.

I got back over to the finish area and only 10 minutes had elapsed since I finished. Brett was shooting for a sub 40 so I still had awhile. Around 34 minutes first place male came zooming in and was shortly followed by second place. And then no more 10k runners came through. I watched the 5k'ers finish and saw more than one time someone squeeze past someone on the finish line after they had already crossed. I am annoyed but then feel guilty since I was not totally ethically in the right today having switched horses and jumped on the short track. Who am I to judge race ethics?

While I am waiting for Brett to finish I see someone else who I think might be in charge and tell him that I planned to run the 10k but ended up just doing the 5k and was first female. I guess he thinks I am bragging and just tells me congrats. So I give up on trying to right things since it doesn't seem to matter to anyone.

Finally I see Brett coming up the tiny hill and he has about 35 seconds to come in under 40. I scream to him to RUN!RUN!RUN! and he comes in with 15 seconds to spare-- good for 3rd place over all: first in the young/old dude age group. Brian (ColdFire) zooms in behind Brett good for fourth overall/first in the a lot younger than me age group.

After that I finally change out of my clothes but still am so cold. Several of us head over to Starbucks and grab some coffee. When we get back to the race area where they are doing the awards. I see that the prize is a mug. I LOVE a prize mug! I actually have one from the 10k I did a few years ago on this same course.

They've already done the 5k awards but I go over to the announcer area and spy on their sheet and see that my name is still there for first female overall. I tell them that is me and they excitedly hand me my "winner's" mug (even though I totally feel like a loser since I bailed on my race)!

Happily though I take my giant mug and pour my Starbucks coffee in it and hug it with my hands and try to get warm while I wait for Brett, Brian and Chris (in the older than me age group) to get their awards for kicking ass in the 10k. Way to represent guys! And yes, I totally felt like an impostor hanging out in the winner's circle. But whatever, I like my mug.

And even though I am a total 5k impostor winner I still went to Steph's and celebrated with Doug's home brew like I am winner.
Hey, what's that quote from Talladega Nights that Ricky Bobby says? Oh yeah . . . "If you ain't first, you're last!"

Okay next post hopefully I'll get around to writing about the most awesome time we all had seeing The Pogues! I am still giggling everyday thinking about those shennanigans.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Saturday 20: Tour de Roswell

I couldn't motivate for this run.

It was my last 20 miler before I taper for the GA ING marathon that is on March 29th. I don't have huge goals for the marathon. Sure, I'd love a pr but I am running it because I want to be one of those people that run it every year. Like those that have run the Peachtree every year except I will be way cooler than them because the ING marathon is 20 miles longer. Also, I keep hoping that eventually this will be a good marathon. Practice makes perfect, right?

I had planned to run 21 on Friday. My East Cobb loop from my house. But my calf muscles were being very uncooperative; tight, heavy, needed a rest day. It happens. I could have run through it but my Dad said he would watch the kids Saturday morning so why have an uncomfortable run if you don't have to I figured? I like running to feel good and it just wasn't feeling good for me Friday. I was bummed though because I do like to stick to my plans.

The past few weeks I have had some fantastic, near epic runs. Like I mentioned in a previous post, the running has been good. Very good. I also knew that I was pushing hard and that it wouldn't last. But i could see the taper looming so I just wanted to keep pushing as hard as could until then. But this week my body pushed back and pretty much told me to f-off Friday morning. I wasn't surprised but it did bum me out.

After last Friday's 24 mile run with Kate I ran again Saturday morning. Just a short run on treadmill before yoga but the 7:39 pace I average was pretty aggressive for me the day after a long hard run. Then I did yoga. And then I did yoga on Sunday too. Then I drank lots of beer because it snowed and that is what you do when it snows in Atlanta. I think it is like how in Key West they hunker down in the bars when a hurricane hits and drink themselves under the table.

Then Monday I decided to switch my usual 12 mile run to Wed and do my treadmill intervals instead because it was cold and windy and I knew I would get enough cold on my bike ride Tuesday. This was a mistake and I knew it would be. But nevertheless I got my treadmill intervals done. My calves were fatigued and I ended up bailing on the cool down portion of the workout and cutting out a mile and half.

Tuesday was the 47 mile bike ride to the Capitol and back. I definitely pushed too hard on the ride back. I was just thinking about what I was capable of that day not what else I had planned for the week. Also, since I've only been riding like once a month the past few months, really a 47 bike ride is a long ride for me. It is hard effort and I just forgot to think about it that way.

Wednesday I ran in the Alps on Brett's long run route. Just kidding but that is how it felt. I thought I ran on hills but apparently Woodstock is hillier than East Cobb or Roswell. I cried uncle after 11 miles. I swear the entire run felt harder than any of my 24 miles I ran last Friday. Lesson in hubris for sure.

Thursday I did an easy 6 miles on my tiny hills and then an hour of yoga. I thought that was a pretty good recovery day but I found out Friday morning it wasn't enough. So I bailed on Friday's run getting in only 3 miles for the day. It happens.

So Saturday I was gung ho and determined. But my run did not start out stellar. Again my calves were saying, no please, no running today. I thought about listening to them but then decided they needed to HTFU and I hobbled on my way. Around 6 miles they got with the program and the run was went great, easy even.

But when it was going poorly at the start I decided that I would just treat it as a run around Roswell and take pictures with my camera phone. So here is my photo journey. Sorry the photos are kinda crappy. It was cloudy, misty even for the first 2 hours, so the light was really bad. Plus, my phone sucks. Not to mention, I was running.

The road ahead. This was the start of my run when I knew it was going to hurt a little and I was trying not to be mad about it.
Goats at the end of the first mile. They are cute but boy do they stink! I took this picture for my friend Anne and my friend Neal. Anne because I know she likes the goats and Neal because he says stuff like; "I don't think I can come to yoga on Saturday. I need to take my dad to the goat sale."

Mile 2. Starting to feel better for the moment because I get to run down a long hill. Yippy for downhills.

Stopping to cross. See the cyclists (probably Roswell Bikes group) heading out to do the North of 92 loop of the Roswell 40 (or mile high ride).
Then I didn't take pictures for a few miles because I was having the I think I am going to bail argument with myself.

But then I got to run down a big hill and then up an even longer hill and my calves gave up the ghost and got with the program. I rewarded myself with a Gu and some water at Texaco. I didn't take any pictures there either because there were lots of day laborers hanging around and they were already looking at me like I was crazy.

Canton St. Mile 6ish. Feeling great now! Bad hills are done! Finally decided that I will see this run through.

Naylor Hall on Canton Street. My friend Elizabeth grew up in this house so I always think about her and playing there whenever I run past it. Now it is a place people rent to have their weddings at.

Trail at Roswell Area Park. Trail one of two on my route.
I run here a lot when my kids have gymnastics.

Church that I like. Mile 9 or so. Blurry because I was running. I wanted a picture but I had just passed a couple with a jogging stroller and didn't want to have pass them again so I snapped it as I went by.
I hate this part of the run. I try to cut as much off as I can by running through Blessed Trinity's campus but still gotta do my time on 92. I also call it the foresake it or bake on it road or-- depending on the time of year-- the wind tunnel. It was both on Saturday.
Isn't it ugly?

This is back in the neighborhoods I run through. Miles 12, 13 and part of 14--or something like that.
Right behind me is a friend of mine from high school's old house but if I were to go down this driveway I would be standing at the end of the lake that my parent's house is on. In the summer, when I do this run and it is 90 degrees, I often think that I could just swim the 1/4 mile down lake and be done. It takes me less than 6 minutes to swim a 1/4 mile and at this point I have an hour left of my run. Even if I cut it short I still have to run almost 3 miles to get back to my parent's house where my car is parked. So sometimes I am tempted but haven't done it yet. The lake creeps me out. And besides, what would I do with my shoes?

Back out on 92 waiting on the light to change. I need to run down to the Leita Thompson park to add on some miles.
The Leita Thompson Trail. This is picture isn't from Saturday but one of the trail from last year. The pictures I took of the trail Saturday were all too dark.

And this is--usually-- the best part of the run. I save it for last even though technically the uneven terrain and hills and turns make it the hardest part of the run. But it is the most fun part.

After I run on the trail I head back on 92 and then back towards my parent's house where they have either bought my kids McDonald's or given them too many cookies and as much Coke as they want. It will be hard to keep up with them for the rest of the day.

Just a few more miles to go. . .

I have to run down this hill and then back up to add on a few more miles so I get to 20 today.

As I start down the hill I pass my friend Shannon. I see her too late to get a picture. She is training for the ING half and the Country Music marathon. I think that she looks good.

Instantly I regret that I didn't look happier when we passed. I am in a sour mood about the hill because I should have, and usually do, run the extra miles at the Leita but the fountains were not turned on and it was getting hot so I had detour and make an extra and unplanned stop at CVS to use their fountain. Buggers! Blasted thirst.

Finally, the last mile.

This is not T-Pain's house.

Neither is this one. But he does have a house that is off this street. I am just not sure which one it is.

Yeah! Almost done. Starting to sprint now!

Now it is taper time. Again! I can't believe it. 3 weeks until I get to do the Tour de Atlanta.

P.S. I am going to see The Pogues live tonight! Been almost 20 years since I have seen them live. So excited! They are my favorite band.