Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Poodles Eating Noodles

That's the password.

To the Pokey Puppy Club.

But before you rush out and sign up for Carmella's latest club you might want to know what all is involved. Not that I know everything but I have been privy to a few of the secret club on-goings since they meet in my backyard.

The Pokey Puppy Club is completely separate from the Super Club (previously The Cuddle Club). Best I can figure is that the Pokey Puppy Club arose because- back in the fall when we use to walk to school and all the neighborhood kids would join us- I would yell at them they were a bunch of pokey puppies because they walked so freaking slow.

Carmella is the leader of this club. Before every meeting she makes them do a "daily warm-up". This involves some stretching, some jumping jacks, and 20 pumps on the swings and a little running. I am thinking in another year or so she will be running her own kid's boot camp after school in the back yard.

I think the idea behind the daily warm up is to get the Pokey Puppies in shape so they won't be so pokey anymore.

Beau hates the daily warm up and pretty much gets kicked out of the club for not completing all his assignments. Carmella then tells him he can't be in the club. Beau then dissolves into tears for being ousted from the Pokey Puppy Club and comes crying to me. Having none of the squabbles I am forced to intervene and get off Face Book and yell out the back door that EVERYONE IS ALLOWED IN THE POKEY PUPPY CLUB!

There is also restitution for getting in trouble at school or with your parents or on the playdate. You have to go to the Principal's Office--which is the tower part of the kids' playset-- and have a 10-15 minute time out from the other club activities. Most times whoever has been sent to the Principal's Office comes crying to me and I will have to yet again get off Face Book and yell out the back door that EVERYONE IS ALLOWED IN THE POKEY PUPPY CLUB!

Most of these activities--at least from what I have observed when taking a Face Book break-- is running a muck throughout the yard and house, taunting Lola, playing hide and seek and jumping on the trampoline.

But there is one secret ritual that I have heard spoken about but don't really know all the ends and outs and exactly what happens during it.

It is called the Wishing Deer Circle.

I know.

It totally sounds very paganesque and Stonehenge-like.

The Wishing Deer I have figured out is Ryan's bow target (I know! Could we be anymore redneck? Trampoline? Fake deer target?).

And I think they all stand around the deer and say their wishes.

But I'm not sure.

There is to be a meeting of the Pokey Puppy Club this afternoon so I will try to spy and find out exactly what goes down and report back with any interesting findings.

Which you know this means that this is probably the only post regarding the Pokey Puppy Club.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On going long . . .

Two days after the Museum of Aviation marathon and 2 days before I became so deathly ill I couldn't move from the couch for three days because walking up a flight of stairs winded me so much I would nearly pass out, I had my hair cut.

No no no.

Not a lot.

It still looks exactly the same as always except it is 2 inches shorter, maybe. The idea of shoulder length hair frightens me so the notion of me with short hair is just completely inconceivable. My short hair phobia is Lala's fault. When I was three and a half Lala chopped all my hair off because I got gum in it and the resulting hair cut made me look like a boy. And considering how offended I was that the Aviation Marathon recorded me as male and that I proudly wear a Run Like a Girl shirt I am sure you understand that I definitely do not want to look like a boy.


Because I am a girl.

So I will have long hair until I can just no longer have long hair. Which Lala is, well, 21 years older than me and until recently she had long hair--and I wouldn't be surprised if she grew it out again since she tends to favor long hair too. So, I think I will get to have long hair for at least another 20 years if it is at all genetic. I do wonder though how and when that grandma hair happens. Is it a slow evolution or does it just happen when you turn 80?

Darn it all.

I am already getting off the subject. Sorry, I am never one for the short or concise, in anything. Which is slightly ironic considering my short attention span but even when I was an art major I never could embrace the "less is more" concept that was so often parroted to me in critiques.

So anyway, not sure if I mentioned it before but my sister Pookie cuts my hair. She is a hair dresser by profession. She's pretty cute too. Here she is with me at party last month:

Which I should add that she did not last long at that party. Oh, wait here is another of us at the same party:

I know I look like the drunker sister but really I wasn't. I don't need alcohol for shenanigans. It helps; but it isn't necessary.

Anyway the party isn't my point. Just wanted to give you a visual on who is Pookie.

Pookie lives in town--ITP for the Atlantans in the house. Me and most of my extended family are OTP and live in the suburbs north of the city. Pookie is nice and drives up here and cuts or colors all of our hair here so we don't have to drive in town and go to the salon. Which would also cost more. So whenever she is up here with her gear I try to make sure I am around to benefit. Generally she does the cutting at Lala's. Which is fine by me since it is only a 10 minute drive to their house from mine.

Okay, so now I am almost to the point of my whole story. So pay attention. I'll set the scene:

Pookie is cutting my hair in Lala's kitchen. Carmella is sitting on the counter next to where I am standing doing a running commentary of everything. Beau is running around the kitchen talking guns with Pop-- who was eating a bowl of the $100 She-crab soup Lala had made the day before. I joke that after I finish getting my hair cut I am going to the grocery store and hope to spend around $100 for 5 days of groceries.

Lala is walking around with her hair in foils waiting for her grays to go blond or brown or whatever it is Pookie does to her hair. And I am just trying my hardest to hold still-- which by the way is very very hard for me to do and I am failing miserably because Pookie keeps letting out exasperated sighs at me. I am also worried she is going to poke my eyes out with her scissors so I am trying to be quiet, which is also hard for me to do.

Pookie changes the subject to running and asks Carmella if she is going to be a marathon runner like me.

Carmella empahtically tells her, "No. Running is boring. It takes too long."

And Pookie says, "You could run track-- or cross county in high school."

And Carmella with her wide brown eyes saucered with disbelief and confusion says:
"You mean like run to New York-- or California? People do that?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Breaking the Nat Line just South of the Gnat Line

Museum of Aviation 2009 Marathon Race Report:

From the The Urban Dictionary for those not from Georgia: The gnat line is:

An imaginary line dividing coastal areas from more inland areas in certain southern states in the U.S., especially the Carolinas and Georgia. The term comes from the abundance of gnats in coastal marshlands and swamps in these states and the relative lack of the insects in the inland regions.

In Georgia the gnat line falls just below Macon and as the bugs increase the hills decrease until you can see for miles and miles.

Well sort of.

There are still the all those tall ugly knotty pines pretty much blocking the view to Florida.

And the Nat line? Well, I think we all know that for me-- in regards to the marathon-- the Nat line has been the 3:30 marathon.

I've what?

Only been trying since my 3rd marathon-- almost 3 years ago-- to break or even just get close to 3:30. And after 8 marathons total the closest I have come is 3:37 (twice) and 3:38 (once).

Sigh. To be honest I had pretty much accepted it was never going to happen. I figured I was on the downward spiral.

But apparently all it took was getting the heck out of the Appalachian foothills into the vast flatness of the coastal plain.

But . . .
I did it!
I'll spare you the suspense: 3:28:24 is my official chiptime. Guntime is 3:28:27.

Here is the video of that proud and surreal moment:

Disappointing that it is so blurry but our camera sucks.

Beau chased after me and the lady giving the medals at the finish kept asking me if I had run the marathon and I didn't know she was talking to me since I thought it was obvious.

Oh, and there is icing to this fine cake:

I was 3rd overall woman!

Wanna see my trophy?

Here is me at the finish with first and second overall girls. They both came in a few seconds of each other at 3:23. I'm in the middle with the hat and on my left is Arden who was second and on my right is Christine.
Here we are cleaned up at the awards ceremony:

Okay, on to the boring details.

On Friday Ryan, the kids and I drove from Atlanta to Warner Robins. In the car I entertained myself making sock puppets per Stevie Ray's suggestion to use toss away tube socks to keep my hands warm and have a sock puppet theater to entertain myself and all my marathoning compatriots.

I had a hard time coming up with characters and thought I would let my artistic design drive my creativity. As it turned out my artistic creativity was having an off day and my puppets are totally lame. Kids liked them though.

Allow me to introduce: Frostbite the Artic Seal

Ice Kitten (which you know I totally mean that other word for kitten but can't bring myself to write it since my mom reads here). I wrote "Toughen up Kitten" on it too as a reminder to HTFU.

As it was though all my obsessing and freaking out about the weather proved a waste since it ended up being 20 degrees at the start and I didn't end up using the puppets. Maybe at another race I'll break them out.

I slept fitfully the night before because the person in the room next to mine snored so loudly I thought that it was Ryan. After like the 5th time I smacked him and told him to stop snoring he said it wasn't him.

We had a suite so I walked out into the other room to see which of the kids was playing with a chainsaw. I noticed as I got further from our bed though the sound softened. I couldn't believe it. It was the person in the next room! I tried stuffing tissue in my ears and that did not work at all. I ended up turning on the bathroom fan and sleeping at the foot of the pull out couch the kids were on.

In retrospect I probably should have moved them into bed with Ryan and I might have slept a tad better not getting kicked in the face. But then again it probably wouldn't have mattered because snoring person and friend left at 4 am and made much racket arguing while packing up their car. It was so ridiculous it was just comical.

I got at 5:30am and did the usual bagel, coffee, water and Uncle Sam's. Of course, since it was a small room the kids got up with me. Oh but not Ryan. Totally unfair how soundly he sleeps.

So much for pre-race peace and quiet.

This race only had packet pick up race day. This was the first time I've ever done the race day pick up with a marathon. I think it would have been great any other time but since I had the kids with me it was a total pain in the ass. I didn't want to take them to the race any earlier than necessary and we only had one car so I had to go and then get back so they could drive me to the start. A little more stress than I like dealing with before a race-- especially since Beau had to argue with me about the multiple layers I made him wear since it was 20 degrees.

At 6:50 I left the hotel and drove down the street to the museum to get my packet. I used this time to give my outfit a test drive and jogged around a bit.

I had decided on hat, Mizuno therma tights, compression socks, short sleeve run like a girl shirt, long sleeve technical shirt from Chickamuaga (favorite marathon), Sugoi half mock jersey and two pairs of cotton mittens. It was 20 degrees and I was a little cold. However I was worried I would warm up a lot and couldn't decide if I should keep the Sugoi top or not. I did consult a few other runners who advised me to hold on to it. So I did.

I got my packet and went back to the hotel. My Garmin strap broke 3 times in beweeen going, leaving packet pickup and coming back to the hotel. I decided I would have to do without it. I still had my watch but I had planned on wearing both so I would know what my immediate pace was rather than trying to figure it out at every split and going on perceived effort.

Two days before I had run according to feel and ended up running just below marathon pace for the entire run. I was very surprised by this because I had thought I was running--based on perceived exertion--an 8:20ish pace. And since this course was almost entirely flat-- save for a few insignificant elevation climbs-- I was worried I would run myself silly without a hill to keep me in check. I have never run a flat course--even in training-- for more than 13 miles so I was terrified that I would have worn myself out by mile 15.

But there was nothing I could do and I just couldn't fiddle with it any longer. I made sure I had my Gu's and had Ryan drop me at the start. Then I ran like mad all over the Flight of Aviation museum trying to find a bathroom. I only found one and the line was ridiculous. Luckily some lady spoke up and convinced the gals who were doing the 5k to let us marathoners and half marathoners cut since we started at 8 am and they didn't start until 8:15. I could tell they weren't thrilled but Southern politeness won out and I got pressed up to the head of the line.

Which was quite lucky. I made it out of the bathroom and over to the start with time enough to get up close to the front of the start line. And ready or not we were running.

Ryan took this video. I pass right at 8 seconds.

I did happen to see them right as I passed them. I am all bundled up in gray with my hat. Not sure what the talk of getting shot is about but I guess there was a gunshot at the start (I was so disoriented that I didn't hear it).

I don't remember being cold or anything and I was just trying to get my bearing. A few minutes in I felt my calf get tight. It had been a little sore for a couple of days but I tried not to worry since sometimes I get these aches and they have no effect on my runs. So I took it as a sign that I was probably running too fast and slow down. Which in that first mile--especially when you start up front is really hard to do. You just have to try and stay out of the way and pretend you don't notice all the people passing you. At any rate the mile went by fast and my split was 7:39.
Little too fast. I had thought, if I was feeling good I would shoot for a 7:50 pace after mile 4 but try to stay around 8-8:10 for the first few miles. Best laid plans . . .

Mile two I slowed down even more and that was 7:51. Okay. And then I started chatting with these two men. One was doing the full, the other the half. I asked full guy's goal as I was hoping to have someone to shadow. He said 3:45ish would be good for him. And just then we were at the 3 mile split and I told him he was running way too fast since we just cruised past 3 miles in 23 minutes flat and with that they faded back and I surged ahead.

But I didn't pick up the pace. Instead I started following this guy I had just run up on. I don't know if had been there all long or not but it was right after the 3 mile split that I first noticed him. Every quarter mile it seemed he was checking his Garmin and his form seemed easy and smooth. Jackpot I thought as I contemplated his pace over the next mile.

Mile 4 came in at 30:54. I decided I liked this pace. It was comfortable, easy even. It felt like that walk in the park with your grandma and I decided I would try it. I wasn't sure what the exact pace was or what it yielded since I've been trying for 3:30 for so long and can do the 8 minute mile splits like tens.

So I just followed this guy with a good pace. I would not let myself run with him or pass him. I tried to stay far enough back so maybe he wouldn't notice me and be bothered. I didn't want to make him speed up since I was sponging off his pace.

Mile 5 was 38:55. Just a little over a minute in the bank for 3:30. I contemplated this as I took my Gu slowly over the mile in anticipation of the 6 mile water stop. I know that banking time is a rookie mistake and usually has disastrous results. But then again, I've tried even pacing and hit the half split at 1:45 for 3 marathons (my fastest) and still ran positive splits. So I thought if I was doomed for a positive split I might be better off banking some time. The question for me was how much time could I bank and not blow myself up? I decided I would try find out. But I was not allowed to pass guy with awesome, perfect pace.

Mile 6 I messed up hitting my watch and then I was off for the rest of the race and was very confused. I think it came in right around 46:10 minutes. I probably should have been a little concerned since I had gained almost another minute in the bank in the space of a mile. But I felt awesome so I just kept following perfect pace guy.

And if he wasn't aware of me he was now since I would occasionally yell out "car!" when one would pass or "damn!" when I dropped my chapstick. I was feeling great and I don't even remember miles 7-11 except that man they were going by fast and how awesome that was. I was trying to figure out my pace and potential finish time. I realized I was probably running around 3:25 and got all excited and then reminded myself not to get greedy and stick to the 3:30 plan or PR (3:36).

Around mile 11 it occurred to me that my pace maker might be doing the half. I realized that this would make me really sad. After a few more minutes I couldn't stand it any longer so I sped up and caught up to him and asked.

He was doing the half!

I was so bummed!

I complimented him on the pace and told him I was not allowed to pass him and wished him luck. And then I fell back in my place behind him. One time I did pass him on one of the uphills and threw him a big smile and thumbs up. He didn't seem so happy so I went back to my place behind him.

At the half way mark I lost sight of my pace setter as he bolted to the finish. Inwardly I worried about my 1:41:05 split. I was excited about how good it felt but worried since my second fastest half time is 1:41. My fastest though is 1:36:56 and I tried to console myself that it would be okay. But really I had no idea since I haven't race a half marathon in nearly a year and half.
At the turn around volunteers were calling out: "Marathoners do a second loop!" So I cheered back to them: "Woo hoo second loop!" I really was excited to be half way done and I was having fun.

Ryan took this video of the half way point. This me coming back after the turn around and starting my second loop. I am tossing the Gatorade back to him that he had given to me and I decided I didn't need it or want to carry it. The aid stations were working out great for me.

The "she" he is referring to on the video that he says is two minutes in front of me is Christine and she did end up winning. I asked her at the finish what her half split was and she said around 1:35 so she was A LOT further ahead of me than 2 minutes. At any rate I knew when he said it that the only way I would catch her was if she broke her leg. My goal for the second half was to run a 1:49 positive split so I could run 3:30. And really, I wasn't even sure that was possible so trying to catch her never even occurred to me. Here she is coming into the finish.

So even though I knew I had gone out too fast I was still feeling good --albeit very alone since my pace setter deserted me. So I spent the next 2 miles wondering when the inevitable blow up was going to happen and what I was going to do about. I was trying to form a plan. I still felt really good. Absolutely no complaints. Still running about the same pace but knew the fade was coming and worse, possibly the dreaded wall; and I was a little scared.

In the 15th mile a guy caught up to me. I had noticed his shadow chasing mine and I didn't want it to catch mine. It was a little freaky. The base is pretty desolate and you are completely alone and here is this shadow encroaching on yours. It makes you run faster. But he caught me and asked if it was bothering me that he was running so close to me.

I told him no because he wasn't bothering me, just his creepy shadow--but I didn't mention that part. I asked him what the pace was, he said 7:45ish and we discussed our goals. His was 3:28 and I told him ideally 3:30 but I would be happy with 3:36 since I just ran Atlanta in 3:37. And then conversation died out and I pulled ahead. Not sure if he was still there or if he ever passed me but he did come up to me at the finish and ask my time and congratulate me. I forgot to ask him his. So rude of me, sorry.

Miles 15-18 I passed quite a few men. I could see people starting to struggle but I was still feeling pretty good. However I could tell it was coming to an end. And in the 19th mile I started to feel heavy in my legs and real concern began to creep in. Was this the beginning of "the wall," I wondered, deciding to eat another Gu.

Just as I was contemplating this a girl passed me. Here she is sprinting to the finish. See how great she looks?I was very surprised to see her. She was the first girl I had seen since about mile 4 or so. It also told me that I was now in third if Ryan was right about there only being one in front of me.

I fell in line behind her and kept pace with her as I finished my Gu. She looked good, easy, like she was still on that walk with her grandma. And me? Well I am sure I looked like I was back packing with a toddler on my shoulders compared to her smooth gait. Still I hung on her heels and didn't let her go and then after a minute decided it wasn't going to happen.

We came up on the aid station and I slowed to make sure I got enough water and she didn't and the distance between us began to grow.

And grow.

I still had her in my sights until almost mile 22. Which at that point I stopped looking at the horizon for her. I just looked down or at my watch and tried to do math. And good gracious I was doing awesome! 22 miles was 2:53. With 4 miles and left to go I knew I would at least Pr.

And this is where I am going to agree with everyone that told me this is an pretty uninspiring course. And the miles 21-25 are by far the most vast and loneliest. The space between you and other runners is huge and there are no spectators. To be honest, as a female, I was little scared.

And then wind started to kick up. It certainly wasn't terrible but it was annoying and particularly acute as I ran over the landing strip. I remember thinking if a plane were to come straight at me I couldn't run any faster and would be run over for sure.

During these later miles I thought a lot about just walking. You know, just for a minute. And then I would do math. I reasoned: I could walk and still run a good PR. But then, if I wanted to break 3:30 I was going to have to keep running sub 9 minute miles. I didn't have to run sub 8's anymore and I was pretty certain I could run the sub 9's that would get me under 3:30--or at least according to my math. Your brain isn't so sharp at the end of a marathon so it is kinda hard to trust your accounting.

The argument would continue: Who cares about 3:30? What's so great about that? And I was so dang tired and geez, my legs felt so very heavy.

But then I looked around at the boring course and thought about how miserable it would be to walk-- despite my fatigue. How it would feel like forever. There was, after all, no one to chat with, nothing pretty to look at--and believe me, I even tried a few times: Aw, look at that crow on the chain link fence; or Hmm, that airplane hanger has a nice curve to it-- I just love the sheen of corrugated metal . . . and wow, the color of this concrete is such an opulent shade of ash. . .

So I kept running. The boring-ness of the course is ultimately what motivated me the most in the end. In fact, I skipped the last aid station because I wanted even more motivation to hurry up and finish.

Since this was a two loop course I knew where the finish would be but I wasn't sure how far until I was there. I kept asking the few people I would pass and all they would do was cheer me on or say "You're under 3:30! Great Job!"

And then finally I saw the finish line and saw the clock and was beyond elated!

Wow! What a fantastic race! FINALLY!!!!

And now I have the dreaded chest cold. I have had this post nearly written for 2 days but haven't had the energy to edit it. I am sure, since I do tend to be on the long winded side, there is much more I could say. For example:

I could go on and on that I am frustrated--despite my emails and the responses that it will be fixed--that the official results still reflect that I am a male and do not list me in the awards. I suppose it really doesn't matter since I have a Boston Qualifier from the Atlanta marathon that I can use but it is a little annoying that my best marathon effort thus far does not have me accurately recorded.

Or I could on and on about how I feel like having broken 3:30 it means I finally earned my ticket to Boston. I know I only needed 3:45 but ever since I very first thought of running a marathon 3:30 has been my goal. And while it is so unbelievably awesome to finally meet my goal I can't help but think what else might be possible. What can I do now? And I will be thinking seriously about that in the Fall but for now I'm not even entertaining the idea of trying to run any faster.

Or I could even talk at length-- assuming I don't die from pneumonia--about how I plan on running GA ING at the end of March. And depending how my training goes I will probably just shoot for a course PR which would be sub 3:38. Seems a little greedy to expect that I can run a PR again so soon especially considering the wonkiness that tends to come with the GA ING marathon.

But really, I think you get the gist of it that this was a fantastic race that I am over the moon about.

Thank you so much for reading!

Friday, January 16, 2009

So Hot it Hurts! Ohhhhh . . .

The Latest Race Forecast for Warner Robins Saturday January 17, 2009

I was like, good gracious ass is bodacious (UH!)
Flirtatious, --tryin to show patience

I'm waitin' for the right time to shoot me steam (ya know) . . . I feel like bustin loose . . .

8am--- Race Start
Wind from NE 4 mph
14°F Real feel! Woo Hoo!

I am getting so hot,
I wanna take my clothes off . . .


Wind from ENE 5 mph

It's gettin hot in herre . . .
so hot
. . .
So take off all your clothes . . .


Warm, sweatin --its hot up in this joint!
VOKAL tanktop, on at this point
You're with a winner so baby you can't lose !

Hold up!
The roof is on fire!
(Burn Nat burn!)

I'm gonna take off all my clothes!


Wind from ESE 6 mph

Girl, baby make it
ah ah
Stop pacin,

time wastin
. . .

Wind from ESE 6 mph

All done by now (hopefully), puts clothes back on
and is having
a big fat beer.

Wish me luck!
Thanks for all the mad props!
Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If I eat only cookies, pop tarts and ice cream for the next 2 days

Do you think I can put enough body fat on to keep me warm for my marathon on Saturday?

Holy. Crap.

This is the latest weather forecast from Weather Channel for my marathon on Saturday:


That 8 degrees is the "real" feel. And, I think it is really cute that they have a sun icon there. Like that is going to make any difference. If it feels like 8 degrees then clearly the sun is not doing its job is my thinking.

Uhm hi, yeah, I have never been outside when it was 8 degrees much less ran in 8 degrees-- much less ran 26.2 miles in 8 freaking cold ass degrees.

Holy. Crap.

Yes. I am freaking out.

But cookies are making me feel better. . .

PS. I have the absolute worst marathon luck!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Dirty Truth


I am writing this sitting at the table while Carmella and Beau eat their dinner. (Ryan is working late so I will wait to eat with him later.) What this means is that I must pause mid sentence to encourage chicken and squash eating or threaten Nintendo restriction if they don't finish their mac n cheese (made from scratch I should add) with spinach or drink all their milk.

You try being witty and composing genius blog posts under such conditions and see what you come up with.

And, for that matter, do you have any idea how annoying it is to go to the effort to make a home-cooked and healthy meal and have those that eat it complain at every bite? You'd think I was asking them to solve quadratic equations. They act like eating dinner is the hardest, most challenging thing they have ever encountered. The very act of food on fork and to mouth? Incomprehensible. Mind boggling difficult.

Okay. Moving on.

So again, apologies for being so lame with the blogging. I know. Yes, I've got my excuses and I am sure you don't want to hear about them. So I won't bother with that. I will just move forward. But there are two event recently worth noting:

First is that I am officially signed up for the Museum of Aviation marathon next Saturday (1/17/2009). Please keep thoughts of good weather and for me to remain injury and sickness free. If all those things stay in my favor I really can't think of a reason why I shouldn't have a great race. I know. I probably just jinxed myself right there. Sigh.

Second is that I ran another 5k last Saturday. My second 5k ever. My friend Brett encouraged me to come out and run the Wonderful Days of Winter 5k. The race benefits the Wonderful Day preschool for low-income children. I liked that I could get a race in at the start of my taper--though I didn't really have any high hopes for it since I had just run a 24 miler the 4 days prior. But a race would force me to run faster than I normally would and I would have exactly 2 weeks until my marathon to recover. Seemed like a good idea to do it. (You know, if there ever is a good reason to run a 5k.)

I woke up race morning and it was raining. I hadn't signed up for the race but figured since it was only 15 minutes from my house I would drive over there and see if the rain stopped. The rain stopped before I even pulled out of my neighborhood. I got myself all excited and rallied for the race. It really was about as perfect racing weather as I can get: cloudy, little humid, 50's. So I got there with plenty of time to spare and signed up.

I warmed up by running around the block a few times for about 10 minutes or so.

Then I met up with Kate-- who was not running-- and Brett who was and a few others. We chatted, wished each other luck and then lined up for the race. I lined up a few back and off to the side trying to eavesdrop every one's goal pace. Hearing a "gonna break out at 5" encouraged me to step a few feet back and even further to the side. I will say I did pass "break out at a 5" guy by the end of the first mile.

After a prayer and a reminder to smile for the cameras; off we went. I felt great for about the first minute and then it was terrible and I was ready to quit. For the first mile there was one girl a good way out in front and another directly in front of me. First split was called: 6:18. And then the hills started coming. Nothing as terrible as the Jingle Jog but certainly not a flat course: roly poly rollers.

Not knowing the course I really had no idea what was coming so while I was definitely running hard I did hold something back. I just can't imagine anything worse than bonking a 5k at the start of your marathon taper.

During the second mile I watched the girl who was in second surge far ahead. I could no longer see the male leaders either. The girl who was in first who was now in second was fading back towards me. I figured--if I didn't die--I would catch her. I think the second split was 6:37 but it may have been 6:57. It was 6 something 7 and my watch had me at 13 something for the 2 miles (it is a new watch and I am still trying to figure out how it works exactly).

You know, it all happens so fast in a 5k. I can only take so much in. Remember, I am also trying not to throw up on myself or die. There is only so much you can expect of me.

Sometime around this point another girl passed me and so did a few guys. I noticed Steve, co owner of Big Peach, pass me and I have to admit I was a little annoyed about it. Random person I don't know pass me, fine. Person I know? Not so happy about it.

Hey, Steve, it is okay. I will still buy all my shoes from you.

Coming up another hill I finally passed the girl who had originally been the lead girl. Then I pretty much held my place and gave what I had left-- knowing that I had to be almost done. But believe me, I was totally ready to quit. Only thing that rallied me was that it was almost over. And THAT right there is the best thing about 5k's. There is no dragging it out. I think coming from marathons and then doing a 5k there is definitely the mentality of: I have been miserable for way longer. This? This I can do.

I cruised under the finish line at 21:15. Over a minute PR from my 5k less than a month ago. The card they handed me said 23rd overall. I haven't looked up my results but I think I was 3rd woman. I did win first in my age group so that was nice. Prize was a flower pot with the kids' hand prints on them. They had put a tulip bulb and some dirt in the pot too.

When I came home the kids were shocked to see me so soon.

Beau said: Wow, that was fast!

And Carmella, disbelieving, said: Did you even do the race?

(This is what happens when you run mostly marathons. The idea that you can go do a race and be home in an hour is something my kids have no experience with. They are use to Mommy being gone forever.)

As always they asked me if I won. For simplicity sake I usually say: Yes. I beat all the other old ladies.

I showed them my prize, the flower pot. Beau, always wanting to inspect my spoils, looked it over and then asked: You won dirt?"

Basically his voice intoned : wah wah wah, loser.

Yeah. The truth hurts. Hey, that's what kids do; they keep it real for you.