Wednesday, April 30, 2008


It was May 1988. Ronald Reagan was president. INXS had the top song, but Michael Jackson was still a top dog in the music industry. Beetlejuice was playing at the movies. The Seoul Olympics were being anticipated. I was a mom with 4 young children, including an 8 month old baby. For the most part, I loved my life, but I did daydream a lot. I was also a very busy person, but one who made exercise almost a daily priority.

I walked quite often, and oftentimes brought the kids, not only to get them out the door but because I couldn't leave them home alone. We lived out in the country, where the speed limit on our road was unmarked, and while it should have been no faster than 45 mph, the little bit of traffic we had usually had cars speeding by at 60 mph or higher. So I also didn't feel comfortable letting the kids ride their bikes alone. They could ride their bikes when we walked. And it was only a short walk to the subdivision around the lake.

But taking 4 kids for a walk didn't mean power walking. The girls would run or skip ahead; Aaron, the 4 year old wanted to look at everything or sit down on the road and take a break; and of course I pushed Justin in the stroller. It was a fun family outing, but I needed to do more.

It was May 1988. I had this thought one day then that maybe if I ran instead of walked, it would take me less time and I could go by myself.

But the evolution process started before that. As a kid, I was either on the go constantly or reading. None of my brothers and sisters were that active, although as kids back then we only had outdoor play or indoor play to fill our time, but for me it was riding bikes all over the area, jumping rope, playing kickball, swimming, or walking everywhere it seemed. I even did a very crude, modified form of aerobic exercise in high school, along with calisthenics, the only thing we knew. Girls organized sports had yet to come on the scene, and the only thing I was good at was volley ball anyway.

Then sometime in the '70s, I got my good friend at the time to consider doing some form of exercise class through the school system, although neither of us had the money to spend on organized classes. The only gym was the Y, which I hadn't ever heard of yet, and there were no gyms or fitness centers anywhere. But another thought occurred to me. I had been "walking" a new puppy I had gotten around that time, who actually only ran anytime she had a leash on, so I had to run to keep her from strangling herself. So I said to my friend, "We should just run." Where that thought came from, I have no idea. If the running boom had hit our area at the time, I wasn't aware of it. And yet, there it was, the beginning of an era? We ran alright. We didn't jog. We ran. Hard. For about 2 blocks at a time. For about 2 weeks. And then? Shin splints so bad neither of us could hardly walk. That was the end of that plan.

Fast forward into the late '70s. My younger sister who was in high school at the time had taken up running, both cross country and track, and she ran regularly otherwise with a good friend, who went on to win many school titles, and for years after won road races in the area. Something struck a chord within me, or maybe I was feeling some pull of the sisterhood of early running women pioneers, and I just wanted to run too. Again, for about a week, I would get up at 6 am and go out and run around a couple of blocks and call it good. Did I have running shoes? Oh no. In fact, I didn't even wear athletic shoes, just some leather wedgy type shoe that was popular at the time. For one reason or another, that didn't last either, and then I had my second child and took up bowling in the winter and biking in the summer, going about 5 miles each time, and later, with 3 kids, I took up walking.

And then it was May 1988. Spring came early that year. It was hot in fact. My oldest was almost 12, my youngest 8 months. I needed to get out of the house BY MYSELF. So, when my oldest daughter came home from school at 3 pm, and the baby was sleeping, I figured again, if I went out and ran (with the dog of course!), I could be back in 20 minutes. She would be okay for that long, and I would just go down the road and come back.

So off I went, with the dog, the same dog who was a puppy 12 years before, but she was just as eager and frisky as she had been as a pup. And as expected, once the leash was on, she wanted to run. And of course, being in a rural farming community, the thought of anyone running for exercise was absurd. So I felt less self-conscious with the dog too. And my outfit this time? A pink sweatsuit and old aerobic shoes, with holes in the soles.

Once I got going, I decided to go out one mile (I guessed) and back. I don't remember stopping. And I ran as hard as the dog pulled me. When I got back, I was beet red in the face and totally sweating, and I felt exhilirated! I couldn't wait to do it again. So run I did, the next day and the next and the next, and the rest is history. Every day in the mid afternoon heat. In my pink sweatsuit and worn out aerobic shoes.

I couldn't let May 2008 start without commemorating my 20th year of running and remembering back on all the good times that started from that one month in time. I've had my ups and downs, forwards, and backwards, but I hope to celebrate another 20 years in this sport!

Monday, April 28, 2008


This is one of those races I have wanted to do for years, but until you actually know someone there or a group is planning on going, its not something I would have done by myself.

A huge shoutout of thanks to Suzanne and her husband Steven and their wonderful kids for hosting me this past weekend. Without them, I know the weekend would not have been as much fun. And with my own personal tour guide, it gave me a more up-close-and-personal look at Lou-a-ville.

I arrived Friday early afternoon, and actually found my way through the city and to Suzanne's front door by myself! That was huge in and of itself. And once again, had I relied on Mapquest to get me there, I would have found myself on a circuitous route around the city. Like I said, it helps to know someone there.

By the time I arrived in Louisville, the temperature was already in the 80s. I actually turned on my air conditioning about the last 50 miles because it was so warm and I was starting to feel a little sick from the sun beating in on me. As I crossed the Ohio River from Indiana to Louisville, I was reminded of IMKY from last summer, seeing the Great Lawn below.

The area where they live reminded me quite a bit of an area close to where I live and run through on occasion, only on a bigger scale. And it was nice finally getting to put faces with the names, meeting Suzanne's husband and kids.

We went to packet pickup which was downtown at the convention center, same place where the IM takes place. Saw Gault House down the street, and the building that overlooks the Great Lawn, so all that was familiar from my last trip.

I wasn't sure how many people were going to be in this race, but my number was 12061. We browsed, got my packet, bought some things, and just as we were leaving, I heard a voice that was familiar, looked over, and said to this woman, "Hey, what's your name?" It was Mary, from Northville, MI, whom I hadn't seen in about 5 years. What a coincidence! So we chatted a minute and went on our way. I knew she would run faster than me the next day, there was no doubt.

Then it was back to Suzanne's to meet the kids, who were now home from school, Henry, who is (almost) 12, Annabelle, who is 8(?), and Claudia, 6. These were the sweetest kids you could hope to meet. The girls were just precious, and Claudia had made me a welcome card.

Then it was on to the kids' cyclocross. Annabelle had just started the week before. There were probably 20 kids of all ages and levels of experience, and Belle did very well. She is very coordinated for her age, and I'm sure her ballet training helps. Henry actually learned to ride a bike that day as well, and Claudia got her training wheels off that weekend. So now they were truly a biker family!

After this, we went back to their house to make dinner and relax. It was still quite warm, with the temperature having reached 86 by mid afternoon, but by early evening, you could feel the humidity lifting, fortunately for all the runners the next day. I tried not to think of the possibility that it would be a bakefest the next day, knowing that would be my biggest problem.

Over the past 2 months, my training leading up to this race had not gone well, what with one thing or another, starting with our craptacular weather that lasted until the end of March, and my ITB problem, that also lasted until the end of March. So I was going into this with only one good run behind me. I have run the half marathon distance many times, have run farther in fact many times over the years, but I still would have preferred having a couple of more weeks to train. So it was going to have to be what it was. I had no real goal at that moment but to just finish.

We had a nice dinner, did some chatting, had a little wine, and then it was time to get to bed. I went to sleep fairly easily and was glad for that. Sometime in the night though, the wind started blowing hard, and then it started raining hard also. The air coming in the window had cooled off considerably, so I wasn't going to have to worry about hot weather for the race. In fact, I fell back to sleep and dreamed that it snowed overnight, probably about 5 inches, but it was still 90 degrees. Weird!

Morning came and it was cooler yet. Then I started worrying I would be too cold. I debated over what to wear and finally decided to go with just the sleeveless shirt and hope for the best. I had to laugh to myself, because had I been home and doing a training run, I would have ended up wearing a jacket and probably gloves and an earband! So it really was a big chance I was taking with my choice of clothes. As it turned out, it worked fine for me.

We picked up a couple of Suzanne's friends, Marcia and Michael, who were also running the mini. Suzanne, as it turned out, was not running that day but was available as our personal chauffer instead. Lucky for us! Michael had just run Boston on Monday of that week but was going to run with his wife, Marcia. They started talking about pacing and finishing times, and I knew then I would not be running with or even near them! My goal then popped out of my mouth and it was there, out in the open: 2:45. My last half back in October was 2:46, so I had to believe I could do better than that. I didn't know this course, but you go with what is and do with the course what you can. There never is any other way.

Suzanne left us about a 1/2 mile before the race site, because most streets were now closed off. We walked past a park, which later we would run through, and used the bathroom facilities there, which as it turned out was quite a good thing. The lines were only about 10 deep, and when we got to the race site, about 1/4 mile away, there were thousands of people in line and from what I could tell, people were quite grossed out by the condition of the porta-potties. Eww. Glad I got to miss that. As it was, that smell stayed in my nose almost the whole race, it was that bad.

Then I just had to find a place to get into the corral where we started on Southern Parkway (?), which is a very long, tree-lined street. I didn't know the number of runners, but I got in somewhere around the middle of the crowd and I couldn't see to either end. At least it was warmer standing in the crowd. And of course, in that kind of weather, people are dressed every which way, from shirtless (men of course) and shorts to full jackets, long pants/tights, gloves, hats, etc.

When we started, and I'm not sure there was a gun start or not, no one moved for at least a minute or more, then there was a slow shuffle forward and stop, shuffle forward, stop, and on and on this went. I decided then there was no point trying to run, but would walk to the start, since it was a chip start anyway. Once I hit the mat, I hit my watch and started running.

It was very, very crowded. Its really annoying with walkers who walk 3 or 4 across and don't seem to realize people cannot get around them that easily when there are that many people, so you find yourself darting in and out around them. So I was quite surprised when my first mile was 11:15. I don't see how, but I went by watch time, not clock time, so it had to be right. Mile 2 was pretty much the same thing. I didn't feel like I was running too fast, but I did consciously decide to slow down, and once we hit the hills shortly after 2 miles, that was decided even more for me by the course.

We ran through Iriquois Park, very nice, but very hilly. I had just heard about the hills the day before, and decided to do what I could with them. I was happy I didn't have to walk up any of them, like a lot of people were doing. The little bit of hill training I had done helped apparently. Not to make me faster, but at least to keep me moving.

Leaving the park, it was on huge downhill, about 5 miles into the race. All I could think of here again was anyone with knee problems would get beat up by this part of the course. The downhills were actually worse than the ups. At this point, there was an OLD woman and maybe her young grandson (or great) running with her. I'd guess she was in her 80s at least, and I can't help but admit my twisted pleasure on passing her! Then it was back to the street where we started, and here I finally ran through the corral area. I was really hoping we weren't doing that hill loop again!

I was planning on hitting the 10k mark and then stopping to take a gel and water, but somehow forgot and did it at 6, so when I hit the 10k mat, my time was probably a couple of minutes slower than it otherwise would have been. I had the worst time getting the strip off the gel packet, probably because my hands, like usual, were so sweaty, and I had nothing to wipe them on that wasn't sweaty. So I struggled with that also longer than necessary, and then was mad at myself when I realized I goofed on the 10k calculation. Oh well, on to the next mile. I did have a serious foot cramp about mile 7 and figured it was from the downhill pounding, but it went away after a minute or so and never returned.

I am easily amused by all the things going on in races, but I can focus on only one mile at a time. And up to this point, the only walking I did was through the water stops. And what's up with that anyway? This was the oddest thing. They handed out at every stop a small bottle of water. Warm. Caps on. Weird. That was a huge mess. I usually carry my partially frozen water bottle, so I would add part of the bottled water to that, drink it when it got cold, and go on to the next. The stops were every 2 miles from what I remember.

Shortly after 8 miles, we came up to this area where I could see people running through a gated area. I was wondering what that was, where were they leading us, until I looked up as I passed under the gate and noticed it was Churchill Downs. Oh cool, I forgot all about that.

They had a speaker system set up with Derby race commentary on horses, placement, etc., and there were also jockeys exercising and practicing with their horses, so that was a nice little distraction. Here though was the first real walk break other than getting water. When you enter the park, to get out onto the track area, there is a tunnel you run through with a steep downslope/upslope on each end. It was short but steep, and I could feel it in my Achilles, so decided to walk down, run through, and walk up. I actually passed people who were running the entire thing, so no time lost there. When we got through the second tunnel, on the way out of the park, we hit 9 miles, and then it was back into the street again.

One other thing that keeps me going in new races is not knowing the course. Since you don't know what lies ahead, you have no preconceived ideas of how you will feel, good or bad. So again, it is easy to just focus on each mile.

At 10 miles, we went through another tunnel under a bridge, but the down and up was not as steep and it wasn't time for any walk break, so I just kept going. Just before 10 miles I hit the 2 hour mark, and it was here that I decided to take official walk breaks each mile, mainly to keep myself on an even keel. In races, two issues I tend to have are breathing and stomach, neither of which bother me if I keep my pace slow enough. And now with the walk breaks, I was also finding, as usual, that my pace was not slowing between miles. I would pass people when I started running again who passed me while I was walking.

My next plan on taking in food was at 11 miles. Like I said with the stomach thing, it was going okay, but I was afraid if I took in another gel too soon it would upset things. And I also forgot that Hammel Gel does not work for me at all, which is what the second gel I brought was. I really like the chocolate ones, but they inevitably cause stomach problems. Somewhere between 10 and 11, they were handing out sport beans, so I decided to grab a pack and tried them at 11 miles. I figured they probably really wouldn't kick in until 12, but that was okay. I actually ate them a couple of times between 10.5 and 12 miles and after that I ditched the rest. My walk breaks were initially run 8 min. 30 seconds, walk 1 min. 30 seconds, and that worked well until close to 12, and then it got to be 6 min. 30 seconds, 1 min. 30 seconds. I could tell my breathing was a little harder and I needed to keep things calm. There was one bright spot here though. The White Castle people were out with ice cold CUPS of water, so even though my water I carried was still cold, it wasn't ice cold, which I really prefer. That was like being in a an oasis in the desert, getting a nice cold drink. I really think this kept me going to the end without needing another break too.

There was a split somewhere after this I think for the half marathon and the full. They had it color coded, and since I couldn't read the signs from a ways back, I started wondering what color my bib was. I couldn't remember! And if you went the wrong way, you would immediately know, which makes me wonder why a woman in my age group who apparently did the half ended up with a time of 6:51. Whoa! Makes me wonder if she actually did the full without intending to.

By the time we got to where the clock was placed for 26 miles, I was looking for the 13 mile marker. I really wanted to take a break but thought if I was that close I should really keep going. So then I did the math and figured if I was at 26 miles, that meant it was only .2 to go for the half, and sure enough, right around the corner was the finish. I picked it up here (I suppose you could call it that) because I really just wanted to be done. I hadn't looked at my watch since about 6 miles, so didn't even realize what my time was.

When I crossed the finish line, I stopped my watch and it said 2:45:04. Eh, good enough I thought. I only found out later that my official time was actually 2:44:58. So I made my goal after all.

After the race, they gave us mylar blankets, and I was very grateful for this because even though the sun had come out toward the end, it was extremely windy being by all the tall buildings, like a wind tunnel effect, and cold. I began immediately looking for Suzanne, realizing then we hadn't discussed any plan for where we would meet and I hadn't brought my cell phone, and now couldn't even remember her phone number. I continued walking through the corraled area where they had chip retrieval, medals, food, drinks, and the beer tent. Might as well use my beer ticket I thought while there wasn't a line. I walked around looking at everyone who passed by outside the fence, trying to be sure I didn't miss Suzanne. I stood still for periods of time too trying to focus on people walking by, but no luck. I then went in the convention center and was grateful for the warmth here, but soon realized there was no way she would find me in there probably. So I went back outside and walked down the street toward the finish line again and right then we both just about ran into each other!

I know she was as glad to find me as I was her. I really didn't spend too much time worrying what I would do if I hadn't found her. I was just glad I had.

Here's my finish picture.

We had a nice warm afternoon again that day, a nice evening, and then Sunday morning it was time to leave to head north and home again. I really liked Louisville, and hope I can get back there sometime in the future.

As for how I felt after, not too bad really. Some hip stiffness, getting down steps, etc. All I can say for today though is I hope we don't have a fire in my office!

Sunday, April 27, 2008


Details to come. Goal: Break 2:45. Time: 2:44:58. I did better than I thought I could or would. Place in AG: 168/384, upper 50%. Didn't expect that! Summary: Had a fantastic weekend. Will need to get some pics, since I had forgotten my camera! :(

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On the road again, this time to Louisville (that's pronounced Lou-a-ville), Kentucky, to run (ha ha!) in the Kentucky Derby Minimarathon. I'll be staying with Suzanne, a blogger I met last year when in Louisville for the Ironman. I've followed her path as she has attempted to qualify for Boston this year, then her subsequent injury, and now of all things, she's into bike racing! She's a great biker, probably better than she thinks. If she only learns to swim, watch out triathletes!
Anyway, I'll be leaving right after work, driving to Indianapolis with a friend from work, spending the night there, and then heading on down south to Kentucky Friday morning. The race is Saturday, and it looks like rain is predicted the whole weekend :(, but what can you do?
As usual, the dilemma for me is always what to bring. I wanted to pack as lightly as possible, since I was also bringing my bike and stuff, but I guess driving gives you a whole lot more options than flying on what to bring, and the best part there? No plastic bags or security checks! So I think I've got enough stuff with me for hot, cold, wet, biking, etc. It looks like I'm packed for a cross-country trip to the prairie never to return.
Not bringing a laptop this time. I figure the only time I will have for that would be tonight, so I probably won't be on e-mail much or at all. Wish me luck, and I'll see you at the finish line.

Monday, April 21, 2008

You finally are going to hear me say it: we had perfect weather this weekend. Not that we didn't deserve it! Sometimes, its incomprehensible to me how we can go from brown, cold, gray, and wet to sunny, hot, and everything turning green in just less than 2 weeks. But that's what finally happened.

We experienced some late June weather this weekend, and you will only hear me sing praises about that. Blue skies, low to no wind, no humidity, and temperatures in the upper 70s. I was in heaven.

As I've already posted, Saturday's weather was perfect for my 10 mile run, leaving me a lot more confident about this weekend's half marathon. I'm not talking about my time. I actually am not going to be able to worry about that. It will be what it will be.
The afternoon turned hot and sunny, nothing I'm complaining about! Its too bad it really is too early to get out and plant, but we still will likely get more frost and cold weather. The daffodils were blooming all over the yard though, the trees were starting to bud, and it won't be long before the tulips start appearing too.

Sunday morning was cooler, but it still was supposed to be another very warm afternoon. The plan then was to get out on the bikes, our second ride of the season. I did get in a 3/4 mile swim before, waiting for Don to do another run.

Then it was time for that dreaded Changing Tires 101 class. Believe me, if there is one thing I hate more than having to do car maintenance, its bike maintenance. And I have to admit, I did not pass the exam yesterday. Changing the tires on my bike, not a flat, but actual new tires, meant I had to ask Don to help me with that. Don is very good about knowing how to do this stuff, and he actually offered, but he is not the best teacher, for me anyway. I guess all those years of military experience have made him somewhat impatient with my clumsiness and inability to figure out the simple task of changing a tire. But there it is. I'm all thumbs and finally I got so disgusted with the whole process I was ready to forget about a ride that day. I actually stomped off and went in the house, ready to pack it in. Nearly an hour after we started, he finally ended up finishing the task for me. LOL!

But the ride was great, like something I have not experienced in a LONG time. I honestly can say that I didn't really enjoy any rides from last year, they were always a drudge to me, and our first ride 2 weeks ago also had me anxious to get off the bike and not return. I wasn't really looking forward to another bad season. What was different about yesterday? I'm not really sure, but there were a couple of things that have me wondering.
First, the new tires. Last summer I thought I was getting 700 23s put on my bike, but what I eneded up with was 700 25s. You wouldn't think that little size difference would matter, but it does. I found that out on ride after ride after ride last year. So that was the first order of business for this year, and that's what the tire changing lesson was all about yesterday. (Next time I buy tires, I'm buying from the bike shop so they can put them on! I'll pay. I've got money!)
But another weird thing happened, and I probably shouldn't make anything of this until I've ridden a few times. I had my bike into the shop a couple of weeks ago for the annual tuneup under warranty, and as usual forgot that they would move the seat. I hadn't marked it, so that was another thing we had to fix yesterday. I had Don put the seat where I thought it was from before, only to feel like I was sitting on the ground and I could tell my knees were a little too bent. He thought it looked okay, but it really felt weird to me. So he raised it a little, and again, while I thought it was too low, he said he thought it looked fine. All I knew was it wasn't where it had been all last year, so I just decided to do the ride and see what happened.
What happened was for the first time in 2 years, I got that bike up to 18 mph! Not the whole ride, of course, but some good stretches. And without feeling like I was killing myself. Like all last year. I'm pretty sure the tires made a difference there, but I felt like I actually had some power in my legs for once. The other part of this weird experience was: no neck pain. None. Not even for a minute. Whoa! What's up with that?? Our first ride 2 weeks ago resulted in neck pain almost the entire ride, just like all last year. Could it actually have been that my seat was too high all last year? The bike shop fitted me, yet it makes me wonder now. And it wasn't all that much higher, probably less than an inch.
I guess only another ride will tell on that. I've got the bike in the car for another ride tonight. And I'm actually looking forward to it for once!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Today's training run went MUCH better than last week's in the rain and cold. It was perfect weather for a run: low 60s, no wind, partly sunny. I wore shorts and a short sleeved shirt with my vest and was never too cold or too hot. And today I wisely chose another route. Not an easier route, but better. Instead of tormenting myself on the river route, dealing with the traffic and bad roads, I went around the lake near my house and was a lot happier. I don't know why I don't do this more often.
Part of the reason for that I suppose is if you want to go more than 5 miles, it requires doing two loops. I know that sometimes it is mentally hard to do that, but today that's what I decided to do.
The first loop, I went the "hard" way, meaning I was going to have to do the big hill at the end. The last time I did this hill was back in the fall one time with Don, before his Achilles problem, probably just a week or so before that in fact. We both walked up the hill that day. Today, I ran up. So progress was made there.
I've also been practicing more faithfully some of the things I learned in my Chi Running clinic from 2 years ago. Since then, I have always practiced the running form, so that now it is second nature. Its nothing hard or complicated, of course, but it did require some changes on my part, all for the better. Two other things though that I haven't been as good about doing on my runs is the arm swing and the breathing.
We learned that your arm swing movement and pace will also help determine your foot pace, meaning, your feet will keep up with your arms. That's all well and good, as long as you realize that the lungs obviously have to go along with this plan too!
So I've been remembering the arm swing method, and today I finally remembered the breathing method: 3 breaths out, 3 breaths in. Wow! What a difference it made in my overall pacing. Not faster, I don't mean that. But in terms of not being out of breath as quickly, or at all, I can see where those 3 breaths out and 3 breaths in help regulate the breathing, and for longer periods. I noticed this right away, so made a conscious effort to continue through the whole 10 miles. And it wasn't until the last mile that I was starting to see an increase in my breathing: 2 breaths in, 2 out. I know that had been my usual, and I can see now where slowing the breathing seemed to give me more endurance. And again, this isn't something that just happens, but once you are aware of how it is working and continue this through your run, after a while you don't think about it much either.
All in all, I felt much stronger than last week, and while I know the weather made a big difference, I also know that remembering a few tricks from Chi Running helped make it more successful as well. I feel a lot better too going into the half marathon next week, even though my training hasn't gotten me past 11 miles, but its not like I haven't run 13.1 miles before, so I figure I'll get through it somehow. I am glad it isn't a full marathon though!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Over the past few years, I have been very adept at finding money while out on my runs. Early morning runs yield the biggest jackpots. Today was no exception.

It was only 2 dimes today, just 20 cents, but I added it to my stash of found coins on the run. I have about $5 now in spare change, just from picking it up on runs.

I have found $5, $10, several $1 bills, even half of a $20 once. One morning, I found 75 cents (3 quarters) just laying in the street, and then a little further on more money: another quarter, a couple of dimes, and several pennies, almost like someone had flung a handful of money into the street. Their loss is my gain.

What amazes me is not only how frequently this happens, but the fact that I can actually spot a dime at 100 feet in the light from streetlights, or a crumpled bill on the grass in the semi-light of morning, yet I can't find something in the cupboard at home (coffee as a reminder was my last goofup). One advantage of running just as its getting light out means getting out there before anyone else does.

And most of the money I find is in the street, making me think people are dropping it or losing it in the dark as they pull out or put away their keys.

I've found a lot of other stuff out there over the years, but spare change seems to be the easiest and most frequent find. It pays to look where you're running!

Postscript: I went for a walk at lunch time around the river. There was a guy walking along asking people for? Spare change! LOL! Try running, buddy, instead of begging!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I like my coffee. I drink probably 4-5 cups a day. BUT...I drink decaf as much as possible. I realize decaf does contain some caffeine, but the percentage is much lower. And while I do drink some regular coffee on a regular basis, its mainly so I don't go into shock if I accidentally get a cup of regular, or have no choice or don't want to make a fuss.
Caffeine and I parted company several years ago. I'm not sure yet why I went to decaf, but the change in me was apparent almost immediately.
One cup, and things become a little sharper and more in focus; I can concentrate fine. Two cups, and I get chatty, something I'm usually not, but its more than chatty--its mouth run on, like I'm on speed or something. Three cups, and things start getting edgy for me. More than that, and I'm in trouble. I suspect my running speed developed from that edginess I had back when I first started running. Once I went off the caffeine, I couldn't help notice that I slowed down--I was more laid back and relaxed. It didn't really matter!
Recently, I realized I had a couple of bags of flavored, regular coffee in the cupboard that needed using up. These were gifts from Christmas, and while I usually keep some regular coffee on hand for company, this was more than my usual supply, and I didn't want them to get stale and go to waste.
So I've been adding in a scoop or two of regular with my decaf for a while now. I can tell the difference, but its more at the "one cup" stage, so its been okay. Yesterday, though, I noticed after one cup that I was a little edgy, jittery almost with doing things, darting from one thing to the next, not able to focus. After 2 cups, I was starting to really get tired and sleepy, like I was burned out or something. I had slept good the night before, but I had been really tired Monday night, and figured it was just the weekend running catching up with me. On the drive to work, I was REALLY sleepy. I wanted to go back to bed in the worst way. But at the same time, I noticed I was driving quite aggressively for me, and my stomach wasn't feeling very good either.
This whole crappy feeling continued all morning. I had planned to run at lunch time, mainly to soak up the sunshine we have been enjoying lately, and fortunately, the run itself helped perk me up and snap me out of the funky phase. The rest of the day, I felt alert and able to work without a problem.
Evening came, and I still was feeling pretty good. In fact, I quickly got all my evening "chores" done early, without feeling like I needed to sit around and relax. When it came time to fix the next morning's coffee, my hand reached in the cupboard and what did I pull out? Not only the regular flavored coffee I had been attempting to use up but a can of regular as well. Hmm, I knew I had that, but I wonder why its on a different shelf than usual? When I went looking for my coffee scoop, it suddenly occurred to me that I had used ALL regular coffee for that day! No wonder I had such a weird day! It all started making sense: the jitteriness; the irritation; the bad driving (although I'm sure someone will argue that I drive bad all the time!), the unusual fatigue, and yet the unexplained energy burst too.
At bedtime, I thought I was tired and actually went to bed early, only to lay there and lay there and lay there. No sleep came until probably after 2 am and then I still woke 2 more times before 5 am, when I finally got up. I wasn't all that tired, at least for now.
I'm sure I'll be dragging around here later today and this evening, but right now I think I am still buzzing from yesterday!

Saturday, April 12, 2008


You know how the saying goes: April showers bring May flowers. It can also make for a miserably cold run. I'm warming myself with a nice hot cup of cinnamon hazlenut coffee trying to thaw out after spending over 2 hours out in the cold, hard pouring rain.

WHY DO WE DO THESE THINGS TO OURSELVES?? Why indeed. Always to work towards a goal, otherwise, what would be the point?

Today was one of the first days Don was planning to start running outside after his ruptured Achilles. Its been a slow process healing and getting back to running. He's done a couple of other runs, but today was really to be the day. And naturally, it had to be pouring rain when we got up and 40 degrees. We knew that was a likelihood; after all, it was sunny and almost 70 yesterday when I had to work, so it was inevitable. But it still was probably proving to be the better day of the weekend, since tonight the temperatures will dip down into the 20s, and the likelihood of snow is great. No thanks! And for me, it wasn't a choice. It was a necessity to get this run in.

After he reached the 1.5 mile mark, Don turned back and I continued on, into the wind and rain. But I felt somewhat better than last week. so I guess its going to be a process. Technically, I have 4 weeks until the 25k, but only 2 weeks until the Louisville Minimarathon. For sure that will be a training run!
I was forced to take the "high" road today because of all the rain we've had flooding out sections near the river. That meant hills, something I certainly need work on. And actually, it was a pleasant break taking a different route for a change. I've already reconciled myself to the fact that I will have to run and walk this thing. I just don't have the stamina I would like to run continuously for that long, and overall my pace stays more steady with walk breaks.
I did okay with this plan until about the one hour mark. At this point, the wind and rain in my face were starting to get to me and I had to make a decision to continue on for another 10 minutes or turn back. I gutted it out and continued. One thing I do with my watch when I get to one hour is reset it so I first can read it easier and second so the real time is not staring me in the face reminding me how long I've been out there. I know how long it really is, but its just a mental thing making it seem like less time. It works every time. I guess I'm just a wimp.
One problem with running on the high road is the traffic. What shoulder there is is soft gravel, and with the heavy rain it was quite mushy if not full of puddles. So I was constantly dodging puddles or cars. And then the hills came back. This is a rolling to hilly course. Not hills like those of you who live in mountainous areas, but not flat either. Elevations are probably 600-1200 feet, so there's a lot of up and down. And did I mention the road is sharply slanted? To keep the road from puddling from rain run off. So after a while, you start feeling like a gimp, like one leg is shorter than the other. Its not a good course to run on all the time.
Oh yeah, you can tell it was just a joyously fun run! After another 30 minutes of this, I just was starting to get frustrated and wanted to just walk in the worst way. But it would have been too far, it was still raining, I was soaked all the way through, and I was starting to get cold. Thankfully, the wind was behind me though.
Here's where the mind games started. "Okay, I'll run from this road marker to the next, take a quick break, do it again, etc." That became the plan. And surprisingly, I found myself doing interval-like speeds for the next 3 miles. It got me through the whole "ordeal" because that's the only way I can describe it.
So technically, I did more walking coming back, but the walk breaks were probably less than a minute for the most part, the run intervals were faster than my long run pace, and surprise, surprise! While I ran out 1 hour 10 minutes, coming back it was 1 hour 8 minutes and 24 seconds. It paid off! I really was surprised, and I feel less beat up physically and mentally than had I continued to "watch the clock" the whole way back.
I know I have a lot of mental work to do. I am really hoping with some nicer weather it gets easier. Whether its easier or not, with nicer weather it certainly will be more enjoyable!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


That's what it was out there today, the aftermath of overnight storms, none of which I even heard. I hesitated about going out to run, deciding to check the afternoon weather, telling myself if it cleared up, I could go then. The more I thought about it, for once I decided to just go out and get it done.

Its not that I didn't want to run, I just wanted it to be sunny and hot, like last week in Florida. But experience has shown me that waiting until later in the day means it probably won't happen at all--one thing or another gets in the way.

So I decided to dress and get out the door before the sun came up, once again becoming the Queen of Darkness.

It wasn't as bad as I feared. The first and last parts of the run were straight into the wind, but its April, after all, so there is a touch, just a small touch, of warmth in the air, even if there was a windchill.

I've resigned myself to knowing winter will last forever here. Its actually supposed to SNOW again this weekend. Sigh....

One thing I am finding with my training now compared with a month ago is there is no turning back to getting back on the treadmill. I just cannot do it for a while again. I also find that running several short runs and one long run works a lot better for me, mentally and physically, than trying to do one short, one medium, and one long run. The medium runs were starting to turn out to be almost long runs, so by the time I needed to really get in a long run, I felt like I'd already done it, so either skipped it or had some bad runs. It might be too late to salvage my half marathon training, but I'll do what I can in the time left.

Which leads to another dilemma. I thought the half marathon was May 3. Turns out it is April 26. What was I thinking??

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


Four years ago today, my life and that of my family was shattered by the suicide of my son-in-law, David.

This came at the end of spring break week, where my sister and I took the kids (including my grandson) to New York City for a week-long tour. We had a great time, seeing all the sights, all of which were new to my sister and her kids. We did the usual touristy things: visit the Statue of Liberty; go to the Empire State Building; visit Wall Street; go on a walking tour of the city that included Central Park; visit NBC Studios for a tour; shop the Hershey store; go to Toys 'R Us to ride the ferris wheel; and one of our most fun spots was a visit to the Wax Museum.

When we got back home, we learned the news. It had happened that day. I can't convey the shock and grief that came over me and my family, something that hung on for quite a long time in fact.

Without going into detail of those years, I couldn't help but think today, as I was out running in the cool morning air, of the runs I had gone on with David. David who was fleet of feet in a way I never was, even at my best, who had so much potential. David who had so much joie d'vivre. David who also fell to the depths of depression, farther than we ever knew.

I couldn't help but think too about all the years of depression I had gone through over this and other life events previously, and yet here I was, as sane and whole as someone could be under the circumstances. But yet, for some reason he lost something or got lost along the way. One of those things we will never know and never understand.

What made me different from David? What helped me cope and survive and never once think of ending it like he did? Many reasons, I'm sure, but I have to give credit to my belief and faith in God, and the gift I was given 20 years ago: the gift of running and later triathlon.

Because that's how I view my athletic self. And I do know it is what finally got me back on track.

So David, I'm sorry for the way things turned out for you. I wish I could have helped or done something. But I had to move on with my life, and so today, this run's for you.

Friday, April 04, 2008


That could be the name of a song. It certainly made me feel like singing, being in the sunshine every day.

The night we went shopping with the "girls," that included Shelley, Cindy Jo, and me in one car and Sherri (the coach) and a couple of others in another car. It was good getting a chance to just hang out with the girls, doing something noncompetitive as well. We were going to Leesburg, about 25 miles from Clermont, to a store that Sherri was recommending. As it turned out, it was just a so-so shopping experience. We drove there in heavy rain and a thunderstorm, making the highway very dark. Coming back, we narrowly missed an accident when a woman pulled out in front of moving traffic. She claimed her brakes went out, and that may have been the case, but we weren't sure if she was high or drunk the way she was acting. Fortunately, we weren't involved, and the cars that collided only had minor damage and it didn't appear anyone was hurt. We decided we weren't needed, and since we weren't from the area and weren't involved, we left and continued back to the villa.

When we got there finally, it was late, and the guys were actually starting to wind down for the night. They had saved us just enough food to take off the hunger edge at least!

The next day they had another ride planned, and that was to be my last full day in the area, so I went to Lake Louisa State Park to get in a run. Much as I had enjoyed exploring the neighborhood where I was staying, I was getting a little bored running in circles and figured the park would be another enjoyable experience. I had heard from one of the guys in the group that there were trails to run on but that they were mainly sand, and deep sand in some areas. But with the heavy rain from the night before, most of the sand was packed down, and only some of the more protected areas had any real sandy areas. A lot of the trail was pine needles and well groomed. But it was so hot in there, with no breeze that day, that it felt like running in a sauna. I found it hard to breathe and finally had to resort to a run/walk. Once I got out on the road, it was much easier to breathe, but not as enjoyable, so I headed back to the trails for another 40 some minute run. I only saw a couple of other people out there, and at one point I thought I was going the wrong way and started worrying about getting lost, like I have been known to do. But I checked the foot prints that I saw going the opposite way, saw that they matched mine, and knew I had my bearings correct. One thing about trail running, as I'm sure many of you know, you have to constantly be watching where you are going and pay attention to where you have been or you could easily run in circles or get lost.

When I got back to the villa, I decided to spend what little time I had left there lounging around the pool. I knew it was going to be hard to leave. My plan was to head back to the Orlando area later in the afternoon, find a hotel, return the rental car, and stay there until my flight the next morning.

The triathletes returned from their morning ride, we had some lunch, and before you knew it, I had to pack up to leave. They were planning on shopping and swimming again that afternoon, but I didn't really have time to go along.

With much regret then, I said my goodbyes to the group, all of whom I enjoyed meeting and spending time with. And I was extremely grateful for them sharing the use of the place for a few days as well.

So now I'm back home again, in the rainy and cold Michigan weather. Don and I went for a walk last evening before dark, and I found it very hard to not contrast the lack of greenery and sunshine that is normal for where I live. I know things will green up soon, and that our weather will improve, but I can't help but be impatient about that.

I think the older I get, the more intolerant of the Michigan weather I get. I can certainly see why so many people head south in retirement. I'm wishing I could go now!

And I know that no place you go is perfect, but if that's what you call my few days of sunshine, I'll take it!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I saw this at the airport and couldn't help but think how appropriate it was right now. I can't tell you how excited--and impatient--I was to be going to Florida again this winter, and so soon after my last trip. It was a treat, to be sure. Its no wonder those of us from the frozen, gloomy north get so giddy about heading to the Sunshine State--for any reason--in the winter or early springtime.

Without going into a lot of detail about the trip here, I'll just say, left in the snow and cold, the usual airport hassles, but they still beat the driving hassles, and the usual flying hassles, with my ears bothering me for days after. But finally we arrived. I was SO impatient to get on the ground and get into the warmth.

Orlando! We were here! I felt like kissing the ground!

But the real fun started when I met up with Shelley and her crew of triathletes from Windsor on Monday afternon. I know Shelley was glad to have another female in the mix.

Shelley and the others were here for a triathlon camp, which I would have really liked to have attended, but finances were a little short after the cruise. But when the opportunity came to come down with my friend Jan, I jumped at the chance, and it coincided perfectly with meeting up with Shelley, who very generously offered me a place to stay for a few days, in addition to the other days I would be there.

The training camp, and the "villa" where Shelley was staying were located in Clermont, about 30 miles from the Orlando airport, and about 25 miles from Disney, to help with locating it. Clermont is in Central Florida. It had been 6 years since Don and I had stayed there, when he did the Great Floridian Ironman triathlon, and 5 years since I had driven through with my kids, so I was familiar with some of the area, but was also amazed at all the growth in the last 5 years. Clermont is booming, but it still remains a partially agricultural area. The other thing that setsClermont apart from the rest of Florida? The HILLS! Unbelievable! Which is exactly why
the USAT National Training Center is located here.

Heading down U.S. 27 from Orlando, I had the windows down in the rental car, soaking up the warmth of the day, and breathing in the intoxicating scent of orange blossoms! It was amazing. I truly don't think people who live in this climate--this paradise--fully appreciate how much we from the frozen north absolutely love this climate!
I arrived at "The Pride," the name of the rental home Shelley was staying at with the others, no thanks to Mapquest, which had neglected to include one important detail for finding where I was going. If I hadn't had the directions Shelley sent me, I'd have ended up in Miami!

I did decide to drive by the Citrus Tower first before stopping to see Shelley, since it had become a focal point when Don and I had stayed there several years ago. The Citrus Tower is the highest point in Florida, and is celebrating its 50th Anniversary! Woo hoo! Its a cheesy tourist attraction, but hey, I had to check it out for old time's sake.

Once I arrived at "The Pride," I could see why it was named for that: the owners had decorated the place with a Lion and Tiger theme. Here are just a few cross-section pictures of the place: 5 bedrooms, 3 baths, large kitchen/living/dining areas with a patio and pool outside off those rooms.

This is a picture of the foyer, and while it might be a little difficult to see the pictures and decor, there is a lion picture on the wall.

The master bedroom/bath and the pool. True luxury!

I couldn't help but enjoy myself. And the weather was so perfect: mid-80s and sunny! Who could ask for more!

On Tuesday, the triathlon camp members had an early morning run planned and then an open water swim. I went out for my own 45 min. run and later met up with those who didn't want to do a gator swim, as I called it, and instead went to the USAT training center to use the magnificent outdoor pool! It is a great facility, and the pool was fantastic--50 meters long! The temperature was perfect too, under the Central Florida sunshine.
The camp crew had an afternoon bike ride planned and left the Center while I was still finishing my 2000 yard swim. I went back to the villa later, got some lunch, and then finally got a shower!
After that, I decided to start dinner, which was supposed to be lasagna. I thought, if they are supposed to be done by 4/4;30, I had better get started. I whipped that up, made a HUGE salad, and finally put the lasagna on to bake around 5 pm. They still weren't there, but it had to be any time, right?? But, alas, 5:30 came and went, and then 6 pm, and finally they arrived. The problem here was the "girls" were supposed to go shopping at 6:45, so it was a tight schedule when they didn't all arrive until almost 6:30.
(to be continued)