Friday, October 31, 2008


The Grand Rapids Zombie Walk 2008.

Hope you have a spooktacular day!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Years ago, when I was running and training with a group, we often did back to back workouts. We might have an evening 5k or 10k race, and then meet again in the morning for a long slow run. I was always amazed at really how good that felt--after a hard run at night, a nice slow long run felt relaxing and was actually a good recovery workout.

But I'm not talking about back to back workouts. I'm talking about back to back trials here in the office. Its almost ridiculous how this happened, but suddenly I realized about mid-October what the end of the month and the beginning of the next month would be like--working 10 hour days most days, and constantly being in high gear.

Somewhat like training for a big race, where you do all your prep work (training) up to two weeks before the big event, the same thing happens in trial prep. Unlike training for a big race, where you taper the last 2 weeks before the big event, in trial prep you gear up more the last two weeks. Lucky for me I only have a small part in both of these, so that shows how much more is required of the attorneys. Everything is so technical now in court also that you have to get the techies on board to work along with you, and that's not always an easy task. They have a totally different idea of what "I need it now" means. The usual no help from the helpless desk.

Anyway, such has been my life the last few weeks, changing my running plans for the next month now. Which actually might be a good thing since this hip thing is really getting to be a nuisance and a mystery at the same time. I suspect its a tight hip flexor muscle, but none of my usual therapies are working.

Saturday, after the deluge of rain stopped, it cleared up enough for me to consider getting outside. It was brisk and partly sunny, requiring me to bundle up a little more than usual. But it felt good to be outside again after spending all week inside or not doing anything but working. The plan was to just do my 3 mile loop, and if all went well to go longer on Sunday.

All did not go well. It started out okay however. I have 3 checkpoints on this route, where I check my time to see how I'm doing: if I hit my average times, I feel okay with that. If I'm slower, I know I'm not ready to be running. And if I'm faster, then woo hoo, I'll take that. I was only slightly faster than average so felt okay with that. I was having no hip tightness or pain. There was one scary moment when I saw something dangling from a tree and realized it was a huge spider dropping down from its web! It was Halloween horror, for sure.

All I could imagine was what if I'd been running in the dark like usual through here??? It would have gotten in my hair!! Shudder.
But I was still good on time at the next checkpoint and was really enjoying the day, especially since the all day rain predicted was not happening.
Right around 2 miles it happened--suddenly that hip flexor muscle tightened right up, almost like a vice grip, and I had to stop and start walking. Then it was sore and stiff and I ended up walking the rest of the way home. I could not run any more. I was actually limping somewhat and off balance. Using the foam roller when I got home was excruciating, actually taking my breath away, making it impossible for me to tolerate that torture for only a few minutes. Then I iced.
It was sore all day, achey sore, and Sunday I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and it was fine. Today I did a spin class and it was fine. So I have to figure this thing out. I do not want to have to stop running for any length of time and rebuild my base--again--but I may have to take a week or so off. Any ideas will be welcome, but I've probably tried everything!
Hope everyone had great weekends!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE ELLIPTICAL It really is much too early to begin thinking of indoor workouts, even if it is getting down to the 20s in the mornings. But I have been giving the hip a rest this week and decided to try an elliptical day for a change, since I forgot the spin shoes. And of course I did not have my earbuds to listen to music, but even if I had, the music station was on opera and someone actually was listening to it. Hard to believe. And then the earphones available in the gym aren't the best and actually don't even stay on my head they're so stretched out, and somehow I managed to get my earring caught up on them and was stuck for a while. So, I just decided to forget it and go solo without music or TV or anything else. I'm tough! I could stick it out for 30 minutes!
But that always gets my mind wandering, and here are some random thoughts about the gym:
  1. Why would anyone listen to opera while working out??
  2. Why would anyone listen to opera anytime??
  3. Why is it the one day in months I go to the gym at lunch time the place is packed and everyone wants to use the ellipticals??
  4. Why is it the one day in months I go to the gym at lunch time, the 7 women in the locker room all have lockers next to each other??
  5. Why do the locker room attendants (all male) pick lunch time or 5 pm to clean the women's locker room??
  6. Why does the treadmill repair man come to fix the equipment at lunch time?
  7. Why does the old man come to the gym dressed in dockers (pants and shoes), a sweater, and button down shirt and walk on the treadmill at 1.5 mph??
  8. Why do they still have Schwinn Airdynes with seats the size of manhole covers??
  9. Why does someone actually use the Schwinn Airdynes with seats the size of manhole covers (while listening to opera)??
  10. And last but not least, why does one person have to monopolize every TV and the one on their elliptical just to watch 6 different news stations all at once??

I could go on probably indefinitely, but my 30 minutes were up. That was enough inside working out for one week for me! The hip is also feeling better, so I'm hoping to continue outdoor running at least for now. Working out indoors is definitely going to take some slow adjustment time.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Grand Rapids Marathon, October 19, 2008

Prerace photo. I've got on the Shirt that Races, and my number. Post-race in the Shirt that Races, my medal, and number.

The Shirt that Races with Race Director Don Kern.

Neil Sauder, doing the marathon on stilts to raise awareness for United Cerebral Palsy (he has CB and actually cannot walk without braces/crutches).

Race day, the weather was about 40 degrees, more than 10 degrees warmer than last year. The Shirt that Races went over another long sleeve wickaway shirt, but I do not like being cold so also had to wear my vest over both. Jan and I decided it was too warm for headbands, so I came up with a bandana and folded that down so I could still cover my ears. I'd had some sinus problems all week and I didn't want the stabbing ear pain I'd had for a few days. I also wore my Grand Rapids Marathon hat and gloves.

Jan picked me up from the gym at 7:20 and her dear husband drove us the mile or so to the race site. We had met up with Chiarunner at the expo the day before, and she had said she was going to walk to the start from home. I was worried more about her having to walk home after the race, so I was surprised to run into her within a few minutes of lining up. She said she had driven, which was a smart move. Its one thing to run 26.2 miles in one day, but quite another to have to walk another 2 or more after!

The Grand Rapids Marathon has celebrity pace teams, and Chia decided she was going to try to stick with the Al Gore team, running 4:58. Those pacers are great. They are so right on with their timing its unbelievable. And when the race started, off she went with her group. Jan and I had decided to run 8, walk 2, a little more aggressive for Jan than she had planned, but I really wanted to do better than last year and also didn't want to be out there longer than I had to. My hip had started really bothering me on Thursday, going from a sharp ache to a dull one, but still noticeable. And as I had said about the sinus thingy going on all week, Saturday I woke up with my left eye itching so bad I could hardly stand it, and then spent the rest of the day with a dull headache as well and I was exhausted. I had been getting up at 4:30 am all week to get to work early for preparation for a trial that starts today, so I guess it caught up with me on Saturday. I was still feeling fatigued Sunday as well and I had this post nasal drip thing going on to the point where I constantly felt like I had a clogged throat. So all in all, I wasn't feeling that great but we were here and we were going to run.

The race started at 8 am, and sunrise was at 8:01, so by the time we actually crossed the start line, it was finally getting light enough out to see where we were going. I had been comfortably warm at the start of the race while Jan was cold, but now my fingers were almost numb with cold. Fortunately that didn't last too long. But I did have to go to the bathroom, something we had been unable to do before because the lines were so long. We passed the first portajohn and I thought it was occupied but realized too late it wasn't or I could have ducked in and out quickly and been on our way. Instead, I was forced to stop at the second one, and there was a line there, eating up about 3 minutes extra of time. I knew I wouldn't make it the whole way without having to stop, so it was a necessity. It was here too that I first noticed my hip was aching if I stopped, but I said nothing. I didn't want to think about that right now and was hoping for the best the rest of the race.

Because of this stop, we altered our walk breaks to catch up the lost time. I'm not sure whether that was a smart move or not because at this point we were approaching the only hills on the course, from miles 3 through 5.5. I had brought my own water bottle this time so I kept going at the water stops, but Jan stopped, walked through, and ran to catch up with me. By the time we were in the hills, I was realizing I was not having a good breathing day. Not my chest, but through my nose. It was dripping so bad I had to constantly blow my nose, so by the end of the race, my nose was bright red and almost raw. But we still were doing okay with our time, coming close to our predicted mile pace give or take 30 seconds each time. You enter the park at 6 miles and hit 7 miles before leaving it, because they have you wind along and around the paths. Its probably the most scenic area of the whole race route. Here they gave out gummy bears instead of Gu or something else. Just another nice touch about the race.

Once we left the park, we came across another woman from work, and she had started her walking. She had said she was only going to run 6 or 7 miles and walk the rest. Still, we were surprised she was so far ahead of us during the first half of the race. We weren't that slow, and we constantly played catch up with a younger woman who seemed to be doing run 5, walk 1--first she'd pass us on our walk break, then we'd pass her on hers. This went on until we reached the turnoff point for the marathon. But we did come across 3 or 4 other groups doing the same thing: first we'd pass them on their walk breaks, then they would pass us on ours. We were all together until mile 10 when things started falling apart for me somewhat.

My legs actually felt okay on the run intervals, but my hip ached on the walking. Still I said nothing, but it was obvious I was holding Jan back and I felt bad about that. I told her this repeatedly, but she kept saying don't worry about it. But I did! Shortly after 10 miles, the first marathoner was coming through. This was almost a mile sooner than last year's winner, but I still had no concept of what his time would be.

Miles 10-12 were a real struggle, both mentally and physically now. Jan tried to talk me through it and was talking about this and that, but it just wasn't helping. I knew we would not make our goal time now and really didn't care almost, but like I said, I felt bad for holding her back. Now our walk breaks were becoming more frequent, but I was having trouble focusing mainly. By the time we got to 12 miles I was so relieved to know it would be over soon! And for the next 1/2 mile or so, there were cones, so I suggested to Jan that we run 10, walk 1, which actually stretched to walk 2, but it got me through that part of it by giving me something to focus on other than my own discomfort.

After that, it was light post to light post. I could not catch my breath for more than a minute or two, and I felt bad here again, knowing Jan could do better without me. Finally I told her, you just go, I'll be alright. She was reluctant to leave me, but I could tell she wanted to keep going. So she trudged on ahead, and I continued sprinting almost to one light pole, and walking to the next, right up to the last 200 yards, where I picked up the pace and headed to the finish line. It actually felt good to be running fast, and think it helped. I think Jan was surprised too that I was almost right behind her when she finished! We both ended up with almost the same time: 2:44:43 for me and 2:44:40 for her.

A funny thing about Jan though. She had originally signed up for the marathon but deferred down to the half because of her collarbone. But they didn't change her number, so she still had a marathon number. We talked about the fact that when she finished someone was going to think she was the first woman marathoner, and sure enough! The TV cameras were there rolling and people were clapping and whistling as she came down the finish chute. I actually heard someone say, "it couldn't have been the first woman or she would have stood out more," meaning obviously she would have more fanfare approaching the finish line. The race director even asked her, "did you do the marathon?" We had a good laugh over that, and I think that made her day.

So the Shirt that Races made it through its innaugural run on a bright, sunny, crisp autumn day in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Who is wearing it next??

Sunday, October 19, 2008

THE SHIRT THAT RACES--Grand Rapids Marathon, Oct. 19, 2008--Short Version

The shirt and I finished! A couple of minutes faster than last year. Woo hoo! Faster than Toronto too. Woo hoo! Thanks to Jan. Unofficial: 2:44:48. More later. Sore hip now.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Its here! It arrived in the mail yesterday! NikeMom came up with the idea to wear the shirt in a race and then pass it on to someone else.

Here are the rules:

Shirt that Races Official Guidelines:
  1. Shirt must be worn in an official race [i.e. 5-k, 10-k, half marathon, maraton, etc.].
  2. Picture must be taken with the official race bib pinned on the Shirt That Races.
  3. Shirt can be worn by any participating female or male [if they dare].
  4. Shirt must be washed before mailing to the next runner (this goes without saying!).
  5. Runner must create a race report including a picture of their race in the Shirt That Races.
  6. Shirt That Races must run in every state, including Canada.
  7. Race info must be recorded permanently on the Shirt That Races. [use fabric ink/marker, permanent marker, etc.].

And, since it fits into the color scheme of my running ensemble anyway, I thought why not??

Anyway, this is just the prerace picture of the shirt (lifted from NikeMom's website). The innaugural run will be this Sunday, October 19, 2008, at the Grand Rapids Marathon/Half Marathon, where once again I'll be running the half. Stay tuned for a race report and photos of the Shirt that Races!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


you never want to end. The weather was so perfect, it was unbelievable.

It all started with running a little 10k race Saturday with Jan. Jan had decided after the Toronto half, with the prospect of the GR half coming up, that maybe she would practice more running while wearing her sling, to see how much she could do. She's got about 10 more days with the sling. We did a practice "run" on Tuesday, putting in about 5 miles, using different run/walk ratios starting with 6 min. of running with 4 walking, ending with 8 running, 2 walking. She did pretty well and we decided to see what we could do at the race. I couldn't help notice though that her running intervals were somewhat faster than mine, so it would be a challenge, I knew, keeping up with her, despite her handicap. And then there has been my back problem lately. I thought I would start up with yoga and pilates to get some more intense stretching back in my routine, and wouldn't you know it, I strained it again at Thursday's class! So I was glad we were going to be taking it "easy" at Saturday's race.

Saturday morning turned out to be perfect weather for running--upper 50s, slightly breezy, and sunny. Couldn't beat that. We decided to start in the back, but then realized it wasn't a chip start so we hustled over the start line and started our run/walk. I was more than ready to walk when we hit the first hill, but Jan decided she felt okay to keep running, so we crested the hill and were on the downside before we did our first walk. I realized my mouth was very dry but realized there would be a water stop at the first turnaround. Before I knew it or was ready, we were off for the second run interval. Jan was starting to half joke about being at the back of the pack, but again, I couldn't help but think I'd be there anyway without the walk breaks.

But we did hit the first mile under 12 min., so we were still well within the time frame I had predicted for us. Before we even hit mile two, however, the first place 10k runner was coming through. We were headed over one of the bridges we would cross in the race, and there were a lot of walkers and very slow runners here. We picked our way through and headed to mile 3. Most of this race is along the river, on a route I take frequently, so it all was very familiar to me. But, when we came off the river path and headed out to the street, crossing another bridge over the river, it wasn't as obvious where we were going. We finally saw the chalk lines ahead but realized no one was in front of us any more and only one woman was behind us. Oh well, we never said we'd be fast.

By now my mouth was very dry and I had had only a tiny bit of water at the first water stop, not realizing we wouldn't have another until past 4 miles. And I know Jan picked up the pace between miles 3 and 4, so now I was really trying not to gasp or spit dust I was so dry. If the chalk lines had not been down, I'm not sure I would have known exactly where to go. No matter which street we had gone down though would have been the same distance, but they did keep the streets closed the whole time, which was very nice.

When we got by the fish ladder (the dam), there is another narrower path along the river and here we met up with another walking group,with strollers,dogs, and kids on scooters and tricycles, so here again we had to pick our way through this mess and back across the river again. The route is very circuituous, winding one way, then back, across one bridge, and back across it going the other way. But it was all familiar, so easy enough to know how much farther we had. By the time we got to 5 miles, I was extremely happy to be coming to the end of the race though. At this point, the walk breaks were definitely more for me than Jan. She could have easily finished this thing ahead of me, but stayed with me, pacing me through the running portions.

When we hit 6 miles, we picked up the pace, finishing in 1:11:35. Not bad for taking so many walk breaks. And the funny thing was? We both medaled in our age groups! I got second, Jan got third. So almost our worst 10k times ever and we both get a medal. And checking the results, I could have won my age group if I'd done the 5k!

After the race, I again went to another orchard, meeting up with my son and his girlfriend and her child. This is the orchard where I am not kidding there were probably 5,000 people there. Its almost like a circus, with elephant, camel, and pony rides, a petting zoo of tortoises, llamas, donkeys, rabbits, goats, pot belly pigs, and even a flying squirrel. The goats and pigs had no interest in eating the treats you could buy to feed them. Instead, the goats were chewing and licking on the side of the barn, and the pigs just rooted around in the dirt. They did have a corn maze, pumpkin patch, apple picking, and a huge assortment of other activities, but after about 3 hours of walking through the dusty fields in the very warm temperatures, with bees swarming everywhere, and the baby squawking almost the whole time, I had had enough and we all left to go home, with me vowing to never go there again. Its a nice place, but its not something I feel I need to do again in my lifetime!

Sunday's weather was 85 degrees, and a perfect day to go for a long bike ride. Don and I rode 31 miles, taking in all the changing colors, and listening to the chorus of all the insects in the trees and fields, most likely singing their last songs of the season. Even if we get more nice days, its unlikely we'll have this warm of weather.

After, we again went to the farm market. They still had a huge abundance of tomatoes, corn, peppers, pears, apples, etc. I wish I had found this place earlier in the season! And much more reasonably priced than the grocery store or even our city farm market (where if you didn't know, they jack the prices way up) (I got 6 years of corn, a 1/2 peck of HoneyCrisp apples, a dozen pears, 3 large tomatoes, a cabbage, and a half gallon of cider for $14). A nice color tour to the country, and you've got a great farm market with great quality produce. Then it was back home in time to spend some relaxing time on the sun porch reading.

Hope everyone had great weekends too! Congrats to all who ran marathons this weekend!

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Too much, that is. With the stock market tanking out day after day it seems, I'm afraid this will be me one day, working well into old age, to make up for the losses I (and everyone else) is facing. One more reason to keep up with the running, pushups, core work, etc. to (hopefully) live a long and healthy life. I don't want to have to go through old age and be dependent on anyone. I have a feeling I'm going to be working a loooong time.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A YEARLY TRADITION.Going to the apple orchard, that is. Its hard to believe its that time of year again! Apples, pumpkins, donuts, cider--a day out in the country.
This place is about our favorite, although there are dozens of orchards around. This particular one is busy, but not so over crowded that all you do is walk elbow to elbow with hundreds of others, like a few other places we've been. Each place has its own unique activites and specialties, but they all seem to have the best apples, cider, and donuts.

Every year, there is a batch of kittens. I don't know where they go once they are grown, but they are always in abundance.
And of course, each year they have new ducklings. So cute!

And then there were the baby goats this year. Also very cute as they frolicked around, begging for treats.

And then there were the rabbits. The kids actually have a rabbit just like this, a Himalayan. You can always tell when cold weather is coming because its nose and ears turn dark. In the summer months, they are almost white or a very pale gray.
And one of those "fun" kid activities--milking the cardboard cow. You can tell he's thrilled.
And no photo op is complete without the farmer and his wife cardboard cutout pic. (Again, thrilled, you can tell.)
Now this looks like fun! A ride around the orchard in the moo train.

Then it was out in the pumpkin patch to find that perfect pumpkin.

And finally, the best part of the day, donuts and cider!

We were also able to buy fresh produce right down the road from there--sweet corn, peaches, tomatoes, green beans, pears, etc. You could also have picked a peck of peppers if you were so inclined, since they had bushels and bushels of every kind of pepper you could imagine! I've never seen that many or that many varieites at one time.

And the best part of this time of year is baking those pies, cobblers, and muffins with all the delicious fresh picked produce. Last night it was a peach cobbler. Yum. Soon it will be apple pies and anything else I can come up with for apples,pears, and plums.

I'm off now to go look for some good recipes.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

WALKING v. RUNNING--Early Morning Walk/Run.

To avoid the dog and pony show and 3-ring circus of one of our presidential "hopefuls" holding a rally that is taking place on the plaza next door to where I work today, I headed to the gym early--5:45 a.m.--to get around the blocked off streets and be sure I got into my parking lot. Before I go on about my day, let me rant first about the necessity of this politician to hold a rally in an open public location--for the masses--so that first, the crowds look huge and second, that it disrupts the whole downtown/financial/business district of this town. People will come after work too so why at 9 am?? Its hard enough getting around all the construction zones in our town from April until November without this added hassle.
Now, to get on with my thoughts on recovery from the half marathon and trying to get my back issue cleared up. And a note on that also: this was a chronic problem from years ago, and I only have occasional (maybe twice a year) flareups. I pretty much felt it coming on with my big numbers month in August and didn't really give myself a chance to recover fully in September, and then with letting the shoes get a little too far gone, I was asking for trouble. I know what I have to do, and it doesn't usually last too long, and its not necessarily a running "injury," just a little overuse.
I got to thinking with Jan being able to walk/run the half marathon and coming out pretty good, why not do a week or two of recovery by walking and running? Yesterday I put that plan to work with very little to no stress on my back, and today was a follow-up.
I had to start very early when it was very dark today, but already due to the rally, the downtown was bustling as early as 6:15 am. Yesterday, I realized while walking I felt more vulnerable in the dark than I do running, and today it was even worse. It was darker longer because I started earlier and there were people everywhere I don't usually see. But I kept to the lighted areas and just had to circle around to get in some mileage. Both days now I have done 3 miles right around 40 minutes, with 8 minutes of walking and 2 of running, and by the time I got to the running, the legs felt good. By the time I got to the 3rd set, the legs felt real good. I was also much colder wearing the same thing as if I were just running.
My only complaint? Waling takes longer than running. Now I know why I started running.