Looking on the bright side

I still feel like ass, but it's a good excuse to drink a scotch whiskey hot toddy, right? ;)

Most of today I have felt no better than I did yesterday, but I do seem to be feeling a bit less crappy as the night wears on.  Assuming I get a good night of solid sleep I think I'll feel better tomorrow.  Though it's still a bit doubtful that we'll go out for New Year's Eve, as the party is an hour away...and DH and DS are also still a bit under the weather.

It's also looking like I won't be participating in the New Year's Day race.  Rats.  A friend of mine was ribbing me a bit...she remembered that I am often sick right around New Year's and she is right.  I think last year may well have been the only year in probably the last 5 that didn't find me sick.  I have had everything from colds, flu, sinus infection, and that banner year with the Noro Virus...that was particularly miserable (though I did lose 8#s in 24 hours--unfortunately it didn't stick).

I'll just be happy if I can manage to catch up on sleep in the coming days.  I have horrible dark circles and bags under my eyes.  Last night DH snored incessantly the entire friggin' night.  It didn't matter if he was on his back, side, or stomach...he sawed wood.  I took an Ambien and shoved some earplugs in my ears and still could not get much rest.  If tonite looks like it will play out similarly I think I will hit the sofa.  I don't sleep well not in my own bed, but anything would have to be preferable to sleeping next to the lumber mill.  Of course, our bedroom is right off the living room, so I may not be able to avoid the racket as much as I'd hope.  Perhaps a few more hot toddies...?  Or maybe I should consider setting the air mattress up in DS's room, instead.

This illness garbage has me trying very hard not too look at my piss poor mileage of the past couple of weeks.  Between weather, snow day, holiday, and now illness...ugh.  I managed 20 miles last week, down from maintaining my 30-35 mpw goal.  This week looks like I will not fare much better.  Figures...I register for a marathon and get sick right before starting training.  Thankfully the first couple of weeks of training mileage are actually a bit lower than the mileage I've already been doing, so hopefully I won't be biting off more than I can chew.


My skin hurts!

My muscles are achy, sure...but my friggin' skin hurts!  What's up with that?!  I think/hope I will feel better by tomorrow, though.  Last week's mileage was in the crapper thanks to weather and the Christmas holiday, but this week looks like it will not be much better...stupid virus.  I'm still not sure if I will do the New Year's Day race or not.  Even if I am feeling tons better I will likely have lung issues for at least another week--thanks to asthma.  So I'm going to see how I feel Weds. (NY's Eve) and register then if it seems like I'm making a super-fast recovery.

For a bit DH and I wondered if we might have strep.  Both of us work with awful sore throats and I have sort of a yellowish patch on the back of my throat, but right now my throat feels pretty good, so I'm guessing it's not strep.  Strep should hurt...a LOT from what I'm told.

In super-awesome-exciting-whoohoo news my friend Michelle from PA is registered to run the Bayshore Marathon and might even share a room with the boys and I.  This is gonna be SO fun (I mean, other than the actual race part, particularly the last 6 miles, heh)!  Now I'm trying to pressure other friends to register.  I'm kinda naughty that way... :D


Happy Anniversary!

Today hubby and I "celebrate" 12 years of marital bliss--celebrate in quotes because we both seem to have managed to catch DS's cold.  I'm mostly just achey and tired with a mildly sore throat and icky sinuses, but he's been pretty limp all day.  I thought my lung issues on yesterday's run were due to the heavy air, but now I think the oncoming bug was probably as much to blame.  Whether I run the New Year's Day 6 miler is kind of up in the air, now. Glad I didn't register early.

Good thing we got out last night for a romantic dinner of pizza and a pitcher of beer at the new local smoke-free sports bar (we've loved that place ever since our fun election night festivities with a group of fellow Obama supporters).  After dinner we opted to stay home and watch a movie on our ginormous new 46" LCD TV (Christmas gift from my MIL).  We had planned to go out and look at a new Blu-ray player (or, more likely, a PS3 which can play games and Blu-ray discs and is upgradeable and can be used to watch pay-per-view movies without having to subscribe to digital cable), but the fog was dangerously thick, so we thought better to wait on that.

Today I marked the occasion by registering for the Bayshore Marathon and reserving our room for 2 nights.  2 queen beds and a hotel with a pool and hot tub will be enjoyable.  After running Milwaukee there was no pool in the hotel, so I look forward to floating around post-race at the place we'll be staying at in Traverse City.  It will also be nice to have a room with refrigerator and microwave.  I need to make sure to have a sodium-rich breakfast on race morning.  Jimmy Dean/Sara Lee breakfast sandwiches are probably going to be a perfect choice, since I do well on eggs/bacon sandwiches before races and long runs.  Didn't have that before Milwaukee and could have used the sodium and fat that was lacking in the Clif bar I ate.

I can't say that I have registered for this race without some trepidation, though.  In the past week or so my right knee has been somewhat cranky.  I ran my first 2 runs in my new NB 769 shoes (including a 10 miler--very comfy, well-fitting shoe) with only the stock insole, figuring that they would be stable enough.  But they seem to offer about the same degree of pronation control as my 902s with the Superfeet insoles, so I think I will need to start wearing the Superfeet in the 769s to beef-up the support.  Hopefully this will be the perfect degree of stability, as my next option up the stability ladder is $40 more expensive (and heavier/clunkier) and would still require use of $40 Superfeet insoles.

As far as other planned races for the year...I will do mostly the same selection of races/distances this year as last, with the substitution of the North Country Trail Relay in place of the Fifth-Third Bank Riverbank Run 25k.  I'd love to do that race (especially since I was pretty unhappy with my time last year, thanks to asthma issues), but it would get to be too many high-mileage races in too short a span of time...recipe for major injury just waiting to happen.


In the immortal words of Lili VonSchtupp

I'm tired.

Several nights in a row of not sleeping well/enough, a mere 8 hours of sunshine this entire MONTH (we've already hit a record for cloudy days in one month), and running around like a nut--as is required this time of the year--have me eager to do nothing more strenuous than sit with a warm, purring cat on my lap and stare at the wall.  BUT I have not run for the past 3 days (not by choice, but by obligations)...so I NEED to run...a LONG run.  It's dreary, though...and just warm enough that the snow and ice on the ground should be a very wet, sloppy, slippery mess.  Joy.  10-11 miles in that mess should be really "fun."

I received a really great gift from my MIL yesterday--a 2 month pass to a small 24 hour fitness joint nearby.  Which will be AWESOME for some treadmill running, especially with a friend or two on side-by-side machines.  But I don't think I could tolerate more than 5-6 miles on a "dreadmill," so today's run will still be done outdoors.  The only thing that is gonna stink about this membership is that running in the warm indoors will require shorter bottoms...and more regular shaving of my legs.  *sigh* the only advantage of Winter is being able to go a week or two between de-Yetifiying myself.  Bah.  But the access to the treadmills should mean that I can get my miles in even during particularly brutal weather weeks--all good for marathon training.

Which reminds me, I need to get my registration in for the Bayshore Marathon before the price goes up on New Year's Day.  And, speaking of NYD, I also need to register for that race.  Extended forecast has that day's weather looking better than last year's...which isn't saying much.  Brutal cold and blizzard was not so nice, especially during the stretch along Lake MI with no windbreak.


For my friends in the Upper Midwest

We are already officially the cloudiest Dec. on record (less than 8 hours of sunshine all this month) and we still have a week+ to go 'til January.  We also are at about 65" of snow--average for the ENTIRE season is ~97" here.

Diary of a Demented Snow Shoveler

December 8 -- 6:00 PM 

It started to snow. The first snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It looked like a Grandma Moses print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds again. I love snow! 

December 9 

We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more lovely place in the whole world? Moving here was the best idea I've ever had! Shoveled for the first time in years and felt like a boy again. I did both our driveway and the sidewalks.

This afternoon the snowplow came along and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel again. What a perfect life!

December 12 

The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a disappointment! My neighbor tells me not to worry-we'll definitely have a white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again. I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our neighbor. 

December 14 

Snow, lovely snow! 8 inches last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so. 

December 15 

20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer. Bought snow tires for the wife's car and 2 extra shovels. Stocked the freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska , after all. 

December 16 

Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell. The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel. 

December 17 

Still way below freezing. Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for 5 hours. I had to pile the blankets on to stay warm. Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own livingroom. 

December 20 

Electricity is back on, but had another 14 inches of the damn stuff last night. More shoveling! Took all day. The damn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying.

Called the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower and they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying. Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I think he's lying. 

December 22 

Bob was right about a white Christmas because 13 more inches of the white shit fell today, and it's so cold, it probably won't melt till August. Took me 45 minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel and then I had to piss. By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again. I was too tired to shovel. Tried to hire Bob who has a plow on his truck for the rest of the winter, but he says he's too busy. I think the asshole is lying. 

December 23 

Only 2 inches of snow today. And it warmed up to 0. The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the house this morning. What is she, nuts?!! Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did but I think she's lying. 

December 24 

6 inches - Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a heart attack. If I ever catch the son of a bitch who drives that snow plow, I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and throws snow all over where I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy watching for the damn snowplow. 

December 25 

Merry f---ing Christmas! 20 more inches of the damn slop tonight - Snowed in The idea of shoveling makes my blood boil. God, I hate the snow! Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think she's a fricking idiot. If I have to watch "It's A Wonderful Life" one more time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave. 

December 26 

Still snowed in. Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea. She's really getting on my nerves. 

December 27 

Temperature dropped to -30 and the pipes froze; plumber came after 14 hours of waiting for him, he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes. 

December 28 

Warmed up to above -20. Still snowed in. The BITCH is driving me crazy!!! 

December 29 

10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he think I am? 

December 30 

Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver, and now he is suing me for a million dollars, not only for the beating I gave him, but also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass. The wife went home to her mother. Nine more inches predicted. 

December 31 

I set fire to what's left of the house. No more shoveling. 

January 8 

Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

Not 5 gold rings

Who wants gold jewelry when one can have silver and blue shoes?!

A couple of days ago my new NB 769 shoes arrived from Road Runner Sports.  I've not been a real huge fan of this retailer (their prices are often much higher than the competition, even if one has their VIP membership).  But they were offering 15% off on top of the regular 10% off VIP pricing...and free upgraded shipping, so these nearly  $100 shoes were around $75.

First run was really nice (will have a better idea of their function once I am able to run on dry roads sans YakTrax), though I think NB has sized their shoes up (at least in terms of length--the actual last of their newer shoes is a tad snugger, which I like) a bit in the last year.  These 8Ds fit well with heavy Winter socks, but I think my next pair will be a half-size smaller, perhaps.

The 767 was my favorite shoe for a long time, but eventually I needed more forefoot flex, which they didn't really have--nor did their replacement, the 768.  These new 769s have more and deeper forefoot flex grooves PLUS a softer, lighter weight midsole cushion--similar to my beloved 902s...but with the added rearfoot stability that my knees need.  Perhaps this will end up being my next marathon shoe.

My first run in the new shoes was in the dark the other night.  It was still cold, but not windy...and quite serene.  It's a really unique experience running in the dark when everything is quiet and snowcovered...the Christmas lights on houses are a much prettier sight on-foot, too.  

The only negatives of the run were the few cars that seem perplexed by the reflective, blinky thing on the road...instead of giving me more room they often aim towards me--I think in an effort to try to figure out what I am.  The adolescent boys who sort of followed me around a residential block were a bit annoying, too.  35 year old moms aren't particularly impressed by tweens hooting and hollering "hey sexy baby" (though they could have been adult males and I would not have been any more flattered).  Dorks. :p

Yesterday was a scheduled off day as DH and I worked 2 TSO shows at the arena in Grand Rapids with a few other members of the JDRF ride team.  It was a blast...but I ate WAY too much crap at the stand and during our break between shows.  During break we headed to the Hop Cat bar--one of the top 3 rated bars on BeerAdvocate.com.  Awesome place...I could spend a LOT of time and money there.  In an hour I threw back a chocolate wheat beer, a Belgian raspberry lambic, and a hard cider.  The beer and cider are both MI creations...helping support the economy, ya' know! :D

The drives to and from the arena SUCKED!!!  My car is not a low-rider, but I was scraping the underside of my car much of the way home.  One not-so-nice side effect of our miserable economy is that plowing budgets have been slashed...this is a very bad thing during a Winter that will almost certainly hit some record or near-record snow totals once all is said and done, unless the remainder of the season is easy.  I think we are approaching 6 feet of snow for the season and it's only the 4th day of Winter--average for our area is 97" for the ENTIRE season.  This is especially bad for all the idiot SUV/truck drivers who find themselves in the ditch as they overestimate the ability of their vehicles to drive safely at too-fast-for-conditions speeds.  At least 3/4 of the vehicles we saw in the ditch yesterday were of the 4WD variety.  Tools.

Today I had planned to run 8 miles...but between being tired from arriving home after midnight, then not falling asleep until 2:30am and up 6 hours later...and heavy, wet, sticky snow...eh, just to wiped-out.  Tomorrow will also be no running.  So Friday and Sat. will be days of making up for time off and too much food inhalation.

Take care, everyone.  Have great holiday weekend and enjoy some relaxation time.


Nucking Futs

Aka what I must be...see poll above and ticker at right -->

Yep, apparently 1 marathon wasn't enough to send me to the nuthouse...apparently it will require at least 2 (or am I so completely off my rocker that I'm already in the loony bin and just don't know it...if so, cool!).

A couple of days it occurred to me that I am already planning to maintain 30-35 miles/week all Winter and that the first month of Hal Higdon's Intermediate II training plan is actually FEWER miles/week than this.  And it does not help that several of my close MI running friends are planning to do either the half or the full 'thon...and I don't want to miss out on the fun (peer pressure...ack!).

This will mean not doing the Fifth-Third Bank Riverbank Run 25k 2 weeks earlier, but I have already done that 2x and am ready for something new.  Plus that race has gotten HUGE with the addition of a 10k (in addition to the 5k and 25k).  I don't like big crowds and having to leave home 2 hours before race start to make the hour drive and have enough time to find parking and warm up.

I will still plan on a Fall marathon, as well...right now I'm leaning towards Grand Rapids.  2009 should be the year of hurt...2 marathons, a HM (Old Boys' Brewhouse in Sept), and a brutal trail relay in June.  Now I just need to stay healthier in '09 than I was in much of '08.  Asthma is better controlled and hopefully this year's flu vaccination is more effective than last year's was.

Now the trick is to avoid injury--unlike my first marathon go-round.  I ended up with knee issues that came on about 2 weeks before training started and never fully let up, though using Superfeet orthotic insoles allowed me to run relatively pain-free...but never fully healed.

Speaking of the knee stuff...yesterday I wore my beloved, flashy blue NB 902s for the first time in almost a month (yay for mostly clean roads!).  Unfortunately...I think my days of wearing that shoe for anything longer than 5 miles are numbered.  By about 8.5 miles into my 11 miler my right knee started talking...it hasn't bothered me much in a month.  The rest of last night it was sore, stiff, clunky, heavy feeling.  Ugh.  Guess that last pair waiting to go into rotation should go up on eBay.  Back to a more moderate stability shoe.  I'm hoping the new NB 769 works.  They added an extra row of forefoot flex grooves and are using a midsole foam similar to the 90X series of shoes (lighter-weight, less dense)...so it should be closer to the feel my feet need, but with the beefier medial post that my knee requires.  I wouldn't be surprised if I still need the Superfeet insoles, though.

Today Dane is home...first snow day of the year.  This also extends his holiday break to an extra day.  As soon as I post this I need to get cracking on housework, holiday letter composition, tree decorating, and other random chores.  I'm really thankful that school was called-off, otherwise I'm not sure how I would have accomplished it all.  I would otherwise have done a morning run, headed to a doctor's appt. (which I cancelled) in the afternoon, then picked DS up from school.  Since my doctor and Dane's school are both nearly a half hour south that would have killed my day.  So...instead I am killing my day typety typing and playing on the interwebs...

According to UPS tracking my new 22" LG LCD monitor is out for delivery (thanks to DH's grandma's generous Christmas gift cash).  Great timing.  This dumb CRT beast has been dying on me for months.  I haven't been able to calibrate it, so gave up on doing any real photo gifts for Christmas--just cards.  So long, POS paperweight!

In sad news...we found out late last night that DH's great uncle passed-away earlier this week.  Very sad.  Wes was a truly outstanding human being.  If ever there were a real life Santa Clause, he embodied it.  Not physically--he was always a trim guy--but his personality was always jovial and kind.  He also was a genius woodworker and made some amazing hand-crafted wood items over the years.  He will be greatly missed.


Quel Coincidence!

This is today's quote-of-the-day over there --->
Sunshine is delicious,
Rain is refreshing,
Wind braces us up,
Snow is exhilarating,
There's really no such thing as bad weather,
Only different kinds of good weather.
Today's run took place in -5º windchill (actual air temp was in the low teens).  Brrr...but it was kind of nice to be able to ditch the YakTrax.  It had snowed some and I wasn't sure what the conditions would be on most of the route I took so I wore them...but after a mile yanked them off.  Looks like I may be able to run without the aid of traction devices for the next couple of days, too--yay!  Perhaps I can pull out my beloved NB 902s...lightweight performance shoes sure will be a nice change of pace from the heavy/stiff/clunky trail shoes that I have been stuck wearing for weeks on end.

The endless snowy/cold/gray weather has taken a toll on my motivation, unfortunately.  Saturday a local running buddy and I had a chance to run together for about the first time in a month.  I had been wanting to go 6-7 miles, but after 5 was done.  And that morning it was tempting to cancel altogether.  Not quite sure how I'm going to tolerate an entire Winter of this crap when it's not even technically Winter and I'm already burned-out on the weather.  And laundry...ugh, that is perhaps the worst part.  I feel like all I do is wash load after load of sweaty, smelly layers. :(

It probably doesn't help that I also hit my mileage goal (1500 miles) for the year late last week.  Now anything I run is gravy.  It's easy to feel like I can get lazy...but the scale is reminding me that NOW is not the time to cut back on miles...not when I seem to be ingesting more calories than I burn. :p

We've spent the last couple of days rearranging the house a bit.  Now both computers and a little work station for Dane are all in the same room.  The dining room table is now actually IN the dining room...so the table more-or-less swapped spots with DH's computer area.  This works nicely.  Now I can shoot rubber bands at my hubby's head when he's playing his computer games! ;)

I also put up our Christmas tree with some trepidation.  Last year it was up and 10 minutes later had been disassembled and put back in box.  Baby kitty (Chase, aka green-eyed monster) was about 7 months old and instantly set eyes on said tree as a big, green, illuminated toy.  Today he spent a few minutes making eyes at the tree as a toy, again, but after a few "NO" commands in my most menacing growl he understood that artificial tree ≠ toy.  I have a feeling that we would not be so lucky with a live tree, though.

So looks like we can decorate the tree this time around--yay!  We've also moved the tree from it's traditional place in the living room to the wide doorway between dining area and computer/office area.  The spot in the living room was nice, but right now we use that spot to store my aerobic step and risers...useful for when I decide I want to do a workout that involves the step and for a spot to sit while putting on and taking off shoes.


Ugh, I am BEAT!

I think these snowy runs on top of snowy runs without a clear pavement day are starting to take a toll on my body.  Today's 8 miler really stunk...my legs felt like lead, as did my lungs.  Lungs got better once I acclimated to the cold air, but the legs didn't really improve.  I thought about running the additional 1.8 miles to hit 1500 for the year, but the 8 was a struggle by itself.  Tomorrow I should hit my goal for the year.

I've been trying to get in 35 mile weeks, but am stalling-out in the 30-33 mile range.  This weather is the primary cause.  Running 30 miles on snow feels like 40 miles on dry stuff.  Next week I hope to get 35, but later in the week I have 2 days in a row with stuff going on in the middle of the day.  I may have to get out extra early when it's still the coldest part of the day or after dark--which I really don't care for, since people aren't at all watchful of runners on the side of the road, no matter how much reflective stuff and blinky LED lights I wear (and I have a LOT of this sort of stuff being married to a cycle dude).

Last night I took Dane an hour away to see the Santa at the "big" mall.  We got burned over the years by the local mall Santa...first they had the guy who was later found to be a pedophile, then the grumpy santa (somewhere I have a photo of Dane looking all angelic while "Bad Santa" looks as miserable as can be...I saw the photos of a couple of other friends' kids on this guy's lap.  Same expression in each shot).  The company in Grand Rapids charged the same package prices for their photos and their Santa goes out of his way to play the part.  Apparently now the local Santa and photography is done by the same company (according to one of the women working at the big mall operation), but this may be our last year for Santa.  Next year Dane will be almost 9, so I'm assuming that he won't be "a believer," but maybe he'll stay sweet and naive for one more year.  I hope so.  His best buddy has an older brother and no longer believes--but Dane has decided that Eric is mistaken...for now.

Anyhow, it was really sweet when it was Dane's turn to sit on Santa's lap and share his list.  He was so timid and shy...NOT at all typical Dane.  Santa Claus is the ONE person on the planet who can reduce my outgoing, exuberant kid into a demure, mild-mannered cherub.  I wish I could hire the big guy to hang out on a regular basis and keep Dane in line. ;)

In addition to seeing Santa, Dane got a new pair of shoes.  The kid still REFUSES to learn to tie his shoes and it's one of those battles I'm not picking.  So we found him a pair of NB shoes that use sort of a zig-zag velcro closure.  The night before we'd found a similar pair of Reebok shoes, but they were more expensive (especially since I had a $15 coupon to the NB store in Grand Rapids) and really a crappy shoe...heavy, stiff, plastic-y, and where they did flex was not in the proper place.  The Reeboks flexed under the arch, instead of under the ball of the foot, as they should.

I already warned Dane, however...this will be his LAST pair of shoes that don't tie with standard laces.  He's only lucky that he has tiny feet and can still fit into preschool sizes.  Sheesh...kids these days! :p

Speaking of shoes...I am loving my Gore-Tex trail shoes more and more every day...especially after all this snowy garbage.  They aren't good on the ice we've had or this hard-packed snow, BUT they are good on loose snow (as well as trails) and with YakTrax are the perfect solution to the weather we've had in the past week...warm, dry, good traction.  I am tempted to buy a second pair at the end of the season if they go on clearance, then save them for next year.  I've already logged nearly 80 miles on my current pair and we've still got a solid 3 months when I could foresee wearing them for nearly every run...at a minimum of 120 miles/month I may be retiring them before the end of Winter.

My wind blocker tights are also paying for themselves.  My best friend also has a pair and we both are keeping our eyes open for those to go on clearance.  After nearly 3 years of running I have learned that when one finds perfect shoes and gear one needs to stock-up when these things are discontinued, as the replacements may not be as well-loved.  The only criticism of the tights is that my butt still gets cold when I run with the wind, but the tights would be very inflexible if they used the wind blocker panels on more than just the quads and knees.  To solve the cold booty issue I've been pulling a pair of compression shorts on over the tights for extra warmth.  A running skirt would be an option, too...though I still can't totally get on board with that look.  I love the skirts, but not so much with tights underneath.


Treadmeells...? We don't need no stinkin' treadmeells!!!

(reposted from RunningAHEAD.com)

aka 6 miles of dashing through the snow...

I just got back from one of those runs that reminded me that I am enjoying what all the wimps who wuss-out and resign themselves to endless hours on the dreadmill miss. Just ran in 29º airtemps with 17º windchill and whiteout conditions...it was awesome! I saw only a handfull of cars and one snowmobile (who looked at me in utter disbelief), as well as an old guy leaning on the shovel and watching while his wife pushed the snowblower (I about booted him in the rear...lazy old fart--no wonder we gals outlive the guys).

I also saw the neighbor dachshund (same one that tried to bite me on the calf last Spring, but my compression tights and sizable calves were more than his teeth could apparently get through *rolls eyes*)...he came running out yapping, crossed the street, slammed into me, and continued to bark at me "ferociously." I stopped, yelled at him to stop and go home and told him sternly that the next time he came at me he'd be getting a shoe in his obnoxious f*cking head. Seriously...I was having such an utterly kickass run that he had the nerve to interrupt. He's lucky he didn't take my foot in his yapping windpipe today.

Aside from the dumb canine "attack," this will definitely be one of those runs that sticks with me all Winter...every time I try to come up with excuses to stay indoors I'll call this one up to get me out the door. :D
I am still pretty bummed that the 5k prediction trail race scheduled tonite (on the state park's illuminated XC ski trail) was cancelled was converted to a prediction XC ski race. Bummer. Apparently I'm more hard-core than some... ;)

Bummer...and an interesting piece on running/fitness

Tonite I had planned to take part in a 5k trail "prediction race" (after dark on the illuminated XC ski trails in the nearest state park).  This is an event that I could actually WIN, as the object of the race was not to be the first across the finish line, but to have the closest predicted race finish time and actual finish time.  Participants give the race director their predicted time, then run the race without benefit of pacing device...aka no watches or Garmins.  I'm generally very good at guesstimating my pace based upon perceived effort, so this is the sort of race that I truly would have a shot at placing in, even if I completely sandbagged the thing.

Anyhow...I just got an e-mail from the race director that said:


Prediction Run has been changed to 

Prediction Cross Country Ski

Damn.  We have all this it's-not-even-Winter-what's-up-with-all-this-damned-snow to thank! :(

So I guess I will be doing 5-6 miles this afternoon, instead.


A poster on RunningAHEAD.com posted a link to the following article from MSN.  Interesting stuff.  Nothing too surprising to me, but the sort of thing that non-runners with apprehension towards the sport due to high-profile news stories surrounding marathon-related deaths could really benefit from reading.

I'm adding some commentary to the parts that struck me as interesting or relative to my own experiences since I started running almost 3 years ago.  The entire article can be found by clicking below:

Grave Concerns
Amby Burfoot, Runner's World:

Last fall was a tough time for those of us who believe running makes us healthier. The day after Shay's death, Matthew Hardy, 50, died of an apparent heart attack an hour or two after finishing the ING New York City Marathon in 4:48:21. A month earlier, Chad Schieber, 35, who'd been diagnosed with a heart defect (mitral-valve prolapse), had died in the unusually hot Chicago Marathon. These stories often get more attention than those of the race winners. And they always raise the question: If running is so damn healthy, why do runners keep dropping dead in their tracks? Statistically speaking, a handful of runners will die in a marathon this year—the vast majority from heart attacks (the others from heatstroke or hyponatremia). Is running—as the alarmists and cynics often suggest—a dangerous activity?

We've discussed this issue at length on Running AHEAD.  So far I have not run into non-runners who have tried to use these cases as "proof" that running is inherently dangerous.  I think most non-runners realize that these deaths are still rare and are only so high-profile BECAUSE they are unexpected in an otherwise healthy pursuit.  Sort of the "exceptions that make the rule" sort of scenarios.

Reams of research have shown that excess body fat increases mortality rates, but Blair is banking on his morning runs to protect him. His own findings offer much hope. Evidence from the ACLS indicates that the fit-but-fat are nearly as healthy as the fit-of-normal-weight. In other words, regular exercise offsets many of the dangers of being overweight. For that reason, Blair believes American public-health leaders should stop screeching from the rooftops about obesity and instead switch their message to the benefits of exercise. "When you look at me, you can tell I'm surprised and delighted by the fit-fat finding," says Blair. "But the point is, we're losing the obesity battle. So let's try something else. Let's focus on fitness."

I could not agree with this more.  My BMI hovers just barely below "overweight" for my height and build and has pretty much ever since I started running (I should be "eating to run," but I tend to "run to eat"--and too much...oops), yet my most recent bloodwork #s suggest a near elite athlete:
Cholesterol: 154
HDL: 70
LDL: 77
Triglycerides: 36
BP is generally ~ 100-110/60.  I often see stars if I stand up too fast.

My PCPs eyes nearly bugged-out when he looked at my #s, particularly my HDL/LDL ratio and my triglycerides.  On the outside I am a chubby mom, but on the inside I am a (slow) running machine.  Just imagine if I actually ate a truly "healthy" diet and dropped the 20#s that I need to to be at my ideal "skinny" weight of 126 (on my 5'3.5" muscular/stocky frame).

This doesn't discourage Williams. In one 1997 study of 8,283 male runners, he compared those running more than 50 miles a week with those running less than 10. The high-mileage guys were 2.5 times as likely to have heart-protective levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol, and 50 percent less likely to suffer from high blood pressure. Just six months ago in the Journal of Hypertension, Williams updated his information on running mileage and high blood pressure, now using data from more than 24,000 male runners. He looked at runners doing more than 25 miles a week versus those doing less than five. Depending on age, the higher-mileage runners had a 57 to 80 percent lower rate of high blood pressure, a major contributor to disease and death.

Yep. See my #s above. I have never had "high" blood pressure, but pre-running it was closer to the standard 120/80.

In Thompson's classic 1982 study of runners' heart-attack deaths in the state of Rhode Island, he found that a runner's relative risk of dying during a workout was about seven times that of dying in front of the TV. It amounted to one death for every 396,000 hours of running, almost exactly the same rate found decades later in several marathon studies. This doesn't mean that running caused the deaths. It would be more accurate to say that artery disease caused the deaths, and running was merely the trigger. Here's why: Another Rhode Island study showed that the blizzard of February 1978 touched off a mini-epidemic of snow-shoveling deaths. A week later, however, heart-attack deaths dropped below normal levels. In other words, after all the people with advanced artery disease had died, there were few diseased hearts left.

That last bit...wow. Kinda grisly, but it makes sense. Sort of a "survival of the fittest" thing with the weakest having already being picked-off by the predatory heart-disease + bad weather beast. Every Winter we hear stories here in the Great White North of "grabbers" taking shovelers right in their own driveways. It's not the act of shoveling that kills these individuals, but existing heart disease due to genetics and/or lack of physical fitness. Shoveling is not a dangerous activity to a healthy individual any more than running is to someone who is healthy. But no matter how fit one looks on the outside, if their heart is weakened by inactivity or genetics they are at risk of death. Running and other physical activity merely helps to remove the one risk factor we have within our control.

This can happen even to fit runners with low cholesterol who've passed a stress test in the last 48 hours. Still, the occasional exercise death doesn't change the advice for healthy living. "If you want to live a long, vigorous life, you should do an hour of moderate exercise a day," says Thompson."If your only goal is to survive the next hour of your life, you should get into bed—alone."

Boy...ain't that the truth!? :D


We're Baaaack!!!

Actually got back a bit before 10pm last night. We had a really nice stay at my brother's place. Dane enjoyed spending time with his cousins and he and Damon REALLY liked playing violent video games with Uncle Grant. ;)
Was mostly a quiet holiday...had turkey and fixins, sat around, drank some beer and wine, ate some more, Grant and I ran some miles, more food.

Getting TO my brother's place was interesting. Traffic was smooth and fast until we got near the city, then it was a stop-and-go mess for the rest of the way. Eventually we hopped over to Algonquin Road to drive the rest of the way to his place. Stoplights are faster than dealing with the parking lot on the toll-way. Plus, why pay toll to not get there any faster? Next time we do this trip over Thanksgiving I think we would head out as soon as Dane gets out of school on Tues., instead of waiting to travel on Weds.

On the way out yesterday we made a stop at my brother's girlfriend's dad's place (heh, that's not as confusing as it sounds). What a nice guy and what an AMAZING house so close to downtown. I also discovered that he is just a few blocks from the Chicago New Balance store--oh, I would be in such big trouble living there! :D
At his house we had a nice late lunch of fresh bagels and leftover turkey. We hung out in the big kitchen for a while chatting, then Dane and Derek and I left to head back to MI. My folks and my brother were joining his GF's sister and dad for dinner.

Today I managed a decent 5 miler. My 2 runs in IL were pretty miserable. I think because when I run from my brother's house there's no warm-up walk and I am used to walking a few blocks to get the blood flowing before starting to actually run. My lungs have also been kinda cranky for a few weeks. I have learned with this asthma business that even the mildest of chest colds can pretty much kill my lung function for a minimum of 2 weeks, regardless of how I feel just sitting around. Running in the cold doesn't work well.

Tonite and into tomorrow we are under a blizzard warning. Hopefully I can still manage some sort of run tomorrow. It will depend a great deal on whether or not DS has a snow day.


Nothing blog-worthy, really

Some unexciting runs in a really easy holiday/scale-back week. Tomorrow we drive to Chi-town to hang at my brother's place for the weekend...too much food, cheese, booze (a little bit of running with my brother to help put a dent in some of the bacchanalian calorie overload). Should be fun.

Be safe and have a great Thanksgiving holiday, everyone!


A Running First on the 21st

Just yesterday I was telling a friend that in 2.5+ years of running I have yet to fall. Apparently I forgot to knock on wood, as a half-mile into today's run I slipped on an icy spot of sidewalk on a hill and down-I-went. Landed lightly on my right knee and popped back up.

The run itself was FAR more painful than the minor tumble. I chose to hit the paved rail trail instead of the icy/slushy streets, but after almost 2 miles of trudging in 6" of snow had to stop and walk and ended up changing my route to the street. I also cut 2 miles from my run, as I was making poor time and was in a bit of a crunch to get back, shower, and head down to pick up DS from school. So my 8 miler became a 6 mile run/walk.

I am happy to find that my Gore-Tex NB trail shoes do REALLY well in snow (awful on ice, as I found out...heh) and keep my feet very warm and dry. I think on days when the roads are very snowy and/or slushy with no ice that I won't even bother with YakTrax. Though I think today would have been a good day for them...snow, ice, minimal clear pavement.

Tomorrow I will do ~5 miles of trails with Heather (assuming the snow isn't a foot deep back in the park...perhaps the XC ski trails will be packed down a bit, already, then that might work OK), then in the evening we have plans to spend the night with a bunch of crazy JDRF peeps and their families at a lodge affair of some sort about an hour away. Should be a lot of fun.

Sunday is house cleaning day before my MIL is in town for the holiday and before we head out of town (it needs it, anyhow, so that's a convenient excuse to actually do it). Tonite I am enjoying an Oberon or two. DH managed to find a 6 pack...they stop distrubuting it after October and don't start back up until April or May, so it's a really welcome find. Tastes like Summer in a bottle.


Ho Hum Humpday

Not much to report.  Did my long run for the week yesterday...I got to run with the county plows. It was that annoying situation of ice here, snow there, bare pavement in patches. The worst stuff...do I wear my trail shoes--great on snow, not so great on pavement, horrible on ice...do I wear my road shoes--great on roads, OK on snow, horrible on ice...or do I wear my YakTrax on either pair--great on snow, great on ice, horrible on bare pavement (which will also ruin them). Decisions, decisions...

I ended up going with my trusty, comfiest road shoes. Worked pretty well. My feet got pretty wet and cold, but I'm not yet sure that I want to do longer distances in the trail shoes. They are just so heavy, clunky, and stiff. Not bad for running actual trails and maybe short runs on snow, but I have a feeling I won't like them for much more than 6-7 miles at a pop.

Speaking of snow...DH put on my snow tires last night. Man, it seems WAY too early this year. I am not ready. And the forecast in the next couple of days is for gray, cold, and windy...windchills in the teens. I HATE that. Though I think we did discover why my car was doing that whu-whu-whu-whu thing that would disappear at faster speeds. We figured it was a warped disc or maybe a stuck caliper, but it's pretty apparent that the front passenger side tire must have worn funkily. Time to replace the tires, which we planned to do come Spring, anyhow.

Today I had my my tattoo finished. I still want to post pics of the "befores" with just the black portions, but the dumb memory card doesn't seem to be agreeing with my card reader, so I'm going to have to have DH get my pics off the card and e-mail them to me or something. PITA. The color looks really nice. It's already doing that weird "puffy paint" thing and weeping quite a bit. By this time next week it should be itchy and peeling. Maybe in a week or two after that I can take "after" pics.

Today the roofers also finished with our roof...for the most part. I think there maybe are a couple of small things they are coming back tomorrow to complete, but other than that it's about done. Looks nice. Gray shingles...I think the old ones were black and kind of harsh looking. Our siding is gray, too. I kind of like the mono-chromatic effect.

Tomorrow I am doing lunch with a friend (*waves at Nicole*). Haven't had the opportunity to chat with her in a long time. This will be fun. Before lunch I need to get out and run 5-6 miles...so that I can replace those calories at lunch...


Kirsten is really flippin' annoyed...and it's only Monday

#1: DS (7.5, in 2nd grade) faked being sick for the first time ever.  Yes, he does have a cold/cough.  No, he's not sick enough to warrant being home.  He is well enough to ram around the house, disobey, not nap, harass the cats, play with the Wii, make messes, but not pick them up, chatter endlessly....  Guess who is grounded for the rest of the week from said Wii, TV, and computer?

#2: Our dryer is broke-down.  We think it's the timer.  Of course, it's 2 years old, so the warranty is probably outdated by a year.  So I can do the wash, but not dry it.

#3: It is snowing.  This is not such a big deal, but my snow tires are not yet on my car...my car is nearly worthless without the snow tires in the Winter.  It's like 2 different vehicles depending upon which set of wheels/tires are on it.  The stock tires are low-tread, wide, low-profile borderline performance ones.  They SUCK on snow.  I can't even get my car moving starting in 3rd gear, sometimes.  Stopping is impossible, turning dangerous.  If the appropriate tires for the weather were on the car I would have driven DS the 30 minutes to school hours ago.  It would be gas money well-spent.

#4: I need to go to the laundromat to dry clothes...with the terror-mobile and the terror-child.

#5: I still need to run my 5 miler.  In the dark, most likely (I'd be doing it right now if a certain miscreant weren't at home when he should be at school).  And it is cold...and snowing...and blowing.  Gah, I HATE Michigan. 

At least I can post one un-annoying thing...a photo from Saturday's race.  That's me, Heather, and Mary: 


Run with the Cougar, aka Hoffmaster Trail Race, aka .90 mile less than advertised, but it's all good...

Race-Report--as posted on RunningAHEAD.com:

As of 10AM (well, 10:05, but who's counting...?) I am no longer a trail virgin--woot!

This race was named thusly after several reliable sources had spotted a cougar/mountain lion/puma within the park bounds and near the park a few years back. Mountain Lions aren't common in lower Michigan, but they aren't non-existent, either. So this was a race where it was good to be a mid-packer--or at least not first or last.

No big kitties spotted, but at least 100 runners showed up for this race that very nearly went extinct. Hopefully today's run removes it from the endangered species/threatened list. It was super fun!

At one time the race had been a full 10k, but a particularly brutal stretch with ravines on either side of the trail, slippery wood steps (especially with all of the wet leaves this time of the year), and tons of roots obscured by heavy leaf cover had organizers cut it down to 5.2 miles (last time they ran it as a full 10k a woman broke her ankle), which is what it was billed as. I wouldn't mind the full distance, since risks are part of the game and why we sign the release...but, whatever.

In actuality today's course was 4.3 miles. Had I known this going in I would have pushed myself harder, particularly on the 1.25 miles of beach approaching the finish. But I thought I had almost an additional mile remaining after running up the dune off the beach, so I took it too easy. A guy at the top of the steps off of the beach said "hey, finish strong...you're almost there--the finish is just over that rise." I was thinking "yeah, sure...I bet you say that to all the girls." But he wasn't kidding. It was literally like 1/10 of a mile after exiting the beach. I was kinda annoyed, but it was a fun race and next year I will have a better idea of what to expect, assuming they keep the course as-is.

That beach section was pretty boring, really. But it was very scenic and dramatic coming down the dune onto the beach. Lake MI looks very moody on a windy Nov. day. Gray sky contrasted with whitecaps. One had the choice of running on loose sand (difficult, but feet stay dry) or packed, wet sand at the shore (easier, but risk of getting nailed by a wave). I chose the waterline option. I did get doused good at least 3x, but it was part of the fun. My Gore-Tex trail shoes are excellent on loose sand, leaves, and muddy stuff on the trails, but once those waves went over my feet they still got wet. Not too cold, though.

I still posted a better pace than I had anticipated (still waiting on official results). Heather73 and I ran the trails last weekend at an easy pace of about 13mm. I figured 11:30 would be a reasonable race pace, but my actual pace was closer to 11:10, even holding back a bit. This race definitely attracts a fast crowd, though. Heather and I brought up the rear of our 35-39AG, 11 and 10, respectively...out of 11 (at least when she checked the results board). During most road races I finish almost exactly middle for AG and overall field (unless I have a major crash-and-burn race).

An added bonus...the husband and wife who will be joining Heather73, PoQ, backroadrunner and I for our trail relay this coming June were there. That was a pleasant surprise. And Mary/hopeful4ever ended up deciding to do the race at the last minute, too. We compared our new marathon tattoos.

So...to make a long story short--I am completely and utterly hooked on this trail running thing. And tonite's post-race celebratin' will include Heather and I enjoying beer and bluegrass while wearing our race Ts!


T-minus 11 Hours

11 hours before the gun goes off for my first trail race.  11 seems to be the magic number of the week.  Hey, I'd be happy to pull off 11 minute miles on that trail race tomorrow, too.  During last weekend's run in the same park Heather and I logged an average pace of 13mm, so 11 sounds good, though 11.5-12 is probably more likely.  1.5 miles of that 5.2 mile course are on the beach, into relatively high winds...with rain and temps in the upper 30s (windchill predicted to be about 30º)...brrr....  

I'm not really all that concerned about pace, though.  Trail racing already seems to be so much more laid-back than road-racing.  It's not like anyone can claim a PR for the distance, since the terrain adds such a handicap.  I think this is the first time that I have been pretty non-stressed the night before a race.  Perhaps that's a side-effect of my last race having been a marathon, too.  At this point I think only an ultra or trail marathon would be giving me butterflies.  Everything less than the marathon distance just doesn't seem all that daunting anymore. 

My last 2 training runs were absolutely shiteous (™Perez Hilton).  2 days ago I decided to dig out my lightweight neutral shoes and try them with my Superfeet insoles.  Ow.  Hurt all 4 miles.  Today my 3 was not much better.  For some reason my calves were REALLY tight and sore.  Probably some residual owies from my run with the neutral shoes.  Hopefully my legs feel a bit less cranky tomorrow.  Oh, well, there will be beer tomorrow night regardless.

Heather and I (my trail-diva-in-the-making friend...tomorrow is her first trail race, as well) are going to do dinner and beer before heading to see the Greensky Bluegrass band play at a little theater in town.


11 on 11/11 @ 11:11

Well, 11.09, actually.  I'm kicking myself for not having run a few extra feet to get that extra .02 to bring my run mileage to 11.11 miles. 

But the pace thing cracked me up.  It wasn't until I plugged my Garmin Forerunner into Motion Based that I realized that my pace was right-on 11:11/average for the entire 11 miles.  Too funny.

I kind of procrastinated on getting this run in at all.  The forecast for days showed today as a "mostly sunny" day.  Yeah...I have lived in the Midwest all my life and MI for the past 15+.  I should know better than to trust any forecast.  We "predict" the weather by walking outside.  The old "don't like the weather, wait 10 minutes" thing is really no joke.

At least today was just dreary, but dry.  Tonite it is raining and this weather is predicted to continue through most of the week, including for trail race day.  Oh, well...Heather and I ran our last "practice run" in exactly the sort of weather we are likely to get on race day.

I must say, though...the dreariness is already getting to me.  It's been day after day of cloudy weather for the better part of a week.  I'm not sure how I'm going to survive the next 4-5 months.  I hope someday we can retire somewhere sunny.  I don't even care so much about warm, but sunshine is nice.


Lazy Saturday...just the way I likes 'em!

Today's highlight--another fun trail run!  Heather and I met at her place at 11am, then us grubby gals zipped down to the nearest running store in her Mini Cooper.  We were HOT (especially with those heated seats)!  At Running Circles she picked up a new pair of shoes, then we made our way to a McDonald's for a quickie lunch before hitting the trails (in Hoffmaster State Park--same place our trail race takes place in a week).

We set off running at 2pm and 5.32 miles later we decided to do a bit more shopping, at Dick's Sporting Goods and TJ Maxx.  For today's purchases I scored a new pair of Yak Trax (I already have a pair, but they have changed the design somewhat, so I will relegate my old ones to back-ups, since they can wear out sometimes without much warning), some cozy Smartwool socks, a pea green fleece top, and a matching wool blend hat.

Our run went fabulously, as seems to be the norm for our off-road runs.  Why did I never attempt any trail runs prior to this?  Oh, yeah...because I had no one willing to run trails with me prior to meeting Heather.  :)

Today I wore my new New Balance 1110GT trail shoes.  I really like them...don't LOVE them.  Still too stiff for my tastes, but I really bought them for the Gore-Tex uppers, which should be nice come January and February.  I can slap a pair of YakTrax on and my feet will be warm and dry AND have good traction...they'd probably work well for snowshoeing with gaiters, too.  Had to run a little bit on asphalt and those shoes are SO hard, stiff, and kinda slippery.   That extra aggressive tread is not as soft and grippy, since it's designed to dig-in to soft terrain.  They were nice on trails, though (fantastic on the sandy, wet leafy areas we encountered).  I will probably reserve them for the snowiest days and my lightweight 902s for days that have more bare pavement, sans YakTrax.

The highlight of this week (other than the awesome trail workout) was yesterday's 7 miler.  My legs have FINALLY forgiven me for the marathon almost 5 weeks ago.  I had started to wonder if that day would ever come, but yesterday's run was fabulous.  I ran a solid minute/mile faster than I have in over a month and it felt GREAT!  I'm back! :)

Really looking forward to next week's race in the park.  Perhaps I can even finish the 5.2 under an hour.  We ran today's run at a 13:19 pace, if I remember correctly, which was not at all pushing ourselves.  I think that course may be a bit tougher in spots, though.  1.5 miles are on the beach, which could really be brutal, even though it's flat.

After the race we'll head to our respective homes to clean up, then meet up for dinner and beer (probably at the same bar where we watched the election night returns.  I just love a smoke-free social environment like that.  I hope this place succeeds--the last half-dozen businesses in the same space have failed, but the new owners fully renovated the joint and it's really a nice place with good atmosphere, now), then off to see a bluegrass band play at the little local theatre.  I can't wait! :D


I made the newspaper!

Or...my left hand did, at least.  ;)

My disembodied hand is held by that of my DS, the little dude in the foreground.  I can't wait to volunteer for this fundraiser again, next year.

Full article can be found in the Grand Haven Tribune.


Tue, Nov 4, 2008



FERRYSBURG — Walking on sunshine on a warm November day in West Michigan is always a plus — and making a little money at the same time is gold.

About 200 students, staff and parents from Walden Green Montessori School walked almost 5 miles Monday from school and back to raise money to help cover the school's education materials, field trips and expansion of the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school.

Students earned pledges to walk almost two hours from the school on Roosevelt Road to West Spring Lake Road, up Ridge Road, and back to the school. After the walk, students received water bottles and snacked on donuts.

The Walden Green Foundation, a parent organization, has raised $11,000 already this year.

"We're hoping we've reached $15,000 with the walk," said Dr. Kathleen Fox, a Walden Green Foundation parent.

"A hundred percent goes right back into school," she said.

Last year, the foundation purchased a field trip school bus and microscopes for classrooms at Walden Green, a free public charter school.

On the Net:


Excuse me while I whip this out...

One of the classic scenes from what may be the funniest damned movie of all time...I thought it appropriate given the events of the past 24 hours ("life imitating art" -- thank you, Mel Brooks):

Last night was so memorable and historical...a night I hope I remember 'til the day I die.

Derek and Dane and I went to the classy new smoke-free sports bar in town to watch the events of the evening...right next to the Obama office.  We had a fantastic time. My local lefty runner friend joined us. Derek and Dane left around 10pm so that Dane wouldn't lose too much sleep and Heather and I stayed to watch the speeches. 

The bar was FULL of Obama supporters. The restaurant/bar owner and his adult kids are all Obama voters, so when the volunteers who run the Obama office next door asked if they could direct supporters to the bar to watch the events of the evening they were more than happy to have us there. The place has 6 flatscreen TVs and one 106" projection set. All sets were tuned-in to CNN, MSNBC, and the local NBC affiliate (with sound generally set on CNN or MSNBC). Any direction we looked we could see the returns and projections rolling-in...it was excellent.

The Obama office folks brought balloons, a life-size cardboard Barack, and noise-makers. Dane was having the time of his life...he was yawning, but well-behaved and cheerful. Most of the fellow supporters were retirement age with very few results viewers under the age of 50, which surprised us...but Heather and I figured that a lot of people our age have small kids and stayed home for that reason. The other revelers were thrilled to see Dane watching the returns and cheering for Obama. I hope that Dane will always remember last night--the night that will hopefully turn our nation around.

One woman in the bar was familiar to me. She had a son in preschool with Dane the first year. Ian was Dane's buddy and his mom and I were both very upset 4 years ago when Bush was elected for his second term (ie "fool me once..."). She and I were both thrilled to see the outcome of this election.

I wonder how many sleepy kids there are in school today. Dane was very happy this morning when I told him that Obama won. 3 more elections and he can vote, too.

But what a great night...we're especially happy that proposal 2 passed and Michigan can go ahead with embryonic stem cell research.  Hopefully cures for so many horrible diseases won't be too far behind.  Perhaps someday we can get together with our JDRF friends to simply socialize...without that giant elephant in the room.

I also didn't think I'd live to see a minority in office during my lifetime, but here we are.  Last night was perhaps the most historically important night of my life.  A night that will surely be a turning point in race relations and one that can open the door to equality for women and the election of other persons of minority status to positions of respect and power.


What a great day...and even greater night of watching the returns with an animated group of fellow lefties at a new bar in town.  EVERYTHING I voted for passed, right down to the local-level and state proposals.  This is a 180 from the past 8 years.  About damned time.  Inauguration day will be one filled with excitement and promise, instead of a continuation of what we've lived with for the last 2 terms.  Phew! :)


Just VOTE!

I love that photo!

No matter which side of the political aisle you sit on, get out there and vote.  No excuses.  If you don't have someone to watch your kids, bring 'em with.  It's a great thing for our children to witness such an important activity that they will someday have the opportunity to take part in, themselves.

This AM my hubby voted on his way to work and dropping off our son at school.  It was good for Dane to see how the process works for every registered American voter.  4 years ago he was only 3.5 and couldn't appreciate or understand the election, but this time he is interested and comprehends some of it.

I voted this afternoon.  At 3:40 I was voter #769 in our community of ~2k residents...not sure how many of those are registered, but given that there were still more than 4 hours 'til the local polls close and the after-work contingent still to cast their ballots...well, that seems like a pretty good turnout.

Tonite a local like-minded running buddy of mine are going to go hang at the little grass-roots community Obama office to join the party watching the returns roll in.  Or if that's too crowded we'll wander over to the new bar next door to watch the returns on their 106" TV screen.


I would walk 500 miles...

Or at least 4.5.

Today was the walk-a-thon at my son's school. Traditionally they have done an auction to raise money for the school, but it's a lot of work and it's not really something the kids are as able to take part in. Most items are donated by local businesses and families, then the actual auction is an evening adults-only event. Someone wisely came up with the walk-a-thon idea and I think it's a great success. I don't know what kind of money has already been raised, but it's definitely more kid-friendly and I had a BLAST going along with the kids on the walk. It was a gorgeous day and was in the low 60s when we walked--kind of rare weather for early November in MI.

Speaking of fundraisers, I have pretty much wrapped up my own Girls On The Run fundraising from my marathon race a month ago. I raised a total of $1155--$155 over my goal, which is fantastic. I have never before reached my goal, much less exceeded it. A HUGE thanks go out to my generous friends and family. You all are so supportive of my running and my efforts to get young women involved in such a healthy, empowering activity.

After today's walk I grabbed lunch at Taco Bell (hey, it's healthier than my candy/sweets diet of the past few days...how I didn't gain a pound in the past week is beyond me), let my lunch settle in my gut, then went out for an "easy" 5.

I say "easy," since very few of my runs in the past 4 weeks have been truly easy. It's REALLY taking my body a LONG time to recover from that stinkin' race. My best runs in the past month have been my 2 trail runs. I think because all the beautiful distractions of the park, the semi-treacherous footing, and the chatter with my running pal help to distract me from the bodily discomforts. As a result I am REALLY enjoying the trail running and looking forward to more of it. Once the snow flies I may start investigating snowshoes so that I can keep doing some trail "running" in a fashion. There is also a great snowshoe race in the park I've been running in--it's a ton of fun, from what I hear.

I have also registered for my first trail race in less than 2 weeks. It's supposed to be a pretty brutal, hilly course with 1.5 miles on loose sand along the Lake MI beach. I think it's going to be fun...I hope I get filthy!

I also just mailed off my 6 person relay team's registration for the North Country Trail Relay in June. All those months away and I'm already really looking forward to it.


Indian Summer

Thank you, Mother Nature. You kinda scared us there for a few days. Earlier this week we saw snow and below-freezing temperatures, but yesterday was beautiful (though a bit windy) and today we are supposed to get up to around 60º...perfect for the trick-or-treaters in the Nordic North. Some years we've had to put a layer of sweats on Dane underneath his costume, but this year he should be OK in just a single layer as long as he's moving around plenty (which...he always is).

So we have put Winter off for at least a few more days. Awesome. Today I plan to go run in my half-length tights. I would wear a skirt, but my legs are already taking on that Winter pallor and 60 with 13mph breezes is still kinda chilly to have fully bare legs. I've also acclimated back to wearing long pants and jeans, so now having everything below my butt uncovered feels kinda nekkid. Plus there's the "raw bratwurst" look to my legs...amazing how fast my Summer color reverts back to pudgy, pasty sausage-looking flesh. Yech.

Tomorrow I plan to do another trail run in the park with a local running buddy. Last week we did 3 miles, I think this week we will plan on 4. Such a nice change from running on paved roads and paths. No risk of being hit by a car, no stress about pace, just running for pure effort. Great vantage point to view the remaining colorful leaves.

Still feeling pretty beat up post-marathon...I can't believe how long it's taking me to feel back to strong, again. I'm sure the lingering sinus/respiratory garbage is not helping matters. It's been almost 4 weeks since race day and I don't feel as strong now as I had expected. Hopefully that 1 month mark will be magical.



Phew.  Today was my first double-digit long run since my marathon.  As awful as my runs have been since the race I was not sure that I would make it, but it went OK.  Mostly my lungs were still in rough shape from the cold/allergy garbage I've been fighting for 2 weeks.  My legs are still feeling pretty stiff and heavy, too.

Today wasn't a particularly nice day for my return to "long" runs.  It was cold, windy, dreary...with a few of those weird snow "pellets" in the air...the stuff that looks like little balls of styrofoam.  My butt and hooha got a bit cold wearing thermal tights commando, too.  I have got to find a pair of warmer tights (NB makes a new "windblocker" tight, but it's $75--ow) and/or start wearing an additional layer to keep my nether regions warmer.  I have given up on wearing undies, since I have yet to find a style that doesn't have seams that leave bloody welts on my behind.

I am so not ready for Winter running... :(


He shoots, he scores!

Last night I took Dane to his first hockey game while his dad worked a stand at the arena (the JDRF group he is affiliated with is able to operate stands for 10% of the profits during a variety of events at the arena).  Our tickets were free, as Dane received a voucher for 2 tickets when he participated in his kids' bike race back in Sept.

The Grand Rapids Griffins won--6 to 3.  Dane was positively enthralled for the entire 2.5 hour game (including 2 18 minute breaks between periods).  It was cool.  Now he wants to go to a hockey game for his 8th birthday in Feb.  We're thinking that would be a lot of fun.  Let him pick a friend to take out for dinner, then the 7pm game.  We'd likely go see the more local IHL team, the Muskegon Lumberjacks, though.  MUCH cheaper for tickets and much closer to home, too.  Just as much excitement.

Today my new tattoo appears to be just barely starting the flaky peeling process.  Yuck.  In a day or two it should start to itch.  Double yuck.  But by this time next week it should be looking pretty awesome, which is nice.  If it's warm enough on the day of my trail race I think I will have to wear a pair of 3/4 length tights to show it off. :D

Got in a 5 miler today...it pretty much sucked.  My lungs are still shot from that cold/allergy crap.  It's really wearing on me.  My legs are still not anywhere near recovered from the marathon, either.  Sheesh.  Tomorrow I *hope* to do 10 miles, but I'm kinda dreading it.  10 miles used to be a relatively easy run, but right now it seems daunting.  Good runs have been few and far between in the past 3 weeks.


I got inked!

Yesterday I went and got tattoo #3.  My bestest friend came with and got her first one to mark her first marathon.  She had initially planned to get it on her foot, but the artist and I talked her out of that location and having it placed on the outside of her left ankle, instead.  What's the point of getting a pretty tattoo with 26.2 in the design if no one sees it?  Plus foot tattoos tend to fade fast and are more prone to healing issues--especially for a person who is on their feet a lot.  Eryn is co-owner of a restaurant, so between that and running she tends to be on her feet pretty much any time that she's not sleeping.

Eryn's tattoo is beautiful and I think she may have the body art bug, now! *evil grin*  As soon as hers is well-healed I will have to get her to take a pic and send it to me.  I'll also post photos of mine once it is complete and healed, so the "unveiling" will be probably sometime in late Nov.

My tattoo is incomplete at the moment.  My artist (Chrissy at Area 51 Tattoos in Muskegon, MI--she did my "tramp stamp" mother's knot a few years back, too) underestimated the time it would take to do my tattoo, given how many lines there are.  It's not a big tattoo, but it's quite detailed and has a lot of black, which takes a good deal longer than colored areas.  So yesterday she was able to finish the outlines and black areas and I will return the middle of next month for the colored flame areas.

As much as I don't look forward to a second round of healing (going through the pain, weeping skin, peeling, itching, etc.), it's worth it to have a perfect tattoo in the end, and Chrissy does such gorgeous work with such amazing attention to detail.  Plus I was starting to get to that point where the constant discomfort was starting to grate on me--not just the pain of the tattoo, but also my upper body from laying on my stomach with my head on my hands.  My armpits hurt today...weird.

Today my tattoo is not very uncomfortable, but continues to "weep."  I don't recall either of my previous ones doing that, but they were also both on my back and this one is on my lower calf.  I read a few discussions online of similar experiences from other tattooees, so there must just be some difference in how the skin on the legs heals from abrasions.  

The tattoo also looks a little bit like that puffy paint one can use to write on t-shirts, but it has settled-down as the day goes on.  I can already envision how completely amazing this artwork is going to look once the color is added...it already looks like the flames are just licking at the bottom of my left calf muscle, which is kind of appropriate--I have experienced almost that very sensation during some particularly brutal races.

Speaking of brutal...today my friend, Heather, and I did our first trail run in preparation for our first trail race in 3 weeks.  We had an absolute BLAST!!!  We only went 3 miles, but it felt good.  We didn't really pay any attention to pace, though it was hilarious when I'd look down at my Garmin and holler "hey, we're doing a 20 minute mile!"  
(mi )
M Spd
Man, some of those hills in the park are tough.  Steep, narrow, sandy, slippery, wet, littered with slimy roots...awesome.

I really can't wait for that trail relay next June.  Things are really coming together for that and I think the 6 of us are going to have a fantastic time.  In addition to Heather and I, our team will include Eryn, our buddy Mike "Q" and a local running friend and her hubby.  None of us are "fast," but we're all pretty strong, consistent runners.  We won't win, but I'll bet we're not dead last, either.  This all assumes that our team (Team HTFU) gets a spot.  Teams from previous years get first dibs on one of the 50 team spots, so we would go on the new team waiting list.  An previous teams that don't re-up get bumped for any new teams.  Last I heard there was already one new team on the waiting list, so we're not getting organized too early, by any means.  It's a really popular race and it's full pretty much the day registration opens on 4/1.


Oct.: the sado-masochistic month

2.5 weeks ago I brutalized my body by forcing it to endure 26.2 miles in a single morning, tomorrow I go to have tattoo #3 permanently inked on my body.  The tattoo is a MUCH less painful procedure...and faster, too.

By this time tomorrow I will have that sassy-lookin' kitty etched on my lower left calf.  I can't wait!  My last tattoo (I think that was done about 3 years ago) was a mother's knot on my lower back with my son's name and birth date below it.  

My first tattoo was a small purple dolphin and yin-yang symbol on my right shoulder-blade.  That one I had done when I was 19...and really starting to assert my own adult independence.  So each time I've been inked it's marked some significant event or period in my life.  After the marathon I'm not sure what's left.  I have tentative plans to add a pawprint for each subsequent race, eventually building a sort of chain of pawprints around my ankle.

My best friend will also be having a tattoo applied to mark the race we completed.  This will be her first and she plans to have it applied to her left foot, with the # end of things just below the base of her big toe.  I think it's going to look fabulous, though I hear that the foot is about the most painful spot for a tattoo, so I think she may be in for a surprise.

As far as actual runs have gone, I have already run more this week than last, though I skipped out on today's planned 6 miler to get stuff done around the house.  Plus my lungs still don't feel up to snuff and my planned 8 on Tues. was cut back to 7.5, as my body was really whining, so I figured it's better to still take things kind of easy.  Next week I hope to get back to a more standard 30-35 mile training week with 5 days of running.  This week will be 4 runs.  Still hard to believe that 8 miles used to be an easy run.  Now anything in the double-digits sounds daunting.  Everyone says that marathon recovery is serious business, but I had NO idea.  I can't get over how rough it's been getting back into my running groove.

I also didn't want to push myself too much this week, as Saturday I'm planning to get out for my first real trail run.  Eryn (best friend) and Heather will be joining me...we'll probably only do 3-4 miles in a state park nearby.  This is assuming that Eryn can run comfortably with a fresh tattoo on her foot.  It may involve some creative bandaging.

Tomorrow I will plan to do the 6 I would have done today, instead of 4.5.  Then off to the tattoo parlor for my 1pm appt. :D