11.30.2008

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.

11.25.2008

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!

11.21.2008

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.

11.19.2008

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...
;)

11.17.2008

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: 

11.15.2008

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!

11.14.2008

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.

11.11.2008

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.

11.08.2008

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

11.06.2008

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

BY SYLVIA DANA

sdana@grandhaventribune.com

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:
www.waldengreen.org

11.05.2008

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.

:D

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! :)

11.04.2008

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.

11.03.2008

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!
:D

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.