Mileage catch in Chicago.

There is no marathon on the schedule. Janet and Margaret were sounding the siren for a marathon sign up this fall, but then real life highlighted that getting the mileage done might just be impossible for each of us this year. We didn’t sign up. And, for me, it’s probably a good thing because if you’ve been reading this blog lately, you might have a noticed a theme of me not being able to successfully complete any distance goals that I set. This has been a problem, perhaps simply related to my fitness level, but I just can’t seem to get the breath I need to keep running. I’m responding by backing off huge distance goals and sorting out why I am having so much trouble ramping up mileage.

In the meantime, it’s been a good test to see if I can keep a running schedule in place without the pressure of a race date looming ahead. And, in fact, so far, so good!

For instance, I’m in Chicago for work and my meetings didn’t start until lunchtime. So, I laced up and trotted off to Lake Shore Drive and headed toward the aquarium and museum….

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But when I got down there, I encountered the Chicago 10k runners (I had no idea that was going on!) and there were so many of them, it seemed better to run the opposite direction so I wouldn’t be in their way. So, I ran back toward the Navy Pier, and then around the Art Institute, then back to Grant Park.

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All in all, it turned out to be 7.5 miles, which made me feel pretty good. Especially because it was SO humid!

But, also, I’ve been finding ways to cross train, to take some of the stress off my body from all the running.  Let me just say that paddle boarding may seem fairly passive, especially if you’re used to the the cardio of distance running, but if you’re paddling while balancing with your 50lb bulldog on the board with you, there is definitely a core workout to be had. Just pointing that out…

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So, I don’t know if there will be a race goal this fall – maybe a half marathon, maybe not. But, in the meantime, I’ll catch the mileage when I can and work that core with my sidekick, Stella.

Onward!

Old Port Half Marathon – Not Conquered. Completed.

I care too much about the goals I set for myself. So, even though last week I said that I’d probably skip the Old Port Half Marathon today, I didn’t want to pull a no-show on a race I’d planned for, sort of trained for, and recruited friends for.  And, truth be told, my pulled muscle was feeling a lot better. I figured if I could keep at a slow enough pace to avoid having to take deep breaths, I’d be fine. 🙂

So, last night, my friend, Wendy Harper, came to spend the night at my house since I live nearly an hour closer to the race than she does and the start time was at an early 7 a.m. today. We had a nice evening catching up, early to bed, early to rise this morning, and then left the house at 5:45 a.m. to get to the race (and wrastle up coveted parking spot…)

While I can be committed to my goals, I’m not completely irrational. I knew I wasn’t really ready for the full 13.1 miles and I was prepared to take walking breaks to get through the distance.  (Several years ago, I would have considered walking a complete failure, so I have matured a bit in my thoughts on distance completion – at least when considering my actual fitness level.)

Wendy is super fast, so she was in the first start corral (for the super fast runners.)  I was with everyone else in the second wave corral. I happily found my friend, Margaret, and her sister, Cathy, just before it was our turn to start running.  Here’s a picture of us just before take-off:

(Whitney, Cathy, Margaret, LtoR)

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So, I knew Wendy would finish in plenty of time to cool off, get a snack, and generally relax before I came through. And, since Wendy finished in under 2 hrs, that’s exactly what happened.   I was not so fast. 🙂  So, by mile 9, I could tell I had maxed out my fitness level. Everything from 9-13.1 miles was going to be really tough and extra slow.  And those miles were both of those things, complicated by my first real experience with wheezing.  I don’t know what that was about – I have definitely run with great fatigue before, but the wheezing was new and really just put an end to any sort of productive running effort. Basically, I think my body was saying, “You can try to keep going if you want, but I’m just not going to process your air that quickly, so good luck with that.”

But, I wasn’t too discouraged – I happily ran into Margaret and Cathy around mile 9 (or 10?) Then Cathy took off for a speedy finish and Margaret and I slowly made our way to the finish line with a nice chat along the way.

Once we made it to the finish, I caught up with Wendy (who had camped out by the finish line for some great cheering as Margaret and I made our way to the end.)  I downed a bottle of water, ate a piece of watermelon, and then followed Wendy to the beer tent. (This race was sponsored by Shipyard brewery, so there was, in fact, a beer ‘garden’ for runners after the finish line.)

I’m not usually down for a chilly beer at 9:30 in the morning, but it just happens to be Wendy’s birthday and enjoying a beer refreshment seemed like the just the right thing to do to celebrate friendship, finishing, and a birthday.

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On another note, Janet and Margaret and I were together on Thursday evening and discussed the potential of a fall marathon effort.  It seemed like a good idea on Thursday night. Today was a bit of a reality check.  But, there is still time to get ready so we’re gathering some info. I’ll let you know what we decide.

In the meantime – onward!

Dude, the air is just so thin…

Howdy friends,

As you might remember from my last post, I am scheduled to run the Old Port Half Marathon on July 11 – that’s 6 days from now – and I got my friends Margaret and Wendy to sign up for it, also.  You might also remember that I had a terrible 12 miler 2 weeks ago, my last shot at a long run before the race, given a 7 day trip I had in between.

Well, let me tell you about that trip. I took off for Colorado Springs last weekend for an SSATB board meeting and we stayed at the most luxurious place called The Broadmoor Resort with amazing views of Pike’s peak. After a 4:45 a.m. alarm and three plane rides, I arrived at the resort at 4:30 p.m. – just enough time to lace up and jog around the small lake a couple of times to get a run in before our 6 pm dinner to start the meetings. It was gorgeous, but I could hardly move. A quarter mile felt like a 5k.  I assumed it was the early start + 3 planes. No problem, I thought.  I’ll have a chance to shake it out later.

Fast forward 3 days, no more runs (though some excellent late-night bowling after our meetings!), and I left the Broadmoor to drive out to the Tarryall River Ranch, nestled in the Tarryall Mountains of Pike National Forest, CO.

I arrived at 5pm and was met at the gate by Paula, the ranch manager. She got me to my cabin by 5:10 and on a horse by 5:20. No joke. By 5:45 we were already friends and had ridden our horses up to an incredibly beautiful look-out point. Just a taste of what the week would hold for me. By 6:30, we were back, horses untacked, and we were at the dinner table to meet up with the other guests.

Since this is a running blog, you might be thinking, “just get to the running part already, ok?”  I’m getting there.  But first, I had to settle into the fact that I was vacationing at a dude ranch. I went out on TWO rides on Tuesday – one all morning, then back for lunch, then one all afternoon. Heaven.  I kept thinking, “I have to stop and take a picture,” but then we’d ride another 10 minutes and I’d think, “No, THIS is the spot that needs a photo.” I have a million photos and they are portraits of amazing views.

So, after day one of riding (that’s two rides!), I got back and put  my running shoes on and set off.  Mind you, I was in the mountains. At a very high altitude. I’m not sure how far up the ranch was, but it was of the ‘so-high-up-you-have-to-drink-gallons-of-water-and-gasp-for-air-just-because-you-laughed-a-lot’ kind of altitude.The air was thin. For real.  Running was impossible for me.  I would go about 1/10 of a mile and have to walk. Heave for air. Then start again. It took me about 30 minutes to go two miles. It felt awful.  But, I had my phone strapped to my arm, so I kept stopping for more scenery photos – like this one from that brief run:

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The funny part was that other ranch guests saw me set off on a run after all the rides came in – disappear around the bend – and come back 30 min later. They were all hugely impressed and told me so at dinner. I had to confess to all of them that it only looked like I went running because of my running outfit, and that, in fact, I would run a few steps, stop, lean over to drag air into my lungs, walk, and then try again – over the course of 30 min. Nothing to be too impressed about.

Wednesday was a break from riding and we went white water rafting on the Arkansas River. That was pretty awesome. Evidence below:

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The only downside to this bucket list adventure was that I pulled a muscle in my ribcage – I think when our boat ran into a rock. Or maybe with all the crazy paddling through rapids. Or maybe both together. In any event, I was just a little sore. But I was only half-way through my dream vacation, so I took some Advil back at the ranch. And then I learned how to line-dance (which isn’t really running, but was still cardio!). I woke up more sore than the night before.

Next day was an all day ride – with the most unbelievable views and two river crossings on horseback. Here, we are stopped for lunch:

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On Friday, my last day to ride, we set out and rode a bit harder, requiring a bit more work on my part. The muscle on the right side of my ribcage was tight and sore. I shook it off again.

Here is a view from my last ride:

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Then, after we got back for lunch, I could have rested, but who would want to rest with a nice cup of coffee when the ranch is full of 4th of July celebration shenanigans? I mean, really, how could I resist games like this race seen below? (And, this game is really hard!)

I just couldn’t stop myself from joining in the fun, and every time I did, I made things a little worse for myself. By Friday evening, my ribcage was on fire. I sneezed and it brought a little tear to my eye.  So… all of this to say, I’m having a hard time believing I can kick out 13.1 miles next weekend. I know I’m not really injured in any serious way, but a muscle pull puts a serious hitch in my giddyup.  Plus, my suitcase didn’t hop the 3rd flight home today, so is still somewhere out in the world, but not here with me. And my running shoes are in that bag. So, I can’t even give it a try tomorrow.

On the upside, it’s not hard to trade a hot half-marathon for a week jammed with experiences, ranging from the breathtaking to the thrilling to the absolute whacky, anytime. We’ll see how the week goes and I’ll let you know what happens with the Old Port race.

Onward!

NOTEI have to just give a special shout-out to Paula and Colton who run the Tarryall Ranch.  They are the most amazing hosts and ranchers. They have a top notch wrangler staff who are cheerful, confident, and fun.  Keith, the cook, is an outstanding chef who kept us more than well fed and was blast to hang out with. If you ever want to try a ranch vacation, check this one out:  http://www.tarryallranch.com

Run. Walk. Talk. Repeat.

Well, I have finished all my rabies shots… thanks to being bitten by a dog we can all assume didn’t have rabies, but since I couldn’t prove it… I got the gift of 10 shots. Those are done, though, so if I get bitten by *any* animal, I will not contract rabies. I’m cool.

In between all of those shots, I managed to do some fun things. For instance, I went to my 25th Bates College reunion and had so much fun reconnecting in person with friends.  In fact, I sat next to my former classmate and friend, Wendy Harper, at our reunion dinner. (You may recall from a winter post that she and I both ran the Maine Marathon and she was so fast that she qualified for Boston. And then she took a rest break and ran the Santa Hustle half-marathon with me in December.)

Here is a pic of us having a good time at reunion…

(me on the left, Wendy on the right)

Whitney and Wendy reunion photo

Evidently, I have some persuasive powers because I have convinced my friend and marathon buddy, Margaret, to run the Old Port Half Marathon with me on July 11. That means she has to come from Pennsylvania to Maine to run that race, and she’s doing it! And bringing her sister!  But I didn’t stop there… I sidled up to Wendy at this reunion dinner (above) and convinced her to do it, too.

That, of course, was so that I would feel the pressure of my friends’ commitment and officially get myself into gear and get some mileage in.  The morning *after* our reunion gala, I went out for a 10 miler.  Thankfully, I had my friend Ryan Ricciardi along for the first 6 miles – she was great company and we kept a solid pace. Unfortunately, when I continued for the next 4 miles by myself, the wheels fell off. I attributed it to the clouds of pollen that looked like smoke blowing by my face. It was a slow finish.

This week, I planned to redeem myself. I announced to Wendy that I was going out for 12 miles. She sounded impressed and I was feeling all proud and ready to take it on.  Well. IT. WAS. UGLY.  I set out to do the first 6 miles on my own and then I picked up my friend, Janet, in my driveway for the next 6 mile loop. She was all fresh and happy and I was already spent. It was terrible.  I got a cramp. I had to walk. Janet talked and was patient. We ran. Then I walked. We talked. We ran. And so forth.  We stopped to take a happy ‘selfie’ photo by the water at about mile 9 (for me) or mile 3 (for Janet) but I decided not to post it because we both look just terrible in that photo. I’m not sure what happened – I probably couldn’t get a good shot because I was heaving for air at that point…  So, I’ll just give Janet a shout-out for being amazing and inspirational rather than posting our pic. 😉

I also stopped my watch when we stopped for the photo, and I forgot to turn it on when we started running again. But, that’s OK. I don’t really need the timing evidence of how slow my second 6 miles was.

Though I’m not proud of the pace, I did manage to cover 12 miles with my own two feet, and company of a great friend, so not all was lost.

This may be the last really long run I get in before July 11… I have a nutty week at work and then I’m away in the mountains of Colorado until July 4. So, we’ll see what happens.

Onward.

Encountering Cujo at Mile 6

It’s been a day.

Actually, it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post and I’ve traveled all over the country for work, banked some long days at the office, did TONS of yard work, spent time with my daughter, Ellie, spent time with my mom, spent some time with my dad in the hospital (he’s much better now!) and was only getting in teeny itty bitty runs, 2-3 miles, every now and then. Hardly post-worthy.

Today, I have something to write about.

To start, I set off for an 8 mile loop this morning, basically with a plan to just get my butt in gear since I signed up for a half-marathon in 6 weeks.

My first couple of miles were tough – and I had a chance to make a turn to shorten the route to 5 miles, but I pressed past that turn, committing to the full 8.

My route was pretty – rolling hills, lots of farmland, not too much traffic, and good weather (cloudy, 55 degrees.) And I had good tunes coming through my headphones. As I noted, I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks, sling-shotting from one thing to the next, and so I had a lot to think about on my run, and once I got warmed up, the distance felt like it would be OK.

And it would have been OK, except at mile 6, just as I was turning toward one of my favorite views of the water, I saw two older women walking three dogs – one on a leash, 2 off leash. I crossed to the other side of the road. Just as I did that, a car came around the bend, and one of the dogs – a huge, black, shepherd-mix of some kind – bolted for the car. I stopped, watching it all unfold. The car stopped within about a half-inch before hitting the dog. Then the dog saw me, and came running. RUNNING.  I was trying to think fast, “What to do when a dog is coming for you? Stand still? Eye contact? No eye contact? Yell? Shut up?” I couldn’t remember, but I stood still with my arms close to me and could see that dog wasn’t going to slow down and was definitely going to jump on me. I turned my side to the dog and felt it bite my left hip/thigh.

The dog ran off in front of another car coming from the other direction. That car stopped. And then cars were coming from both directions, piling up behind one another and the dog was jumping at the cars. One of the women was walking past me toward the dog and I yelled at her, “GET that dog !- it bit me” and I showed her my leg. She quietly said, “I’m trying…”  She was clearly overwhelmed.

The situation was OUT OF HAND. I’m surprised there were not car accidents or car-hitting-dog accidents.

I turned and continued on my way, careful not to actually run, but trying to depart expeditiously, and I heard that dog coming back toward me from behind. I turned around and the dog was coming full speed. This time, I spread my legs, pointed at it and yelled, “NO. NO. NO!” in my deepest voice. It stopped 6 inches in front me, turned, and ran back to the cars. I got the HELL OUT of there.

Let me just say, the fight-or-flight response was fully engaged. I had just fought the dog and was fully committed to flight – I ran home. A full two miles more, as fast as I could.

I called the police. They said the animal control person would call me Monday morning. I said, “It is completely out of control! Dog jumped on cars, dog bit me and broke my skin!” Police recommended I go to emergency room and to expect a call on Monday morning from animal control officer. UN-believable.

Here is evidence of the bite:

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Naturally, it’s a Saturday, so the ER is pretty full with very serious Saturday variety injuries. I’m at the bottom of the triage.  When the doctor gets to me, she asked if I called the police, I said yes, but they would look for the dog on Monday. She said, “Hmmm… let me see if I can urge them to look faster.”  One hour later, “I see what you mean.  If you want to try to find the dog, you have 72 hrs to get proof it’s up to date on its vaccines. Otherwise, it’s the rabies series of shots.

Let’s see. Here are the options:

Option A: Get the shots immediately.

Option B: Leave the ER, where I’ve already been waiting for 4 hours, to go find a dog that could be anywhere in southern Maine that the police are not looking for, and if I can’t find it, come back to the ER to start all over again.

I tried to pitch Option C:  assume the dog is up to date, wash my bite wound really thoroughly, and just get on with my life?

Negative. Not allowed. Not an option. Option C does not exist in this situation. (Note – if you ever tell a health professional that you have been bitten by an animal and you can’t produce proof of rabies vaccination for said animal, and the bite broke your skin, just plan on the rabies antidote series.)

So, the doctor and I  agreed on very slim chances that I’d find the dog, and another hour later, out came the shots.

If you ever need a series of rabies shots, I gently recommend that you take a friend with you, because it was FIVE shots to get started, majorly long needles, delivering an awful, burning antidote and vaccine medicine, and the shots go in all over, including right into your muscles. Seriously, after the 3 shots around the wound, and the shot in my arm, two nurses stood, one on each side of me, each with a very long needle, counted to three, and then simultaneously jammed those needles into thigh muscles on each leg.  It’s just not nice. Plus, it’s the gift that keeps giving, because I have to go back for three more booster shots in the next 2 weeks.

Let’s recap – bad first 3 miles, good miles 4,5,6. DOG BITE. Bad miles 7,8 and bad, bad trip to ER.

On the upside, my friend, Janet, arrived in her truck after my ER adventure so that I could go buy a grill, which I have wanted to do since last summer.

I grilled my entire dinner, including my vegetables tonight, and THAT was a good part of my day!

Onward.

 

PS – major shout out to my friend and colleague, Kat Stegeman, who, at the last minute, dashed over to the College to cover an afternoon presentation that I was scheduled to do, but couldn’t get to, thanks to the epic line at the ER and my fun shot series. Kat – you’re the BEST. Thank you!

I don’t even like bananas.

The last really long distance I ran was the Maine Marathon in October. That was pretty long. After that, next longest was a 10 miler with my daughter, Lucy, right around Christmas.  Full stop. Nothing. Okay, maybe a little bit here and there… I didn’t want to lose all that fitness, but winter just got SO MEAN that it was such a battle to think about leaving a warm bed to go outside into subzero temps, with wind, in the dark, to exercise. So, I didn’t.  Plus, there was just so much (expletive) snow to move all winter (10 feet of it, thankyouverymuch), that I was spending enough time outside in the cold and dark. Plus I had to shovel my roof. I was absolutely getting plenty of outside time.

The problem was (is), that my appetite was (is) still of the marathon size… so let’s just say there has been an imbalance of calorie intake versus calorie expenditure, and intake has been in the lead.

The combination of the improved weather and my ill fitting clothes has motivated me to think about getting in shape.  Two weeks ago, I had to travel and I just so happened to think optimistically about my commitment and I packed my sneaks. I met some new colleagues on that trip and after dinner, one of them said, “Hey – let’s go for a run in the morning!”  I looked at him, and the other guy with him, and said, “You mean me?”  They agreed that they meant me. They promised only 30 minutes, slow pace.

I was game – so I met them in the lobby of the hotel at 6:15 a.m. and we set off. However, we were all new friends, so there was a lot of talking, and I was trying to keep up, while talking, and I finally had to beg them to stop and walk – TWICE – just so I wouldn’t throw up on them.  I don’t think they were impressed with my fitness but they were really nice about it.

Well, that kind of embarrassment is just the right kind to get me in gear, and I got serious. I signed up for the Old Port half-marathon in July so that I’d have a date looming ahead.  I diligently ran 2-3 miles, several times a week over the last couple of weeks (including a jaunt by the East River in NYC this past week.)

All of this means that there is nothing like regular exercise to remind you how much what you eat influences how you feel. This is how the bananas have made it back on the grocery list:

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I don’t even really like bananas, but the truth is that they are the perfect athletic ‘fuel’ in so many nutritional ways, that’s it’s really self-sabotage to NOT eat them. So, there they are. I’m eating them. One a day. Hoping my muscles and metabolism appreciate the treat since my taste buds most definitely do not.

Today, I woke up, with a COLD, and still laced my shoes and stepped out for what I expected to be a 3 miler, with a 6 miler planned for tomorrow. But, my running buddy (and good friend buddy), Janet, was heading out for a long run on her own today with a new pacing method.  I felt good when I got started (thanks to the banana and cold meds), so I followed her plan and actually clocked 9 miles!

I’m back!  Bananas and all.

Onward.

 

 

 

“What did we do?,” she said. “6.2”, I replied.

I’ve been quiet since my Santa Hustle on Nov 23rd. But I haven’t stopped running. My daughter, Lucy, got home from college and she’s training for a 1/2 marathon in Minnesota – in February – called the Hypothermic Half. (And I thought I was crazy…)  So, she was all about getting some mileage in and I was happy to NOT become a lump on the couch, though I was tempted.

We managed some nice 4, 5, 6 mile distances.

THEN, we got an invitation from Ms. Joanie Benoit Samuelson (friend and former neighbor) to go for a spin with her and her daughter, right before Christmas. Well, let me tell you, this was an EVENT.  I’ve gone running with Joanie once, more than a year ago, and was both humbled and inspired. And I was really slow but kept with group, mostly, because they slowed down for me.  Now, I’ve got 2 marathons behind me since then, plus the extra 1/2 marathon, plus the recent running company of my young, spirited, daughter. I felt energized and excited.

We met up in the morning, in a mix of snow/rain/freezing rain (yay, Maine).  Some warm greetings exchanged, then we were off, 2 and 2, around Joanie’s favorite roads and trails. It was amazing. I was running better than the last time, and the girls were paced well together.  I asked a lot of questions knowing that Joanie could talk and run with no problem. Lucy, in particular, had wings on her feet and was having a blast – after about 45 minutes, she looked over her shoulder to give me a “thumbs up” but saw me dropping off the pace, definitely way at the back. Just after that, Joanie (in the lead, natch) yelled back, “Do you want to loop again or finish up?” Fortunately for me, Lucy took mercy on me and chirped, “One loop is fine, thanks!” and I smiled at her for saving me.

Joanie looked over her shoulder, then, saw me dragging, and circled back to run next to me, the girls comfortably running ahead, side by side, chatting.  Joanie paced me up the hill, with my stomach burning from that last stretch of speed.  As we closed in on her driveway, the conversation went like this:

Joanie: “Do you have a watch on?”

Me: “Yep”

Joanie: “What did we do?”

Me: “6.2”

Joanie: “How far did we go?”

PAUSE. Do you see what just happened there? Joanie Benoit Samuelson is the ONLY person who could mistake “6.2” as the PACE rather than the MILEAGE.  (For the record, our pace was not anywhere near a 6.2 mile. We were much slower than that, thank God.)

But, on the upside, as we trotted into her driveway, she nodded and said, “You’re much faster than the last time we ran together.”  Best Christmas Present EVER. Really. I keep hearing her over and over in my head.

So, Lucy and I departed, grateful for Joanie and Abby to share their run with us.  It was such a great day, and we felt so good about it, that we set out for a solid 10 miler right after Christmas.

We took off together, but about 7 miles in, it was just so obvious that Lucy was holding back to stay with me. I told her to follow her feet and find her own pace. She smoked me. And as I arrived, there she was waiting, walking in circles, all cooled off. But, we both got the 10 done and were pretty happy about it.

Then, Janet was ready to run. Last Sat, we took off in single digit temperatures. We hadn’t seen each other in a while, so we had a lot to talk about, and we realized we were hauling. Really. We both had a serious undercurrent of energy that fed off the other person and we just moved. Fastest I’ve ever run 6 miles *and* we had negative splits with hills.

All of this has been so inspiring that I decided to buy some new kicks. I really do need them – the soles of my sneaks are showing wear with about 450 miles into them – so definitely time to go shopping. And… as you know… I’m a fan of Fleet Feet Maine Running Company (the store) and a huge  fan of the Hoka (the shoes.) One might even say I’m a bit evangelistic about the Hokas. I’ve been through several pairs of the Hoka Stinsons since training for the Philly marathon in ’13, but I got brave, and ordered the new, Hoka Bondi 4.  They have some cool features and I was anxious to try them.

Here, you can see my Hoka Stinson Lites (front), with the Hoki Bondi 4 (back) and my dog, Stella, photo bombing…

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Today, I got in a good 6 miles (in 0 degrees, thankyouverymuch), and I liked the shoes. But a major blister was revealed when I took them off. Too soon to say whether they’re going to work, but it’s not looking good. Blisters are bad. I may have to go back to another pair of the trusty Stinsons. We’ll see.

Onward!

No to Philly, but yes to the Hustle…

Today was the Philadelphia Marathon. And I didn’t run it.

Wait!”, you say, “you didn’t run? WHY NOT?!”

Well, I would have told you earlier, but then you would have had to live in my angsty state of indecision and second-guessing in the last 6 weeks. I spared you all of yes-no-yes-no-maybe-no and just waited to write on the marathon weekend.

So you can get caught up, here is the Reader’s Digest version of all that happened since the Maine Marathon:

  • 3 days after marathon – ran 2 miles to shake out – felt good
  • 4 days after marathon – ran 4 miles because it’s easy to just not want to run anymore at all after completing a marathon – 4 miles seemed like enough of a commitment that I was still in the game, but still allowing for recovery.
  • 5 days after marathon – was walking my dog, Stella, and my right foot tightened up into hot pain. THAT was, most unfortunately, the familiar pain of plantar fasciitis. 😦
  • 10 days after marathon – can’t run more than 2 miles without foot pain. Janet is ready to buy her plane ticket to Philadelphia and sends me the suggested itinerary
  • 11 days after marathon –  hiding from Janet. I don’t think I can continue the mileage to run the full Philly since I am stuck at 2 miles before foot pain. Can’t decide whether to go, anyway, to cheer for Margaret and Janet in the half-marathon.
  • 12 days after marathon – I confess to Janet and Margaret that I can’t run the distance and won’t go to Philly – will cheer from Maine. Felt TERRIBLE.

So, I lived in a place of disappointment and acceptance for a while. I even found relief in just not having to pack in long runs on my own anymore, so much time back in my life to do other things, proud of myself for running the Maine Marathon and convincing myself to let it go.

I earnestly applied the physical therapy techniques from last year and my foot started to feel better. I started to run a little more – with a surprise 7  miler several weeks ago.

Then, a college friend, Wendy, the friend who ran the Maine Marathon so fast that she qualified for Boston, asked me if I wanted to run a 1/2 marathon in South Portland on Nov 23.  Since I didn’t have a plane ticket to Philly for that date, and I was feeling better, I told her if I could run 10 miles without pain, I’d do it.  So… I set out last Saturday for the 10, accidentally underestimated my route, and landed back in my driveway with 12.25 miles done.  We decided to sign up. So I did. Then Wendy did. All set.

Then, I told Janet that I managed 12 miles and she said, “Come to Philly and run the 1/2 with us!”  FREEZE. What was I doing? If I could get through 13.1 miles, why wasn’t I going to Philly to run? Because I was signed up for the full marathon, not the half, and I didn’t buy a plane ticket and then I signed up for *another* race on Nov 23 in South Portland.  PLUS, Philly was way out of my head. I really had let it go.

Wendy lives north of me, and I live north of South Portland, so she spent the night at my house so we could easily get off in the morning. It was so fun – we made dinner, chatted, caught up. We’re friends from our first year in college 29 years ago, but haven’t had a chance to connect for real in a long, long time. It was great.

Just about the time Janet and Margaret launched onto their course in Philly, Wendy and I pulled on our Santa outfits and crossed the starting line in South Portland.

Wait“, you say again, “SANTA OUTFITS?” Yep, we had signed up for the ‘Santa Hustle‘ half marathon – complete with a costume for every runner.  That was 2500 Santas running around South Portland, Maine this morning – we probably freaked out every kindergartner who was looking out the window.

Here we are at the start:

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Wendy is really fast and fit. Really. So I assumed we’d start together and find each other at the finish. But NO. Wendy was planning to run together, which meant she paced to me… which was really nice. And, since running at my pace was, for her, essentially resting, she chatted with me for the entire distance. We talked about all kinds of things and she just kept coming up with great stuff to talk about to bring me along.

Also, since we were doing this for fun, we had no problem taking time for photos. For instance, when you are in a race that has elves passing out M&Ms and COOKIES, you really need to stop and document it.

We were pretty happy to see this cheery guy passing out goodies. Yep.

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Chocolate chip cookies at mile 7. Awesome.

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Janet and Margaret crossed their finish line in Philly, looking good and with good runs completed!

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And then, Wendy and I cruised on into the finish line of the Santa Hustle for a real mind-bender – an ENORMOUS Rudolph reindeer *and* a REAL reindeer. 🙂

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So, November 23rd wasn’t at all what any of us had thought it would be 5 months ago. None of us ran a marathon today. BUT, today was a celebration of friendship, of “going for it” in spite of circumstances, and generally just having a good time.

I’m not sure what comes next, but I’m sure it will be good.

Onward!

 

 

 

 

I ran the Maine Marathon today. (Yep, that’s what I said…)

I signed up for the Maine marathon last spring, mainly to have a focus over the spring, summer, and into the fall. This was before Janet and Margaret wanted to head back to Philly.  So, when we signed up for the Philadelphia marathon, I planned to switch my registration to the Maine Half Marathon instead.  Janet had signed up for the 1/2 marathon to use it as a training run (she did that last year, too.)  But I never switched.  For the Maine Marathon, you can switch events right up until the race, so I figured I’d just fix the registration when I picked up my race number the day before.

But then a bunch of things happened.

First, unlike the Maine Marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon requires an event switch way in advance – for the November 23rd race, the last day to switch from full to half or the other way around was on September 30.  Due to the reality and demands of life, Janet was feeling a wee bit behind in training mileage, but had made peace with that and was planning to do some catch up last week. And then she got sick – really sick – with pneumonia.  No way she could do any running at all.  Janet had to decide last Tuesday whether or not she could go the distance in Philly, and she made the wise decision to switch to the half marathon instead.  And then, Margaret needed to do the same.  So, for really good reasons, both of my Philly Marathon teammates needed to take the 1/2 distance registration instead.  I’ve got a lot of miles in the bank, so I decided to stay on for the full Philly.

So, since Janet has pneumonia, there was no way she was going to run the Maine Half Marathon today. NO way. My marathon training plan called for 20 miles today.  I was dreading those 20 miles – it’s a long way to go alone.  So, when I went to pick up my race bib yesterday, I kept my full marathon registration. I figured I’d just go for it. No pressure, no plan. Walk if necessary. Take advantage of the other runners’ company and the fanfare and just clock in the mileage.

This morning, I got up early and got to the race an hour early.  To give you some perspective on the difference between congestion at a 3,000 runner race (Maine) versus a 30,000 person race (Philadelphia), the port-a-potties are actually a helpful gauge:

Here was the potty line 1 hr before race start this morning:

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By contrast, here is the potty line at Philadelphia last year, 1 hr before the start:

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*Anyway*, I was looking for some friends at the starting line. My friend John, was running the 1/2 today and he’s pretty tall, so I was hoping I’d find him milling about the start. Nope. I was also looking for my college friend, Wendy, who was running the full and I knew what she was wearing, so was really looking for her, too. Nope.

I got in line, the canon went off, and I set off to just cover the distance. No pressure. It was gorgeous weather, gorgeous views (go MAINE!), and I just did my thing. One of the nice things about this race is that that it is an out-and-back (like Philly), so if you watch carefully, you can see those ahead of you pass you going the opposite direction on their return.  I was SO focused on the returning runners, but I never saw either of them – too fast!!

Because I was just running for mileage, I took the time to take a potty-stop at about mile 8.  I walked through most water stops. I stopped and stretched my calves along the curb (multiple times.)

And then, I had a very awesome experience. There was only ONE wheelchair competitor in this race. Her name was Carla.  I ran up behind Carla who was pushing herself up a particularly awful hill. Runners going by her on both sides.  She was nearly at a stop, just trying to keep her chair from going backward. She was amazingly determined – and STRONG.  I asked her if she wanted company to reach the top and she said, “YES – and you can yell at me if you want!”  So, I walked next to her and talked to her (not yelling!), encouraging her.  We were slow. So slow that my watch went onto “auto-pause” because it thought I had stopped.  But, it was totally worth it. Carla made it to the top of the hill and went cruising down the other side full speed. I picked up my gait again – amazingly inspired. Truly amazing.  It was enough to get me through the next 15 miles.

THEN, just after that, I saw JANET waiting for me on side! Janet – the one sick with pneumonia – made her way out to the course to cheer for me.  That’s an example of terrific friendship, and I was so happy to see her! She was on the side for me TWO times, which was a huge pick-me-up in my step and determination.

Here is the photo Janet took of me as I ran past her:

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Shortly after that, I ran past Janet’s husband, Michael. He wasn’t running the race – but he had been part of the volunteer race crew before the start. I’m not sure what he was doing – we were pretty far out and he was running by me the opposite direction – I think just getting his own long run in for the day. (He’s also running the full Philly.)  He saw me and yelled happy, encouraging things, still yelling to me long after we’d passed one another. I loved that.

So, just like last year, I made it to mile 20, the infamous “wall”, and still felt pretty good. This year,  I assumed it was because I had given myself those little breaks along the way and might be able to cruise on through to 26.2.  Not so.  Just like last year, mile 23 was my wall. And it was BIG.  But I kept pushing, grateful to have my body working for me, even if working a little less efficiently.

But – I made it. And, just as I crossed the finish line, the announcer had time to see my number and call out my name on the loudspeaker. I felt like a champion. 🙂

I finished 1 minute off of my Philadelphia time last year. This is pretty astonishing considering I had more training mileage completed before Philly last year, and I took all those (brief) stops today. But, I think I am stronger this year. I am definitely faster in my training runs. So, I think I overall ran well even though the time might not show it. And I felt really proud of crossing the line at the end.

A very nice stranger at the finish line took this picture of me:

 

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Onward!

 

(P.S. – my friend, Wendy, qualified for Boston with her time today! That’s very cool, and very fast. Go Wendy!)

Diversions

I’m in the middle of a travel stretch – no blogging last Sunday because I was hardly at home, so I have two weeks of details.

Since the last post, I’ve been to Indianapolis and had the opportunity to clock a fairly fast 4 miler with a friend of mine along the canal, early in the morning, before the sun came up. We had packed schedules, so 4 miles was all that would fit, but it was nice to get it in with so much sitting in meetings, airports, and airplanes.

I got back late on Saturday, had a work commitment that evening, and was hoping to pull through a 16-20 miler on Sunday morning. No go. It was pouring torrents and I could only get through 7 miles. But, I needed the mileage, so I crammed in a long run, 14.5 miles, right before I had to get back to the airport for the next trip.

This time, I’m in Minneapolis. Except, to get to Minneapolis, I had to spend an extraordinarily long time in the Philadelphia airport. So, I lapped the terminal a couple of times, browsed the bookstore, ate some chips, played with my ipad, got a coffee, and then… found this:

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Yep – the airport had stationary bikes located throughout the terminal – for folks to just hop on and ride! No surprise, it wasn’t hard to find an “open” bike. The chairs were more popular. But, I hopped on and set the dial to a pretty insignificant tension level, and just happily moved my legs for about 20 minutes. Not really a workout because there was no need to get sweaty before cramming into a plane with a bunch of people, but it was nice not to be idle.

I arrived in Minneapolis, late, and just went to bed. Still, I got up early enough to spend 30 mins on the treadmill (HATE the treadmill) before getting out the door for a full day of work.

NOTE – at the end of my long day, I got to meet up with Lucy at Carleton College – great to see her, meet her roommate, and spend some time with them. Very happy!

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I ended up up having to switch hotels, and pretty much assumed I’d be back on the treadmill because this hotel is near the airport – all busy traffic all around. BUT, I saw a guy come in the lobby from a run as I was checking in and I asked him where he’d gone, and it turns out that there is a National Wildlife Refuge about 1.5 miles from the hotel! With miles and miles of beautiful trails! So, this morning, I ran out there, and into the refuge for the most beautiful scenery. (And, there were other runners, dog walkers, photographers, and hikers, so it wasn’t too scary to be in the trails…) I managed 10 miles and it felt great – beautiful, cool in the shade of the trees, and just nice to get fresh air and move.

Here are some scenes:

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So, the hassle of delayed flights in Philly and switching hotels in Minneapolis actually had an upside.

Now, my flights from Minneapolis to Chicago is canceled thanks to the flight tower problems they’ve got going on and I’m sad to say that I don’t think that the diversion of my re-routed trip is going to have much of a silver lining. I’ve got a tight layover in and if I actually make it onto my connecting flight, have a 50-50 chance of making it to my evening work event on time…

Here’s to hoping that this diversion has an upside like the rest so far…

Next weekend is the Maine Marathon or the Maine Half Marathon. I have to decide which I’ll do. I signed up for the marathon before Janet, Margaret, and I decided on Philly. It’s a little early for me to grind through the full 26.2… but I have gotten some heavy mileage runs behind me already, so I might be able to do it. Or… I could save myself the trouble/stress/strain and just switch to the half and enjoy it. We’ll see.

Onward!