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….


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.


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…


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.


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:

071 073

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!



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!

Scenery helps with mileage

I had a lot of mileage last week… and I did it on purpose because I knew I’d have to travel this week and I wasn’t sure what kind of impact that would have on a running schedule.

I managed 3 miles with Janet and Margaret last weekend (after heavy mileage in the days before that) and then a rest day on Monday.






It was a busy work week, but I managed to get 4-5 miles in on Thur and Friday and then set out on Saturday for a long one. I had enough time to head out a new way and if made too big a loop, I could walk part of it.

I started on one of my normal routes but then detoured to head down the water. I knew where I wanted to go because it was a leg of the 18 mile route Joanie Benoit Samuelson gave me last year. Only, I didn’t really know how long this new combo would be. I guessed somewhere between 9-12 miles, but was really hoping it would be more like 9….

And it was 10 on the nose!

That beautiful scenery in the photo was at mile 5.5 – the perfect “pick-me-up” to keep going.

Sunday was just a shortie 3 miles.

The week ahead is jammed with travel to RI and a bunch of other crazy life commitments, so I’m not sure if it will be a good mileage week.

But, since good scenery really helps, I’m going to deliberately start searching pretty routes to keep me going this summer.

On the road again…

Last time I posted, in *January*, Maine was in a deep freeze and I was complaining about plantar fasciitis.  Let’s just say, in all respects, it was a LONG winter, weather-wise and exercise-wise.

I just couldn’t get myself to deal with the gym and do the therapeutic workouts on the rowing machine or elliptical.  I’m not a gym girl. So, I made up my own workout – not the same cardio as running, but a regular routine that worked on strength.  It helped me keep focus and I stayed generally fit.

Ever heard of a Bodyblade?  Neither had I.  And then I tried one out and … it is one serious piece of equipment. It’s a long piece of fiberglass with weights on the end and a handle in the middle. You grip the middle, and cause a rhythmic motion and that works *everything*.

Here is the Bodyblade:

bodyblade photo


So, anyway, I had a routine of the Bodyblade, 40 lunges, and a 7 lb kettlebell, 6 days a week.   To deal with the foot issue, I rolled out my foot on a special (not so nice) nobby ball that was supposed to help loosen up the tight fascia in my foot. Then, along with those exercises, I slowly started running again.  Just 2 miles at a time, a couple times per week. Then 3 miles. Then 2 or 3, etc.  And now, I’m getting some real mileage back.

However, I am not completely recovered from the plantar fasciitis, so I have to do the following:

1. run with tight tape (and yes, the angle of this photo does make my ankle look really, really strange. It doesn’t really look like that.)


2. A post-run ice bath for my poor foot.


3. Then, a therapeutic compression sock especially for plantar fasciitis (and I have to sleep with the sock on, too!)


The good news is that I’m actually getting somewhere.  I logged over 20 miles last week, with an 8 miler last Sunday. (Though, I stopped at mile 7 for a quick hello to a neighbor who was outside in his driveway, and then it was actually a 15 min chat, so I got a bit of a rest before getting that last mile in.)

And, if you’ve read this blog before, or if you actually know me in person, then you know that there is a probably a goal embedded in this mileage effort.  Indeed, multiple goals exist.

For instance, I no longer have horses. This leaves a huge hole in my life for a lot of reasons, including regular exercise and a daily time commitment to caring for them.  Running takes time and effort and planning, so it helps to fill that tremendous void of an effort that I loved so much.  In this way, my goal is to use running to distract myself from the loss, finding an alternative outlet.

Also, running connects me to other people, though I mostly run alone. But, I know that Janet and Margaret are there, working on their own goals, logging their miles in achievement, with focus.  And, sometimes we’ll run together.  Margaret will be in Maine for the 4th of July. I am running the LLBean 10k on that day with a couple of friends from work, and Margaret will join us. 🙂  Janet is coaching a Couch to 5K group, so she’ll be with them on the 4th.

And, running is helping me keep my head together as there are days when the intense push-pull of my life could get me so mixed up that I would want to just stand still. But running keeps me moving forward – literally and figuratively.

So, I’m on the road again. I am aiming for October 5 – either the Maine Half Marathon or the Maine Marathon, depending on what I’m ready for.  Janet really wants to do the Philly marathon again, but it’s so late in November this year that it puts the heavy distance training during my busiest travel time which is pretty complicated. But, as Janet pointed out, Philly is relatively flat and has fans cheering for the whole 26.2 miles.  Maine is hilly, 1/10 of the runners, and not so many fans. It’s lonely and hard.  I’m not sure I need lonely and hard. So maybe Janet and I will just do the half marathon on Oct 5th and then decide about Philly.  Too soon to say.

However, I just went out and planted a water stop for tomorrow morning’s run – I am going to head out before it’s too hot and just see how far I can go….


20 miles? Check. Body Back-talk? Check.

Janet and I ran 20 miles today. Actually, 20.11 miles. (Ann Marie – the .11 part was for you. 🙂 )

It’s fair to say that we both felt substantially challenged. Substantially. But we had some things going for us to help us through:

1. we had each other

2. the weather was bee-u-tee-ful!

3. we had a pretty, quiet, route that had good water views during miles 8.5-11.5

4. we were determined to hit 20 miles

It’s a good we had those things in our favor because our bodies got a little sassy with the back-talk. Whining, complaining, and threats to shut down even though our brains were good for the full 20.

For example, my feet started in with a mild, “We’re hurting, please stop“. I replied, “I understand, but it’s mile 8 and you’ve got 12 more miles to hit the pavement. Hang in there.

Janet is more conditioned to long mileage, so her body was a little more patient before lodging the first complaint, but somewhere around mile 11, Janet’s legs demanded attention and rest, but she said “NO” and kept going. We stopped at mile 12 to refill water, hoping that the 30 second stop would trick our bodies into having “rested” and get back into gear. In gear? Yes. But not with the get-it-done spirit we needed.

At around mile 15, Janet’s hip went from trying to get her attention to an arms-crossed-shouting-door-slamming demand to be heard. I could tell she was hurting since I usually run behind her and could see a small hitch in her giddyup, if you know what I mean. I asked if she was OK, and to my surprise, she said, “Not really. I’m going to walk.” Janet is a Power Ranger Runner – she pushes herself with tremendous determination- so if her hip was winning the showdown, I knew it must really be hurting her. We walked about 50 feet. I think in those moments, she had a solid, firm, conference with that hip of hers because she picked up the pace and we were running again.

Of course, the break gave my body the signal it needed to speak up. And my feet were back with a much louder, less gentle chorus of “CUT. IT. OUT. We hurt. Stop pounding us. STOP IT!” But, with only a few miles left, this was no time for me to get soft. “Shut up,” I said, “No more whining. Almost there.” Feet were not satisfied. “STOP!” they yelled. “I can’t hear you,” I taunted. But, I could hear my feet. My feet were killing me. I tried to tune out their relentless yelling at mile 18 by turning my mantra back on, “I am strong, I am ready, I am strong” but it hurt so much, that it came out more like, “I am – ow – I am – I – SHIT – I am STRONG – Damn. Damn. I am – I am – gasp – I am – I am strong – I – G*ddamn– I am strong” and so forth. But, the swearing did help my attitude in a weird way. It made me aggressive and it was just what I needed to keep moving through the 20 mile mark.

As for Janet – I don’t what kind of words she laid out on her hip, but it surrendered and supported her through to the 20 miles.

We reached the parking lot. Sat down. High-fived. We admired ourselves and each other for finishing.

Janet had 45 minutes before she had to report to work. She promptly put on compression socks and probably employed a bunch of other post-run care techniques that she has. I had to go home and shovel out the barn. Then, I sat in the tub with ice. Just so you know I’m not making that up, here are pictures to prove it:

IMG_1680 IMG_1681

So, the run was over, I’d iced, showered, put on clean clothes. I’d torched about 2,000 calories before 10 a.m., so I knew I needed to eat some serious food, but my body was NOT interested. Evidently, my body can hold a grudge, so the arguing was not over when the run was over. This time, it was my digestive system dialing in with some attitude. It seems that if you abuse every working part of your physical being by making it run for 3.5 hours, it would rather just be left alone for a good long sulk. I searched the cabinet for food that would wake up my hunger signals. “Waffle with peanut butter?,” I offered. “Don’t even,” my body replied. “Yogurt with cherry?,” I coaxed. “NO.” Okay, then, I thought. Fine. I won’t pursue. Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll fill you up.

You know when my body decided to make up with me? 4:30 PM. And then, everything was fair game. I ate cookies while I made scrambled eggs. Soon after, I had to attend a work dinner and my hunger was full speed by the time we sat down at 6. For everyone at my table, I provided an astonishing display of consumption. If it was food, it went down the hatch and I was not bashful about seconds. I was eating with people who had never met me before but I was too hungry to be embarrassed or even explain or even really make much conversation. (Not my best professional showing, probably.)

We ran 20 miles and even if with our pains, we had negative splits for the middle miles, with an overall pace right where we had planned at the start. Pretty victorious feeling, I must say.
TEAM UPDATE: Margaret is laser focused on getting ready for this marathon and had a 15 miler planned for this morning. Margaret is a very strong athlete and maybe the only person I know who could endure surgery less than a month ago and head out for that kind of mileage by now. Pretty amazing. Janet, as you know, ran 20 miles today, but she ALSO ran 19.5 miles last weekend, never mind her training runs throughout the week. A BOSS. I’m not sure what Margaret’s plan is for next weekend, but Janet is running a 1/2 marathon. (Isn’t it crazy that the 13.1 miler is her cut-back distance? Damn.) I’m traveling this week, hoping to get in a few 4-5 mile runs and then a longer one on my own next weekend.