Marathon training meets ALS ice bucket (BATH) challenge…

Pretty nutty week for Janet, Margaret and me…  Margaret moved, and then entered a triathalon and came in 2nd for her group. Last week, I called her a “machine.”  Obviously, that is still the case.  Janet had a busy week at work and then had a long weekend out of town, several states away, for some serious family business.  I had very full days in the office myself because I’m trying to be on vacation this week, which means a lot of work got crammed into last week. According to Janet’s training plan, we were supposed to run 6 miles in the middle of the week at a blistering speed, with a shorter run squashed in there somewhere. I did manage to get the 6 miles in, with a couple other shorter runs in around that. I didn’t make the goal speed, but all my mileage was faster than my normal, so I think I’m still OK.

The training plan called for 14 miles today.  Margaret – definitely exempt – she moved and did a triathalon.  Janet – also exempt – left town and I think managed to get some runs in even though there probably really wasn’t any time for that given the circumstances.  I didn’t have any excuses, so I got up this morning and set out for the 14 miles.  It was nice, actually.  I ran down to the end of Mere Point – a solid 6 miles from my driveway to the end of the point. A quick jog around the boat launch and then back to home. That would only get me 12, but I knew I could turn around and run back a mile and then turn for home again to catch the 14.  I left in the sun, ran into the rain, ran into the sun, ran into the rain, sun, rain, and so forth. (Of course, when I got home, it was sunny for the rest of the day. ) At mile 11, my left knee started acting up. Not the “I’m tired, please stop moving me” kind of ruckus, but the IT band pain that first sent me into physical therapy 1.5 yrs ago.  So, I shuffled to mile 13 and let the 14th mile be a walking one. Even with all that, I managed race pace today, so I was happy.

When I got home, I had to deal with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  Zak Harris, a colleague in my office, nominated me as he was pouring ice water over his head in a FB video. Since he called me out on Facebook, the whole world knows he nominated me.  A bold move to challenge your boss to dump ice water over her head, I must say. Bold move.  So I met his challenge and raised it – to an ice bath challenge.  You can see craziness here:


Now, if you’re not on Facebook and have you haven’t been watching the news, then you may not know about the ice bucket challenge.  You can find out about it here,, but it’s essentially a viral “awareness” and fundraising phenomenon that has hit social media. And I got wrapped into it thanks to Zak.  I have no problem supporting awareness or fundraising for ALS, so I was happy to take the challenge.

Ok, back to the marathon training blog….

Last week, I was still the only one of the three of us who had actually committed to Philly by registering for the marathon. Well, right in the midst of her move, Margaret signed up and sent me an email copy of her registration to prove that she was in. (Thank you!)  And then, Janet upped us both somehow catching a number, along with her husband, as part of the Nathan Hydration Team. Yes, that means she’s running with a team. (Nathan is one of the most popular companies making sports hydration gear – Janet and I both carry hand-held strap-on water bottles from Nathan ( Naturally, I immediately asked, “Good God, does this mean we have to train to be faster?”  She said she’s NOT SURE.  Holy Moly.

Anyway, Margaret, Janet, Michael (Janet’s husband) and I are all bound for Philly on November 23.

Since Janet couldn’t get to the 14 this weekend, I’m thinking she’s going to want to go for it next weekend. If my knee has stopped complaining, I’ll go with her…





Philadelphia Marathon – on the schedule – at least on mine

Today was Margaret’s last day of vacation in Maine and she chose to run 12 miles with Janet and me this morning before she packed the car to drive back to PA. If you couldn’t already tell, from all the previous blogs, Margaret is a machine. I don’t know anyone else who could run 12 miles, then pack up a family, and then drive all day. But Margaret can (and did.)

Today was tough on the three of us, though. We met in Portland and did almost the same route as last week  – including a full trip around Macworth Island and a detour through Payson Park on the return, trying to stretch the distance to 12 miles.

Margaret was running with wings on her feet – she was super fast and led way in front- her head just a dot for me to follow ahead in the distance. Janet was full of determination and stayed with Margaret for a long time before switching to a different pacing strategy.  I was the caboose. And, even though I felt good on this route last weekend, bopping along at a good pace, I was just NOT feeling it today. I sort of had heartburn for the first 8.5 miles and generally felt in a bad mood.

As we looped back to the starting point, it was obvious that the route was only going to be 11 miles, not the 12 we had planned. Now, the three of us are all the “get it done” type – no backing off the plan for us. But, today, none of us felt like finding that last mile. Nope.  At 11, we quit and sprawled out on the grass by the cove, complaining with relief that the run was done!

Margaret was heading back to PA to manage a move. She’s essentially been in housing limbo all summer. Her family is waiting to move into a new house next week, but had to move out of the former house in June, so the last couple of months have been a bit nutty. She was just anxious to get back to PA to get that move going and get herself and her family settled into the new house before school starts, so I think that’s how she ran so fast.

Since my move is over, I’m just tired. 🙂  And I didn’t feel like running fast at all.

Also, I lost the hard drive on my computer last week. Since I lost absolutely everything on the computer, that means I also lost my running log and my training plan. This means I’m following Janet’s crazy customized training plan she got from Runners World.

The most important point of this week’s blog is that we ran 11 miles together as if we’re all training for the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23, but…. I’m still the ONLY one who has signed up!  Ok, Margaret’s moving and Janet is busy, but COME ON. If I’m on my own on race day because they didn’t sign up in time, I’m going to be really sad (and slow.)

I didn’t have my phone with me, so I don’t have any photos of today’s 11 miler. But, I’m including a photo of my dog, Stella, because she looks like I feel on long run days like today:




Philadelphia Marathon #2 – T minus 14 weeks

Janet applied the pressure with this email message to Margaret and me last week:

All right women,  enough of this fumbling and fussing and thinking about incidental things …[and]… other such nonsense…

I logged into smartcoach on runner’s world this afternoon and found a schedule to prepare me for the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov 23.

Fine. She threw out a training plan, but I was the first one to sign up for a the marathon. Yes, I did.  Here is my confirmation (it’s itty bitty, but  you can see my name on the right under “participant”, aka “crazy person who spent money to run 26.2 miles“):

Philly confirmation


So, I’m the one signed up, but Janet has the training schedule, so she planned a 10 mile run this morning. Fortunately for us, Margaret is in Maine for vacation, so she joined us. We had a nice view of Back Cove in Portland for the beginning and end of our 1o miler. The highlight is really Macworth Island which is beautiful trails with water all around – the middle part of our run – but I didn’t have my phone with me during the run, so I couldn’t take a photo.

I did however, score this photo just before we took off:



As usual, we started together, and then Janet and Margaret moved ahead and I trailed behind.  We got to Macworth, took a water break, and then looped around to return home.  Miles 6 and 7 were tough. Janet ran the Beach to Beacon 10k yesterday, plus some mileage in the days before that, and she was tired before we even started this morning. And Margaret spent most of yesterday in the car, driving from PA to ME, so she had to shake it out a bit during  the run. I’ve been busy at work during the day, and spackling, sanding, taping, painting in the evenings, so I’m beat.  In the latter half of the run, we spread out.  The good news is that we all met or exceeded the pace assigned by Janet’s training plan that she downloaded from Runners World magazine, so we were feeling a pretty victorious.

And, we were happy to be a three-some, so we just hung out and rested by the water after we were finished before we had to go our separate ways:




And, as I said, I’m the only one actually signed up for this marathon, so the other two need to sign up ASAP. (Janet and Margaret – that means YOU TWO!)

This marathon has all the same challenges as last year. Still 26.2 miles to cover. Still training during a nutty travel season in which I’ll have to do a lot of mileage on my own in unfamiliar locations. Still aiming to finish it with my two buds, Janet and Margaret (if they get signed up! HINT)


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….


Marathon Complete!

We did it.

We started at an un-Godly hour, in the dark… walking the 1.5 miles from the hotel to the starting corrals. The Marriott had so many runners staying there that they had two full tables of bananas for us in the lobby this morning. (No pic of that, today!)

Here is a picture of Janet and Margaret as we walk to the start and evidence that we got to the right place:, and then a pic of us waiting – in the dark – before we loaded into our purple corral.


IMG_1810 IMG_1811

The logistics of this race were impressive and the planners had really thought of everything – except they missed the math on the ratio of porta-potty to runners – check out the sea of people trying to take care of business before the race:


Then, we loaded into our purple corral for runners hoping to finish between 4:15-4:30 hours. Here is pic of the sign, with balloons attached, that the PACER runner had to hold, above his head, for the entire marathon so that anyone trying to run a 4:15 pace could stay with him. Unbelievable athleticism:


(*BTW, I was aiming for about 4.5 hrs, so I didn’t stick with that guy, but stayed with the 4:30 pacer for while and she talked to the group while leading with a sign!)

We were glad to have our Goodwill outfits because we waited outside in the dark chilliness for a couple of hours before getting into the corral. Here’s a selfie shot (kind of silly since there were 30,000 people standing right there who could have taken a photo for us…) right before we shed our warm duds and started to run:


And then we were off! We stayed together for about 1 mile, and then started to separate – it was too crowded to stay three across and it was just easier to go off at our own paces.

Here’s how it went:

Miles 1-13: great music, great fans, I probably got high-fived by 100 people, including little kids, who were yelling my name and telling me I was great. Who doesn’t love that?

Mile 13:the half marathoners turned off here, and it was HARD to stay left to stick with the marathon – we could hear the cheering of the finish line and the announcer, but we went the other way to repeat the distance.

Miles 14-20: once we went left and went past the half way, we were committed, and headed up the Schuylkill river for an out and back, with great fans waiting for us. And the good thing about an out and back, is that those ahead of you pass you on the return, which meant that as Margaret came by, she high fived me! Janet and I bumped into each other at the mile 17 water stop and stayed together for a little while, and then split again.

Miles 20-26: these were really hard! I had kept a solid cruising speed that was similar to our training runs and I had been feeling good, but a mile 21, I started to get sloppy. I was kicking my ankles with my feet, my knee started to feel numb, the base of my neck was burning with fatigue, and I got stung by something on my left shoulder. I had been tracking toward a 4:35 finish, but picked up a lot of extra minutes in the last 6 miles. Still, I kept telling myself, “FORWARD motion – just keep going forward…

Miles 26-26.2: the last .2 was the best because I was definitely out of gas, and then all of a sudden, my friend Julie yelled for me on my left, and then as I passed her, my daughter Ellie, a bunch of her friends, and Janet’s son, Conor, yelled from the right. I was so cheered and excited that before I knew it, I crossed the finish line!!!

Great inspiration on this race, including signs like this:

  • Too bad Philippides didn’t die at mile 20
  • Good luck, Roger – PS, I’m pregnant!
  • Worst parade ever
  • Embrace your pace
  • There is a day you won’t be able to do this, but not today!

At the finish, Margaret and Janet and I found each other, and then we found our fan support!

Here are pics of the very important people who pulled us through to the finish with their love and cheering:

IMG_1824 IMG_1829 IMG_1827Janet and Conor

We headed back to the hotel and took care of ourselves – showers, ice baths, foam rollers, ibuprofen and … plain old ice therapy:



After getting cleaned up and refreshed, Maragaret had to leave us. So, Janet and I went out for nachos and margaritas, since that’s how this whole thing started, anyway. And then, because this is the last day I get to eat like a marathoner, I bought dessert from the Wawa market to bring to the hotel room:



And, finally, a victory picture of the three of us, at the finish line, proud of our accomplishment! (L to R: Janet, me, Margaret)



A friend of mine asked me today how I felt doing it – my reply, “I’ve never been so psyched about feeling so miserable.”

That about sums it up.

Thanks for reading through my journey with me!


Arrived in Philly – online race tips…

The online version of Competitor Running had a piece marathon tips, with a nod toward solid training efforts:

“…to accomplish many of the aforementioned training adaptations, you need to practice running on tired legs or with low energy levels. This philosophy is often called “accumulated fatigue.” Basically, this means that the fatigue from one workout accumulates and transfers to the next so that you’re always starting a workout or a long run a little tired from your previous training.”

Since I’ve been “accumulating fatigue” for the last 20 years, nevermind the last 18 weeks of training, I think I’m ready.

Olympian Joanie Benoit Samuelson – her advice to me

I posted this weekend that I was really anxious about getting through the marathon.

Then, just now, this morning, this email hit my inbox:

Run your own race out there and believe in yourself and training. Smooth running ahead.



Below is a photo of (L to R)  Me, Joanie, Margaret and Janet.  Joanie led us on a 6+ mile run as we began our marathon training in July.


.cropped joanie run july 2