Monday, October 6, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The last run

I finally synched up my treo to load these pictures of my last run in midtown from my old condo... it was a good one. I'll miss being able to walk out the door and have midtown at my feet. (Though lately the whole rising crime rate thing has made me grateful I've moved on.)

These were taken back in May.









































Saturday, September 6, 2008

Recovering


Denmark was a great time. The wedding was fun and a learning experience about Danish customs at the same time. The family we stayed with were terrific hosts. We didn't know what to expect of Denmark before we went, not having heard much about it, and there was much more to see and do than we imagined. And the culture seems to have a real sense of whimsy that I like.
I came back with the second worst cold I've ever had, but still I ran a 10K on Labor Day that we had signed up for ahead of time. I ran with my sister the first two miles and then on my own the rest. I didn't do too bad considering that and my cold. However, I've been taking a little break from running since then to try to get over this cold.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Running away (for a bit)

We leave for Denmark this afternoon to attend a friend's wedding. So excited.

The cooler weather has left us and it's hot again. School is back in and 7am traffic, when I like to run, is god-awful. There are no sidewalks on the route I like to run - not even any shoulders to speak of.

Drivers around here are horrible. I've been grumbling a lot lately. Even as a pedestrian trying to cross the street at a crosswalk, with the correct light - I feel like I've got a big bulls-eye on me. I swear I'm going to get killed in this traffic around here. Drivers give no indication that they recognize pedestrian right-of-way. They glare at me as they race around corners, cutting me off in the middle of a cross-walk. Not only bad drivers, but rude drivers.

Largely due to that, I've been looking into programs at the Y to get me off the streets. I may try a swimming clinic in early September.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Improvements

It's been aggravating trying to get used to these hilly routes during the hottest time of the year, but the recent cooler morning temperatures - down to the mid-60s - are making a difference. Since I've started tracking my runs on the Training Log at Runner's World, my times are coming down, which is nice to see. Overall, my pace still seems to be about 30-40 seconds slower than it was the previous year. The US10K on Labor Day weekend will be a good yardstick. That was one of my fastest 10ks about 3 or 4 years ago.

I just finished a Graphic Design class at the Savannah College of Art & Design community education program. So although I haven't been posting many doodles or sketches, I've been hacking away at some graphics. Maybe I'll start posting that stuff again soon. I'd like to start working on a portfolio, but that will take a bit more time and dedication than I've wanted to put into it lately.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Spending

New laptop should be here in a few weeks! It is a new experience sharing purchases and the discussions about spending that go along with that. Obviously something to get used to! For months, years even, I couldn't think of anything I wanted to spend money on, now all of a sudden there are like 20 things over $100 that I really strongly feel are worth the money.

[Update] As if to prove the above point, MOB just got a fraud alert call from his credit card company tonight - apparently, there's been an unusual amount of use on it lately! And yes, a lot of that may have to do with me...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Computer randomness

Since I've moved into my now-husband's apartment while we wait for our townhouse to be built, my home-office is now in the guest room where my husband keeps his computer. We've moved things around so my work desk is now perpendicular to his computer desk. And since I occasionally need to use my personal laptop, we've set up a tv tray perpendicular to the other side of my work desk. The chair sits in the middle of this make-shift operations center. I spend my day swiveling from one computer to the other depending on what I have to do.

We've been talking about the need to buy a new laptop for home use. Theoretically, my husband thinks it will replace his and my current personal computers, which are a bit old. However, my personal laptop is loaded to the brim with tons of unnecessary applications that would be so much trouble to reinstall on the new computer. Sure, it makes some kind of noise like an idling lawn-mower and will probably explode in a puff of dust and smoke one day soon. And it weighs about 15 pounds. I am excited about getting a new laptop. Maybe just a little anxious about letting go of the old one.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Running blog?

Although this blog started off with the intent of writing about my measly efforts at running and making art, it appears that I've had writers block on those two topics lately. I have been doing a little of both, although with maybe a little less intensity and focus these past few months.

After the marathon last March, it was a relief not to have such a huge commitment to train for. I relaxed into easy 3 mile runs about 3 times a week for a couple of months. Sometime around April or May, my sister (here in Georgia) took up running and so we've been getting together on the weekends to run.

It was her enthusiasm about running the Peachtree that kept me interested in doing it with her this year. I might not have done it otherwise. And I'm fairly certain it was my last Peachtree. Two key factors go into that - 1) No longer living at the finish line now makes transportation more of a hassle - I really don't want to take a MARTA train packed in with 50,000 sweaty runners back to my starting point. Too gross for me. 2) I was disappointed to see literally hundreds and hundreds of people with race numbers lined up along the first mile, jumping in after the start, bypassing the controlled start that the race normally follows. People - if you don't want to deal with a crowded race, don't sign up for it!

I've run two other 10ks this summer and my times are a lot slower these days. I'm finally starting to feel motivated to work on that. No more marathons for me. I'm going to focus on 10ks and half-marathons for a while and just try to get faster.

And just a final word about running. The area of Atlanta I am now temporarily living in has the biggest baddest hills I've ever run on and it is a struggle! I miss my midtown routes! I'm looking forward to moving in late October.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Our new home!!

We'll be in the second to the end.

More pictures on Flickr.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cocopan/sets/72157606128200677/

Sunday, May 25, 2008

SOLD!

As of last Wednesday, I officially no longer have a Midtown Life... I feel so fortunate to have sold my condo in only 2 months, for only $2000 less than I listed at.

We didn't use an agent because we knew we could make the price more competitive that way and there is a lot of agent traffic in that building already to see any of the many other units that are for sale. We learned a few lessons about doing the "by owner" thing.

One, I would not list on one of the "for sale by owner" sites next time. I only received 2 calls from that, one that was completely not serious and the other after I was already under contract.

Two, I would use Century21 Clickit (c21clickit.com) again just to get listed on the MLS. This is what realtors use to search for properties and it brought in a LOT of realtors. I was also able to get a Supra lock box through them so agents could let themselves into the property.

Three, Craigslist only brought in one college student prospect who got my hopes up by raving about my place, calling several times to say he wanted to drop by again with his girlfriend, then with his dad, but then dropped off the face of the earth.

Four, I'm glad that I built in a decent buyer's agent commission into the price (3%). I got a sense that the buyer's agents would prefer to deal with another agent, not a for sale by owner. However, once the place became under contract, the buyer's agent really wanted to see the deal happen, so she was helpful in getting all the paperwork straight. Plus, I think she would like to act as our agent in finding a new place now that this deal is done.

Five, thank god I picked a decent location when I bought my condo! I'll miss that area though.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sanibel Island


We ran along the beach two of the mornings that we stayed in Sanibel, just enough to sense the rythym of life there. Just after sunrise, the tide is moving in or out, I don't know, but the fish are close up to the beach bringing the birds and the dolphins in after them.


The water was a bathwater temperature and after each run, I took a dip. On the second day, we walked out in the water to where we'd seen dolphins patrolling each morning and I screeched in surprise when one splashed water just a couple of feet away from where we were standing.


In the late afternoon/early evening, the tide is definitely out and the sand dwellers are revealed. So many shellfish!! Such a variety of life underneath our feet. There seemed to be more people at the beach at this time of day than any other, heads bowed and backs bent sifting through the shells. The dolphins are back on their patrols along the beach, children running alongside them on the shore screaming and pointing. Cries of "Mommy look what I found!" and "Oh my gawd a starfish!" bring in the evening.


The no-see-ums come out at sunset too and even though we prepared this time by showering ourselves in Deet, we came back covered with their itchy purple bites once again. They really really love us.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

God bless the small inaugural races

Today I won second place in my age group during the inaugural running of the Douglasville Junior League Botanical Boogie 5k with a time of over 26 minutes and less than 27 (I forgot to stop my watch immediately after throwing myself across the finish line, but I'm certain it was 26 something.)

Never mind that there may not have been more than two people in my age group, I have a metal and that's settles it. I had my eye on the first place winner of my age group who was about 20 yards in front of me for the entire last mile and a half. I just couldn't catch her, as much as I thought I should have been able to.

Darn these sinus, allergy and heat issues. I could have been a contender.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

could this be it?

I accepted an offer on my condo today. It's not a done deal until after the contingencies clear - inspection, appraisal, financing... I'm on pins and needles. Nothing I should have to worry about, but don't want to get my hopes up. You never know these days.

The deadline on the contingencies is the day before the wedding. If you have any good vibes to spare, please send them my way. I have a feeling I've got some majorly sleep deprived days ahead of me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

1 for 1

1 = number of times I have ever bought a case of beer in my life
1 = number of times a case of beer that I bought was recalled

http://www.samadams.com/cidefault.htm

Monday, March 31, 2008

The torture is over!

Yes, it was all self-inflicted and by choice, and I guess I must be a bit of a masochist because I really am glad I tortured myself for all these months to be ready for the Georgia Marathon, but now I will say, I am so glad it's over!! No more training!! (Well, marathon level training at least.)

I feel proud for having done three marathons, and don't feel any need to do another at this point. I guess the second two were trying to recapture and improve on the wonderful feeling I had after the first, but I guess there is no reliving the past. I'll just have to treasure that memory.

First the results. I finished with a time of 4:30. Not as good as my first, but better than my second. And this was by far a hillier route than either of those, so 4:30 is actually not a bad time all things considered.

The best part is, I really felt good all the way up to about mile 23 1/2 - that was the turn back uphill on 10th street. Things got rough after that, but that's pretty much to be expected.

Highlights:

MOB stood by me at the starting corral til the race started. It was pretty cold. Supposedly in the mid-40s, but the wind must have brought it down to the 30s.

I had debated on what to wear, but decided to go with shorts, a long sleeve technical shirt with a short sleeve t-shirt on top. Once we started moving, I picked up an XXL warm cozy sweatshirt that someone had abandoned on the fence. I put it on until our group was almost up to the starting line, at which point, I tied it around my neck and it draped over my shoulders and back like a cape. It did a lot to protect me from the bone-chilling breeze that pushed us through the first 3 miles. After that, I was warmed up and didn't notice a breeze anymore, so I tossed it. Many thanks to the person who left it at the starting area!!

I did the walk/run approach for the first 23 miles - intervals of running 9 minutes and walking 1. I had a bottle of water with me, but took advantage of most of the water stops in the first 14 miles. It was definitely nice to have an option of stopping or not at the water stops. They must have taken the complaints from last year to heart because there was more than enough water. I also nibbled on a Cliff bar from miles 6 to 20.

Although grey clouds hung over us all morning, thankfully it didn't rain, and the flowers blooming all along the route really made up for the lack of color in the sky. Dogwoods, azaleas, rose-buds, maybe some cherry blossoms.... it was exactly what I hoped for as I ran through my favorite neighborhoods in Atlanta.

The half-marathoners were a chatty, noisy group (MOB would say "maybe back where you run") and I was kind of glad for the quiet that followed after we separated from them. There were pockets of crowd support and my face became sore from smiling so much at the people who came out to cheer us on. I really wanted them to know how much I appreciated it. The volunteers are awesome. Running by the cheering crowd at Agnes Scott was a huge rush. No one from the other colleges we ran through (Ga. Tech, Ga. State, Emory - you know who you are), showed up as far as I could tell. Well, except my friend S, who goes to Emory and ran along side with me for about a half-mile between 13 and 14 while we caught up with each other. That was very cool.

The route through the aptly named Druid Hills was tough but lovely, all decked out in spring flowers. I knew that after Druid Hills there'd be a nice stretch of flat and downhill in the Highlands and that kept me hanging on.

Okay, this is a little embarassing. When I finally made it to the bridge entering into Piedmont Park around mile 23, I broke into tears. I've become so connected with this park over the past 5 years of living by it and running through it, that it was like coming home after a really challenging journey. That only lasted a minute, as I realized I couldn't afford to lose it all yet. It was going to be tough going up 10th street right after the park.

A couple I know live on Juniper and 10th (between miles 23 and 24), and had come out on their balcony to cheer me on. I was hoping to see them there, but was not expecting to see my name emblazoned on some kind of placards they'd created and hung off the railing. It was such a rush at a point in the race when I really needed the extra push. They made me feel great.

Then it got tough, as it does for everybody. Around mile 24, my old knee pain started to reveal itself, but I thought about how I forced myself through those last 13 miles in Detroit with that damned pain, and there was no way I was going to let it stop me with only 2 miles to go this time.

I saw MOB just before the finishing area. I was happy to see him because I knew it was almost over, and that was all I wanted at that point. It was a push through the finish. The last 50 yards or so were a twisting, turning maze, but I understood later that they had to change the finish line because of all the glass and damage from the tornado on the original finish line.

It seemed like the temperatures plummeted about 50 degrees after I finished. Luckily MOB had brought my sweats, a dry shirt, and my wind-breaker, but the cold wind stiffened my muscles. I was able to slowly walk up the hill to the Peachtree Marta station, but I could barely make it up the hill coming out of the Arts Center station.

Seriously, I've never felt so immobilized. I think I know what it'll be like for me if I live to be 100. MOB ended up going ahead of me to get the car. Once the heated seats thawed my muscles a bit, I was able to walk again. I am still pretty stiff, but now it's more the normal post-marathon stuff.

So, I guess those were more than the highlights, but more like a full report on the whole thing. :) I guess I covered it! I'm looking forward now to getting into my bloglines and reading about everyone else's race this weekend - either in Georgia or elsewhere!

Friday, March 28, 2008

ING Georgia, and a few other things, on my mind

If it's not clear from both the content of my posts and the quantity of my posts - I've been a bit distracted by other things besides running lately. This past week, MOB mentioned something about trying to see me in the Highlands on Sunday, and I said, "why, what's happening Sunday?" Oh, that's right, I'm only running a frickin' marathon! ;)

Earlier this week, the forecast was ideal for Sunday, but now it looks like there's a chance of showers and lows in the 40s, highs in the 50s. One thing I've learned though, is never trust the forecasts.

It's not just the wedding and trying to sell my condo that's been on my mind. My mind is occupied by work as well. It was a bad year for our industry last year, and whenever a company has a bad year, my area (training and development) always feels a lot of pressure the following year. I really can't complain too much though. Compared to other companies (Delta comes to mind right now), we don't seem to be that bad off.

I try not to blog about work, but I'll just say this - they've been pretty good to me at this place. It's been the ideal job for me so far and I'd kinda like to keep it.

I probably won't be posting again until after the marathon. Going into it, I feel pretty good - I'll get through it. It won't be my best time, but I knew that all along. I'm glad to be part of this particular marathon because it honors all the great features of this city that I've come to call home.

Until then my friends!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring is here!!

I finally saw signs of Spring everywhere during my 7 or 8 mile run this past Friday. It really boosted my mood. Or maybe my mood has also been boosted by the fact that I'm not trying to fit 40miles into every week! The taper is good, long live the taper.

One week from today, I will hopefully be about mid-way through my last marathon! It's funny because although I have wanted to do this marathon for the past two years, now all I'm thinking about is the time I'm going to get back into my life to focus on my upcoming wedding. The party in April is 3 weeks away, the actual wedding is less than a month and a half away.

Ann asked about the tornado that hit Atlanta. Luckily it didn't move up to midtown where my condo is still waiting its new owner. I'm very fortunate that the only effect I will feel is that they've changed the location of the Expo for the marathon. I think I can handle that.

For those who haven't seen the photo yet, InDecatur has shared the best shot of the tornado and some background information on the photo. I'm not going to copy the photo because I'm not sure if it's copyrighted. I think the photographer could make a bit of money off of that shot - it's very incredible.

Monday, March 17, 2008

big woops on that taper

Yeah, so somehow I left a week out right at the end when I made up my training plan. I suddenly realized last week - wait a minute, somehow I did my longest run 4 weeks out from the marathon - I thought it was supposed to be 3 weeks out.

Once I looked more closely at the plan, I realized somehow I left the entire week of March 17th off of it. Nice going! I think a 4-week taper may be too long. To try to make up for it, I did 15 miles last weekend. I'll do 10 for my last long run and just hope and pray that my body holds up come race day!!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

22 miles never felt so good

Happy dances all around, I completed my 22 mile long run last Sunday and it went very well!! I averaged a 10:27 minute pace, which is good for me with that distance and on all these hills. It was a perfect and beautiful spring day. The daffodils and crocuses are out and a few red-bud trees (I believe that's what they're called) were making an early full-bloom appearance. After the run, I was able to shower quickly and walk across the park to meet friends for lunch. Not very sore, my stretching and strength training program seems to be helping a lot. I am actually looking forward to this damned marathon now!

Hopefully the weather will be cooperative. We've been getting a lot of rain lately, which is a good thing, but I can't imagine it will be fun if it rains on the marathon.

The only problem now is my shorts (nice Nike running shorts - my favorites). I noticed on my 20-miler a few weeks ago that the back seams in the waistband rubbed raw two small areas of my lower back. On the 22 miler, about 6 areas of my lower back and waist were rubbed raw. I didn't notice it happening at all during either run, but in the shower afterwards, those areas were sore to the touch and later scabbed over in garish red. I guess I'll have to go out and find a new pair of shorts for the marathon. It's not a good idea to introduce new running wear for a marathon, but looks like I don't have a choice.

I made sure to eat lots of carbs on Saturday, the day before the long run. The Friday before was another one of those busy workdays where I procrastinated eating without really thinking about it, and then when I finally got around to it, I just scooped down a quick bowl of cereal. I knew I wasn't well fueled, so I put off my long run until Sunday so I would have more time to fuel up. I think that was a good move.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

ING GA Marathon Route - a moving target

Has anyone else noticed that they seem to have changed the ING GA Marathon Route several times since they first released it? Seems that they are still tweaking the route. No major changes, but I'm glad that they did away with the out and back on Freedom Parkway.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Better week than the prior

Maybe it was the rant last week, more likely that I've been able to return to some better eating habits, but my mood regarding running has improved significantly this past week (and no, there's no relationship to my monthly cycle!) After the 16-miler last Saturday, I did 3 on Sunday, strength on Monday, 3 on Tuesday, 5 on Wednesday, 3 on Thursday, 14 on Saturday, and 3 on Sunday. Also, I think it started to help when I realized that the marathon is now only 4 weeks away. I have a 22 miler on schedule for this weekend, and then I get to taper!! Whoo-hoo! Finally.

I saw the Spirit of the Marathon last Thursday night. I was cynical at first as to whether it would have any effect on me, but as the movie continued I started to feel more inspired. Especially watching and listening to the elite runners. I liked the line from one of the back-of-the-packers who said that we're literally following in their footsteps.

Looking back, I think that poor eating was the likely culprit of my low energy and cranky attitude these past few weeks. With all the travel I did in January and the first part of February, my eating habits suffered. Not only was I not eating well, I don't think I was eating enough considering the running. I definitely wasn't drinking enough water either. I lost a bit of weight last month - most people wouldn't be able to tell, but I can. I'm not complaining! Just that I'm not really trying to lose weight.

Normally, I'm a relatively healthy eater. First thing each day, I have a piece of wheat toast with coffee while I pour out some frozen fruit to thaw. About mid-morning, I cover the fruit with some plain yogurt and granola and eat it with a glass of O.J. Lunches are generally PB sandwiches (made with this Flaxseed Peanut Butter I found) or something similarly small and healthy. MOB's a healthy eater too (much healthier than me), so the dinners we share are usually home-made meals that include vegetables and often a salad. Plus I generally finish a 2-liter bottle of rasberry-flavored selzer water each day.

I'm not a perfect eater by any means - I have my daily chocolate fix and I'll have whatever I want when out with friends (some rules: rarely, if ever, anything deep-fried and I never drink sodas), but generally, I'm pretty good.

This past week, I've been able to get back to my eating routine and it's amazing how much better I feel.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A runner's dream home


Let's see, how can I advertise my condo on a running blog? Actually, it's not hard considering that that this magnificent property is located one block from Piedmont Park, with great people-watching runner's paths and an 800 meter gravel track. You'll never get bored with the countless different running routes through scenic neighborhoods such as Ansley Park, Morningside, Virginia Highlands, Buckhead (only 3 miles north), Historic Midtown, Little Five Points, Georgia Tech, and Downtown.

The proximity to many popular races either by foot or via Marta can't be beat! Be first to the starting line for the Peachtree Road Race, the ING Georgia Half and Full Marathon, the Atlanta Half and Full Marathon, Shamrock 'n' Roll at Atlantic Station, the Buckhead Sizzler, and many more!

Looking for a running club? There are many to choose from only a short jog away - try Phiddipides in Ansley Square, the Virginia Highlands on Wednesday nights, or the Energy Coffeeshop runners near Atlantic Station.

I ask you, what runner wouldn't want to live in a place like this? :)

Get more info here: https://www.forsalebyowner.com/21462174

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I have PMS (Pre Marathon Syndrome)

I have been experiencing 8 out of these 11 common symptoms of PMS (Pre Marathon Syndrome) for about 3-4 weeks now. Breast swelling is not one of them, unfortunately. It feels wonderful to finally have a name for what I've been going through! Here's some information I found on the internet.

What are the symptoms of PMS?

PMS often includes both physical and emotional symptoms. Common symptoms are:

  • acne
  • breast swelling and tenderness
  • feeling tired
  • having trouble sleeping
  • upset stomach, bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • headache or backache
  • appetite changes or food cravings
  • joint or muscle pain
  • trouble concentrating or remembering
  • tension, irritability, mood swings, or crying spells
  • anxiety or depression

What is the treatment for PMS?

Many things have been tried to ease the symptoms of PMS. No treatment works for every runner, so you may need to try different ones to see what works. If your PMS is not so bad that you need to see a doctor, some lifestyle changes may help you feel better. Below are some lifestyle changes that may help ease your symptoms.

  • Take a multivitamin every day that includes 400 micrograms of folic acid. (I have been eating very badly lately, so this isn't a bad idea.)
  • A calcium supplement with vitamin D can help keep bones strong and may help ease some PMS symptoms. (Hmmm, interesting idea.)
  • Exercise regularly. (Sort of a "hair of the dog" approach I guess.)
  • Eat healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. (see bullet 1)
  • Avoid salt, sugary foods, caffeine, and alcohol, especially when you are having PMS symptoms. (ONLY as a last resort. And maybe not even then.)
  • Get enough sleep. Try to get 8 hours of sleep each night. (Not a problem. Getting out of a bed has been though.)
  • Find healthy ways to cope with stress. Talk to your friends, exercise, or write in a journal. (How about a blog?)
  • Don’t smoke. (Only if I can keep the salt, sugar, caffeine, & alcohol.)

In the meantime, I'm going to see Spririt of the Marathon tonight. Maybe it will give me motivation. In 3 days, it will be 4 weeks until the marathon. In a little over a week, I'll do my last LONG run before the taper. It's finally creeping up, thank god!! I feel like I've been training forever.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

still a bad runner rant

Suddenly in these past few weeks, I dread running. 60 degrees is too cold to go out. It's too windy. The grey sky is too depressing. My legs are tired. Why did I sign up for another marathon anyway? I don't want to run a marathon. There's too much going on in my life. The cats need me around to help them adjust to their new home. I need to sell my condo. I need to plan a wedding party. I need to plan a wedding ceremony. Running is hard. Running takes time. I'm tired of my same old routes. I'm going to miss my old routes when I move. I hate running during rush hour. Maybe I'll sign up for Oprah's online book club. I'm hungry. I can't run when I'm hungry. I can't run when I'm full. It's too dark to run.

How about that. I actually feel a little better now. Okay, okay, I'm going.

Monday, February 18, 2008

bad runner

I really blew off my training last week. Maybe I let the 20-miler the Saturday before go to my head. In any case, I didn't run again until 5 miles on Thursday and then the 16-miler Saturday. Not surprisingly my pace was back down. Not as bad as 11 minutes, but almost at 10:45.

It's possible the carb-loading I did before the 20-miler may have helped my pace as well. I usually forget about what I'm eating and how it impacts my running.

On the bright side, I have been very good about doing my strength training every Monday and am getting stronger. I can now actually DO some of the moves that seemed physically impossible when I started about a month and a half ago. I may be able to run long distances, but I am as strong as a two-year old.

In unrelated news, the cats were officially moved into MOB's place over the weekend and I'll be putting my cozy, wonderful condo out on this beast of a market. My "Midtown Life" will soon be behind me. It's kind of a significant point in all of our lives. You would think with all of this change going on, I'd have lots to post about, but it seems to have the opposite effect on me.

The new life is going to be terrific and I'm so looking forward to finally getting things resettled. Maybe I'm afraid that if I post about all the unsettling of my old life, it will seem that I don't appreciate what's ahead. In any case, we're getting closer day by day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

On the sidelines

















For the first time ever, I was on the sidelines cheering someone else on at a race this past weekend. It was odd to stand around near the starting area on the wrong side of the fence, but kind of enjoyable to experience the thrill of a race by proxy - without having to sweat for it. The hardest thing I had to do was clap my bare hands in the cold weather. (My fingers were pruned and numb just from the cold! I'm really sensitive to cold - have I mentioned that yet??)

Luckily, MOB was running the half-marathon, so I didn't have to wait too long. (He came in 125th overall! That's my guy! :)

And I got to witness a neck and neck, back and forth fight for the finish line of the half. You can watch video of it: click here. They went by in a flash. You can kind of make me out in my tan jacket on the right of the screen at the very very beginning of the video. Don't look too hard though or you may strain your eyes.

Birmingham is a very very quiet town on the weekend, but I will give it kudos for being very clean and having a working trolley down the main street. Birmingham didn't even exist as a city until 1871 and grew up as a steel town. Don't know why I thought it was around longer than that. The free, donation only, art museum was worth a visit.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The hills didn't get me today

I felt so much better running my 20-miler today than I did on last week's 18-miler that at one point I even started to wonder of I had accidentally mapped out a shorter route, but that wasn't the case. It was just a better run.

Last week's 18-miler time: 3 hrs 18 min, a 11 min pace
This week's 20-miler time: 3 hrs 31 min, a 10:33 min pace

Go figure.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

20 miler coming up!

Here's the run on the menu for Saturday... then we jump into a car to go to Birmingham for MOB's Half Marathon on Sunday. I'm looking forward to cheering MOB on - I think this will be the first race of his since I've known him that I'm not also in...

Monday, February 4, 2008

What happened to my pace?

My long runs have been abysmally slow these past few weeks. I feel like I'm in a lot better shape now than I was for either of the two previous marathons I did, but it's not showing in my time. Granted, the routes I'm running are maybe 10x hillier than those races were.

At this rate, I don't think I can hope to match the 10:10 minute pace (4.26) that I managed in my first marathon. I don't even think I can match the 10:38 pace (4.39) I managed in my second marathon- the one in which I hurt my knee right after passing the half-way mark. In that one, I held back tears as I miserably forced myself to run/walk through the pain for 2 1/2 hours until I reached the finish line.

My hope going into that second marathon was to finish it in 4 hours. I felt so ready and I wasn't far off my target at the halfway point. It was a flat flat course. It's that sense of regret for how badly that second half went that has been driving me to want to do just one more marathon and finish strong this time - maybe not fast, but at least not in tears.

These hills are killing me. I know I'm going to be slow, but I hope that at least by training on the race route, I'll have a measure of protection against injury. And when this race is over, there will be nothing but shorter races and strong legs that I can work on speed with.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Everything's just fine...

I've long since learned that when my non-runner friends and family ask me how my running is going, they're just being polite. They really don't want to hear about my pace, the hilly routes, my running shoes... I've learned that the best answer is simply "Fine, thanks."

That lesson now needs to be applied to the question I am getting these days "How are your wedding plans going?" Yesterday, I found myself responding with an explanation of how I designed and redesigned my wedding invitations, triumphantly located good, cheap paper after hours of searching the internet, and finally finished them with a red ribbon and a wax seal.

Considering how much time and thought I put into them, it seemed noteworthy enough to me. However, that moment of awkward silence that followed my answer brought the familiar lesson home to me. "Fine thanks" will do in the future!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Florida is faster!

I always run faster in Florida. So nice and flat!! I managed an overall 9 min, 30 sec pace for this 10 miler (ish) last Saturday.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

running in Charlotte

I'm in Charlotte this week for work. Last time I was here I was afraid to venture out of the small, familiar downtown business district to run, but then I wasn't training for a marathon. I was deteremined not to let my travel interfere with my training, so I looked up Charlotte Running clubs and found one that shared a nearby running route on their site. (Here's the route info.)

I managed to start both Wednesday and Thursday's runs by 4:30, while it was still light. It's a little scary running into unfamiliar territory by yourself in a strange town. After the first run though, I could see that it would be quite a safe route even after dark. It was pleasant too - old churches, charming houses and tree-lined neighborhoods.

There were lots of pedestrians, many of whom appeared to be commuting home on foot. I didn't see a homeless person on my run at all. Charlotte does not have any significant presence of homeless people - quite a change from Atlanta.

Wednesday's 5 mile run was in a downpour of rain, but no thunder or lightning and I found it kind of refreshing. I didn't see any other runners until Thursday's 7.5 miler, when the weather turned sunny. Apparently the runners of Charlotte are fair-weather people. :) I don't really blame them.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Never trust the local weather

I should know better than to let myself get scared by our local weather reporters. Last Friday evening all the stations predicted that there would be 1"-3" of snow on the ground by sunrise on Saturday. They were telling parents to get their kids up early and go play in the snow. They were warning about horrible road conditions. They ran a ticker of all the meetings and events that were being closed over the weekend... (the monthly Meeting of Jesters and the Barry Manilow concert were both cancelled!)

While it was bitter cold this past weekend, the actual conditions were nowhere near the biblical scale that had been forecasted. The dawn light of Saturday morning showed no trace of snow nor any rain. It had sprinkled a little around 5am, but then let up.

At 7am, I began to curse myself for getting duped by those weather reporters. I rushed to get dressed in appropriate running gear (2 layers of running pants, sports bra, 2 cold-weather technical shirts topped off with a kangaroo pocket rain jacket, a face warmer, hat, ear muffs, gloves that convert into mittens, socks and shoes - I was dressed like I was ready to lose every hand of an all-night game of strip poker).

8-9am Saturday was perfect running weather. No rain, cloudy and cool but not cold yet. I stripped off the face-warmer, ear-muffs, and gloves and put them into the kangaroo pocket. 9-10am, the temperature dropped, sprinkles of rain fell and I put the face-mask, ear-muffs, and gloves back on and pulled the hood of my rain jacket over my head. 10-11am, snow. Lovely, puffy snow. I warmed up a bit again and had to pull the ear-muffs and face-mask back off.

I never loved my kangaroo pocket rain jacket as much as I did Saturday. In addition to the above mentioned items, the following also found their way into the pocket by the end of the run. 2 vanilla-flavored cliff shot wrappers. 1 heavily used snot-rag. 1 empty water bottle. 1 set of keys.

Can I blame all that extra weight for the really slow pace that I ended up doing?

The next long run will be a stark contrast to this one. Flat and sunny Florida awaits!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Map my fitness

The weather is not cooperating with me this weekend. If I run today, it will be a wintry mix of rain and snow, but the temperature will be 37 degrees. If I wait til tomorrow, it will be sunny but the temperature will be 20 degrees and possibly icy. What to do, what to do?!

Here's my planned route - it follows the marathon route. I signed up on this Map My Fitness site a long time ago, right before I injured my knee and had to stop running for a while. I forgot about it when I started back. I think I'll start using it more. With the other mapping site I was using, I bookmarked the route to my local computer, but that's no help when I'm over at MOB's trying to plan a run. Plus, this site has nicer editing options to go in and update a route, copy a route, etc. You can also find other people's routes that they've saved in the same area. Pretty cool.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Torn ACL

No, not me. My good friend tore her ACL and possibly her meniscus too on the dance floor last Saturday night... I told you we were really grooving. I feel so bad for her!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Overdress for success

It's been COLD here the past few days, and I'm convinced that the weather sites were mis-reporting the temperatures to be higher than they actually were. Tuesday and Wednesday both, I checked the temperatures before dressing for what should have been a mildly cold run, only to have chilly fingers from start to finish.

I don't run well in the cold. I am stiff and completely miserable. Much of it is probably mental, but rather than overcome my bad attitude, I prefer to over dress for the temperatures. I layer on until I'm sweating standing still in minus zero temperatures. I know it's not the recommended approach for cold-weather running, but that's the only way I can get myself out the door.

Today I decided to ignore the reported temperatures and dress as if I were running around the arctic circle. Two pairs of pants, 4 layers on my upper body, a hat with ear covering and gloves. A little chilly starting out, but finally, about 2 miles into it I broke a sweat. Aaah. That's more like it.

Oh, and 3 days of running in a row! 8-5-8. They were not the best runs I've had, but I'm proud of myself for just getting out there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

There will be blood

Wouldn't that be a great name for a really tough trail run? (It might have applied to a run another blogger recently attempted.)

Things are hectic for me lately and I don't do hectic well. I get stressed, tired, start procrastinating and not doing things I should do. And I have a lot to do right now. Something to do with a wedding.

I am trying to justify the fact that I haven't run in three days or done my strength training by countering (to myself) that I did some pretty intense dancing with some very good friends last Saturday night. One of my friends even injured her knee on the dance floor and is going to an orthopedic doctor this week. That's how intense it was. (Or that's how old we are.)

But I'll get out there for 8 miles somehow today.

Non-running related, I saw There Will Be Blood last week and really loved it - except for the end. The ending was pretty over the top and somewhat out of character for the rest of the film.

SPOILER ALERT - if you haven't seen it yet you may want to stop reading now. I'm going to give away a little bit about the ending. This is an example of how I procrastinate when, for example, I should be trying to find the right stationary for my wedding invitations. I came up with an alternate ending to the movie instead.

In my version of the ending, everything is the same up to where Daniel gets Eli to repeat the line that he's a false prophet. After Daniel then tells him that there's no oil on the land and Eli is sitting there crying into his drink, they should go back to the silence that was so effective earlier in the movie. You just see both of their faces for a minute - the grief and shame on Eli's and the mirth and hate in Daniel's eyes. Then the butler guy comes down and asks if Daniel needs anything. Daniel gets up, shuffles to the door, and before leaving, then turns and says "I'm finished."

I'm going with my ending. It makes more sense to me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

back on the plan - 16 miles

16 miles - whoo hoo! And even better than the last 16-miler I ran. This time I brought water and a Clif-shot which went down pretty nicely around mile 9.

Note to self - not a good idea to bring carbonated water in a leaky bottle with you on a run. I filled my little hand-held bottle with rasberry seltzer water (I just really don't like my tap water) and within the first 10 yards it was fizzing and spurting out of some little gaps between the lid and the bottle. About half the bottle escaped, but I managed to keep just as much as I needed to wash down the Clif-shot.

Even though I felt great to get back to the long run after my little back scare, it was a slower run than the last. Not to make excuses, but it wasn't me. Another good note to self may be to avoid running downtown at lunchtime. I hit every red light at every crossing, sidewalks were either closed (Atlanta's building boom) or milling with working folk enjoying the nice weather on their lunch hour. I was stopped by one woman looking for a library, and after seeming confused by my directions, to which I responded by giving more and more detail, she pulled out an address for a different library than the one I directed her to. So, really, it wasn't me. I was great. I rocked.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

a test of two tasks

test one - can you hear me now? I have a good feeling this post will be my first one to show up in the Running Blog Family feedburner. I've been reading all of you on the RBF for years now - gathering inspiration and motivation, laughing along with your stories, and feeling more sane from them too. It's nice to find people as (or more) addicted to and obsessed with running as I am. I was on the RBF originally with Midtown Life, but changed my blog and never crossed the 't's or dotted the 'i's to get back in with the family. I hope I'm home now! Thanks to Mark for your help getting set up (if this actually works! if not, I take it back. :)

test two - my first 10-miler post back injury/recovery. It felt great, I feel great. So far, touch wood, I'm still on track for the Georgia Marathon on March 30th.

testing - can you hear me now?

this is a test post - Mark from the RBF is helping me get set up - not sure what my problem is but I'm very happy that he's reached out to help me!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Let's twist again

Really great progress with my back. I was able to do 6 miles on Saturday on a flat gravel path - I probably could have even done more, but thought it better to be cautious. Running did not seem to trigger any back pain at all. On Sunday, I did another 3 miles on a hilly gravel path. Monday, I did my first round of the new core strength routine - the "Pedestal Routine" - pdf downloaded from RunningDVDs.com. And today, I'm going to get back on my training plan and do an 8 miler. Cross fingers!

I'll be doing a little maintenance work on the blog today to get it listed with the Running Blog Family Directory. I've tried to get Rundoodle on that thing in the past to no avail - possibly from my own technical ineptness, hard to say, but I hope I'll get picked up as they start with a fresh slate.

Oh, P.S., the cats now watch me scoop their litter-box with new interest and seem to be hoping that I'll do something entertaining again. Poor things live such boring lives, I really should play with them more.

[Update] 7.5 miles in the bag! My upper shoulders and chest were tight and ache-y from yesterdays strength routine, and I was thirsty, so I walked the last half mile. Overall, it was a decent run - and a big relief!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

not ready to do the twist yet... maybe a light jog though

My back has been slowly but steadily improving since Wednesday. It went from "It hurts everywhere!" to a more specific and manageable "It hurts when I twist or lower my head." Surprisingly, the hardest thing to do is sleep. I like to turn a lot when I sleep and turning requires twisting from the back which ends up causing spasms of pain.

I've determined to look past my age as the cause of this (too depressing), and I think the root cause may have been the first run we did up in Chicago a week and a half before. The snow had melted in most places, so we expected the 9.5 mile trail to be fairly clear and dry. However, because the previous snows had been packed down by skiers on the trail, at that point it was an icy, slushy mess. We ran anyway, and the first three miles were kind of a fun challenge for me, not having been up in any kind of snow or ice in years. (Don't ask me how I felt about the remaining 6.5 miles.)

There were a few slips and slides on the ice - one in particular had my feet sliding out to the side from under me and I twisted my body around pretty strongly to keep myself upright. I think that twist was the culprit. A few days later, I noticed some mild pain in my back - something I dismissed as being a part of "that time of the month." Then Wednesday happened.

Yes, the deeper root cause is probably still lack of core training, but I was glad to have another reason to stick on this. I suspect that I'm not the only runner out there neglecting my core training and I am not reading many posts from other runners finding themselves frozen on their hands and knees with their backs locked in waves of pain.

The same day I hurt my back another blogger in the Running Blog Family, and I'm embarrassed that I didn't record the name to give credit (if you read this, let me know and I'll credit you!), posted a suggestion that runners should make a new years resolution to focus on core training this year. Good suggestion. He also linked to a few videos on Runners World that showed Matt Tegenkamp's core workout. I'm afraid those workouts would not leave me with enough time to actually run, so I found a few others on the site that looked like I could fit into my weekly routine.



RunningDVDs.com looks like they have some good videos, plus they have a free downloadable PDF showing a couple of good strength training routines.

After running through my Christmas and New Years vacations like a champ, I haven't run since 8 miles last Monday. I'm feeling fat and unhappy. I'm going to give 3 miles a try today, and if they feel okay, I'm going to do 3 more. I'll have to revisit my training plan for the March 30 marathon, but I think I'm still good to make it. I intentionally made it a longer plan than usual for just this kind of reason.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

oh the pain

Just when I was feeling all smug about how strong my legs are getting, the lack of knee pain, the ease at which I'm able to kick out an easy 8-10 miler... cue dramatic music.... dun-dun-duuunhh... you probably know what's coming but you'd be wrong if you guessed knee trouble again. Nope, this morning as I kneeled on the floor and shoved the kitty litter box back into its spot after its morning scoop, my back suddenly (very suddenly) spasmed in pain and I was unable to move.

That's right. Frozen on my hands and knees in front of the litter box. It was absurdly painful. If I lifted an arm - back spasm. If I tried to sit up or lay down - back spasm. I had a hard time processing this and called out in pain every time I tried to shift myself into a new position, hoping to find a way to get up. At first my puzzled cat sniffed at my face to see if this was some kind of new game but as I continued to grimace and cry out, she quickly distanced herself, eyes wide in fear.

I was desperate. I tried deep breathing, I tried that yoga exercise where you focus on a part of the body to relax it. Nothing but waiting there about 10 minutes worked. Even then I just barely managed to get to my feet, bent over in spasms of pain, reach up (that hurt too) to the medicine cabinet and quickly swallow three advil. In the same bent over position, I shuffled into the living/kitchen area, leaned on a counter stool, and pushed it around like a walker. Somehow I felt like all I needed was a second cup of coffee and this would go away. I couldn't even reach up to pour myself one.

I've had several painful accidents in my life and nothing hurt as much as this - not even falling from a 10 foot ledge, landing face-first into a fallen tree trunk and breaking my nose. Even now, medicated and with a heating pad strapped to my back, subtle shifts of weight in my chair will cause a spasm of pain in my back.

I suppose this serves me right for taking my back for granted and neglecting my core training. For ignoring my recent birthday, which announced that I had reached my "sell by" date and that I have nothing but deterioration to look forward to if I don't start paying more attention to myself.

I had hoped my first post of the new year would be more cheerful than this! I had planned to write about how well I stuck to my training plan despite the cold weather up in Chicago. How well my cold weather gear worked out. How my new years resolution would be to get more core training in...

I've never had a back injury before but judging from MOB's experiences, I should expect to rest for a few days before I try running again. I'll use the time to locate my old Pilates workout DVDs...