Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Ballad of the Resolutioneer

It's that time of year again, when the gyms fill up and everyone starts planning how this year is going to be different.

We are going to get in shape, get ahead at work, get involved at church or do more in the community. For about a month.

And then, that wagon starts a-bucking and a-shaking and we fall off.

I regularly visit a couple of on-line communities for people interested in endurance sports and every January, the whining begins: "The gym is too crowded" "Someone is on my spin bike" "A slow person is in my lane" "People are walking on the treadmill" "I can't get on an elliptical machine" "How long until these Resolutioneers are gone?"

It's almost like people see the gym as an us versus them struggle.


Why not embrace the newbies?

Aren't we all at the gym to get in better shape? Isn't everyone happier as we get in better shape? Aren't looser clothes more comfortable than tight ones?

Full disclosure here => I had to wear a suit to work a couple of weeks ago and I chose one of the ones that I bought and wore before the girls were born. The jacket was fine (one of my work buddies thought it was too big), but the pants turned out to be too tight, way too tight, and hurt me all day. It was torturous. I was seriously crabby just because of those stupid pants. Now, can you imagine if all of your pants felt that way? Like they were torturing you? Biting into your waist all day? Reminding you that you used to be smaller? How pleasant would you be? How much would you be giving (time, energy, kindness) to those around you if all you could think of were those damn pants?

So, give the new folks a break this month. They have taken the first step and are poised on the edge of making activity a habit! That is such a great thing!

Help them out if they don't know how the treadmills work or where to find the paper towels to wipe off the equipment or that they even need to wipe off the equiment. Show them how to set up the spin bikes and where the earplugs are. Offer to split your lane or circle-swim.


Say hello.

Give advice or answer questions if someone asks you.

Because you could make the difference between the newbies feeling welcome and coming back and making activity their habit or getting discouraged again and quitting. Soon, those folks that stick with it will be getting in better shape and their pants will fit better and they will be getting stronger and happier and that is good for everyone.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What You Don't Know

I wussed out on my run this morning and lazed around the house. And brought a shelf of dishes crashing to the floor, but that is another story.

We ran errands this morning, scoring some after-Christmas deals and using up the gift cards the girls got before we could lose them. Then, we met some Doug's family who were driving through town on the way to Key West for a late lunch at Chilis.

Then, we got back and Doug said I could go for my run. I sucked it up, donned my winter gear and sallied forth.

Into the snow.

It was GREAT! I had so much fun catching snowflakes on my tongue and feeling the flakes melting on my face. Doug had loaded some tunes onto my i-pod since I finished listening to "Once A Runner" and they were great to hear as I was crunching around. Jimmy Buffet has an album called "Songs You Know By Heart" and my running mix today was like that, except that they weren't just songs to which I know the words. They were my up-tempo life's soundtrack. So fabulous. I'm sure I broke into song more than once.

I ran up to the park and around the trails. Even in the wind and snow, there were at least three couples there walking their dogs. They looked like there were having as much fun as I was. I was careful not to slip on the icy bridges, but I still tripped over a root (I think) and Superman-ned onto the path. I tried to channel Doug and roll, so it didn't even hurt.

So, the point is that the people in the cars that passed me on the way to the park and on the way home were totally missing out.

They don't know how much fun it is to feel the soft flakes on your head or to jump into the snowy yard when a car comes too close or to hurdle over the icy patches or to shake your booty when Morris Day says "oh, the THINGS I could do to YOU!" or to wave your hands in the air because the guy on the song says so or to take smaller steps on the turns so that you don't slide out of them (I've made that mistake before!). They don't know the joy of running so fast down that hill that you can feel your legs straining against your tired muscles as you struggle to stay on the path or to race your kid on the last bit home.

I so wish that I could explain it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Over the Hill and Through the Woods

Doug and the girls and I volunteered at the Pine Mountain 40 mile trail run last weekend. Doug has run the Twisted Ankle Marathon, but that is the closest that we have come to an ultra marathon. To save the trouble of linking, I'll just tell you that an ultra marathon is any running race in which the distance is longer than 26.2 miles. Doug and I have been interested in the ultra-running for a while and who wouldn't rather run on trails than on the road?

So, anyway, we signed up to volunteer for fun and to get a window into the action. Doug may be ready to run an ultra in the next year or so, but it will be a while yet for me to build the mileage. Volunteering was great fun despite the frigid temperatures. The race was held at the F.D. Roosevelt State Park, which is basically a mountain plopped down in the middle of the piedmont near Callaway Gardens and the Little White House. The mountain is hilly and the trail is what they call "single track," which means that there is only room to run single file. And there are rocks, lots of rocks, on the trail and they are covered with leaves, which meant that the race was very challenging.

Here is a photo of the girls on the trail. Notice how you can't really see a trail? You navigate by keeping the blue blazes on the trees on one side of you.

We arrived at the site to find a happy band of volunteers and a very organized set-up. Victor, aid-station director extraordinaire, had lugged three coolers of water, a table and 2 bins of food down the trail about 1/4 mile from the parking lot to the Fox Den location. There was a lot of talk amongst the regulars about how Sally would want to see the aid station. Here is a photo of the famous Sally (who was really darn fast, by the way) and the delightfully tidy and organized aid station.

Here is our happy band, from the left: the guy who runs 100 mile races, Amanda, me, Doug, the guy who was both volunteer and sweeper, and Amanda's husband?

And again, with Victor on the left. Not only was Victor super-organized and seemingly tireless, he had a really nice camera and took photos of all of the runners and got their email addresses to send them race photos. He sent all of the good photos included in this post. The grainy ones are from my phone.

The guy who runs 100 mile races was a trail veteran who started running ultras after he finished running a marathon in all 50 states. He told me all about ultras and was a cool guy. He left us right at closing time because he had to give a guy whose knee was tweaked a ride back to the finish.

So, here we are in action. Doug would grab the runners' water-bottles or camelbaks and fill them while he explained how many miles they had to go and that this was the last chance for calories though there was water a couple of miles down the road. Some of the runners were totally with it and hogged out of the food, while others were loopy and had trouble with conversation. Several runners were bloody from close encounters with the trail. You can see the 100 mile race guy in his chair on the right. He was taking down numbers of each runner and the time they came through. This is a safety measure to make sure that no runners got lost on the trail and that we didn't leave anyone out there when we closed the station.
Here are the girls enjoying a snack. They like to run down the trail and greet the runners and collect their water bottles to bring back to refill. When they got too cold, we put them in the car with a movie on the computer, which worked great. Then they returned to help out with the volunteering and run around like crazed monkeys. Notice that Annika is wearing her Brooks Ghost shoes too. Hee.

Victor put me to work making PB&Js, which is a good job for me, so I did that while I watched for numbers and called them out for 100 mile racing guy (across the trail) while Doug greeted runners and refilled waters with Victor.

It was really cool. We got to see all kinds of folks running in all shapes and sizes and levels of tuckered-out-ness. The guy who won was holding a 7:XX min/mile pace and looked as fresh as I would after 3 miles. He ran down the hill from the aid station like a deer. The two guys behind him were holding an under 8:00 min/mile pace, but they showed a bit more strain.
Some runners brought their own aid crews. Every few minutes some people would hike down the trail with a backpack and ask if their runner had come through. If not, they would hang out with us and bust out a buffet of food/drink from their backpacks and wait. One guy's girlfriend had a whole grocery store in his bag, but all he wanted was jerky. Beef jerky. There is apparently no "I-can-only-take-liquids-on-the-run" in an ultra. People were scarfing down the PB&Js faster than I could make them. This girl volunteered or ran last year (I can tell from her cool beanie) and she hung out with us for a while because she was early to meet her runner. She had on the Brooks Green Silence shoes. I've been lusting after these Green Silences but haven't been able to justify a purchase yet since I'm currently rotating through my four pairs of Brooks Glycerine 8s. But soon they will be mine. Yessss, they will be mine. In case you want some, I noticed that the Brooks site has a bunch of stuff available with free shipping. Whoo!

It was cool to see the different clothes and gear everyone brought. Lots of people had on these cool gaiters to keep the junk from getting into their shoes. They are called Dirty Girl Gaiters. Hee. As an aside, Ms. Dirty Girl looks like a heckuva lot ot fun and they have free shipping too. Score!
So, anyway, a good time was had by all and Doug and I both joined up with the G.U.T.S. crew for the year so we can aspire to trail greatness. : )

Friday, October 01, 2010

Bing Says

Bing (insert sound effect here) advertising on one of the blogs I read says that it takes 200 crunches to burn off one 10 calorie cookie.
  1. I hate Bing (except for the cool sound effect). It does nothing but clog up my computer as I attempt to get back to Google to actually find whatever I was looking for. I know my preposition is dangling. Get over it.
  2. You can't turn Bing off. That makes me hate it more. Forcing me to use or work around something that doesn't work won't make me like it. Au contraire, mon frere.
  3. There is no such thing as a 10 calorie cookie. That would be a crumb.

Gu has a new flavor, out just in time for Kona. Island Nectars Roctane. Click on the link if you will be in Kona for the race because they have free schwag or you can order some online. The advance word is that it is a fruit-punch-type flavor, which sounds awesome to me.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ironman

Or, how time waits for no man.

So, Doug and I have been training (with a bunch of friends) for Ironman Louisville. We signed up after Ironman Florida closed out in 30 minutes last year and we missed the registration window.

A marathon. In August. After a 112 mile bike ride. And a 2.4 mile swim.

What a fabulous idea.

We've been talking of nothing else for, oh, seven months.

So, the race number list came out last week. Which means that it is actually going to happen. The race isn't next year, six months from now, next season, next month, later. It is now - August 29th.

I am scared to death.

I am bib number 480 and Doug is number 1941 (appropriate because of his birthday on Pearl Harbor Day, no?). Everyone on the Beginner Triathlete board tries to find meaning in the numbers we have drawn. I thought I was #840 and just had to check it online again. Nope, 480. That number sounded familiar so I went to check the numbers pinned to the wall in our garage and look, there was #48. It was my South Carolina HIM number. Cool.

But, the race. Holy cow. People like me don't do the Ironman. Interestingly, that is what Doug said when we were discussing the "motivation" (quotes are to be read in a sing-songy, derisive tone like Boortz uses to talk about things being "for the children") to do the race. It's funny, though, because I totally could have seen Doug doing the Ironman, even when we first met. He is tough like that.

Me, not so much. We don't camp because it's too dirty and buggy for me. My primary exercise until about 1986 was high-speed popcorn consumption. People like me don't do the Ironman. And I know I'm not fat. I haven't been fat in 24 years. OK, maybe I was a bit fluffy there for a while in the late 90s, but bear with me. Being bigger makes you doubt your worth, your abilities, your possibilities. And it takes a lot to overcome that. Like 24 years. Or the 26.2 miles in a marathon.

Or the 140.6 miles of the Ironman.

I have no affirmations, no motivational phrases, no magic words for my race. I will just keep moving forward until I am forced to stop and hopefully the finish line is where that will happen. Sure, there will be slow-downs or rests along the way, especially if the Fogle GI makes an appearance, but whatever. They give you 17 hours to finish for a reason.

Here is what I've learned in the months of training leading up to now:
  1. My husband is awesome. He has planned my workouts, encouraged me in my many moments of doubt and saved me from my own stupid ideas more times than I care to count. And, he doesn't think Madonna-muscles are gross like Tosh.0

  2. You have to eat a lot of food to fuel the Ironman training. At least double what you would otherwise be eating. It's a little gross.

  3. If you do all of the prescribed training, you will turn into a big slab of muscle. You can't help it. With the calories burned by the hours of training, you might not lose any weight, but the layer of fat turns into muscle. Seriously. Our little gang is totally buff. Six packs and Madonna-ish muscles abound.

Insert musical interlude

-* - * - * - * - * -

So, I never actually finished that post, but I DID finish the Ironman and you know what?

It wasn't that hard.

Granted, I did walk about 20 miles of the run and I was last of the eight people in our triathlon club plus the three other guys we knew, but still. At no point was it insurmountable and most of it was really fun. I will do it again!

In the two weeks before the race, I had an epiphany and realized that by putting in the training, I have become the kind of person that does the Ironman.

That anyone who puts in the training can be the kind of person that does the Ironman. Sure, maybe some of us will never win or even be competitive, but it is fun to your bike and swim and run. It just is.

So there.

If you are interested in my stats, here are the official results - I'm finisher #1793, on page 26. Photos are here. Yes, I was totally crying on the bike and that run photo is very indicative of how I was feeling at the time, but I went on to finish, so it is OK. And, if you do not mind too much information about my GI and poop, here is my race report on BT.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Dancing in the Running Store

This morning I loaded up the girls and drove over to the Big Peach Running Company to talk about my toe problem.

My big toe joint has been hurting me. I came up with several possible problems:
  1. Gout
  2. Hallux Rigidus
  3. Arthritis
  4. Running Gods are Angry With Me
  5. Bunion

Originally, I had dismissed the bunion because I don't have bunions. My sister and Grammy have them, but I don't. At least I didn't. My orthopaedist said that I had a little bump when he did my MRI last spring, and he thought that I probably had shoes that were too narrow that were causing irritation. Really? All of my shoes are mens or wides!

Well, the beautiful Defyance2s that worked so well for me while traning for Kiawah still feel fine. But it turns out that the new Defyance3s in which I've done most of my long runs for ING don't feel as great. There is a line of fabric (like a strap) that runs across the bunion area. This area is frequently called the "bunion window" but my window in the new shoes has a bar across it. Screwed by the shoe revision!

So, I packed up all of my running shoes and took them to the Big Peach to see what they thought. I showed the guy (bless him for putting up with me) all three pairs of my shoes and told him which ones worked and which didn't and why I thought it was. He watched me run and walk. He did not not laugh or say that I was full of crap. He also did not think that I was overpronating and putting too much pressure on my toe. He didn't think I overpronated at all! He thought my feet were swelling and that was causing my big toe to point towards its neighbor toe and that was causing my joint to displace and swell and the swelling was causing the joint to rub on my shoe, which causes more swelling, etc. He offered to "fix" the Defyance3s for me.

Hmmm, what have I got to lose?

So, here is a photo of the new Defyance3s that I was going to return to Brooks, but which I will now probably just "fix" instead. : )

And, here is the altered shoe that I am wearing now and feeling great! : )

It never occurred to me that you could fix the shoes. SCORE!

And, since I was taking advantage of the shoe store's knowledge and expertise, I also bought a pair of new shoes to try out. Ooh, they are coool! They even look fast!

In other news, Annika lost her other tooth so now Dagny can't make fun of her any more.

And tonight, we are doing GNO for the birthday party. Japanese steakhouse for dinner, followed by a movie at the theater. Woo!

Thursday, March 04, 2010


So, as I was reading Anne's blog during my lunch today, I thought "I should send her a copy of Annika's tooth." And then I realized how easy it would be.

Voila - here is the photo Doug sent me while I was out of town on Monday with the following comment, "the other one is hanging at a 45 degree angle, but she won't let me touch it."

That tooth is stubborn. We even let her have an apple for dessert after dinner last night to encourage it to come out. No dice. It is wiggly (so much so that it grosses Doug and me out) but not coming out.

In other news, March is Red Cross Month so get out there and give blood. I will be doing so as soon as my phlegm stops being a color. Really.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Need for Speed

I've been running very slowly since my plantar fasciitis injury in the fall of 2008. Once I was finally able to run again last spring, I was out of shape and afraid that any attempt at going fast would re-injure my foot.

Now, in 2010, I'm still not fast. I run most of my mid-week (shorter) runs at 10 minute per mile pace. This once was my long run pace. My long runs are 11-12 minutes per mile, depending on how many times I have to stop to go potty.

Last week, I had to get some work done overnight. I decided to get up early and do it since I'm no good after 9pm. I finished my work about 5:10am. It was very frustrating, though, and I was in a bad mood when I got finally outside. So, I took off. I ran the shorter version of my usual loop with the bazillion hills but I went fast. I felt my tension bleeding away with every gasping, tortured breath. It was AWESOME.

I came home with frost on my head (it was 25 degreest that morning) and a song in my heart.

I had forgotten what a joy it is to run without a plan or the i-pod or any brakes. Just for the joy of it. : )

I hope to run fast more often. 6.03 miles - 8:32 minute per mile pace.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Every Little Step

I had a post saved that I started on New Year's weekend. It had resolutions and stuff in it and I talked all about how cool it was to see the bazillion folks at the gym working it out to start off 2010.

But then some life happened and it's February already! So that post got deleted and here we are for February. Bygones.

Today, a friend of mine went back and looked at his last 4 Januaries worth of training for his month-end review and he's at his highest training level ever. I don't have 4 years of logs, but it was interesting to look back and see where I was last January (nowhere!!) and compare that with where I am now (slow, but consistent). So that is pretty darn good. Go me! It was also interesting because I could see exactly what I did to injure myself last summer - three months of over 100 miles of running without any kind of base to do it. It's a good reminder not hold back so that I don't do that to myself again.

Today, as I was working, I made yet another mental note to tell Doug about something later because we can't talk about everything in front of the kids and I try not to bug him on the email during the day. We walk the dog for 10 minutes each night in front of the house and talk about the non-kid-friendly stuff while we are out there. Dagny climbs up into her window to wave to us but she can't hear us. : ) It's weird that we have children old enough to require censoring the conversation. I really like that few minutes we get to spend together. When it's warmer, we take the kids with us, which is also fun because they are a hoot outside.

So anyway, this made me think about how I'm going to have to streamline some life stuff so that all of this working out will fit in as we start into Ironman training. I don't know where it will be yet, but I'm betting it's the facebook and possibly some of the blogs in my reader. I just don't want to give up my 10 minutes of quiet walking. Lent is in 2 weeks so that will give me a head start on whatever it is and by the time Lent is over, it will be a habit and I'll be so busy swimming, running and biking that I won't even notice. I still notice not sending Christmas and birthday cards, though. I miss that. And I miss knitting.