Friday, September 19, 2014


This is one of the crazy days every few years that we have people basically camping in our front yard.  Tents and all.  Yes, we live within 1.5 blocks of an Apple store, and we live the direction the line runs.

I ran home from work Tuesday night and the very first guy was there, all set up.

By Wednesday morning, when I ran to work, there were about 4, complete with a tent. 

And Wednesday morning, they were already making the sidewalk impassable.  I do most of my run to work on the streets, but there's one section of about .4 miles that is on a trail, one section of about .3 miles in a parking lot (I run along a big strip mall before getting to our office tower), and I run about .4 on the sidewalk right in our neighborhood. 

I skipped the running commute yesterday, the whole taper mileage cut thing, so I didn't really get to do a progress check. 

This morning, I drove to boot camp and it was crazy.  Yes, crazy at 5:15 a.m. 

Police directing traffic, no parking spots to be found, line down the block, people jaywalking -- thank goodness I'd heard voices as I was putting on my tennis shoes in our foyer, or I could have been in my usual pre-boot-camp haze and I probably would have mowed down four of them before I finished eating my granola bar. 

The news said there are over 300 people right now, and it's still just over 3 hours until the store opens. 

Crazy!  I want to get one (my iphone is old), but I'm waiting until after the vacation extravaganza. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

My Calling?

For the last week or so in particular (especially since there's been another bout of coverage regarding US military assistance), whenever I see any news coverage of the Ebola outbreak, I feel like it really hits my heart.  Sometimes I almost feel it on my shoulders.  Sitting there, weighing on me. 

I just want to do something.  I want to go there and help, just fix it and end these thousands of deaths. 

I read the Roads and Kingdoms blog pretty regularly, and there was a post last week by an anonymous international in Liberia who I assume to be working for the UN.  The bulk of the beginning of the post was about the process of training to drive a UN vehicle in Liberia, but then it got to life right now:
That was two months ago. So much has happened here since then. The pressure that the country is under is unbelievable. You can feel the already rickety structures that underpin society creaking and splintering and swaying with the weight. Ebola has devastated the place. It has changed everything. The health care system is in ruins. People who are sick with Ebola can’t get a bed. If they are lucky they can get into a containment tent on the hospital grounds and wait for treatment. So people stay home. Or are pushed into the streets. Bodies can take days to be removed. Businesses are closing their doors, there are food shortages in some parts of the country, security forces are being deployed and there are reports of beatings and violence and corruption throughout the country. We are teetering on the brink of a serious, sustained humanitarian crisis and we don’t have the resources here to deal with it. And people don’t want to come here to help. Not in the numbers we need at any rate. If this was an earthquake that killed more than a 1000 people and injured another 1000, the ground would be flooded with international workers. The best-case scenario here is that five times that number will die.

Reading that intensified this weight of horrible suffering and needless death that is sitting on my shoulders. 

I googled, "what can I do to help Liberia?"  Sadly, even with the "what can I do to help" start, Liberia wasn't one of the google suggestions.  (Probably poor phrasing on my part, if I go with "how can I help with", "the ebola outbreak" is the first suggestion.) 

My husband worked in Liberia during the civil war (he was in the military, evacuating US citizens), and said it was a horrible and sad place and before we got married, it was the only place in the entire world that he said he wouldn't go with me.  That makes it particularly odd that it's one of the only places in my entire life I've felt a "calling" to go and help. 

Of course I'm not going to Liberia.  I don't have any skills that would be useful (though hmm, maybe those crazy drivers result in accidents, and baseless injury claims need to be strenuously litigated, so maybe I could help with that?).  I don't have any more vacation time (using it all next month). 

When I got the google results about what I can do to help in Liberia, it appeared to be a list of charities working there to which I could give money.  To help buy medical supplies primarily, which I'm sure is urgently needed, and if I read more, there may even be something where you can contribute money to pay for a physican to help, or vaccine, or more hospital building.  There may be even "real" work I could do from here, writing appeals for assistance, helping with any online work, etc.  I actually found something that involves looking at satellite photos and attempting to help create maps -- I may give that a go on Sunday morning for a couple hours before Chinese.  And of course I know it's important to vote for politicians who have similar views about our government's role in the face of an overseas epidemic. 

In reality, I feel like I don't have enough money to give to make a real difference (but obviously, that's no reason not to give some money, particularly in some parts of the world, giving what is a bit to us helps them immeasurably).  But at the same time, I don't feel like giving money is going to fix the weight on my heart.  Maybe giving time will -- I need to look more seriously for options.  The mapping project might be just the ticket. 

Perhaps the best solution, longer term though, that I came up with was the idea of maybe in a couple years, doing some kind of organized volunteer work in connection with our annual overseas trip.  I understand there are people at home in need, but it's not the same as thousands dying from Ebola in West Africa.  And I do think there's some value to just vacationing -- going to someplace other than the typical American vacation spots to bring them revenue, spending our money directly into that economy. 

I know doing some kind of community service trip would entail work at the outset in picking the right organization that is a good fit for us.  My husband and I both have some issues with some faith-based charitable organizations as we feel strongly that our religion (Christianity, he's Catholic, I'm Episcopalian) shouldn't be pushed on anyone, that everyone's individual religious beliefs (or lack thereof) deserve respect, and that no one should be denied assistance because of their religious beliefs (or lack thereof).  I like the idea of building schools, digging wells, things like that that offer long-term assistance, but I also like the idea of helping someone in immediate need -- providing that very next meal, the shoes with durable soles to get home, a typhoid vaccine, etc.  I'm certain there are some organizations (probably even many faith-based ones) that would be able to work within the scope of what we'd be comfortable doing from a moral standpoint, and what we'd be capable of doing in terms of skills, time, etc. 

I wonder if I'm just bracing myself for some of the need we are bound to see on vacation in October?  Maybe I should be googling "what can I do to help India" so that we'll have an idea of where to give money when we get home and are filled with an urge to help.  I've already told my husband at least 5 times that we cannot ever, ever, ever give to children who are begging, and even giving to adults is not a good idea, that we're better giving to a charity that can help, but I know it's going to pull at us both.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Taper plans

Now that I finished the 22 mile long run, I'm moving into taper mode.

I've posted before about general taper plans and things I try to do. 

Cutting quantity, keeping quality when it comes to running.  So instead of doing 2 miles warm-up, 4 miles pace, 2 miles cool-down for a typical weekday run, it will now look more like 1 mile warm-up, 4 miles pace, 1 mile cool-down. 

I usually try to wear flats every day when tapering. I don't ever really wear HIGH heels to work, but I usually wear shoes with a pretty low heel, but for the next couple weeks, I'm going to aim for flats. 

I've added vitamin C back into my daily vitamins.  I'll probably keep taking it through the end of the year since after the race, I'll have a weak immune system anyway (which hopefully won't mean I die in India), we'll be traveling, it's the time of the year I usually get sick, and I'll do one more marathon before the end of the year (for fun).

I'm going to attempt to lock-down the diet.  Protein at every dinner (except the night before a long run, even though there aren't any more real long ones).  No candy or sweets (other than fruit and maybe honey on my yogurt).  No alcohol (easy peasy since I've sworn off it given last weekend's fun).  The big exception to all of this will be next weekend when my folks come to visit.  We'll be eating out a lot, and we will head to the state fair, which means one thing for me -- fried butter.  Man, I love that stuff!!!  About 4-5 days before the race, I'll probably make an attempt to minimize fiber. 

Extra yoga.  Since my 30 day challenge in April, I've been attempting Bikram moderation, trying to get to class 3-5 times per week.  I'm going to attempt to keep it on the higher end of that scale for a couple weeks.

Less blog and facebook.  Less reading, less writing.  I should devote a bit of extra time to sleep.  It will pay off in the end. 

Gentle boot camps.  More half-@ssing it, easy running, not going all the way down on lunges, etc.  I won't say I don't ever slack when I'm not tapering, but I try to make a point of slacking when tapering. 

Envisioning success.  I'm not great at this, but it's important to do.  During my runs, regardless of pace, thinking about how strong I am.  Imagining holding goal race pace, imagining the hurt but the drive to keep pushing, seeing myself cross the line with my goal time (though this is actually kind of stupid because I've never started a marathon right at the gun).  Picturing the actual splits popping up on my watch, etc. 

Race prep -- setting out what is going with me, reviewing the course in detail, reading about the expo location, the starting line logistics, etc. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Surprise Success

I didn't write much about it on the off-chance my husband would decide this was the week he wanted to read a bunch of stuff on the blog, but I ended up planning a surprise party for him for this past weekend.  One month and one day before his birthday.  I would have rather done it closer to the big day, but the next weekend he's off work, my folks will be visiting, and the next weekend he's off, we'll be in Nepal!  We spent some more time trip planning this past weekend, I think it's going to work out to wake up in Agra and see the Taj Mahal on his birthday, which will be awesome.

Anyway, back to the party.  I think it went off well, as of 5 minutes before "surprise" I don't think he had any idea.  Unfortunately as we were driving from the distraction (a movie) to the party (at our house), one of the party invitees who wasn't able to come called my husband on his cell. 

First thing, he said "Hey, sorry I wasn't able to make it to your house." 

Who does that??? 

My husband was sufficiently confused, and the guy apparently asked him where he was.  So my husband said "home" and I said, "well, almost home, we're still 2 miles away."  So the guy kind of flubbed it and just said oh, call me when you get home. 

We together concluded that maybe it was basically a misdial, and he thought he was talking to someone else, but suspicions were aroused.  Especially since I'd been baking two kinds of cookies the night before, and I'd been preparing appetizer dips, setting out platters, etc. all day that day.  AND I'd been insisting that he help me clean the house -- all in the name of book club that I told him I was hosting on Sunday night. 

I thought he'd see right through that cover story, I mean, I just hosted book club in February, so why would I host again in September, but apparently he doesn't really keep track.

So we got home and I was trying to keep his mind off the weird phone call and to hurry him along.  I asked him to go to the kitchen (second floor) and put a few cookies in a ziplock bag to take to dinner to give to my coworker.  As he was walking in the house and starting upstairs, he called his coworker back and he was saying, "hey man, I'm home now, what's up" -- he turned the corner and everyone yelled "Surprise!" 

He stood there in total shock for what seemed like a very long time.  It was so funny.  And then he broke out in a massive sweat.  Massive.  Looked like he'd just come back from a very fast run. 

The party itself was great.  My best friend had done an AMAZING job setting it all up, everyone was drinking, the appetizers were being eaten, and everyone seemed to be happy.  I was a bit bummed that a few people who I had expected to come weren't there (one's wife had to work, one's kid was sick, the one who called us in the car had gotten stuck at work late, of course after they'd all been included in the head count).  The caterers also did a great job.  We used Nathan Burke, the Super Fly Pizza Guy.  He brings a mobile wood-fired pizza oven and cooks and serves a variety of pizzas (he also did a couple appetizers, an awesome salad, and dessert pizzas).  It ended up being a late night and I drank way too much.  I'd also barely eaten all day -- my lunch was some broccoli and a few beets, and then popcorn at the movie.  Just too nervous and busy.  And my bestie and I had picked two awesome cocktails (which she made AND served all night), one Campari tequila tangerine drink, and one raspberry limoncello prosecco one (as with everything involving my husband, there's kind of an Italian theme).  When I talked to her yesterday, she said she thought I'd be okay until it was toward the end of the night, most guests were gone, and I grabbed a huge water glass and poured a monster drink for myself (the raspberry limoncello) one.  She said her husband told her right then that I had just made a bad decision.  He was right! 

So Saturday was a rotten day.  I probably got sick about 5 times.  Finally by dinner time, I felt mostly better, but I was worried that I had definitely set myself up for a disasterous 22 mile final long run on Sunday, but I figured it was worth it to have had such a great party.  He said it was one of the best nights of his life.  While it certainly would have been one of the best nights regardless of whether I drank or not, I enjoyed myself.  And I'm definitely a happy drunk -- hugging friends, telling them how much I love and appreciate them, and how glad I was that they're in my life. 

But Sunday held the big VENTIDUE.  I've done marathons early in the fall "marathon season" (which obviously meant a lot more before Boston started filling up) for about a decade now.  And I know for certain that for the last 7 years, I've always had a similar training plan which includes at least 1 run of 20 miles, and one of about 22 miles.  And I also have never done the 22 miler anywhere other than Dallas.  When my training schedule and race are locked in, I do what it takes to make sure I run the 22 with my friends.  A few times due to a wedding or travel plans, I've had to tinker a bit, doing the 22 either 2 or 3 weeks out from race day, but always in Dallas, and always sometime between late August and mid-October.  Usually right around this time of the year (since many of the fall races I've done are ones that are right at the start of the season, like St. George, Chicago, Twin Cities, etc.).

I don't even need to go back and look at my data.  I can say with 100% certainty I've never done a 22 miler in better weather than I did yesterday.  We had a cold front come in on Friday.  And while I didn't get to enjoy it on Saturday as I lay on the bathroom floor most of the day, it was blessedly still here on Sunday.  I looked at the weather before I headed out -- 64 degrees!!!!  78% humidity, which kind of blew, but 64 is 64!  Wow!  What a difference 10-20 degrees makes. 

My stomach was shaky the entire time.  When I stopped for water and when I ate my gu, I was pretty certain that if I bent over and gave a little cough, I could have easily upchucked again, but you know, I just didn't do that!  Staying upright, I managed to hold it all in.  I won't say my pace was pretty, but it was pretty close to the pace for last week's 20.  If it had been warmer or sunny, I don't think I would have managed, but it was misty and cool, and I did it.  Busted out the 22.  And if you'd wanted me to go 4 more miles, I definitely could have.  A huge confidence booster for sure. 

I skipped Chinese class in favor of doing some final post-party clean-up (my dear husband had done almost all of it while I lay on the couch moaning on Saturday, but I still had to return pitchers and tables to my friend's house, put away the platters, etc.) and cooking a delicous and nutritious dinner and getting ready for the week.  I'd figured it was going to be a stretch to sit through hours of Chinese class after having run 22, but I probably could have managed.  I intended to go to yoga, but somehow that just didn't happen.  Oh well, I should be able to fit it in more this week as my official taper will start after Thursday's run.