Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Gotta Start Somewhere

So I had this grand plan last week of creating my own training schedule for the Houston Marathon in January.

I decided I'd count my RNRSA marathon as a long training run (that was a given from the outset, even if the weather had been perfect), and I mapped out my long runs for the 8 weeks in between.  And I set about mapping out a weekday running plan as well.

I managed to do my "first" long run on the schedule on this past Sunday -- 14 miles. 

But yesterday I attempted to do my first weekday workout and had pretty much a collossal failure.

I thought it would be fun to incorporate Yasso 800s into my training plan, building up the number each week.  For anyone who hasn't had the pleasure of doing them, it's repeats of half a mile each at a pace faster than marathon pace -- your goal time for each half mile is your full marathon goal time (hours:minutes) in minutes:seconds.  So for a 3:30 marathon, you would do your 800 meters in 3 minutes, 30 seconds (a 7 minute mile pace, even though a 3:30 marathon is an 8 minute mile pace).  And for a 4 hour marathon, your 800 would be in 4 minutes (which is an 8 minute mile pace, but a 4 hour marathon is a 9:09 minute mile pace).  And for a 4:30 marathon, 800 meters in 4 minutes and 30 seconds.  You get the idea.  The Yasso theory is that if you do all your regular marathon training and you can do 10 Yasso 800s at the proper pace, you should be able to get your goal marathon time.

I hate 800s so much.  When I do the summer track series, 800 meters is always my weakest event.  I don't know why, it's just not my distance.  So why on earth did I use it as the foundation of my build-your-own marathon training plan?  Hmm, not the brightest bulb...

Anyway, because these 2 months essentially off have made me very lazy and very fat (nearly 10 pounds I think!!!!), I decided to blow off the schedule already yesterday morning, my very first planned weekday.

I intended to run 1.5 miles slowly to the track, run 6 sets of Yassos, and then run 1.5 miles slowly home.  Then have breakfast and run my slow commute to work (3.75 miles).  That would have been a grand total of about 11.5 miles, counting some recovery distance after each Yasso.

Instead, I decided to sleep in a little and just leave the house early, and since I go right past the track, just stop and do my Yassos there. 

But of course I slept too late, left the house too late, and got to the track too late.  I had already decided I'd only do 4 Yassos, but by the time I was at the track, I was thinking I'd only have time for 2. 
I did the first one and was 4 seconds fast.  But I didn't think I could even do a second one.  I decided I needed to get in at least the first lap of the second repeat, and I managed to do it slightly faster than planned, so I talked myself into continuing and finished the second repeat.  5 seconds fast.

But unfortunately, even if I'd been at the track an hour earlier as planned, there was just no way I could have done a third one.  Ideally, I should have tried.  At least started it and failed, rather than not even starting it.  But since I was running so late and since I was so worn out from just two Yassos, I left the track and just finished up my commute. 

That put my daily mileage total at a whopping 5 miles, instead of the intended 11.5.

This reminds me why I prefer training with a group.  I've mentioned before how much I love my running buddies for the social aspect, but it also keeps me accountable, gets me to push myself, and overall just works for me.  When I'm alone, I tend to be very slow and lazy when I run.  I'm not a big self-motivator I guess.  But if I'm talking to someone who's chugging along, I do my best to stay right there and keep up. 

So maybe next week I'll make plans to run with people and hopefully get myself back on track.  Because barely completing 2 Yassos 8 weeks before a race does not bode well for a PR...

Monday, November 25, 2013

FMM: Holidays and More Part 2

My weekend was so uneventful, which is a bummer because there was a lot of stuff I wanted to get done.  My primary goal was a solid dent in Christmas shopping, but that didn't happen.  I was just too lazy and it' soooooo cold here that it was a real struggle to get out for my runs -- after they were done, I just wanted to be back under the blankets.  I did a charity 5k on Saturday and then my "long" run on Sunday -- only 14 slow slow slow miles.

In typical Dallas fashion, the weather people got all hyped up about a winter storm for nothing.  As of yesterday morning, they were saying we'd have at least an inch of sleet and ice -- and today, nada.  Rain.  Indeed, cold rain, but 35 does not ice make.  In some ways it drives me crazy living here.  But actually, I think it's weather reports everywhere that just want to boost their ratings.

But just like when I was in school, when the thought of a snow day is planted in my mind, it feels like a major bummer when I don't get one.  So today I was kind of hoping to have a good "work from home" excuse, or even a day off (very unlikely, my work almost never actually closes), but alas, no excuses.  I need to go in to the office, but I will work from home Wed., and then I'm off Thurs and Fri.

On to Monday...

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

The Holidays and More: Part 2
1. What state/country do you live in?  Dallas, Texas. 

2. Where were you born? Were you raised there? I was born in the Great White North (Wisconsin) and lived there until the end of 4th grade.  Then we moved a couple times, ending up in Kansas City for high school for me, but now my folks are back in the Great White North, which is where hubby and I always go for Christmas. 

3. How do you feel about stores like Wal-mart opening on Thanksgiving Day for pre-Black Friday sales? Will you participate? I think I'll be in the minority, but it doesn't bother me that much.  So many people already have to work on Thanksgiving -- doctors, nurses, paramedics, police, fire, gas station attendants, restaurants (particularly upscale), race directors (usually just in the morning I guess), television programmers, grocery store employees (at least until noon), pharmacists, pilots, baggage handlers, taxis, professional football players, tow truck drivers, movie theater sales/concession people, etc.  What's the difference in adding retail late in the day?  Especially since a majority of those I named have to work ALL day.  Obviously some of those are essential, but restaurants (including nice ones, not just essential truck stops) have been open for years and there seems to be no big uproar about that.  But no, there's no way I would shop on Thanksgiving -- but not by choice, I frequently patronize multiple gas stations on Christmas!  But I also wouldn't shop on Black Friday in hopes of scoring some special deal.  I'm not a big shopper under any circumstance...  But if people really objected to Thanksgiving day shopping, no one would do it, and it wouldn't be profitable to be open, and it wouldn't be an issue.  So I guess since enough people shop for it to be profitable, maybe I'm not really in the minority as much as I'd assume. 

4. Have you ever participated in a Turkey Trot? Will you do one this year?  Yes!  It's my grand Thanksgiving tradition.  We have a huge (40,000 person!) race in Dallas.  There are two choices, 8 miles and 3 miles (actually, a 5k the last couple years, but traditionally just 3 miles).  In 2003, I did my first 8 mile race, and I've done it every year since.  This will be my 11th! 

5. What was your favorite toy as a child? I could just copy Kenlie's answer here -- I also loved my Cabbage Patch kid (Claire Carlie?  Carley?), Barbies and roller skates.  I also love puzzles and games -- bingo, Simon, Lite Brite, Connect 4, card games, hangman, Monopoly.  If I had to pick just one -- I would choose Barbie dolls. 

6. Will you count points/calories on Thanksgiving Day? I’ve never counted points or calories, so that definitely would not be the day to start!  I eat my standard pre-race breakfast (instant oatmeal).  This year, I might run home after the 8 mile race to bump my distance up to 12.  But then I usually eat my usually breakfast at home (a fruit/spinach smoothie), while starting to cook.  Then I eat a lot at a single meal, but many of our dishes are actually fairly healthy -- but the desserts aren't and I always eat dessert on Thanksgiving, which is fairly rare in my everyday life. 

7. Will you watch football Thursday?  No, not a big sports fan.  We'll be at friends' house this year, so maybe it will be on, but actually, I don't think he's a big football fan either, and I know she isn't. 

8. Do you decorate inside/outside of your home for the holidays?  We always put up our 9 foot tall artificial pre-lit tree.  It's a huge pain, but it's so beautiful.  We buy ornaments as souvenirs on many of our trips, so when we decorate the tree, it's always lots of fun.  I also put out a few other decorations -- stockings, garland, lights, a few candles, it's all contained to the second floor of our house (the living room, dining room, kitchen).  Our tree is visible from the street, but no outside lights. 

9. Do you have allergies that prevent you from eating traditional holiday meals? No allergies, but my conscience prevents me from eating dead animals, so no turkey or ham for me.  And I suppose I'm allergic to nuts, so pecan pie is out of the question, but that was never a big family tradition for me (maybe because of my allergies I guess) -- our traditional Thanksgiving dessert was something called cranberry squares, and then some fruit and/or pumpkin pies. 

10. Is it snowing where you live? Nope.  Rainy, but even that is tapering off.  But the high today is only 35 -- supposed to be back into the 50s in a couple days though.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments.  Happy Monday!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Should I Watch?

Last night, I left the office around 7:20, roughly as usual, and drove home.  Most Thursday nights for the last few years, I've attended an Italian conversation group with my husband, but I decided I'm taking this semester off since I probably won't be back in Italy until 2015, I'd like to focus a bit more on Mandarin (and maybe start learning a bit for our 2014 trip), and I was just ready for a break.  Since the running store where I can get our packets for the Turkey Trot closed at 7, I was too late to get our packets, so I drove straight home.  While I can run to work in 3.75 miles, when I drive, it's just over 4 miles since I take the highway. 

So I came home to an empty house while hubby was off speaking Italian.  I decided to eat my favorite Israeli couscous (that we buy prepared from Central Market, it has olive oil, roasted red peppers, olives, green peppers, peas and a few other things in it) in front of the TV.

I was scrolling through channels and saw the bottom entry -- my jaw dropped.



It's apparently really him working on some construction with Amish people. WTH? I suppose that if Honey Boo Boo was on TV, this really shouldn't be surprising.

If you've seen it and it's good, let me know. I'm not averse to adding another train wreck to my watch list for a few months.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Travel and a Race Plan

I'm off to New Mexico today for work.  The cool thing is that I'm going back to the exact hotel where I stayed when I did the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon -- that was the one where I had to carry the military weight pack for the duration. 

And in some other exciting news, I'm going to do that race again in March 2014! 

But it won't be the same this time.  A.) I'm not doing the marathon, I'll be doing the other option (14 miles).  B.) I won't be carrying a pack.  C.) I'm planning to walk the entire thing, hopefully meeting some vets.  D.) My husband is going with me, and also planning to walk the 14 miles!

I wasn't planning to do this race again, but I met a few awesome people when I did it and they go every year.  And more convincing than anything, this will be the 25th anniversary of the memorial march and probably the last year there will be survivors there to tell their stories. 

Hearing Bataan Death March survivors tell their stories was one of the coolest things that I've experienced in the last decade or so, and I knew when I was there that my husband would love it too -- I won't say he likes WWII history as much as I do, but he does love military history in general (a match made in heaven!).

So it's officially on the calendar. 

But when I did this race, while the significance was overwhelming, I felt like it took quite a toll on me physically.  It was the only marathon I've ever won, so my many months of training with a weight vest paid off, but I felt like I lost a lot of cardio fitness because I was so much slower while carrying 40+ pounds of weight.  It took forever to get back to running at my pre-weight-vest training pace.  When I first ran without the pack, I thought I'd be flying, going insanely fast.  And I 100% thought I was, but the garmin doesn't lie (well, it does occasionally, but not for miles on end usually...).  While I felt like I was on the verge of breaking a 4 minute mile, instead I was just chugging along at a pace slower than I'd run in years. 

At my age, I don't feel like I can afford to spend a year training with weight again and then coming back from it -- well, I suppose I could, but since I've done it once (and had an amazing experience), I don't feel a need to replicate it. 

I'm not sure how long I'll be in New Mexico this week -- if it goes very well or very poorly, I expect I'll be home tomorrow.  But if we're making average progress settling the case, I may be there for a couple days.  Ugh.  Once again, I'm just wishing for two consecutive unremarkable weeks at home, with my normal diet and exercise routine.  Looks like it won't be this week (or next I guess, with Thanksgiving). 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Marathon Monday FMM: Holidays

Well, another marathon in the books.  This was ugly in the extreme.  But you know, it's done.  And my legs are stronger for having another long run under them.  And while doing this one with so little base could have been very stupid, I managed to escape unscathed. 

Short version is that one of my very first running buddies moved to San Antonio about 6 or 7 years ago, and now, a few of us make a girls' weekend trip to visit her for the race.  This year, she wasn't able to run (she'd fractured her foot in February and just got out of her boot a couple weeks ago), but she's an amazing supporter.  It's truly in her nature to be the most gracious hostess in the world.  She's always so concerned about everything you could want or need.  Honestly, if I'd indicated to her after the marathon that it would be nice for someone to rub my sore feet, I think she would have done it.  It's kind of a running joke that she'd never say no to anything someone wants.  Two friends flew back last night and their flight was delayed 50 minutes.  She called them three times to see if they wanted her to come to the airport and (1) keep them company, or (2) pick them up and take them to eat, or (3) pick them up and bring them back to her house to relax, or (4) pick them up and take them to the airport for a flight today.  Seriously, she was exhausted from a long day of cheering for us and entertaining us, and she was 100% ready to drive 20 minutes to the airport just to keep them company for half an hour. 

So here, it is Rock N Roll San Antonio Marathon 2013 race report.

My San Antonio trip in a few pictures (I definitely should have taken more).

A deer in her front yard:

One of our friends (doing her SECOND full ever!), to show proximity to the deer:

A picture from the race course, the new trail part that was included on the full marathon (of course we weren't on bikes, but this shows the rolling hill aspect, which I of course hated, being a hill wimp):
Single file: Riders along a stretch of the Mission Reach.
(copied from this site,, by someone who did the bike tour before the marathon started)

And the ugly -- a post-race screenshot that I took when the friend pictured above finished.  I was a bit earlier, but it was over 80 when I finished as well:
Bizarre that it's partially in Italian but days of the week are in English?  Iphone hasn't quite mastered using another language as primary yet...

A post-marathon reward... (I got TWO!  A pint of HD gelato and one of those baby B&J's cups):

And finally, my medal from the marathon yesterday: 
I don't really know what to say about the race.  I finished nearly an hour slower than I ran Berlin only 7 weeks ago.  The weather was just insanely bad in San Antonio.  It was over 70 when I woke up, and over 80 when I finished the race.  The overall high in San Antonio was 89 (late afternoon, after I would guess everyone was done).  This is officially the second time I have run a marathon on a record high day, the first being the Chicago Marathon in 2007, which they cancelled in the middle of the race because they were not prepared for the weather.
I knew I was just running this one for fun, so I took it very easy.  My friends and I all got split up very early.  But there was a section that was about 1.5 miles out, and then 1.5 miles back, and I managed to see all of them there.  One friend was only about 2 miles behind me, another 2.5, and another about 3.  But unfortunately, when I got to about mile 20, the sun came out (so more like 17 for my friend above), and that really slowed all of us down even more.
The new San Antonio course has you running along a lovely trail near a river.  Closed to vehicular traffic and narrow, but that wasn't a big deal so late in the course (it seems 95% of the runners do the half).  I saw a woman go down in front of me around mile 22, the guy she was with stopped, and I ran ahead to some spectators and asked one of them to take a phone and go back to check on her.  If she was in medical distress, I have no idea how they would have gotten her from the trail. 
The medical tents were very full and the heat was a big problem.  What saved me was going for a trash can directly alongside the course near a sharp turn onto a little bridge over the water.  I was throwing out an empty gu packet and on the side of the trash can, half in, half out, was a bag of ice.  I grabbed it.  I put a few cubes down my sports bra, I held the ice bag on my face and on the back of my neck and it felt insanely good.  I think I brought down my temperature a little, and I was able to pick up the pace some.  As I passed people walking in front of me, I offered them ice cubes and almost everyone wanted some.  I eventually was desperate enough to decide the ice was clean enough to suck on a few ice cubes.  Ahhh, so wonderful.  When it was almost empty, I let some of the melted ice water dump over my head, and I finished off the last few ice cubes holding the bag under each arm.  I'm convinced that's the only thing that got me through the race.
Honestly, I think I might be done with the full in San Antonio.  Full marathon runners really get the shaft there.  I've mentioned before that it's somewhat disheartening to have nearly everyone turn at mile 11, when only a few lonely souls continue forward for the full.  You have signs and spectators at mile 9 proclaiming that you're almost done -- yeah, only 17 more miles!  But beyond all that, after you peel off from the halfers, the crowd support dwindles to almost nothing.  There is almost no shade for the remainder of the desolate course around the missions, in the warmer part of the day.  There are no separate resources for full runners -- I think there should be separate porta-pottys (obviously a lot more important to use one if you're running a full than for those running the half), and the finish lines should be separate.  And of course it's very disheartening to merge with the half course for the last couple miles.  In places the course was divided by barriers, which was great, but in other places, it was just cones, and people running a 4+ hour half were taking up the entire road, leaving 4+ hour marathoners to weave around them.  Ugh. 
I've said it before, but this just underscores it:  The best marathons do not feature any other event.  It's a full marathon and nothing else.  Boston, New York, Berlin, St. George, etc. 
But maybe that's only true for large-scale races. 
But the volunteers were great along the course, and I really liked my medal.  I don't like that it's so late in the race when the half peels off -- it makes it very tempting to turn with them.  Because I was going so slowly and already so hot, I strongly considered doing the half instead.  It had started off overcast, but by the time I was in the King William district around mile 9, there were patches of hot sun.  So I decided that would be the determining factor for me -- if it was sunny at the half turn-off, I'd turn with them; if it was cloudy, I'd press on for the full.  Ugh again.  I guess 6 miles of oppressive, unrelenting sun is better than 12, but still, I kind of wish I'd taken the turn for the half. 
And based on the last few years, which have been equally miserable, I really should have known better:  2011 (; 2012 (  Didn't I see that the last two years the temps got into the 80s?  And did I forget that it makes a marathon not fun?  When will I learn? 
At least now they're saying it will be in December in 2014, but of course, they tried to tell me that last year and it turned out to be lies, all lies...
Anyway, I flew home this morning and fly out again tomorrow -- working in New Mexico next.  Fun stuff!  So now, on to Friend Making Mondays.
friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

1. What are you plans for Thanksgiving this year?   As I have for the last 10 years, I'm starting the morning with a huge local 8 mile race.  Then we are going over to the house of one of my best friends and her husband, who is my former boss.  His mom will be in town, and we'll all have a big meal around 3:00.  Unfortunately, my husband is on call on Thanksgiving (and the day after), so I'm really hoping for no emergencies!  But if he ends up going to work, I'll still have fun plans to fill the day.

2. At what point do you being celebrating the Christmas season?  We will put up our tree on the day after Thanksgiving.  Kind of early compared to my traditions growing up, but hubby will fly out on Dec. 18 and I fly out on Dec. 19 for Christmas, so we'll only get to enjoy it for a few weeks. 

3. Do you celebrate Christmas, or do you celebrate another holiday? Christmas.

4. If you could have one present (you know, a material good, not love or world peace) what would you want?  I'm torn between a Vitamix professional grade blender and an awesome bike that I could use for an Ironman or commuting or whatever.  Either one would completely thrill me.  If I had to choose, I'll go with the bike since it would be pricier. 

5. Share an idea or two that you can plan to do for someone who may need to feel loved throughout the holiday season. I do notes in all of our cards, and I bake.  I haven't done much community service since about September because of all the traveling and illness and everything else, but of course this is a good time to get back to that. 

6. Would you rather spend the holiday season on the beach or in the snow?  100% snow.  I can't imagine ever staying in Dallas for Christmas, it would be so depressing and not white.  But actually, I heard it snowed here a few years ago.  As much as I hate the cold, I like at least a foot of snow for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  It just seems right. 

7. What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?  I think it would be cranberry squares that my mom sometimes made for dessert.  I think my favorite thing to eat this year will probably be the mashed potatoes that I make.  Lots of butter and milk...

8. Will you participate in Black Friday shopping?  No, I really hate shopping.  I'm going to try to get a few more people done this weekend, and then I'll aim to do most of the rest online. 

9. Will you travel for the holidays or stay at home? If you’re traveling, are you flying or driving or making alternate plans?  We will stay local for Thanksgiving, and we're flying for Christmas. 

10. List at least 5 things for which you are currently thankful.
  1. My marathon medal -- it was definitely earned, and I'm thankful for a safe finish and not hurting myself in the process.  I'm happy that even in my current "unfit" condition, and with horrible weather, I was still able to finish in a time that was my "A" goal only about 5 years ago. 
  2. Knowing my husband can't wait to see me tonight.  I haven't seen him since Friday, and since I fly out to New Mexico tomorrow, and we're still kind of in withdrawal from our 24/7 vacation togetherness that was almost a month long (between Europe and California), it will be nice to get a big hug as soon as I walk in the door. 
  3. My job.  A big case is on the line in New Mexico, and I'm excited to have the power I do to attempt to resolve it at this settlement conference. 
  4. Our plans for next year's trip.  We're in the early planning stages, but I love that we make it a priority to travel every year and I'm so excited to see some new and very different places, especially since I'm worried the Maldives will be gone from this earth by the time I die! 
  5. My mom in particular.  Her birthday was yesterday and I can't wait to get home and see her for Christmas.  I know she's already planning some wonderful things to cook while we're home, and she always makes Christmas so special. 
 Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments!  Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Return of the Running Commute

One of the traditional (and valid) pieces of advice to marathoners is that no running that you do in the final week before the race is going to help you on race day.  What helps you on race day is the months of training before then.  Usually in that final week, you just run some maintenance miles and work on locking in that "race pace" again.  If you do something that final week to "make up" for weeks or sessions you missed, the best that can happen is you show up tired and sore on race day (and obviously, the worst is that you get injured and can't even show up on race day). 

But that's the wisdom when you're training for a goal race. 

But for something like the marathon this weekend where I don't give a crap about my time (aside from not wanting to be out there in misery for 5 hours or something), I've decided traditional wisdom can be disregarded at will.

So today marks the return of my running commute! 

One way only, and insanely convenient today.

Last night was our big work dinner and as expected, it was at a steakhouse.  It involved many many bottles of wine AND mixed drinks (yes, two for me, ugh) at the bar while we waited for our table.  I probably only had about 1 bottle of wine, but either way, there was no way I could drive home -- well, actually, I couldn't even if I hadn't had a sip of alcohol because I didn't have my car. 

I drove to work yesterday morning, got a ride to dinner with a colleague, and then got picked up by my sweet husband after dinner. 

And that means I had to run to work today to get my car.  It was so nice to do that again.  My stats as of my last running commute in mid-September before we went to Europe for the marathon were that I had run to work 115 times out of a possible 147 commutes this year.  And a vast majority of the 32 that I missed were because I decided that a post-work commitment was a higher priority than a running commute (alumni events, etc.).  All told, there were fewer than 10 days where I drove or got picked up because I just didn't want to run -- bad weather, sore, lazy, whatever -- as opposed to putting another event as a higher priority. 

Anyway, those 115 runs were such a staple in my week.  Since I've been back from vacation, as previously detailed, I've had so many excuses about why I wasn't running.  The first week back was staying so late at work every night that it would have significantly delayed bedtime (plus, I was out of shape and didn't want to add the miles too fast, a sure recipe for injury).  The second week back was my sprained ankle at boot camp mere hours before I had planned to do my first post-marathon running commute.  The third week was the trip to California (so those days weren't an option anyway).  Last week, I was sick with the plague.  This week is our big audit, and now it finally worked out for a single day.  I didn't want many miles today anyway.  I figured some rest in advance of Sunday's marathon is a good idea.  And then with the car logistics for dinner last night, it was key not to have to drive home after all that alcohol.  So the stars were aligned perfectly this morning.

The things that struck me -- it's about 1 billion times cooler out than it was in September.  The construction areas along the commute have changed.  Houses under construction have made massive progress.  There seems to be more vehicular traffic and fewer pedestrians.  The park cities real estate market seems to still be good -- nothing that was for sale before is still for sale. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tearing Up

So for anyone reading who particularly likes running, I highly recommend the following two items.  You'll need about 15 minutes for both of them.  More if you have to keep stopping to let words sink in and feel them resonate in your heart. 

First, this video, less than 3 minutes long.  It's Meb being interviewed after the NYC marathon about 10 days ago.

And then, this article, by Mike Cassidy, who finished with Meb. (I pasted the text below the rest of the blog entry, if that's easier)

I felt like so much of what Mike says is something that exactly replicates a thought I've had during a marathon.

"In the last few months, I’d PR’d in every distance from four miles through half-marathon. But recent PR’s are little consolation when your 11th mile is 5:35 and you’re out of breath."

Obviously, I'm not running a 5:35 mile in a marathon (or in a 5k for that matter, or even in a 1 mile race!).  But that's exactly it.  Sometimes it's not your day, but it's a long race and you never know what's around the corner, no matter how well you think you know the course or your body. 

That's the beauty of the marathon, there are so many factors in the day, not least of which are the people around you.  And a lot of what Mike says is what I've thought about my own running buddies, one of whom was a bridesmaid in my wedding, someone I first met while pounding out the miles together.  But it's sometimes about so much more than just yourself, the friends you make, the races you run. 

I don't think I ever posted much about it, but I met Meb at a very small event late last year, and I spent a lot of time talking to his brother Hawi as well (a fellow lawyer): 

I'm friends with both Meb and Hawi now on FB (which you know means we're tight), but that happened shortly before I went off FB.  But the limited contact I had with Meb and Hawi was enough to leave a very strong impression on me.  And this marathon finish just confirms a lot of what I felt I'd gleaned about Meb's character.  Amazing.  It really makes me teary.  I noticed it at the Olympics when he pushed so hard for a 4th place finish and was the only American male to finish.  He's just an amazing athlete with such a level of clarity.  The video and article inspire me to want to push my limits and train as best I can starting next week.  I want to be just like Meb when I grow up!! 

Here's the full text of Mike Cassidy's article, copied from the link above (I'm mostly pasting it here in case that link ever disappears, because I feel like this might be something I need to read again and again):

The Time of My Life: Staten Island Native Mike Cassidy Shares His Experience Finishing The NYC Marathon Hand-In-Hand With His Hero Meb Keflezighi

Shareby: Mike Cassidy
November 7, 2013
About 10 miles into Sunday’s ING New York City Marathon, I considered dropping out.
It was comically windy. The pack of four I had been running with from the start had dropped me two miles ago—at a pace that was 10 seconds per mile slower than my goal. My legs felt like crap. I was alone.
But I’ve run enough marathons to know it’s a long race. Sometimes, things turn around. New York is a tough course on a nice day. With a steady 15 mile-per-hour headwind, pace is not a reliable indicator of anything.
Besides, I had trained too well to give up this easily. Workout after workout indicated I was in better shape than when I ran 2:18 two years prior. In the last few months, I’d PR’d in every distance from four miles through half-marathon. But recent PR’s are little consolation when your 11th mile is 5:35 and you’re out of breath.
I couldn’t help but feel it was all slipping away. “Today is not your day,” I thought.
I began to rationalize my unexpected disappointment. It’s been a good season. Be content with that. You still have a couple of years to qualify for the Trials.
Once the negative thoughts begin to creep in, they’re hard to stop. But I had made one commitment to myself before the race, and that was this: stay optimistic. Too many times I have given up on my goals mid-race, only to realize afterwards they were well within my reach, had I maintained my faith.
I thought of my family, my friends, the outpouring of support I had received from the Staten Island running community and my friends throughout New York City.
They were counting on me. Many of them had spent the morning standing in the windy cold, eagerly awaiting my arrival. I owed it to them to keep running. If I was going to drop out, I had to at least make it to the crowds of First Avenue. Until then, no more thinking.
So I settled into a comfortable rhythm. For the first time in my running career, I stopped looking at my watch. One mile at a time.
Little did I know, about a mile up the road, America’s best marathoner, Meb Keflezighi, was going through the same struggles. He had suffered a series of unfortunate injuries in the weeks before the race, first a partial calf tear, then a deep cut on his knee. His training was compromised, and after mixing it up with the leaders in the race’s early going, the lack of preparation began to exact its vicious toll.
But the race leaders were far from my thoughts. As I crossed the halfway mark, I was swallowed by a pack of runners, my race reaching a figurative low point at the Pulaski Bridge’s literal highpoint.
Normally, this would be a terrible thing, more evidence of my floundering goals and more fuel for the negative mental fire.
Then, in an instant, things changed. After 5 miles alone, I had company. The competition rejuvenated my spirit. They also broke the wind. The pace quickened. For the first time all day, I felt like I was racing.
Soon the pack was down to three—Ryan Johns, Toby Spencer, and myself. In the calm of the Queensboro Bridge, I found peace. Before I knew it, we were flying up First Avenue. But I remained cautious, wary my struggles would return. I tucked in. I waited.
Around 19 miles, I went. Easing away from my mid-race saviors, I pushed into the Bronx, one by one picking off the runners who had so effortlessly dropped me back in Brooklyn.
As I made my way over the Madison Avenue Bridge and through Harlem, I found myself in a weird place. After nearly quitting, I was back in a respectable position. My legs had some pop, but I remained unconvinced it would last. I maintained willful ignorance of my pace. And somehow, even though I was headed south, the northerly wind seemed still in my face.
Had a bad race turned good? Would it stay good? On a day like today, what did good even mean?
Mike Cassidy
Meb Keflezighi finishes NYC with Mike Cassidy
As I began the long ascent into Central Park along Fifth Avenue, a lone runner entered my sights. Another target, a tangible intermediate objective.
The gap closed quickly. As I neared within a few blocks, I could see his number was a single digit. His stature was compact, his stride familiar.
My mind began to race. “Is it? Could it—no, it can’t be—can it?”
Moments later, my brother John, who had positioned himself at the 23 mile mark, confirmed my speculative disbelief.
“Go get Meb!” he shouted.
This is the type of moment you only dream about. The scene had played out in my mind countless times before: me, having the race of my life, gracefully passing Meb in Central Park en route to a stunning victory. It’s one of those wild fantasies that get you through the solitary 7 am 10 milers.
As I eased up on his shoulder, I looked over and said, “Let’s go Meb.”
He responded, promptly picking up his pace and we entered Central Park at 90th Street, shoulder to shoulder. The next three miles were the most surreal I have ever experienced. “Let’s finish this together,” he said.
As many times as I had imagined this scene, I never anticipated how it played out on this day. Meb was far from the top of his game—and to be honest, so was I.
My time had been irrelevant for miles. But now, something even stranger happened: I stopped caring about competing. It’s not that I had given up, or anything close to it; rather, winning and losing somehow ceased to hold meaning.
I had no desire to beat Meb, only to run with him. Maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was the shock of the situation. The outcome was no longer my driving motivation. I stopped thinking ahead and kept thinking about now. I had no idea what pace we were running, and I didn’t care.
As we ran along the familiar stretch behind the Met and down Cat Hill—a route over which I’d run innumerable workouts under the watchful eye of Coach Bob Glover—I couldn’t help but feel giddy at the absurdity of it all. I was running with Meb Keflezighi. New York City Champion. Olympic Silver Medalist. Arguably the greatest American marathoner ever. MEB. And I was doing it in the last three miles of the New York City Marathon, with the whole world watching.
It was like getting to play basketball with Michael Jordan. Only it was Game 7 of the NBA Finals and he had just passed me the ball.
One of the things I often hear from retired runners is that they didn’t appreciate their accomplishments enough when they were in their primes. Usually, I’m guilty of the same sin. In my anxiety over performance, I regularly fail to enjoy just how fortunate I am to be able set PR’s, to win races, or simply, to run.
Today was different. Although I didn’t fully appreciate it until later, letting go of all of the usual reasons why I run races allowed me to reach a place of contentment we so rarely experience as athletes. I’m an admirer of Buddhist teachings on mindfulness and I have to believe this is the closest I’ve ever come to living in the moment. All that mattered was the next step, the next stride.
It’s amazing what a three mile run can teach you.
Scarcely an hour before, I had nearly dropped out. Pushing through adversity never had a higher payoff. While I would never have guessed what I would have missed, I know all-too-well the crushing disappointment of a dropout. “Never give up” will never again be a cliché for me.
Meb could have easily done the same thing. Most professional athletes would have. Heck, a couple of big names did Sunday. You can’t blame them. This is their livelihood. If they’re not in the money, it is simple business sense to conserve resources for the next payday. We’d never criticize a trader for selling an unprofitable stock.
In pushing through a compromised calf, a banged up knee, and a very probably damaged quad, Meb may well have brought himself weeks of rehabilitation. Perhaps it will cost him a spring marathon or other lucrative race opportunities.
In a world where sponsors drop athletes at the first sign of struggle, where corporate race organizers cut elite budgets, where the reigning two-time top American at Boston can’t get a shoe contract, Meb’s character and class brought into stark contrast how callous and shortsighted the running industry can sometimes be.
It would be a lesson in being a good professional—if it wasn’t such a lesson in being a good person. Meb understood the power of the day and what he represents to so many people. He sacrificed his body for his fans; he put the good of others before his own.
In so doing, Meb personified the power of running to reach beyond the race course.
Like all runners, I tend to relate to the sport in semi-selfish terms. My race. My time. My place. My PR. Part of this is necessary. If your idea of a rest day involves two runs and double digit miles, there needs to be some self-interest. And part of it is what makes running great. Success is self-defined.
But when we get too self-absorbed, we miss running’s deeper beauty: its magnetic power to bring us together. My closest friends are those I’ve run with; one need only attempt a solo interval workout to recognize the value of teammates. In a race, the other runners are not rivals; they are comrades in the war we each wage within ourselves, a leg up on our journeys to new levels of self-realization. Personal bests are rarely set in isolation. Ours is not an individual sport.
As Meb and I made our way through the park, the surreality of the situation was matched only by its profound normalcy. I was running stride for stride with my hero, yet I couldn’t help feeling as if we were somehow equals. Credit it to Meb’s humility: there was no hierarchy, no pretension, no pecking order. Just two guys helping each other get through a run.
We alternated the lead several times, sharing the work and pulling each other along. We exchanged words of encouragement. Repeatedly, he emphasized that we would work together to finish.
Meb has long been my favorite marathoner, but I had only met him for the first time that morning, when we were introduced in the elite tent before the race by a mutual friend, Andy Rosen, who heads up the marathon’s medical team for professional runners.
It was readily apparent that all the stories I’d heard about Meb’s remarkable attitude were true.
As we entered Central Park at Columbus Circle, I turned to Meb and told him as much. “It’s an honor to run with you,” I said.
His response is something I’ll never forget.
“No,” he said. “Today is not about us. It’s about representing New York. It’s about representing Boston. It’s about representing the USA and doing something positive for our sport. We will finish this race holding hands.”
I’m a believer that running brings out the best in people. Running inspires. Running unites. Running uplifts. By pushing us to our limits and across them, running takes us to places we never thought possible—or even real. A good run can turn a dark day bright and make a bright day shine brighter. Performed on the scale of a marathon, running can transform communities and change lives.
Last year, around this time, as I saw Staten Island, my hometown, ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, I defended the NYC Marathon as a force for good in our community.
But until this moment, as I strode the marathon’s final quarter mile with Meb, I don’t know if I ever fully appreciated just how real running’s reach is. Our goals, as personal and individualistic as they may have been, were less important than our purpose. Our motives were separable from our mission.
In striving to be our best, we could bring out the best in others. We could honor the victims of Sandy and Boston, embracing pain to lessen theirs. We could inspire others to do the same.
I’m not naive enough to believe running is a primarily a charitable endeavor. I run mostly for me. It’s not good or bad—it’s just how it is. But because of the gifts and opportunities I’ve been given, my running has a platform, a spotlight, a chance to affect other people. What it means to them, what they take from it, I cannot control. But what I can do is strive to reach my full potential, giving my best effort each and every run. That I will derive most of the benefits does not alter the fact that the most significant benefit may be the smile it brings to the face of a stranger.
Throughout my summer and fall training, my goals for November 3rd were sub-2:18 and top-15. I achieved neither. And yet, I was completely satisfied. Running the last three miles of the New York City Marathon with Meb was the highest honor of my career.
There will be other days for PR’s, other races to win, other chances to qualify for the Olympic Trials. But it’s only once you get to cross the finish line of your hometown race holding hands with your hero.
Thank you, Meb.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The excuses

So one of the things that was the best about going off facebook this year was getting away from people who seem to do nothing but complain.  So obviously that's not what I'd want to have on my blog, particularly since I feel extraordinarily happy and content with my life.

But it's like the hits just keep on coming these days!  At least as to my general fitness and eating routine.  It's like I can't just have a normal 2 week span where I can work out and eat normally and starting clawing my way back to where I feel like I was only two months ago. 

This has been my chronology since late September:

  • Half a week in Berlin, moderate food, no alcohol.
  • Marathon.
  • Week in Munich, unhealthy food, tons of Oktoberfest drunkenness.

  • Week in Italy, moderately healthy food but insanely large quantities, lots of alcohol but no intoxication.
  • Wrap up of the trip in Amsterdam, more unhealthy food, more alcohol.
  • Long trip home.
  • Jet lag for an entire week because I made the mistake of falling asleep at 3 in the afternoon the day we came home.  Which meant I was wide awake by 1-2 a.m. every single day.
  • Digging out at work.  Over 100 emails needing attention.
  • Attempting to get back into the groove at boot camp and with running.
  • Three weekday group runs; average pace drops 15 seconds on each day, so steady improvement.  Heart rate and effort are high, but at least the pace is becoming sustainable.
  • Long run of 11.5ish miles.  Not horrible.
  • Serious ankle sprain at boot camp.  Uneven pavement on which I was doing running high knees.  Lots of pain and inflammation.
  • No activity at all for 4 days attempting to get the swelling down.
  • Long run of 13 miles and change.  Slowest run I've done in years.  Almost quit a million times.  No particular ankle pain when stepping on level surfaces. 
  • Fly to California for 6 days in San Francisco and Napa.  Unhealthy food, unhealthy quantities of food, unhealthy amounts of alcohol.

  • Half marathon on trails with over 3000 feet of climbing in California.  Slowest half ever I think, but that makes sense given the terrain and elevation.
  • Wake up coughing and sick day after half marthon.
  • Long trip home, 3 hours time difference given the extra daylight savings time change.
  • Jet lag for most of the week because I made the mistake of staying awake until about 2 a.m. Dallas time the night we got home, feeling like I was still in Cali staying up late and having fun.
  • Sick for pretty much the entire week.  Coughing non-stop.  Unable to breathe.  Some congestion.
  • No working out for an entire week because of illness.
  • Long run (two days ago) of 15 miles and change.  Probably slowest pace for a run of that length in more than 5 years.  Felt like death.  Sore afterward.
  • Boot camp yesterday where I skipped almost all the running but still ended up sore and winded.
  • Insane day of work, auditors coming into town Wednesday.
  • Run with a friend this morning at insanely high effort level given the relatively slow pace we ran.  And the run was extra fun because a huge cold front was coming in during our run.  26 mph winds.  Starting temp of 54, ending temp of 47, and we only did about 7.5 miles, so all that was within an hour.
  • Watching the news, drinking a smoothie for breakfast, and while not chewing anything, somehow chip the outside of one of my back teeth.  Seriously???  What next? 

Looking ahead
  • Attending law firm event tonight, expecting to be hit up for business.
  • Big steakhouse dinner tomorrow night with the auditors, dinners usually average about one bottle of wine per person...
  • Attending another law firm event Thurs night, expecting to be hit up for business.
  • Flying to San Antonio.
  • Marathon on Sunday. 

So yeah, that's why I suck at blogging lately.  And why my clothes are too tight.  I haven't commuted to (or from) work on foot since September 18.  And basically a few weeks of vacation in Europe, followed by a sprained ankle, followed by a week of vacation in California, followed by a week of being sick means that I'm guaranteed to have a miserable marathon this weekend.  Thank goodness I never planned to do it for time.  But yeah, being out there that long is going to suck.  To make matters worse, the starting temp is supposed to be in the 60s.  At least if it were cold, there would be a chance I could pull something moderately respectable out of my @ss.  But with that kind of heat, it will just be a mess. 

And, as to the tooth, of course I just went to the dentist the day before I sprained my ankle.  My husband said you can't see the chip at all, but if it's uncomfortable, the dentist could probably smooth it out.  Ugh.  I can feel it with my tongue, even though it doesn't really hurt. 

So I can add that to my list of things to deal with -- along with a chip in my windshield and a garbage disposal that doesn't seem to work right.  But the credit card bill that's headed my way has dinner for two at The French Laundry on it, so I'm really thinking I should defer any unnecessary expenses for a little while.  Plus that whole Christmas thing is coming...

Obviously, all my complaining is all small stuff in the grand scheme of things, as I've said before.  Having this big audit at work means I'm doing well and potentially getting more to do.  And gaining weight on vacation is just fun to me, not the end of the world, I don't mind buckling down afterward to lose it.  And I will be able to pull off the marathon, just not quickly, even by my "quick" standards, which are much slower than some people's.

So I promise I'm not bitching.  But within one week of the marathon finish this weekend, I need to buckle down big time.  If I'm going to make another run at my marathon goal time in Houston, I will have about 2 months to train.  Unfortunately, Christmas and 9 days at home will be right in the middle of those 2 months, but of course, who am I to complain about more than a week at home with my mama?  It just means I need to be even more focused for the 6 or so weeks I'll have to train in Dallas.  Oh my... 

This is going to be quite an unusual year end for me! 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend Update

Well, I'm definitely still sick, but I think the worst of it may be over.  I'm coughing a ton and very congested, but at least I don't feel quite so awful.  Not ideal considering what this week holds...

Over the weekend, I mainly tried to rest.  Lots and lots of napping.  I also attempted a long run.  I don't know if I've said much about it, but I'm planning to run the marathon in San Antonio. 

On Sunday.

Ugh!  I'm very much not prepared to run a full, but such is life. 

Going into this weekend, I hadn't run over 13.5 miles since the last marathon in September.  I had done 13 miles twice, but both times were a mess to say the least.  Once was the trails half marathon in California last weekend, with over 3000 feet of climbing.  The other was a very slow group run that I almost quit.

So I decided I really need to get at least 14 or 15 miles this weekend, and then I'll do a kind of rapid taper this week. 

Sunday morning I made plans to run the trail near our house once alone, and then meet up with a couple friends for 7-9 more miles. 

It was ugly and slow, but I managed to get 15 miles in.  The marathon is going to be a mess.  Thank goodness I'm not doing it for time and it should just be a fun run, probably with friends.

The rest of the day Sunday was coffee with friends, lunch with my godson and his family, and an HOA board meeting.  The board meeting was stressful.  We need to cut down some trees that are inhibiting ground cover and everyone gets mega-pissed when we talk about cutting "their" trees.  Of course everyone agrees trees need to be cut, but everyone says not the one in front of their condos.  Stressful!

And on top of recovering from the plague, this week is going to be crazy important at work.  Almost like a mini-audit.  Only 15 of my files at issue (and I finished reviewing them all last week), but if it goes well, I'll eventually have more files on this program.  Of course this also means a work dinner this week -- at a steakhouse.  Ugh.  Probably lots and lots of wine, which isn't a recipe for marathon success for me.

And on top of all that, I had committed to going to a law firm event one night.  One of my boot camp friends works there and was pressured to invite female potential clients -- as in someone who retains outside counsel.  I do that.  While I never use my friend's firm (and never really retain counsel in Texas), when I worked at a big firm, I remember that kind of pressure, so I agreed to accept her invitation.  So a networking schmoozing kind of night.  And then the boozy steakhouse dinner the next night.

What a week!   But when I fly to San Antonio, I'll be able to leave it all behind...

Monday, November 4, 2013

FMM: Food Matters

We had the best week (well, 6 days) in Northern California, it was very hard to come home last night.  And it was even harder because on Sunday morning, I woke up with what seems to be a cold, and because I feel jet-lagged again -- only 2 hours time change, but plus daylight savings, meant my body clock was off by 3 hours.  So instead of going to be bed like a 6 year old, which I normally do, I was awake way too late.  So of course I had no hope of really waking up at 5:00 to go workout this morning.  But given this cold, I couldn't have worked out anyway.  But I need to get back on track in terms of sleep ASAP.  If I skip a workout because I'm sick, that's fine, but if I skip because I was up too late, that's inexcusable in my book!

The half marathon this past weekend was tough.  California is a HILLY place!  I haven't uploaded my Garmin data yet, but I think the 13.1 miles had more elevation gain than any run I've ever tracked on this watch (i.e., any run I've done since Jan. 2011).  I was walking at times because it was just so steep -- and not just the uphill.  Some of the downhill miles were on stairs.  Fine.  But trail stairs?  Not fine.  They were uneven and sandy/rocky, so several times I had to slow to a walk.  But the scenery was spectacular! 

Since it's Monday, here we go...

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Food Matters
1. Are you familiar with GMO’s? Is it an issue that matters to you?  Yes, I am somewhat familiar with it (though of course I'm no expert and could stand to learn a lot more), and yes, it matters, but of course it's all relative -- lots of things matter more, but I think more information for the consumer is usually better. 

2. List a few items that are typically on your grocery list. Fresh baby spinach, grapes, frozen individual packages of peas, frozen meals for lunch (Amy's or Lean Cuisine), frozen fruit (for smoothies), soy milk, protein powder, chia seeds, Greek yogurt. 

3. What is your favorite place to shop for produce? I consider myself very fortunate to say that I don't grocery shop.  I put what I want on a list, and it magically appears in my home (hubby's contribution to household labor time every week).  He buys most produce at a store called Central Market, which is owned by HEB and I guess considered upscale. 

4. Do you eat processed foods?  Yes.  Probably less than the average American, but still plenty. 

5. Do you look for the “organic” label when you shop?  My husband does and almost always buys organic.  I sometimes request non-organic things because he shops about once a week and sometimes organic produce goes bad too quickly.  And because for things like baking potatoes, the non-organic ones can just be so much bigger. 

6. What did you eat for breakfast this morning?  I had oatmeal with chia seeds and raisins.  Every weekday that I've been home for YEARS, I've had the same breakfast -- a smoothie with spinach, frozen fruit (strawberries, cherries, blueberries, peaches, grapes and pineapple), soy milk, chia seeds and Vega protein powder).  But last night we got home from the airport so late that we didn't grocery shop and had no spinach in the house.  I suppose I could have made a smoothie with just fruit, but I think that would have been too sweet. 

7. How many meals per week do you cook at home? I guess it depends on what is considered "cooking."  If you count making a breakfast smoothie to be cooking, then 6.5 breakfasts per week.  If you count using the microwave to heat up a packet of Indian food or leftovers or a frozen meal, or eating something from the prepared foods section of the grocery store, then I also cook 3 lunches at home per week (Fri, Sat, Sun), as well as 6.5 dinners per week.  But if you mean cooking from scratch and making something other than a smoothie, about 1 dinner per week.  I guess my point is that we very rarely eat out, get delivery, or bring in food from a restaurant. 

8. Do you think that foods that have been genetically engineered should be labeled? Yes. 

9. What matters most to you when you’re choosing a restaurant?  Menu.  As a vegetarian, I prefer if there's something I can eat that sounds good on the menu, rather than having to ask that a dish be modified or created.

10. What is your favorite meal to cook at home? I like cooking tons of stuff, but my favorite would probably be something like a soup that doesn't require tons of chopping but sits on the stove for hours and smells good. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments, and have a happy Monday!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Pre-race Prep

So here is today in a single map:  

Of course we haven't stayed at the same spot but wine tasting all day very well might kick my butt on the half marathon tomorrow.  And even when we drive or run somewhere that seems crazy high, it's still not even close to the elevation chart for tomorrow.  Ugh.  Oh well, at least I don't have to worry about my time!