Thursday, March 27, 2014

Same Pain, Different Day

I've mentioned before that my most common running injury is somewhere in my calf usually. 

Well, it's back, and it's bad.  I'm mostly writing this post just so it's chronicled. 

I have been feeling very blah lately.

Hubby and I had an awesome trip last week to New Mexico, but spending time with survivors of the Bataan Death March is hard for me.  It weighs on my heart and consumes a lot of my thoughts for a long time afterward.  It was an amazing experience and so worthwhile, but draining.

And I believe the trip was also draining due to a simple lack of sleep.  Saturday night, we were hanging out with some of my friends from the race two years earlier and we didn't get back to our hotel room until probably about 9.  Then we had to make sure we were organized for the next morning.  Then there were loud people in the hotel hallway.  Then our hotel room neighbors had their TV on very loudly.  Then the alarm went off at 3-something, meaning only about 5 hours of sleep (5 hours and 10 minutes per my Jawbone, but only 3 hours and 24 minutes of "sonno profondo" (or deep sleep, my Jawbone is automatically in Italian apparently because my phone is)).  We were aiming to leave the hotel by 4 since they suggested that we be at the Missile Range by 4:30. 

Sunday was the race and it was about 1:00 by the time we finished and got back to the hotel.  Shower, packing, on the road to the airport.  We ended up skipping the closing ceremony, which was a bummer, but made for a less harried trip to the airport.

Our flight was at 6:15, landing in Dallas before 9 (time change).  We were flying first class so I had mistakenly assumed we'd get dinner on the flight.  Wrong.

And we didn't know we were wrong until about 10 minutes before boarding.  We went to a nearby sports bar, but their kitchen was already closed (I know, at 5:45, wtf?).  And the El Paso airport isn't big so there were no other options nearby. 

So we flew back to Dallas and enjoyed some wine and figured we'd just grab something quick near the house (within 1.5 blocks, we have a Chipotle, a Pei Wei, and a sub shop). 

But we landed in my favorite airport terminal at DFW and right in front of us was a fun looking pizza place I'd never tried.

So we decided to be a little crazy and just have dinner at the airport.  Kind of funny.  I actually really liked my pizza.

We were completely beat by the time we got home and both elected to skip Monday morning workouts.  So Sunday night I probably slept 9 hours?  (Actually, 8 hours and 43 minutes, but 4 hours and 33 minutes were sonno profondo.)

Monday night wasn't much sleep though.  Coming from the memorial service for my former running coach, plus still thinking so much about Bataan, I was awake a lot of the night, looking things up on my phone, doing more research, just thinking about things.

Wow, it takes me a long time to get to the point!

I ran an easy 6 or so on Tuesday.  HR high, but with the lack of sleep, that wasn't a surprise.  But today I ran again.  We were supposed to do 800 meter repeats.  I wasn't feeling it, so I figured a few easy laps on the track would work.  I tried to run at a moderate speed for a couple laps, but something pulled in my calf.  By the time I was on my way back to my car, I was walking because it hurt so much.

Hopefully it will follow the course of past calf pain and be gone within a few days.  But actually, this seems worse.  I've never had something hurt so much that I had to walk.  Hmmm.  We will see!  It makes sense that this would happen because I just registered for a half at the end of April...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Going Commando to a Funeral

Well, if you want to be technical, it was a memorial service, not a funeral.

Still, going commando to a memorial service was not really something I ever thought I'd do.  But it's exactly what I did after work last night.

I mentioned last week that I'd been touched by an unexpected death.

A running coach from long ago died very suddenly on Monday night two weeks ago.  He would have been 70 on Tuesday. 

He was still running strong and really racking up the AG awards.  He'd just finished his 53rd marathon.  He had coached me for and run with me during the disastrous Chicago Marathon in 2007. 

And I'd just seen him Sunday morning while running and he'd called out to me by name to say good morning. 

Such a sad surprise.

His memorial service was set for March 24 in the evening at a park in a northern suburb filled with trails that he loved to run. 

It was wonderful.  Such a mix of people from his life -- family, skiiers, stamp collectors, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and of course runners. 

There were several people who spoke and made us all laugh at certain memories.

The images, sayings and memories of him that I will hold with me:
  • He ran with his shirt tucked into his shorts.
  • He wore his team track suit all the time.
  • The way he would stand.
  • His running advice to pay attention to the tangents.
  • His running advice to avoid hopping curbs on any run over 18 miles.
  • His running advice to sit before the start of a marathon.
  • His practice water stops set up for us.
  • His steady pacing at the track and on long runs.
  • His first introduction to me of the concept of heart rate training.
  • The way he wore his reflective vest when we were running in the dark. 
  • He loved to travel. 
Stories I loved at his service:
  • How he shepherded a stranger through her first 50 miler, and how after the event, she emailed a mutual friend to describe him and said he was her "trail angel." 
  • How he was unable to run with his co-coach for a BQ attempt but instead attended the event and was like a helicopter mom, popping up every few miles along the course.
  • How at that same race, where the finish line was split between half and full finishers, he climbed over a fence onto the course to direct his co-coach to the full finish line, just to be absolutely certain he went the right way.
  • The way he would stand in the store where he worked to wait for the next customer, and how new associates would ask about what to do to get customers, and the manager's advice was to try to go stand in front of him.
  • The comment about how he'd be happy to see the crowd gathered on a Monday night, especially since if the service had been on Sunday, they would have had to pay for the pavilion, which he would have hated! 
So I went to his memorial service commando.  The attire was listed as "sporty casual" and the memorial service was followed by a walk on the trails.  So I wore my running capris and a black technical shirt, which I figured was appropriate for a memorial service.  I was right -- some people clearly had come right from work and weren't planning to do the trails, but there were plenty of us in running clothes, happy to set out on a walk in his honor, while a bagpiper played in the background. 

Feelings after something like that are so complicated.  I left feeling uplifted, happy and chuckling, but of course at the same time, I felt very sad to know I'll never see him again.  It was such a perfect celebration of his life.  Race medals strewn all over the tables, pictures from races, a slideshow of family photos and plenty from other parts of his life. 

I also thought that his service was almost exactly what I'd want, assuming I'm still a runner when it's my time to go.  There was a wild mix of ages of people attending his service, which was so neat.  I think the average age of non-family attendees at a funeral for a 69.999 year old is probably between 55 and 75.  But of course running is such a massive cross section of people, so his service was filled with everyone starting around age 25 or so, going all the way up to people likely in their 70s and/or 80s.  While he was certainly gone too soon, it's so great knowing he did his long run the day before he died, and that he had several marathons and races on the horizon for the next few months.  That too is exactly what I want, what I expect most of us want, no prolonged illness or slow decline.  Up one day, down the next.  Hopefully no suffering.  And a bunch of runners there to walk in your memory and fondly share stories. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Reading and Running

A quick post to share a link (courtesy of Hungry Runner Girl).  An overlap of two of my favorites -- running and reading. 

Here's a link to an article called 9 books every runner should read:

I've read a lot of running books, so I was surprised I've only read three of them on this list: 

Born to Run (which I reviewed here (the barefoot aspect) and here (the vegetarian aspect)),
Running and Being (a book I'd guess almost every runner has read), and
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Murakami being an author of interest outside the running context as well). 

Guess I'll have to make plans to read the others! 

Have you read any/all of them?  Any recommendations on where I should start? 

Monday, March 17, 2014


I'm not really ready to write at this moment.  Last week was rough.  Illness, missed workouts, and worst of all, a very unexpected death of a former running coach.  Sorry that I'm not quite ready to write about it.  It surprised me a lot.  I saw him last week Sunday while running (he was also out running, but we don't run the same pace anymore, but he saw me and said good morning), and then I heard the news of his death Tuesday morning -- less than 48 hours after I'd seen him on the run.  I ended up hearing via email because I was off FB (an effort to avoid Bachelor spoilers).  I woke up crying on Wednesday and of course it's been heavy on my heart all week.  Runners aren't invincible sadly. 

Over the weekend was my favorite 5k of the year.  I had a lot of friends running it.  I didn't run well, but I guess it was good enough for top 10 in my age group (all three AG winners were sub-20s).  And I kept it within my "acceptable for St. Pat's" 2 minute window.  I've done this race for 9 straight years now, and 6 of my times are all within that 2 minute window.  Miles 1 and 2 were pretty steady (but mile 1 had a lot of weaving around people).  I slowed by about 10 seconds on mile 3, but it didn't matter because I was off PR pace anyway.  I missed a PR by about 2 minutes, which is a whole lot for a 5k.  But the race was fun, though like I said, there's been this weight on my heart.  We skipped the parade given that we'd both had such a rough week (hubby was sick as well and ended up being sent to the cardiologist by his primary doc).  After a bit of napping, we went to lunch with one of my all time favorite running buddies who has since moved to California.  He is hilarious and 5 of us went out to lunch and drank and laughed.  It was nice because we were able to share a lot of good memories of our coach, along with catching up -- sometimes it's like he never left.  My local bestie and I have an ongoing pitch to get him to move back (though usually we direct it mostly at his wife). 

I'm trying to get back to normal this week.  Big stuff happening at work (good, making progress on settling a couple problematic cases).  And this week is short -- we are heading out of town Thursday morning early for the Bataan Memorial Death March again.  This is the marathon I ran a few years ago with a military weight pack (40 pounds, years later, I still have the chafing scar on my lower back, I call it my Bataan Tramp Stamp).  This year is the last year they are going to have survivors there to tell their stories (Death March was in 1942), so I knew I had to go back.  Hearing Death March survivors tell their stories first-hand, and getting to ask questions, and more importantly, tell them what their sacrifice meant to me and assure them that I will never forget, is a once-in-a-lifetime (well, now twice for me!) experience.  And I knew my husband had to have the same chance since I went solo last time.  No marathon this time though.  Instead, we are planning to walk/hike the memorial march, which is only 14-15 miles.  Generally speaking, there are lots of young veterans, often amputees, who also do this race, so I am looking forward to also hearing about some of their experiences during the event.  But I'm mostly going to say thank you to these men now in their 90s who went through something I can't even contemplate.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Impending Illness

I've known it was coming for a few days now, but I'm officially coming down with something.  It feels like the same crud I get about once a year.  Some kind of upper respiratory infection.

Started with a sore throat.  Now it's a cough.  And above all else, feeling like I can't breathe.  Very wheezy.

Ugh.  I survived my long run yesterday, but I didn't survive the pace work.  It was supposed to be 12 miles with 6 at half marathon pace.  I managed 2 pace miles, and then I was done!  Ugh again. 

I went to boot camp beause I was awake (coughing), but I didn't do any of the cardio, just weights and some abs. 

So mostly just posting to say I'm still alive.  I hope it goes away quickly.  My favorite local 5k is this weekend! 

Friday, March 7, 2014


As an Episcopalian, I'm used to giving things up for Lent.  Growing up in Milwaukee, which has a large Catholic population, Friday night fish-fry was routine (I'll allergic to seafood, so I always had something else).  And now as a vegetarian, I love how many people are meat-free at least on Fridays during Lent.

As a child, I usually gave up sweets.  I realized pretty early on that it meant I'd score an awesome and insanely sweet Easter basket.  But there also weren't a lot of other "vices" that were options.

As an adult, of course, I have many options.  Things I remember giving up:
snooze bar (that was a major fail, it was before I started running (as a runner who meets friends to run, snooze is never an option now), and unfortunately, I'd hit snooze without being fully conscious of doing it)
social media
TV (that was pre-cable, pre-The Bachelor, and pre-House of Cards)
shopping (other than for food)

And I've also done the addition of things:
reading the Bible
community service
written correspondence
phone calls to far-away friends and family

Things I considered for this year but rejected:
alcohol (wouldn't be much of a sacrifice)
cheese (seemed too hard to figure out work lunches without it)
TV (umm, 3 episodes left of House of Cards, have to finish the Bachelor, then season 2 of the Americans)
my car (doing a running commute on all possible days, worried it would be too many miles too fast)

My husband is best described as Catholic with issues.  Unfortunately, he has been impacted (not as a victim thank goodness) multiple times by the pedophilia scandals:  one of the priests from his childhood, the priest from his son's childhood first communion and confirmation, and the priest from his parents' parish until about 5 yrs ago.  So yeah, he's got mixed feelings about the church and giving money to it. 

Anyway, he drinks far more regularly than I do -- he probably has a glass of wine with dinner 5 days per week? 

I floated an idea of a joint Lenten sacrifice to him, one that would be tough for both of us:  coffee (espresso only for me, espresso and coffee for him). 

His reaction?

"Even Muslims get to drink coffee!" 

Haha.  So no joint sacrifice for us.  He's doing alcohol, I'm doing sweets (which he never eats).  I'm also doing community service (2 hours Sat and 2 hours Sunday this weekend already planned!).  And I'm going to attempt to donate 6-7 items from our house each week.  The idea for that was someone who is doing a bag a day -- either of things to pitch or donate.  I'm too much of a hoarder, so that will never work, but one thing per day?  I should be able to manage that. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Mardi Gras photos and recap

Figured I'd add a few photos since I took tons.  And since today's Ash Wednesday, it's not terribly late! 

Friday morning we flew to Pensacola and rented a car and drove to Mobile.  I intended to (and did) work on the plane, and intended to (but did not) work in the car on the way to Mobile.  For some reason, my laptop battery was dead.  It made no sense, since I routinely work the entire flight to Philadelphia and the battery is fine, and this was a much shorter flight.  Well, as soon as I got to the hotel, I plugged in, but the laptop wouldn't boot up.  I spent FOREVER on the phone with IT.  Pulling the battery out, attempting to run it plugged in with the battery out of the laptop, tearing my hair out.  The IT guy was going to look something up, so I was sitting in the room twiddling my thumbs (my bestie was at lunch with her kids, and hubby had gone to buy snacks and booze).  And then I realized that I was using a Dell power cord.  And I had been in the morning before we flew out, while I was working from home.  Yeah, my work laptop is an HP. 

So that meant, I'd started draining the battery around 6:45 a.m. on Friday when I was working from home before we left for the airport.  At least it explained why it had died after such a short flight.  So then I had to track down options to buy a replacement cord.  Fortunately, I admitted my folly to my husband via text and he said he was on his way to the hotel and had just seen a Radio Shack.  So he went in and bought a universal adapter.  Plugged it in, nada.  Checked the instructions, and my laptop model wasn't among the HP ones listed.  Ugh.  But happily, I decided to try all the adapter plugs and another one was the same size so it also fit into the power cord hole on the laptop, and it worked!  Huzzah!  But by then, I had a ton of work to do in not much time.  Of course I was also starving and the fun was beginning.  Bestie and her family were all hanging out, hubby wanted to go out, and I had to keep working.  100% my fault.  Ugh. 

And please note, this is the second universal adapter I've had to buy in the last 4 months -- I took NO power cord home with me over Christmas, so I had to buy one then too.  Very frustrating.  I think I should label the Dell cord to clarify it does not match my work laptop. 

Anyway, I rushed and rushed and eventually wrapped up a full day of work, and the fun began: 

These are from the Friday night parade.  Highlights were that our whole group was together (us, my bestie and her husband and kids, her parents, her sister and her boyfriend, and another couple that we went to law school with).  The floats and bands were fun of course. 

After the Friday night parade, we went back to my bestie's parents' hotel room where her twins had fun counting their beads and we all got to hang out and eat and talk and drink. 

Eventually, her kids had to go to bed, so we all went back to our hotel.  Which turned into me, my bestie, and another woman we went to law school, and all our spouses, hanging out in the hallway outside her room while her kids slept (or kept coming into the hall to ask for things like extra pillows, glasses of water, etc.).  After an hour or so of that, pretty much all the spouses bailed and went to bed.  The three of us had a bottle of wine, and then somehow transitioned to drinking salted caramel vodka on the rocks. 

Saturday morning I was very hung over.  I have pretty much no recollection of what we talked about, but I know we laughed a lot.  I finally dragged myself out of bed for the Saturday afternoon parades.  There are 2-3 parades in a row, always lots of fun:

After the Saturday afternoon parades, hubby and I went back to our room because I desperately needed to lay down.  After a nap, we got ready and headed back to bestie's parents' hotel.  This is what the scene looked like there.  Lots of people from her dad's order/society stay at the same hotel, so the whole Krewe comes to pick up people, complete with a band, cheerleaders, horses, and a carriage with the Queen of Mardi Gras and Father Time.  People stand in front of their rooms and listen to the music.  Always fun:

The back of the queen and Father Time, I wasn't fast enough with my camera. 

Then finally it was Saturday night, the highlight of the entire weekend.  We watch her dad's society's parade, which is the biggest and best in Mobile.  Her husband now rides on one of the floats as well, and the guy who is married to our law school friend (my husband wasn't so keen on joining, he has a lot of complicated views about the South, race, traditions, etc.).  Anyway, since we know multiple people riding in the parade, we have big signs to hold up when they're coming and they throw all kinds of stuff at us.  It's absolutely one of my favorite moments of the year -- listening to the bands, waiting in anticipation with my bestie and my husband, drink in hand (though I nursed mine all night).  Pure happiness. 

Father Time on his float: 

The theme float, cut off (There's a First Time for Everything). 

After the parade, we get all dressed up and go to the ball.  White tie for the guys, floor length gowns for the women (though sometimes people will do ankle length, and no one seems to care).  The people in the society all come out on the floor and bow to the Queen and Father Time, then process down the dance floor in the auditorium. 

My bestie and our friend from law school, with their husbands in their parade costumes: 

The Queen and Father Time: 

The main stage before the dancing begins: 

After all the men in the society and their wives have done the procession, then everyone else goes down to the main floor.  Each float has a room with a bar and a food spread.  We ate a bit, then spent the rest of the night checking out the food in the other rooms and spending time on the dance floor.  Pretty much until we were too exhausted to move.

The queen's cake: 

I hesitate to post anything about Sunday -- let's just say it was not a good day.  We woke up, had breakfast, hung out with my bestie and her family, packed up and then the day went to heck.  Flight cancelled.  Rebooked.  Considered driving home, but ugh, 9-10 hours in the car didn't seem like a good idea since the next flight was in 5 hours and would get us home first.  For the record, hubby wanted to drive.  He had to be at work early on Monday.  I wanted to fly.  He assented.  We went to watch a movie (Non-Stop, which was quite enjoyable, but slightly less so when you have a boarding pass to get on a plane within the next few hours; I'd recommend seeing it on a day you are NOT flying).  After the movie, we confirmed my fear and husband's prediction -- the evening flight was also cancelled.  So we got in the car, me sucking lemons because I should have listened to him in the first place, we could have already been several hours into the drive.

He drove until about 11 at night, I got behind the wheel with about 175 miles to go to Dallas.  And then we hit the bad weather.  Ice on the roads, very thick in places.  Traffic was moving very slowly, but I'd say I averaged 20 mph for a while. 

And then we came to a stop on the interstate.  A dead stop.  An hour later, we hadn't moved at all.  Hubby woke up and we discussed our options.  I'd watched one car attempt to drive over the grass to the access road and they were still sitting in the ditch (despite the fact 3 passengers in the car had tried pushing it twice).  And I'd watched one car u-turn and drive head-on up the nearby on-ramp going the wrong way.  Eventually, we decided that would be our move.  We were very lucky to be fairly close to it.  I was very afraid we'd be killed -- given the conditions, any car coming at us would likely have been driving very slowly, but I was worried they wouldn't be able to stop and we'd be hit head-on.  I drove slowly and we eventually made it off of the on-ramp and onto a road.  We managed to drive north for a while until we found another east-west road and we took that all the way into Dallas.  Unfortunately, the road conditions weren't good.  I was averaging about 20-30 mph for most of the time.  But it was better than being parked we figured.  Evntually, as we got closer to Dallas, the roads got a lot better and it was smooth sailing, chugging along around 50 mph until we got to a bridge, then I'd slow a lot just to be careful, but 99% ice-free. 

Finally, around 6:15 a.m., we made it to the airport in Dallas to drop off the rental car and pick up our car.  So I'd driven less than 200 miles in over 7 hours.  Our 9-10 hour anticipated drive had taken 15 hours.  And we both had to work on Monday.  100% miserable.  Almost enough to make me swear off winter travel. 

I tried to see it as the price for a fun weekend, but ugh.  As long as I'm still feeling utterly exhausted, it's hard right now...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mardi Gras fun

A couple phone pictures, my dress and my best friend's parents' hotel.  I took a bunch of photos I need to upload.  But I felt like I have to post something today since it's actually Mardi Gras. 

Short story:  work headaches Friday, drank too much Friday night, slept too much Saturday, had so much fun at the parades and ball, had a horrendous trip home thanks to bad weather.  I mean horrendous.  But the weekend itself was wonderful.