Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Record

So if you follow professional distance running at all, you probably already know this, but the fastest marathon ever was run this past Sunday in Berlin. 

Dennis Kimetto of Kenya ran a 2:02:57, becoming the first person in history to run the marathon in under 2 hours and 3 minutes. 

Here are a few good news stories:
http://www.runnersworld.com/races/dennis-kimetto-breaks-world-record-at-berlin-marathon (wow, serious training started in 2010!)
http://www.runnersworld.com/elite-runners/from-poverty-to-podium (Kimetto's background, and in sum, why I believe the Africans get the records, see my review of Running with the Kenyans (incidentally, I hate when I do an entire year's worth of books in one post, but I'm on track to do the same thing in 2014; I need a June 2015 reminder to break next year into 2 posts))

The same two who finished 1-2 at Chicago in 2013 were 1-2 in Berlin this year.  What I think is especially cool is that even if Kimetto hadn't done it, someone else would have -- yes, two guys broke the previous world record on Sunday!  Second place Emmanuel Mutai, also of Kenya, came in at 2:03:13.  The prior world record was 2:03:23 from Berlin in 2013 (two people ran 2:03:0x at Boston in 2011 (not me), but that course isn't eligible for the world record).  But thanks to Kimetto, Mutai's name won't even show up as a world record for a day.  I kind of feel cheated for him, kind of like Shalene in Boston 2014, who ran her goal time, which she thought would be good enough to win it all (and would have many other years), but there were others who were faster that day, so it was only good enough for 7th.  Further proof that elite racing is almost an entirely different sport from regular mortal marathoning where running the plan and getting a PR is usually prized above all else, rather than what other people run on the same day. 

Anyway, that new world record kind of makes me a little nervous for my own racing future.  The Berlin Marathon is my current PR. 

How can I ever hope to beat that if I'm older and on a different course? 

(NB:  I'm also about 3-5 pounds heavier than I was then, but that's something I can control.  The age, not so much.) 

I suppose I could go for a cheater course, something like St. George that is a net descent and not eligible for the world record (though I've already beaten my St. George time).  I understand the distinction in needing a flat course for consideration for the world record, but I don't feel like it's something I would disqualify in terms of my own personal records -- as long as the course is a certified distance, I'm inclined to count it.

So on that note, my marathon future may consist entirely of downhill courses! 

On another note, I might need to change my sub-2 prediction.  I've always though of the world record as improving by about 1 minute per decade.  Sometimes 2 minutes very quickly, sometimes no real movement for more than a decade.  There's no real historical data to support this if you look back a while, but for most of my lifetime, the 1 minute per decade has been about right. 

In the 60s, it went from 2:15 to 2:09.
In the 70s, it held in the 2:09s.
In the 80s, it dropped to the 2:06s.
In the 90s, it dropped to the 2:05s. 
By the end of 2009, it had dropped to 2:03:59.
And now, in 2014, we're down to 2:02:57.

So it's a question of whether we'll get to the 2:01s very quickly now, or if there is going to be another long break before it happens.  After breaking into the 2:01s and the 2:00s, I would think that much like the 4 minute mile, that 2 hour barrier is going to create an extra hurdle in breaking it given the mental aspect.  So maybe it will stall out at 2:00:04 for 20 years or something. 

If I weren't worried that it would lead to possible (additional?) use of performance enhancing drugs (no idea how much of an issue that is among marathoners), I would say that some of the big marathons right now should buy insurance and put out a HUGE prize for the sub-2 and offer it up every year for the next decade.  Like a million dollars huge.  I wonder if that would be enough to make it happen before 2035, which is roughly when I would guess it would happen (not by me) (winky face). 

Monday, September 29, 2014


What a weekend!  It pains me to say this, but on the way home from boot camp, for just a minute, I considered stopping at Denny's for a monster-sized breakfast.  Don't they have something like an ultra grand slam I could modify to make vegetarian? 

Is it possible that:
a.) my stomach expanded after just 3 days?
b.) my body is expecting roughly 5 billion calories per day after just 3 days?
c.) tapering is making me want to eat all things?
d.) all of the above?

I am starving!  I got some free dietary advice from Megan this morning at boot camp while we were doing ab work toward the end of class.  I was complaining about already being hungry after eating my normal pre-boot camp breakfast.  She reminded me that eating normally might kind of feel like the first few days of a diet.  So basically it's going to be ugly.  I'm having breakfast now and I was tempted to supplement it with veggie breakfast sausage, which I do on heavy workout days -- but today wasn't a heavy workout day.  It was a day of taking it easy and slow at boot camp to move a little but not wear myself out.  So no extra breakfast sausage for me...

I'm going to try to be super-good about my eating this week anyway.  I am going to aim for fairly balanced meals, no sweets, and protein at every dinner this week (and hopefully real protein, not a frozen crutch like the veggie breakfast sausage).  Well, balanced at least until Thursday, then I will make an effort to increase carbs and decrease fiber and dairy for a few days. 

But this week is going to be doubly ugly because I have a feeling this is going to be a sad and lonely week. My husband will be here of course, and I'll be home the normal amount (maybe less, going to aim for extra yoga this week). But my folks are at the airport and the house feels empty now as I have breakfast.  You know how you just get used to having someone with you all the time?  My husband and I always joke about going through withdrawal when we have to go to work separately and be apart after vacation where we're together 23:45/7.  But now it's my folks that I miss.  It was so much fun being together.  I didn't sleep anywhere near enough and my feet and ankles are sore from more time on my feet this weekend than I've done in ages.  But totally worth it for a weekend that was just filled with good times together.  It just went far too quickly.  I feel like she should be sitting next to me now drinking her coffee and reading a book while I play on the computer.  When I got home from boot camp and walked past the guest room where they stayed it almost hurt my heart to see it empty.  Living away from family is so hard sometimes.  I have no desire to move away from Dallas but I wish they'd all move to Texas. 

Anyway, as promised I took pictures of all the horrible-for-me food that we ate yesterday at the Fair.  I need to pull them off my real camera to share tomorrow.  My husband may have put it best, I wish I could remember the exact wording.  Something to this effect:  The Texas State Fair is like Liberia, but it's the epicenter of the obesity epidemic instead of the ebola epidemic.  That was the most apt description for the people-watching at the Fair.  I'm very lucky that it's only once a year since sadly, I do like much of that artery-clogging stuff...

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fair Food Plan

After much contemplation, I have selected the three foods I will be seeking out at the State Fair on Sunday.

There are two special awards at the year every year for fried foods:  best tasting and most creative from 8 selected contenders. Somehow this year, it's 7 fried foods and one beer.   Fried butter won for most creative in 2009, but in my stomach, it's best-tasting. That year Fried Peaches & Cream won best tasting, and that was actually pretty good too, but not something I have ever sought out since.

But the 2014 Big Tex Choice award contending fried foods were pretty disappointing to me as they all involved meat or nuts, except for the fried bluebonnet, which I will try.

Text and photos from bigtex.com of course! 

Biscuit Fries with Chocolate Gravy – Strips of buttermilk biscuit dough fried to golden brown, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with a bowl of warm, delicious milk chocolate gravy.
Biscuit Fries with Chocolate Gravy
Biscuit Fries with Chocolate Gravy

Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet by Isaac Rousso.  The Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet is a blueberry muffin, scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate. It is baked and deep fried to a perfect golden brown. This mountain of flavor is topped off with whipped cream, chopped white chocolate morsels, powdered sugar, blueberries, and a delicious blueberry glaze.
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet
Deep Fried Texas Bluebonnet

Deep Fried Butter – 100% pure butter is whipped till light and fluffy, then specially sweetened with a choice of several flavors. The tantalizing mixture is surrounded by a special dough and quick fried.
Deep Fried Butter

For the record, I like the garlic fried butter the most -- they're all the same, it's just a question of the flavor of the buttery sauce poured over the top. 

The other finalists in the contender for the Big Tex Choice award this year:
Chicken Fried Loaded Baked Potato:  The creamy and moist insides of a baked potato, loaded with generous amounts of butter, bacon, and cheddar cheese, are coated and battered with a delectable blend of spices and flour that create a perfect combination of fried crispy crust and delicious, creamy loaded baked potato. Served with a ranch dipping sauce.
Deep Fried “Breakfast for Dinner”:  A twist on a favorite American dinner–“Breakfast for Dinner.” This is a 10″ flour tortilla stuffed with eight favorite breakfast items – scrambled eggs, breakfast sausage, bacon, potatoes, ham, onion, cheddar cheese and gooey cinnamon roll bits – that are deep fried until golden brown and served with a creamy country gravy, salsa and a pico-queso dip.
Fried Gulf Shrimp Boil:  Everything you would expect in a shrimp boil rolled into a ball, dusted with Fish Fry, and fried to a golden brown! Baby gulf shrimp, diced red potatoes, onion, lemon, and seasoning are formed around a cocktail shrimp, dusted and fried with the tail sticking out for a handle. Served with a remoulade sauce.
Fried Sriracha Balls:  A lip-smacking combination of shredded chicken, corn, green chilies, tomatoes, and Sriracha hot sauce, formed into balls and coated with crispy tortilla chips. It is then flash-fried until golden brown. For those who like their food higher on the Scoville Scale, extra Sriracha Sauce is available.
Fried Sweet Texas:  Traveling across Texas to try the best and most popular desserts gave inspiration for this fried treat. Fried Sweet Texas starts with fresh pie dough filled with crunchy pecan pie, juicy peach cobbler, and creamy buttermilk pie. It is then deep fried until the crust is golden brown and flaky, and then served up with a side of Texas’ own Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream. A real tribute to Texans and their amazing sweet treats!
Original State Fair Brew – Funnel Cake Ale:  A light and delicious ale brewed to be reminiscent of one of the telltale flavors of the State Fair – FUNNEL CAKE! This refreshing English style summer ale has been brewed to be ready and crisp, with just the right amount of toastiness and sweetness, finishing with delicate notes of natural vanilla; all great flavors you find in a perfectly executed funnel cake. For those whose taste buds call for a sweeter finish, take advantage of the option to have the rim of your cup coated with powdered sugar.
Twisted Texas Tacos:  What do you get when you combine the four major food groups of Texas? Chicken Fried, Barbecue, Tex-Mex, and Chili – Twisted Texas Tacos! This taco starts off with tender, juicy hickory smoked Texas beef brisket, double-dipped in a barbecue spiced buttermilk batter and deep fried until it is robust and beefy. It is served in a warm flour tortilla, generously layered with a Mexican cheese blend, crispy fried okra, and a sweet and crunchy tri-color slaw, accented with zesty poblano and sweet pepper corn. Served with a creamy country gravy, spicy Texas Chili and a miniature salute from the Lone Star flag.

Total bummer for a vegetarian.  My husband isn't going with us, but I actually think he'd probably like the gulf shrimp and sriracha ball choices.  Anyway, I think my 10 mile run in the morning will maybe mitigate one of the three I'm going to eat completely? 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tour de Dallas

Last weekend, there was a race called Tour des Fleurs (tour of the flowers, beginning and ending at the arboretum).  This weekend, I'll be doing the Tour de Dallas (tour of Dallas, beginning and ending at home).

My folks have been to Dallas a few times together, and my mom has made a few solo visits too.  I'm trying to plan a trip that will highlight some new things, plus going to some old favorites.  Since they live in Northern Wisconsin on a lake, they pretty much never eat out.  The nearest restaurant is a place called Bauer's Dam, and it's more bar/lodge and thoroughly unremarkable.  My mom is an amazing cook and appreciates good food, so I expect we will eat out for pretty much every meal.

Tonight's dinner is up in the air.

Friday morning, boot camp.  Then breakfast at home, then they will go to the new George Bush Presidential Library while I work from home.  Lunch is going to be at Velvet Taco, then an afternoon of shopping.  I'm hoping to wrap up work a little early so I can do some shopping myself -- I need a few new tops for our trip, and ideally one pair of black pants that are super comfortable but also look okay to wear around.  Friday night is dinner at my favorite, a tapas place called Cafe Madrid.  My husband will be excited about that because my folks eat meat and are adventurous eaters.  So while he's usually limited to picking a single dish with dead animals and sharing a few veggie things with me, he'll have other people to share with.  After dinner, we're going for drinks at Abacus, which is a phenomenal restaurant by our house where I used to hang out at the bar regularly back in my single (and workaholic) days. 

Saturday morning I think we're doing a 3 mile urban adventure race as a team of four.  Then we'll come home and clean up, maybe have some breakfast, but pretty much head toward the new dowtown park, Klyde Warren.  From there, we'll go to the new Perot Museum.  If we get done early, we'll go to church (though this isn't set, they're Episcopalian, like me, so I don't know if they'll want to go to Catholic church with us, so we might skip completely).  Saturday night dinner will be at a new pizza place in the neighborhood -- so it will be fun that we walk to dinner two nights in a row.

Sunday morning, I have my last "long" run, and then we're all going to breakfast at my mom's favorite breakfast place in Dallas, Cafe Brazil, along with some of my running friends.  Then it's a big day at the State Fair of Texas (mmmm, fried butter...) with my best friend.  Not sure about Sunday dinner yet.  I was thinging about taking my mom to book club and leaving the guys to fend for themselves, but I think I've abandoned that plan.  Maybe we'll go out for Mexican in the neighborhood. 

Then Monday they leave :(

And I have a low mileage week! 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Autumn Welcome

It's official!  Fall has come to Dallas!  It's like clockwork, as soon as I'm tapering, we get that first really cool morning.  Depending on what your exact definition of tapering is, I'm either a week into it or yesterday was the first day. 

Either way, temp was 66 and humidity was 61% when I started my 6 miles this morning.


My evil running buddy tried to talk me into running extra, but I held firm, though it wasn't easy since it felt so good.  We're at a tough time now since his race is a few weeks later (oh, and he's doing a half Ironman, not just a running race). 

Eeee, I love this!  I love only having 6 miles in the morning!  I love feeling faster! 

Somehow I totally forgot my watch, which hasn't happened in ages.  He was wearing his, so it was one of those lovely days when I couldn't see our pace, but I'd ask at the mile splits and I was always pleasantly surprised.  Indeed, dropping 15 degrees and 15% humidity does make running significantly easier.  Such a good mental boost for me. 

My folks are officially making their way toward us now.  They went to Milwaukee Monday night and will spend a few days there visiting some of my brothers and their kids, and they come to Dallas tomorrow.  When I was talking to my mom on Sunday about what to pack, I was driving home from Chinese class and my car said it was 96 out.  Yuck.  And it felt like 96. 

It was funny because they had such a mild summer up north, so my mom was saying that this trip was going to mean they got some real summer.

But alas, a lovely cool front means they will go the whole year without real summer!  Haha, I say that, but our highs will still be mid-80s, which is pretty much as hot as it gets for them.   I need to work on their itinerary. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Is it just me or does it seem like every phone call to everywhere this month seems to have a recording that says "due to unusually high call volume, wait times are longer than normal, please continue to hold." 

At what point does that "unusually high call volume" become normal?  At what point should they either hire more people or just admit that it's not worth it to hire more people and instead we just have to wait.

Phone calls I've had to make recently and gotten this message:

North Texas Tollway Association (I got a bill for about $5 in the mail, but I've had a tolltag for years)
A county in Pennsylvania (trying to determine the amount of a child support lien to settle a case)
The company where I ordered invitations for my husband's surprise party (my fault for putting the wrong zip code in the shipping address, nice of them to expedite a replacement order, but why all the holding?)
UPS (trying to track a missing package, referred to post office)
Post office national number
Post office local number would go on this list, but instead, all 4 times I tried to call, it would just ring endlessly for about 5 minutes before I'd give up.
My doctor's office to schedule an appointment.

And the phone calls where I haven't gotten this message:

Dallas County health and human services (needed to get my Hepatitis A vaccination information and available hours/cost for a typhoid booster) (this suprised me, given my recent luck, I expected at least half an hour hold time, not the instant operator)
My hair salon
Making a restaurant reservation

I guess I don't really mind holding for a few minutes.  It would be nice not to, but I understand it would be expensive to have enough operators to take all the calls all the time.  I just wish they wouldn't lie and claim the call volume is unusually high.  Can I do some kind of deceptive trade practices act suit and get data on their call volume to prove it's always "high" (at which point "high" becomes normal)? 

These are the things that irritate me...

Monday, September 22, 2014

Just in Time

Monday, my old foe! 

Now that I'm into the final countdown at work before vacation, things are feeling pretty crazy.  I've got a few super-active cases right now, and I need to prepare all my files for our three audits.  For better or worse, our three annual audits are all going to be in a 30 day period, and I'll be out of town completely for one of them. 

Thankfully, I'm hoping to get some extra sleep this week.  Lower mileage will help.  I am also just taking it easy in general, which is good because I'm hurting. 

That anterior tibialis tendon is tender again (not bad, but tender), and I'm having horrible hand pain.  I finally talked to "a real MD" (name that movie quote) about it over the weekend.  Ever heard of the Hook of Hamate?  Sounds freaky, doesn't it?  It's a bone in your hand.

He said he does not think I need to be concerned.  He thinks it's a bone bruise and it will heal, particularly if I take time off.  He does NOT think it's fractured, particularly since while I have a lot of pain when I put pressure on the outside of the palm of my hand (or when I move it at certain angles), the ulnar nerve does not seem to be implicated.

Sadly, he basically said my own laziness caused it.  At boot camp a few weeks ago, one day we did a lot of work while propped up on our hands in the push-up position (doing rows, mountain climbers, plank raises, squat thrusts, push-ups, etc.).  I felt some pain then but thought it was my weak @ss wrists. 

I can feel it when I run but it shouldn't really interfere, I mean, it's my hand for goodness sake!

But he said taking a few weeks off when we're on vacation (which I was going to do anyway) should help a lot.  So this vacation really is coming just in time! 

To end on a happy note, did you see this?


Yeah, new women's masters half-marathon record as of this past weekend -- 1:09:36 yesterday in Philly.  She's 41.  Wow.  And in 89% humidity (the blurb about the men's race says that, but no word on the temp). 

If you have time, the blurb is short and worth reading, the mental strength it must have taken.  I can just imagine a side stitch like that and just deciding to dial it down.  Very impressive!

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. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bad Mail

So I belatedly got what I believe will be my last 2014 birthday card in the mail, which I finally opened this morning, and I also got some bad mail.

Plano Police Department.

That can't be good.  Yep, a red light camera violation.  On my way to Chinese class a couple weeks ago. 

They put up red light cameras at a bunch of intersections in the area probably more than 5 years ago.  I got a ticket shortly thereafter for making a right on red without coming to a full stop first.  It struck me as BS because it was very clear as I approached the intersection that no car was in the lane where it could have impaired my turn, but yeah, it was a right on red and I didn't stop fully before turning, so I paid it.

My one ticket (which was at Lovers and 75) taught me well.  There is a camera I pass where I make a right turn every single time I go run with my friends (Mockingbird and 75), and I always make a full stop there.  I feel like I see it flash on someone who didn't stop fairly frequently, but yep, never on me.

But last I heard, Dallas was considering not installing any further cameras.  Why?  Because it wasn't profitable.

That bothered me, since the original justification for the cameras was to improve safety -- to stop red light runners, which was a leading cause of T-bone accidents.  When the cameras went in, I heard the data showed it right away -- drastic decrease in T-bone accidents at intersections with cameras, and moderate increase in rear-end accidents at those same intersections.  Rear-end accidents result in far less bodily injury than t-bone accidents. 

But when people started stopping because of the cameras (and occasionally getting rear-ended), the cameras stopped being profitable because there were so few violators. 

So Dallas instead of seeing the cameras as something to promote safety and reduce injuries to those in the city, decided that there wouldn't be any new cameras unless they became profitable.  Whatever.  I get that the city doesn't have a big budget surplus to spend on cameras.  Fine.  But they should have been up front that they were going to install cameras to promote safety as long as it paid for itself, but when it stopped paying for itself, that safety feature would go by the wayside, since sticking to budget was a higher priority than reducing fatalities/injuries. 

But apparently Plano (a suburb north of Dallas) definitely still uses them, and apparently at least one is on my way to Chinese lessons.  Crap.  There's $75 I'll never see again...  But it's almost a net wash, since I got a $50 gift card in the birthday card, right? 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Bay-bay!

Eeeeee!  Too excited to write a proper post, but I'm going to be an aunt again! 

I got a call from my brother at work.  I was in the office next door, so I heard his ring tone but couldn't answer.  And then I got back to my office and didn't look at my phone and kind of forgot about it.  This is probably the brother I am closest to, and he works in sales, so it's not exactly unusual workday call from him, so I didn't think too much about it. 

After work, I was going from a parking garage to a restaurant for a homeowner's association board meeting, and he called again.  I was with someone but I told her I had to answer since it was odd for him to call more than once in a day, so I needed to check and see if everything was okay.  I tried to answer, but it immediately cut out as we stepped in the elevator. 

In the elevator, I was telling our property manager that I guessed he was calling because he was expecting to have a final round job interview for something he really wants, but I didn't know.

A minute later, we were in the courtyard of Travis Walk (going to dinner at EST, a new-ish oyster bar, not exactly my choice as a vegetarian allergic to seafood), and he called again.  She understood I needed to take the call, so I answered, and right away, I was like, "Hey, I'm about to go into a meeting, can I call you back, or is it something important?" 

And he was like, "Sure, call me back, was just calling to tell you we're pregnant." 

I let out a huge EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, and our property manager whispered, "he got the job?," as I was jumping up and down. 

So yeah, March 8, my sweet brother (engagement here, wedding plan here) is going to be a dad.  That's kind of hard for me to imagine.  I didn't think his wife wanted kids based on a couple conversations we had many years ago, but I can 100% see her as a mom. 

I'm excited for them.  After getting the news, I didn't sleep well, waking up at least 5 times and every single time, either my first or second thought was that they're going to have a baby.  A baby!!!  A BABY!!!!!!!!! 

This exciting news, however, throws a major kink in our plans for a 10 day trip to San Fran in March, but maybe we'll do it anyway and get to visit the new little one.  But part of the 10 day domestic trip plans was to go at least a couple places where we'd stay with friends and family so as to not change our financial priorities.  But staying with people who just had a baby that month might not be fun for anyone -- them or us. 

So the San Fran March 2015 plan will have to be more thoroughly considered.

I heard some statistic the other day about the cost of raising a child to age 18 (not including college), and it was $245,000.  The news said the largest component of that was housing costs (the CNN article I linked actually says "housing and transportation").  The idea of $100k plus in increased housing costs struck me as BS because I don't think of that as really a necessary cost.  I mean, we (and most other people I know) have a guest room, and there's no reason it couldn't be a baby's room or a kid's room, and so we'd have zero increased housing costs -- unless we still wanted a guest room, and so that doesn't really strike me as a cost of raising a child  -- it's more the cost of wanting to have a guest room, or an office, or whatever, a true lifestyle choice (unlike food, which you're required by law to give your offspring).  And man, whatever happened to the days when kids shared rooms?  Maybe my main issue is with how the news portrayed the statistic -- the COST of raising a child to age 18, when maybe what they meant was the average amount SPENT raising a child to age 18. 

Anyway, hearing about this pregnancy may have changed some of the skepticism I felt last week in hearing about that number.  Maybe there's some more merit to that statistic since at least some people without kids live in a one-bedroom place, particularly in costly cities like San Fran and NYC, and so they legitimately have increased housing costs with a child.  In speaking to my brother, it sounds like adding a bedroom where they live (a neighborhood called the Presidio) is going to be about $2k/month more.  Yowza!  Maybe they can charge fees to hold the baby? 

P.S., I should mention that I decided to go meet my running buddies this morning to see how my foot/tendon/ankle felt.  I told my husband I might be back home in 15 minutes, and I'd stop if there was any pain.  I felt a few niggles over the first mile, but no pain, and by the time I finished up the 8, I wasn't sure it had even hurt yesterday.  Fingers crossed the worst is over!  Went to the dr today to get ABX and anti-malarials for India and he reminded me to ice, so I'll try that tonight (you know, after my run home from work...). 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Piling on the Miles

This is it.  Hitting peak training mileage, and starting to feel it.  I'm just telling myself to hold on for about 13 more days. 

Two weeks ago, I had mileage in the mid-60s, exceptionally high for me, but since it was Labor Day weekend, it wasn't "really" mid-60s mileage.  It was mid- to upper-40s week, my usual, but with a long run day switch, I added 17 miles.  So that meant the following week should have been about 17 below usual -- so maybe upper 20s?  30? -- since there was no long run. 

But I didn't work on Labor Day, which meant I had time to do things like boot camp, a 10 mile run, bleachers, and yoga (it was truly a day of laboring without pay!).  And then I threw in a race this past week on Saturday, my normal rest day -- and surprise, it put me at another week in the mid-40s. 

That gets me over 200 miles in the last 4 weeks.  Unremarkable for some, a lot for others, but a bit frightening for me. 

This blog has shown me time and again that when I do three consecutive weeks in the mid-50s, I start hurting.  As in, thinking I'm injured hurting.  I've been insanely fortunate in that it always turns out to be nothing -- a few days off, and I'm back to normal. 

But SOMEthing starts hurting.  And yep, that happened. 

I made the mistake of doing yesterday's 20 (woo-hoo, last 20!) in brand new shoes -- and I mean new.  In addition to being fresh out of the box, they are a new model of my usual favorite (trying out the Brooks Glycerine 12, after more than a year of wearing the 11s, and more than 5 years of wearing mostly Glycerine most of the time). 

And so, which is causing the pain?  The new shoes or the high (to me) mileage?

If I want to self-diagnose, I think it's an inflamed tendon on the top of my foot, right where it meets the ankle.  There are two apparent tendons there, for me, the inner and larger one is where it hurts (there are actually a bunch of tendons there, but only two readily apparent on my foot to the untrained eye).  Google makes me think it's the extensor hallucis longus or the tibialis anterior tendon.  My money is on the latter since there's no pain on the actual top of my foot, it's just at the front of my ankle. 

The good news is, it feels fine right now.

The bad news is, it hurts when it is in contact with running shoes.  (So the heels I'm wearing now are fine, pain only when I actually rub it.)

I'm going to try to ice it tonight, but we have big dinner plans with a high school friend of mine who is coming into town.  So the icing may not happen in reality. 

So maybe I'll skip the planned 8 miles for tomorrow? 

Hoping this will be totally true to form for me -- a pain that scares me about a month out, totally forgotten less than a week later -- to the point I'm not even entirely sure which foot/leg it was. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

To Boston or Not to Boston?

I'm "#blessed" (that's for you, Mike) to have a dilemma on the immediate horizon. 

I posted our tentative travel/vacation plans for 2015 already, but it looks roughly like this:


I intend to use all my vacation days for "the big trip" (the Spain-Morocco-Italy adventure in October), and work remotely on all the other trips.

But then there's Boston, which for some reason escaped my mind when we were drafting our 2015 plan.

I had a pretty solid training season last year, so I have a qualifying time from last fall's goal race (Berlin).   Do I want to use it?  I go back and forth and truly have no idea. 

Reasons not to run Boston 2015
One less day in Spain, Morocco, Italy (Boston is on a Monday, so I'd have to use a vacation day for the race, which would otherwise be spent overseas).
I've run Boston before.
I should mention that my one Boston run remains a perfect memory: it was amazing weather, it was my second wedding anniversary so I was smiling the whole time, I ran what was a PR at the time, the course record and fastest marathon ever was set that day, I totally loved it.
No guarantees the weather will be good.
No guarantees my run would be good.
Unlikely my Boston 2015 experience could top my Boston 2011 experience.
Expense (another plane ticket beyond what was planned, plus hotel, jacket, race, etc.).
I usually do best taking a season off from full marathons every year (physically and mentally).
Hubby probably wouldn't go with me (he's taking real vacation for all the trips above).
I would likely miss our wedding anniversary (probably fly to Boston that day) (it should be noted that my husband would totally understand this, I had to spend our 4th anniversary in Philly for work, and since he has to work the following day anyway, we'd probably do an early low-key dinner) (also, we will have our traditional rehearsal dinner anniversary party as we do every year, which is our usual main celebration).

Reasons to run Boston 2015
It's Boston! By far, my favorite marathon ever (see above, 'twas a perfect day).
Tons of my friends will be doing it!
I am always bummed when they train for and run Boston and I'm just watching.
The 2011 jacket sucked, so I would LOVE to get another one.
I never know if I'll have another opportunity.

What to do?  Need to decide soon since registration is in the next week or so (it starts Monday I think for people who have BQ -20). 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Mini freak out

I think I've mentioned before that my husband works every other Saturday -- he was off this past weekend but we didn't do much of anything.  I ran 17 miles, had a beer with my running buddies, and then went out for brunch with other friends and hubby met up with us.  Somehow we sat around until almost noon, so it ended up sucking up a lot of the day.  I spent a lot of the afternoon napping since I am still feeling a bit like I was hit with 1,000 baseball bats (mostly on my knee and shoulder).  The rest of the weekend also passed in a bit of a blur.  I managed to get in 10 miles on Monday morning (plus boot camp, bleachers at the nearby university, and Bikram yoga) so I guess that kind of explains the loss of that day.  No complaints! 

Anyway, this morning I realized that holy crap, we only have two more weekends before we go to Asia!

Well, not really two more weekends, but two weekends he's off!

The next one (9-13) will be the aftermath of a (surprise) party at our house.

The next one (9-27) will be with my parents in town for a visit.

And the next one (10-11) will be in Nepal. 

And the next one (10-25) will be in Dubai.


I have so much to do before then!