Sunday, October 31, 2010

October Stats

In light of my lame post this morning (and to procrastinate a bit more at work), I tallied up my October miles.  My NY resolution this year was 1300 miles, which seemed reasonable since last year I came in at 1284.8 and that included my wedding month of 39.5 miles.  But what I didn't know at the beginning of the year was that 2010 would include a Swedish and Russian vacation extravaganza, which meant similarly little running for several weeks. 

And then my marathon training season seemed to be slightly less intense than last year.  June I was 6 miles over last June.  July I was 6 under.  August I was 2 over, September I was 10 under.  So coming into October, I think YTD I was down 17.5 miles.  But I knew that in 09, I had very weak months in October (due to a post-marathon cold that lasted more than 2 weeks) and December (holiday laziness).  I figured I could easily crank out some extra miles one of those months to recover from any deficit, and then buckle down a little for one of the other weak months and make up the 15 extra I needed for my resolution.

Well, October was the month.  I beat last October by more than 30 miles, which means I'm now a net of 20 miles ahead of last year at the end of October.  Score.  Now I can just repeat last November and December, and I'll be all set.

The obvious flaw in that plan was that last year I ran full marathons in Oct, Nov and Dec, and I'm not doing that this year.  After the half next weekend, I think I'm probably going to relax a bit, but most likely still do the local full in December, but just for fun, not for time.  But I just need 171 more miles over the next 2 months, which works out to about 22 miles per week, allowing a week off for Xmas.  Totally doable I say right now.  Barring injury of course.  Last year I wiped out during the last week of December and sprained my ankle severely, making for a light January! 

So, October 2010 = 133.9 miles.  Average of 33.5 per week, or 4.3 per day. 

It felt like a nice step back.  I haven't had a month this low since May, which included the Swedish-Russian vacation extravaganza and was before I started official marathon training for the season. 

I successfully avoided all those post-marathon illnesses that seem to plague so many people (including me many years).  Maybe the flu shot is working?  Actually, our office and my husband have been healthy all month, so that's probably helped more than anything.  But as soon as a co-worker or hubby gets sick, I'll probably be right behind them.


Oh, I'm feeling beat.  About to take a little nap I think before heading into the office for a little while.  Ran 12 this morning, a little faster than I was expecting, but it was fine.  The nice thing was that today's group route went right past our house, so I was able to run from the front door, which is always cool.  The rest of the weekend has been good.  Highlight was a wedding, where we met some interesting people. 

Not much else to report.  Basically came to no conclusions yesterday in our trip planning.  If we go anywhere else in Europe, it will probably be Paris.  I think the itinerary will be Dallas, Boston, Pittsburgh, Paris, Lamezia, Dallas.  Not sure yet though.  Nap time...

Friday, October 29, 2010


Boston, baby, Boston!  I stayed awake much later than usual yesterday.  I left work early because I was volunteering to help with packet pick-up for a race from 5-7 last night.  From there, I went straight to my Italian conversation group, which was fun.  Then I hung out at the bar and watched some of the Rangers game, but try as I might, I just don't care enough anymore (far cry from the girl who used to fly to watch spring training most years in Ariz or Florida!).  It of course didn't help that they were losing!  Anyway, I got home and ate some cheese and veggie buffalo wings.  All this at way past my normal bedtime. 

But since hubby is out of town, I was thinking about sleeping in and skipping boot camp this morning.  I checked my email and then couldn't get back to sleep.  I saw a message with the subject "Boston Marathon Entry Confirmation‏."  I opened it, and read this:
This is to notify you that your entry into the 115th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18, 2011 has been accepted, provided that the information you submitted is accurate. ...
We look forward to seeing you in April! Best of luck in your training!

Boston Athletic Association

Woo-hoo!  That means they finally confirmed my MTCM time and I'm in.  There were some general instructions about packet pick-up, tourist info, etc., but all I cared about was the link to Boston entrants.  Searched for my name and there it was! 
So tomorrow is our big trip-planning day.  It is sounding like my in-laws aren't likely to join us for the trip, which is a bummer.  My father-in-law would really like to go, but my mother-in-law has some trouble moving around, so she doesn't want to go, and they don't want him to go and her to stay.  I'm going to keep hoping that it will work out, but of course it's fine if it's just the two of us.  Either way, now that I know I'm confirmed for Boston, we can plan away!  I think whether we do any kind of extra stop in someplace like Paris or Como will depend on flights and where we end up with a stop (since of course there aren't any workable direct flights into Lamezia, which is our destination). 
Anyway, after that email, I was pretty jazzed up.  And lonely.  Both of those combined to make for some trouble falling asleep, which is so rare for me.  Usually I can fall asleep within about 4-5 minutes any where at any time.  Seriously, after a 5k if there was a bed and a blanket and it was somewhat dark and quiet, I could lay down and fall asleep.  It's like I'm permanently tired.  But last night I was awake and just thinking about how much I needed to fall asleep! 
But the alarm went off at 5 and I got up for boot camp.  I considered going back to sleep, but figured it would be fun to work out with Joy.  It was really cold this morning -- upper 40s, which is unusual -- so camp was pretty sparsely attended.  If I had known we were just going to do the PT test, I probably would have slept in.  But I did it and did pretty well, a little lower on sit-ups than last time, but still solid.  My 2 mile run was great.  Second mile was only about 4 seconds slower than the first, and I knew the first had been faster than I needed, so I was fine with the slow-down, but surprised it wasn't substantially more!  But probably not a pace I could have sustained for a third mile, though it might have been interesting to try.  The weather was just so cool and nice!  Felt good to run fast.  It was just my ears and hands that were cold.  Oh, I'm not ready for winter!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Boston Nerves

Hmm, my name is still not listed as a Boston entrant, and now most of my registered friends are.  I still know one other person who registered and isn't listed.  But why is it taking so long for them to verify my time?  Shouldn't it go alphabetically or something, so I'd have a sense of where they were in the process?  Don't they know how nervous I am?  It's like my theory that hitting "track package" every minute with UPS or FedEx might make them know I really, really am waiting for it so they'll bring it faster? 

We had our last fun morning at the track today.  By fun, I mean unscheduled.  Those of us who've already done our big fall marathons have been accompanying the NY marathoners to the track, but as they've been busting out steady times on their scheduled repeats, the group of us has been taking turns calling the repeat and the pace, asking each other what we feel like doing next.  But that's ending today.  By Monday, my legs should officially be back to normal and I will be cleared to race again if I want, having taken off from racing 1 day for every mile raced, which is the conventional wisdom on returning to running injury-free after a race. 

This has been an interesting year for racing.  And interesting is not necessarily good.  For the first 8 months of the year, I couldn't seem to PR to save my life.  I suppose I technically had 1 PR in those months, but that was at a distance (10k) where I was competing with Adam and I missed beating him by less than 15 seconds, so I wasn't at all happy with the PR.  And in many of the other races during the first 8 months of the year, I missed a PR very narrowly, but missed it nonetheless.  Then I had a birthday in August and have PRed in every race since then.  But that's only 3 races.  But of course two of them (5k and marathon) were big personal victories for me, especially the marathon since I eeked it out a few minutes faster than Adam.  The 5k was a bit disappointing because I was 1 second behind him. 

I originally had high hopes for the half next weekend.  While I'll compete with Adam, I fully expect that he will beat me, and I will accept that gracefully.  I want him to completely kill it and I'll be happy to share in his joy and celebrations afterward.  My goals had always seemed more modest.  I wanted to run fast enough to put my time in a new "decade" of minutes, meaning I need to shave about 2 minutes off my half PR from this race last year.  And given that during MTCM I actually had a first half time that would get me into the new decade (would have been a PR if the race had been a half instead of a full), it seems like I should be able to do it. 

But I'm having doubts about my legs and level of fitness.  The scale hasn't shown any results from all the damage I've been doing on my body lately in terms of my eats (and mostly my drinks).  After spreading out celebration meals and happy hours for a couple weeks after the marathon, I'm pretty much back to my normal eating patterns, but I still seem to have a much bigger appetite (and I'm far more relaxed about things like drinking the night before a run).  Regardless of the scale, following a recovery plan of almost a month of easy running after the marathon has made me feel like I don't have any speed left, though I actually was happy with my times at the track this morning.  We did 1600 easy, 400, 400 easy, 800, 400 easy, 400, 400 easy.  And my 400 times were actually good.  The first one I thought would not be replicated, but I actually beat it by one second on the second one. 

My mileage in the weeks following MTCM:

Race week = 31.1 over 3 days (race day Sunday, then Thurs and Fri)
Next week = 23.6 over 6 days of working out (1 day was no running though)
Next week = 32.3 over 5 days
This week = 30.3 so far, I'll probably add in a mile or two tomorrow

Those distances per week should all be fine for a half PR next weekend, but my legs just don't seem to feel it.  On the 1600 easy this morning, we were about 10-15 seconds faster than I'd like my half pace to be, but wow, it did not feel sustainable for another 12 miles!  Guess we'll just see. 

After being so happy with meeting my marathon goal, I don't feel like I have to impress anyone with a good half time.  But at the same time, lots of my marathon pacing decisions were based on the fact that I should have been able to qualify based on my training, but I didn't want to qualify by a large margin in hopes of saving my legs a bit of stress so they could pump out an impressive time next weekend.  So if I underperform next weekend, I'll be disappointed in myself. 

Guess we'll just see how it goes.  The morning of the race, I may try to find some weekday guys to start with, and then see how it goes and how much they and/or Adam are picking up the pace.  I've actually run this particular half on 3 or 4 times before and I've PRed every time. 

That's misleading.  I must admit that the first time I ever ran it was my first half race ever, so it was a guaranteed PR -- if I'd had any time to beat, I wouldn't have done it.  It was my first race where I got very overheated, had to walk the last mile, and then was taken to the medical tent where I promptly commenced the vomiting.  Lovely.  The good news was my very first half was such a wreck that my personality pretty much guaranteed I'd keep running so that I could finish with a time that I felt better represented my abilities. 

Anyway, hubby is out of town tonight, so I'm excited to get to sleep with the windows open, that won't make up for missing him, but it's something.  Other than that, not much to report.  Saw two movies this week, Sound of Music Sing-Along, and Monsters. 

Sound of Music Sing-Along was fun.  The funniest part for me was realized that they subtitled the chanting in the abbey, so you could sing along in Latin if you wanted.  Several people laughed when the subtitles came up.  Of course a great movie.  Not sure if my fave song is Edelweiss or My Favorite Things, but I enjoyed singing them all.

Monsters was pretty good.  Best described as drawing from Jurassic Park, District 9, The Road (didn't see the movie, but I read the book), and one movie I can't remember the name of -- it was about most people in the country getting some kind of plague, the army quarantining them, and a group of 3 or 4 people fleeing, maybe set in Pennsylvania.  Anyway, I thought Monsters was pretty good, but hubby didn't like it too much.  He thought there was too much of an undercurrent message about illegal immigration and that it was too anti-US-govt.  But we both enjoyed going out for wine and pizza afterward, like normal people.  We usually go to bed so early, but he was sleeping in today b/c of his travel, and I figured I didn't care if I sabotaged my track workout.  Who are all those people eating and drinking at 10:00 at night on a school night?  I still don't know, but at least we were among them and having fun last night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Flat Tire, Again!

I think I have the worst luck of anyone I know regarding flat tires.  Amazingly, 2009 was a lucky flat-free year for me.  But I just got my second one of 2010.  The first one was in July on my way to a race (made it there but it was flat and undriveable by the time I finished), and a kind stranger fixed it afterward.  Well, yesterday I was leaving work at lunch time to go get an hour of CLE and I noticed it was flat before I even got on the road.  I ran back in the office and the receptionist drove me to the CLE and then picked me up.  I don't have roadside assistance on my car anymore (note to self to get it!), and hubby had to work until 7, and I had to be at a movie theater for the Sound of Music Sing-Along at 6:00 (it would have been okay for me to be late, but I paid for tickets for a friend, and she couldn't pick them up without me being there, so I really had to be on time).  The partner at my firm said he could change it for me -- so, so nice!  So I drove to the theater on the dinky spare.  What I forgot was that I can't drive on the highway with that, so I had to take city streets, which meant almost 45 minutes to go about 6 miles between all the traffic and traffic lights.  I was late but my sweet friend was quite understanding.  It was a frustrating day though.  But singing along to Sound of Music made the night a fun and memorable evening after all.  Always torn when trying to choose my fave song in that movie. 

I don't know why I get so many flats.  I know there's a lot of construction in Dallas, so there are more nails and random debris on the streets than in other cities, but no one I know seems to get them as often as I do! 

Anyway, my big project for this weekend I think is going to be to go to some running stores and do some internet research about racing flats (shoes, not tires!).  My speed coach in the spring was suggesting I should get a pair and I think I'm finally ready.  I'd like to bust out a few PRs in early 2011!  Ran a bit at camp this morning, 1 mile hard, and about .6 easy, but didn't get to run with Joy afterward since I had to get home to deal with the tire stuff. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back on Track

Today was the first morning I was back on an official training schedule and didn't need to cut the group route short to accomodate my recovery.  It's hard to believe MTCM was over 3 weeks ago.  And while I'm back on a training plan, I am still taking it somewhat easy.  I'll be at the track on Thursday but won't be killing my legs, and my Sunday run will also be easy.  But next Tuesday I hope to ramp it up a bit and then there's the big half on Nov. 7.  Still not convinced I'll be able to race it, but I am hoping for a PR since my current half PR should be 100% beatable if I push even for just the last couple miles.  I'll be happy with anything that is a PR by 2 minutes or more.  That shouldn't be asking too much over the course of 13 miles. 

We headed out for an easy 8 this morning.  It was 4 of us post-marathoners (MTCM, St. George, Milwaukee and Mohawk Hudson) and 4 White Rock guys (well, 3 WR guys and 1 NY guy).  Those people move through the water stops fast!  The whole run felt fast, but good.  By about the halfway point, we separated into 2 groups -- us post folks, and the WR folks, but we were only a minute or so apart.  It was a fun run and led to some very interesting conversations.  Turns out I thought Vanna White was much older than she actually was.  Somehow someone was saying she'd aged well and maybe even looked better now than years ago.  I was kind of grossed out and thinking, isn't she like in her 60s?  I stood corrected but the conversation went to other hot 60 years olds (at least hot with their clothes on, no one wanted to consider bikinis...).  It was amusing and sparked by a discussion about trying to guess what our exact distance would be, which led to Price is Right, which led to Barker's Beauties, etc.  So it's actually not clear if it was the conversation or the pace that made the miles slip by this morning.  Haha. 

And as of this morning, I've finally completed several more things that were on my weekend to-do list.  As expected, the things that didn't get done:
  • Paperwork for our estates attorney
  • Finishing hubby's Xmas list (I am waiting for him to come up with 4-5 more things to put on the list)
  • Culling my skirts
  • Drop off at Goodwill
  • Oil light on my car
Not bad!!  I also didn't make it to see the Italian Club dancers because the Saturday event was cancelled for rain and I didn't have time on Sunday. 

In Boston-related news, I've seen that some people have had their times verified and our now listed as Entrants on the Boston site.  I checked yesterday and my name wasn't there yet, but I didn't really worry b/c there are others I know who qualified and registered and they're not listed either.  Haven't checked today because I'm not obsessing yet.

Saturday, since we're both off work, we're hoping to be able to do some major spring trip planning, and I'll be a bit more nervous if I'm still not confirmed by then.  Our big decisions for this weekend: 

Are we going to spend a couple days of the trip in Paris or in Northern Italy?  (My vote on this is yes, I think hubby would like Paris or somewhere like Como, but with the Boston expense, might not be a great idea this year.) 

Are we going to spend any time in Pittsburgh before or after Boston? 

How long are we going to stay in Boston? 

Where will we be for Easter? 

Will we have any nights in the town where we got married (Pizzo Calabro, for those who know Italy), or will we only be staying in the nearest big city (Lamezia Terme) with hubby's family? 

I doubt we'll buy plane tickets yet -- seems that when you buy tickets early, your itinerary just gets changed a million times.  We bought our Xmas plane tickets in mid-Sept. and those flights have already changed by hours.  Our wedding/honeymoon itinerary probably had about 40 changes before we actually travelled on it. 

Did I mention Boston is on our wedding anniversary?  At least I'll be able to drink and celebrate that night, I just hope I'm not down over a disappointing race, but since I'm not overly ambitious, I think I'll be okay.  Plus the wedding anniversary is a special occasion either way.  Hubby had hoped we'd be spending it in the town where we got married, but to me that sounds more like something you'd do on a "special number" anniversary like 5, 10, 20 or 25.  Either way, celebrating another year together in Boston will be awesome, especially when capped with a trip back to Europe, regardless of the exact dates, cities, etc. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

MTCM Race Recap (or Twin Cities Marathon Race Report)

Well, it's taken me almost a month, but I've finally put together a recap of my experience at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 3, 2010.  A PR and my first BQ.  Here's my official Twin Cities race report.

As you might recall, I found out there was no pace group for my BQ time, so my choices were to run on my own, to go with a pace group aiming for 5 minutes faster and then slowing or to go with a pace group aiming for 5 minutes too slow and hoping to negative split it.  I thought I'd decided on option 2, but then I wasn't sure. 

At the last minute, I'd decided to hang near the "5 minutes too fast" pace group through mile 20, then let them slip away and cruise in within the minute of BQ cushion or under.  But not too far under b/c I knew I wanted to get back to running fairly quickly and not kill myself to have to deal with a long recovery.  And it worked.  I came out with a finish time that was a couple minutes faster than I needed, but not crazy fast, which made me happy because I followed my plan basically. 

My overwhelming impression of the course was that it had the most crowd support of any marathon I’ve ever done except possibly NY (which I think exceeds Chicago by a tiny bit).  There were people throughout the course, often several rows deep.  I was very happy with it, and while I’m not likely to repeat any marathon involving travel (too many others I’d like to try), I’d highly recommend this one to others looking for a good race.  I also was very impressed with the pre-race plan -- good shuttles and indoor waiting area (which is the gold standard for me in a race with the potential for cold weather).

I got up and went downstairs to be with my hubby when he met my mom.  They were doing the 10 mile race and that started an hour earlier than our race.  That meant I had the room to myself to get ready.  I'd laid everything out, so the process was kind of smooth, but it was nice not to have to worry about anyone else.  There was a shuttle to the start line from my hotel and I heard a bit about how it worked when hubby and mom were heading for it.  I made my big last minute decision -- whether to wear old socks as arm warmers and pitch them, or whether to wear my good arm warmers and either wear them the whole time (bunched around my wrists or half tucked in my shorts if it got hot) or hopefully find my cousin's boyfriend around mile 7 and throw them to him.  I opted for the good arm warmers thinking I'd probably wear them the whole time, but liking the idea of having the option to get them to him. 

The only glitch in my plan was my pre-race breakfast.  There are a few big difficulties with training for a marathon based on conventional wisdom.  They always tell you not to wear anything new on race day.  But hello, it's in the mid-80s at 5:30 a.m. in Dallas in July (and August, and September...) so there is no way I can practice my race day outfit for the cold weather I'd expect in Minnesota in October.  The other issue is that I get up to run at 5:30, primarily because of the heat but also so I still have the day.  Well, unless I want to get up at 3:30 and just hang around the house, it's not possible to mimic pre-race eating exactly since I am going to be awake and in transit for much longer on race morning than before a training run. 

At home, I eat a packet of instant oatmeal before I do a long run.  I eat it at about 5:05 and am running at 5:30.  At home, I eat a granola bar before I do weekday morning exercise.  I eat that at about 5:10 and am working out by 5:15 or 5:30.  No stomach issues with either, at least not with any regularity.

Then what to do for a race that starts at 8, when I'm planning to be on a shuttle bus at 6:30 and then waiting until the start at someplace with no microwave?  I decided to make my oatmeal in a cup (which I've done for almost every marathon I've done on the road) and eat it on the way.  This time I decided to also eat a granola bar shortly before the start.  Well, I took my cup and packet of oatmeal down to the lobby to use the hot water thing.  But no hot water thing.  Most hotels that are shuttle bases and have tons of runners (at least in most other cities) have some kind of a pre-race breakfast available -- a spread of bagels, fruit, coffee, etc. and I thought I could use the hot water there.  But nothing at our hotel.  I went back up to the room and reluctantly used our in-room coffee pot to heat the water.  I hate coffee-flavored water, but it worked.

Mental note:  my race packing list isn't perfect, despite many uses.  Need to add a spoon to the list, as long as I'm bringing oatmeal.

I took my oatmeal with me and headed out for the buses.  Not a long wait at all, and the drive was fairly short and the drop-off smooth.  I sat next to a guy who'd run a lot of the same races I had but always ran MTCM because it was in his backyard.  He agreed with my plan about going with the 5 minutes fast pace group based on this course.  He'd run Boston but had never qualified at MTCM. 

Got to the Metrodome and went inside.  It was cold out, but not crazy cold.  Adam and I had planned to meet at the doors to gate B.  I entered at C and walked in the direction I thought would get me to B.  I ended up at A.  Walked back to C.  WTF?  I was on vacation in 2003 to visit Adam when he was living in Germany and we'd planned to meet at track 4 in the Munchen train station at a designated time, but there was no track 4 and it was all screwed up.  Chaos.  I was worried we were in for more of the same.  But then I saw someone head downstairs.  I'd guessed it was just more restrooms, but gave it a shot.  Sure enough, gate B was on the bottom level so I took a seat near the doors and within a few minutes Adam and his girlfriend found me and sat down.  Coincidentally, we found my other cousin's husband and he also sat with us until the start. 

We eventually headed out, but it was actually a little too late.  We got to the start corral and it was crowded.  We were weaving forward and got to about the 4:30 pace group.  I wanted to go further up but Adam's girlfriend and my cousin's husband didn't.  I think Adam would have, but we'd already agreed that we were each going to run our own race.  I hopped the fence and walked forward to my "5 mins fast" pace group and tried to find my Dallas weekend coach.  No luck.  Hopped the fence there and got close to the group and then waited for the start.  Didn't have to wait long.  There were only 2 corrals (a negative to the race in my mind), but wave 1 went, and then they released us a few minutes later. 

I met a kid during mile 1 (Patrick) and we fell into step and conversation together quickly. His first marathon, 19 yrs old, former XC runner in HS, going to “the Fighting Sioux” school in a Dakota state, wants to be an elementary school teacher. We got slightly out in front of the 5 minutes fast pace group (which was okay because it was very crowded right next to or behind them), but generally tried to stay in sight of them. Patrick had way too much energy and was smiling constantly, talking about people who inspired him (I remember him pointing specifically at a barefoot runner and at a guy wearing a 70-74 age bracket on his shirt). There was tons to talk about, from races to college to travel to families (his sister lives in Texas). We were going too fast, but it felt like a training run and neither of us minded.  He was aiming for my "5 minutes too fast" time, which struck me as crazy good for a first marathon, but he certainly seemed capable of it and seemed very happy to have me near him going at the right pace to keep him from going too fast. 

My weekend pace coach sent me a you-tube link where you could see Patrick and I running at about mile 7.5.  The bad part is, if you keep watching the video, you can see that we’re almost 1 minute ahead of the "5 minutes too fast" pace group.  I think later in the race that Patrick and I both paid for being too fast early on, but I actually was pretty happy that we weren't ever way too far in front.  It was so great to have enjoyable company for so much of the race.  We ran and talked and marvelled in the crowd support.  I told Patrick the bar for crowd support was going to be high for his next marathon!  Around mile 12.5, a loud group of people talking were near us. The loudest and most irritating, a guy called Sam, said that they were "locked in" my "5 minutes too fast" time and that the official pacer for that group was running too slowly.  He said they had about a 1 minute cushion.  And then 1:05, and then 1:00, and then :55, and then 1:05.  We ran near them for a while, but by about the halfway mark, Sam was getting on Patrick's nerves and so Patrick kind of went ahead, while I fell slightly behind. That was the last I’d see of Patrick until we friended on facebook after the race. 

I ran solo but near Sam and his crew (the poor souls who likely had to train with this guy) for about 6 more miles, maybe longer. I had decided to put my name on my shirt b/c I'd heard there was a lot of crowd support. Unfortunately, that meant no walking for me toward the end because there were just too many people yelling my name.  And also unfortunately, I didn't tell my family NOT to yell my name, but to yell my last name instead, so when my brother and his fiancĂ©e said they were right near me at mile 15 and were screaming my name like crazy, it didn't even register – I couldn’t differentiate between their cheers and those of everyone else.  Same thing with family cheering near the finish line. 

I did see my cousin’s boyfriend around mile 7 and I threw my arm warmers and ear band at him, but I'd pulled them off/down around mile 6 just to make sure I could pitch them and I was looking desperately for him during the race b/c I really didn't want to be stuck with that stuff for the whole race.  The crowds were very deep around the lakes, so I was searching faces for more than a mile, but I found him.  And we saw Patrick’s parents around mile 8, but except cousin's boyfriend at 7 and then at mile 19, I didn’t see anyone I knew during the entire race. 

Anyway, right around 19, the course crosses a bridge onto the St. Paul side. As I had been since about mile 15, I kept waiting for the "5 minutes too fast" pace group to pass me.

One time a couple years ago, I photographed a friend running White Rock and gave her the photos afterward, all of which I thought were great.  Her comment was, “oh look at me and how happy I am, completely oblivious to the fact that the 4 hour pace group is bearing down behind me and would pass me in less than half a mile.”  Well, those words came back to me during the marathon. I hit the bridge right around 19 and I heard this woman lean over and say to her daughter, look at all those balloons coming, honey. Shoot, I knew that meant the "5 minutes too fast" pace group was closing in.

I got across the bridge and made the hard right turn on the course and happened to look directly at the person who cheered my name on the corner – it was my cousin Maggie!  That was a surprise. Her sister (who ran the full as well, whose boyfriend got my arm warmers), had told me she’d be cheering somewhere along the route, likely near the lakes, but the lakes ended around mile 13, so I figured I’d missed her.  So I didn't see any of my immediate family, though I knew they were on the course, but I did manage to see Maggie and her sis's b/f.  Anyway, the "5 minutes too fast" pace group drew even with me within a couple minutes of seeing Maggie, and I stayed with them through about 20.  And then let them slide, knowing I had a slight cushion.

But honestly, I don't know if there was a lot of choice involved in letting them slide.  There seemed to be more hills and more sun on the last 6 miles and I slowed considerably (though it actually wasn’t hot, high was low 60s that day).  My total finish time came out great, and actually my last mile was at my overall average pace as well.  It was just 20-25 that were rough.  So here are my 5 mile splits, which I recorded. According to the BQ pace band, ideally, I gave myself a 4 second window for each 5 miles (since there is a BQ minute cushion).  

1-5= 1:45 too fast (oops)

5-10= 1:29 too fast (oops)

10-15= 1:04 too fast (oops)

15-20= exactly in the middle of my 4 second range (finally on track)

20-25= 2:17 too slow (yeah, see what I mean?)

25-26= perfect (downhill and lovely)

26-26.2= perfect

The toughest part for me was thinking I saw the finish line.  There were 2 big cranes set up with an American flag hanging between them at the bottom of the downhill.  I started gunning for that.  Couldn't tell it was a flag, with the wind it looked like a big longhorn symbol.  But as I came up on it, I realized it either was mile marker 26 or just a random flag but I WAS NOT done.  And after that point, it actually wasn't downhill anymore.  It was fairly flat but oh, I was ready to be done.  Either way, I kept pushing as much as I could and came in fairly certain I'd done it.  The clock showed me missing it by less than a minute, but I knew I hadn't started with the clock.  My watch showed I'd done it, and even if I'd hit the start late or the finish early, I knew I hadn't missed by over a minute, so I was safe. 

My newest FB friend, Patrick, said he kind of wished he'd stayed with me longer b/c he got going too fast after the half when we separated and then really sucked wind after about 20, but he still ended up at within the 1 minute BQ cushion for the "5 minutes too fast" pace group finish time.  Quite impressive for a first marathon!  He says he thinks he may try another next year.  Among the rest of the crew that ran, Adam had a PR, my Dallas weekend pace group leader did not PR but met his goal (injured this year), my cousin almost had a PR, my cousin’s husband PRed, and Adam’s girlfriend PRed.  Plus, my sweet hubby finished the 10 mile with his guaranteed PR (first 10 mile race), but also on track for a half PR, and my mom finished the 10 mile with her guaranteed PR (also her first 10 mile race), but ahead of her goal to boot!  Everyone was really happy with the race and his/her finish time, so it was all-around great.

Anyway, after I finished the race, I did a bit of walking, but not enough.  By the time I sucked down a fruit cup, got a bottle of water, grabbed some chips, and got my medal and shirt, I was hurting.  Badly.  I found some shady grass and asked a paramedic if I could sit down there.  She asked if I was going to pass out and I told her I just needed to stretch.  She let me borrow her phone so I could call the AC, and by the time I got off, she was attending to others nearby who weren’t feeling well.  One of the other paramedics gave me a hand to get back on my feet, and I slowly headed toward the finisher photographs.  Right after I took my picture, Adam found me, so we got a picture together (unfortunately, his eyes were shut in it, otherwise I would have ordered it) and started to walk toward gear-check to retrieve my bag.  I got it and felt awful.  I thought I was going to get sick.  I asked Adam if we could just sit or lay down for a minute in the field (tons of other runners sitting, laying, stretching, talking).  We found the shade of a trash can and hit the ground.  I couldn’t really lie down or get comfortable, but I was able to lay back for a minute or two with my knees up, and that probably helped with blood flow. 

While lounging in the grass, waiting for me to feel better, I spotted and chatted with a new friend I’d met at my cousin’s house a few nights earlier, and I also found my weekend pace coach from Dallas and got to hear about his race for a few minutes.  By then, Adam and I both felt better.  Our leg cramps subsided and I no longer felt ill.  We slowly walked to find my hubby and family, and then Adam went to find his girlfriend and hubby and I slowly made our way back to the hotel and then headed out for a big lunch with lots of family, and then to a party at my cousin’s house.  Everyone was so happy with a great race, so it was fun celebrating.  I was pretty sore, mostly in my quads, for several days, but it steadily got better and was not as bad as it has been after other races.  The good news was I had no worries of injury, it was just normal levels of post-race soreness for me.  And the Boston-qualifying smile on my face seemed to be permanent!

So there you have it.  My MTCM race report.  Highly recommended.  Good expo, great pre-race, fair course elevation, very good course scenery, great crowd support, good medal, good finish.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Running First (and Last, I Hope)

I'm making crazy progress on my weekend to-do list, which is nice.  A couple errands yesterday were insanely frustrating (trying to pick up prescription and take checks back to bank), but eventually they all got done and our guest bedroom is back in order, which is a huge relief. 

Last night while we were getting ready for bed, we had the bedroom window open and the ceiling fan on.  It felt really cool out.  We still shut the window though and turned on the AC when we went to bed, just to avoid hearing noise, etc.

Well, after my encounter with the Dallas Police last week, I'm trying to be especially early in the morning now so there's really no reason to rush or perhaps make a right turn on red without a full stop first.  But since I already get up at 4:52 on Tues/Thurs, at 4:45 on Sundays, and at 5:00 on M/W/F I really would prefer not to wake up any earlier.  So I thought a good solution would be to choose my workout outfit and leave it on the bathroom counter, everything (including watch) except shoes.

Last night with the lovely cool breeze from the window, I decided to lay out shorts and a long sleeved shirt.  Got up this morning and out the door very quickly, wearing my planned outfit.  While meeting up with my group, tying my shoes, etc., it didn't seem cold out, but I was comfortable. 

Within less than half a mile though, I was cooking.  Long sleeves were proving to be a huge mistake.  No one else was wearing them.  Most were sleeveless actually, and at 5:30 the temp was mid-60s.  By mile 1, I was really uncomfortable.  I told Elizabeth and she said she thought it was not a good idea to keep running like that.  She said I should either cut the run very short (like run 4 miles instead of 15), or take it off. 

So I ran in a sports bra.  I tried tying my shirt around my waist, but that was so irritating, so I took my car key out of the pocket and put it in my shorts, then I tied my shirt to a fence near the 2-mile water stop and crossed my fingers it would be there when I got back, since it's one of my faves.

I was so uncomfortable.  I was running with about 4-5 guys and 2 women.  I tried not to think about it, but I've seen pics of non-elite women with great bodies running in sports bras and it's just not pretty.  There's just too much jiggling. 

Anyway, I survived and no one vomited at the sight.  We ran out 7.6 miles and then back.  At about 14.7, I gave my water bottle to a guy to hold and put the shirt back on as I ran.  So it all worked out.  15.2 lovely miles when I didn't think about what people saw when they saw me. 

But let's hope my pasty, jiggly belly is never exposed to anyone's eyes other than mine, hubby's and maybe a doctor's ever again!  Lesson learned:  I need to check the weather in the morning.

One of my fave things about summer is not worrying about the weather, just grabbing a singlet and shorts and not thinking twice, but we're now at the point where I can't make the long- or short-sleeve call w/o checking the temp.  And if I guess wrong, it makes for a miserable run, shivering or roasting or exposing my belly.  Lesson learned...

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rangers Fever

I can't decide if I'm a baseball fan or not.  My brothers played while they grew up and I used to watch their games.  As a grown-up, I've travelled to Arizona twice and Florida twice to watch spring training games.  And my brother played minor-league ball in NY, and I went to watch him play. 

But my hubby (fortunately for me) isn't a sports nut.  He for the most part doesn't care, except for some marginal interest every 4 years in the summer Olympics and the World Cup. 

But Rangers-mania is sweeping our city right now.  Last night they won and are now World Series bound for the first time ever.  We live in a fairly trendy area and could here people's celebrations last night.  I'm very happy for all my friends who are so happy.  One of the guys I go to camp with had something funny on his fb status:  TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS!!!!! THE FREAKIN RANGERS R GOIN TO THE WORLD SERIES!!!!!!!!! CRAZY!!!! I cried some good sports tears in Arlington tonight!!! GO RANGERS!!!

Anyway, part of me wishes our homeowner's insurance would cover us if we rented out our house for a few days per year ... it would be great to take a vacation during the World Series, or in Jan when the Superbowl is here. 

Rest day today.  I'm going to plug away on my list! 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finally, a Quiet Weekend

It's a little sad how excited I am to have a quiet wknd ahead of me.  I feel like this has been an insanely awesome month and a half, but between my weekend of Oktoberfest craziness, traveling for the marathon, and having my folks here with a jammed schedule, plus ongoing house contractor things that are hopefully wrapping up as I type, I am so excited about not having much planned this weekend. 

The big calendar events:  my Chinese Thanksgiving lunch with my friend David (one of my all-time favorite foods, look under V b/c it's a vegan chinese buffet), a trip to WorldFest to watch the Italian Club dancers in the afternoon on Saturday, and a presentation on Sunday night at a running store about mental race preparation (something I desperately need to improve, though the BQ has undoubtedly helped!).  And of course running on Sunday morning is a given. 

Besides that, there are a million little things I hope to accomplish:
  • Laundry (if I'm lucky, hubby will get one load of whites going today, leaving darks, sheets and towels for the wknd)
  • Choosing 2-3 Xmas card pictures and ordering them
  • Creating, ordering and picking up a photo collage
  • Filling out the info forms for our estates attorney (basically we have to each list all our property, assets, etc., and then roughly tell him what we want done with it)
  • Picking up a prescription for a new inhaler
  • Returning a box of checks to the bank
  • Shopping for my 2011 planner/calendar
  • Finally finishing my MTCM race report for this blog!
  • Writing out Xmas lists for me and hubby, and asking a few people for theirs
  • Shopping for a gift for a wedding next wknd
  • Rearranging first floor bedroom and cleaning EVERYTHING in it
  • Making a donation drop-off trip to Goodwill
  • Doing the final cull of my skirts -- sorting out what needs to be altered, what should be donated, what I want to keep
  • Pick up Nov. book club book and start reading it
  • Unloading the dishwasher! 
If I get very ambitious, I might also go have the oil light on my car checked (they just did an oil change but the light is still on), and I might try to cook something ambitious for dinner on Sat night, but no idea what.  May also try to pick a couple crock-pot recipes for next week, and make another batch of this cannellini-garlic dip that I eat on my wraps for lunch almost every day. 

Hmm... that's a list of almost 20 things, plus running, lunch, watching the dance group and the mental training lecture.  Wonder how much will actually get done.  If I had to bet, the things that won't be done:  estates attorney forms, race report, skirt culling, oil light, Goodwill.  But that would still be getting a lot done. 

I'm most excited about getting our first floor back in order.  Such a boring blog post though.  Sorry.  Uneventful boot camp this morning.  1.5 miles of running and I just jogged on the sprints the trainer had us do.  Feeling good, hoping for about 15 miles on Sunday! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Movies x 2

Uneventful morning at the track today.  I was almost late because I got pulled over right before I got on the highway.  The officer asked me where I was going and if I was in a hurry.  I knew it wasn't possible that I'd been speeding -- our house is about 1.5 blocks from a traffic light.  Since I turned out in front of a car (the officer's car), I accellerated quickly so the car wouldn't have to slow down, but I knew there was a red light not far in front of me, so I wasn't speeding.  Got to the light, made my right turn, waited at the light to cross the highway and then was about to get on when he flipped his lights.  Apparently I'd made the right turn on red without coming to a full stop.  I had my license and insurance ready to show him, and everything else was current on my car.  He ran my license and didn't even give me a written warning, but gave me a little lecture about being careful.  Which was both lucky for me and well-deserved.  It's so easy to be careless about things like full stops at 5:05 a.m.  Particularly since it's dark out and I trust that I'd see the headlights of any approaching vehicle, so there's no need to really examine carefully whether a car is coming.  Anyway, with that delay, I was running a little late but still made it to the start right before everyone started leaving.  Pitched my granola bar wrapper and took off with the group, but forgot to start my watch.

Ran to the track, then 1600 easy, followed by 800 hard, 400 easy, 800 hard.  And my last 800 was awesome!  The track was crowded and passing people sometimes gives me a burst of extra energy.  It was fabulous.  David said our goal for the 800-400-800 was to finish it all in the same time as Kiran, whose marathon was a week later than ours and was just running 1600 easy.  Didn't accomplish that, but not for lack of trying.  So then we ran another 1600 easy, then 400 hard, 200 easy, 400 hard, 200 easy.  And I sucked.  Neither of my 400s was as fast as any 400 during my 800s!  But I have to remind myself it's no big deal, I'm still recovering and it doesn't matter too much right now.  I don't need to hit any particular times, this is just for fun.  Still it would have been nice to have a couple strong 400s.  Oh well!  Then we ran another 1600 easy, then ran back to our cars.  I haven't done the math (not near my log right now), but I think it was just over 6 miles, which is great. 

Anyway, since the track report was kind of boring, thought I'd mention two movies I've seen this week.  We don't watch movies in theaters very often lately.  Sometimes we go through phases where we do, but it's been a looong time.  It seems like the mainstream releases don't appeal to us that much and then when they do, there are a bunch of idiots in the theater.  Kids going in and out and horsing around, people talking, phones ringing, etc.  But this week we've seen Conviction and 127 Hours.  Both really good! 

Conviction is the one with Hillary Swank where she goes to law school to work on the case of her brother, who was serving a life sentence for murder.  Based on a true story, which makes it even better.  The murder was in Massachusetts in 1980 and I didn't know anything about it, her brother, or her story.  I kind of like movies (and books) where I know very little going in.

127 Hours is the one about the guy who got trapped in a canyon in Utah in 2003.  Another true story and a great acting job since it's largely a one-man show, though there are two women he hikes with early on and then people who are in his flashbacks/thoughts.  I just can't imagine having something like that happen.  It made me think though about always letting people know where I'm going and when I should be back.  Though obviously in Dallas it would seem unlikely that I could get trapped anywhere and not be within shouting distance of another person within at least a day.  I kept thinking about the movie this morning at the track -- thinking about calling my husband to let him know where I was:  hi honey, I'm at the track right now, running my ovals, I'm on the west side and should be on the northern loop in about 25 seconds; hi honey, I'm on the northern part of the track right now, I should be on the eastern side in about 10 seconds; hi honey, now I'm on the eastern side but if I'm not on the southern side within about 25 seconds, you should probably come looking for me...

I can highly recommend both, though of course parts of 127 Hours are a bit gory and graphic. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big Tex's Revenge

This is going to be TMI for some, so feel free to skip this post, but oh, my belly has not been the same since this past weekend.  Scale is maybe back up a pound, but it had recently gone down one, so this may have just been getting that back. 

I'd be happy to lose a few pounds, but it's just not my focus right now -- I'm far more interested in attempting kick Adam's @ss on Nov. 7 at the half-marathon.  So getting the pound back is fine, but I feel like I'm losing about 5 pounds per day in bodily waste.  It's disgusting.  I just want to get back to normal.

I finally got back into my Wed. habit from training of running home with Joy after boot camp today.  I told her about my intestinal distress and she asked when the last time was that I'd eaten like that.  The cake and ice cream overload probably last happened a couple months ago when it was my bday and when I was eating my B&J pints after my 20+ mile training runs.  But in terms of fried food, I couldn't say when I'd last eaten like that.  I eat fries every few weeks, pretty much whenever we're out to eat and it comes with what I order -- not often, but not rare.  But even last year at the Fair, I don't think I ate that many fried things b/c I got a baked potato at one point and then didn't feel so munchy. 

This year the fried beer was my appetizer, the fried margarita and french fries were my entree, the fried butter was my first dessert and the fried lemonade was my second dessert. 

I wish I'd photographed it all.  I put a fried butter picture in my original post, but didn't have good pics of the rest of the stuff. 

I've been eating well since Monday morning now.  Even last night at the movies I didn't want popcorn -- I'd snuck in an apple for me and carrot sticks for hubby, and we munched on those.  Saw Conviction by the way, with Hillary Swank, pretty enjoyable and I kept wondering what would happen.  I had never heard of the true story that is the basis for the movie so I didn't know (nor did my husband). 

Maybe just a couple more days and I'll feel better.  Fingers crossed.  Maybe I should follow the advice I always give my husband (who gets an upset stomach after almost anything greasy) and take some Pepto or something. 

Packed a super-healthy lunch for today that I got from Newly Wed, Newly Veg, it's a smash of garbanzo beans, yogurt, raisins, curry powder and cumin served over spinach and some random mixed greens.  Yum! 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boston Chaos!

The good news and the bottom line is that I'm in!  I will be running the 115th Boston Marathon on April 18, 2011, barring injury, and all the other usual caveats. 

There was an article in the WSJ last week Thurs that was quite interesting about Boston.  The intro of the article said that Boston was expected to fill faster than ever this year (registration opened (and closed) yesterday).  But the core of the article was that maybe the qualifying times for women are too easy.  Men aged 18-34 need a 3:10, women in the same age bracket need 3:40, and times for both sexes slow from there.  But the bottom line is that a man in his early 50s has to run faster than the fastest and youngest women (a guy at 52 needs 3:35, a woman at 24 needs 3:40).  Another interesting point though is that many of the fastest times aren't from the youngest runners, many marathons are won by people in their 30s.  Nonetheless, the article fixated on "the notion that the qualifying standards for women are too soft." 

The supporting data was the fact that women finish Boston in higher proportion than they finish other marathons (but of course it didn't say by how much, I don't think it would be much).  The article went on to say that when the qualifying standards were created, the sex gap in the world record was 54 minutes.  The sex gap is now 11 minutes at the world record level, and an average gap of 20 minutes in 2009 for the elites among the 5 major US qualifiers. 

So maybe the 30 minute sex differential isn't warranted.  And of course, now that I've finally qualified, part of me agrees (and maybe would have agreed earlier as well).  I compare myself to some of the guys I run with who are so much stronger than I am.  They all seem to need 3:10, 3:15 or 3:20, and the few women in our group all need 3:40, 3:45 or 3:50.  So when some of the guys that I consider stronger runners than me post times like 3:18 and then I get into Boston and they don't, it doesn't seem fair.

And then there's the part of me that just feels generally inadequate.  Like if I can get into Boston, it's not that hard.  But I've had that view about most of my life.  Like I went to a top-10 law school and if I can do that, it's not too big of a deal.  I remember reading Mary's post about this and having mixed feelings -- sometimes people are correct in minimizing certain accomplishments (because it's not actually as tough as it sounds, or because it's rude to be arrogant), but at the same time, I think many people downplay accomplishments that should never be downplayed. 

But I will say that getting into Boston was actually quite hard.  And I don't mean posting a time that qualified me for entry, I meant my ordeal yesterday morning. 

I got to the website in the morning and started trying to register, along with thousands of others apparently, but that couldn't have been a surprise for the BAA.  I filled out the form the first time, name, address, phone, email, DOB, age on 4/18/11, first Boston, shirt size, qualifying time, qualifying race, credit card type, numbers, security code, expiration date, then submit.  Wait.  Then a blank form again.  Re-enter everything, submit, wait, blank form.  I put in my credit card number (and all the other data), about 30 times and hit submit and kept getting a blank form.  It said that your card would not be charged until you had a submission number to confirm your entry and your time was verified. 

On FB, I could see a few friends had gotten in.  I kept trying and had my husband try from his computer at work (he got kicked back to the same blank form).  I thought about trying another credit card, but didn't know if that was a good idea since it would be easier to deal with the aftermath of 40 charges of $130 on one card, rather than spread across 2 or 3 credit cards. 

I frantically called one of weekday morning running buddies to see what she'd done.  She told me to friend the BAA on FB and try the link on their FB page.  I tried that but couldn't find a link.  Then she said to try friending The Boston Marathon (not just Boston Marathon).  I did that and found a link someone had posted.  I tried it and it took me to the same form, which I filled out for about the 40th time.  Hit submit, then suddenly I was at a waiver screen I'd never seen before.  I quickly acknowledged the no deferral policy and the liability waiver, and submitted again.  And then I had a submission number!  And then I got an email from BAA confirming the same number.

Then there was a bit of panic seeing on the FB page and on a RW forum that maybe the link was a scam, that someone else had set it up and was culling credit card numbers, but that seemed unlikely -- not sure how many criminals could have anticipated that demand, given that many qualified runners hadn't.

Then I worked, had a normal day.  Got on FB late in the afternoon for a minute and was SHOCKED to see Boston had already closed.  Registration began at 9 a.m. Eastern and closed at 5:03 p.m.

From what I understand, last year it closed after a few weeks (closing in November), the year before that it closed in February, and the year before that they closed it in March to issue bibs but it wasn't full.  And it had never been full before that. 

Apparently there were several reasons it happened this year.  First, there were fewer spots available because deferrals were allowed last year for many European runners who never made it to the race because of the Icelandic volcano.  Second, when the race closed earlier than expected last year, lots of people were shut out and they were all trying to get in yesterday.  Third, everyone who'd qualified recently heard about the many people who got shut out yesterday and was probably making extra effort to make sure that wouldn't happen to them.

So what's going to happen?  Generally, when a marathon gets so popular that it fills in a matter of hours, the following year it goes to a lottery system.  Many of the best and/or biggest races use lotteries (see my Marathon Ideas page), like New York, St. George, and London.  But would Boston really do that?

What should they do?  Tighten the qualifying standards for some or all?  Add a later wave to increase the race size (start town can't handle more at the same time, but if a third wave started a few hours later, it maybe could work)?  Decrease the number of places reserved for charitable entries?  Raise the price to decrease demand?  Only allow a single entry based on a qualifying time (currently my MTCM time could get me into 2011 Boston and/or 2012 Boston)? 

I hope they come up with something, but whew, I'm glad I'm in for this year!  It was quite a stressful morning yesterday! 

And since the race is on our wedding anniversary, there will be massive cause for celebration that night!  And I think we'll probably head back to Italy within a week or so of the race (maybe stopping to see or pick up my in-laws first (they may join us for the trip)).  There's just no point in flying back to Dallas and then flying back over the country on our way to Europe. 

Now we need to start really doing trip planning.  We'll be in Lamezia Terme for the majority of the time, but maybe we'll go somewhere else in Italy as well (the under part of il Colosseo in Rome is now open to the public, I'd been there years earlier when I was studying there, but hubby has never seen it, so that might be cool).  Or maybe we'll have a few days of a long layover in Paris or somewhere.  We might be in Italy for Easter -- I'd love to be in Rome on Good Friday again.  I saw the last Pope do the Stations of the Cross service when I was living there and it was so beautiful and moving.  I'm one of the only people I know who ranks Good Friday services almost equal with Easter services for priority.  I used to go to church more regularly, but now a combination of things means I don't go very often -- but I still make it on Ash Wed and Good Fri (and of course Xmas Eve, but we're home for that). 

But all that matters to me is Boston and Lamezia!  We can be anywhere for Easter and I'll be happy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weight Gain (real or perceived) = Chafing, d'uh...

Well, as expected, this week has been a long string of the unhealthiest eating of the year for me.  And my stomach is not loving me.  Nor are my thighs.  Let's recap:

1.  Two weeks and one day ago:  run 26.2 miles at a good clip and eat pizza, fries and nachos (and drink beer) as replenishment lunch

2.  Week following marathon:  fairly healthy, normal eating, slightly larger portions and more emphasis on carbs, as recommended by most recovery plans.  Only craziness was last week Fri, which was donut day at work, meaning about 4 donuts over the course of the day...

3.  This past week (lunches during the week were normal):
  • Tues = lots of wine, lots of cheese, 3/4 of a pizza, basket of bread as marathon celebration dinner
  • Wed = goat cheese-stuffed peppers, bread, aioli, grilled veggies, followed by about 1-2 pieces of flourless chocolate cake for husband's bday
  • Thurs = fairly normal dinner (think it was a lavash wrap with cannellini-garlic dip, spinach and artichokes)
  • Fri = 5 course Italian dinner with folks
  • Sat before 3:00 = normal breakfast, then fried lemonade (1/3), fried margarita (2/3), fried butter (1/2), fries (whole order), boiled corn on cob (1/2), and fried beer (1/2), beers (2) at Texas State Fair.  All was good, but the fried beer was disgusting and the fried butter is possibly one of my favorite foods ever.
  • Sat between 3 and 6:30 = carrot sticks, strawberries, chips, 1 beer, large piece of sheet cake, 3-4 scoops of ice cream at godson's second bday party
  • Sat night = 1/2 bottle of wine, huge veggie sandwich and block of smoked gouda cheese with crackers (not shared with anyone!)
  • Sun pre-/post-run = 2 granola bars, 1 instant oatmeal (and 1 bag powergels during run)
  • Sun lunch = 2 baskets of chips with guac, 3 bean soft tacos with avocado and cheese, side of rice and 1/2 side of black beans
  • Sun night = chips and guac, about 6-8 cream cheese jalapeno poppers, black and red bean pie (beans with cheese over polenta), broccoli puree (broc, half and half, whole milk, cheese), jicama and orange salad, and then this insanely delicious cake served with an insanely delicious caramel sauce
Photo of the fried butter:

So in short, I think I've eaten about 2 weeks' worth of average calorie consumption in one week.  And I feel it.  Especially all the fried stuff from the fair, my stomach is really upset.  But as of Fri or Sat morning, last time I weighed, no change whatsoever.  But it's probably going to show up in a couple days, but that won't bother me much, still in my typical range assuming it's just a few pounds. 

But Sunday morning I got up to run and definitely felt bad.  Not good fuel for a run to eat primarily fried things and then a lot of ice cream/dairy.  I got dressed and put body glide around my sports bra, which I always do if I'm going more than about 8 miles, and I didn't bother to put it anywhere else.  I'm very careful if I'm going about 16 or more miles, but I expected Sunday to be 12-14 miles, so I didn't worry much about doing my thighs, the waistband of my shorts, my feet, or under my arms. 

By mile 8 I could tell I was chafing on my inner thighs and it felt like they were on fire by the time we finished at mile 13.  How is that possible?  If I really did gain weight from all the garbarge I've consumed, I'm sure it's just a few pounds and it seems impossible that would have all collected on my thighs.  I feel bloated and disgusting, but it doesn't seem plausible that I'd really be bloated enough to chafe on my legs after only 13 miles. 

Either way, it was kind of a stupid mistake on my part.  I probably should use glide on any of my former chafing areas on any run over 10 miles.  I skipped under my arms because I made the mistake of wearing long sleeves, but even that can be risky.  Oh well.  At least the worst pain seems to be over.

And while I skipped working out this morning to take my folks to the airport, it's going to be a week of clean eating I hope!  Maybe alcohol-free too.  My tummy (and thighs) needs it!  Oh, still hurting...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Crazy sore!

I woke up this morning and my left leg did not feel any better.  We were up really late last night getting our house pulled together (lots of moving boxes around, etc.), but when the alarm went off at 5, I felt like I'd be able to handle going to boot camp. 

Got there and we were told to do a warmup jog.  After about 4 steps on my left foot, I could tell running or jogging was not a good idea.  So I did some arm weights and then did a half-@ssed workout for the rest of the time.  But it was a fun morning nonetheless and I felt good about the arm work. 

I talked to the trainer about my leg very early in the class (while everyone else went on the longer run).  He said it sounded like it could be an adductor rather than hamstring or groin.  But since it's definitely on the inner and upper part of my thigh, I wasn't really trying to show him exactly where it hurt.  But I was able to show him the one movement where I really felt it pull.  Basically in a very deep lunge with my left leg forward and my hands all the way on the ground.  Just a deep lunge wasn't enough, but as soon as I shifted my weight and got my hands down, I felt it pull. 

Anyway, toward the end of class, I was talking to Joy and told her about the issue to explain why I wasn't running.  Surprise!  She's also very sore on both legs in the inner thigh area.  That made me feel like maybe it was just sore from a work-out, not from running.  Told my husband that in the car on the way home.  Surprise!  He's also very sore on both legs in the inner thigh area.  So yeah, hopefully this will be gone in a day or two.

Hubby and I were talking about what could have caused this.  And I think we have the culprit.  Wed. we did something called spider lunges.  No idea how many, but a lot, and it's something I don't do very often.  Essentially it's something like a mountain climber but you're bringing your legs up to the side of you, rather than under you. 

I feel like an idiot for not thinking of this when I was talking to the trainer.  Of course.  It's the same position basically as the stretch where I can feel it pull.  For spider lunges, you're on your hands in the push-up position and you're bringing each leg up to your elbow on the outside. 

So the mystery may be solved!  Still no good explanation for why my left side is significantly worse, but I'm very optimistic that my scheduled Sunday run will be smooth sailing.  Still trying to decide on the mileage -- I'd like to do at least 12 and not over 16 no matter what.  Will just defer that decision until tomorrow probably.

Now I'm going to focus on Fair eats -- fried beer, fried smores, fried peaches and cream, and more fried butter if they have it again.  Plus one of the baked potatoes, which I loooove.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quiet Day

I am attempting to work from home today to be here while workers are getting stuff ready in our first floor bedroom for my folks who get here tomorrow.  Unfortunately, it sounds like it's not all going to get done.  Ugh.  The good news is that they might leave soon, so I can head to the office.

I have a sore left glute/groin/hamstring muscle.  Very hard to tell which it is, I'm thus far unable to isolate it, but I haven't tried very hard.  I went to the track this morning and David let me pick the workout (NY runners had their scheduled track run, but that was way too ambitious for those of us 10-12 days post-marathon).  I chose a ladder, thinking it would all be a steady and fairly easy pace.  I picked 1600, 1200, 800, 400 (technically the last one was an 800, b/c I wanted to do a 400 easy to lead into our actual 400).  But then he let Jesse pick the pace!  I led the pace on the 1600 (faster than it felt), and then Jesse said we'd drop each lap by 5 seconds (so each lap on the 1200 would be 5 secs faster than each lap on the 1600 was, and then each lap on the 800 would be 10 secs faster than each lap on the 1600 was).  I essentially dropped it by 4 per lap on the 1200, about the same pace for the 800, and then the designated 15 seconds for the 400.  But I figured it was better to be cautious and it didn't really matter anyway. 

Definitely going to watch the leg issue.  Maybe a week off is in order?  Actually a little nervous about that b/c all my post-race eating-based celebrations seem to have been deferred to this week.  Tues night was a dinner consisting of wine, cheese, bread, pizza, and a small amount of salad.  Last night was my hubby's bday so more wine, goat cheese stuffed peppers, potato omlette, aioli, a couple grilled veggies and then lots of cake.  Tonight will be fine, but tomorrow night will be a big meal with my folks, followed by all kinds of fried foods at the Fair on Saturday, a wine picnic dinner Saturday night, and probably a cheese-based picnic lunch on Sunday, and then book club deliciousness Sunday night, which will probably be more sweets than I usually eat in several weeks.  But normal eating patterns should resume on Monday.  I do think I'd gain some lbs this week though if I backed off exercise much since my eating habits are so extraordinary right now.  Oh well.  I'll see how it feels in the morning and probably go to camp either way, just may not do the running or may not do it hard.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Page!

Today is hubby's bday, so I'm trying to get a bunch of random stuff done to make his evening super-special, so instead of writing about this morning's work-out or last night's awesome wine and cheese, I finished editing a new page for the blog, Marathon Ideas.  It's a list of marathon suggestions that is a combination of my experience and the ones I want to do.  There are a few non-marathon races listed as well.  Enjoy! 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Getting Back to It

Went for 6 this morning with the primary goal of hearing about David's St. George experience and trying to talk Jesse into running the full at White Rock, which I am likely going to do.  Our pace was too fast for an easy 6, but it wasn't killing me.  I feel like I'm really getting back from the race.  Tonight is my big post-marathon celebration dinner.  I'm looking forward to eating about 2 pounds of cheese while consuming a bottle of wine.  I'm sure there will be some other tasty food added, and maybe a bit of champagne, but I'm mostly focused on the wine and cheese.  I'm celebrating tonight with one of my good friends.  She was working on a huge event for the Italian Club (where we met), and that was this past weekend, so she also has a big weight off her shoulders, so it should be a great night.  We haven't gotten to have dinner, just the two of us, in ages and I miss having the chance to get caught up.  Particularly since I know I love her, but when I mostly keep up with her via facebook and I see a lot of political stuff, I kind of forget how much I like her and we really do have in common. 

I'm becoming more and more anti-politics in general, but especially on facebook.  I actually unfriended someone because he kept posting so much political stuff.  My friend that I'm meeting for dinner is very smart and her beliefs are well-reasoned and I completely respect them.  But when my primary contact with her is via FB, and all I see are political statements with which I don't agree, it's easy to forget there's so much more to her than the politics, and I love all the other stuff. 

I feel like a combination of factors have combined to make me less politically rabid than I was in college.  Going to law school in general has made me question more.  It's easier to see the other side to things, and to recognize how statistics and other facts are often misused -- and it works on both sides of the spectrum.  Even if I read something I'm inclined to agree with, I generally recognize that there's more to it.  I also think for me, there's just been more of a shift in focus as I've gotten older -- it's just not a priority for me, or a strong area of interest.  While my husband is happy to watch news 24/7, I like to get the basic headlines and will watch the Today show in the morning while getting dressed, but I don't have a strong desire to get much more than that.  If I have free time to read on the internet or something printed or even watch TV, there just seem to be so many things that are more interesting to me.  The other big change I think happened when I was in college and studying abroad in Italy.  While the elections were being held here and there, I suddenly realized that there weren't any huge differences between the candidates in the US.  I feel like our system prevents anyone too crazy from getting elected or doing anything too drastic.  In Italy, there is a reformed communist party, among many others.  If RC posted a prime minister candidate who was elected and had sufficient support, there could actually be MAJOR changes.  That just doesn't seem to happen here.  I feel like pretty much anyone could be president and as long as they are somewhat reasonable and well-intentioned, it's not going to have a huge impact on my life.  It's the whole checks-and-balances thing too. 

Anyway, there are still issues about which I care deeply, but it's still not something I generally want to talk about on FB or even spend much time discussing.  Hard to believe that not too many years ago I was campaigning in New Hampshire, feeling like the primaries and elections were so important and made such a huge difference.  I got my requisite Poli Sci minor, so common in law school.  But somewhere along the way, my levels of concern and polarization have really diminished.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicago 2007 Memories

I was happy to see that all 10 people I was watching in Chicago yesterday finished, a couple with PRs despite a high of 84 at 1:50 that afternoon.  Only 65 people hospitalized, which is in line with most years (including last year when they had good weather).  I read some news stories about the forecast: 
Chicago - Runners often look back at the 2007 Chicago Marathon with frustration, and an eye toward the weather. Extreme heat was what did the race in that year . This year's Chicago Marathon has been marketed as 10-10-10: The Date to Motivate -- and it shouldn't disappoint. The weather is expected to be quite motivating to the 45,000 strong field of runners.

Well, they later changed that prediction of "motivating" weather, and ended up at red alert by noon or so.  This makes 3 out of 4 years with very warm weather for the Chicago marathon.  My advice to anyone running it has stayed the same:  Be prepared to provide all your own course support, including water, and have your own private ambulance on call. 

When I ran the Chicago marathon in 2007, my one and only time, there weren't any color alerts.  They quickly ran out of water at all the early water stops.  People were passing out along the course everywhere.  Runners were weaving and falling down.  Aid stations were full.  Official pacers were taking off their shirts showing the finish time and either putting them on inside-out or backwards.  The pace balloons and batons were set down alongside the course.  Over 300 people hospitalized.  1 dead.  They ran out of ambulances.  They had to call in suburban ambulances who didn't know where the nearest hospitals were, and they transported runners in vans and police cars.  It was a complete disaster.  The announcement that the marathon was cancelled was confusing.  I first heard it from a woman who seemed to have no official capacity.  Then the helicopters came flying over the course announcing that the marathon had been cancelled and that runners were instructed to walk toward the finish, that buses were being dispersed.  I had already slowed significantly (finished about 35 minutes over my goal time), but I was continuing to run slowly.  Police officers were grabbing at anyone who was running, pulling on arms and clothing to tell people to walk.  I tried a couple times to explain that it was 89 degrees and I was from Texas, where it was frequently in the upper 80s or low 90s when I trained.  But I gave up and walked a great deal more toward the finish (hence missing goal by 35 minutes).  I finished the marathon and got my medal and then heard stories. 

That year I'd organized a big group to run.  I had about 5 friends who I'd talked into the race and trained with in Dallas.  I had 2 brothers running, a first marathon for each.  Plus one brother's girlfriend and her best friend.  So a group of 10 of us, and only 5 were allowed to finish.  Others were diverted off the course or forced onto buses. 

My baby brother ran the first several miles with one of my best friends.  They quickly became alarmed that there was still no water available when they got to mile 5.  My friend called her husband to go buy bottled water for them and meet them at mile 6.  He stood on the curb waiting for them and said runners came by begging him for the water he was holding.  Saying they'd buy it, offering credit card numbers, phones, tears.  He ended up holding the water behind his back so no one would see it, knowing his wife and my brother needed it. 

But I have run other disasterous races.  The big "Too Hot To Handle" race in Dallas ran out of water in July 2008 (the Chicago race was Oct. 2007).  I was also running that race.  I had water at both of them, but I was not at the back of either pack.  After the Dallas race, the race director said that they could not offer refunds to people because that would only hurt the charity, but offered a store credit at a running store to anyone who wanted it.  Less than 5% of runners took advantage of that.  The race director took complete responsibility for the lack of water and apologized.  And I've run that race every year since. 

Contrast the response of Pinkowski, the race director for Chicago in 07 (and still the race director, as soon as they get someone else, I will consider going back).  First, he DENIED that they ran out of water.  He insisted to the media that there was water at every stop and available to even the last runner.  So he said that apparently my brother and best friend were lying, along with hundreds of other runners who shared the same experience.  Lovely.  Second, after dozens of runners were interviewed by the media and said there had been no water, he BLAMED other runners for the lack of water.  He said they had plenty of water for the conditions (and I will agree that water supplies after mile 20 were ample), but the problem was that IF they ran out of water at the early stops (which he still didn't believe), it was because faster runners drank too much and poured it over their heads.  Now I have never been in warmer race and not seen someone pour water over his or her head.  It's a recognized method of cooling off.  If Pinkowski couldn't anticipate that would happen, he should probably be characterized as "special needs" because no person with an average IQ wouldn't know that.  Finally, he said that no refunds or credits toward the following year's race would be permitted and that medals would not be mailed out.  I 100% understand how much of a race's money is spent in advance -- publicity, police protection, etc., but I think even a $10 credit toward the next year's race would have been seen as a good gesture, even if the credit was limited to those who were diverted off the marathon course.  Other marathons (Denver, etc.) stepped in to make up for Chicago's gaffe and offered reduced rate late entries to anyone who'd been denied a finish in Chicago.  People could try again if they wanted.  (Not enough for my baby bro, who I couldn't talk into trying a second one this year at MTCM, and will probably never undertake another marathon.)

My only comfort from running that horrible Chicago 07 marathon is that it was also hot in 08 at the race (and yesterday), and now there are precautions in place.  At least they learned something.  They have these color alerts.  They had ample water.  They have new systems for transporting runners to hospitals in case they ever end up transporting hundreds (which hasn't happened again, and likely/hopefully will never happen again).  And while it wasn't as hot yesterday as it was in 07, I feel for all the runners who had to adjust their goals and struggled with the heat. 

The good news is something I've only come to realize in the last few months:  marathon day isn't your one and only shot.  Sure, there was a lot of training and work and dreaming and expense that went into that race.  But you can try again very soon if you ran it easy or didn't finish.  Or if you raced, it still doesn't have to be your only shot.  You can run another marathon this season. Or you can take many months of recovery and go for it again next year.  There are many other marathons.  I'd of course recommend trying something other than Chicago next time, there are so many great races.  Even if you're local, try Milwaukee next year, which is the same time of year and just a short drive.  Or of course, try MTCM, same time of year and highly recommended by me!  But if you're disappointed with your Chicago finish (or lack of finish), don't see it as a failure.  You can never control the weather, and the more you run, the more likely it is that you'll get stuck running in very poor conditions sometimes.  Learn what you can.  Maybe more outdoor training, better clothing choices, more hydration the day before, more hydration during the race, etc., but even if you did everything right, be glad you'll live to race another day if you want! 

I know the pain of missing your goal -- for reasons both within and outside your control.  All you can do is take another shot, soon or much later.  But ugh, I so feel the pain.  I tried all spring for my 5k goal time and missed it by a long shot.  Didn't even PR, let alone hit my goal.  But it happened mid-September, during marathon training when it was least expected.  But when I started marathon training in late May, I felt like my entire spring had been a waste of time, money and effort since I hadn't met my goal.  Thank goodness my goal race wasn't the last 5k I'd ever run.  Challenging goals means meeting them isn't always a gimme, even with perfect training, effort and conditions.  That's part of being challenged.  Anyone can set an easy goal, challenging yourself has its own rewards.  Getting to the starting line in and of itself is a huge accomplishment, even if you bust. 
I have an odd feeling that I'll be rereading this post one day, maybe in deep despair after another missed goal.  If that's the case, hi future me, there are more races out there, just get out and try again, even if you don't meet your goal, you gain something from doing it, rather than just sleeping in and never trying.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nerves the way I like them!

It's a nervous morning here -- so many friends racing this weekend.  I ran an easy 8-9 this morning and it felt pretty good, just very slow and easy.  Came home to some Law & Order reruns, eating leftovers from last night's dinner, and hitting refresh every 5 minutes to get marathon results updates.  Just the way I like it!  Maybe even more fun than running! 

I had a great run, so many people congratulated me along the way.  I stayed with the group through about 6.5, then slowed down a bit and u-turned before the 7.5 mark, and then went back to a friend's car at mile marker 6.  That made the run nice, we didn't have to backtrack the whole way.  Anyway, marathon results...

My friend Carrie from high school (her blog is on my list here) had a PR in Munich. 

No news from two friends doing Mohawk-Hudson. 

Tracking Chicago online.  News article said weather will be perfect for the elites, possibly too hot for ordinary runners.  One Dallas area "friend" (I say that b/c we don't know each other well -- he sent me a FB friend request and I said I should be his fan, not his friend) is trying to break 3 hours, which is borderline elite.  He was on track for a 3 hour finish at 20k, but as of 35k and check C, he's back to 3:04, which won't be a PR for him.  Seems that many people are slowing around the 30k mark -- which has happened to me in almost every race, regardless of the weather.  I've always heard the marathon is a 20 mile run and then a 10k race -- and it's the last 10k that breaks a lot of people.  Wishing I could send some strength and speed to everyone out there! 

Friday, October 8, 2010

September Mileage

With all the marathon travel and craziness, I never got to update my monthly miles here.  I logged 157.4 miles in September (a little more than 10 fewer than in Sept. 09).  At the end of September, I was at about 995 miles for 2010.  I basically need almost 25 miles per week for the rest of the year (giving myself 1 week off for Xmas) to make my NY Resolution of 1300 miles.  Should be possible. 

I ran a bit at camp this morning.  Faster pace than yesterday's track run but shorter distance.  It all felt good, but I opted to do arm weights instead of the sprints! 

I am really looking forward to this weekend since there isn't a lot planned.  Hubby has to work and I have a lot of stuff to do around the house b/c my folks are visiting us next weekend and will get here Fri morning.  We're having people come to put in new carpet padding on that floor of the house hopefully on Wednesday, so that night will be a lot of furniture moving, bed-making, etc.  I'm really excited for them to be here, even if it's just for a long weekend.  My other weekend projects are wrapping gifts (hubby and godson's bdays in the next week or so), writing a race report to post, clearing up my desk and inbox at work, and making a decision (if I can) about whether I'm going to run the RNR marathon (or half) in San Antonio.  I'm going to try to decide on Sunday b/c there's a $20 discount that day and really, I should be able to commit now, one way or the other!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


It's so weird how emotional I've felt about Boston over the last day or two.  We now have a hotel booked and I was recently printing off the course map and elevation profile and it was so surreal.  I feel like many average marathoners have Boston in the back of their minds.  I was no different.  When you read much about running, be it in Runner's World, online, or in books, it's impossible to escape references to it.  And I've even read entire course profiles in RW when my marathon times were still about an hour slower than they needed to be for me to qualify.  It was a dream, not completely outside the realm of possibility.  And it is so strange to now be actually planning to run it.  Me, in Boston.  Me, whose first "real" marathon involved heat stroke and vomit and a time well over 5 hours.  Me, who has always been in awe of "real" runners.  Me, whose form and stride are so imperfect.  It's crazy!  I know the Boston goal is more attainable for women (guys 18-34 need 3:10, women 18-34 need 3:40, and the times slow from there for both groups as they age).  The large discrepancy doesn't seem fair to me because the female best of the best aren't lagging 30 minutes behind the male elites.  But at this point, I'm not complaining!  Particularly since one of my weekday guy friends qualified at St. George and the others stand a strong possiblity of qualifying at their upcoming races like Chicago, Mohawk-Hudson and NY. 

Anyway, it makes me kind of teary to print these elevation maps.  Or maybe that was residual tears from booking the hotel -- Boston seems to be significantly more expensive in general, but that weekend in particular!!!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Road to Recovery

I went to camp this morning but didn't run at all.  It wasn't much of a workout actually, because I didn't really do most the exercises if there was any leg component to them.  I feel like I'm almost as nervous about getting injured now as I was two weeks ago!  I just know how vulnerable I am to injury or illness right now, and I don't want to do anything to derail a solid recovery and return to running (though the goals remain undefined, other than the half on Nov. 7).  I was doing some lunges and mid-way through, I asked my husband wtf I was doing.  I know better.  It felt good to move and kind of stretch, but I think it was more strain than I needed.  Either way, I stopped promptly. 

After camp, my husband and I walked for 1.6 miles and on the way home, I felt like I could have jogged.  I'm planning to attempt it tomorrow, assuming my rate of recovery continues.  I think I'm going to meet my weekday group at 5:15 and head to the track with them, run an easy mile or two, and then head back solo (since they all have longer repeats).  Then Sunday one of my best and longest running partners and I are thinking of doing an easy 8-10 with the group, assuming tomorrow goes well. 

I got my flu shot yesterday, so hopefully that, plus my extra sleep this week and my care with my legs will let me get back to a routine pretty soon.  Although I'm in a really good mood b/c of the exciting Boston possibilities, I can tell I'm starting to really miss running, I've felt kind of snippy for a day or so now.  But that's probably also due to the chaos at home.  The problem with coming back right after the marathon and having both of us head straight to work on Monday is that I feel like there are no groceries, nothing is where it belongs, we're completely out of sorts.  And with family coming to visit next weekend, I don't want chaos right now.  I gave my husband a list of projects for his day off today and I hope to tackle a bunch of stuff on Saturday.  With all of that, plus a return to running, I should be feeling as good as new on Sunday! 

I've already gotten some Boston related emails.  Possibly sharing a room, dinner plans the night before, and I've been told to consider the 5k the day before (though not as a race of course).  I was told that the 5k fills up fast, lets you see part of the marathon course, and has medals and a great tech long-sleeve shirt at the finish.  Interesting...  I'm hoping to book our hotel this week before Chicago on Sunday, when countless other people will be booking rooms I'm sure. 

Our tentative plan is to go to Boston, then head to Pittsburgh to visit or pick-up the in-laws, then head to Italy.  Possibly a stop in Paris on the way home.  Egypt and Sweden are wholly out of the planning equation. 

I'm working on an official race report to email my running group and post on here.  Soon, I hope!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Scary News

So I know I'm somewhat unique among runners in my safety-consciousness, but hearing this news broke my heart.  Last week (about 6 hours after we flew to MSP), there was a bad accident on the running trail that is about a quarter mile from our house involving a runner.  I run home from this trail every single Wednesday after camp, many Fridays, and do many other runs during the week on it as well. 

At first, all we heard was that a jogger had died after an accident.  The trail is only 3.5 miles from top to bottom (so 7 if you run back to your starting point), and the greatest features of the trail are that you only cross 2 streets, both north of our exit (so in the top mile of the trail), and that much of the trail is divided into separate paths for pedestrians and those with wheels under them (and the running trail is asphalt instead of concrete, which is nicer on your knees).  However, when you get to a bridge over a road, sometimes the separate paths combine. 

Anyway, when we heard it was an accident, hubby and I both guessed that a runner had been hit by a car at the busier of the 2 streets you cross, the one closer to our house.  We were so wrong: 
Katy Trail Jogger Dies after Accident

Published : Monday, 04 Oct 2010, 3:56 PM CDT
DALLAS - The woman who was hit by a bicycle last week while she was jogging on the Katy Trail in Dallas has died.
According to police reports, 28-year-old Lauren Huddleston abruptly turned left just as a woman on a bike tried to pass her.
Witnesses told police Huddleston had been wearing headphones and likely didn't hear the bicyclist. The two collided near Cedar Springs Road and Turtle Creek Boulevard.
Huddleston suffered a severe head injury. She died Sunday night.
The woman on the bicycle was not seriously injured and police said she will likely not face any charges.
Huddleston's family members said they are not angry about the accident.
"We can talk all we want about physical changes that could be made to a trail or area that those people share. But there will never be a substitute for somebody's best judgment and awareness of safety issues," said Charles Townsend, Huddleston's brother.
Huddleston grew up in the Dallas area and graduated from Highland Park High School in 2000. She later graduated from the University of Texas.
She liked to exercise and jogged the Katy Trail weekly, family members said.
Becoming an organ donor was something Huddleston's family said she wanted. She even brought it to their attention when her grandmother passed away a few months ago.
A memorial service for her will be held Thursday at First United Methodist Church in Dallas.
Who would have thought that could kill you?  The thing is, since there are no cars, you run on the right side of the trail at all times, and the pedestrian trail is on the east side of the trail.  So if you're running south, you run with the bike trail on your right.  So when you get to a bridge, to be on the right side of the single mixed-use trail, you have to cross in front of any oncoming bicyclists, and then after the bridge cross back to get on the pedestrian trail.  I've never seen this be an issue. 

But clearly the problem here was the headphones (the biker's speed was also likely an issue, and I don't think anyone should bike fast on a trail used by pedestrians, children and pets, but all you can control is yourself, and for the runner the only safer things she could have done were to have signaled her movement and not worn headphones).  I almost never wear them when I run for several reasons -- largely perhaps because I run mostly with friends (so we talk and run), but also because I run on streets and it makes me nervous not to hear a car approaching.  But the only 2 occasions where I might wear an ipod are (1) during a closed course race with no spectators (like a local running club's 5 mile race) (I'd never wear them in a marathon b/c too many people need to (or want to) communicate with you and it's sad for the spectators cheering not to think you're listening to them), or (2) on this trail -- because there's no risk of being hit by a car.  I'm good about keeping the volume very low when I use an ipod on this trail, so low I can't hear the song well, but I always hear people approach behind me, or things people say -- I can overhear conversations of people I pass, so I know I'd hear a biker say "on your left."  But wow, even for people who run with loud music, you'd just never expect that this could happen. 

It's incredibly sad.  Carina's list of running safety tips:
  • Always run facing traffic when you run in the street
  • Never wear headphones
  • Consider a code-word if you run with another person (ours is a number you can use in conversation, and indicates that something or someone is out of place and/or potentially dangerous, so open your eyes)
  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Never wear all black clothing
  • Use those hand/arm signals we learned in driver's ed when there are others and you're making a turn or coming to a stop (I will put up my arm when stopping and tend to more point to the direction I'm turning, but same idea, anyone approaching will know I'm about to do something other than keep running straight ahead)