Thursday, December 31, 2015


My main Christmas question was ... why?

Specifically, why in the world would a company make and market a game called "Pie in the Face"?

And a related question -- why would my aunt buy said game for my nieces and nephew?

And a related question -- when we are playing a lovely game of Apples to Apples (which my niece had received), why would my brother bust out Pie in the Face and insist we play?

Thankfully, I only played two rounds and I "won" both rounds (i.e., no "pie" (whipped cream) in my face), but I laughed regrettably hard at seeing my husband "lose" both rounds (I honestly didn't think he'd even agree to play, but the kids wanted him to and he obliged without complaint), seeing my brother lose, and seeing my nieces and nephew laugh like crazy.

But still, horrible, horrible game.  Avoid at all costs if possible! 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Cookie Monster

Part of the reason life is so crazy right now (besides doing the work of two attorneys right now) is because we are flying home for Christmas this week Friday.

We had a lovely local Thanksgiving, then the following weekend we were both out of town (me in San Antonio for the marathon, husband in Pittsburgh visiting the 'rentals), and then there was this past weekend -- essentially the only "holiday prep" weekend available.  Next weekend we'll be in Milwaukee and there will be time to wrap the things I shipped up there and do shopping for a couple more items, and then we'll drive up north on Monday for the rest of the week. 

But only one weekend in town to do all of my "big four" holiday tasks -- baking, cards, shopping and wrapping. 

Most the shopping was done online already, so it's pretty easy to check that item off the list -- although of course the few things that remain to be bought really need to be done ASAP. 

I did manage to wrap the only gifts that really needed to be wrapped (my husband's, the others will be given after we come back to Texas and therefore can be wrapped later, or will be going on the plane and don't necessarily need to be wrapped now). 

As for cards, I managed to address envelopes to everyone who sent us a card last year and a few others.  I'd still like to do cards to everyone else we usually send them to -- but that entails buying more cards.  I still need to write out all the cards (I've always been one to write some kind of note, I honestly don't like getting the "envelope stuffed" ones that much), and put on return labels and stamps, plus I need to make labels for the backs of our photos that we enclose in most cards.  Yow.  But really, I could mail cards from Milwaukee and it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Baking is done.  The one thing that absolutely couldn't wait, didn't.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to divide up the cookies and put them on plates/platters for distribution, but that will have to happen tonight (since I want to give the 4 work plates of cookies while they're fresh, plus there's 1 running friend on the calendar tomorrow, and another holiday party tomorrow night to which we bring a plate). 

8 kinds of cookies.  This morning at boot camp, Megan asked me how many of those I ate -- I concluded 10, but I might have been slightly underestimating.  But they all met my stamp of approval. 

The sad part of baking was that this year, it was largely a solo endeavor.  My husband helped with the three that really needed it -- the kind that needed decorating, the kind that needed "urgent" work (quickly shoving marshmallows on top while they're partially baked), and the kind that are best done by fingers with very low heat sensitivity (arranging the wreaths, made from corn flakes, marshmallows and butter).  But for the other 5, I was 100% on my own.  Usually my next door neighbor comes over and we bake as a team, but she's in Italy all month!  Next year...

Below:  salted caramel cookies, oatmeal/white choc/cranberry, and brandy/white choc/cranberry:

Below, same but with the mint swirls and the decorated shortbreads (already in a bag):

Below are the no-bake wreaths:

And with the addition below of the hot chocolate cookies:

And a poorly lit picture of this year's experiment, peppermint meringues: 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Grimm no more

Relief is on the horizon at work.  My new co-worker started on Tuesday, and of the 115 extra cases I'm handling right now, I have given her 6 of them!  And I'm planning to give her 5 more this week. 

Last night I left the office after 8.  Oddly enough, I was grateful for it. 

I was grateful that I was able to put in the extra time yesterday to allow myself to "tread water" (i.e., maintain an even number of screaming emergencies that need attention in my in-box, instead of going home with a higher number than where the day started). 

I was also grateful that working late didn't mean leaving a lonely or pissed off husband at home -- he was at the office past 8 too.  Crazy stuff happening in his work world lately. 

I was also grateful that working past 8 is novel for me.  I had a job for about 7 years where I was in the office from 8:30ish until after 10 pm, and frequently after midnight, on a vast majority of days.  That was the normal there, and it wasn't all horrible (though I did gain weight and felt like my dating life was basically on hold), I made lots of good friends, got great experience, etc. (of course being paid well never hurts). 

And finally, I was grateful that both of our extra effort and hard work is noticed, and at least in my case, appreciated (probably in my husband's too, but we haven't discussed).  Yesterday at 7:30, as my husband and I touched base about when we were going home and what we'd do for dinner, both of our bosses were still working as well.  We decided to give it another hour and then touch base again.  In that hour, sometime around 8:15 maybe?, my boss left.  On his way out, he told me that he'd talked to our divisional president that day, and I've been approved to go with them to a conference at the end of January that I really wanted to attend.  Usually our company hates sending people to stuff like that -- lost revenue plus travel expenses -- so this felt extra special. 

But anyway, all that wasn't the point of this "short" post.  When I finally did get home, I heated up some food from the prepared section of the grocery store and sat down to watch TV while I ate and while I waited for my husband to get home.  I made a decision then, and then I waited until he got home to make sure he approved of my decision -- and then I deleted about 50 hours of Grimm off our DVR.  We just weren't watching it.  I hope I'm not missing out on some awesome show.  We liked the first season okay, but then never got back into it. 

Now our DVR has all kinds of space and it feels oddly freeing.  No pressure to clear it off (not that there was any pressure in the past, or that if there was, it motivated me to actually do anything about it). 

Not planning to add anything new.  Our current "regularly record and watch" list is:
Law & Order SVU
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (and any of his other shows)
Fareed Zakaria GPS
Amazing Race (my show, not "ours")

And our current "record but don't regularly watch list" is: 
Americans (not airing currently)
Bachelor/Bachelorette (not airing currently)
Tyrant (not airing currently)
Simpsons (rarely watch but still record)
Family Guy (rarely watch but still record)

The other show we're watching ... no surprise to people who know me in the real world ... Amazon Prime's series The Man in the High Castle.  Like it so far, only about halfway through the season. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This year I've been keeping a "grateful list" -- an old school journal started many years ago, but with remaining pages.  I couldn't bring myself to post something like this on FB, so many similar posts make me roll my eyes.  And it hasn't been convenient to post the list here (I write as I get in bed each night).  So the journal has worked well. 

It's been fun to look at the journal itself.  It keeps falling open to pages I wrote in 2007 on our trip to Europe when we got engaged.

But, in an effort to get back into the habit of blogging and bring things back up to speed, here's a rough run down of my current "grateful list" as I sit at my desk eating lunch.

I'm grateful that we got to go on an amazing vacation for most of October, enjoying time in the AndalucĂ­a region of Spain, all over Morocco, Southern Italy, and then a final day in Milano.  The trip was one of our best ever and we honestly had trouble on the flight home trying to decide what the "low point" was (I concluded it was getting ripped off by a cab driver in Tangier (charged us the equivalent of $7 when it never should have been over $2), husband concluded it was spending as many nights in Tangier as we did, considering it was actually our least favorite part of Morocco and the nights would have been better spent elsewhere). 

I'm grateful that I still have 2 vacation days to use over Christmas!  That means my "work remotely from Italy" plan worked!  It was 100% worth it to carry my work laptop all over creation with us.  The goal was to do 50% on a Wed., and then 75% days on Thurs and Fri.  Of course the very nature of vacation in my job means there's tons of stuff that builds up when I'm gone, and I was able to easily blow through tons of it.  I actually worked the equivalent of 3 full days I think, instead of the 2 full days I'd planned. 

I'm grateful that I have a lot of job security.  While I was on vacation, my co-worker (who just started in January!!!!) gave her notice.  And her notice was basically "I'm quitting in 2 weeks, but I have some unused vacation and floating holidays, so I'm out of here next week actually."  That was horrible.  Fortunately, we were able to recruit back someone who quit a few years ago, and she'll be starting next week.  It will take some time for her to get up to speed, but far less time than it would take with anyone else we could have hired.  So right now, my main excuse for not having posted since we got back to the US, I'm basically working double time.  I'm handling all my cases, plus all of my co-worker's.  It's impossible.  I'm not really "handling" them -- I'm doing more triage than anything.  All my major reporting deadlines are passing me by and I'm powerless to even make a dent into my "real" workload -- but for the most part, I haven't horribly dropped the ball yet as far as I know.  It's scary, because years ago, when I was hired, it was a situation like this -- I was coming in to take over for someone who had left the office a few weeks earlier.  And my old co-worker (the one who quit's predecessor, who is still with the company but in a different role) was basically managing a double workload.  And she inadvertently had a lawsuit go into default on her watch.  She was notified it was served, intended to retain counsel, but failed to actually do so.  Total disaster in our industry.  We were able to work around it in the end, but I feel like it's just a matter of time until I basically do the same thing.  It's impossible and unrealistic to manage this kind of caseload, so if/when I drop the ball, I have a feeling my boss will be forgiving.  I just hope it doesn't have dire consequences.

I'm grateful that I'm running.  I wore my ankle brace religiously on vacation.  As the weeks went by, I noticed a decrease in the amount of pain and swelling (though it's still a bit swollen).  By the end of the trip, I could walk for hours with no pain at all, unless I was on any kind of side sloped surface (think walking on a sidewalk, crossing a driveway that slopes down to the street).  I went for a follow up doc's appointment, and got the all-clear to start running (wearing a brace) as long as I was pain free.  Well, running in the brace lasted all of 5 minutes.  That thing was going to blister me like no one's business.  So I'm wearing the brace for boot camp, but I'm running brace-free -- trying to stay off all sloped surfaces (frequently running in the middle of the street; luckily, not many cars at 5:15 on the streets we run), trying to avoid stepping on any kind of rock or pebble or acorn or anything else that might cause my ankle to rotate out or in.  There's some definite medial (inside) ankle pain when I get over about 6 miles.  But the places the doctor said to watch for pain (and immediately stop if there was any) were all on the outside of my ankle and a bit into my calf (where the stress reaction or fracture is).  No pain there at all, so I'm proceeding.  I ran 13.1 miles this past Sunday.  Pace was terribly slow, and I definitely would have had trouble going further, but it's miles.  The plan is still to do a marathon next weekend (WTF????!!!).  Fortunately, it's never a marathon I intended to race.  It's a girls' weekend trip, and I may do the full with my bestie if she does it and our paces line up.  I don't care if there's walking involved, I'd just like to finish.  I read Amy's post about basically doing the same thing -- running a marathon severely underprepared, but just because she can finish, and because she likes to run.  And so many people can't and/or don't.  And that's basically my attitude.  I think the race will be fun, even if it takes 6 hours.  And I don't think it will hurt me to do it (if there's "bad" ankle pain, I'll absolutely stop). 

I'm grateful that we don't have to travel for Thanksgiving this week.  I get to keep up my longest streak race (huge local Turkey Trot (over 30k people I think), 8 mile distance for maybe my 12th consecutive year?).  We are going over to my former boss's house for dinner as we've done the last couple years.  And this year, I'm going to endeavor to make the main course for me and my friend (ex-boss's wife, my former co-worker in Big Law) -- the vegducken.  Butternut squash stuffed with an eggplant stuffed with a zucchini stuffed with scallions.  Looks labor intensive but we shall see...

I'm grateful my husband is feeling better.  He came back to some work chaos as well, and (my theory...) got stressed about it, wasn't sleeping well, etc., ended up with a weakened immune system and caught an upper respiratory infection.  He was down for the count for about a week (even took a sick day, which is rare for him).  He got better, finished off the steroid pack, and then within a week or so, he felt like he was getting the same thing.  He was considering going back to the doctor, but as of this morning, he thought he was actually around the corner, making a comeback, feeling better. 

I'm grateful some family drama has resolved.  It unfortunately began last week Monday morning, and continued throughout my nearly 100 hour work week.  Lovely.  The short version:  my sister-in-law was very upset because I had asked her kids what they wanted for Christmas the first weekend of October when I was up there for the marathon that wasn't.  And then I bought them what they wanted.  And it turns out that I can't return things on Amazon after more than a month.  And it turns out what they asked me for (and what I bought) is also what they wanted from Santa.  So she was freaking the f out about it.  Which was awesome given my work hours and stress level.  She was texting me all the time about it.  Unnecessary lost sleep for me stressing about it.  But we found a solution -- she is buying the gifts from me for the kids from Santa, and she is going to shop for new gifts from me and wrap them.  Win-win.  I told her my whole point was to be done with them (and a lot of the rest of my family) before vacation, buying as much as possible small items that I could wrap here and fly home with, rather than large things I'd ship there and then have to hurriedly wrap in the days before Christmas.  But I honestly don't think our relationship wasn't harmed by all this -- I'm not a quick forgetter or an easy forgiver unfortunately.  I'm left feeling kind of bitter and unappreciated -- there was no "it's so great you did all this to make my kids happy" and there was a nasty voicemail from her telling me I "just don't understand because [I] don't have kids".  But I shall try to let go and move on...  Either way, I'm grateful it's over, resolved, done. 

I'm grateful I finally got back to writing.  Just sitting here for half an hour, checking out of the office mentally, it's nice.  Not sure I'll ever get caught up on blog posts I missed while I was gone, but at least I'm back to reading, which is always what I've liked to do. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Travel oops

I had grand plans of scheduling posts about last year's trip to Nepal, India and Dubai to come up over the next few weeks while we are in Spain, Morocco and Italy, but alas, time got away from me. 

And to further complicate matters, I'm having trouble uploading pictures from my camera to the blog, so my revised idea of sharing just a photo a day is also scrapped. 

What can I say? 

Super excited about the trip.  We are about to leave for the airport because my husband's birthday is while we're gone and I got him what I hope will be a gift he'll love, but it will be enjoyed at the airport beginning in a couple hours. 

Tentative itinerary (we haven't really booked much, planning to wing it again as we did in India):

Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Grenada in Spain,
Then to Algicieras to take a ferry to Tangier.
Then Tangier, Chefchouen, Fez, Marakesh in Morocco.
Then a flight to Lamezia Terme (connecting in Milano).
Then about 6 days in Lamezia seeing my husband's family.
Then a day in Milano, then a flight home.

For the first time ever, I'm going to try to work while on vacation.  I scheduled 3 partial days of work while we're in Lamezia.  Kind of a trial run to see how it works -- if it goes well, maybe when we're back in 2 years, we can extend our trip a week or so without me using vacation.  And then eventually, maybe I can work there for a month, then a few months, then half the year!  That's a ways down the road.  I'm also hoping working partial days will make it less painful to come back to weeks and weeks worth of unread emails. 

Have a great few weeks!  By the time I get back, it should only be another couple weeks until I can run again (already trying to find the positive...). 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Shirt question

What are the rules on wearing this shirt?

I started the race but dropped out halfway through (my half-marathon time registered). 

I fully trained for the race.  I was in the middle of peak week when I fell (I had done my 22 miler, followed by a 9 on Tuesday of that week, had set out for 6-7 the day I fell, had 8 on the schedule for the next day, and an easy 5 on Saturday, then I truly would have been in taper mode). 

When I ran the San Fran marathon in July, the woman I bought the bib from on Craig's List wanted to keep the shirt.  I thought that was weird and a little ... unethical?  That might not be the right word, but it seemed disingenuous.  She knew at least a week before the race that she wouldn't be starting it.  I bought a shirt at the SF marathon expo and I wear it a lot (I like the color), even though my name doesn't show up in the official results. 
The photos don't show this shirt well.  It's almost a forest green colored shirt, with a blue-ish undertone. 
Anyway, what say you?  Can I wear the Lakefront Marathon shirt, even though I DNF'd?  Or should it just be a throw-away? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Two Halves

Two halves make a whole right?
Does it work that way if you're trying to be a 50-stater? 
Unfortunately, I'm sure the answer is no, but if it were yes, Wisconsin would be crossed off my list!
I had an amazing weekend at home and wish I had time to write more.  The bullet-point recap:
  • I worked from home on Thursday (home where I was born!).
  • Finished up around 1 (I had an early flight and had worked on the plane).
  • Went to my grandpa's house to see him and borrow his car.
  • Grabbed lunch from my favorite build-your-own salad bar.
  • Ate salad in the car on the way to Chicago.
  • Horrendous traffic the last 10 miles of the drive.  70 miles in about 60 miles, then 10 miles in about 60 minutes.  Ugh! 
  • Got to meet my new 6-week old niece! 

  • Went out for dinner with my baby bro, his wife, and the baby. 
  • Awesome pizzas.
  • Hung out with them most of the night, got to give my niece a bottle.
  • Worked all day Friday.
  • Dinner with family (including next youngest bro, his wife and their 3 kids).
  • Saturday morning tracking my friends running St. George.  Amazing results, tons of PRs.  3:03, 3:10, 3:20, 3:23, 3:24, 3:44, and on, and on!  They had great weather -- cold at the start, gradually warming up as they descended. 
  • Saturday morning at my nephew and niece's football game, which they won 50-0 or something, and during which I sat freezing in a chair, covered in blankets and coats, remembering why I'm so glad I don't live in Milwaukee anymore.  The best part was my niece who wasn't playing football -- she likes to play dog (who I've named Scout), and after she'd gotten her shots, barked, growled, eaten treats (pretzel sticks), gotten a ??? in her paw, and played fetch, she curled up on my feet for a little while.  I lamented out loud how maybe I'd have to go to the shelter so I could get a lap dog, she curled up in my lap for a long time.  It was warm (she's a little furnace) and I can't get enough of her hugs.  It will be 2.5 months until I see her again.  She just turned 6 a few weeks ago and I worry the "playing puppy" stage will end soon. 
  • Picked up my friend at the airport.
  • Expo (small, but well-organized) (best part was seeing 35 years of shirts and medals -- though they didn't have medals the first few years, then it was more like medallions for a couple years, then by the early 90s it was medals that have steadily improved over the years). 
  • Naps!
  • Cooked dinner at home, pasta and garlic bread, a little for me, a lot for my friend who was trying to break 4 hours the next day.
  • Early to bed, $hitty sleep all night.  I have no idea why.  I usually sleep like a rock when I'm alone back in that bedroom of my childhood (different story if my husband is there, it's a smaller bed than we're used to, and a creaky floor, so I hear when he gets up to pee).  I totally zonked out every other night, but the night before the race, as is usual for me, I was up almost hourly.  Either getting up to pee or just looking at the clock and worrying it was time to get up. 
  • Alarm was set for 4:50, and I woke up for the last time around 4.  Tossed and turned and then gave up on trying to sleep around 4:30. 
  • Drove back downtown and we took the shuttle bus from the hotel to the start in Grafton.  We ran into a friend from our training program in Dallas and got to ride with him on the bus. 
  • Pre-race inside the high school.  Bathroom lines were manageable, and there was no line outside for porta-potties for anyone who didn't care about indoor plumbing.  Sat on a staircase in the high school and we got organized and chilled out in the warmth. 
  • Race started.  The weather was thoroughly perfect.  Low 50s, overcast, amazing. 
  • I walked and after a mile or two, was almost at the very back.  I realized my plan of walking for a couple hours might not work since I could see the police car behind the last runner, and I realized maybe they enforced the 14:52 pace minimum from the outset. 
  • Tried to jog, realized I definitely cannot run, but found that I could do a 100% pain-free shuffle kind of thing, that was faster than walking.  But still allowed me to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Caught up to 2 guys talking and they said something about Texas.  That was all I needed.  I just invited myself into that little party.  They were doing 3-1 run/walk intervals, and their run was very close to the shuffle pace I found comfortable.  It was about 6 miles of awesome with them.  A first timer named Kimberly joined us for a couple miles of it. 
  • Around mile 8, just after we started on the Concordia University campus, Arthur stopped for the bathroom, Matt surged ahead to catch a few other friends, and Kimberly slowed down to walk more, so I was alone again.  I stopped to take some Lake Michigan pictures, so beautiful. 
  • Continued on solo about half a mile, then started talking to another person who was staying around my shuffle pace with no walk breaks.  Kathleen, a music teacher from Crystal Lake, Illinois.  We talked for miles and it was great.  Finally around mile 12, I was worried I was holding her back, so I took a walk break and wished her well.  She was hoping to break her 2014 time of 5:40, and I looked her up -- she did!  5:34!  Matt finished in 5:09, which was faster than I think he planned, but I'm guessing he felt great.  And Arthur finished in 5:48!  And he's 68!  I wasn't able to look up Kimberly, but hopefully she was also happy with the day. 
  • I made it to the halfway point, and while I felt good (and my ankle felt 100% the same), I dropped out.  The wisdom of friends (real world, blog commenters, FB friends) and my husband had sunk in -- keeping my mind on the big picture (future races, being healthy and able to move around in Europe later THIS WEEK (eeeeeek!!!!)).  I had been carefully watching my step (and I mean every single step, I spent most of the race looking mostly down), and part of me thinks I could have finished, but I respect the distance.  There's a big difference between a half and a full.  I think I was around 2:50 for the half, so if I'd stayed around the same pace, I would have finished around 5:40 (and therefore beaten my very first full ever!).  But of course, it was far from certain I'd stay around the same pace, and the idea of being out there for about 3 more hours did not sound fun.  I warmed up at times, but at other times, especially along the lake, it was cold and windy.  I'd pitched my long-sleeve shirt around mile 1, and about 10 seconds later, I went back to pick it up, realizing I might need it later -- good decision! 
  • At the half, there was a sweet girl named Allie who'd dropped out.  Felt dizzy, weird numbness, and her parents were coming to pick her up.  She was so disappointed in herself, and really down in the dumps, all kinds of friends and family had come to watch her and she felt like she'd let them all down.  Her parents were nice enough to pick me up as well, and we all drove to the finish together.  I tried to help her feel better, reminding her there would be a lifetime of races if she wanted, but that if she didn't want, there's no requirement to race to be a runner, or she could do races other than the marathon, or she could just do activities other than running, she has tons of options, and for her family, finishing 13.1 miles still seems like quite an accomplishment, even though it wasn't what she wanted, and they were still undoubtedly happy to have been there to see her run some and to support her. 
  • At the finish, I found my family and then joined the finish line crowd to wait for my Dallas friend.  Unfortunately, I saw the 4:00 pace group, and then 4:10, before I found her.  She finished in 4:12 and was a bit bummed about missing her sub-4 goal, but in great spirits anyway to have finished with one of her top 3 or 4 finish times.  She'll get it eventually, and she knows it. 
  • Quick showers, then we went out to Lakefront Brewery for lunch.  Beer, cheese curds, fries, and a grilled cheese sandwich.  I ate like I'd run the full!  Oops...
  • Then a trip to Leon's, for Wisconsin's best frozen custard.  I went with 2 dips (all summer long, during marathon training, I thought about looking forward to having possibly my first 5 dip cone ever, but alas, half the distance, half the scoops...).  Vanilla topped by mint.  Divine. 
  • We went to visit my grandpa one more time.
  • We went to see my brother and my niece "Scout" (who was acting like a human on Sunday). 
  • Then we went to the airport for pizza and beer, then flew back to Dallas.  My ankle and foot felt a little tight sitting on the plane, but I think my brace may have been a bit too tight, particularly since my foot may have swelled some in the air. 

An all-around wonderful weekend, even if it didn't include the highlight marathon that I imagined it would as recently as 3 weeks ago when I finished my 22 miler.  Oh well, better safe than sorry!  And if I'd kept plodding along as I'd considered, of course it's possible I would have hurt my ankle more, but it's definite that I wouldn't have had enough time after the race for the couple final family visits. 

And good news yesterday -- even though I got home late and got to bed very late, I woke up for boot camp Monday morning, and my ankle felt the same!  I had some very mild soreness in my quads (totally normal for me after a long run; while 13.1 wouldn't ordinarily be long, it probably is after 2.5 weeks off).  And now I'd say I'm totally back to normal.

If only Sunday's unofficial half (my time registered at the half mark, but I think the online results are only finishers; thankfully I got a results print-out at the finish line so at least I have my own little documentation), could be paired with my decade-old half time from the Journeys Marathon in Eagle River to count as one Wisconsin full.  Oh well, someday (assuming I go for 50 states, and possibly even if I don't, just for the convenience of racing near family), I'll be back. 

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon only had 3500 runners registered (it was capped), and only 2300 finishers.  Not sure if that's normal, or if maybe less than 3500 registered.  It was very well-organized.  The race director was walking around inside the high school before the race start, checking to see if anyone needed anything!  And as I feared, being toward the back of the race, the participants were very far spread out.  Normally, that might make me a bit concerned about staying on course.  However, for this race, at I think every single street that was not a private driveway, there was a volunteer with a flag, making sure we all stayed on course.  It was absolutely incredible course guidance.  And so many of them were encouraging, calling us by name (printed on our bibs), and telling us how great we were doing!  I still feel a little teary thinking about it.  So many nice people.  The course was pretty.  I wouldn't say it was flat, but there weren't any significant hills in the first half (and my definition of a "significant" hill probably encompasses things people in hilly places wouldn't even notice).  There were a fair number of spectators who'd come out from their houses to cheer us on, lots of cowbell!  The weather was a dream.  The pre-race buses were flawless, ample, easy.  Waiting inside the high school was great.  Looked like there was lots of food for the finishers.  I'll definitely consider it for my legit Wisconsin full some day! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Marathon Plan

Well, my hopes for a miraculous full recovery of my ankle weren't enough.  It's still swollen, but significantly less painful for the most part. 

The official diagnosis:  I've torn two ligaments (ATFL and C-something).  I have a medial sprain (which is apparently fairly rare, less than 10% of all ankle injuries!).  I have a "stress reaction" on my fibula (small bone in the shin).  It could already be a stress fracture, but my doctor can't tell, but it's also from the fall.

Prognosis:  cast has come off and I'm wearing this awful brace thing.  I'm free to be active as long as there's no pain, and as long as there's no inversion or eversion of my ankle (kind of redundant since there's crazy pain with the slightest inversion/eversion).  The doctor said probably no running for 8 weeks (though I was cleared for things like pool running and running on a special treadmill), but the doctor said I could walk until I'm blue in the face.  In 8 weeks, the doctor will apparently be able to tell if the two ligaments are healing properly.  If they aren't, then it's a pretty simple surgery to stitch them (and then more recovery time).  In 8 weeks, the stress reaction will likely be a full stress fracture if it's not already, or it will have subsided. 

So far...

The day my cast came off, I tried the elliptical. 

I likely overdid it.  Who would have thought just over 2 hours on an elliptical in a whole year was too much????

(Ignore the fact that it was over 2 hours after more than a week of full immobility on my leg and yeah, I hadn't been on an elliptical in probably 5 years before that day.)

So I strained a medial gastroc muscle.  That's territory I know!  I've never had to miss over a week of running due to an injury since I got hurt in October 2005 (and then I missed months).  But almost every year, when my mileage gets high, I miss a day or two of running due to fear of an injury, usually in one of my calfs (calves?  That sounds like cattle to me.). 

A few days of exercising more reasonably resolved the gastroc strain, so that's out of the picture now.

I also ran on a treadmill for just over 1.5 miles.  It was an Alter-G treadmill at a sports rehab facility.  Basically a normal treadmill, but you wear biking shorts with half a zipper around the waist.  You get on the treadmill and a big bubble thing is pulled up around the treadmill belt and up to the treadmill side arms.  You're then zipped into the opening at the top of that bubble.  It's a little like wearing a huge hoop skirt or something.   Then the bubble is filled with so much air you almost float off your feet.  It calibrates a few times, then you set how much impact you want, based on a percent of your body weight, from 20 to 100 (so 100% has just room air in the bubble, and it's like running on any other treadmill).  PT thought I'd maybe start around 65%, and they said if I got up to 95% without pain, I could probably run the marathon.  But there was pain at 65%.  And 50%.  And 45%.  But not at 40%!  So I ran at 40-42% of my body weight (I fluctuated it a little).

It was so-so.  I was so happy to be running and it was totally pain free, but wow, it was awful.  Alone on a treadmill and not even a TV to watch (well, there's a TV screen, but you're just watching 3 different camera angles of yourself running).  Insanely boring!  Made me think that I might not love running as much as I think!  Instead, I really love exercising with my friends outside.  The actual running motion inside on a treadmill doesn't hold much joy.  But I was actually elated for most of the run just because I was doing it.

So I don't know what it means for this weekend's marathon.  The doctor assured me that I would likely be fine walking for the better part of a day repeatedly in Europe and Africa, he said walking doesn't have any impact that concerns him, as long as my steps are on level pavement.  And the doctor said I could walk the marathon if I was so inclined.

The marathon pace requirements are 14:52 per mile, and that might be pushing it for me.  I walk with my neighbor sometimes and we usually hover between 15:45 and 16:15 per mile (I consider her a fast walker).  So I'd have to be faster than that. 

The most likely option I think is that I start the marathon, walk until I'm tired, bored, or the last person/behind the required pace, and then take the sag wagon to the finish.

I have a friend who gets here on Saturday and she's racing it, trying to do her first sub-4 ever (this is the friend I paced a few years ago to a 4:10ish PR).  So I would like to be able to go with her to the start and enjoy some of the race (they don't let you defer entry anyway). 

But I might also just watch, though it's not a spectator-friendly course. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Life Wheel

In something I was reading for work, I came across something about a "Life Balance Wheel."  It has a circle divided into areas of the person's life: 

Personal Growth,
Fun and Recreation,
Time Alone,
Friends/Social Life,
Health and Exercise,

And when I read that, it hit me -- running (and boot camp) is what fills a lot of my circles!

It's fun and recreational -- aside from travel, it's probably one of the most fun activities I do with any regularity.

It's one of the things I love doing with my husband. 

It's my time with friends and it's a big part of my social life.  I run/boot camp with many of my dearest fiends -- feel free to draw your own conclusions about cause/correlation -- when you run with someone, you spend hours talking to them every week, so you'd better hope it's someone you like.  I'm very lucky there, and I know it.  I don't spend tons of time on the phone with out of town friends, and the local friends I spend the most time talking to are definitely working out friends.  Sure, I'm emailing with people while injured, and people have stopped by to sign my cast and commiserate, but it's not the same as spending hours chatting per week. 

It's my health and exercise.  I have been trying to go to boot camp the last few days and just stay on my mat, doing abs and arms and stuff, but yikes, not really burning any calories at all.  I've been struggling to find any cardio I can actually do in this cast, but honestly, even if I found something, I'm not wild about it since I've noticed sweating in the cast is very uncomfortable and makes it even itchier. 

It's what I spend most of my "fun money" on, so I guess the financial part of my life is better without it?  Not really, since it's fun money and I don't really spend a ton on it. 

And in a lot of ways, it's where I feel like I set goals and have personal growth. 

So what now?????? 

I know there's a lot more to my life than running/boot camp, and I know with certainty I'll be back as soon as this ankle is healed, but right now, I'm mostly just crying in my beer at my own little pity party. 

Going to the doctor again this morning to get this stupid itchy cast off.  And I find out what's next.  Another cast for 8 weeks?  A brace of some sort?  Or (my hope, hope, hope), the "all healed, good luck in the marathon next weekend"?! 
Haha, wishful thinking.  It's still pretty sore and I'm worried about what the doc will say. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

He Said, She Said

Another quiz.  What's funny is that I actually have a few million blog posts I should write.  When I ran the San Francisco marathon, I carried my phone and took a bunch of pictures I can share.  And I went on a self-guided Breaking Bad tour in Albuquerque.  And I turned 40.  And I went to Pittsburgh to visit aging inlaws.  And I got to meet (and run and have breakfast with) Jennifer, from Running on Lentils -- in real life!  But life has kind of been kicking my butt lately!  Lots of miles on the road -- running and traveling for work.  And I'm just feeling wiped out.  So ready to taper.  (Heh, clearly written pre-ankle injury.)

But somewhere in the last month or so since I've been inspired to write, I came across another quiz when I was reading the Jen Chooses Joy blog.  And it was kind of a fun one, so I wrote out my answers, figuring we'd have some down-time in Pittsburgh for the AC to give his answers, so I wrote mine out, but of course we were busier than expected, so it took another week plus to do this.  Anyway, here we go! 

Directions:  First answer the questions about yourself.  Then, without ANY prompting, ask your spouse, boyfriend, partner, etc…these questions about yourself and write down EXACTLY what they say.  Husband's answers in BLUE and my answers (written first) in PINK.

1.  What is something your wife always says to you?
"Be present."  (When I tell him to ignore his phone.)
I love you!

2.  What makes your wife happy?
Being with friends and/or family

3.  What makes your wife sad?
Injured feet and legs (as I asked these questions, I just finished 22 miles and we are watching wrestling on tv while I sit with my legs on his lap and he's halfheartedly rubbing them) (now that I'm posting this, wearing my below-the-knee cast, waiting for more answers on Thursday about my leg, this would definitely be his answer!).   
Missing my family.

4.  How does your wife make you laugh?
I don't know.  Says funny things. 
Silly jokes or showing him funny FB memes.

5.  What was your wife like as a child?
Bossy and in my own world.

6.  How old is your wife?
40 and 2.5 weeks!

7.  How tall is your wife?
5’6″ (I laughed, then he said 5'5"?)
5’4″ (maybe 5'5"?)

8.  What is her favorite thing to do?
Plan and go on vacations and trips.

9.  If your wife became famous, what would it be for?
Running.  Or a famous lawyer. 
Probably losing my $hit and yelling and flailing my arms at inefficiency and waste  while someone stood by and recorded the whole thing (I had jury duty a couple weeks ago and the wounds of wasted hours are still fresh).

10.  What is your wife really good at?
Arguing.  It's your job.  You are good at it.  No arguing that. 
Arguing, negotiating and convincing (it's my job!)
For the record, I am totally appalled by the fact that we agreed on this.  Felt like a zinger! 

11.  What is your wife not very good at?
Barbeque-ing.  (I pushed for another answer and he said "sprinting.") 
Singing, and being patient. 

12.  What does your wife do for a job?
She's a lawyer. 

13.  What is your wife’s favorite food?
Macaroni and cheese. 
Too broad to just say cheese?  Mac and cheese, pizza, cheesecake...

14.  What makes you proud of your wife?
She's very smart.  And beautiful. 
My running.  He brags about me all the time, even if I'm disappointed with my performance in a race.

15.  If your wife was a tv or movie character, who would she be?
Someone on Law & Order (you wish you were)
I wouldn't mind hosting The Amazing Race.  In terms of a character, I always wanted to be Frances Houseman.  I also wanted to be Vivian Ward (but that was before I really understood the movie).  But I think right now, I'd most want to be Abby Carmichael (the ADA from Law & Order, I'd frigging love to look like Angie Harmon!), or Elizabeth on The Americans (it would be kind of fun to be a Russian spy living in the US undercover in the 80s).  I predict my husband will say Gillian Anderson from the X Files, since he thinks I look a bit like her. 

16.  What do you and your wife do together?
Boot camp. 
See the world, travel, cuddle, work out, watch TV.

17.  How are you and your wife different?
I like to eat animal flesh. 
I'm more of a planner and list-maker.

18.  How do you know your wife loves you?
She takes good care of me. 
I tell him all the time!

19.  What does your wife like most about you?
I don't know.  I think she likes pretty much everything about me.  Maybe that I don't like sports very much.  Except this (while watching wrestling).  Be glad we don't live in Iran.  This stuff is probably on all the time over there. 
His sweetness.  He's such a nice and good person, it balances me out.  I think we're a good team.

20.  Where is your wife’s favorite place to go?
Calabria in Italy!  If I had to be more specific, I'd say my husband's aunt's house in Lamezia (maybe on the little balcony off "our" room when we stay there), or in the piazza in Pizzo, overlooking the sea and the castle where we got married. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Down for the Count

Well ... for the first time in my life, this is my new look:

Ugh.  I made it over 40 years without ever getting a cast, and I decide to have my first one put on 2 weeks and 3 days before I have an out-of-town marathon on the calendar for which I am fully trained.

Here's the "before" when I was in the ortho waiting room:

On the upside, I'm lucky both my husband and my running husband chose purple so I didn't have to explain another color to one of them...

Doctor thinks it's grade 3 sprains (my ankle rolled in and out), but there are two possible breaks based on the x-ray.  He said the best thing to do was cast and immobilize it for a week, then we'll look at it again next Thursday when the swelling has gone down.

He advised I would not be running the Oktoberfest 5k that I love so much this weekend, and that he does not think it looks good for running a marathon in two weeks.  But he wouldn't say it was impossible.  He said he'd never seen anyone fully recover from grade 3 sprains in less than 2 weeks, but he couldn't say it could never happen.  I'm super strong and I think I'll heal fast. 

So I guess I'm just going with an extreme taper? 

No running obviously, and no swimming since I can't get the cast wet.  I might try a stationary bike or an elliptical early next week.  I think I need to do something, but the upside to doing nothing is that maybe I'll gain 100+ pounds this week and my cast will split open -- which will finally allow me to scratch my damn leg and point my damn toe!  Both of which I'm dying to do!

It hurts like crazy, I've taken a double dose of OTC sleeping pills all three nights with no luck, and I don't think I can stand it any more.  I should have asked for pain meds.  Ooops. 

This officially breaks my years-long streak of no significant running injuries. 

So if you don't mind, cross your fingers for a second and hope it's healed by the marathon and definitely that I'm not hobbling through Morocco a month from now...  (not asking for prayers, too many things far more worthy of prayers in this world) (can you tell I've been clicking on sob stories on FB to try to keep this all in perspective?) (honestly, I wasn't in PR shape and it's really not the end of the world). 

Thursday, September 17, 2015


So I went running yesterday morning in Philly and it did not go well. 

It started off wonderfully.  I was staying out in the 'burbs, so I ran toward Swarthmore College.  Tons of beautiful homes in the area, and running around campus so early was fun. 

Technically, sunrise was at 7:10 or something, and I set out a little before 6, planning to run about 10k and wanting to be back by 6:50 or so. 

It was not actually pitch black when I started running.  A combination of street lights and that pre-dawn light meant I could see just fine, especially after the first mile or so. 

It was COLD!  Temps in the low 60s, so (like any runner on the first fall-ish run) I wore long sleeves.  Totally not necessary, but ah, so nice to get to wear them and not be miserably hot.

I ran until about mile 3.5 and was getting ready to U-turn, thinking I would take a more direct route back to the hotel, so I'd be good on distance.
It was so pretty. 

Those were the last happy pictures.  6:26 a.m., both of them. 
I wanted to run just a little bit further and I realized the sidewalk I was on was leading to a public transit station.  I saw a sidewalk on the other side of the street. 

There were a few cars coming from my right, so I waited for them before crossing.  There was a car in the distance to my left, but I wasn't worried about it. 

As the last car passed, I stepped out into the street to run across.  And somehow I stepped on a single huge (softball sized?) rock in the road. 

I rolled my left ankle BOTH WAYS, if that's even possible?  I went all the way down and got some very slight scrapes on my knees and my left hand, but I think my ankle absorbed all of it.  I quickly crawled back to the grass so the oncoming car wouldn't hit me.  I sat in the grass for a minute.  I actually felt like I was going to pass out it hurt so much.  I tried to stand on it and I knew I was done.  No more running.  I tried to get an uber, but of course my phone wasn't working (100% operator error, I think I tried to turn off the wifi in the morning before I ran but I accidentally put it in airplane mode).  So I walked/jogged painfully back to the hotel.

Perhaps the worst part was crossing a very busy intersection -- turns out my defense counsel was driving through and saw me.  He said he almost yelled but he was worried I'd turn to see him and get hit by a car.  Just hearing that I could have been spared the misery of the last mile almost makes me cry.

Anyway, got to the hotel, got a bag of ice to put on it, and took off my shoe.  It was already very swollen and seems to be bruising a bit.  Owww.  This would happen 2.5 weeks before my marathon.  I'm hoping it's just a sprain.  I'm kind of a wuss and I don't think I could have gone about 2 miles on a broken ankle. 

And a picture of the swelling on the inside. 

I ended up settling my case in a hurry just so I could get on an early flight home.  I got to the airport, changed my flight, and walked right on a plane to Dallas.  They gave me bags of ice on the plane so I could keep icing, but it's ugly.  I sat next to a really nice guy and we ended up talking for a fair amount of the flight, which is so rare for me.  He's 61, married 26 years, 4 kids, youngest is a senior in HS now.  He was connecting in Dallas and heading on to Lake Charles, LA for work.  I had started working on the plane, but after about an hour, I asked him what he was reading, and that started the conversation -- he was reading a book by a friend to do an Amazon review for him, and then he told me about this friend, and we just exchanged stories for the next hour-plus about travel, people, family, everything.  So pleasant! 

As they made a final trash sweep on the plane, I asked if I could get a wheelchair when we landed.  I've never used one so I didn't know if you had to pay for it, or arrange it when you booked your flight or what, but apparently not -- you just let them know and they get it set up for you right then and there.  They ordered one for me, but when we got off the plane, while there were several wheelchairs, no one was there to push. 

The sweet guy I'd talked to for most of the flight had carried my suitcase off the plane for me and hung out with me while I was waiting for a chair-pusher.  He eventually asked the guy at the counter if he could just push me, and the guy said it was fine.  He insisted he had more than 2 hours before his flight and he didn't mind.  He pushed me to the tram that we took to the terminal where we parked.  And while he pushed me, he dragged my suitcase and briefcase with his other arm (I carried his briefcase on my lap).  We got to the terminal where I was parked and he was ready to push me all the way out to my car, but I insisted he stop at the security exit -- no telling what the lines would be like to go back in to security and I didn't want him to risk a mess.  It just kind of blew my mind.  And I never even got his name (though I know where he lives, the names/schools/future plans of his kids, names of his brothers, father's age, his surgical history, how he spent the summer when he was 19, what he thinks about Donald Trump, etc.). 

How in the world are there people this nice in the world still? 

Needless to say, no mile repeats for me this morning.  I slept late and I'm about to leave for the ortho.  I got an 8:00 appointment because I want to have it checked out.  And I want to hear from "a real M.D." (to quote Pretty Woman) that it's just a sprain and it will be fine in about 3 days... 

Fingers crossed! 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Done and done!

Yesterday was my last long-long run for the season.  22 miles, but they were glorious!  We're having a freakish cold spell here and it dropped down to 66 degrees and 56% humidity.  I felt like I could have run forever! 

I got to run in temps in the 60s last weekend in Pittsburgh, but there were hills there!  Haha.  It was actually a much easier run for me yesterday than the week before, which I guess is good as I get closer to the race. 

My big issue was that I need new shoes.  I have worn Brooks Glycerin forever, seriously, probably the better part of a decade -- with a couple flirtations with other shoes that turned out to be just flings. 

Well, my purple Brooks Glycerin 12s were getting worn out, so I went to buy more.  Not available at my local running store (and I always try to buy there first; as nice as online discounts are...).  So I just bought a pair of Brooks Glycerin 13s.  I switched seamlessly from the 11 to 12 whenever that transition happened.  I remember some bumps transitioning from 10 to 11, but I got used to them. 

The Brooks Glycerin 13s suck.  There's no other way to put it.  I talked about it with someone at the store and my problem is not unique.  Apparently they switched to a slightly thicker insert or insole in the shoe and when I get over about 9 miles and I'm sweating a lot, they bunch up.  It's insane!  And totally unworkable.

So I'm trying to both transition to a new shoe (going back to Asics Supernova I think), but I'm also trying to buy all available Glycerin 12s just to get me through the marathons on the calendar as of right now.  Nothing local, nothing readily available online, but after CALLING a Dick's outside of Philly, I found a pair and they said they'd ship to the Dick's right by my office.  And I found another pair at a running store in Washington state that they are supposedly going to ship (but as far as I can tell, they never shipped or charged me and it's been over a week).  So I wore my new Asics to run on Saturday, but back to my trusty worn out Glycerin 12s for my 22-miler.  I'll survive.  I might switch to the Asics more quickly than planned and start trying to wear them on all my weekday runs just in case none of the Glycerin 12s I tried to order ever show up.  I bet I could get one more marathon out of the pair I have.  And if I have any short weekdays under 8 miles, I could wear the Glycerin 13s. 

The rest of the weekend was lazy.  Extremely and crazily so.  It was lovely.  I was working in Austin last week, and Philly this week, so having some down time was nice.  I'm trying to think if I did anything other than run, nap, and watch Dexter.  I don't think I did! 

So one more intense running week, if I can survive, and then I'll really be tapering.  And one more travel week of work, if I can survive, then I'll be local until I go home for my race for 4 days, and then to Spain a few days later for vacation.  Unfortunately work is going to be chaos for the next couple weeks, but I'll get through it! 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Running Quiz

Saw this quiz at the end of June on Hungry Runner Girl's site, and thought it would be fun to answer.  Especially since I haven't had anything to say lately!  Things are ticking along, and life as a Master's runner is remarkably similar to life pre-Master's.  Going to Pittsburgh tonight for some time with in-laws -- and (more exciting for me) an IRL meet-up with a blogger!  (Details to follow.)

1.  Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail? 
Tough call for me.  Both sound great, but the whole point of the question of course is to choose.  I'll pick mountain trail -- the elevation sounds miserable, but it sounds like it would be shaded and wouldn't be hot, so that would be nice. 
2.  If you could choose the flavor of gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be? 
I'm not sure what this question is asking -- am I to invent a flavor or pick an existing one?  For a new flavor, maybe like a cucumber mint?  I don't really like cucumbers, but cucumber infused water is refreshing, and the mint would be nice.  And that wouldn't be sweet, which I think would be a nice change from all other gatorades.  Of existing flavors, the only one I hate is red.  My fave is probably orange G2, but the blue is good, so is purple, and yellow is fine. 
3.  If I gave you a $100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it? 
Shoes.  Especially since I JUST bought a brand new watch this week (need to post about that).  I should probably buy clothes since my stuff is all old and tired, but I always love fresh shoes. 
4.  Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run? 
Training plan.  Pretty religiously except on my two-three breaks per year (early May, overseas vacation, and Christmas/New Year's).  I usually have some "goal race" in October, and something else in April or early May.  Even if I'm not running that goal race hard, I'm on a training plan for it.  If for some reason I'm not on a training plan, then I'm still following one because I'm running with my buddies and someone is always on a training plan. 
5.  Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill? 
I'd rather start with the uphill.  It's hard for me to get going, might as well get the hill out of the way.  Plus, I love negative splits (though they often prove elusive for me). 
6.  When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do? 
We go to boot camp three days per week, if that counts as cross-training.  In terms of solo cross-training, none really, unless I can count Bikram yoga classes?  But those aren't solo either.  I've been thinking about getting a bike (my current expense wish list is doing an extra mortgage payment, revamping my everyday wardrobe, having cash money for our trip to Europe/Africa NEXT MONTH, getting lasik on my eyes, and buying a bike).  I'm also attempting to bump up my savings account with the expectation that I'm going to need to buy a new car soon.  So my answer to this question will hopefully be "biking!" if you ask me again in about a year. 
7.  What is your preference—  Out and back, point to point or loop runs? 
Point to point is first place, loop is second place, out and back is my least favorite (and, incidentally, what I do most frequently). 
8.  If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a: 
running buddy.  Keeps you accountable, can push you out there, keeps the runs interesting, safety bonus.  Is it cheating to pick that since it's not something you buy?  In terms of purchases, I'd say good shoes.  Spend the money there first. 
9.  Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs? 
Not really.  On rare occasions, we will see an armadillo.  That's probably the wildest and craziest thing.  We see rabbits sometimes.  There's also the occasional possum or a fox, once a coyote, and often dogs and cats (sometimes that appear to be stray or at least unattended).  I've seen some animals like deer and moose while running in other states, but nothing like that locally. 
10.  Ever gotten lost while out on a run? 
Yes.  Not often, but it's happened a few times.  Locally, if I'm lost, it's usually in the neighborhood by the J (Royal and 75), where I do my weekday training runs with friends from January to April.  We tend to spread out more those months, and it's so dark, and we have so many different routes in that area that are so unfamiliar to me, so I get lost there sometimes.  And it's a hilly neighborhood, so I get really nervous if I get lost!  Anything but extra HILLY miles!  I try to be a lot more careful about directions when I'm out of town so that I can find my way back -- so even when I found myself running in scary parts of Camden, NJ, I wouldn't say I was lost -- I knew exactly how to get back to Philly and to my hotel.   
11.  If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be? 
I'd probably pick a smoothie since I usually run in the morning.  Spinach, kale, frozen fruit mix, frozen beets, carrot juice, soy milk, Vega protein powder, chia seeds, and ground flaxseed.  It's such a pain to make it when I get back from a run and I'm dripping wet with sweat, so it would be nice to have that waiting.  In terms of a meal other than breakfast, I would like a huge salad waiting for me.  When I run home from work in the summer, it's so hot that I can't imagine eating anything warm and I'd love to have the perfect salad there waiting. 
12.  Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often? 
Shorts.  I have one skirt that I basically refuse to wear (I think I've worn it twice; not looked upon favorably by my friends, and I felt ridiculous).  I hate capris since I think it's silly to have a pant leg cut off at the widest part of your lower leg, but at the same time, they're usually more weather appropriate than tights or shorts for a couple months of the year here, so I do grudgingly wear them. 
13.  At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go? 
Usually about mile two.  Definitely at least two miles before track or speed work.  Ideally, I like at least 3 miles before starting marathon pace. 
14.  What do you do with your key when you run? 
On weekdays, I put it in a pocket in my shorts (another reason I hate capris, some of my capris don't have pockets, but if it's cold enough for me to wear capris, then it's cold enough for gloves and I just shove it in there).  On the weekends, I leave my key in the running store where we start and finish. 
15.  If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?
Boston, hands-down.  It was a PR at the time (and therefore a re-Q), and the crowd support and experience were unparalleled.  I had a bunch of friends running as well, which made it even more special.  Plus it was our second wedding anniversary and we were flying to Italy the next day. 
16.  What type of run is your least favorite type of run?
Perhaps the easiest question in this quiz -- progressive tempo!  I hate it, I suck at it, I frequently fail, and did I mention that I really hate it?  But I still do PT occasionally because I know it makes me stronger.  Fortunately, we're rarely asked to do PT in the summer.  So now I associate it with dark, cold runs in the neighborhood where I easily get lost, and that makes me hate it even more.  After many years of bombing those runs, now, when I see it on the schedule, I try hard to sandbag the first mile in hopes that it will help me to accomplish the goal.  It sometimes works, it often doesn't.  On the schedule I follow, when there is PT, it's usually a couple miles warm-up, then PT for 3-5 miles, then 1-2 miles cooldown, and each PT mile is supposed to be 15 seconds faster than the previous.  The way it usually goes for me is:  warm-up, then suddenly run fast, have a solid mile 1, then try to run 15 seconds faster, usually run about 20 seconds faster, then try to speed up another 15 seconds for mile 3, begin feeling like I'm failing, end up with a split matching PT mile 1, then try to speed up more (either back to mile 2 pace, or where mile 3 was supposed to be, or where mile 4 is supposed to be), fail miserably, walk until the split (the end of the PT), then run my cooldown, berating myself the whole time.  Miserable! 
17.  What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on? 
Knowing I'm meeting my friends.  If I ran solo, I could see myself snoozing, dawdling or blowing it off completely.  While I do have a marathon on the books in just about a month (!!!), the way I'm running now, I'd have to be insane to go for a PR, so it's just going to be a race like any other.  So that race doesn't motivate me at all, it's the people waiting for me, the conversation, the companionship, the shared laughs about a bet about how many people we'll see on the bike path and joking that the bet's loser has to feed Bobby his gu like a little bird (Bobby was like, hey, how did I get drawn into all this?  I don't want any of you bastards anywhere near my mouth drooling gu!). 
18.  When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start?
Drive almost 2 miles to start.  I run from home occasionally (maybe once a week?), unless you count my commuting miles to/from work, obviously 50% of my commutes leave from home, but those are junk miles, not my quality runs.  For quality runs, I'm usually meeting my friends and we all meet at a running store (or at our hill loop starting point), so I drive to get there. 
19.  When running in daylight:  are sunglasses a must or an annoyance?
Usually an annoyance.  Almost all my runs start in the dark, so sunglasses are just an unnecessary pain for the first part of the run.  I often wish I had them when it gets sunnier, but I actually don't really like wearing them.  Sweat drips on them, or they'll fog up if I stop for a light, or they'll bounce around.  Plus, now that I'm 40+, I need to really focus on squinting more so those wrinkles around my eyes will really start to pop! 
20.  When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting? 
Depends on the circumstance -- my OCD nature, my friends, or the fact that I'm still miles from my car.  On the roads, I can rely on my friends or being far from my car to keep me going.  At the track, it's pretty much all up to me.  This morning we had 4 mile repeats at the track.  First one was great (3 seconds faster than planned), miles 2 & 3 were dead even (and both 7 second faster than mile 1), and then I was ready to be done.  I convinced myself to run the first lap of the last repeat.  Then I pushed to get the first half of it done and considered taking a break and then doing another 800, but then I figured I'd aim for 1000 meters, then it was just 600 more meters and I just wanted to finish it, even though I knew full well I was slowing down and there was no chance I'd stick my times.  I finished number 4 solely due to my OCD nature -- just wanting to check the box on my calendar schedule and fill in my 4 mile repeat times.  Mile 4 was 4 seconds slower than goal (so 7 seconds slower than mile 1, and 14 seconds slower than miles 2 and 3).  I read my husband my splits and he thought it was great.  I kept saying the times weren't the issue, it was the order -- if I'd run time 4, then time 1, then times 2 and 3, it would have been progressive tempo basically, a negative split, a thing of beauty.  I'd have been thrilled!  But like I said, progressive tempo is hard for me!  But either way, all 4 repeats done, all pretty close to goal time.  Sticking it out today for the win! 

If I read your blog, feel free to answer these yourself, I'm interested in your responses! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I feel like I come up with a million things I want to write in my head, but then time slips away. 

Not much to report.

It's still hot here.  Very hot.  Even at 5 a.m., it's often over 80 when I run, and unfortunately this last week or so, it's even been over 80% humidity.  Brutal!

We actually had a gloriously cold morning last week Thursday -- mid-60s to start the run and then after we'd been going about 2 or 3 miles ... rain!  It was unbelievable!  I had considered wearing a hat but decided not to, hoping it would jinx me to have a wet face and it worked.  It was a hill loop day, and I hope I always remember how I felt on my first loop up Shook (for anyone in Dallas), about 2/3 of the way up, at the big break in the trees, when I turned my face straight up into the rain.  I wanted to sing it felt so good!  My friends kept saying things like they hoped it held for the weekend, but I knew better -- it was a gift from the gods to be taken at face value, a one-time gift, not to be repeated, and so I knew better than to even hope for more and just tried to appreciate the one blessedly cool and rainy August morning.

I was definitely right.  By Sunday morning for my long run, it was miserable.  Perhaps even more humid than before, but regardless, it felt about 100 times worse. 

So no surprise that I had one of the worst long runs to date this past weekend.  It was supposed to be 17 miles with 5 at pace.  I did about 9 miles easy, then started my pace work.  A bit too fast on the first 2 miles (8 seconds, then 14 seconds), but both miles were slight downhills, and close enough for government work.  Mile 3 was about 26 seconds too fast, which is well outside my acceptable range.  And at the end of that mile, I was toast.  I slowed down by more than a minute on that next mile but per the data, my heart rate didn't drop at all.  Yikes!  And then the following mile was another 30 seconds slower and my heart rate still didn't come down!  Aye, aye, aye.  A lot of people struggled that morning, so I had plenty of company on my suck bus.  There was some walking involved, but more than that, there were lots of pitifully slow miles (at least by my current standards for myself, likely perfectly acceptable in another decade or so). 

I admit I was not set up for success going into the run.  I was the victim? recipient? beneficiary? honoree? of a surprise party the night before.  My husband is so bad at secrets that it was quite surprising this worked.  Apparently during many of my business trips of late, he's been having dinner with my local bestie to plan it.  It was awesome.  Out-of-towners, party favors, table decorations, and all.  I was shaken and touched at the same time.  It was a fun night, despite the fact that I was probably alone in my level of sobriety -- he was convinced it was fine since there were other runners at the party; he failed to realize they are all training for marathons much later than mine and had significantly fewer miles the next day, starting 30 minutes later than me.  Oh well, I'm not complaining.  It was so much fun! 

So that's it from here.  Ticking along.  Working.  Work traveling (though no work travel this week or next!).  Eating out and celebrating far too much.  Running.  No complaints! 

Friday, August 14, 2015


My dream last night (well, as I'm writing this, the dream was last night; at my current pace, it will take forever to post, especially if I add a couple pics from my phone of City Hall, which I really intend to do):

In my dream, I flew into Philadelphia and we landed early, which was good because my flight was scheduled to land at 10:33 and our settlement conference was starting at 10:30. 

-- This part of the dream is actually based in reality.  I have another commitment on Sunday night this weekend, so I am taking the first flight to Philly on Monday, which leaves at 6 a.m., and lands at 10:33.  That sounds good, but I actually need to be in Philly on Monday for a court setting at 10:30 (my defense counsel should be able to cover it and stall until I get there).  It is no surprise I'm dreaming about this since I'm nervous and uncomfortable about being late for a setting, but it was really my only option given my personal Sunday night obligation that is a very high priority, and the judge has indicated I cannot appear by phone.  I'm crossing my fingers that my flight really will land at least 15 minutes early so I'm not very late. 

Back to the dream.

I got in a cab at the airport.  The driver was male for the driving part of the dream and female for the end part of the dream.  The airport was on the north side of the city (not true in reality) and the driver was taking me into Center City on some C-curve looking side street on the map on my phone that was west of the most direct route.  This was fine because while taking the highway straight south was more direct, I could see on my phone there was lots of traffic on the highway, and the side streets he was taking definitely seemed faster.  I was so happy the driver was getting me there quickly.  The driver was telling me about some neighborhood we were going through and how it was initially mostly Polish immigrants, and I could see some of the signs had Eastern European type names.  (100% dream, nothing I remember seeing in the dream was anything I remember from Philly, and I know of no such neighborhood there.)  While taking this western curving route, the driver was still going toward where I needed to be.  In the dream, I had a message from defense counsel telling me exactly what corner intersection was closest to the court's entrance. 

-- In reality, just last week, I had a settlement conference in Philly that was at City Hall, which is a huge (and beautiful) building in the center of town, but only has one open entrance, with no big sign, kind of tucked in one of the many caverns alongside the building, which means a ton of walking in heels if you don't know which side of the building has that entrance.  That hurt.  So it makes sense that I would ask counsel where would be the best possible place for a cab to start when I know I'm going to be late.  City Hall in Philly, as I saw it last week:

Back to the dream.

Our cab pulled up to the courthouse and then I realized the meter was off.  The driver (female now) had a swipe credit card machine on the front seat that was showing a lot of gibberish (not true in reality, all Philly cabs have a thing on the partition where you swipe your own card).  She asked if I could pay cash, and I said I couldn't because it was work travel, so I am required to use my corporate card, but also because I didn't have any money with me (both usually true in reality).  Well, she got the credit card machine to work and she said the charge was $611 or $621 (I can't remember which).  In reality, it's always $28.50 from the airport (south of the city) into Center City. 

In the dream, I was trying to politely and hurriedly dispute the charge because I really liked the driver, and I'd been planning on giving him/her a $10 or $20 tip anyway for avoiding the traffic and getting me to court so fast.  But I was saying that it had to go on my card, and it couldn't be more than $30 not counting tip, and that $600+ was not right. 

In the dream, the driver ended up coming into the courthouse with me because we still hadn't figured out payment and I had to try to find which courtroom we were in.  The dream courthouse was nothing like any courthouse in Philly or elsewhere that I know, I guess it kind of looked like I foggily think of Grand Central Station looking from movies and maybe 1-2 times I've been there.  Anyway, in the dream, when we were trying to find the courtroom, I was really worried about how I was going to sort out the charge.  And then I woke up to pee. 


What does that mean? 

When a dream starts, does your subconscious already know where it's going to go and how it's going to end? 

Why on earth would I dream about a $600 cab fare?  Especially when it's work travel, and honestly, I've never had a charge get bounced, so if it really was a $600 cab fare, then it really was $600 and I probably could have put it through. 

Am I worried about someone somewhere somehow trying to overcharge me?  But what?  No purchases come to mind, and I'm actually more flush right now than I have been in years probably thanks to a bonus that is presently sitting in my checking account (haven't spent it yet -- likely just doing boring things like IRA, extra mortgage payment, putting some in savings, etc., but right now, it's just there). 

I guess that's my big question -- when I fell asleep and started dreaming about this upcoming trip, did my brain already know it was going to end with the $600 charge?  Or do dreams just unfold as you go? 

I suppose it's quite possible no one knows.  But since I so rarely remember my dreams and this one was so bizarre, I figured I'd share.