Friday, October 1, 2010

What pays the bills

If anyone is interested, you can see what the hubby is working on - his research is his passion and it also helps to pay the bills.  :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Little Runner

Because I am determined to be the coolest aunt ever and I have this crazy need to spoil my niece, I buy her every cute thing I see (do not tell my husband)!! This weekend I ran across infant running shoes and I had to buy them. Could.not.resist!!! Cute little Saucony Pro Grids in size 4 (9-12 mo). Her first running shoes. Seriously, how freaking cute?!?!?!

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

If you build it...

...they will come.  Funny how that little quote applies to a lot of different things, like say, building medical centers.  I'd like to know when Health Care Reform will include hospital reform and not just insurance reform.  It really does go both ways.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Whole Family

Found the picture of the whole family from June!  I miss Grandma.  I was supposed to be seeing her this weekend.  We usually make the trek once a month and this weekend was when we planned to go...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Missing Grandma

Grandma with Todd and I at our wedding, January 2004
This weekend is my first Grandparent's Day without a grandparent.  I've always made sure to celebrate Grandparent's Day.  The day symbolizes the importance of grandparents and the wisdom they pass on to their family.  It's true.  My grandma was the matriarch of the family and was always teaching us something.  But, my grandma passed away this week.  I just got home from her funeral.  It was a long two days, but I know she would have loved the service.  It was a perfect celebration of her life.

Her health has not been good for some time now, but every time she took a turn for the worse she always found a way to bounce back.  Last weekend, she fell and her body couldn't take the stress anymore.  She passed away on Monday, September, 6, 2010.  She was 91.  It was not a surprise that her health was not good, but it still didn't make the call at 2:30am any easier.  I think it took about 5 minutes for me to register what had happened when my parents called.  I didn't cry right away, but once I did, I couldn't stop.  I didn't really sleep the rest of the night.  I was thankful Monday was a holiday because there was no way I would have been able to go to work.

The visitation was from 6-8pm on Thursday and was a steady stream of people.  My grandma had so many friends and family.  Friends she has known for 30 and 40 years.  I guess that is what happens when you live almost your whole life in the same small town.  Friends from church, her bridge club, her birthday club, PEO, her school where she retired as secretary many years ago.  Family came from as far as Massachusetts.  Family friends traveled from several hours away, too.  Most that are 91 tend to have small funerals as they have outlived much of their family and friends.  Not my grandma - she has friends from every generation.  I knew most of those that came through from seeing her so often and even going with her to birthday club lunch or dropping her off at bridge club and meeting her friends.  It was neat to hear some of their stories.  One friend has lunch plans with my grandma for next week.  She is still going to go and celebrate the day by thinking of her.  Some of her friends are probably feeling as sad as the family.  Friends she has traveled with and shared holidays with over the years.  So many people came through that I was exhausted by the end of the night.  But, my grandma looked good and would have loved that so many came in her honor.  After getting something to eat, we headed back to Iowa to stay with Todd's parents.

Friday morning before the funeral was a little stressful.  Todd's parents live about 30 minutes from my grandma.  The funeral was at 10:30am and I left their house at 9:20am.  I've done this drive hundreds of time to go visit my grandma.  We come up every month or two and I always come see her or pick her up for a holiday celebration.  What I didn't know was the amount of road construction that had been set up since I was up to see her in August.  There were three spots where the road was down to one lane.  The road is a 2-lane highway and it is pretty much the only way to get from Iowa over to Illinois, so it is busy.  The drive took me an hour, due to stopping to get through the construction zones.  I was a wreck.  Todd, my brother's family, and Todd's parents were all several minutes behind me.  I walked into the church and broke down.  I was frazzled from the tense drive, upset to be so late, worried about the others getting there, and freaked out knowing that would be the last time I would make that drive.  Ever.  I cried when I got the call and cried at the visitation, but I just started crying uncontrollably at this point.  My mom had to take me to the bathroom to calm me down. 

The actual funeral service was beautiful.  My grandma would have loved it!  It was the best funeral service I have ever been to.  I laughed and cried the whole time.  My grandmother's friend of 30 years gave the eulogy.  At first I was upset about this.  My mom had asked if I would say something and agreed to do so.  However, she later called and told me that one of my grandma's longtime friends would speak.  I felt strongly that someone in the family should speak, but on the flipside, this was perfect.  It would have been too difficult for a family member and this friend did a fabulous job describing my grandmother.  It was the perfect tribute.  Another friend from my grandma's church sang two solos, both of which she had requested years ago.  He was amazing.  I was also upset about this at first because I wanted my sister-in-law to sing.  But, it would have been hard for her and he did such a wonderful job.  The minister did a great job on the sermon, too.  I have the audio from the service, which I need to digitize so I can listen to it again.  The coolest thing is that my 5-month old niece was asleep in her car seat between my brother and I.  She sleep like an angel the entire service and kept smiling in her sleep.  I am not sure what she was dreaming about, but we think grandma was talking to her in her sweet dreams.

My grandma loved dark chocolate M&Ms.  We always brought her some whenever we visited.  We found several bags when we were cleaning.  She always had a bowl out for herself and any visitors.  It was her trademark - everyone knew she would have some when they came to see her.  So, we put some in her casket and had them out in bowls at the funeral service.  My mom also had the M&Ms graphic printed on her memorial pamphlets.  I think she would be surprised that we did this, but thought it was neat.  She always liked neat, cutesy things like that.

The burial was short, less than 10 minutes, and my niece stole the show.  It could have been a sad time, but those that gathered there couldn't help but focus on my niece.  She was in the cutest outfit, in the best mood, and my mom was holding her as the minister gave the final blessing.  She was smiling at everyone and we all joked afterward that grandma would have been watching her sweet face had she been there, too.  It really made me think about the circle of life.  Lily only 5-months old and my grandma 91 years old.  My grandma got to see her twice since she was born and loved every minute of it.  (In fact, in the eulogy, her friend said she was worried at one point that she might only ever have great-granddogs.  There are 6 dogs between 6 grandchildren.  LOL)  The luncheon following the burial was a good time to see more family and friends and eat more M&Ms.  :)

It was harder than I thought it would be and am still worried about several relatives and friends.  She meant so much to so many people.  She was a truly special person and treated her friends like family and spoiled her family.  She did so much for her church and the community.  I miss her already.  She has been with me for many holidays the last five years, especially every Thanksgiving.  It is going to be hard not having her there this year.  While I wish I could talk to her one more time, I am thankful I did get to see her so often despite living 6 hours away.  So, for those that still have living grandparents, hug them if you live close or call them if you live far away.  Wish them a Happy Grandparent's Day and let them know you are thinking of them.  As one of my friends told me, they are very special people.  I wish I could call my grandma this weekend.

My family at Lily's baptism, June 2010 (minus Todd beind the camera)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Going to see my niece!

I just want to squeeze those thighs! Love them!!

YouTube Video

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New freezer!!

This is our brand new 21 cubic foot upright freezer! Now, I'm sure most everyone else could care less, but I love it. And better yet, we got an amazing deal! It was marked down as a scratch and dent model. You can hardly tell and this is for our garage anyway, so who cares!! We pointed out a bunch of dents and asked for another $50 off. The same model new is $650 and we got this for $450!!!

I have so much room and no more digger through the chest freezer to find something! I've frozen a lot of stuff garden to cook with this winter. Yep, 9 gallons of tomatoes, 8 quarts of rhubarb, 9 quarts if zucchini, just to name a few things!

I love my new appliance!!

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Injured, Part 3: Why everything sucks (right now)

See previous posts in my saga at:
Part 1
Part 2

This post is several weeks late.  Why?  Well, I've been busy with my more than full time job, taking a masters class, and teaching an undergrad class.  Oh, and the more I think about it, the more sad I get.  You know how they say writing makes you feel better because you get it all out?  Not so much for me.

So, the verdict is in. No running. For at least 3 months.

Ticked. Pissed. Upset. Sad. Depressed. Let the countdown begin!!

That about sums it up in a few words. I was expecting the news, but at the same time, it was still shocking to hear. Going from 35 miles per week to 0 miles per week for the last month and a half has been horrible. Another two more months takes my breath away. Literally.

The good news is that there is no stress fracture.  The bad news is that I'm still injured.  While there are several things the MRI turned up and we'll watch, the biggest issue is tendinosis of the hamstring. Basically, I have a torn, battered, and barely hanging on hamstring in my left leg likely brought on by overuse.  Tendinosis is very different from tendinitis.  Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendon and it is easily treatable with a few days or weeks of rest.  However, tendinosis is actually damage to the tendon to the point where it cannot heal itself.  While I am usually not a fan of Wikipedia, the difference between tendinosis and tendinitis is explained well in layman's terms:  There was some concern over torn cartilage where my femur bone comes into my hip bone, but after seeing another specialist, he is not worried about it right now.  I am not having any pain or symptoms from that, so it's just something to keep an eye on over time.  But the hamstring issue is still a big issue. 

I take pain pretty well - I don't complain much and tend to run through it.  No pain, no gain.  Right??  But, then there's just some pain you know is bad...very bad.  And, you can't run because it is so painful.  That's where I am.  And it sucks.  Besides no running, I also am banned from swimming, speed walking, etc., while the tendon heals and regenerates.  So, I'm pretty much a bump on a log this summer.  Right now, I am going twice per week for microcurrent and ART therapy to hopefully heal the tendon faster. 

We'll see.  Currently, it is looking like the next time I can run will be in late September or early October.  Thankfully, I had no big races planned for the fall.  I've been riding the exercise bike about 4-5 days per week and weight training (arms and abs) about 3 days per week.  But, I've lost most of my fitness at this point and am pretty much going to have to start over from scratch.  I just keep thinking about how frustrated I am right now and how even when I get out to run how it is going to be slow going and frustrating on a whole different level.  And that assuming it all heals without any issues.

(I feel like instead of filing these posts under running, it should be under lack of running...)

Monday, August 2, 2010

3 Birthdays, 1 Weekend

What do you do when you can't run and have a weekend free of races? Visit the family and eat cake, lots of cake.

We visited Todd's family in Iowa this past weekend to celebrate our niece's 4th birthday (a few weeks early). Todd's brother and grandmother also had birthdays this weekend. So, we did a lot of family meals and had every kind of cake possible. It was all good. Especially all the icing.

My grandma only lives 30 mins away, so I spent all Saturday afternoon with her. She was in the hospital last week and is now on oxygen. It was hard for me to see her labor in breath so much. So, hopefully she will get used to the oxygen even though she doesn't like it.

For the rest of the weekend, we had a great time playing with our nieces and nephews. Swimming, basketball, coloring, and all the other fun stuff. It is always relaxing to just play for awhile. When I was visiting my grandma, Todd went shopping for our niece's birthday gift. It was rather comical. First, Todd sent me a text asking if a 4-year-old could have a goldfish and tank. Then, he sent me a text saying that he bought her a dress instead. I about fell out of my chair laughing. I later found out that it really wasn't a dress, but a short set. It actually wasn't too bad, but definitely not a dress. I asked him if he got a gift bag, but he said it was already wrapped - because his mom wrapped it for him. LOL

Just in case, I stopped and bought he some school/art supplies I knew she would like, including a princess pencil bag. An "aunt" gift. It was a huge hit. She carried it around as a purse all weekend and slept with it. Too cute!

The weekend was not incident free.  After a family lunch with Todd's grandma in the nursing home for her birthday, we didn't have any water to wipe our niece's face, which was covered in icing.  Todd, in his infinite wisdom, decided to moisten a napkin with milk to get all the icing off.  It was rather funny.  Hopefully she didn't spell like spoiled milk later on.  I also inadvertantly gave my niece a fat bloody lip.  She ran into me while running around and fell on the wood floor before I could catch her.  I felt awful, especially when I saw the blood mix with tears!  But, she was fine and it appeared to be nothing serious.  Phew!  These are just a few of the incidents that happened.  Thankfully kids are resilient!!

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Injured, Part 2: Why MRIs suck

In order to figure out my injury, I was sent for a MRI. Of course, to get it approved by insurance, I had to get x-rays first. I'm all for preventing unnecessary medical tests and procedures. But, at the same time, everyone knew the required x-rays would not show a stress fracture or any other soft tissue injury the were expecting. So useless!

I've never had a MRI before and I wouldn't wish one on anyone. I had no clue what to expect and found out about the test only 18 hours ahead of time, so wasn't able to research much. Anyway, I arrived and the techs tried to stuff me in a tight tube as soon as I walked in the door. I made them stop and explain everything to me. I don't think many people ask questions, so they were quick to answer. But I was persistent. You need to know what they are going to do, right?
Having a leg injury, I wanted to know they were taking images of the correct leg!!

Anyway, I had a scan if my pelvis and lower back area. I spent 30 minutes in the tube for the first scan. Not too bad - they gave me music, had my bad leg propped up, and I was positioned so my head was slightly out if the long tube. I definitely felt less claustrophobic that way.

They pulled me out to reposition me for the second scan. That was a disaster! I had a lot of pressure on my back, so it was sheer pain. I got very hot and I was having a hard time staying still. I started freaking out at the end. I was thankful to be pulled out, but learned I would have to go back in for a few more images! At that point I was in so much pain, I started tearing up. The tech put some props under me to take the pressure off my back. When it was over, I was covered in sweat and so happy to be done!

I was happy to get the test done to know exact what problems exist, but MRIs suck!

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Truck!

Todd got a new truck...finally!  He's been talking about getting a truck for about two years now.  We finally pulled the trigger once we found out he got tenure.  It was like a little present to himself!  I don't mind at all because I love the new truck - a 2010 Honda Ridgeline.  The reason I love it so much is that the CR-V was so uncomfortable to ride in.  I got carsick every time we sent somewhere, and it wasn't only me.  Other passengers complained when riding in the car.  Also, with the truck, the dogs will be able to ride along with us without being physically in the car.  This means no dog stench or dog hair in the car.  I had to prep people for riding in the car.  It was not pretty, nor did it smell pretty.  The dogs will ride in dog boxes in the back of the truck.  That deserves a whole other post, but the dog boxes are popular among hunters as a way to haul dogs without having a truck topper.  Some people call the Ridgeline a girly truck because of how it looks.  All I know is that is rides awesome and I will take my heated leather seats in the girly truck over the uncomfortable bench seat of every other truck out there!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Heat Wave

It's hot. While I hate working in a job that keeps me inside all day everyday, this heat is too much. I'm thankful for AC.

When it's this hot we carefully watch the dogs to make sure they don't overheat. They are outside almost daily for a major part of the day, but on days like this, we let them come in and take a break from the heat. Also they have their own kiddie pool and about five water bowls. Oh, and a cool spot dug out in trench-like fashion under our back deck against the foundation of the house. Yes, that is not an approved method but what can you do? It gets dug out again as soon as we fill it in.

I was out in our front yard with the dogs and Lucy found a cool spot next to some new landscaping. Good thing I rank her as one of the best dogs ever because she should not be in the bushes. LOL

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Injured, Part 1: Why injuries suck...

So, long time no post.  This summer has been a little busier than I thought.  Unfortunately, I was hoping for a nice relaxing summer, but no such luck.  Between my more than full-time job, taking a grad class, and teaching an undergrad class, I spend about 18 hours per day in front of my computer.  It sucks.  My only relief from the glaring computer screen is running.  My one true passion, hobby, and stress reliever in life.  I am not super competitive, except against myself.  But, I like to think I am a decent runner.  Over the years I have been slowly chipping away at my race times and that makes me happy.  However, in the midst of my summer madness, my running has come to a complete halt and I am bummed more than words can express. 

After my crazy spring running adventures, I took a few weeks off from really running.  I ran a couple of short runs here and there, kept up my weight lifting routine, and generally took it easy the other days.  This worked out well as I was at the end of taking a grad class and needed to focus on the final project anyway.  After that ended, I started to ramp back up for the July half in California I had signed up for.  I was so excited about the Napa-to-Sonoma Half.  It was going to be my first destination race.  I was excited to see that part of the country.  Also, the hubby is a huge wine freak, so I thought this would be a great way for him to enjoy the trip, too.  A definite win-win for both of us.  Then, about a month before the race, I ran my worst 10-miler ever.  Seriously.  I cannot describe that run other than it was hot, I was dehydrated at the end despite water stops every 2 miles, and I was way off pace.  So far off I can't even look at my Nike+ stats for that day without gasping at the disaster that it was.  I chalked it up to a bad day.  It was the hottest run I've done in years and every runner has bad days.  However, the next day I woke up and could barely walk.  The shooting pain down the back of my leg was horrid.  I had never felt that much pain before.

I remember trying to get out of bed and wonder if I would be able to walk to the bathroom.  At first I thought I slept on it wrong, but as the day went on, I knew it was something more with my left leg.  I tried a short 3 mile run thinking it was just a tight muscle and circled back home after 2 miles.  I was in pain.  I got right in to see my favorite sports doc at Bloomington Sports and Wellness.  Seriously, Dr. M has healed my aches, pains, and knee ailments for years.  He knows I am a freak about running and always gets me back into shape quickly.  After I saw him one time, he restricted my running immediately.  Yep, injuried.  Definitely injured.  I saw him several more times each week still with no running.  After much rest and me going crazy, he finally said I could rest two more days and then go for a test run.  Nothing crazy, maybe a 5k, and let him know how it goes.  He had done ART on my for several sessions, I was having no pain, and I was hoping to get back out there and run!

To say it went bad is an understatement.  I left my house and actually felt pretty good for the first half mile.  Then it all hit at one.  Pain shooting down the back of my leg.  At this point, I was a week out from the half in California.  When I first went in for treatment, I still had a goal to run the race.  After a couple of sessions, I let myself think I would be able to run-walk the race since my training time had been cut short.  After this trial run, I came home in tears.  I cried all day as I realized I would not be able to do this race.  We had everything arranged, plane tickets, hotels in two cities, rental car, race day prep, and excursions all lined up.  We even knew another couple from Bloomington running the race and planned to meet up with them for dinner and winery tours post-race.  I was so excited for this break from life and a chance to do my first destination run.  We had decided to make a vacation out of the trip no matter what happened with my leg injury.  However, I immediately knew we would have to re-arrange our trip because I wasn't sure I could handle being near the race that I had registered for without being able to run.  I wanted to cheer on our friends, but at the same time I knew I would not be in a good state of mind.  I don't mind spectating races, but spectating a race you were prepared to run is a whole different story.

After much discussion and crunching of numbers, we decided it wouldn't be the fun trip we had hoped for and decided to cancel.  Why not save the money for something that would be a fun time.  We were able to cancel everything with no penalty, except for the plane tickets.  But, we have a year to use them after paying the change fee, so it isn't a total loss.  I was also able to sell my race registration to a pretty cool guy.  After I posted on the race Facebook page, I had like a dozen people email me about buying my entry.  I ended up selling it to a guy who was buying it for his wife to run.  They are both runners and are also opening up a winery.  They have the coolest business model in that all profits they make are donated to charity.  How amazing are they??  Anyway, we went back and forth several times even after we transferred the money/registration around.  He said I should stop in to them if we are out in the area soon.  So, my shameless plug for a super nice guy:  Be sure to check out the website and wine of Bruliam Wines.  Not only are they really cool people, but their website is awesome and I love their catch phrase.

Anyway, I digress.  After going back to the doc after the horrid run, he took one look at me and sent me to have a MRI done.  He wouldn't treat me and sat me down with the bad news, a possible stress fracture.  While I pray it is not this and not some other serious injury, I was not surprised to hear this.  I had done enough googling to know it was a definite possibility.  The doc, not meaning to be funny, mentioned that he knew my body and it was not responding to treatment.  It's true, though.  I've been seeing him for about 5 years and I trust what he is telling me about my injuries.  So, he arranged for an MRI of my sacrum, SI joint, and bottom discs of my spine.  Something is going on in that area of my body.  After the horrid trial run, my pain has been persistent and the shooting pains are happening more often.  So, he wanted to get a good look at the whole region.

So, after the short version of the long back story, I circle back to why injuries suck.  I run an average of 30 miles per week.  Lately, I've run 3 miles in 4 weeks.  Yep.  Let's just say I have been really down or really on edge.  Recall, this is my stress relief and my stress levels have been high this summer!  On top of that, I have missed all of the local 5ks in our race series, and instead of being in California to run  the half I have been looking forward to since I registered 9 months ago, I sit at home typing this blog waiting for the results of my MRI (blog on that to come later).  The other thing that really has me down is that all my friends are pretty much runners.  July 5th was the start of training for fall races for most everyone.  So, everyone is busy training, making running dates with friends, and blogging out how great their training is going.  I love hearing about all this and I love supporting them in their efforts, but not being able to participate really gets me down.  At this point, I still don't know what exactly is wrong or when I'll be able to run again, so I trying to stay upbeat is becoming more difficult.  I am hoping the tests will show something so that I can develop a treatment plan with the docs and move ahead.  That is the one thing that is helping me get through right now.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

4th Fun

Somehow I took no pictures on July 4th. Probably because we celebrated on the 3rd. That was the night of our local fireworks, so we had some neighbors and friends over for a cookout. There were 15 of us, including 6 boys under age 5. It was hot out, so we actually spent more time inside than out. We hauled out the Darth Vader Mr. Potato Head and turned our Jinga game into building blocks. Yep, those are the only kid toys we own!

When it got dark, we headed out to catch the fireworks show. It was definitely not that great, especially compared to previous years. I'm assuming the budget was low this year, which is understandable.

In general it was a nice day to relax after the walk and parade in the morning. We didn't do anything on the 4th except finally mulch our flower beds, which badly needed to be done!! It was nice to have an extra day to catch up. Between working, teaching part time, and taking a class, it was much needed!!

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

View from the back

Back of the pack, that is.  I haven't had much time to blog, but I also haven't been training much.  Much might actually be too generous.  I haven't been training at all.  An injury to my leg has totally sidelined me, two weeks before a major race.  Not only was I behind in training due to my schedule and the weather, this added a major wrinkle.  I haven't run at all and have been going to the sports doctor every few days to have it checked out and "worked" on.  He isn't sure exactly what the problem is and feels I have several contributing factors.  He suggested I not run, so I haven't even set my feet to the pavement for over a week now.  It has been hard for me to follow the doctor's orders, but I have been seeing him for years and he really knows best when it comes to telling me to stop, take it easy, or go full steam ahead.  So, instead of running, I have been doing some walking.

I had already signed up for a local 5k race over the 4th of July weekend.  In addition to no running, he suggested I not speed walk, swim, or pretty much do anything that would use my legs.  Since I pre-registered, I decided to go, take my dog, and walk at a very slow casual pace.  The morning was great - overcast and cooler.  Perfect for a summer run!  To say I was jealous of the runners is an understatement.  It took everything in my body to keep me from running.  A lot of runners got PRs as the course is one of the flatter ones in the area. 

I started at the back of the crowd with Lucy.  We took off rather slow and took our time on the course.  I think it took about 18 minutes to walk the first mile.  The whole time I kept thinking about what I would be doing if I were able to run.  To keep my mind from wandering to running, I started trying to talk to the walkers around me.  I definitely had some interesting observations from the morning:
  • Most of the walkers were new to walking a 5k.  I passed several discussing the actual mileage of a 5k.  I reminded one couple it equals 3.1 mile.
  • Many of the walkers were shocked to hear it took them 18 minutes to walk the first mile.  I guess they thought the race was about half over, and then they realized they still had several miles to go.
  • Most of the walkers go from conversation to conversation.  No one seems to care if you join in a conversation as you are passing by.  I talked to several different people for just a few minutes as I passed them or they passed me.  This is different than runners.  During a race, runners don't talk to each other.  Instead, runners focus on their race at hand and think about things like pace, hydration, strategy for getting a PR, etc.  There isn't a lot of back and forth with those around you.
  • Lots of walkers bring their kids.  This is totally cool and I would do the same thing, but if your kid isn't happy and you are walking, 3.1 miles is a long time!  There was one little girl who screamed for 2.5 miles.  It was loud, she was unhappy, and there was nothing her mom could do but keep going until the end.  It was funny because everyone kept commenting on how she was STILL crying as they passed her after the turn-around point.  I never understood why some events included a 1-mile family fun walk.  I now completely understand the need for this event category.
  • Walkers do not really cheer for runners.  I was yelling for a few of my friends as I watched them pass me.  Some were doing really well and I wanted to show my support.  The walkers around me looked at me like I was crazy when I called out to the runners.  I don't think they really know how to encourage the racers.
I noticed a few other things along the way.  In general, the race was good and I am glad I went.  It was a nice way to enjoy the morning and see some good friends.  However, I am hopeful the next time will be to run a running race (in the words of Sam Clarke).

Friday, June 25, 2010

Patio Construction

So, we've needed a new patio since we moved into our house 5 years ago. We're finally getting a new one this summer. Long story, but getting this done has been a process. We had the estimate done in April thinking the work would happen in May. Well, the last week of June it is finally happening. However, not without issues getting what we want. The patio will be flagstone, but I wanted brick. I'm a fan of matching things in design and the firepit we had installed will not match the patio stone. Yeah, another long story I won't go into here. Ask me some other time. The patio was laid today but the company does not have the sealer to put over it. It won't come in until next Wednesday. Nice. One would think a contractor would have all supplies on hand to do a job. We planned to be gone with our dogs after the sealer was applied so it would dry for 2 days. Now? Well, I'm really not sure how we are going to keep the dogs off the half-done patio, keep it dry, and them keep them off for another 2 days after it is applied. That involves a whole week if making alternative arrangements. Yeah, super mad. Let's just say this is how the whole job has gone. I will never use this company again. It's my own fault. I had a bad feeling from the start and got the name of another good company. I never called the second company. Stupid me.

At any rate, here are some pics of the process:

Old patio is gone.

Leveling out for flagstone.

New firepit. I love having fires and with the cost of adding this, we will be using it lots!!!

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Sneaky Dogs

Due to some work being done on our house and the extreme heat, the dogs were in the house for a few hours Friday. Todd was home most of the day, but had to leave for a few hours. The dogs have a crock full of at least a dozen toys, but Todd got them out a new one to keep them busy and from destroying the house. We keep a stash for them in a bench in our entryway.

Apparently, they decided to find some other activities to keep them busy...

Here is the bench as Todd found it upon his return home. I am guessing Murphy was able to use his nose to lift up...

After opening the bench, they (I'm assuming both dogs participated in this part) hauled toys all over the house with tags and all.

Who, us?? We are innocent! It is hard to be mad at them, especially since they didn't do anything too horrible. Such sneaky dogs!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Thin Skin

So, I apparently have thin skin. For the third time in a row, I've had skin ripped off when getting my eyebrows waxed. This has never been a problem before?!?! I was told certain make-up and face creams can cause the skin in this area to thin. Not sure if that is true or not, but I don't wear make-up and only use Aveeno face lotion. So, that can't be it. Either way, it is super noticible!! People at work kept asking what happened to my eye. Between that and the Neosporin I keep slathering on to prevent scabs, I'm sure people must think I am a freak! I hope it heals fast!!!!

Running note: I have a feeling this is a running related injury. I'm serious!! I think when I sweat while running, I wipe my eyes and forehead so much that I have irritated my skin. Thus, the skin is sensitive, and is coming off with the wax. Yuck!

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Storm Watcher

This is my neighbor's house before a bad storm last week. I snapped this picture with my iPhone. The quality isn't great, but it definitely captures the amazing clouds and straightline winds. We only lost the grill, which was lifted off the deck by the wind.

I sent this picture to my neighbor. We are both on Twitter and this made it around quickly. Eventually it got to Jim Cantore at The Weather Channel. They had the picture on TV the next morning. How cool is that? We were both already at work and didn't have a chance to set the DVR. But, I do feel like a certified storm watcher now!

Running note: Right before the storm hit, I saw a woman out running. I don't think she made it home in time. Hopefully she learned to always check the weather before heading out!!

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The importance of the ponytail

Maybe it is just me, but I feel like every female runner knows the importance of the ponytail.  It is pretty much required to survive training and racing, right?  Who wants to have hair flying all over the place or flapping in your face while running?  Definitely not me.  And that is where this story/rant begins.

I hate having any hair in my face while running, working out, or playing any sport.  It is one of my pet peeves.  The other pet peeve is little short pieces of hair sticking to the back of my sweaty neck and making me itchy.  I hate it!  Every time I go to get my haircut, I give my hairdresser the same story, which is pretty much along these lines:  When you are done, my hair must fit in a ponytail.  If that means erring on the side of leaving it too long, so be it.  Seriously, I am not going lie, I say it every time.  So why is it that my hair is too short every time I leave the salon?!?!?  Literally, every time.  I either get a bunch of hair falling all over the place because the hair dresser decided to add new layers, or they left me a nub of a ponytail.  Ummm, a nub that doesn't stay in place and is too small to really wrap a ponytail holder around is not a ponytail!  This happens to me EVERY time. What about my very direct above statement is there not to understand??

I've thought about this over the years.  I generally wear my hair medium length.  It looks better short, but I have to have a ponytail, so I keep it longer for that reason alone.  I think I have come to the conclusion that the hair dresser knows my hair looks better short and wants me to leave the salon with a great style showing of her great talent.  But, I do not want style, I want functional.  Functional is the most important part of running, whether it be the hair or the running gear.  It may look cute, but if it doesn't get the job done, then who wants it?  Cute shorts that chafe?  No thank you!  Shoes that cause blisters?  No way!  Hair that is uncontrollable while racing?  Never!

I see lots of girls with shorter hair running and I admire then for being able to run without the ponytail.  I can't do it and I imagine most other female (or males with longer hair) can do it since I see so many ponytails along the course.  So, here I sit, waiting for my hair to grow out from the nub to the official ponytail yet again.  I've got my headband in to keep the loose pieces from flying everywhere.  At least I am not holding hair down with bobby pins and my running ear band like last winter.  That was a disaster!  Here's hoping my next cut is better and my hair dresser will actually do what I ask (and pay) for...

As a side, I have switched hair dressers several times and it always turns out the same - shorter than I asked for.  No, 1/4 inch does not mean 1/2 inch.  Ugh!  The good news is one of my favorite old hair dressers is back in action locally, so I am going back to her next time around.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Running Shoes Retired

I retired my running shoes from this spring today.  It was sad to see them go on many levels...

I am making room for a new pair already purchased and another new pair on the way.  All of them - retired, new, and in transit - are Asics Gel Nimbus 11.  I love, love, love the Nimbus 11.  I think I am on pair #4 at the very least.  The shoe is light (they have decreased the weight over previous versions), very cushioned (I am all about a soft shoe), and they work well for people with high arches (me! me!).  So, I have been buying them over the years.  I think I started with the Nimbus 9, went to the 10, but the 11 is my favorite so far.  I figured I would be in love with the 12 after all my experiences.  I ran out to get them the first week they were available, but returned them after wearing them around the house for an hour last month.  Awful.  I hated the fit.  The shoe seems longer and narrower.  I always wear a 9.5B in Asics.  I have for the last 5 years without any deviation.  Since the Nimbus 12 had such a different fit, I ended up trying a couple of different sizes and widths, but it just didn't fit right.  So, in my psycho addiction to the Nimbus 11, I ran out to buy a pair and then decided today I should order a backup pair to my new pair.  Yes, I am a little crazy about a shoe once I find one I like.  I had to scour the web to find a Nimbus 11 in my size as they are now discontinued and out of stock many places. Sniff. Sniff.  But, I found a pair.  Ironically, from my favorite running shop in Illinois - Body N' Sole in Champaign.  I didn't even think to check their site, but it came up in my google search.  Awesome!  It is a great locally owned business if you are ever in the area.  Great store, great people, and good prices.  It definitely was not in the color I wanted (pink - bleh!), but in running, the shoe is more important than the look.  As my dad used to say, it is not a fashion show out there.  True.  Very true.  Anyway, I ordered the shoe at 6pm tonight and got an email at 7:30pm that the shoes had already shipped with a UPS tracking number.  (And that is why they are such a great store!)  I took my new pair for a test run tonight to break them in.  A very quick 3-miler before class.  It was so hot out there.  It's that time of year where you have to peel off your running clothes when you are done.  Yep.  Gross.

I am also saying goodbye to the shoes that made it through three half marathons, a marathon relay, and a couple of 5ks.  Not to mention all the training involved.  They were great in the snow, on the ice (with my yak tracks hooked on), and in the rain (including the downpour of the IU Mini).  My estimate is that I covered about 405 miles in about 4 months in this shoes, maybe more.  Definitely my constant companion!  They also helped me get a half marathon PR and my 5k PR.  But alas, these shoes were worn beyond their years.  I don't think I have ever let a pair get so broken down and also continue to run in them.  For some reason, I know I need a new pair of shoes whenever I start getting knee pain after running.  I've had that pain for a couple of weeks now, but haven't wanted to give these guys up.  (Well, honestly, I haven't wanted to wear my new ones out in all of this rain and crappy weather.)

I shipped them off today to the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe Program.  They recycle old shoes (any brand) into surface material for tracks and playgrounds, as well as use some of the materials in their clothing line.  Yes, I do realize that Nike is making money off my old shoes.  But, they were way too worn out for a shoe donation program.  I wanted to recycle them and Nike offers that type of program.  I would much rather they do good with the shoes (money or otherwise) over having them sit in a landfill taking decades to break down.  Runner's World did an amazing article called The Runner's Footprint a few years ago.  It talks all about the impact of running shoes and the sport of running on the environment.  It is definitely a bigger imprint than I thought.  So, until there is a more sustainable shoe that I like, I either donate or recycle every pair of old shoes.

Goodbye to my old running companion.  Thankfully, I have a couple more of the same to keep me going!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

5k PR!!

This past Saturday I ran in a 5k. This race was significant for a couple reasons. First, this is the first short race I have done in a very long time. Second, this is the first Mag 7 race (local race series) I have done this year. I have missed so many this spring!

This was a new race in town - The Firefighter 5k. It started and ended at the downtown firestation. It was an out and back course that included a water stop at another firestation. Minus the fact that the course was super hilly, it was a great race. Definitely well organized and very fun hanging out at the station.

The morning was overcast with temps in the upper 60s. Good for running except it was rather humid. I ran near a girl I know. I tried to beat her but she had a better kick at the end and beat me by a second! Ugh! I am not good at sprinting at the end of a race. I finished in 24:58. This is my new 5k PR time as far as I can tell from some of my old race times (still trying to complete my whole list)!! Finally, but barely, in the 24's!! This is good for me, although I am not sure I can sustain that especially in the summer races. I am not good at running in the heat at all. I just don't adjust well to the humidity and have a hard time catching my breath when the air is so think.

Normally, a race that good would get me points in the Mag 7 race series. But the competition was tough, especially in my age group! I didn't get any points, but the turnout was huge, which is great for the series.

It is definitely hard to go from longer runs to shorter runs. My legs are used to trying to pace myself over longer runs.

My friend Andrea and I post-race.

Chasing after my friend Mandy's son post-race.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lily pics

I took a break from running any races to watch my sweet niece, Lily, at 1 month old. I was her first babysitter over the weekend while her mommy and daddy went to a Cubs game! She was an angel the entire time!

She ate, had a blowout diaper with clothes change, and then slept for 2.5 hours. Not too bad for her first sitter! :)

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fanatic #421

That's me!  Fanatic #421!  I am not sure how, but I somehow stumbled upon the coolest group every - Half Fanatics!  Half Fanatics is a group for those of us that are half-marathon crazy.  I consider myself one of those people.  I don't have huge issues training or running in a half marathon.  I can do multiple ones in a short period of time and I enjoy running them.  Now, marathons are a different story.  I have a slight interest until I start thinking about the time committment and the toll on my body.  Then I quickly lose interest and figure out the next half to sign-up for.

Anyway, to be a part of this group, you have to qualify.  They have several different categories for qualification.  After doing some research, I realized I met the minimum criteria to get in and applied for approval.  Minimum or not, who cares - they accepted me.  I'm in and it is still cool!  I got in by doing 3 half marathons in 36 days.  I also had some other races in there that didn't count, too.  I'm not gonna lie, the races were hard and I was tired by the end of that period.  But, getting into the Half Fanatics kind of makes the effort a little more worth it!  So, #421 it is!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Indy Mini Race Report


I went into the Indy Mini this past weekend with no expectations.  My friend Mandy and I both signed up for the race and wanted to finish in under 2 hours.  Since this was my fourth distance event in six weeks, I was tired.  Dead tired.  I had yet to meet my goal of under 2, but after the long week of work, school, and other things, my legs were feeling like heavy lead and I was just wanted to be done.  In fact, the whole way up to Indy the morning before the race I yawned and complained about being tired.  So, at that point, I set my goal to just finish with a decent time. 

I couldn't sleep the night before the race, which is unusual for me.  I had even taken some Tylenol PM to help me sleep, but it didn't work.  I tossed and turned until about 2am and was up again at 4am thinking it was time to go.  It was a little early to start getting ready so I laid in bed for another hour and got up around 5am.  I did my normal pre-race prep and because it was cold, even took a hot shower to warm up.  We headed up to Indy and battled the traffic trying to park downtown.  It would be helpful to have police directing traffic, especially considering all the people who have no clue where they are going, which makes things even worse. Thankfully, we decided to preserve and parked in the garage near the post-race party.  With less than 30 minutes to start time, we hit up a local hotel to use the facilities, stretched for 2 mins (yes, I know this was not good, but we were running super late!), and made our way to our corral.  Thankfully we had both submitted other race times and qualified for a seeded corral.  We were in E, pretty much behind the elite people.  It was nice to be up front because when the race started it only took us a minute or two to get to the actual start line and we had to waste very little energy weaving around people.  In years past, before I had a seeded spot, I was all the way back and it would take 10-15 minutes just to get up to the start line.  So annoying!!

Once we got going, Mandy made sure I didn't start off too fast (definitely a problem in the last race).  We ran together for the first couple of miles.  The weather was very cool (somewhere in the 40s) and overcast with gusts of wind up to 30mph. Minus the wind it was actually ideal running conditions.  I was actually feeling pretty good and avoided the wind by staying in the middle of the pack, so I ran ahead a bit and then we split up around mile 4.  I was cruising along until somewhere around mile 5 when all of the sudden I ate cement.  Yes, I was running along, taking everything in, checking out the signs for the upcoming water station, and keeping my pace when all of the sudden I was on the ground.  I apparently hit an uneven piece of concrete that I didn't notice and went airborne before landing on my left hip and skidding across the road.  I don't know how, but I was not seriously injured in the fall, nor did anyone trip over or trample me.  I also don't know how long I was down, but it wasn't long.  Before I knew what was happening, someone had reached down, picked me up off the ground, and set me on my feet.  He asked if I was okay and I was able to nod before he took off down the road.  To the guy in the red shirt who pulled me off the group, THANK YOU!  I don't know who you are, but you definitely helped a klutzy runner girl out!  As I started jogging again, I could feel a lot of pain in my left hip.  Since I could see the water station ahead, I decided to jog to that, get some water, and walk through the station to see how I was feeling.

I decided that I felt okay and would just keep going at that point.  I was definitely banged up, but the pain seemed to subside as I kept on running. Miles 6-9 include 2.5 miles around the Indy 500 Speedway.  Normally this is the worst part of the course for me.  When the sun is out, it is like all of the heat is trapped in the cement in metal the racetrack is made of.  In the past, I have always crashed about this point because the heat would do me in.  This year, the weather conditions were great and I had no problems.  In fact, I think I ran a couple of my fastest miles on the track.  I didn't even feel like I had done the whole track, but before i knew it, we were back on the streets of Indy.

Miles 10-11 are pretty boring as you run back toward downtown through a lot of run down areas.  Things start to pick back up around mile 12 as more friends and family line the track to cheer on the runners.  This is probably my favorite part of the course because there is actually some crowd support (very little support on other areas of the race) and you head back through the IUPUI campus and downtown, which is a lot prettier than most of the other parts of the course. 

All along, I knew I was keeping a pretty good pace.  I wasn't able to start my Nike+ on time as we crossed the start line and I wasn't sure how long it took us to get from our corral to the start.  So, at each mile I looked at the race clock and tried to estimate my mile splits as a way to stay on track knowing the actual time was not really correct for me.  While I was running on the track around mile 8, I knew I was on target to finish under 2 hours if I could keep my current pace.  So, I kept reminding myself to run my race and not worry about the others around me.  As I got to miles 11 and 12, I started to get a little tired, so I walked through the water station at 11 to give myself a little rest.  At that point, I knew I had 20 minutes to complete the mini, so a few seconds of walking wasn't going to set me back too much. 

When I hit mile 12, I knew I had at least 10 minutes to complete the last 1.1 miles, but I was getting pretty tired.  Worry started to take over, but I just tried to keep my pace and a positive attitude.  I saw the signs as I ran along showing there was 3/4, then 1/2, and finally 1/4 of a mile left.  But, I couldn't see the finish line.  I was so confused.  I finally got to the finish and my only clue it was the finish were the people ahead of me who abruptly stopped and started walking.  As it turns out, the wind blew down the finish line banner and metal scaffolding the night before, so they did not put it back up for safety reasons.  Makes perfect sense, but it was very confusing and this is my 4th Indy Mini.  I am sure all the newbies were really confused.  Anyway, I was so concentrated on figuring out what was happening at the finish that I missed seeing the clock as I crossed over the sensors on the ground.  As soon as my feet crossed the last sensor, I hit my Nike+ and heard a time around 1:55.  I figured that couldn't be right because I started it late and my previous best was just over 1:57 and I didn't think I could run anything faster than that.

After collecting my medal and grabbing some food and water, I headed into the post-race party to meet up with Mandy and others at our designated spot.  I couldn't find the tent we were to meet at and ended up stumbling upon one of the official race tents.  I decided to stand in line and get my official time.  I got to the table and the guy entered by bib number and printed out a label with my time.  I took one look and about freaked.  1:54:46, an 8:46/mile pace.  Holy crap!  I could not believe I my time.  I made sure it said my name and bib number and it was all there.  I was literally walking on clouds.  I had beat my personal best half marathon time by 3 minutes. Saying I was pumped is an understatement.  I don't know that I will ever repeat a time this good in my life, but coming in this much under the 2-hour mark, is a huge accomplishment for me.  I am not the fastest runner, but I do try to train well and eat well (minus all the candy I somehow inhale between the salads I eat).  I will definitely remember this race forever!

After I came down off my high, I finally found our meet-up tent, but none of my people were there.  I waited a few minutes and still no one.  I decided to walk around a bit and come back.  I did that and waited some more, but no friends!  I was starting to get nervous, so I decided to head back to the car just in case.  I had the key and new the parking spot, so I figured it couldn't hurt.  Plus, I was freezing!!  I had run with a long sleeve shirt I later tied around my waist.  I put that on and had a pair of gloves I had worn at the start.  Thank good because it was freezing and the wind was gusting!  I grabbed my pants, fleece, and phone from the car.  After a few texts with Mandy, we decided that we must have missed each other by literally a minute.  Ugh!  But, I was able to grab some clothes for her and go back to meet her at our spot.  We didn't stay long at the party.  I would have loved to walk around and explore everything, but it was so freaking cold!  Unreal!  We headed back to the car which was parked about as close to the finish as possible (thankfully) and headed home to take a nice hot shower (yes, I know this is like the worst thing you can do post-race, but it was freezing!).

Mandy and I post-race (yes, I was lame and refused to take off my warm clothes for a photo).

My usual list of observations:

  • The Indy Mini course is not that great.  There is not much crowd support except at the very beginning and the very end.  Also, there is no crowd allowed on the track and they substitute with local high school cheerleaders.  A nice touch, but not the same as the average crowd support.
  • I feel like there was a lot of Gu at this race.  They were everywhere and I had to dodge them to avoid getting the bottom of my shoes all sticky!  While I was unable to avoid the uneven concrete, I was apparently able to avoid a zillion packets of Gu.  It just seems like more than any other race I ran this year.  Personally, I hate the stuff.  I've tried it all, including a package of sport beans during a race without any practice runs with them.  Yeah, that did not turn out well.
  • There were lots of people running in just a t-shirt and shorts.  While this would not normally be an issue, I cannot imagine running in anything other than technical running gear.  I probably have more tech gear than anything else.  I could never run in a plain old cotton t-shirt that doesn't breathe and weighs 5-lbs after only slightly sweating.
  • The post-race food at the Indy Mini is crappy!  I've been to a lot of races and some 5Ks have better post race food than this.  I understand they have a lot of people to feed, but a banana and a cookie after 13 miles is not much.  The Illinois mini had bagels, pasta, pizza, candy, pretzels, cookies, rolls, etc.  It was a ton of food and it was all yummy!  Not so  much for the Indy Mini.  (Yes, if you serve candy at your race, I will be there because that is how I roll.)
  • On the other hand, I will admit the Indy Mini has the best water stations.  They are very organized, well marked, and there are lot of them along the course.  That is much appreciated and probably more important than the post-race food. 
  • Running towards the front of the pack coming from a good corral seeding is much different than running from the back of the pack.  First of all, these runners are semi-serious.  No one really stops to walk.  No one is goofing around.  These are the people who trained and who have run a few minis, so they are focused on doing well.  The back of the pack is more like a party.  People dressed up in crazy costumes, people running with groups, people yelling and cheering each other on, and people stopping to walk all over the place.  It is just a huge difference, not good or bad, just different.
  • That said, being at the front and not having to dodge people is worth its weight in gold.  Seeded corrals rock!!
  • And my last observation is that a lot of people have throw-away shirts.  It was crazy how many shirts were flying all around me for the first two miles!  People were wearing them to stay warm at the start and then used them until they warmed up after a couple of miles.  At that point, the shirt was taken off and ditched along the road.  I think someone comes through to collect all of this and donate it to charity.  But still, it is crazy!  I cannot just throw clothes aside like that.  It just isn't me.  I had a running shirt that is lightweight and ties around my waist very easily, so I often wear that to stay warm.  The funny thing is I'm sure all of those people were wanting their throw-away shirts back after the race.
I should probably end my mega long post.  Bottom line, at this point in my running career, this is the best race of my life.  (Side note: Does a non-competitive runner have a running career?  That may need a whole separate post.)  I could not believe my time.  I still can't.  I think I am definitely a cold weather runner.  I cannot take the heat, it just kills me.  I think this means I should only sign-up for fall halfs or something.  Also, the cooler temps and my attempt at better hydration seemed to work.  I had minimal cramping and was able to run through it all.  Thank goodness, because it helped me complete my Best.Race.Ever.  Now I am resting.  Four distance events in six weeks was a little much.  I am up for some fun running and 5K races instead!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Illinois Half Marathon Race Report

Better late than never, I am finally getting up my post for the Illinois Half last Saturday, 5/1/2010.  This is one of my favorite races.  I haven't done that many, but of the ones I have done, this is by far the most fun because of the fabulous crowd support.  Minus a few spots on the course, the streets are lined the entire way.  It makes the race so much more exciting to have people cheering the entire way, handing out water, and even giving out paper towel to wipe off our sweat-drenched faces!

After some race plans fell through, I headed to stay with my parents the night before the race.  They only live about 45 minutes away, so not too far to drive over in the morning.  My brother was also running the race and staying at my parents, so we got up and rode over together.  Parking was not too bad, and we ran into Assembly Hall to use the bathroom.  He met up with his friends while I headed to the start line.  This race is only 2 years old and they try to improve it each year, however they do not have a corralled start yet.  So, lining up is a bit difficult.  I stood near the 1:45-2:00 finish group and found the 8:50 pace group.

When the race started, it was pretty mild and overcast. I had originally planned to stay with the 8:50 group, but felt the pace was a little slow.  I felt great out of the great and ran my first mile in 8:07. In hindsight, a little too fast, but again, I was feeling good and it is definitely a flat and fast course.  I dropped  back to about 8:30 for miles 2-5.  I was running near a a group of two married couples.  They were rather funny, so I stayed with them for pacing and entertainment.  At one point, on of the husbands said the group was going to fast and needed to slow down.  Then he took off ahead and left the rest trying to catch up to him.  All was good, until mile 6.  I had a few side cramps so stopped to stretch those and get some water.  I seemed to be fine and slowed my pace just a bit.  Then came mile 7.  By this point, the sun had come out in full force and the humidity was on the rise.  I also started having more side cramps.  I stopped about 4 times between miles 7-9 trying to stretch them out and catch my breath.  This section of the course is through a local park along a trail.  Up until that point, everything had been along the road with tons of crowds and water stops.  Through the park, the trail is narrow and people are very crowded.  There are no water stations and no place for any spectators.  At this point, my pace slowed considerably to about 9 min miles due to all of the circumstances.  I saw the 8:50 pace group pass me, but I was still ahead of the 9:00 pace group and felt okay.

I finally made it out of the park and was able to stop and stretch enough to get rid of the cramps.  Miles 10-11 felt pretty good, although I was pretty hot.  I was definitely at a slower pace, around 9:15/mile, but I thought I still had a chance to come in under 2 hours since I had done so well at the beginning.  It was really hot, but I tried to keep going, hoping to get that goal.  However, at mile 12, I fell apart.  It was so hot I couldn't breathe.  I stopped for water twice and walked through both stations.  They changed the ending of the course, so I wasn't sure exactly what to expect.  I finally rounded the corner and I could see the finish line, but could not breathe.  I had to stop and walk around mile 12.8 to catch my breath to make it to the finish.  It was just so humid.  I finally made it to the finish line in 2:00:29.

I was seriously mad at myself.  I should have tried to suck it up and not walk those few seconds at mile 12.8 or ran through one of the water stations.  Ugh!  So mad to have just missed coming in under 2.  But, I couldn't be too upset.  It was so hot, I was just glad to finish.  I saw many runners hauled off the course, several on stretchers with oxygen masks on.  I even saw people collapsing at mile 12.5 - trying to make it and just overheating.  It was unreal.  Worse than the Kentucky Derby Marathon the weekend before. 

After finishing, I was trying to find my family and friends.  I couldn't find them but ran into my old college roommate who I had stopped to see the day before.  We got to catch up a little more and talk about the race.  She did really well, considering she had a baby in November!  I hope I can be like that one day!  I gave up on my family and started walking back to my car when I ran into my brother.  He was coming to wait for me and get his stuff from my car.  I was pretty disappointed about missing the family at the finish line.  It was the first time my parents had ever come to one of my races.  They saw my brother finish (1:35 PR for him - clearly he got the natural athletic ability in the family).  They saw some of his friends and others they know finish, but no one saw me finish.  I usually come in around 2 hours, give or take a few minutes so I figured they would see me, but no such luck.  I'm bummed I have no pictures from the day and no fun family reunion post-race.

The post-race food for this race is great - pasta, cookies, bananas, candy, bagels, pretzels, pizza, etc.  But, it was too hard to carry everything, so I grabbed some water, a banana, and of course, a handful of candy.  Plus, I knew were we all going out to lunch.  We did that and hit up a few bookstores for Illini gear on campus before I headed home.  I did hit up a few of my favorite places before leaving town - grabbed a pizza from Papa Del's and lemon custard from Jarlings.  Yum! 

I don't know why, but I am kind of a crowd watcher and also track other interesting things along the way.  A few things I saw/heard/noticed along the way:
  • Lots of people going barefoot, including several marathon runners. Unreal.  I just don't know how these people do it, especially around a college campus with all sorts of litter, broken glass, etc.
  • My favorite sign of the race: "Run like you just stole something!"  Pretty funny.  I've never seen that one before.
  • Crowd support over 11 of the half-marathon miles.  I am not sure about the remainder of the marathon course, but the crowd support here is great.  There are people everywhere and they line the end of the race like you would not believe.  It actually was hard to stop at mile 12.8 because so many were yelling to keep going (I should have listened to them and felt more guilty for stopping).
  • It was very hard to get around town.  The traffic pattern due to the marathon course was a nightmare.  You had to drive about 10 miles out of the way.  Thankfully, I know all of the out of the way places.  Those that were only in town for the run, were stuck waiting for a very long time!
  • The downside of this race is that the post-race activities are not organized well.  They had finisher photos, but I had no clue where those were located, so I didn't get one (again, no photos from the weekend).  Also, you had to walk up the steps of the football stadium to get the food after finishing.  Then, you had to go to the other side of the stadium to meet up with people.  Because everything was blocked off, it required going all the way out of the stadium and around. 
Bottom line, I am not good at running in the heat and humdity.  I much prefer cooler temps much of the fall races have.  I'll have to consider this when choosing races for next year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Bad Week

Everyone has a bad or down day every once in awhile.  I am having the bad week.  In fact, I don't think I have had this bad of a week in a really long time.  Seriously.  Like years.  I can't go into all of the details and I think if I rehash them too much it will just make me upset all over again, but multiple things have come at me this week.  That coupled with little sleep and stress eating has really worn on me.  Apparently my look shows it, too, because people at work keep asking me if I am okay or if I am tired.  Great.  I look AND feel horrible.  Ugh!  I am hoping things will turn around.  Maybe tomorrow. 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Louisville Marathon Relay Team Race Recap!

This past weekend, I did the Louisville Marathon Relay as a team with Mandy and Melissa. This was my first time doing a marathon relay and also doing the Louisville race. I really had no expectations other than hoping I could run a decent pace for my leg. Actually legs. The relay consists of teams of 3 to 5 people that run a total of 5 legs of different distances. We had a team of 3, which meant some of us ran multiple legs. I happened to get lags 3 and 4 for a total of 9.3 miles, or a 15k.

My overall impression is that this race is pretty disorganized. That said, it was a fun weekend and a nice little break from reality. I warn you now: my recap gets a little long…

We couldn't find a lot of specific information on the website regarding how the relay would work or what to expect. We arrived at the packet pick-up and expo with lots of questions and concerns. Everything was answered for us by the lady at the relay team table. She explained how we would take buses to our designated transition spots and wait for our teammate to hand off the timing sensor. Seemed easy enough, although we would be separate the whole race without much of a chance to cheer each other on. The biggest issue was that they ran out of shirts. So, even though we registered 1.5 months ahead of time, they didn’t order the right amount of shirts. That was a bit disappointing, especially since we were team 01 out of 60 total teams. So, how could they not have our shirts?!? My other thought is that the math is easy: 60 teams x max of 5 members = 300 shirts. Seriously, this is not rocket science and for the price we paid to register, it would have been nice to have a shirt to bring home. They had us write down our names and sizes on a scratch piece of paper. Who knows if we’ll ever get the shirts or not…

The expo was okay. There were a good amount of vendors, but it was definitely cramped and hard to get around. The convention center downtown was massive, yet they seemed to stick the expo in the smallest room available. Also, the actual race merchandise was not that great. They had hardly any selection or sizes left and what was there was not that great of quality (i.e., screen printing on the shirts was not centered or was peeling, etc). So, not only did we not get a shirt as part of registration, we couldn’t even buy a shirt to bring home. Definitely disappointing!

The race was fun. The hills were killer. The humidity was stifling.

I boarded a bus from downtown Louisville and was taken to some neighborhood near the University of Louisville campus. The bus dropped us off around 7:30, which was the start time of the race. Knowing Mandy’s pace and the fact it could take her a good 10 minutes or more to get to the start line from way back in coral C (where they stuck all the relay teams), I had a good 1.5 hours to kill. The people were nice and we talked awhile before going in search of restrooms from hydrating all morning. Since we were in the middle of a neighborhood, there was nothing. No bathrooms, no port-a-potties, no water, no nothing except the curb and a row of houses. We hiked a good 2 miles round-trip to find a bathroom and ended up going in a building on campus. When we got back, someone had dropped water for the relay runners, but it was across the street and down a block from our exchange point, to no one saw it until later on. It was raining some, so I used a garbage bag to stay dry.

I waited for Mandy to hand off the sensor to me at mile 9.3. I would then run until mile 18.6 to meet Melissa who ran the remainder of the marathon. There were 15,000 runners and a much smaller number of relay runners. Thankfully, at our exchange point, they had spotters a few blocks back looking for relay team members. We had special bibs and a relay bib on our backs, too. The spotter would radio ahead and a guy with a bull horn would announce what teams should get ready for the exchange. That made the process a little easier because the race course was packed at that point. We saw the marathon and half-marathon elite runners come through, a few other super speedy people, and then the street was full of everyone else having a good time. So, it was good to have a minute or two to prepare to run.

Speaking of preparing, I should mention that I followed my normal half-marathon fuel/hydration plan for the race. Definitely not a good idea at all! I was dragging because there was such a large amount of time between when I actually prepared for the race and when I ran. I am not used to all the standing around in between. Also, the night before, we had a hard time finding someplace to eat. We ended up at TGI Friday’s. I haven’t eaten at one of those in years and didn’t want to risk ordering anything that might not be good for my stomach. So, I had a very light salad with minimal toppings. Definitely not my normal pre-race chicken or pasta with salad and bread meal. So, I could have prepared better food wise, although I think I did okay on water. I was pretty hydrated and only got a slight side cramp near the end of my legs.

The course was brutal. I have no other way to put it. I was mixed in with everyone until slightly after mile 10 and then I followed the marathon course while the half runners broke off in another direction. There were very few marathoners, but they all rocked. There was an older lady who was probably late 60’s or 70 just trucking along. I seriously hope that can be me someday. She was amazing and had an awesome pace!! Most of the course was through a very HILLY park. I am not sure the elevation map on the website was correct, and if so, it did not do the hills any justice. I feel like it was more mountainous than hilly. I have run some hilly courses and this one takes the cake (even over the IU Mini course)!! Also, as I began my legs, the rain stopped and the sun came out. On a normal day I would have been rejoicing. On a running day, I was less than thrilled. Sun after lots of rain = serious humidity. I think I almost died out there. Coupled with the fact that everything was blooming in the park, I swear I could not breathe. I usually never stop and walk. So, I am embarrassed to say I actually walked three times to catch my breath during my legs. The whole time I was thinking about how mad my team would be at me, but I just needed to walk for 20 seconds to get my breath. The worst was coming up to a T in the road where we had to make a turn and seeing the street sign: Longest Ave. Yep, you guessed it. The longest hill EVER! I was hoping in my wildest dreams it would be flat. But no, my worst nightmares came true instead.

There were water stations on the course, but they seemed to be far apart. Maybe it was the hot and humid weather that crept up after the rain ended, but I was constantly looking for water and felt the course could have used more stations. Also, the stations were handing out small plastic water bottles. Not very environmentally friendly at all! I was rather shocked. They were very hard to handle. One station gave me a bottle with the cap in place, so it was hard to undo and drink while running and I only took a few sips, so water and plastic were wasted. The next time, the top was removed and the water sloshed all over me as I tried to take it. It would be nice to have something more environmentally friendly in the future. I am not sure if those bottles were recycled or not.

Finally, I made it to mile 18.6 and handed off to Melissa. I was glad to be done. I was not proud of my pace at all given the fact I was hoping to use this as practice for some other upcoming races. However, I feel like I deserve a (very) slight break as I have not really trained in the humidity and weather plays a huge role in how I run. I haven’t been avoiding the humidity, but there have only been a few humid days. So, not much chance to practice or acclimate. I finished with a pace of 9:15.

After that, we boarded another bus to head to the finish line to meet up with teammates. We could run the last .3 or .4 miles of the race as a team. I found Mandy and we waited for Melissa. Thinking she had passed us and already finished, we kept walking closer and closer to the actual finish line. We finally saw her and jumped on the course (with security chasing after us) to finish the race. I ran with Melissa while Mandy braved the last bit in her flip flops after changing shoes when her legs were done. It was rather comical!

Post-Race Party
I don’t have much to say about this. We didn’t stay long. This is probably because the party wasn’t that great. Everything was really far from the finish and really spread out in this large park. There was also a huge volleyball tournament going on, so it was hard to tell what was part of that and what was part of the race. We got our medals and bananas and left. We had to check out of the hotel by noon, so that was also an issue. We were late, but they were nice not to charge us anything extra.

Like I mentioned above, the race atmosphere was great and a lot of fun, my overall feeling is that it was a bit disorganized. I hope they continue to improve it for next year. Given that it was a hilly course and I run a fair share of hills in races at home, I will likely give this race a miss in the future.

In general, we had a great time. We finished in 3:58:57. We were pumped to finish under 4 hours and also excited to learn we took 3rd overall out of the women’s relay teams. Not too shabby given the fact we all had admittedly less than stellar runs (at least not as good as we hoped).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Cubbies...

It is no secret that I am a Cubs fan. Yes, one of those fans that thinks every year that this will be the year. Every year I get so excited for opening day. Every year I love heading to Wrigley to catch a few games. Every year I love trying to catch the Cubs on the road at a ballpark I've never been too. Every year I wear my Cubs jersey with pride.

But this year has been horrid! Seriously, what is going on??!?!?

I was not happy when Andres Blanco was traded about a month ago. I still haven't figured out that trade. He was freaking awesome on defense and decent on offense. That is more than I can say for a lot of the current players. He did a lot of good things for the team last year, so why trade him? (Other than for cash consideration, although with Wrigley having the highest ticket prices and capacity crowds at almost every game, you would think they would be doing okay on cash flow...)

And talk about the players. I mean, our infield is pretty set, but we have some really new outfielders and a couple of new pitchers. I need to read up on them...

I was not happy with Zambrano moving to the pen. What?!?! I about fell out of my chair when I heard that. Again, what?!?! I had to double-check at least five websites to make sure I was reading it correctly. My gut is saying that this is not going to be a good thing. Going from pitching on Opening Day to the pen in less than three weeks has got to kill any confidence he has left. At the same time, I am hoping maybe he gets a good kick in the butt and takes his pitching up a notch. Either way, I miss him on the mound as a starter. He is, admittedly, my favorite player. His is the jersey I wear proudly. People often ask my why I like him. I think it is because he is a lot like me. I am definitely passionate about my work (for better or worse) and he is the same way. You have to love that about him even on a bad day. I am anxious to see how this all works out...

Then, the record. What is going on this month? The Cubs always do horrible in April. Every year I repeat to Todd and our Cubbie friends that the Cubs will suck in April, play only decent in May, and when it warms up in June and July, they start to play like a real team. Seriously, this is the trend...every year. I think people think I am crazy, but it always happens. Maybe it is because of all the Latin players on the team. They are not used to the cold. I should do some statistics on this to prove my point some day...

My biggest frustration is Marmol. I have been saying since last year that he should not be the closer. Yes, when he is on, he is on fire. No questions asked. But, when he is off, he is way off. In my opinion, the Cubs need a consistent closer. Marmol does not fit that role. He does much better as middle relief. I think he doesn't feel as much pressure and performs better. Whatever the case, we definitely need someone else to close...

Alas, no matter my disgusts, I am still working planning my first trip to Wrigley at some point this spring. I mean, it is baseball, my favorite sport. And it is Wrigley, my favorite field. And, well, the Cubbies will always have my heart - win or lose, for better or worse, and in sickness or health (hopefully health as there was way too much DL action last year). *Sigh*

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Meeting Lily

Got to meet my new niece this weekend. Lily Addison was born on Tax Day 2010! This is significant since my brother is a CPA. She is adorable and soooo tiny! She is only about 6lbs right now after losing some of her birth weight. But, she is a good eater, so she will be chubby in no time! The funny thing is that despite being tiny, she has some huge feet. Newborn onesies are big on her, but the baby socks are already too small! Hilarious!

She is a sweet girl. And she is spoiled. But she doesn't know that. Yet. ;)

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Yep, four eggs today. So cool! The momma bird (definitely a robin) is also here. Incubation begins and chicks should be here in a few weeks!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Three eggs!

Yep, came home to three eggs in the nest today! I love nature at work!

I am expecting one more egg tomorrow and then incubation begins!!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Two eggs!!

I checked on the nest today and there were two eggs, not just one!!! Some quick googling on robin eggs leads to some interesting facts. Robins typically lay four eggs. The momma bird lays one egg per day and then incubation begins after the last egg is laid. The incubation period is 12-14 days. Assuming these are fertilized eggs, we should have little birdies in a few weeks. I wonder if there will be three eggs tomorrow?!?!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

A little birdie told me!!

We have a robin's nest on the window ledge of our home office. Only one little egg. No sign of the momma bird yet. The funny thing is that I was just looking at this window a few days ago thinking about cleaning the windows from the inside and outside. I even opened that window and the nest wasn't there, so it was built in a hurry.

We are going to wait a bit to trim the bushes and put mulch around this area to see what happens. Maybe some birdie pictures soon?!?! It will be fun to watch and we have a great vantage point.

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