Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What a Year!'s that time of year...time to look back. I spent the morning looking back through this year's compendium of blogs, and it was enlightening. I learned a lot this year, about myself, about running, about life, about what to care about, and probably most importantly, what to let go of.

What a cool thing having a blog is...a running record (no running-pun intended) of my life. But before I begin with the details, a few generalizations I could make about about my life and this blog over this past year.
  • Damn I'm the "eff" did you all READ all that? I thank you all for reading and especially for commenting on my (too often) waaaaaay too long posts.
  • I had way too many foot injuries this year. I wrote a couple weeks ago about the irony of ending 2009 with a stress fracture in my left foot seeing as the year started with a torn left IT band issue. I'm still shaking my head at this.
  • On the other hand, if I'd never hurt myself, I'd never have discovered cycling, which I now love, even though I still think of cycling as "the nice guy." I mean I don't have a stress fracture as a result of biking. I have it as a result of running. Running is still my love and it still hurts.
  • Despite the injuries, I had LOTS of laughs and LOTS of mimosas this year. I am truly blessed. This I know.
So, without further's another massive word-spill. Settle in, or choose :-). I didn't include any backlinks because I figure, really, who's gonna read all of THIS let alone go back and re-read anything from the year?

January - The First Injury, Bruising, Carlsbad 1/2, and Cancer
  • I started off the year healthy and running 8-10 miles getting ready for the Carlsbad 1/2 marathon. This was really the hardest part to read when I look back and see where I was a year ago...running 8 to 10 miles easily and I was getting faster too.
  • It the second SDTC training run, my ITB popped (I called it my Hip, but it was the ITB), probably due to weakness, not enough stretching, and overuse. I spend the next two weeks trying to rest and recover and pretty much freaking out because I was supposed to run Carlsbad.
  • Despite the injury and some pain, I ran the Carlsbad 1/2 (First leg of the San Diego Triple Crown) with Betty, Mik, and Alberta. I had a GREAT time and ran the whole way (except for the end) with Betty. Ran with Penny. Met Yas as I was exiting the parking lot. Unfortunately after the race I had this...
  • Oh yeah...I learned that my mom had lung cancer and flew to Vegas to visit doctors with her.
February - PF (Right Foot) & Mom's Cancer Surgery
  • Mom's lung cancer surgery was a success ( successful as cutting out part of one's lung can be). I made two trips to Vegas to be with her and my dad.
  • My ITB issues led to my first bout with Plantar Fasciitis...GAH!
  • Several visits to first PT helped to "cure" my PF as well as the torn ITB. I spent lots of the month icing, stretching, and slowly trying to get back into running. I got freezer-burn from leaving ice on my thigh for too long. I tore up countless frozen dixie cups icing the bottom of my foot. I taught my PT that "whale tail" has multiple meanings.
  • Oh...and I went skiing a couple of times with the family and with BBJ and Wilma.
  • I won a pair of biking gloves from NikeMom and began considering biking as an alternative to running
March - More PF and Recovery (too much, too fast)
  • Somehow I ran the Sue Kren 15K
  • Elsie went on her "3rd date" with the PB
  • I futzed around with shoes (NB 1224s vs. Saucony Hurricanes...anyone?) because THAT must have been the reason I was having so many foot issues.
  • I visited mom in Vegas again, and I cooked a load of food and froze it.
  • I tried to slowly build up mileage with the SDTC and eventually worked my way up to a 13.5 mile run.
  • The herd didn't get into the Nike Women's 1/2 (boo hoo) this year.
  • I started riding and rode my first 10 mile ride on old mountain bike, which still had mountain bike tires.
April - Clipless Pedals, Smelly Whales, More Vegas, La Jolla 1/2, and Fame
  • I ran the first 12 miles of "The Train Run," then stopped due to PF pain in the RIGHT foot. We almost lost Betty at the train station, but I found her.
  • I changed out the tires on mountain bike to make it into a pseudo-road-bike-like and bought clippless pedals.
  • Fell over
  • I went to Vegas to visit parents over spring break. There Walter, DramaGirl, Turbo and I hung out, had fun, and did no running.
  • I returned from my Vegas rest and did some "training runs" to prepare for the La Jolla 1/2 Marathon. Ran on the beach at Torrey Pines and took pictures of smelly, dead whale.
  • Famous ex-blogger Marcy bestowed upon me BOTW honors and a few more peeps discovered The Hefferblog
  • I got backstage at Foreigner due to Mona's persistence.
  • Betty, Mik, Alberta, Elsie and I ran the La Jolla 1/2 Marathon. I almost PB'd. Darn Heat.
  • Met Lisa at the La Jolla 1/2
  • Betty bought a new bike
May - A PR, Nice Guys, PF RETURNS, and Flats
  • A week after the La Jolla 1/2 Marathon, I ran the Union-Tribune Race for Literacy 8K with Walter and got a PB!
  • Unfortunately, the PF returned with a vengeance and I had to take almost the whole rest of the month off from running.
  • I continued bike riding with Betty and continued to fall over due to clipless pedals.
  • Clarence started joining us on our rides which included several rides over 20 miles.
  • After several weeks of no-running, the herd joined the SDTC at thier last training run before the RnR marathon. My foot ached at the end. (I didn't write much about it, but I do remember it). The following week Mik, Betty, and I rode our bikes while cheering for friends who were running the marathon.
  • Due to a series of flat tires, the herd learned how to change tires (and had a hysterical time doing so).

June - More PF, More Flat Tires, and a New PT
  • Yes, more PF issues arose in June, this time on the left foot, and for the first time, I started complaining about foot problems on the TOP of my foot (right foot this time).
  • I pretended to swim a little.
  • I ran the IronGirl 10K and again hated running on the Poli-crap.
  • I started writing about running the Las Vegas 1/2, hoping that the herd would be excited about running with me. I registered for the race despite this. So did BBJ.
  • On the June 10, Tuesday night SDTC workout in Balboa Park, I stopped doing the workout due to PF pain.
  • We went riding and I had more flat tires (As it turned out, my that tires needed to be "fully inflated." I had under-inflated them, thus the flat tires...can I hear a "duh!").
  • At the end of June, while surfing with Betty, I completely felt a lot POP and RIP in my left PF and almost have to be carried up the beach. Worst freekin' pain I've ever had in my life!
  • Started seeing a new PT at Rehab United (Irene's recommendation). I hadn't run for 12 days at that point. Brett, my PT, taught me how to stretch properly and that I needed to do some strength training because my hips were weak and my achilles and calves too tight. This is what was (and is) causing all the injuries. I start going to PT 3 times a week.
July - The Bush and PT
  • Had a bush named for me.
  • I rode my bike a lot
  • I went to PT a lot
  • Fretted (a lot) about being ready to run the AFC 1/2 Marathon in August
  • I spent a week in Oakland at a conference and met JoLynn! In Oakland I had to walk (a lot) and was continually reminded that I wasn't recovered. Continued to do PT exercises in VERY SMALL hotel room.
  • Betty and Mik ride around Lake Tahoe...I'll never miss an event like that AGAIN!
  • Started running again (very little).
  • I bought a new road bike!!!!

August - Home remodel, Vay-Kay, AFC 1/2, the Triple Crown and Vegas
  • We began a home remodel and so I lived at a construction site.
  • We took a vacation to Lake Tahoe. I did a three mile trail run.
  • I fretted some more about not being prepared to run a 1/2 marathon at the end of the month.
  • Somehow, someway, I managed to run and finish the AFC 1/2 Marathon. Betty, Mike, Alberta, and I did all three triple crown 1/2 marathons this year and earned our triple crown medal. I ran in a running skirt. Mik ran in stapled pants.
  • The herd got in some face-time on the local NBC affiliate when we were interviewed about our day-glo, lime-green, shirts after the end of summer fire run.
  • The herd (all 12 of us...Edith opted out) went to Vegas for Momma's 60th birthday. We wore red hats and saw Bette Midler and did all sorts of other things that will stay in Vegas.
September - More cycling, Some running, School started
  • Pretty much the headline says it all. School started. We finished our home remodel. We ran some, we rode some, and we had some mimosas. I decided (with much prompting from Walter, my PT, and pretty much everyone I know) to NOT run the Long Beach 1/2. A last minute opportunity to run the Nike Women's 1/2 was tempting, but I passed it by too. I wrote a LOT of random posts about SkyMall magazine, things I found at Costco, and humorous exercise implements.
October - Insurance sucks, iP5, missed runs, & Zensah
  • In October, my fabulous insurance provider informed me that they were NOT going to cover the vast majority of my PT appointments that I THOUGHT had been approved.
  • I got my first pair of Zensah compression socks in pink, which ROCK, no matter what color they are, and I missed a lot of runs and went to happy hour instead.
  • Mik stubbed her toe and rode in a bike shoe and a flipflop and still kicked my and Betty's ass on the hills.
  • PF and other foot pain flared up during the Light The Night 5K (a race which Walter did with me, and in which I lost him in the crowd before it even began). After that I took another week off from running to recover.
  • I dropped another iPhone in the toilet.
November - Skunks and not enough training
  • Mik, Elsie and I met Glenn at the Shelter Island 5K (which ended with the wonderful Champagne can you NOT LOVE this race?)
  • My left foot hurt at the end, but I decided to keep a somewhat regular running schedule anyway because I had a 1/2 marathon to run!
  • I channeled McGyver and recovered my dropped iPod Shuffle from behind my stove.
  • A skunk attacked our house.
  • I went for an 8 mile run with the SDTC. This would be my longest run before the Vegas 1/2 marathon.
  • We went to Palm Springs for Thanksgiving. Had a fabulous family SoCal holiday and I managed to get in two 5 mile runs. That would have to be enough training for Vegas because that's all the time there was.
  • I fretted A LOT about not having trained enough for the Las Vegas 1/2 and then some more about what to wear because it was gonna be COLD
December - Vegas 1/2 and The Stress Fracture
  • Vegas 1/2 Marathon was even colder than expected. I ran the whole race, but it was my slowest 1/2 mary ever. Walter ran the first part of the race with me and was, overall, the best husband (and Sherpa) in the world. Despite the cold, the slow time, and the never-ending walk after the race, I had a great time in Vegas visiting family, friends, and mostly just hanging out with Walter.
  • A week after returning from Vegas, on a five mile recovery run with Betty and Elsie, I almost had to stop (and probably should have) after 2.5 miles because my left foot hurt so bad. I finished the five-mile run regardless. Later that week, when the swelling didn't subside, I finally went to see a doctor. Stress fracture. Confirmed. No running for 4 weeks. GAH!
This morning I also, hesitantly, took a look at my mileage for the year. It's not all that impressive. I've probably shorted myself at least 20 miles in the running for those times when the Garmin didn't work, or when I forgot to put it on, and there are probably somewhere around 100 miles or so on the 'mill, (I'd logged about 70 miles on the treadmill by May, but then I stopped keeping track) but still not that impressive...really it's barely even enough miles for a new pair of running shoes.

Year Totals
  • Running - 425.93 miles
  • Cycling - 556.21 miles
So...the year ends in some ways a whole heckuva lot differently than it began. I'm sidelined from running for a couple more weeks, at least...AND I'm itching to run right now because my foot feels BETTER...but it's probably not, so I'm being a good girl and staying off it. I'll just keep to the running right now. I'm looking at re-joining a gym for the first time in five years, so that I have something to do to cross train, especially in the winter when I cannot ride and even when my foot's better and I should not run more than three days a week.

I'm putting together some other goals for the year (imagine that among them will be to stay healthy), but since this word-dump is getting into the far-too-long to read stage, I'll leave it for another post...maybe in a day or two.

I have no idea how to end this rather long post...suffice it to say that at year's end, I'm still running (or at least looking forward to it...I've rejoined the SDTC, but I'll be missing the first couple of training runs); I'm now riding a lot and getting better at it; my mom is doing well; Walter is still putting up with me; my kids are great; and I've got another year of running, riding, and fun ahead of me.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas -a week of carb loading and burning

Like most everyone else on the internets, I've been holidaying rather than blogging and judging from my RSS reader, I'm not alone. It seems like lots of us are trying to catch up, recap and review this past week. I'm into that action, so here are some highlights from the holiday that I could summarize as a series of events in which I was either carb-loading or carb unloading.
  • OK...completely unrelated to carbs...but we started off the holiday week on Christmas eve morning, when we did our annual "cousins with Santa" photo. My SIL and I started this tradition 14 years ago when DramaGirl and my SIL's son were babies. DramaGirl and Sam were born about 5 weeks apart, so, of course, that first year, we trekked down to the mall to take baby pictures with Santa. 14 years later, we're up to one more SIL and 8 cousins. Here's the crew...

Almost everyone looking at the camera...not bad!
  • While in the mall, I introduced my youngest niece to the Coach store. She loved it.

Two handbags, glasses, and the girl was SET to shop
  • We spent Christmas Eve with BIL and SIL and their kids. We do this every year, and every year, dinner includes Blue Jello (don't's a tradition).
Isn't blue jello a holiday tradition EVERYWHERE?

Cousin Kate and DramaGirl

The kids ANYTHING good going to happen here?
  • On Christmas morning, DramaGirl and Turbo were up at 6:00 am (actually, I think they were awake earlier, but waited until 6am to wake me...nice of them). We were done with the present-fest by 7:00.
  • By 7:30, I decided to go for a bike ride. It was a beautiful SoCal morning, so I rode over to Lake BP. I texted the herd, but all were either a) out of town, b) don't have kids, or c) their kids are older than mine and do NOT wake up at the butt-crack of dawn on Christmas morning, so nobody responded (actually, Betty did, but I was almost done with my ride by then). Nevertheless, it was a wonderful ride. I pretty much had the roads to myself. I rode 19.56 miles.

Me at Lake BP on Christmas Morning

  • For the rest of Christmas Day, I cooked (and to be honest, I started three days earlier) and consumed lots of carb/butter/cheese/potato/starchy yummy foods I. For some reason, this year I decided to be a cross between Paula Deen and Emeril, so much so that I sent Walter to the grocery store (we have a little market down the street that is opened on Christmas Day. I think they do a bang-up business in beer sales!) for more butter twice! We had pulled pork sandwiches for Christmas Dinner (since we would be watching the Chargers football game this was somehow appropriate), homemade mac and cheese (not the boxed stuff), mashed potatoes with andouille sausage, cole slaw (my sister's homemade) bread pudding, a brocolli/cauliflower au-gratin that was so overdone with cheese sauce that Walter asked me if there were really any vegetables in it. After all that, I was pretty happy that I rode in the morning.
  • On Monday, in a carb-induced hangover haze, I enjoyed one of the wonderful gifts that DramaGirl gave me--Wii Gold's Gym Cardio Boxing. I was hoping for a Wii workout game that had a little higher intensity than anything else I was doing, but was still low impact since running in place, or jumping up and down are big NO-NOs with the stress fracture. This seems to be fitting the bill. I've only done it once, but I did get my heart-rate up and it works my upper body, something which is sorely missing in my life.
  • On Sunday, Betty and I did another East County-Three cities ride.

  • On Monday, for the first time in probably five years, I stepped foot in A GYM...24 Hour Fitness to be exact. Years ago, I had a membership, but that was back when I only pretended to exercise (love the irony? I pretended to exercise and I had a gym membership. I canceled it when I started to run). Anyway, since I continue to be the BEST PATIENT EVER and AM NOT RUNNING, I went to the gym to workout as Betty's guest so that I could get in a good cardio workout on the elliptical. I am soooooooooo out of the gym mode that I completely forgot my iPod and endured 45 minutes on the elliptical without tunes! Luckily, there were plenty of people to watch.
  • Last night Betty and I took our "heffer-ettes" out to dinner and a movie. We saw Nine...not a bad movie, certainly not as bad a movie as some of the reviews would have you believe, but you have to like musicals...and Italian movies. If that's not your thing, then you might want to avoid it.

Hefferettes at dinner

Heffers (me, Clarence, Betty, and Elsie) in the theatre
  • One of the things that came out of "movie night" was a plan to do a bike ride this morning...and we INSISTED that Elsie, who purchased a used bike from Craig's list a year ago and had yet to ride it come along. So this morning, we met to do the 5 cities ride. We started at Harbor Island (where we met many times this summer and fall to run with the SDTC) and rode south through Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach, back up the Silver Strand to Coronado, then took the ferry back to San Diego...and rode back to Harbor Island...almost 30 miles! (29.2 to be exact).

Elsie and her bike

Clarence on her first ride in a month or more (an easy ride around the bay, right?)

The herd...ready to ride (yes, I know I was shooting into the sun so we can't see anyone's faces...GAH!)

Clarence and Elsie--somewhere in National City
  • Since Elsie had a very important massage appointment to get to, she and Betty turned around at 12.5 miles and headed back to Harbor Island. Mik, Clarence and I continued around the bay, and headed toward Coronado. We got to the ferry landing five minutes before the boat left...very important because if we'd missed the boat, we would have had to wait an hour to catch another.

Clarence and I on the ferry

Mik and I on the ferry

Just another day in San Diego

Route and Stats for this morning's ride. 29.17 miles is the LONGEST ride I think I've ever done. My legs are certainly feeling it this afternoon.
  • We got off the ferry and it was a ZOO. City workers were getting bleachers set up for the Holiday Bowl Parade which is tomorrow morning (I actually woke up at 6am and thought to myself..."gosh, I hope the parade isn't TODAY!). There are also TONS of Nebraska fans in town. You can tell the Nebraska fans...they're wearing lots of RED. Arizona fans either hadn't arrived yet, or were much more subtle in their outerwear. I didn't see as many of those. close to the end and no falls. Clarence had just finished telling me how hungry she was. I think she was thinking about lunch, then she fell...BUMMER!
  • Luckily, the carb-loading part of the holiday season seems to be over. As I said earlier, I have been a VERY GOOD GIRL and am not running. It's very difficult. Every time I see a runner I want to roll over them, but I am also being a VERY GOOD GIRL and not doing that either.
Up next? I've got a year in review blog and some goals for next year blog underway. I'll be posting them later this week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Blues (or Country)

I can't stand to leave whiny posts up for long. I'm really sick of my whiny-self already. I'm fine. Even though it's been an admittedly crappy, injury filled year as far as running is concerned, I have SO MUCH to be thankful for. I reminded myself of this yesterday when I was having a little pity-party for one as I drove around running last-minute Christmas errands. So, while it's a little early to do any sort of year-end reflection (I'll get to that next week), I did give myself a mental kick yesterday because I am so blessed with fabulous people in my life, which really is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING...right?

I have the best Sherpa-husband ever, two amazing kids, a wonderful family including my awesome parents who are hanging in there, sisters, in-laws, nieces, nephews, all of whom I love.

I have THE HERD, especially my running/biking partners Betty, Elsie, and Mik, who keep me entertained and motivated and who I love as if they were my sisters...which they are.

And, I also have all my blog-buddies, some of whom I've gotten to meet and hang with this year. I cool is THAT?

Thanks to everyone who left me encouraging words yesterday. I promise to hang in there. I promise to not run and re-injure myself, but I'm with Missy...I do refuse to grow up (much).

So, even though it's raining today (the SoCal equivalent to having a White Christmas), I thought I'd share this. Elsie sent it to me yesterday. Local peeps will enjoy the pix (even though some are a little dated) and Clarence can feel bad that its a EFFING COUNTRY SONG and yet no pix of Lakeside (pffft).

Gotta go bake some Christmas cookies now!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Reasons for and against

Reasons that I shouldn't feel too bad about not being able to run for the next few weeks:
  1. It gives me time over the holidays to focus on family
  2. I get to ride my bike...A LOT
  3. I get to ride my bike around the bay on day s like this..
Yes, I know the east coast is recovering from almost a complete shut-down due to the BIGGEST 'EFFING SNOW STORM SINCE 2003..

4. After I rode on Saturday, I still got to have breakfast with the herd (who was running).

Reasons that it completely sucks that I cannot run for the next few weeks:
  1. This winter break was SUPPOSED TO BE my new start at getting back into running shape.
  2. Due to no running, this weekend I missed SDTC's Candy Cane Lane Run (which RunDMZ's fabulous Anne organized).
  3. On Saturday morning, when I was riding in the (admittedly) fabulous SoCal winter weather, there were TONS of peeps running and I hated them all. I'd watch them all land on their left food with an extraordinary amount of envy.
  4. No running = immediate weight gain = I cannot eat whatever I want.
Other than that, I really have nothing to whine about. Oh strike that...I can ALWAYS find something to whine about, but I'll spare you.

I still have a little holiday shopping to do. I did a marathon shopping excursion yesterday (my style...two days, get it ALL done) and the foot felt OK through most of it, which I think is a good sign.

I keep having to promise myself that I WILL NOT start running until after January 13 and the doc tells me it's OK too, no matter how good I think my foot feels. This is quite grown-up thinking for me. Perhaps I am turning over a new leaf?

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    A Fitting End...

    So...I have a stress fracture in my left foot (several of you called it correctly).

    On Wednesday, after waking up for the third consecutive morning with a swollen foot, toes that looked like thumbs, and even Walter saying: "you should get that looked at." I decided to call a doctor.

    I am one of the lucky ones in this country with very reasonable insurance and a PPO, so I called a Sports Medicine specialist directly instead of going through the whole rigamarole of contacting a primary care physician, then getting a referral, then getting to see a specialist. I'd heard good things about a place called the San Diego Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center*, and it's near my house, and it's covered by my insurance, so I called them.

    As luck would have it, they had a cancellation..."Could I be there in a 1/2 hour?"

    Oh sure.

    So, I talked to the doc briefly and gave him a really brief history of my injury issues this year (quite frankly, not that he asked, but I offered information nonetheless, and was COMPLETELY DISAPPOINTED by his response that maybe I should find another activity than running! And for THIS I went to a sports medicine specialist?)


    So, they X-ray'd the foot and the doc looked at it and reported back that the X-ray looked clear and that I didn't appear to have a fracture, but "let's take a closer look." Then he started poking around my 2nd and 3rd metatarsal, at which point I almost screamed in pain.

    "That hurts?"

    "oh yeah, when you push there, I want to slap you."

    "hmmm...let me take a second look at that X-ray..."

    So he returned and said that when he shone (shined?) a light on that spot, there was a very small chip in my bone... diagnosis? A stress fracture.


    So, I'm not to run for the next four least. I have a followup on January 13 and he'll let me know if it's healed.

    ((EVEN BIGGER sigh))

    In all honesty, I wasn't surprised by the edict. I haven't written much about my foot aches and pains recently because 1.) I was in denial. If I wrote about it, it'd be real then I'd have to deal with it, which would mean not running and I was minimally running already, 2.) I'm sick of writing about foot pain, and 3.) I suspect everyone is tired of reading about it. But, I'm pretty sure I did the damage sometime before the 1/2 marathon because I would feel some little twinges in my foot, especially after the SDTC Turkey Trot (where I was running fast and hard...don't laugh...yes, I wrote "fast and hard" in the same sentence. You're welcome) and of course running 13.1 miles in Las Vegas on it (and then walking for another hour trying to get out of the Mandalay Bay/Luxor/Excalibur area) didn't help.

    The "good news" is that the doctor said I could continue riding my bike. He suggested the usual replacement activities ...swimming (need to find an indoor pool...the backyard one is 48º right now..brrrrr), weight training, elliptical, those activities in which there is low or no impact on my foot. But no running or even vigorous walking, even on a treadmill.

    I keep dreaming of running. Last night I dreamt that I was finishing the San Diego RnR Marathon again (in the dark, and I could barely see the finish Freud, what does THAT mean?)

    ((QUAD-SIZE SIGH)) absolutely fitting is it that I end 2009 with a f*ck!n& stress fracture.

    (((shakes head in utter frustration)))

    And finally there's this...because if I'd be remiss in not posting at least one picture from Monday's Heffer-Holiday Event (thanks Momma for hosting again).

    The herd wishes all of you a happy holiday season!
    * heard good things = found them on the Internet and the webpage looked OK to me

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Rainy Days and More Foot Blah Blah Blah

    Hey all!

    It's finals week, so I've got a weird schedule, and in theory this should give me some time to post and catch up...except that I'm furiously also trying to get some online shopping done today and tomorrow because it seems that after that I will have to pay up the wazoo for shipping...and of COURSE I waited until the last minute to shop (don't shake your heads, I know that you all are in the same boat!)

    Yes, 'tis the season for holiday business. As I've written before, we are lucky enough to celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas (Walter's side of the family is Jewish; I was raised Catholic). So right now, we are in the midst of what I call the Christmukkah season.

    So, on Friday night (yep, I'm going back THAT far), we kicked it off...Walter and I hosted the annual family Hanukkah-fest, which includes consuming copious amounts of wine (for the and eating loads of Latkes...or fried potato pancakes. The good great thing about Latkes is that they are completely yummy. I mean, it's a fried potato for peet's sake, what's not to like?

    The bad thing? They are best when they are served hot, and right out of the oil (sorta like all fried potato foods I imagine). When I'm fixing them for just a few people, this isn't a problem...when I'm fixing them for 30? It's a challenge.

    Luckily, my sister-in-law, niece, and I almost have it down to a science...almost, We set up three or four frying pans on my 6-burner stovetop. This year I shredded 20 pounds of potatoes, mixed with 10 pounds of chopped onion...I usually feel like I'm on Top Chef at this point) and lined them up in four big bowls, and we conduct a sorta assembly line of me dropping the potato mixture in the oil, my SIL in charge of flipping them, my niece in charge of collecting fried potatoes on a pan and getting them into a low-oven to keep warm.

    Everything was going well (or as well as could be expected when you have hot-oil on the stove, kids running around and us yelling at them to "STAY OUT OF THE FREEKIN' KITCHEN! CAN SOMEONE KEEP THE LITTLE ONES OUT OF THE KITCHEN???????) until I heard a "THUD" right behind me and turned around to see a whole tray of Latke's on the floor. Apparently one of the finished trays slid off the counter...


    Now, if it were just me, I'd have probably picked up the things and eaten them...5 second rule, right? But we had guests, so into the trash they went (probably about 25 of them...sad, so very sad).

    Ah well...everyone got one less Latke this year.

    Despite the great Latke-drop, the rest of the evening went well. We ate too much anyway and had a grand time, and this year I managed to figure out how to cook a decent brisket. It's a family tradition and it's not in my regular repertoire of foods that I eat or cook, so I always flub it. This year, it wasn't bad...the secret was cooking it, cooling it, then reheating it, so basically, I served leftovers...who knew?

    Other news from the evening? Before we even got started, DramaGirl was having a minor melt-down because the PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS were not washed. I told her to wear another pair and "look at me, I'm wearing sweats!" (ok...big mistake suggesting that DramaGirl look to me for fashion advice...I mean, even if I am fashionable, I am still a mom).

    Her comment to me? "Mom, you're the chef; no one expects you to look fabulous!"


    Anyway, due to the overindulgence, on Saturday morning I really needed a run, so Elsie, Betty and I met up for a rainy run in Balboa Park. We decided to meet at Elsie's house and run from there, into the park and back. We've done this run many times. I ALMOST didn't go, but I did. Betty and Elsie are my heroes for waiting for me.

    It started out as a perfect morning for a run. It rained the night before, so it was still cool from the run, and when we started, although it was overcast, it wasn't raining. As we ran through the park, Betty and I ran into Edith and Stoney who had joined the San Diego Track Club's run which started on the other side of the park. That morning was the first run for the new RnR runners, so we decided to skip it. Very nice to see Edith out. Betty and I were running at a very easy pace. We talked about the potential for rain and remembered that our first run for the RnR program, we ran in a deluge.

    Betty and I ended up running about 2.25 miles into the park, then she decided to turn around and head back. We were running at a VERY easy pace (this was my first run after Vegas).

    Me? in my infinite wisdom decided to run another 1/4 mile up the street before I turned around so that I could log an even 5 miles...I don't know, maybe not my smartest move because at about mile 3 my foot started to ache.

    Then it really started to hurt.

    This time it wasn't the heel or plantar fasciitis part of the foot, but the top, sorta where the foot bends. It didn't hurt as much when I ran on the grass (softer surface), hurt more when I ran on the asphalt (harder surface) and if I had to run on concrete? forghetaboutit...I walked.

    And I was running SLOOOWWWW, oh so slow, think 13+ pace slow it took me 1:10 to do the five miles...THAT slow. (it actually took me until today to even LOOK at the stats from my Garmin...I knew it was THAT slow).

    Then it started to rain. Really rain.

    Running in the rain in front of the San Diego Zoo (early, so no crowds yet).

    I eventually made it back to Elsie's, soaking wet. Elsie was kind enough to provide me with some dry clothes, a hot shower, some ice, and of course some breakfast.

    Mimosas with Elsie and Betty...of course

    So...the foot.

    It's Tuesday...and the foot still hurts. Yesterday, I wore heels to work...bad idea (everyone say "DUH!"), then after work, I decorated a tree, cooked dinner, did some other household chores, so by last night, my foot was pretty swollen.

    This morning, it's not so swollen any more, but it still hurts and I'm as frustrated as hell with my lousy feet.

    It hurts right THERE

    So...I guess I'm going to take YET ANOTHER break from running, call a podiatrist this time, and see if someone can figure out WTF is up with my foot! GAH!

    Ohhhhh...tonight is the heffer-holiday gathering. Photos and stories to follow!

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    The Rest of the Story

    So...the alarm goes off at 4:30 am. I was already awake. I tend to wake up at 30 minute to 1 hour intervals all night before a race. I am so freekin' afraid I'll oversleep, or I've set the alarm wrong, or it won't go off.

    None of these things has happened to me yet, but it will. Trust me; it will.

    So, to ensure that I'd wake up on time, and not even trusting my inner-spazz-alarm clock, I set two alarms. (I don't trust hotel wake up calls either, BTW). First, I set the alarm on my iPhone to my "Bohemian Rhapsody" ringtone, so that it would go off at 4:30am, which it did, at five minute intervals, much to Walter's dismay, until 5:00 when he got up and figured out how to turn it off, but he needed to get up anyway. Second, I set a calendar appointment on my laptop to wake up at 4:45. That only emitted a soft "bong" which I barely heard, but I was more than awake by the time it went off.

    I had completely set up everything the night before, so I was ready pretty quickly. I was even clever enough to go to Starbucks (which wasn't opening until 5:30) to get some oatmeal, only without the water for the morning. Then I brewed a cup of coffee w/o the coffee to make me a! Then I brewed some in room coffee for Walter and I as well.

    I thought that 45 minutes would be more than enough time to get dressed, eat a little, have some coffee, and go...and like most of the weekend, I could have given myself a little more time, but my Sherpa, Walter, thought that catching a cab at 5:15 would give us more than enough time for a race starting at 6:15...he's so naive, it's cute. In any event, we were in the lobby with some other runners by 5:20 waiting to get a cab. We shared our cab with a guy from Sacramento who was running the marathon. I didn't get his name (or if I did, I don't remember it). He was considering just doing the 1/2 if he was too cold. I wonder if he did.

    Sherpa - Walter at 5:15...and we're out the door...

    Speaking of cold, yes, it was. By the time we got to Mandalay Bay, we headed inside and went upstairs to BBJ's and Wilma's room to use their nice warm potty. Their room was warm, and since by then it was getting close to 6, BBJ was already downstairs.

    Here's where I wasn't my usual anal, over-knowledgeable, control-freak self. I really usually review the maps of the race area so that I know EXACTLY where the gear check, the porta potties, the start, the finish, the EVERY SINGLE LITTLE THING is going to be. This time? Not. So. Much.

    Due to my lack of prep-work, Walter and I wandered sorta aimlessly for while just looking for the main staging area, which was near the starting line....and worse yet, the Gear Check was at a point in the staging area about as far from the race as you could get. Thank gawd Irene called me at about 6:10 (Where are you?) and let me know where it was.

    Probably from a property standpoint, it made sense to have the gear check where it was, but from an ass-cold runner's POV, it made no sense whatsoever because I'm pretty sure (in fact, I KNOW) lots of people did the same thing I did. Checked gear at the last minute (cuz it was so freekin' cold), used the porta-potty one last time ( cold porta potties have nowhere near the aroma that warm ones do--just an observation), then instead of walking way back to my starting corral (I was supposed to be in 17), just sorta merged into the corrals as the race had already started.

    We don't look quite awake enough for a run, do we?

    Which is what Walter and I did. We sorta stood in the corral 7 starting area, and let several groups start. When the runners started looking more like me (and I asked a few people, what corral they started in) we decided to merge in and start running. According to Garmin, we started running at 6:37...yikes, almost 20 minutes after the gun! I know there were peeps who didn't start running until almost an hour after the gun. In fact, we had run south of the strip for about a mile and had run back (almost 2 miles) and we saw what I think was the last group (coral 29) starting. It had to have been past 7 by then. I get the wave start and all, but standing there in the cold for an hour? Geez, they've gotta do something about THAT.

    Anyway, our plan was to run about 3.5 miles together to Bally's which is near the Westin, then my Sherpa was going to take any cold weather gear I didn't want to wear any more and he'd meet me at the end.

    We were off...

    Running with my Sherpa and a cold ass - Miles 1-4
    We started running at a pretty slow pace, and I was OK with that. As I've whined about repeatedly, I was barely trained for this run, but I was happy to be running and just thrilled to be running with Walter. And to be honest, the first part of the race was a blast! There were fireworks as we started. Lots of people in costumes. I tried to take a picture of a guy who was running while pushing a cart that had a cooler with a Charger's sticker and tunes blaring, but he passed us before I could get my camera out. There were Plenty of Elvi to entertain. Walter was with me, so I had someone to chat with. The bands were excellent! Running into the desert (away from the strip) with the sun coming up over the horizon was just awesome, then running back toward the strip and seeing the runners on the Giant MGM video-screen was beyond cool. In other words, there were lots of diversions to keep us entertained.

    The band on top of the start? Pretty cool.

    Running down the strip

    But here's the first thing I learned about running in cold weather. You can wear gloves to keep your hands warm (I did); you can wear a hat to keep your ears warm (I did that too); you can wear tights (or in my case compression socks and capris) to keep your legs warm, (check); and you can wear layers of shirts to keep arms and core toasty (absolutely), but I'm still not sure what I should have been wearing to keep my ASS warm.

    Seriously, my ass was freezing! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to run with a cold ass? Once I started to warm up at about Mile 3, I took off my top layer (it's a light wicking sweatshirt...which I love) and tied it around my waist, which didn't really help. It was a really odd feeling.

    At Bally's I gave Walter my hat, my gloves (because I THOUGHT my hands were warm), my outer shirt, and kissed him goodbye. My Sherpa's first leg was done...get me to the race, and get me started...what a guy!

    I won't lie...after he left, I was a little lonely. Here I was running the streets of Vegas pretty much by myself. I mean I knew BBJ and Irene were out there somewhere, but I hadn't seen them...ah well...I settled in, at least by then, I felt pretty warmed up (but my butt was still cold).

    Early Race Stats:
    Mile 1 - 12:10 (oooh slowwwwww)
    Mile 2 - 11:50 (not much better)
    Mile 3 - 11:20 (getting warmed up)
    Mile 4 - 11:18

    Settling in and the endless potty stop - Miles 5-9
    I settled into my race pace (about an 11:20 mm), plugged in one earphone to listen to some tunes and continued. This part of the race took us into a part of Vegas that I get to less other words, anything past the Wynn, but I started to have this nagging feeling that I had to pee...and badly at that.

    Now this surprised me because I rarely pee during races any more, and I had pee'd just prior to starting the race. I hadn't drank much coffee that morning (about a 1/2 a cup) and I hadn't even drank any water or other beverage. At the water stops, I wasn't really thirsty, so I took only a swallow or two of the Cytomax (no water, as it tends to just run through me...go figure). Oh, and why put ice in the Cytomax when its 35º out?

    Anyway, the only think I can figure is that it was so cold I wasn't really sweating, and that my body didn't really need to do much work to cool down, so the fluids just needed an exit point. In any event, I ran by one porta potty about mile 4ish but it was on the return side of the street (Mile 9 on the way back), and I didn't want to cross over the median (in hindsight, maybe I shoulda), but by mile 7 I was desperate, and when I saw four porta-potties, I got in line.

    and waited

    and waited

    and waited

    seriously people...get in; pee; get out.


    The potty stop cost me about about 5 minutes...or maybe not, I certainly couldn't have continued running the rest of the way, but frustrating nonetheless.

    Somewhere after the pottystop, the course split so that we couldn't see the returning runners anymore and we headed into some of the finer parts of Vegas.

    Some guy handing out beers to runners...awesome! And runners taking them...I can't even imagine. As if I didn't already have pee issues...

    Signs of Vegas. Toto, I don't think we're on the Strip any more...

    This is also where some of my lack-of-obsessiveness about this race did not help me. I was certain that we were turning around at the Stratosphere, but we didn't. We kept going, and going, and then finally, I remember some guy yelling, "only 1/4 mile more to the turnaround."

    And we finally turned around...and we headed back toward the strip.

    Also, about this time, I was starting to regret my decision to give Walter my gloves because my thumbs started to get cold...oh and my nose started matter, I just pulled my long sleeved over my hands, which covered them and also gave me a place to wipe my nose, as I just have no ability whatsoever to do shot-rockets. I headed toward the strip, I was feeling pretty good. Still had some good tunes going. Knew this wasn't going to be a PR day, but thought I'd finish pretty strong...or so I thought.

    Mid-Race Stats
    Mile 5 - 11:18
    Mile 6 - 11:57
    Mile 7 - 12:00 (excluding the 5 minutes my Garmin stopped because I had stopped...GAH!)
    Mile 8 - 11:40
    Mile 9 - 11:32's gonna get ugly here - Miles 10-13.1
    To be honest, back around Mile 9, I started to feel a nasty knot in my right calf, which is odd, because tight calves has not been included in my recent litany of complaints about running, but here it was. So at the Mile 9 aid station, I stopped for a bit to stretch the calf muscles.

    As we headed back toward the strip, there was a bank building with the temperature and clock on the building. It read 41º. I'm pretty sure that temperature reading was in the sun, and so long as I was in the sun, it wasn't bad. Problem is that Vegas has these REALLY TALL buildings, and when in the shade of one of those, it was COLD! In her race report Jill (a local Vegas girl) pointed out that it got extra cold in front of the hotels where there are fountains. I didn't attribute the cold blasts to the fountains, but I did notice that at some points we would get these blasts of cold(er) air.

    At 9am, the bells were chiming at Bellagio...which was cool (how many times can I use the word cool in one post?), but it was...also, this was also one of the places where runners enjoyed that blast of cold air due to the fountains.

    How cold was it? At the mile 9 aid station, they gave out Gu. I've never had to chew Gu before. I'm just sayin'

    Nothing like Dayglo-lime-green to help you to stand out in the crowd...This photo "borrowed" from the race photographer. I think it was taken at mile 10.

    Funny story...the previous day, at the expo, I bought a new running tank by Gracie's Gear, the kind with the pocket right in front. I wasn't thinking I'd wear it during the race, but then I figured it'd give me a good place to keep my phone while I was running. It also gave me an extra layer...which I needed.

    Anyway, right before this photo was taken, I was fiddling with my iPhone. I thought...oh great, another photo of me looking like I'm checking my rack out during a race...Betty will LOVE that. Luckily, the photographer didn't catch that shot. Instead, I stand out like a beacon in the green.

    At mile 10, I stopped to take a picture of the mile 10 sign (and the back of some guy's head) to send a photo to Walter to tell him where I was, but I was starting to hurt, and I knew that I was moving at just a snails pace. I'd try to speed up a bit, but it felt like that really bad dream that you have where you are running with all your energy and might and just not moving and you wake up and you're all wrapped up in your blankets? That's how I felt.

    three more miles...threeeeee more miles...threeeeeeeee more miles...

    By the time I got to Mile 12, I was doing the "it's only one more mile. you can run a mile. if you finish this mile in 11 minutes, you'll be done running in ONLY 11 MINUTES... at 12.5 miles, I was thinking, "only 5 more minutes girl... you can run for 5 minutes... it's nothing.

    More ASI "borrowed photos" don'tcha love the hand warmers and gritted teeth.

    In front of Mandalay Bay, I tried to put my head down, listening to Christina Aguilera's "Fighter" for the third time, and finished. GAH!

    And she's done...

    The Ugly Truth Stats:
    Mile 10 - 13:09 (yeah...ugly)
    Mile 11 - 13:12 (ooooh worse - like molasses)
    Mile 13 - 11:56

    Garmin time: 2:38:20
    Chip time: 2:44:20 (my slowest 1/2 marathon time)
    Clock time: 3:05:37 (Dayum, it's depressing to see 3 hours on the clock, even if I did start almost 20 minutes after the gun, but still)

    After Race - The Drama Continues

    I had two thoughts at the end of the race.
    1. Thank god that's over
    2. Damn I'm cold
    3. How the hell are we going to get out of here?
    Now that I'm thinking back, I barely remember going through the finish area. Someone handed me the finishers medal and a bottle of water and a mylar blanket (best use of mylar blanket ever!) I sorta remember picking up a bagel, taking a bite, and tossing the rest of it. I grabbed a banana and an orange, but I think I must have given them to Walter. I checked my phone and I had a text from Walter that said "13" which meant he must have seen me at the finish, so I made my way to the meeting area. Luckily, before I got there, I saw Walter, (or he saw me) we got my gear and tried to figure out what to do next.

    I'll leave the whole long story of how we managed to get out of Mandalay Bay and back to our hotel for another post, but suffice it to say, it took us almost as long to get back to our hotel as it took me to run a really slow 1/2 marathon and it included WAAAAAY too much walking.

    But it ended with this...

    Me and Walter at the MGM in a cafe with coffee and was 11:15. I'd stopped running around 9:30

    and of course, this...

    Next post: The after-story and some reflections (really...I'm happy with the finish. It's a lousy time, but it was ASS-cold and I really hadn't been able to train like I'd like to. But I ran the whole thing (except for the porta potty break and one stretch stop) and I was still running at the end, so I'm happy.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Things I Learned and Relearned in Vegas - A Race Report of Sorts - Part 1

    I learned LOTS by running the Las Vegas Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon last weekend, including some things I already knew, but needed to be reminded of...and some things that never would have occurred to me.

    Settle in...this may take awhile...Sometimes I'm a slow learner. Today I start with all the Prerace reporting...

    Things I Already Knew - Pre-race Nonsense

    You never stop being a mother, even when you're trying to pack
    I had another ridiculously busy week at work last week, so I didn't even start packing until Friday morning. I knew I was going to be cutting it pretty close timing wise. Our flight to Vegas left at 12:20, which gave me the morning to pack and straighten the house a bit before I left, but as I was starting to make sure that I had all my gear together, I received a frantic text message from DramaGirl...

    Suffice it to say that running said project up to the school and back took a good 30 minute chunk of my already limited time.

    Of course, limited packing time meant that I overpacked some things (I packed four pairs of running tights) and underpacked others (oh, like regular clothes for example) and forgot a few things (like big deal), all together ((sigh)). Oh well, Vegas has stores. These things can all be purchased.

    In any event, Walter and I made it to the airport only to find (of course) that the flight had been delayed 20 minutes.... GAH! Once on the plane, there was this...

    Bloody Mary's of honor of the 1/2 Mary...and after all, we WERE going to Vegas...

    Big expos can be fun, but it's best to go early!
    I'm really glad Walter and I flew into Vegas on Friday and went straight to the expo (where we ran into Irene and her husband Michael) because we were able to sort of browse around and enjoy ourselves...well I did anyway. I think Expos of any sort are sorta Walter's version of hell.

    Trust's Irene and me...Walter is an excellent sherpa, but photographer? hmmmmm

    So here's my question, why did the Expo organizers smush all of the vendors into only a portion of the room. It was busy on Friday, but I went back for a bit on Saturday and the place was a complete ZOO! Almost scary crowded.

    Lucky for me, on Friday Irene had already been through the expo and gave me the info on where to get the best swag. Verizon had some extra-groovy Elvis glasses and a flashy ring (Walter and I each got for each kid). At Pearl Izumi, if you tried on their shoes, they gave you some free socks (sweet!), and Wynn Hotels were giving away some pretty nice knit caps (lots of runners used these as their throw away hat the next morning).

    Certainly, the talk among many runners at the expo was the weather and how cold it would be in the morning. I heard reports that it was going to get down to 25º overnight...and I don't care where you live, 25º is cold.

    Maybe I should have paid the extra moola to stay across the street at the MGM Grand
    Because I waited too long to make hotel reservations (ok...I'm gonna throw the herd under the bus a little bit here...because I was also waiting to see if any of them were going to Vegas), the sponsor hotels, Mandalay Bay and The Luxor, were sold out, so I decided to Priceline it, put in my lowball bid and got what was purported to be a 4-Star hotel on the "South Strip" the Westin.

    Two issues:
    1. The location. I would say that the Westin is mid-strip at best, so it was pretty far away from all of the race stuff, which meant that all of the money I may have saved in the room rate went to taxi cab fares. The distance between the race and the hotel would also be a HUGE issue AFTER the race as well.
    2. 4-Stars? I think not! I mean it was a nice enough place, but not 4-Star nice. Priceline rating system...pffffft.
    Vegas is Surreal, Amazing, and Incredibly Interesting... Especially When You're Sober
    Walter and I spent two nights in Vegas. It was one of the ways I convinced him to go with me..."Hey honey...let's go to Vegas for TWO nights...the first night we can just play!" So the first night we hung out with some friends and basically wandered up and down the strip and pretended to gamble. Mostly we had beverages :-)

    The fountains at the Bellagio

    My friends Dee and Joel...who live in Vegas and who must have been channeling their youth when they came out to meet us at 10pm.

    We met up with Dee and Joel in the Bellagio, then they took us over to a bar in a new hotel called V'dara. The bar and the hotel were quite lovely. Dee told us that it's the first fully "green" hotel in Vegas.

    This is a shot of City Center, the new "thing" on the strip in Vegas. When it's finished there'll be three hotels, some condos, a huge shopping mall, and of course, a casino. It's pretty cool looking, like Gotham City in Batman Returns, before Gotham went bad.

    After Dee and Joel dropped us off at our hotel, Walter and I went to bed...what a day!

    Too much wine = headache
    Of course, I woke up on Saturday just a tad bit tired. We spent most of the morning doing nothing, but we did go to the hotel gym. I did some stretching, rode a bike and did the elliptical. Then walked over to Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville for breakfast/lunch. This is twice I've been to Margaritaville and not had a margarita (the last time was in September when I went to Vegas with the herd), or anything stronger than coffee...weird.

    Walter in Margaritaville. That's a whale swimming over his head.

    Something else you should know. Along with, about 20,000 out of town runners for the Las Vegas RnR, Vegas was also hosting some NASCAR event, and the National Rodeo Finals.

    It's really easy to tell the difference between NASCAR fans and runners. Not as easy to tell the difference between Rodeo fans and NASCAR fans though. Just an observation.

    After breakfast/lunch, we finally caught up with BBJ, who was also runnng, and Wilma. We pretty much hung out in a Mandalay Bay bar and watched Alabama beat Florida State, which only mattered to us because Walter had bet on Florida State.

    That night, we met my parents for dinner. We went to a deli in the Wynn called ZoZa Crackers. They make an excellent Matzoh Ball Soup, which was an excellent pre-race meal.

    It's a bowl, but it really was enough for all four of us. But seriously YUM!

    It doesn't happen often but... some do win at the tables in Vegas
    No...not me. I'd have to actually gamble to win, although Wilma did turn me onto penny slots. Now that is some mindless fun.

    After dinner, my parents dropped us off at the hotel pretty early and Wilma and BBJ were already there. We had told them that the Westin had a small casino with $5 minimum bets on the tables. This is pretty much unheard of in the major hotels on the strip on a Saturday night. By the time we got there, BBJ was already lining up the chips. He was on a roll...literally. At the end of the night, he cashed out about $1000 ahead. (GOTTA LOVE THAT!). To be honest, at one point I was worried that if he kept winning he might not make the start of the race!

    While BBJ won his thousands, Wilma introduced me to Penny slots. Penny slots are just a hoot...the silly gambling part is interrupted by occasional bonus games. In our favorite one, we got to watch an animated characters do a strip tease.

    Gotta love Vegas.

    Alas, bedtime called, so we said goodbye to Lance and Rod (the cartoon strippers) and I went to bed, after all I'd be up at 4am to get to the race.

    Next time: Race Day (oh yeah...there was some little run involved in this weekend somewhere).

    I'll get to the actual race part of the race report tomorrow