Saturday, October 30, 2010

Food, Books, Travel, Love...What else is there?

Carly got tagged this week and then she tagged the Internets... I have no running of note to blog about, and this tag had lots of questions about I'll play.

1. If you could eat anything without any health repercussions, what would it be?
That's a tough one, because I really like good food. Fast food? Meh... I can leave it. But put a really perfectly aged and grilled filet mignon in a bĂ©arnaise sauce, in front of me? And I'm in heaven. I make a really mean bread pudding that has a bourbon sauce that is just to die for. I also make some kick-ass gumbo. I don't make these things very often because both are heart-attacks waiting to happen.

BTW...I've only been to the south twice. Why I love southern cooking so much is a bit of a mystery to me.

2. If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I'd love to meet Jon Stewart (living) and Mark Twain (dead) because they are/were brilliant satirists. I'd just want to sit and listen and learn.

3. Why did you start blogging and what did you expect when you started?
I've written about this a lot on this blog and elsewhere. I started blogging to capture the adventures of the herd when we training for our first (and only) marathon, but I'd actually been thinking about starting a blog for awhile. I didn't want to start a mommy blog (not that there's anything wrong with that). I thought about starting a blog about adolescent literacy since I have LOTS of opinions about that topic or about teaching, a job with LOTS of stories to tell. Then, when I dropped my first iPhone in a toilet after a training run, I googled "dropped iPhone in toilet" to see if I could salvage it and came across this blog. I thought it was the funniest damn thing I'd read. I loved the voice, the pacing, the meta-commentary, and started to model some of my points after Amalah's style. I've never met her, and she's never (as far as I know) ever read my blog, but I am somewhat indebted to her.

What did I expect? At first, I expected to entertain my friends, although I expected that I'd start blogging and be able to quit my day job and just write all the time. That hasn't really happened yet.

4. What is the one book you could read over and over again?
I teach English, so there are plenty of books I've read over and over again. One of the books that I've taught that I actually enjoyed reading more than once is Barbara Kingsolver's The Bean Trees, just because the main character is a smart ass, and I like that about her.

As for non-teaching book? You are about to discover what a complete and utter geek I am... I've read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy more times than I can tell you about.

5. If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?
One day, I'll travel through Europe...Italy actually. I'd love nothing more than to drink wine, eat pasta, sit in a piazza and people watch people, see great art, and drink wine...for the rest of my life.

6. If you could have a TV show on the food network, what would it be?
I'd love to have a TV show where The Herd and I travel around the country, run some, then eat breakfast and have mimosas at different restaurants, and then let the TV sensors beep out 1/2 of what we actually end up talking and laughing about... wouldn't be great TV, but I'd have fun!

7. What was the best meal you've ever had?
There are two reasons why any meal is "the best meal." One would be because of the person you're with, and the other would be about the food. In my case, it's both. One of the best meals I've ever had was at a restaurant in downtown San Diego called Croce's (it's owned by Ingrid Croce, the late Jim Croce's wife). Walter and I went there for dinner one night. I can't remember now if we were still dating or if we'd just gotten married, but the truth is that we ended up there without a reservation on a Saturday night and somehow they squeezed us in. We ordered mussels and they were just exquisit. We've both claimed, ever since then, that they were the best we'd ever had. In retrospect, I think that we were young, in love, and feeling very lucky that the maitre' de sat us on a busy Saturday night and all THAT is what made the damn mussels so very good because they've never been equaled.

8. Who has been the greatest influence on your love for food and learning to cook?
My mom would occasionally try to get me to learn to cook when I was young, but I just had no interest in it, at all. I mean, I was happy to eat whatever she cooked, but had no interest in cooking it myself. When I first moved out on my own, I once called my mother to ask her how to bake a potato. I remembered that I'd seen her stab it with a fork, but I had no idea why, nor did I have any idea how long, or what temperature, and this was well before the Internet when I could just look it up.

One of my first jobs out of college was at a hotel, and at one point I started working in the catering department (answering phones, handing out menus). There were SO MANY THINGS on the menu that I'd never heard of...bearnaisse sauces, petit fours, pates, filet this, grilled that. We'd have tastings and I decided that I really LIKED food.

Anyway, it was working in those hotels, and learning from a couple of the chefs, when I started becoming more interested in food and cooking. I would watch what they did and think, "I could do that!" that's true Carly fashion. I tag the rest of the Internet who hasn't already been tagged by Carly (as if that's anyone...she's got, like, a gazillion followers)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oh...and about the roof

So... I mentioned that pesky leak in the roof last time I posted...and remember it looked something like this...
Depressing...and GAH!!!! Like I have TIME to deal with leaky roofs?
Then Walter and the solar water guy attempted to fix it on Monday, and then it rained Monday night, and so I hoped that the leak had been fixed...

Well guess what?
It wasn't...
It rained torrents on Monday...BTW...WTF is up with this weather? It doesn't rain for a YEAR around here, now it's raining buckets...and I've got a leaky roof...I mean, I guess the STOOPID roof has had the potential to be a STOOPID LEAKING ROOF for the past year, but since it NEVER RAINED, who knew?

Not us, that's for sure.

Anyway, we had a neighbor/contractor come over and they cut out the section of the ceiling that was damaged, and they say that some of the wood beams and the plywood has to be replaced which (BY THE EFFING WAY) needs to be done from the TOP,* so some of the roof is going to have to be replaced as well.


Oh the joys of living in an older house**
* That's what she said (for you G)

** Circa 1948...but really, the living room with the leaky roof is an addition made by the previous owner circa 1979...and also in the interest of full disclosure, we re-did the roof (which showed signs of leakage) when we bought and remodeled the house in 2000. The original roof on the addition was flat (which caused me to consider it the cause of the aforementioned water leakage damage), so when we remodeled the house in 2000, we added some pitch to the roof precisely so that rain would flow OFF the roof and not sit on the FLAT roof and eventually leak INTO the house...and it all worked out really well until we installed the solar water heater for the pool, which apparently caused water to sit ON the roof and not flow OFF the roof. Thusly, water leaked INTO the house. So THAT worked out really well...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It all happens in threes

Item 1 - Making Plans
Three years ago, Betty had a wild idea to run a marathon, so we trained for and ran the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon in 2008. Almost immediately after, we ran America's Finest City 1/2 Marathon.  If you asked Betty, she'd say she wanted to run, "one marathon." In fact, I think she did say something pretty close to that after Long Beach.

However, I don't think Betty (or anyone for that matter) was counting on my becoming somewhat addicted to running.

Since then, I've convinced Betty, Mik, Elsie, Alberta, Kat, and now Walter and a few others to train continuously for (FILL IN THE BLANK HERE). Not that they've been unwilling accomplices. At least I prefer to I think they've come along willingly.

But for the last three years, there really hasn't been a time when I wasn't planning or training (such as it sometimes is) for SOMETHING. Last year we did the San Diego Triple Crown. We just completed the California Dreamin' series. In between we've run other 1/2 Marathons, countless 5K and 10K "fun runs" and have completed more training runs, (ending with mimosas and pancakes of course), than I can count (although to be truthful, I have)

Anyway, I now find myself in the unusual place right now of having really NOTHING to train for--no 1/2 marathon in my future. Oh sure, we're going to run the Shelter Island 5K in a couple of weeks, but after that...nothing, nada.

There are some things we've talked about...doing the Triple Crown Again (Elsie has never run Carlsbad or AFC, although we can't do that this year since Carlsbad is already sold out). Mik wants to start running all the Rock 'n Roll series and travel to more races, maybe two a year. Betty may want to run Surf City so she can officially claim her California Dreamin' medal and jacket, and we'd never let her do that alone.

There are plenty of other nearby 1/2 marathons we haven't done including the Silver Strand, or the OC 1/2, or San Dieguito.

We've talked about doing something like Ragnar or another really long relay race (like the Red Rock Relay).

And I am pretty sure that we are all doing the SDTC RnR training program again, or at least I am.

But nothing concrete...and you all know me, I'm a planner. A  planner without a plan is a very bad thing.

It's a little disconcerting to be honest with you.

Item 2 - Final Notes on Long Beach
The gear-retrieval-debacle was not the end of the black cloud that seemed to follow the end of the race.
  1. Before we left the hotel, DramaGirl called and said it had been raining in San Diego all night, and that that our ceiling was leaking.
  2. As I was unpacking my bag when we got home, I discovered that I did not have the laundry bag with my damp-sweaty running clothes in it, and surmised that I'd left it in the hotel room as we rushed out of there.
Can everyone say GAH!!!! with me?


The leaky roof was related to the solar water heater (for the pool) that is on our roof (it's the solar water heater that's on the roof, not the pool...Damn Dangling Modifiers). Apparently, it was making it impossible for water to run off the roof in one area, and water will ALWAYS find a way to run downhill...and it seem in this case, like the best path of egress was into our living room. The guys who installed the solar did something so that "hopefully" there's no more leakage, but we are still left with this...
Oh goody...just in time for the holidays...
We're supposed to get some ran on Monday, so we'll see if it worked...

As for the laundry that was left behind. I called the Marriott in Long Beach the MOMENT I realized that I'd left my laundry in the room and talked to
  • The front desk clerk
  • Two housekeepers
  • The head of housekeeping
And asked, begged, them to look for the bag and then send it back to me as it had in it my fabulous Race Ready Capri running pants and my NEON-DAY-GLO-LIME-GREEN running shirt! (the really important thing, right?)

So props to Allison (the head of housekeeping) for finding my stuff and for sending it back. The toxic package arrived on Thursday. The clothes were still sorta damp...kinda ewwwww huh?

Item 3 - Back to Running
After taking the week off to "recover," Walter and I headed over to Lake BP on Saturday morning for our first post-race run. Nothing exciting to report, just an easy (almost) 5 mile run. It was nice to get out there...and I had plenty of time to think about how I have nothing planned.

I did manage a pretty nice 10:21 pace...

Hope everyone has a fabulous week. Watch out for all the trick-or-treaters!

We carved pumpkins with our good friends Paul and Amy on Wednesday night...we might have jumped the gun a little bit, but it was the only night everyone was available.
DramaGirl with the pumpkin lineup...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Running LB: The Race Report...It's about time!

So...race morning came...everybody now...AT THE BUTTCRACK OF DAWN.

As usual, I slept like crap the night before the race and woke up at regular hour intervals, making sure that I didn't oversleep. At about 4:30am, I realized that Walter was awake (which is not so surprising..he often wakes up before the birds), and I turned off the alarm on my iPhone, got out of bed, and started making coffee.

I will be the first to admit that I am not the quietest morning person. At one point Walter suggested that I quiet down and turn off lights so as not to wake up everyone...WTF? Race Rookie... It's my job on these things to make enough noise so that everyone else wakes up...or at least that's what I tell myself.

Anyway, sure enough, within a few minutes, everyone was awake. Walter, politely, left the room so that we all could get dressed. I'm not sure, but I think he may have learned that getting ready for a race is NOT like getting ready for a date. We were all, pretty much ready to go by about 5:30. Left the hotel, found a great parking space a few blocks from the Long Beach Convention Center and made our way to the race.
Here comes the herd...
Betty and I look wide awake!
Since any race report that I've written is not complete until I've made a porta potty report, I'm happy to report that the LB porta-potty's were PLENTIFUL! Once at the race start, we immediately went to the porta potty lines. Let's say that some of us were in - ahem - immediate need. You know, like the coffee finally kicked in. Who knew that the sight of the little blue boxes lined up would make someone so happy.

The ONLY problem with using a porta potties at 6am in October is that it was still pretty dark, and you just never know what you might find "lying around" in a porta potty that didn't quite make it all the way into the hole... Thus, I am also happy to report that my PP was clear.

Of course, there's a whole PP protocol that runners know about, right? If the door lock is green, it's available. Red means occupied. While we were waiting for everyone else to finish their "business" we noticed that there was one PP with "green" showing. One guy, who was still waiting in line, walked up to it and politely opened the door.  Then apologize profusely to whoever was in there and to whoever had forgotten to lock the door. I looked around, didn't see Walter and noted "I'll bet that's Walter in there."

Out walked the green shirt.

Rookie mistake... Always lock the door. Ask Edith, she knows.

Now, isn't that really more than you wanted to know about the porta potties.

Business being done, we had about 45 minutes to stretch, check gear, and relax before the race. We hung out. We stretched. We hung out some more. I tried to text people. ATT service SUCKED!!!
The herd stretches before the race
A vision and a LOT of green
You'd think that since we had so much time before the race, we would have managed to get to our starting wave and to find all our friends.

You'd be wrong. I have no idea what we were doing, but at about 6:45 we decided to get toward the race start. I'd finally got ahold of my bro-in-law. He said he was by the bridge. BTW...Do you know that there must be about 7 different bridges in the greater Long Beach Convention Center area? There are bridges over ponds, over walkways, over freeways.

Nevertheless, we made our way to the start...
Betty's daughter made her a very special California Dreamin' Medal of her very own 
So, we made our way to the start, and this is where things started to get a little crazy. It was PACKED! But we determinedly tried to make our way through the crowd to Wave 4.
Somewhere in the middle of wave 5
Hi Girls...Where's Walter?
So here's the problem. We were a great neon-day-glo-lime-green herd moving forward, and I turned around. Alberta was right behind me, and Walter was behind her. Then I turned around again, and WALTER WAS GONE!

GUILT, GUILT, GUILT! I convinced him to run this thing with me, then I lose him in a sea of people. 

Have I ever mentioned that Walter really hates crowds? Pretty much the start of a big race like this must be one of Dante's levels of hell in his mind. If Walter was leading the way, I'm sure we'd have started at the end of Wave 7....just to avoid the crowd. I true Walter fashion...he decided he'd had enough of the crowd. 
Walter started the race with my brother in law...who sent me this photo.
 As I was having a bit of a minor freak out because I had no effing idea where Walter was, the 4th Wave started and we were off... I just said a little prayer that Walter was somewhere nearby and that I'd spot him at a turnaround in the first few miles, but I had no idea at this point if he was ahead of me, or behind me, or where.


Miles 1-5 - Where's Walter?
So, I turned part of my attention to running. For the first time in a long time, Betty, Elsie, Alberta and I started a race together...but where was Mik? Turns out she decided to do one more turn in the Porta Potty. That's OK, she's speedy and would end up passing us all up anyway. As I previously wrote, my race goal was to have fun, so I decided to try to maintain somewhere between an 11:00 - 11:30 pace for the first few miles, and for the most part this is what I did, but I was stressed. I just kept my eyes peeled for a guy in a white hat, a neon-day-glo-lime-green shirt and black shorts.

You'd be surprised to know how many men in a 1/2 Marathon would match that description. It's more than one. You'll have to trust me on this.

In fact, at one point, I thought I saw Walter about 1/4 mile ahead of me. I figured I could catch him. Alberta and I were running together (aren't we always together at the beginning of these things?), so we picked up the pace. Then at about 1.5 miles in, at the first turn-around, Alberta spotted him, "Hey, there he is!" and it turns out he was about 1/2 mile behind me. He shouted that he'd catch up.

I thought, "don't rush yourself, I'm not hurrying here. We've got A LONG way to go."

Mile 1 - 10:44
Mile 2 - 10:57
Mile 3 - 11:29
Mile 4 - 11:00
Mile 5 - 12:11

Miles 6 - 8 - Are We There Yet?
By about Mile 6, I really had to pee. In fact, I had to pee since the beginning of the race, but by mile 6, I really HAD TO pee. There were Porta Potties on the course, but I don't know if there are ever enough of those. Luckily around mile 6, one of the public restrooms was open, so I stopped in there. Elsie was on her way out! Despite a lack of training, she was being a total rock star.
The Queen Mary and a cruise ship. I wanted to walk right about here, but I'd been telling my students all week that the 8th week of a semester is like the 7th mile of a 1/2 marathon for me. You want to stop and walk, but once you start walking, it's even harder to start, and some times you don' for them, I kept running.
This is also where I started having those conversations and making deals with my various body like:

 "OK Butt...I'm not sure why you're cramping up, but you need to carry me a few more miles here"

 "Hey calves...why don't you relax a bit"

At the 7.5 mile water station, I stopped for a moment to stretch my calves. The concrete running path and the lack of electrolyte beverage at the water stations (if it was there, I didn't see any) was starting to affect me. Then, I heard a familiar voice saying "hey's it going" and it was Walter...shirtless, but still running. Even though he was a sweaty mess, I kissed him and asked how he was doing. He said he was fine, but agreed that the concrete surface was starting to wear on his shins. I was just thrilled for the company. The guilt subsided, but I didn't speed up much.

Mile 6 - 12:33
Mile 7 - 12:04
Mile 8 - 11:50

  Miles 9-13 - Running with Walter
 So finally we ran together. I'd heard from several people that the part of the race that went down the path on the sand was kinda brutal, if for no other reason, it's boring. I had the complete opposite experience. Because Walter showed up, I got this little bit of energy...that and the guy just makes me laugh.

 Coming upon the 9th mile, we were running past some condos. Some guy was on a 4th floor balcony cheering on the runners (the crowds were pretty cool), and offering beer to anyone who wanted one. I think this happens in most races, but I've never seen a runner actually take a beer before.

Then there is Walter, who shouted up to the guy, "yeah, I'll take one." The guy says "you catch it, it's yours!" and he drops it four floors down to Walter who catches it. I made him take pictures...and he even let me take the first drink.
I'll admit, I've had some early morning post-race beers, but never a Mile 9 beer.
Walter...enjoying the moment
THAT moment made me happy for the next two miles. After that? Let's just say it was my typical Mile 11, 12, and 13...slow and painful.

That being said, I kept running anyway. Despite having a Gu at Mile 10, I still had no energy. Walter claimed at Mile 11 that he could use another beer. The last mile was the worst! I was tired and sore. My ass was killing me. Walter put his green shirt back on (I made him promise that he'd wear a shirt for the finish).

 Finally, we got to the final corner and a lovely downhill grade to the finish. We picked up our pace and charged to the finish. I was about to get all emotional about finishing a 1/2 marathon with Walter and how cool it was that we could do this together, and how much I was enjoying the moment, and Walter pulls up and said something like "OH! THAT'S NOT GOOD!"

 Calf Cramp....can you imagine?

He took a couple of ginger-steps and we ran into the finish...
Yep... I am using one of the race photos... 
Unfortunately...we weren't finished.

 Mile 9 - 12:44 (we'll call this "The Beer Mile")
Mile 10 - 11:23
Mile 11 - 11:30
Mile 12 - 11:21
Mile 13 - 13:08
Mile .33 - 9:56 (see...told you it was downhill)

Alice - 2:40
Walter - 2:33

We found Alberta...wandered into the post-race area. Got a bag with a banana, an apple, and a granola bar of some sort. Walter was, of course, wearing clothes that were soaked with sweat (despite the overcast day, it was still pretty humid. In addition, he had sweat out that entire beer). We ran into Elsie. Then Walter tried to get over to the Gear Check Area by going over a pedestrian bridge, and the line to get over the bridge was about 1/4 mile long. I figured we could go around another way, so I suggested to Elsie and Alberta that they find Mik, Kat, and Betty and meet us at the gear check.

Then we got to the Gear Check Area...

What a train-wreck...a cluster-effed train. effing. wreck.

No lines. No organization. A mess.

We waiting in that line for nearly 90 minutes. It was entirely insane. There were a few kids looking for bags at what appeared to be one at a time. The bags were in no order. We inched our way forward. About every two minutes (I am really not exaggerating), a cheer would go up because one person had gotten his/her bag. I think it is a huge testament to the patience and manners and quality of runners that everyone was, for the most part, polite and patient. I mean this is a group of people who'd run anywhere from 2 to 3 hours (as we stood there, we could hear the 4 hour marathon finishers finishing, so I suspect none of them were in line yet).

Mostly, we tried to laugh about the ridiculousness of the situation, but as we neared 60 minutes of wait-time, you could see patience running thin. Walter (who was still in wet clothes) decided that he was going to try another area of the (I hesitate to call it a line. It was more like a crowd) to get his bag. After about 15 minutes, he told me he had it. I told him to go ahead and walk to the car. I'd been getting texts from Mik for awhile wondering when we were going to be there, since THEY were all waiting at the car (with no money, or clothes to change into...GRRRR).

Finally, I was about three back from the front of the line, and I could see that a group of people who lifting up the back of the tent to get at their bags from the back side. As the volunteers (who I felt really bad for...well, I felt bad for the first hour at least) turned around to deal with the people who were sneaking into the back of the tent, people on the front side started to climb over, and go around the tables to get to their bags.


And still...people were mostly polite.

 And I then I had my bag in my sights. As I stepped toward it, one of the volunteers asked ( be honest, he yelled at) me to get back in line. I politely said (ok...I snarled) "look. I see my bag. It's right there. I'm gonna grab it and leave and you'll have one less person and bag to deal with!"'s the biggest tragedy of the day...the 90 minute wait really took the sails out of our post-race celebration. By the time we got back to the hotel it was 12:30...we all showered quickly, got packed, and met down at the bar...the place we went the night before with the really slooooooooow service.

We were starving. No mimosas. But we got some just OK food.
I have no idea why Kat looks so chipper...the rest of us look like zombies.
That the day ended with the gear check debacle is really too bad because the rest of the day, and the weekend, was a lot of fun.

As we drove back to San Diego, I asked Walter if he'd ever do another 1/2 and he said something like "I'd have to be highly motivated..."

But he didn't say no...

As for the me? I think I'm going to take a break from long races for a bit. But if you're still with me (thank you), you know I've written enough. I'll write about next steps, next time.

Monday, October 18, 2010

One for the Herd - Long Beach 1/2 Marathon Race Report (the Pre-race stuff)

We went, we ran, we more 1/2 Marathon for the herd is on the books now, as is Walter's first half marathon and although he said he'd have to be highly motivated to do another, duly note that he never said "never."

Bwahahahahahahaha...I think we got him.

My stats were nowhere near awesome, but then again, it wasn't my goal. I did set out what I wanted to do. I ran. I had fun. I took some pix. I finished (and even had some kick at the end), and it turned out to be a relatively average finish time for me (not fast, not the slowest EVAH...2:40...meh!). In fact, it was two minutes slower than a far more challenging San Francisco 1/2 Marathon (2:38).

Walter (who for various reasons, ended up starting in the 5th Wave instead of in the 4th Wave with me) finished in 2:32. 

As usual, I have more photos and memories than will reasonably fit into one post (and it's late, and I'm still recovering), so I'm going to do this in two posts. So, here they come, the...

Pre-Race Highlights!
The Expo - Very organized and even though it was pretty crowded by the time we got there, we got in, got our stuff and got out. As a matter of fact, I thought ALL of the pre-race organization was extraordinary (the post race? well...that's a whole 'nuther story, but I'll get to that).
Elsie, Betty, Mik and Walter in front of the LB Convention Center before the expo
The Cal-Dreamin' Jacket - NICE and lightweight and black, which in my world means it goes with everything.

Before dinner and after the expo, we were properly hungry and thirsty, so we stopped at the bar in our hotel at the LB Marriott for a snack and a bevvie. The food was very yummy, but the service? Can you say SLOOOOOOOOOWWWW (and this coming from somebody who runs a 2:40 1/2 Mary, so that's something!)
Pre-race carb loading begins - beers and food to get us started (aren't Elsie, Mik and I looking HAWT in our Cal-Dreamin' Jackets?)
OK...I almost never do this, and if these people are your friends, I am so sorry, but one of these women had the most AMAZINGLY LOUD, PIERCING LAUGH, we'd ever heard. 
Yummy tapas thingy with breads, chips, and dips (humas, tapenade, and bruchetta...I could live on this stuff)
Pre-race dinner with blogger friends - Thanks so much for organizing the dinner Glenn. It was fun too see everyone, and I got to meet Maggie from Run Happy. I think I started reading her blog after the SF 1/2 Marathon. She had just started following me on Twitter (like that very day!). At dinner, we realized we already (sorta) knew each other...
Penny, Mik, Elsie, and Me at out pre-race dinner (yes SOMEONE had to drink all that beer and wine) 
Penny and Betty discussing how they are going to run Surf City again in February. Betty, sadly, did not get the Cal Dreamin' jacket or medal this time because she ran Surf City as "Tiger"
We think Caesar approved
Oh forgive me blogger world. Mags is on the left and doesn't EVERYONE know Glenn? I am horrified that I cannot remember everyone's name...BAD BLOGGER!!!! (But everyone was super nice and fun to talk to!)

The firepit at the LB Marriott - What a great way to hang with the girls before the race.
Kat and Alberta arrived after dinner.
Elsie, enjoying the fire and the mist
Betty: wondering if I am the WORST MOTHER EVER because I did not make it clear that Walter and I had NOT left DramaGirl alone at home all night, but that her uncle was staying with her (GEEZ...I don't even like her going to the movies without an adult present, you think I'd leave her ALONE???) 
Betty, as many of you know is the principal at the high school DramaGirl attends. At one point I was telling the herd about a new friend who DG is hanging out with, but I didn't know her last name, so I texted DG to ask. She told me the girls name and then begged me to not stalk her on FB (oh don't worry honey, I'm just checkin' out with your principal that your new friend is OK... You don't need FB for to stalk your kids friends when your BFF is the principal).

It's good to have friends in high places.

Happy me! I have no idea why my sunglasses are still on my head. Maybe the fire was too bright.
Our rooms at the LB Marriott were adjoining, so it was one big slumber party. Walter wouldn't admit to the last time he shacked up with 6 women.

Elsie is ready for sleep
Kat's bed of pillows
We all went to sleep relatively early (well, you'd think so) since 4:45 (my wake up time) would come soon enough. As usual, I slept like crap, waking up every hour or so, afraid that I'd oversleep, so I can attest that we are the quietest group of sleepers EVAH. Two rooms, seven people, not a single loud snorer!

Speaking of sleep (or the lack thereof), I'm still trying to catch up, so I'm off to snooze. I'll post an actual race report and more pix tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

OH...and do we think we're ready for this weekend?

In an answer...probably not, but that's OK.

First of all...thank you so much for all of your words of encouragement and a few kicks in the butt about my whiny attitude the last couple of posts. I read back and I do sound like I'm being kinda down on myself about my last few long runs, but really I'm just trying to be objective. They've not been stellar runs. That's not really whiny...that's just being honest. And the reason for not my running very well on the long runs is NOT the weather, or the humidity. It is pretty obvious...I've not been running often enough. I've not been doing ANY weight work. That's not whiny...that's just being honest.

I suppose I have good reasons for this (although Jess's 100 day running streak makes me think "maybe not"). But many of us have been happens, we get busy. Work or family or other obligations take precedence, and we end up not doing the kind of training/running that we know we SHOULD BE DOING to get ready for a 1/2 marathon, but for (fill in the blank) reason, we don't/can't/won't...whatever.

In the long run (and a 1/2 marathon is a long run...gotta respect the distance) it doesn't really matter why we haven't trained enough, when you haven't, you haven't.

It is what it is.

That being said, in the past five years, I have built up a fair amount cardio endurance, some core and leg and glute strength, I have done at least three 9+ mile runs this past month, and I do know how to run 13.1 miles. All that experience and my overall fitness what will suffice on Sunday.

So...I'll run with Walter in his first 1/2 marathon. We'll start slow and take it easy.  You should anticipate LOTS of photos (which I almost never take in a race because I'm so hell-bent on PRing) because my race plan is to have a truly FUN RUN.

In fact, because I'm putting absolutely NO pressure on myself, I may have more fun than I've EVER had in a 1/2 marathon, and to be honest, I'm really looking forward to that. Also, since deciding (probably sometime this weekend) that I was going to focus on having fun and not so much on running as fast as I can, I've had three REALLY GOOD RUNS!
  • On Saturday, despite futzing around all morning and being a rather bad friend when standing up Mik and Kat (who cleverly ran at 7am before it got warm), I finally got my butt out there at 10:30 and managed to get 4 miles done in the bright sun. Results? 4 miles/10:44 pace.
  • On Sunday, despite sleeping in because of Walter (who attended his 30th year HS reunion the night before), I got out of the house and ran at Harbor Island at almost 9am. It was a still pretty warm, but we got in 6 miles/10:42 pace.
  • On Tuesday, despite a long day at work, luck had it so that both kids were otherwise engaged (DramaGirl at field hockey practice; Turbo hanging out with friends), so Walter and I decided to go run after work. Unfortunately, probably because the afternoon weather has been so spectacular, we didn't really consider that it is no longer summer. It is fall, and by 7pm, it's pretty darn dark. Running by nothing much more than the moonlight shining off of Lake BP was a pretty odd experience. Although I was nervous about accidentally tripping over a crack in the path, it was freeing to NOT be able to see my Garmin (am I running to fast? Oh SHIZ. Garmin says I am, so I must be), NOT being able to see a hill (up or down), just being able to FEEL the incline or decline or cant of the road. 3.88 miles/10:22 pace
Emails have been flying this week about plans and bibs and rooms and dinners and you'd think that we're flying to another country and not just driving about 75 minutes north to Long Beach. On Saturday, Betty, Elsie, Mik, Alberta, Walter and I will be in Long Beach and on Sunday morning we run. I cannot wait to see what happens!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sweat and Water Aid

On Saturday, we decided late in the week to run from Harbor Island to Shelter Island and back for our last long training run for the LB 1/2 Marathon in two weeks. In planning out this run, I discovered that it's not easy to find a reasonable place for an 11 mile run that has the following criteria.
  • Water on the route
  • Mostly asphalt instead of concrete (kinder on the legs, knees, feet)
  • Relatively close to home
  • Relatively flat (for LB, there's really not much need for hill training, thus we've done NADA
The "water on the route" issue has been the most problematic recently but the HI to SI run seemed to have enough water fountains along the way to sustain us.
Walter and I met Mik at Harbor Island at 7am, about the same time as SDTC's fall "Whatever" training program was meeting there. This training group is nicknamed the "Whatever" group because unlike the RnR group which trains for the San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon, or the Half Mad Grup which trains for the AFC 1/2 Marathon, there is not single fall race everyone trains for. Some people in the group are training for the Silver Strand 1/2 in November, some for Vegas in December, some for LA in October. You get the drift...chances are somebody in the group is even training for LB. I decided to not join the fall mostly because I knew that once LB was over, I was going to take it easy for awhile. Also, we (Mik, Elsie, Betty, Walter, me) decided that we would have our own training group for LB.

To be honest, I've been kinda surprised that we haven't run into them before. Most of the places we've run the past few weeks are typical SDTC routes.

I will also say that the last couple of weeks as it's gotten warmer, and as our runs have gotten longer, I have REALLY missed the water/aid station support. Drinking out of a water fountain is not ideal, and I don't like carrying water. Water belts bug me.

I wasn't sure what the relative humidity was yesterday morning at 7am*, but we had plenty of evidence that it was pretty high. Most of the evidence comes from Walter. He sweats. A LOT. So much so that it's been an ongoing topic of conversation for us...what he can wear to mitigate the effects of the torrents of water that stream from his pores during a run.

I sweat a fair amount when I run. Betty really sweats, but neither of us (sorry Betty) comes anywhere close to producing the amount of sweat that Walter can produce. It'd be downright impressive if it weren't so disgusting.

One of Walter's strategies has been to take his shirt off and run shirtless when he feels the sweat really starting to pour, yet before his shirt is already soaked.  Three weeks ago, the shirt stayed on about 3 miles. Last week, the shirt stayed on about 2 miles. On Saturday, about 1/2 mile into the run, he took of his shirt. I laughed and said "Already? Why'd you even bother?" Mik, who had already run the first loop and was headed back called out "that didn't last long."

It was a sign of things to come. 

Despite the humidity, the first three miles of the run felt pretty good. The SDTC super-fast runners passed us at about 2 miles and said "hi." (I wondered if they wonder where we've been, or if they even notice that we haven't been around...because of course I think everyone wonders about ME). About 3 miles into the run, we saw Irene and her husband at Spanish Landing. They were waiting for the RU group that they're training with this fall. I gave Irene a sweaty hug. I'm sure she appreciated it!

I stopped at one of the last water fountains in the park before we headed onto the surface streets to get to Shelter Island. Walter passed it up.

One of the things that's concerned me about Walter's excessive sweat is that he also doesn't want to drink water along the way. I suspect this comes from some Neanderthal water-polo sports training regiment he endured when he played in high school. You know the one in which young athletes are forced to "tough it out" and not drink water when training in order to "toughen up." (He denies this). I think he should drink more when we run. He doesn't. ((sigh)). I think this is a problem. He doesn't. Pretty much sounds like most of our marriage. 

Anyway, as we headed into Shelter island, about 3.5 miles in to our run, Walter said to me, "feel my shorts." I'm pretty sure I said something like, "What?" But being the good wife, I felt his shorts.

They were soaking out of a pool, bathing suit, soaking wet.


The funny thing is that he bought these running shorts a couple weeks ago. They're the dry-weave, sweat-wicking kind. He bought them to try to help with the sweat issue.

I'm not sure what it felt like to run in those things, but I'm thinking it couldn't have been comfortable. Walter agreed that it wasn't much fun (yes, we agreed about something. Don't be so surprised.)

So sweaty dudes out there...what do you do/wear/plan for when you run? Walter needs some advice and since I've never felt another guys soaking wet running shorts before, I've not yet had the opportunity to  ask about it.

We turned toward Shelter Island and I was feeling pretty good, but I think the wet shorts were getting the best of Walter. He decided to find an open liquor store to buy some water and wait for Mik and I to come back from Shelter Island (about 2 miles). I actually thought briefly about running to the place where the track club usually has a water station set up (about a block away) and beg (or just blend), but since I hadn't paid for the fall training program, my sense of right and wrong led me to the next water fountain.

For the most part, running on Shelter Island was a nice diversion. We don't run onto the island very often, but it's really quite pretty and even though it's only a few 100 feet from Harbor Island, the view is much different (more of Point Loma and less of Downtown San Diego).  It was pretty.

Point Loma fog in the distance. The fog was lifting over Shelter Island and I ended up being in the only sunny area that I could see.

The view of Downtown San Diego...still socked in by fog.
About the time I turned around, and started heading back off the island, I started to feel the effects of probably not enough water, the humidity, and my run-twice-a-week training schedule. I had a Gu, and it gave me a little boost, but not much. By the time I got back to the main road to go back to Harbor Island (Scott Street), I was seriously looking for Walter, the promised water, and I walked a bit. I could see him about 1/3 mile up the street (darn), but he was walking toward me (yay), so I started running and when he saw me running, he must have decided I was OK, so he too started walking AWAY FROM ME.

I almost cried.

I finally caught up with him and in my typical fashion griped about his walking away from me (we were almost at Harbor Island Drive by the time I caught him. Yes, the guy has water for me, and all I can do is bitch and complain. I'm sweet that way)**

And yes, I did thank him too.

Water revived me somewhat for the rest of the run. My right foot (PF) and calf started cramping about mile 8, so I stopped to stretch once and told Walter to go ahead and keep running (in other words...I'm bitchy right now, and it'd be better if you weren't around to see it). Unlike last week when I was willing to put in some extra distance as I headed back toward our car, I did NOT turn left once on HI to get over 10 miles. I'd hoped to get to 11 or 12 miles this morning, but w/o water and with the humidity, it just wasn't going to happen. Today, I'm OK with it. Yesterday, I was a little bummed.

Yesterday's stats
9.67 miles
1:50:51/11:27 pace

I have some mixed emotions about the race coming up. I know that I can run a 1/2 marathon, even if on very minimal training and I've certainly done more than the minimum, but I'd be lying if I said this was the MOST prepared I've ever been. Fall races are just tough to prepare for in my world. School starts and there are just too many distractions and responsibilities that seem to get in the way of really, truly, getting prepared.

That being said, we will go to LB, and Mik, Elsie and I will collect our California Dreamin' Series medals having finished the Surf City 1/2 Marathon, the SF 1/2 Marathon, and the LB 1/2 Marathon in one year AND Walter will run his first 1/2 marathon

As I sat on a bench after Saturday's run, I thought about my running life. Five years ago, I had never run farther than a mile in my life (that I know of anyway...I may have in high school or college at some point, but it would have been by accident). Now I've run eleven 1/2 marathons (LB will the the 12th). Lots of 5Ks and 10Ks and a marathon. Running has changed my life. I should never be bummed that I've only run 9.67 miles, but I do think that after LB, I am going to take a little break from the long run training for a bit and let my body heal.
* SD Union-Tribune reports that the relative humidity at 2am was 78% and and 3pm was 54%, so we'll assume that it was somewhere in the 70% range.

** Yes, I can be a terrible spouse, but I did find a way so that he could watch the Charger's Game online AND I just fixed a fabulous lunch for he and his dad DURING both the Chargers and the Padres games today, so I do have some good qualities too