Saturday, November 26, 2011

Much to be Thankful for...

I've known for about the last two months that the two weeks preceding Thanksgiving were going to be a huge cluster--- as far as my work life was concerned. My prediction was spot on accurate. Thus the two week hiatus on blogging.  But that's mostly over now, so I can get back to the things that truly matter in my life, and in this post, those important things included:
  1. Thanksgiving Day's Run for the Hungry 5K
  2. Thanksgiving Day's Feast
Run for the Hungry
I haven't done an organized Turkey Trot in a few years, but I always want to, partially because they raise awareness and/or money to feed those who have little (which is a VERY good thing to think incredibly blessed I am...) AND because The Run for the Hungry was the VERY FIRST organized running event I ever participated in. Six years ago, my FIL signed up the family and I up for this particular event, and I walked it...well, strolled would be a more accurate word...and finished in 1:02:38 (I swear, I am not making that up). 

For some reason, the energy of the event struck a chord with me. I don't know why. I was about the laziest couch potato of a woman at that point. I was fat, out of shape, felt bad about my body and myself, but after walking that morning, I decided I wanted to RUN a 5K. Maybe it was because there were people actually RUNNING who looked like me. Maybe because my hour finish time was sort of humiliating. Maybe it was because the people who ran looked like they were having fun, and I'd never considered running to be a fun thing to do. 

So I started running.

This year, I convinced Walter and DramaGirl to get up early on Thanksgiving morning to run with me. There are two Thanksgiving morning 5Ks in San Diego, the Father Joe's run in Balboa Park, for which about 12,000 people show up, and the Run for the Hungry which is downtown. There's both a 5K and a 10K and about 4000 people show up. 

I'm not going to lie. I'd been looking forward to doing a 5K for a few weeks. I hadn't run a 5K since Shelter Island last November. I've been running pretty well. I've been getting faster. My old PR was just a hair under 30 minutes and I thought I could really beat A LOT.
Me, DG, and Walter...that's Petco Park in the background. Nice cloudy morning.
I did a quick warmup around the parking lot while DG complained about being too cold. We decided to walk over to the start and the leaders of the 10K were just crossing over (the 10K started at 7am...I briefly thought about running the 10K and I felt a little like a slacker for running ONLY a 5K as they passed). We passed by a couple of porta potties, but there was no TP and someone had left their pants in there. Walter wondered why someone would need to leave their pants behind. Ah...the joys of running downtown.

Actually, there was a whole row of porta potties set up for the runners. Later on we realized that the two we passed by initially were probably the "permanent" ones left for tailgaters (Keith...I promise to explain tailgating in a future post). In any event, since we still had about 40 minutes to the start of the race, we decided to walk across the street to a Hilton and use the restrooms there.
Much nicer and warmer than a porta potty
Once we got back to the race area, we lined up...trying to get ahead of the dogs and strollers (not easy).* 

My goal was just to keep up with DramaGirl for the first mile or so. She's not a runner, but she plays field hockey and soccer, is in really good shape, has long legs, and is much faster than I am. I figured if I could keep her in my sights for the first mile or so, I'd be on a really good pace to come in around 29 minutes.

As the race started, she took off, and we spent about the first 1/2 mile dodging in and out of walkers with dogs and/or strollers (GAH!), but I kept up with her. After about a 1/2 mile, she motioned that she wanted to pass a few slower runners, and I told her to go ahead...I'd hit my pace (I was running about a 9 minute mile...which is pretty much about as fast as I thought I could go), so she bounced ahead.

I loved watching her run.She runs effortlessly. I mean. I KNOW I look like I'm working hard when I am running. She doesn't ever look like she's working that hard. She swears she's not a runner, but I know she could be.

At about 1.5 miles, I could see that she had slowed to a walk. She told me later that she didn't see a reason not to. When I caught up with her, she started running again. I asked her how she was, and she said she was good. We smiled at a cute dog in a turkey costume or something like that and she pulled ahead of me again...I wondered where Walter was.

At two miles, I looked at my Garmin. It said 17:xx and I swear I did a double take as I realized, I'd been running sub-9 minute miles... (it must have said 17:56 because miles 1 and 2 were both 8:58 according to my Garmin...but all I saw was the 17). I thought...OMG...I could run a 11 minute mile at this point and still get a PR...amazing.

With about 1/2 mile to go, Walter pulled up beside me, so we ran the last mile together. DG had decided to sprint it in. At one point, I think he tried to pull ahead of me, but I was having none of that and I kept up

DG - 28:05
Walter - 28:23
Alice 28:25**

I came in 4th in my age division...Imagine that! 

No I don't have any post-race photos...Imagine me being red-faced and sweaty. That should do it. It was a really awesome way to spend the morning...but we had to hurry home because I still had a dinner to cook!

My side of the family all came to our house for Thanksgiving this year. I love cooking, and after how much I'd been workingthe last three weeks, I was really looking forward to doing one of the things I really love to do best, cooking good food. I'd been working on fixing as many of the dishes as I could ahead of time so that the day wouldn't be a complete blur so that I could enjoy it. Gotta say that I planned it out pretty well.
Earlier in the week, I made a cranberry relish
DramaGirl baked A LOT of desserts
DG's pumpkin & berry (my favorite) pies...I don't bake much. This is very much her forte!
This is an apple spice bread pudding with a merengue topping (also...YUM)
Turbo and Papa...peeling potatoes (or what I call man's work)
Filling up - I should have taken a photo of the turkey before it was was beautiful!
The aftermath - watching the 49ers lose (the reason that Papa is a  bit glum...or he's full)
Sisters, my nephew, and Turbo
Me and nana
The girls - chillin' and watching African Cats on the Discovery Network (yes...I was surprised by this as well)
Mandatory end of the evening family shot
Clearly, I have so much to be thankful for. Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.
* I will never understand why...despite reminders and kind requests made by the race starter that walkers with dogs/strollers start toward the back...some insist on starting at the front anyway. Yes, this was a smallish field, but REALLY?  We were about 20 feet from the start line and at leasts 1/2 the people in front of me had absolutely no intention of running...AT ALL... I don't even have a problem with RUNNERS with dogs/strollers who want to start somewhere near their pace group, but if someone has absolutely NO INTENTION of running...why start at the front where someone who IS going to be running is likely to just run up your ass? 

** My previous 5K best was 29:53 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gnat Baths and the Laws of Probability

Twice in the last eight days, I've gone for a ride in Coronado. Last Saturday, Betty and I did our first 20+ miler in lord-knows-how-long, and this morning, the herd went out for another ride on the same route. We were celebrating Clarence's Birthday...silly girl, slept in and couldn't find her riding gear. We figured she and the hubby were just snuggling. Even though the time has changed, at 6-o-dark-thirty, when I left the house, it was still pretty dark outside..
This morning's riders - Mik, Elsie, C, Alice, and Kat...with Betty acting as photographer...
This morning was Elsie's first venture out on her new ride. She did really, really, good, and only fell once.
My understanding is that this is a "staged" photograph. Nobody actually saw Elsie tip over.  (g'head, make a joke about cow tipping here...I dare ya)
Elsie is OK. We told her she was going to fall at a stop sign and she did. I thank her for proving me right.

One of the really wonderful things about riding from Coronado (nado...we learned the soccer moms call it), is that it is flat... pancake flat...can you say something like a 10 foot elevation not impressive!
Also...there are also bugs, especially at the foot of the bay. Lots of 'em. They fly in the eyes and in the mouth, unless you keep it closed, which is really hard to do when you're riding as fast as you can to get through the GD EFFIN' GNAT BATH
Gnat Bath area...beware...
Finally, we ride on a fabulous running, riding, walking, stolling, in-line skating, path where inevitably if you are passing a runner (or a slow rider) and coming in the opposite direction, there is another runner or rider (fast or slow) or even better yet, a guy pushing his newborn babe in a stroller, and you are trying to pass the slow runner/rider, all three of your paths will intersect at exactly the SAME PLACE at the SAME TIME...

Here...let me illustrate the situation...
Yes, you are impressed by my mad illustration skillz, aren't you?
I mean, you would think that since that the "bike path" is nearly 10 miles long, these "intersections" would be relatively rare...however, it seems that the complete opposite is true.

Why is that?

Just wondering...I had some time to think about these things for several miles this morning.

It was a grand ride...lots of fun. Glorious weather (where IS that rainstorm that they've said is coming?)

We celebrated the ride with breakfast and mimosas and toasted the vets whose sacrifices gave us the day off and an opportunity to enjoy the ride.
Happy Vet's Day AND
Happy BDay to Clarence!!!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Decision ONE
Well...I went and did it.

About a week ago...or sometime between the last post and now. I decided to register for the Carlsbad Half Marathon despite the fact that neither Betty, nor Elsie, nor Mik will run with me (disclaimer...Alberta is also registered...but as much as I love her like a little sister, let's be honest, she's way more into punching people in the face right now than she is into logging miles).

I'll admit...I just can't get enough of Alberta, the boxing home ec teacher,  knocking this girl down about 40 seconds into the video. I don't even LIKE boxing and I LOVED this!

In any event, I suspect my the majority of my training miles will be on my own. So part of the challenge will be to see if I can train for an event on my own. Even so, I'm excited about running Carlsbad. Last time I ran the Carlsbad Half was in 2009 when I'd pretty seriously pulled my ITB, but I ran anyway, feeling like someone was beating on my thigh with a bat., lying on the sidewalk, stretching my ITB at Carlsbad in 2009...really, it' didn't help much.  Such class...
Running Carlsbad with ITB issues and some serious massage, led to this hip bruise and a 9 month battle with Plantar Fasciitis...something I still deal with to this day.  Take it from me...if you're hurt, rest! (yeah...I never take my own good advice either).
Anyway, Carlsbad is known to be a flat, fast, course. I've really wanted to run it and not be hurt. This year is my chance...I just have to train for it....solo. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I want to finish in under 2:20.

Decision TWO
After a fair amount of discussion, The Herd has decided to do a century ride this winter or spring. We think it'll either be this one in Solvang in March, or this one in Palm Springs in February. So, come January, for the first time in four years, we I may not be doing the RnR training program with the San Diego Track least I won't be doing the long runs in January or February. 
Lest you think we are not serious about this bike riding thing...we had a cycling jersey logo done a few years ago...nice, huh?
Instead, The Herd will be doing some long rides with the local Trek store's Century Training Program. The problem with doing both the RnR training program AND the Trek Century program is that both the long ride and the long run are on Saturday mornings, so I'd have to choose. Also, I would be running more miles in January than the track club runs. (January runs lead up to the SuperRun on Superbowl Sunday weekend...a 10K).

It's a tough decision. 

I'm still going to renew my membership in the track club so that I can continue to do the Tuesday night track workouts, and I'll miss the camaraderie of the RnR training program.

In the meantime, Elsie decided to buy a road bike to train for the century. So after we ran last Saturday, I went with her to ensure that she spent enough money on a bike, so we are committed to the effort now.
Elsie getting fitted...SUHWEEET RIDE! YES? Elsie promised to practice clipping in and out of her pedals for the remainder of the weekend.
Decision THREE
This is a decision I haven't made yet, and I hesitate to even write about it, but since very few people who I work with actually read my blog, and since the ones who do read my blog, already know about THE BIG DECISION, I'll just briefly say that I'm currently trying to make a big real-world-professional-life-decision this coming week, and that I'll write more about THAT decision later. (how incredibly vague and obtuse could I possibly be?)

Quite frankly, it'd be easier to just run 13 miles....or ride 100.