Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Ok, so I didn't get a Barbie dream house or an easy bake oven or a radio flyer wagon or a red rider bb gun, but my holiday weekend was pretty friggin awesome in my opinion.

The holiday festivities started Wednesday with my work lunch and yankee swap. The lunch was mass produced hotel food and I had requested a vegetarian meal and was betting on it being not very good so I brought my own lunch just in case. Thank God I did. As predicted it was pasta primevera and there were almost no vegetables in it at all and gross pasta with what appeared to be alfredo sauce. I didn't even bother to try it. Slow start to the holidays, but just warming up. The yankee swap was entertaining, the first gift I got was two bottles of wine in a very nice box that said 'PEACE' on the outside so I joked that it was just what I wanted World Peace. It didn't stay in my possession very long, apparently lots of people want World Peace. So, I knew that if I took anything really good I wouldn't keep it and I might end up with something really bad so I took a mediocre gift that I knew I would at least enjoy (it just happened to be the gift I bought). It was a trivia calendar. It's on my desk, I got to keep it and World Peace got passed around the room over and over again.

After work I went to downtown Boston to finish up some last minute shopping and get dinner before going to the RaceMenu Holiday party. I arrived at the RaceMenu HQ a little early and helped them set up and finish prepping some of the food. The party started around 7pm. I met a few new team members and some of RaceMenu's clients and sponsors. It was a fun night, I even won a raffle prize and a new bright orange RaceMenu winter hat.

Thursday work couldn't end fast enough. My brain was already in long weekend mode and I was ready to start the mini-break. I took Friday off for my bed to be delivered and to bake a few more cookies to give as gifts. Thursday night when I got home I went for a nice 7.35 mile run on the hilly non-hill loop through Andover and Tewksbury and a little of Lowell. I settled in for the night and watched some random Christmas movies barely able to sleep knowing my new bed was coming the next day.

I was suppose to go for a run Friday morning before the sun came up with Cherie in Methuen but when I got up it was slushing out - not quite rain and not quite snow, just gross cold wet nastiness that I did not want to run in. So, I bailed on the run and decided to clean my house instead. Got my old mattress ready to be taken away and swept the dust bunnies from the floor where my old box spring had sat for the last 5 years (I had the bed for 5 years before that too in a different apartment). The furniture delivery guys showed up promptly at 8:00am and were in and out in a matter of minutes and my new bed was set up. Before I even had time to lock the door behind the delivery men Fatboy Slim had already jumped onto the new bed and claimed it. I was worried he wouldn't be able to get up there, but he made it.

I finished baking cookies and met my friend Ann for lunch in downtown Lowell. I hooked her up with some cookies and fudge and we had yummy thai food at the Blue Taleh. After lunch I was really tempted to take a nap on my new bed, but I still had things to do. I got my car inspected and finished cleaning my house, then I went for a quick 4.4m run before hopping in the shower and awaiting the arrival of my friend Erin coming for dinner. I hadn't seen her in at least 3 years and she was the one that originally helped me lose most of my weight. I met her at the fitness center in the fall of 2006 when I started my journey to a healthier lifestyle and she moved to Colorado in the late summer of 2007 before I hit the 100lb. mark and ran my first half marathon. I still remember the first 'run' I did, she cheered me on the whole way and ran the last quarter mile with me. We were going to Life Alive for dinner and I was so excited to see her I could hardly contain myself.

Dinner was amazing, of course, Life Alive can do no wrong. Afterwards we went back to my house for tea and just chatted and caught up. We were up until 10:30pm! I know that's not really that late for a Friday night, but it's way past my bedtime. It was so nice to see her and tell her all about all the amazing things I've done since she helped me lose weight. We talked about the Boston marathon and all of our different race experiences and training stories. We talked about nutrition and fueling your body right. We just talked and talked about anything and everything. It was seriously the best present I could have gotten, reconnecting with a dear friend that means the World to me - Priceless.

Saturday the holiday happiness continued. I went for an almost 8 mile run with Kim and Ryann, they had moved to a new town 20 minutes away earlier in the week and we were all suffering from Lowell Ladies run withdrawal. The run was a Greater Lowell Road Runners Christmas Eve morning tradition and the crowd that showed up was bigger than ever, there had to be 40 people there. We wrapped up our run and went back to my house for coffee and breakfast. I made pumpkin muffins with the Trader Joe's Pumpkin bread mix. YUM! Even Ryann ate 2 of them, she's only 9 months old! Cherie came over too and gave me an awesome present - Life Alive gift card and an apron that says I run so I can eat cupcakes! So funny. Kim got me a great running top that is actually long enough to fit my abnormally long torso AND a funny little toy joke gift - Grow a boyfriend. It is a little plastic man that grows in water.

Saturday night I went to my friend Jenine's house for Christmas eve dinner and her daughter Madison's birthday party (she was born on Christmas day). I brought presents for Madison and Dylann and cookies and cupcakes for everyone else. The girls loved the gifts I brought and I had a great time hanging out and chatting with Jenine and her family. Later in the evening Madison got a really great game called 'Headbandz' and we all played a few rounds. It was hilarious. The game consists of plastic headbands that you wear and cards with different objects on them that fit into the front of the headband. The object is to ask yes or no questions and figure out what object is on your headband. My stomach hurt from laughing so hard. When we finished the game most people had gone home and it was bedtime. I told the girls I needed to go home so Santa wouldn't skip my house. They insisted that I tuck them in first. SO CUTE! Finally, I said goodnight and went home.

Sunday morning, I did my last long Goofy run - 15 miles before heading up to Portland for brunch with my mom and brother. The run was awesome. A little chilly and snowing a bit, but that just made it seem like a Christmas miracle. About half way into my run my front water bottles had frozen solid, luckily I still had two bottles in the back that were ok. I felt great the entire time and averaged a decent pace, right on target for a 4:30 or 4:45 finish in Goofy. Drove to Portland and my brother made pumpkin pancakes. I brought a toy for his dog Logan and foolishly thought it would keep him entertained for hours. Logan destroyed the toy in less than 10 minutes. I got my brother a forever lazy. Funniest gift ever. And a vegan cookbook for my mom, she's going to try the Engine 2 diet.

When we were done eating we went to the movies to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It was ok, might have been better in a theater that was a little larger. The screen they had it showing on was only a little larger than my TV. The room was only about 6 seats wide, 2 on one side and 4 on the other. Didn't matter, it was entertaining and had some cool explosions and stunts. When we came out of the theater it was snowing! I was starving, but needed to get on the road and head home. I got home around 9:30pm and went straight to bed.

Monday morning, the only day all weekend that I didn't have to get up early, Fatboy Slim had other plans. He meowed and walked over me back and forth, then started knocking stuff off my dresser and then played with the blinds in my window to get me out of bed. It was 5:00am!!!! I got up and gave him food assuming that was the reason for all the ruckus and he mysteriously disappeared.......back to the bed! The little brat just wanted me to move so he could have the big cozy bed all to himself!

I finished the weekend with some errands, grocery shopping and avoiding the mall and getting gas in my car for the upcoming week. Sad the long weekend was coming to an end but overjoyed with how awesome it was and how great all my friends are. Now onto the New Year and celebrating the end of 2011 and the start of 2012. I think I should finish the year with roughly 1700+ miles and over 50 races including 2 marathons, my first half ironman, and a tough mudder. It's going to be really hard to top that in 2012, but I will definitely try!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tis the season to be GOOFY......

A little Holiday humor. tehehe

Shoppin’ the mall in a vest so poofy,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be GOOFY,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Now it’s time for me to taper,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
I even have time to read the paper,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Lots and lots of down time for me,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
In the kitchen baking I will be
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Making holiday goodies is my pleasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Though, it may not help your waistline measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Fast the days of training did go by,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
But it was no piece of cake or pie,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

All that’s left now is to REST,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
So that in Disney I can do my best,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Last week I came to the realization that I had A LOT to do and not enough time to get it all done so I ended up taking a vacation day Friday to try and accomplish some things. It was just what I needed. I got a lot done. I got up super early and went for a run with my friend Cherie. After the run I baked a double batch of sugar cookies, made 8 pounds of fudge, baked a capuccino fudge cheesecake with kalua ganache, and vanilla cupcakes. In the afternoon, I did another run with my friend Ann and while we were running there was a bad car accident in the road we ran on. We stopped and helped the two women injured until the fire department and police showed up. My EMT training comes in handy every once in a while. Finished up our run, then I decorated the cupcakes and cookies!

On Saturday, my friend Moe was hosting a group run from her house and it was a 7 mile loop so I got up early and did 7 from my house before heading over to her house. There was a really great group of people there for the run. I did my first 7miles at roughly a 10:20 pace or maybe 10:30, just nice and easy still not totally awake and not ready for how friggin freezing it was out. Then I managed to do 9:30s with the group! We had pumpkin pancakes afterwards and talked about other upcoming events. I still haven't decided on a spring marathon. Need to figure something out.

Anyway, after the run I braved the crowds and the traffic and the parking at the ...ugh...MALL! I decided it was finally time for me to buy myself a new bed. I was dreading the whole experience because furniture salespeople are right on par with used car salespeople on a scale of annoyance and douchebaggery. I confirmed this in the first store I went to. I walked in and was targeted by a very portly, red headed, sleezy salesman. I told him I needed a new bed and he made a b-line right for the most expensive top of the line super fancy new technology gel infused foam matress. I told him I wasn't really interested in foam and I wanted an inner spring matress and he argued with me and said that they were outdated and soon to be off the market and I NEEDED to get the gel foam. See the squishy cut out thingy doesn't it look cool. His stupid flashy toys weren't working on me but out of curiosity I asked how much a queen size super fancy foam matress costs. It was a bargain at $1999 he told me. If I had my matress for 25 years that would only be $75 a year (clearly he can't do math because I just did the math and it's $80 idiot). That doesn't include the base that the foam needs because regular bed frames don't support it's fanciness. I didn't even bother to ask how much the base cost. I said I was going to look at bed frames and I left.

The next store was a totally different experience. There was a very nice woman there that asked me all kinds of questions about how I sleep and if I currently experience any pains or trouble sleeping and focused on me and not a fancy foam matress. They even had a cool machine that showed how my weight was distributed when I was laying down in different positions. She showed me several different matresses based on the information from the machine. I found a nice pillowtop inner spring matress that I can definitely see myself drooling on in the near future - it was half the price of the stupid foam thing AND it included the boxspring! I also founf a very nice bed frame to go with it. I can't wait to sleep on it. Everything is being delivered this Friday - Merry Christmas to ME!

Saturday night I went to a holiday party at Cherie's house. I brought the cheesecake I made the day before and my party shoes and even had a few Christmas cosmos (this would come back to haunt me the next day). The party was so much fun. All my running buddies were there and some new friends too. We partied late into the evening and early Sunday morning. And at some point someone (Josh) turned on the 80's music channel and we had some drunkin sing alongs to end the night. It was great. I gave out presents to all my running friends - a headlamp and a first aid kit for Nutter since she's always wiping out when we run, Lululemon gloves with a wind proof fold over mitten for Kim because her hands are always cold, and a handmade coupon for Cherie for "a moment in time" I will babysit while she and her husband go out on the town because she's super busy working fulltime and going to school and driving two boys to various sporting events. Everyone loved their gifts and THAT is the greatest gift I can get - smiles on my friends faces.

Sunday I tried to wake up early, but the Christmas cosmos and late night made it a little tough. I think I rolled out of bed around 7:30 which is wicked late for me. I had some tea and a slice of leftover cheesecake for breakfast. Got dressed and sat on my couch in my running clothes trying to get motivated. It took a while but I finally started running around 9:45am. I felt pretty good. I made a conscious effort to stay hydrated knowing that the Christmas cosmos probably dehydrated me a little. Sipping water and clif shots everytime my garmin beeped at mile markers. I took salt tabs every two miles or so and gels at 5, 9, 12.5 and 14.5. I maintained a decent pace between 10:00 and 10:30s for the first 14 miles, then my tummy rumbled and I really had to pee, perhaps drinking at every mile was too much. Either way, I had to go and there was no gas station or port o potty in sight. I slowed my pace to 11:00s and took walk breaks. FINALLY at 16.5 miles with a mile and a half to go there was a Mobil station and I stopped. After I felt great and it was like I started a brand new run. I could have done a few extra miles, but decided to play it safe and rest. 32 miles in 2 days is enough goofiness.

Wicked busy weekend, but I got a lot done and now I can relax for the rest of the year. I got all my shopping done, all my baking done, Goofy training done. Time to taper and enjoy the holidays with friends and family. Happy holidays everyone! Stay healthy and active!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Goofy training almost done

I'm actually really looking forward to the taper right now. My back to back long runs are wearing me out. For a while there I wasn't sure what was up and I wasn't feeling good at all. My med-long runs would go ok, but then my long run would be torture, not painful just slow and sluggish. I'm still not even close to as fast as I was last spring Pre-Boston/Tough Mudder, but I was getting there and starting to feel a little better. The 14 miler I did two weeks ago was depressing. My legs felt fine and my heart rate was fine and I felt like I was really working, but my Garmin told a different story. I was struggling to do 11-12 minute miles when I know I can do 9:00s on a good day.

Amazing what the right nutrition and hydration will do to improve things. This past weekend I did an 8 mile run and then a 16 mile run. I was sort of dreading the 16 miler because of my experience the week before on my 14 miler, but Sunday morning I got up and got dressed and headed out and figured I didn't care how long it took, I just needed to get the miles in. I started out slow and eased into it. I brought salt tabs with me this time and reminded myself to drink a sip every mile to stay hydrated. I felt a lot better. I was averaging 10:00s and even after passing the halfway mark I still felt amazing. A total change from the previous week. I finished the run averaging 10:18s a perfect 4:30 marathon pace.

Now the only thing that is lingering and annoying me and could put a damper on my training is lack of sleep. I have been tossing and turning and waking up a lot throughout the night and basically just not sleeping well at all. My resting heart rate has been elevated for the last 3 days and I feel like I might be coming down with something. I need a new bed really bad. I might break down and buy one this weekend. I've had my bed for over ten years and it was a hand me down when I got it. I can afford a new one, the thing that always stops me from buying a new bed isn't going to a furniture store (although that is part of it, those sales people are almost as bad as used car sales people) it's buying all new bedding. See, right now I have a full size bed and there's no way in hell I'll buy another full. I want (and deserve) a queen size bed. BUT that means I need new sheets, a new comforter, a new duvet, Probably could use new pillows, not to mention a new bed frame too! My matress is currently on the floor so a bed frame would be a huge improvement. I wonder how much my training would improve if my sleep improved. I'm guessing exponentially.

Anyway, regardless of what 'me to me' gift I get this year. I will definitely be wrapping up 2011 with a lot of miles. I'm at just over 1600 right now and will be doing a 12 and 18-20 this weekend for my last long runs before Goofy plus about 20 miles mid-week, there are 3 weeks left in the year and I've been getting >40 miles per week. If I keep it up I will hit 1700+ miles for the year. I've done about 50 races including the stair climb, Tough Mudder and my half Ironman. I'd say it has been an epic year and I have accomplished my resolution to challenge myself in new and different ways. I will have to get creative and think of a really good resolution for next year. Suggestions welcome.

Friday, December 9, 2011

While I'm on the topic of lists....

A few years ago when I started this journey I started a list of things I wanted to do, some simple, some more challenging, some silly, some serious. I keep adding to the list and checking off items as the time goes by. Sometimes my goals for the year accomplish some of the list items, sometimes I accomplish items by chance and a little luck of being in the right place at the right time. It keeps me motivated and has taught me to appreciate life and all the little things. Here's my list:
1. Get a Passport √
2. Go skydiving
3. Get a 26.2 tattoo
4. Drive across the US
5. Learn to Surf
6. Go on a Whitewater rafting trip
7. Go on a Dude Ranch trip
8. Learn to ride a horse
9. Go on a Tornado Chase trip
10. Complete a Triathlon √
11. Complete a ½ Ironman triathlon √
12. Complete an Ironman triathlon
13. Boston Marathon √
14. Qualify for the Boston marathon
15. London Marathon
16. NYC Marathon
17. Chicago marathon √
18. Maine marathon √
19. Visit the Grand Canyon
20. Visit Niagara Falls
21. Visit the Great Pyramids
22. Visit the Eifel tower
23. Visit the Great Wall of China
24. Climb Mt. Washington (or run up it)
25. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
26. Go to Carnival in Rio
27. Tomato fight in Spain (outside Valencia)
28. Get married in the Maldives
29. Visit Machu Pichu
30. Go on a Century bike ride √ (Metric and Full)
31. ½ marathon in less than 2 hours √
32. Marathon in under 4:30 √
33. Philly Marathon
34. Napa Valley trip
35. See the Tour de France in France
36. Alaska trip
37. Write a book
38. Learn to ride a unicycle
39. Learn to play a musical instrument
40. Learn to speak another language
41. Compete in the Death race
42. Professional pin up style photo shoot
43. Boston Trapeze School
44. Sell a piece of original artwork
45. Play the tambourine with a band at a live show
46. Run an ultra marathon
47. Beat my brother in a sprint Tri
48. Open a B&B or Bakery or restaurant
49. Have a cup of coffee/tea with a celebrity
50. Complete a marathon in all 50 states (5/50)
51. Go to Culinary school
52. Take the Firefighters exam
53. Re-Tile my kitchen floor
54. Get gas insert fireplace in my living room
55. Finish the crown molding throughout my house
56. Finish my basement
57. Be an extra in a movie
58. Have a speaking role in a movie
59. Walk on stilts
60. Be on the cover of a magazine
61. Get published
62. Do the Goofy Challenge √
63. Big Sur Marathon
64. Find a job I love √
65. Pay off my Visa bill
66. Pay off my college loans
67. Join a CSA
68. Plant a vegetable garden
69. Grow fresh herbs in my kitchen
70. Volunteer with Habitat for Humanity
71. Learn to fly fish
72. Go on a blind date
73. Draw/paint a mural √
74. Throw a kick ass party
75. Build a website √ (ironboots/rocklikewar)
76. Finish a crossword puzzle in pen
77. Act in a play
78. Win an award √ (best costume Devil’s Chase)
79. Build a piece of furniture √ (hockey stick table)
80. Inspire people
81. Organize a road race
82. Watch an operation live
83. Sneak backstage at a concert √
84. Do a ride along with the police
85. Ride on a fire truck
86. Slide down a pole in a firehouse
87. Do the Boston Stair Climb √
88. Invent the next pet rock
89. Save a life √ (girl at UNH)
90. Learn to shoot a bow and arrow
91. Go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea
92. Do a polar bear plunge
93. Donate my hair to Locks of Love (or similar org)
94. Recreate an iconic photograph
95. Take a pottery class
96. Take a stained glass class
97. Finish Tough Mudder √
98. Do an unassisted pull up
99. Fall in Love
100. Write a blog √
101. Go zip lining
102. Run Reach the Beach Relay with an Ultra team
103. Be in a parade √
104. Play bingo and win
105. Participate in a flash mob
106. Get a master’s degree in nutrition or an MBA
107. Take a dance class
108. Take Ballet class
109. Take a self-defense class
110. Do a snowshoe race
111. Do a winter triathlon
112. Try paddle boarding
113. Learn to cartwheel
114. Ride the tallest rollercoaster
115. Ride the fastest rollercoaster
116. Go to Europe
117. Marathon in under 4:00
118. Buy a farm
119. Buy a stranger’s groceries
120. Fill up a stranger’s gas tank
121. Donate a large amount of money to charity
122. Do a high ropes course
123. Take swim lessons to improve my technique
124. Learn to sail
125. Learn to row crew
126. Win a race
127. Stand on 4-corners (4 states at once)
128. Participate in a cook off/bake off
129. Learn to snowboard
130. Be a seat filler at an awards show
131. Spend a week “off the grid”

I continue to add to it and check things off. I hope my list inspires you to make your own list and not just so that I can check off #80. :)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dear Santa...

My training last week was just sort of ho-hum. I did 42 miles total, my back to back long runs were 8 and 14. My 14 miler was slow and sluggish. I just wasn't feeling good at all. No energy.

So, since it's the holiday season, here is my list for Santa:

My wish list:
1. Health and happiness for me and all my friends
2. Injury free 2012 for me and all my friends
3. More smiles and laughs than frowns and tears for me and all my friends

Since no one, not even Santa can give those gifts here’s an alternate list:
1. Lunch at Life Alive
2. Asics 2170s size 11
3. Lululemon Scuba Hoodie

Things I REALLY need, but wouldn’t ask anyone for and will most likely buy myself:
1. New laptop (mine is older than dirt and only displays a blank white screen, kind of like a sheet of paper)
2. New bed (mine is over 10yrs old and was a hand me down when I got it)
3. New road bike (mine is 13+yrs old and has been crashed multiple times)

I'm not really into gift giving and Santa usually skips my house (except last year when he stopped by early with a number for Boston). I may do a few small gifts this year and will definitely bake a lot of cookies for everyone. I think my new job does an office yankee swap, if so I'm getting the forever lazy to give.

My plan for this weekend is to do 10 and 16 miles. Really hoping the 16 miler goes better than my 14 miler last week or else I may actually have to go to a (gasp) doctor and find out why I'm dragging ass(excuse the phrase, but it really does describe the way I feel accurately).

And now for something completely different, what Santa would look like if he ate a plant strong diet and only had vegan cookies and almond milk on Christmas:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holy Crap it's December!

This year has gone by so fast. I can't believe it. I hope this month goes by just as fast. I don't have any races planned yet for this month, but I'm training hard for the Goofy Challenge so I don't really have time to squeeze in a fun holiday 5K. Plus, I have a a few holiday parties to attend and will be bringing some yummy treats to each of them so that means when I'm not running I need to be baking.

Speaking of yummy food, Thanksgiving was AWESOME! I got up early and went to the Ayer Fire 5K with Kim and Ryann and Daisy. It was cool but not cold and very sunny. Perfect morning for a little run. As an added bonus I was able to give the fire department a stack of flyers for the stair climb, hopefully they bring a team. Kim and I ran the race together, unfortunately Ryann and Daisy were not allowed to run with us so they cheered instead with their grandparents. The course was mostly flat with a few rolling hills. It went by really fast, Kim was on fire, I had a hard time keeping up with her. We finished in 26:44 at a 8:37 pace. Not bad. Probably my fastest 5K in a while. After the race I hopped in my car and headed home to start cooking for my family.

It worked out perfect. I got home and threw the turkey breast in the oven then jumped in the shower. I had prepared pretty much everything the night before and only had to wait for it all to cook now. My mom, brother and grandmother drove down from Portland and arrived just in time. The entire meal was ready at noon. We started with Butternut squash and apple soup. Then we dug into the main courses. The turkey was just for my mom and brother, I had wild rice stuffed acorn squash and veggie gratin and mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy, green beans, roasted brussel sprouts and wild mushrooms. I even made some cranberry chutney. Everything was perfect. My brother actually really really liked the veggie gratin. The stuffed squash was ok, I would pre-cook the squash if I made it again because the stuffing kind of dried out. Here's the gratin, it tasted just as good as it looks. AMAZING!!!

After my mom and brother each had 2 or 3 helpings of everything we needed to digest a little before moving on to dessert. My grandmother, unfortunately, is starting to show her age. She was a little confused and quiet for most of the meal. She didn't know who I was or where she was. It's really sad. She enjoyed the food and I told her it was great to have her visit. My brother brought his dog Logan with him and it was hilarious to see his reaction to my cats. Lola hid under the couch and Fat Boy Slim didn't really care, he was just pissed that we moved his food dish and he couldn't eat. Logan was terrified of both cats. He wouldn't even look at Slim and he found Lola under the couch and she quickly let him know she didn't want to be friends with a swift swat to the nose.

Finally, we decided we had room for dessert. I couldn't decide which cheesecake to make so I made two! My usual pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap pecan crust and caramel swirl AND a new recipe - cranberry swirl with a cran-raspberry compote.
OMG! This might be my new favorite cheesecake. It was delicious. A little tart and a little sweet, not too heavy or dense. The crust was yummerific, made with vanilla wafers and lots of butter. My brother loved it and said, "I'm going to take a small slice of this one and leave it for you and take the rest home with me." With a pretty good food coma about to set in, they had to drive back to Portland and bring my grandmother back to her nursing home. I passed out on my couch as soon as they left.

Black Friday I did NOT go shopping. Instead I got up and had some tea and breakfast and lounged around watching the today show and the news and then went for a nice 7.5 mile run. I was a little tempted to go shopping after my run out of boredom, but decided to nap on my couch instead and watch movies.

Saturday, the Lowell Ladies did a nice 7 mile run and I added on to and from Kim's house to make it 10.3 for me. We kept a really great pace for the whole run. It felt really good. I was bored afterwards so I decided to brave the mall and see what all the fuss was about and maybe get a few things. There really wasn't anythign I needed or wanted. I got some work clothes and that's about it. In the evening, I went to downtown Nashua with some friends. They have a 'Holiday Stroll' and we thought it would be lights and local stores and spirit, but it was mostly spirits and I don't mean the holiday kind. Nashua earned it's nickname "trashua". The stroll was more like a street festival with crappy food trucks and vendors selling trinkets for kids. None of the stores were open and none of the restaurants were either. It was kind of lame.

Sunday morning I completed the long weekend with another long run. 16 miles! Getting Goofy. A little over a month to go and I need to get my back to back long runs done. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. I wasn't tired and my legs felt fine, but for some reason I just felt like the force of gravity had doubled on me and I was being held back. It was taking twice as much energy to move my body forward. I think I over dressed and got dehydrated. I never drink enough when it's colder out. Sure enough when I got home I had lost several pounds in sweat while out running. It wasn't as fast as I would have liked but it wasn't really slow either. I'm still on target for a strong finish in the Goofy Challenge (as long as the weather doesn't kill me).

This is what it's all about:
The bling I will get for running 39.3 miles in 2 days. I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things I'm thankful for....

The holidays are not my favorite time of year for many reasons, mostly because I associate them with family gatherings in my younger years that involved a lot of not so nice words exchanged usually from family members to me about my weight. I think a common misconception about overweight people is if you tell them they're fat they will want to diet and lose weight. On the contrary, the more my family made fun of me the more I wanted to eat. Like most plump people, I was very unhappy and my family only made me more unhappy. The only thing that made me feel good was food.

I have made many changes in my life to become happier and healthier, the first change I made was about 10 years ago, I distanced myself from the negative influences in my life (aka - my family) and instead of wallowing in everything that made me unhappy I tried to focus on what truly made me happy. It wasn't something I discovered overnight and I'm still learning, but I no longer view food as a source of happiness. Don't get me wrong, I DO really enjoy food. In fact, I enjoy it more now than I ever did when I was a 'Fatty McFatterson'. Now I view food as fuel for all the other fun stuff I REALLY enjoy doing.

I enjoy eating REAL food and cooking healthy meals that taste amazing. I take time to prepare my food and find the freshest ingredients and the yummiest recipes. I love trying new recipes and new foods that I never thought I'd like. I love exploring exotic flavors and spices and blending it all together to create culinary magic that pleases the palate and doesn't go straight to my hips.

So, this Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for my health and my new appreciation of food. I'm thankful for all the fabulous friends I've made over the last 10 years and especially more recently in the running world, they are my family now. I'm even thankful for my family because the difficult times I had growing up made me the strong, independent, confident, and courageous person I am today. I'm thankful that through running and my journey of a thousand miles I've reconnected with my mom and some old family friends.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I am cooking for my mom, my brother, and my grandmother. The menu will include mostly vegetarian dishes with a small roasted turkey breast on the side. I've said it before and I'll say it again - when planning a meal meat should be the accessory not the main attraction and really isn't necessary at all. Here's what we will be having (be prepared to drool a little): Butternut squash and apple soup, Wild rice stuffed acorn squash, Veggie gratin (think green bean casserole only better), roasted brussel sprouts and wild mushrooms, rosemary mashed potatoes, traditional stuffing with dried cranberries, steamed green beans, homemade cranberry chutney, vegan cornbread muffins, and a small roasted turkey breast. For dessert I baked a cranberry swirl cheesecake and prepared a cran-raspberry compote to serve it with and I will also have my famous pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap pecan crust and caramel swirl. Here's what the cranberry swirl cheesecake looks like:

You may think I've been so busy planning this meal and preparing for it that I haven't had time to run, well you would be wrong. Last week after the half marathon, I did have a little trouble getting motivated early in the week to do much running, but I made up for it at the end of the week. I ran 7 miles Friday night when I got home from work. Then I got up super early Saturday morning and ran a 'sunrise special' (to borrow a term from a fellow runner) 8 miler before I headed into Boston to start my stair climb training off right with a free bootcamp at the Bunker Hill Monument.

We didn't climb the actual monument because there was a huge tour group there. Instead we climbed the 4 staircases that surround the monument multiple times and mixed in some fun body weight exercises in between. Squats, lunges, frog leaps, jumping jacks, burpees, crunches, etc. and laps around the monument up and down the stairs. I felt pretty good for the whole workout. After all, I eat hills for breakfast so a few stairs are like a snack for me.

Sunday I was suppose to run 14 miles according to my Goofy training plan, but I was also planning to run a 5K/5M race with a few friends at 10:00am so it would be tough to do both. Oh and when I woke up Sunday morning I felt every single one of those stairs that I had climbed. So, again I headed out for a 'sunrise special' and squeaked in 13 miles before heading to the race. I had planned on doing the 5 miler, but when my friend said she was only doing the 5K I was super excited and did not even try to talk her into doing more. The race was fun and it was a perfect day for it. Sunny and mid-50s with a little wind.

After the race I went back to my friend Cherie's house and her son Mitchell made us the best cup of coffee in the World! I'm not kidding, this kid really knows how to brew a good cup o' joe. He also made us chocolate chip pancakes and I had brought over some pumpkin bread that we devoured too. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday morning.

This week is a short work week and then it's a 4 day weekend! My running plans for the weekend include a 5K turkey trot, perhaps a short fun run on black Friday, then more Goofy training Saturday and Sunday with a 10 miler followed by a 16 miler. This will be my first 16 miler since Chicago. After the half marathon and my long run last weekend I can say without a doubt that my body is ready for long distances again. I am loving the cooler temeratures and quiet mornings in the backroads of New England. It really doesn't get much better than this.

Monday, November 14, 2011

How did it get to be mid-November already?

I guess time really does fly when life is good. I think I kinda sorta found my motivation again, but still need to get back into a routine that includes crosstraining and strength training. I've been looking into joining a gym near work so that maybe I can add cross and strength back in after work on days that I'm not running. I really need to do something. My running is going well, but it could be a lot better.

It's been a wicked busy first half of November. My job is still awesome. I'm busy and learning a ton of new things and making progress on the big project I'm working on. Last week someone totally made my day, really my year. I was meeting with one of the directors to review a document he had written to remediate to one of the standards we're implementing - basically a local procedure to be inline with a corporate procedure. As we worked through the document line by line, he stopped and said, he was skeptical at first that an additional resource would be able to help much on the impossible project we have to tackle, but he said it has been a pleasure having me on the team. That kind of appreciation means so much to me after working at my previous job for so long being treated like a worthless drone. I was smiling so much for the rest of the day my cheeks got sore.

Outside of work I've been working really hard to recruit people for the Race Up Boston Place stair climb event in Boston to benefit American Lung Association. It's unlike any other race and it has a firefighter competition too - the firefighters climb in full gear. So, I'm on the race committee and doing what I can to help recruit more fire departments. I run past 2 of the Lowell Fire stations all the time and keep harassing them to register. On my longer runs on the weekends I have been running to other town fire departments. I've got Tewksbury and Dracut so far. I still need to get Andover and Chelmsford. I'll be really disappointed if Lowell Fire doesn't bring a team. I've recruited them every chance I get. I even gave a group of them flyers at the grocery store one day.

I need to get more of my friends to register for the event too. So far my team only has two members including me. I plan to climb with at least one other team too and possible two other teams. I'd LOVE to climb in firefighter gear just for shits and giggles and to see if I can do it. I'm working on that too. So, anyway, if you're one of my friends and from the greater Boston area and you're reading this - PLEASE sign up for the climb already. What are you waiting for? What do I have to do to motivate people? I'm going to bring cookies to the race. I could even be persuaded to bake a cheesecake or cupcakes. Go to the following link, click on more info, then join a team, and search for "Infinite Awesomeness"

In addition to work and recruiting for the climb, I have started to ramp up my training for the Goofy Challenge. Since Chicago I have gone from 10 miles total the week following the marathon, to two weeks at 25 miles total, and now two weeks at 40 miles total. I've done back to back long runs two weeks in a row now. First was 9 and 12 and this weekend I did 8 and 13.1, next weekend I plan to do 8 and 14. This past weekend I ran the Chilly Half marathon in Newton, MA. It runs part of the marathon course and mostly through the neighborhoods around heartbreak hill, so as you can imagine the overall elevation of the course was pretty challenging.

The half marathon was really nice. It was perfect weather, 50s and partly sunny. It was a little windy at some points. The hills were not as bad as I expected them to be. I love the Newton Hills so I LOVED this course. The race organization was pretty good. They had tons of volunteers along the course and they were all very enthusiastic and cheerful. The only part that sort of sucked was one of the busier intersections, the cops actually stopped the runners to let traffic go through! Seriously? I mean I know I was in the back of the pack, but those 30 seconds meant the difference between being under 2:05 and being over 2:05. Could have been a PR for some people, I'd be pissed if it was for me. After the finish they had a ton of vendors and freebies at the high school. And the medal is really nice too. Overall, I'd run it again.

Not much on deck for the rest of the year. Mostly focusing on Goofy training and starting to try and work in some stair climb training and recruiting more people to join. I can't believe next week is Thanksgiving. I'm planning a mostly vegetarian meal for my family and a small turkey breast because they'd kill me if I didn't have it. I'm going to try a new cheesecake recipe and a few other yummy treats. Before I know it the holidays will be here and I'll be making sugar cookies and candy wreaths. Then it will be time to fly to Florida for Goofy - which reminds me I should probably book my flights.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Where oh where did my motivation go?

It seems to be hiding lately. I've had a lot going on at work and at home and you would think that I would make time for running to aleveate some of my stress, but no, I've been leaning more towards sitting on the couch and doing nothing lately.

I've been wicked busy at work and I love it. It's like everything fell into place for me and I finally have a great job that is challenging and rewarding and I get to work with awesome people that respect me and value my opinions. It's amazing. It became even more apparent to me how great everyone was last week when I had issues dealing with the HVAC guy installing a new boiler in my house. Both my boss and my bosses boss told me not to worry about it and take all the time I needed to deal with it. It was a huge relief to not add to the stress of having a douchey contractor working at my house by having to use vacation time I haven't accrued yet.

So, about the douchey contractor, the work was originally supposed to be completed on the 22nd the day after the asbestos removal was completed and I called the HVAC guy a few days before to confirm and find out what time he would be coming over to start the work. This is when he decided to inform me that he hadn't written the date down on his calendar and was too busy that day with hockey games for his son and wouldn't be able to come. So, he rescheduled for the 29th. THEN.....Friday afternoon I get a phone call from him saying he WOULD be coming Saturday morning to start the work. I had already rearranged my plans for the weekend based on the fact he said he WASN'T coming! So, I rearrange my plans again and agreed to let him start the work. Afterall, the forecast for the following week was pretty cold and I wanted to get heat as soon as possible.

Saturday morning, the HVAC guy shows up almost an hour late and brings his kid with him! They started working immediately. Basically removing the old boiler and getting the measurements for the pipes they would need to install the new boiler. They used a power saw to cut the old pipes and let the kid (maybe 8 or 9yrs old) use the saw to cut up the cardboard box that the new boiler was packaged in. That's real safe. Sometime around lunchtime they finished removing the old boiler and said they needed to leave and "I needed to be flexible" for when they could come back and finish the job. I explained when I hired them that I work fulltime in Cambridge and cannot take time off to get this work done. They said they were going to come Tuesday night at 5:00 to finish the install. The one night of the week when I had plans to run with friends. I had already missed two runs with friends because of this guy, now I was going to miss another run.

Tuesday afternoon, I got home from work and awaited the arrival of the d-bag. 5:00 comes and goes and no show. 5:30, nothing, not even a phone call. Finally at 6:00 I CALLED HIM! He answered the phone "Are we there yet?" I said that's exactly what I was wondering. Are you still coming? Then he informed me that they hadn't even left yet and they would be there in about an hour. SO.....2 hours late without so much as a phone call to say they were delayed. 7:00pm they finally showed up and I opened the door. The D-bag pushed right past me and walked through my house to the basement and let his guys in without even saying hello or sorry we're late.

I had hoped that whatever work they had left wouldn't take long or they would work until a reasonable hour and then come back another day. I clearly underestimated the douchebagery. They were at my house until midnight, banging on pipes, setting of smoke detectors, and STILL not done with the install. When I went down to let them out and close the basement door behind them, they were drinking beers!!!!!!!

Again, the D-bag instisted I had to be flexible and would have to take Thursday or Friday off to get the job done and inspected. Possibly even both days! I told him I only recently started my job and I couldn't just tell them one day in advance I wasn't coming in. He didn't care. Has actually asked if I would leave him a key to my house instead!!! Are you freakin kidding me?????

So, I called the gas company Thursday to arrange to have the gas turned back on after the boiler was inspected and I found out that they wouldn't even book an appointment unless the inspection was done already. So, that meant I had to wait until mid-day Thursday and pray that they had a technician available for that afternoon to come turn the gas on.

Thursday, the D-bag showed up late again! I guess at that point I shouldn't have been surprised. He finished the install at about 2:00 and had to leave and asked to settle up (even though I still had no gas and no heat and my house was a chilly 58 degrees). Then the shadiness and douchebagery continued. He asked to be paid in two separate checks - one to his company and one to his wife so that the money couldn't be traced back to him! Hello tax fraud! I wrote the checks just to get rid of him and get him to leave. The gas company came an hour and a half later and turned on my gas and made sure the boiler worked.

Friday, I returned to work and promptly filed a complaint with the better business bureau.
I had plans to run a fun 1 mile costume race Friday night, but I was so exhausted from the stress of the week that I skipped it and went to bed early instead.

Saturday morning, I finally got to run with my friends again. We did 10 miles and we ran pretty fast. It didn't feel like we were going as fast as we were, but I trust the Garmin. Proof that my pace is directly proportional to the temperature outside. Colder = faster. I spent the rest of the day putting all my stuff back in my basement and doing a little grocery shopping to prepare for the freak Nor'easter that we were getting Saturday night.

Sunday, although I was really tempted to stay on the couch all day I dragged my butt outside for a short easy 5 mile run with a friend. We didn't get a ton of snow, but the snow we got weighed a ton and brought down a lot of trees and power lines. Lots of people are still without power today and schools were even canceled!!! It's not even November yet! I'm not ready for Winter, we never really got Fall. That's my favorite time of year for running and Mother Nature robbed me of it. Not fair.

Anyway, with the extra time on the couch being not motivated lately I found what I want for Christmas this year, it's like the snuggie only better, it has a hood and comes with footie socks:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Firemen and free beer - Yes please!

So, last week I rode the high from finishing another marathon and tried to make that joy last as long as I could. Unfortunately, I caught a nasty head cold on the plane coming back to Boston and I was sick for most of the week and didn't really have the energy to celebrate. Even with an absurd amount of mucous forming in my sinuses and snot coming out my nose I couldn't help but smile ear to ear all week reflecting on how far I've come in such a short amount of time. It seriously blows my mind when I think about it.

Back in the day, when I was a freshmen in High School, I joined the soccer team to try and make some new friends. Middle school was not kind to me and was probably as much fun as spending three years being tortured in a third world country prison. Well, my brilliant plan to make friends on the soccer team didn't really work out well because as it turned out, I hated to run and I was even worse at actually running while kicking a ball. I played defense because it was the position on the team that required the least amount of running. And I tried to skip practice whenever I could to avoid doing laps around the field or worse Indian sprints around the boulevard in Portland.

If you had asked me then to run 26.2 miles I most likely would have laughed at you and then maybe cried a little at the thought of actually having to do it. So, imagine how strange it is for me now to run that distance and LOVE it. I was a little bummed at first when I finished Chicago much slower than I had wanted to run it, but in the grand scheme of things, every marathon I run no matter what the clock says when I cross the line is a miracle. It's the most amazing celebration of my dedication and determination to be healthier and truly LIVE my life instead of watching the days go by sitting on the couch and wishing things were different. I am living proof that anything is possible. From couch potato to multiple marathoner in about 5 years! Un-freaking-believable!
So, after spending last week sick and forced to rest and recover, Friday after work I went to see my acupuncturist for a post marathon treatment and a little head cold magic too. It was exactly what I needed. I felt great and relaxed and refreshed after. I went home and slept so good I woke up in a puddle of drool.

Saturday morning I did my first post marathon run with the Lowell Ladies. It was just a short 4 miler and I felt sort of sluggish and slow, but I hadn't run in 5 days and the last run was a marathon so it was to be expected. It was a perfect fall day out. Sunny, slight breeze, and brisk 55-60 degree air. It's really my favorite conditions for running. If I could find somewhere to live that looks and feels like New England but stays fall all year round I'd be in heaven.

After the run, I went grocery shopping and cleaned my house. I have asbestos removal guys coming this Friday and my boiler being replaced on Saturday so I need to remove all of my personal items from the basement. Kind of a hassle, but it made me realize I need to purge a lot of stuff and get rid of things. For example, for some reason in college I decided to start collecting PEZ dispensers and I have about 400 of them. I need to get rid of those. Anyone know of someone that might want them let me know.

Saturday night I met up with my friend Patty who was in town from NYC to run the Baystate half marathon in Lowell. We went to a sort of late dinner at Life Alive and met up with Nutter, my friend that introduced me to Patty. We sat and chatted pretty much until they kicked us out. Probably a good thing because we needed to get some sleep. Patty running the half (plus 7 miles before to make it her 20 mile training run for the NYC Marathon) and Me running the Boston Fire 10K in the morning.

Sunday, one of my favorite races of all time, the Boston Firefighters 10K. It's for fallen firefighters and it's a great event. The course is flat and fast and very well organized. Bagpipes lead you to the start along with an antique firetruck as the pace car. Then there's unlimited free beer and a band waiting for you at the finish. While they announce the awards for top finishers they also do hundreds of raffles to restaurants in the North End and sometimes weekend getaway packages and all kinds of amazing stuff. The best part about it is that they usually have so many raffles to give away that they get tired of calling numbers of people that have already left so they just start calling numbers of people in the front of the crowd that hold up their bibs. It's awesome! I won a $40 gift card to Dolce Vita!

As a bonus for the weekend too, I wanted to try and get my photo on a ladder truck with a fireman in my Race Up Boston Place early bird t-shirt to help spread the word about the event and come on, I'll admit it, I wanted to climb on a ladder truck. Going into the weekend and getting to the race I wasn't sure if I'd have the guts to ask if I could climb on the ladder truck. Believe it or not, I'm actually really shy. Well, maybe it was the adrenaline from the race or maybe it was the free beer I had (only my 4th or 5th beer this entire year!) - I DID IT!
Special thanks to the Boston Fire Dept. for hosting another amazing event and letting me climb on their ladder truck. I'm still cheering for my hometown boys of Portland Fire to win the stair climb, but you just pulled into a close second for me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gotham City Recap

Marathon #8 DONE! It was hot and difficult, but I did it. Here's a summary of the weekend's events and a race recap.

I flew into Chicago Friday morning and met up with my friend Milady at the airport. We shared a shuttle to the Inn of Chicago. The shuttle was filled with other runners and two random dudes from Austrailia or New Zealand that had no idea there was a marathon happening in the city this weekend. One guy was from Boston and it was his first marathon. We all chatted about our training and race day tips and the weather forecast while the two non-runners just looked at us like we were clearly all infected with the same strange disease that they did not understand and they did not want to catch.

We got to the hotel and checked in. Coolest part about the Inn of Chicago (and one of it's flaws) wicked tiny mirror lined elevators with dance party music blasting in each of them. Riding up to our room was like a quick trip to the Jersey Shore complete with fist pumping, but missing Snookie and Paulie D. Our room was nice. Small like the elevator, but who needs a big fancy room when we were going to spend the majority of our time NOT there.

Once we dropped our things off we headed straight to the Niketown store to hop on a shuttle to the expo. Niketown was totally decked out in marathon schwag and decor. They even had people greet you at the door cheering with cowbells. AWESOME! We looked around the store a little before heading to the expo and even talked one girl into giving us her cow bells!

Off to the Expo! It was my friend's first marathon so I wanted to make sure she had plenty of time to soak it all in and get the full experience. We were lucky because when we got there it wasn't crowded at all. We walked right up to the table to get our bib numbers and timing chips then straight to the t-shirt table. No lines, no waiting. Then we shopped and got all kinds of freebies. We listened to a presentation by a veteran Chicago marathoner on the course overview and some race day tips. Then took a few fun photos and headed back to the hotel to get dinner and settle in for the night.

Saturday morning we took our time getting up and going. My friend Milady didn't sleep well because our room was right next to the ice machine and the maintenance elevator. I slept right through all the noise. We packed our things and requested a room change. Then we headed out for a little sight seeing. We took one of the city's famous architecture boat tours that goes down the river through the city and decribes the history of Chicago and it's many sky scrappers.

After the boat tour we grabbed a quick bite to eat on our way to Navy Pier. We had walked around a little more than I would have liked for the day before a marathon so we decided to spend the next few hours seated, in the IMAX theater watching 'Real Steel'. Not an oscar worthy movie, but a little dose of Hugh Jackman is never a bad thing. It was actually pretty cute for a robot boxing movie. Honestly, from the previews I thought they made a movie out of the cheesy kids game 'Rock Em Sock Em Robots'.

After the movie we walked back to the hotel and I took a short nap before we grabbed a quick take out dinner. We were both still full from our movie snacks and too tired to go eat at a restaurant so the little italian place around the corner was perfect. I had spinach ravioli and Milady had cheese pizza. It wasn't great, but it was just enough to top off the carb tanks for the marathon.

We laid out our clothes and shoes and set the alarm clocks and went to sleep. Oh and our new room was far away from the ice maker and elevator to ensure we would both get a good night's rest before the race.

RACE DAY!!! Excited and nervous, we got up and got ready. We hopped on the tiny dance party elevator with a few other runners and walked to the CTA (Chicago's subway/ 'L' train). A few short minutes on a crowded train and were were at the start area. We still had about an hour to kill before the race started so we walked around a bit and checked our bags. Then headed into the start corrals. we were planning on running different pacces so I said good luck to Milady and headed to the 4:15/4:30 pace area.

Waited around a little, national anthem, and starting gun, then a 10 minute walk to the line and I was off and running my 8th marathon. It still amazes me how natural it feels for me to run 26.2 miles. It was extremely crowded and my garmin lost satelites in the tunnels and tall buildings almost immediately. I kept track of my splits just by looking at the race clocks at each mile marker. I kept a pretty even pace for the first 16-18 miles. I wasn't as fast as Boston, but I felt comfortable and kept a consistant pace so I was happy. Then Mother Nature showed up like an uninvited guest to the party.

It was warm but not hot. I could tell my pace was slowing down a little with every mile that passed. Then somewhere between Mile 19 and 20 the 4:30 pace group passed me. I tried to hang onto the 10:00 pace and stick with them and managed to for maybe half a mile before they slowly drifted off into the crowd of runners in front of me. Right at mile 20 I passed a bank with a clock/thermometer that said it was 83 degrees out. I knew if I tried to push myself and catch the 4:30 group I'd end up in a medical tent and possibly not make it across the finish so I revised my race goal and decided to just relax and run and finish whenever my feet got me there.

I ran the last 10K a lot slower than the first 20 miles, but I still RAN it. I repeated every running mantra I could think of and just kept moving one foot in front of the other, one step at a time, until finally I was on North Michigan Ave heading towards the finish line. I passed the 25 mile marker and then the "1 mile to go" marker and then they had an 800m sign too! A quick right turn up a little incline and a left turn for the last 200m to the finish and I had done it. Granted it was not as fast as I had originally planned, but I did it. I finished my 8th marathon!

Overall, I don't see what the hype is about Chicago. The city is beautiful but you don't see any of it during the marathon. You run through residential neighborhoods and not near any of the iconic tourist attractions that Chicago is famous for. It is a very flat fast course, but there are a million turns in it so I don't know how the elite runners manage to run the tangents and PR. It was fun aside from the extreme heat, but I don't know if I would run it again.

After I crossed the finish line I got water and a free beer and ice and then went to the gear check and got my bag. I found a nice spot to sit down and I called some friends while I iced my legs and waited for Milady to finish. I talked to a few other runners nearby and just enjoyed the weather now that I wasn't running. It was a gorgeous day out for spectating and people watching but not for running. A short time after I finished Milady came out of the finish area and I congratulated her on completing her very first marathon! I think she was partly in shock and disbelief that she had done it.

We walked back to the hotel and stopped along the way for a celebratory cupcake. Back at the hotel, I introduced Milady to the joys of taking an ice bath. She screamed in agony at first but then said, "this actually feels really good". See, I'm not crazy! She showered and then it was my turn. Ice bath and shower. We met up with my friend Antonio for post race drinks on the rooftop bar at our hotel.

After drinks we went out for dinner at the Green Zebra. It was an amazing vegetarian restaurant that Milady found. The food was delicious, the only problem was that they didn't bring it fast enough. It was pretty late by the time we got there and then it took a while for the waiter to take our orders and then to bring the food. We were fading fast and barely had the energy to eat when the food did get to the table. We inhaled what we could and went back to the hotel to sleep.

It was another whirlwind weekend of running and running around and it was full of fun and memories I will have forever (unless I get Alzheimers). Monday morning when I got back to Boston I got a text message from Milady that she is already thinking about running another marathon. It finally hit her, it's not just running 26.2 miles. It's a shared experience with thousands of other runners and a few select friends that makes you a rockstar for a day because you did something amazing that not everyone can do. It's what keeps me motivated and constantly chasing that high I felt after finishing my first marathon.

I've already got plans for the next marathon - #9 the Goofy Challenge in 88 days. Now I just need to decide what marathon to run for #10. I'm thinking the Cincinnati Flying Pig in May. Just need to convince some other people to run with me. :)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Ready to Razzle Dazzle Chicago!

Wow, this past week went by so fast. I have been sort of ho-hum about the upcoming race. "Just another 26.2" not nervous or anxious or freaking out, well, now that it's less than a week away all those feelings are setting in.

Last week I had a lot going on and didn't get to run as much as I wanted to. Homeownership is fun until something breaks. Especially if you own a really old house like my place and it has asbestos on the pipes around the boiler that needs to be replaced. It just adds a whole new level of suck to the issue. I've been trying to get estimates and whatnot so that I can get the work done before it gets cold. Add into that working fulltime and commuting and training for a marathon and time flies.

Last Monday I took a rest day after the triple race weekend I was all set with running for a few days. Tuesday I booked a massage. Normally I try to do 90 minutes but they only had 60 available and my normal person I go to was "out indefinitely" so I had to book with someone else. Two mistakes that added up to an epic failure. The woman I got was wicked wussy. I told her I was training for a marathon and I wanted a DEEP TISSUE SPORTS massage. NOT a relaxing froo froo fall asleep type of massage. I expect to cry a little and be sore afterwards. She barely touched me and I could have given myself a better massage at home with a foam roller AND I had to pay $85 for it! I told her at the end that she didn't use nearly enough pressure and 60 minutes isn't enough time to really get a good deep tissue massage. She only did my legs and lower back! No hands, arms, shoulders. She actually suggested I book with her again for 90 minutes! She sucked for 60 why would I pay more for a longer waste of my time?????

Anyway, Wednesday I was ready to run out my frustration so I did a nice 6.35 run to Kim's house and around Lowell with her and then back home. We harassed the Lowell Fire Dept. a little along the way. I'm trying to recruit them to start a team for the Race Up Boston Place, but they're all pretty lazy and won't do it. I'm not giving up. I WILL get them to climb.

Thursday I left work early to meet the HVAC guy at my house and then he showed up almost an hour late and made me miss 5@5 with Kim. Kim ran to my house and by the time she got there and I could run a severe thunderstorm was coming in so I only got to run 2 miles before the skies opened up. LAME!

Friday I went to my Acupuncturist for a little pre-marathon Chi balancing. It was awesome! Exactly what I needed to finish off a imbalanced and chaotic week. I felt great afterwards. She did some stuff for my hamstrings and my whole left side that has been out of whack ever since the car hit me. A little for allergies and sleeping and good digestion and I was good to go (not literally).

Saturday I ran the Grace Race 5 miler in Chelmsford. Not nearly as fast as I ran it last year so I didn't place and get a cool trophy like last year, but I still had a lot of fun running with some great people in the middle of the pack. "We may not be the fastest, but we're the best looking" - George Bisson (older retirement aged runner with a new knee and amazing ability to bring a smile to everyone's face in local races). After the race I went home and just chilled on the couch in my sweats for the rest of the day. I was supposed to go apple picking but it was rainy and raw outside and really gross. Much better couch weather than outdoor activity weather.

Sunday I did my last "long" run before Chicago. I ran a nice easy 7 miles. I ran to Tewksbury Fire with the intent to knock on the door and give them a flyer for the stair climb, but then chickened out when I got there and just kept running. It wasn't super early so it's not like I'd be waking them up, but I'm just too shy to knock on the door and be all like "hi, excuse me, I run by here all the time and wanted to personally invite/challenge you to participate in the Race Up Boston Place". I know, right, It sounded so good in my head, but that's as far as it got.

Well, after the run I went to Target and picked up a few things and print some race photos for my scrapbook. Met Kim and Ryann and Daisy and their aunt Bonnie at Life Alive for lunch. Then I went grocery shopping and made apple crisp and got sucked into some mindless TV for the rest of the day.

Plan for this week is to try and actually get some work done and not be totally distracted by the upcoming trip and race in Chicago. I want to do 2 more short easy runs to stay loose and burn off a little of the nervous energy, but mostly I'm resting and relaxing all week. I can't believe it's so close! I haven't even done laundry yet and my race singlet it dirty. I better get on that.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Triple Down weekend

What a crazy weekend. I did a half marathon AND back to back 5Ks. Mother Nature did not make it easy with another triple H weekend - Hazy, Hot, and Humid. Extra heavy on the HUMID part. Not nice for the first weekend of autumn. It's suppose to be cool, brisk, with a little bite of frost in the air in the morning, not steamy.

Anyway, the Wicked Half marathon in Salem, MA is a really nice course. Challenging rolling hills, but really pretty along the coast and through some nice neighborhoods. Only thing that sucks about it is that it's in Salem, MA. I forget how much I hate Salem until I return there for a race. I ALWAYS get lost because there are not street signs and all one way streets going the wrong way. Thank God I left sort of early for the race. I had enough time when I got there to get my stuff and walk back to my car and hit up the bathroom lines a few times before the gun went off.

It was about 70 degrees and 100% humidity and I was totally soaked within the first three miles and then I heard the girl next to me say to her friend, "We're doing 10:00 miles, this is great!" to which I thought "F*^*&*(!!!!! I'm going way too SLOW!!!!" Oh well, blame it on the humidity and heat. I tried to pick up the pace and eventually found a more comfortable rhythm, but then I got goosebumps around mile nine and started shivering. Damn it, why can't my body just learn to deal with the heat like a friggin kenyan? Instead it shuts down and freaks out.

I managed to finish the race in 2:10 not the pace I was hoping for two weeks out from Chicago, but really hoping for better weather at the marathon. I felt sort of sick and really dizzy so I made my way into the school at the finish area to sit down and put my legs up. I found a nice spot in the gymnasium with a tumbling mat already laid out against a wall. I scooted my bum right up to the wall and hoisted my legs up to stretch out my hamstrings and drain the blood from my legs and get it to my head. Unfortunately, I forgot that my keys were still in my back pocket and they stabbed me in the spine. My legs felt better and I wasn't dizzy anymore, but now my back hurt.

I got home from the race and hopped on the scale before I took a shower and I had lost 5lbs. in sweat. I kind of expect that for a full marathon or even an 18 mile run, but not a half marathon. So, rehydration and rest became the main focus for the rest of the day. Especially because I had a busy day planned for Sunday.

I spent Saturday night watching 'Bridesmaids' with my friend Kim. It was not nearly as funny as everyone said. "The Hangover" was way better. I mean Kristen Wigg and Maya Rudolph were pretty funny, but the movie was more sad and depressing than funny. Maybe I just thought so because I'm not married and a lot of my friends are, but I'm not miserable and crazy like Kristen Wigg's character. Besides single massage therapist/athletic trainer/sports medicine doctor/volunteer firefighters that are not gay are really hard to find.

Sunday was Double Down Day - back to back 5Ks with Racemenu. First the Legacy 5K in Dedham, MA followed immediately by the Flutie 5K in Natick, MA. And again Mother Nature brought the triple H weather. About 70 degrees and 100% humidity for both races. I felt ok in the first race, slower than my typical 5K but not bad considering I ran a half marathon the day before. I finished in 28:55 soaking wet and sore then ran straight to my car and headed for the next race. Got there just in time to line up and go......much slower. The course was really hilly and my legs were really angry. I tried every mantra I could think of, Dean Karnazes "Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just keep moving forward and never ever give up." Jens Voight "shut up legs!" Unknown source "don't think about how far you've come or how far you have to go just run the mile you're in". I managed to finish in 32:14 and had nothing left in the tank and my legs were screaming (especially my hamstrings). Another first accomplished - back to back 5Ks.

Here's the Racemenu crew after the double down races:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Suck it Beaches!

One of the many awesome team names we encountered during Reach the Beach Relay 2011 - "Suck it Beaches". It's always an adventure. The same but a little different each time. This year I ran with Team Viagra. Same team name as last year, but slightly different line up. A few returning vets including myself and mostly first timers. It was a bit of a struggle right from the very start. We lost a few runners in the weeks leading up to the race and got some last minute substitutes and had a team of 12, then on the morning of the race as we were getting ready to head up to Cannon Mountain one more runner bailed so our team was down to 11 runners.

No problem for me, I wanted the extra miles, but logistically a nightmare because there was road damage on the course due to Hurricane Irene and the race had created a "Plan B" course that threw a wrench in the works. So, Van 1 wasn't handing off to Van 2 at the first Van transition as planned. Which meant in Van 1 we decided to divide up the extra miles of our missing runner amongst ourselves instead of shifting the rotation and totally messing up the flow of the whole race. Three of us ran 4 legs instead of the regular 3.

We met up at Cannon Mountain and checked in and got all our bib#s and shirts and stuff. Then we decorated the vans. I had a list of sayings to write and we had a pretty good supply of jokes to go with the team name. Here are a few of the highlights: "We don't stretch, we prefer to run STIFF", "We run hard with our heads up", "Hills? No Problem, We go up and down all night", "It's funner with a runner", "Distance Runners do it longer", "The faster you go the harder it gets". It went on and on. And of course I brought back the one that got us in trouble last year, "If Reach the Beach was easy it would be called 'Your Mom'".

At 12:40 we were off and running. I took the first double and ran leg #2 and leg#4. Both were pretty short 3 milers, but the second one was into a wicked strong head wind. I got to run right past the Mount Washington hotel though and my team snapped some perfect photos of me.

After we finished the first 6 legs we met up with Van 2 and because of "Plan B" they had an assigned started time of 5:40pm. So we continued on the course and went to North Conway for dinner at Flatbreads. After dinner, Jason had the key to a friend's lake house so we could shower and get a little rest. We wouldn't start running again until later in the evening so we took advantage and headed to the house. We got there and settled in with another team taking a break. I took a very quick shower and tried not to wet my hair because my next run was going to be a 9 miler at 2am and it was near freezing outside.

We all sprawled out on the floor for a little rest and someone was kind enough to turn off the lights. THEN, one of our team members decided to search through his bags for something. Apparently his wife had packed his bag and packed every item of clothing in an individual plastic bag. AND on top of that he had 2 mylar blankets in his bag too!!!! So, imagine trying to get a few precious hours of sleep in a 24+ hour relay race and having that one perfect opportunity RUINED by the sound of crinkling plastic bags. OMG!!! I wanted to kill him. Thankfully I wasn't the only person annoyed. We all yelled at him! But by then 20-30 minutes had gone by and we lost precious minutes of sleep that would haunt us later.

Around 10:30pm we got moving and headed to the Van transition to meet Van 2 and start running again. This time Gene had the double leg and he ran #1 and #3. I ran #5, the 9 miler. I started running around 1:30am and felt awesome for the first 5-6 miles then the coffee I had after dinner hit my bladder and the caffeine worked some magic, not in a good way, on my intestines. I struggled through the last 3 miles in pain and as soon as I handed off the baton I kept running right to the port o potty. I've never had to pee so bad in my entire life. I might actually have a kidney infection as a result of holding it for the last 3 miles of the run. I felt wicked sick after too because I didn't want to drink water or electrolytes on the run because I had to pee so bad and then I think the coffee just dehydrated me more. When I got back in the van and layed down I felt like I was on a boat even when we weren't moving!

We made it to Bear Brook State park around 3:30am for the Van transition and had a few more hours to sleep before running again. I woke up at 6am and had to pee again even though I hadn't had anything to drink since about 2am. I wandered to the port o potties and made it there just before the morning rush because when we walked past again 5 minutes later on our way to get breakfast there was a HUGE line. Bear Brook State Park is my favorite transition. Eggs, pancakes, and coffee prepared by the Allenstown Fire Dept. It's awesome.

After breakfast we were off and running again. Jason took the double leg this time and ran #2 and #4. My last leg was a nice 4 miler. I felt really good and finished strong. I tried to catch up to this guy that passed me in the last mile because he was kinda cute, but then just as we crossed the line at the transition I noticed he had a ring on. Damn it! Oh well. I still congratulated him on a strong finish.

We completed our last 6 runs around 2:00 and took showers at the school before heading to the Beach for the finish. Jason left us and joined his family for some soccer games. We dropped Mike off with his family so he could spend the rest of the weekend with them in Maine and then the rest of Team Viagra went to the Beach. Our team finished in a little over 27 hours with an average pace of 8:30. It was about 5:30 when we got our medals and said goodbyes. I was ready to get the heck out of there and go home. We all went our separate ways and I went home and went to bed. I slept for 12 hours. I'm still exhausted and a little sore, but lucky for me I'm in taper mode now. 20 days to go until Chicago!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


This weekend I completed my first half ironman triathlon (1.2m swim/56m bike/13.1m run). It was AWESOME!!!! Before I talk about the race, let me tell you what I did leading up to the race. Thursday night I did a nice easy 3 mile run with the Lowell Ladies. It felt strange only doing 3 miles. I think that's the shortest run I've done in months. I knew it was what I needed to do to be prepared for the half ironman though so it had to be done.

Friday, I met up with my friend for lunch at Life Alive and we talked about training for Chicago and I tried to avoid thinking about my upcoming big challenge over the weekend. I was starting to really freak out. What had I signed up for? Was I ready? Did I train enough? What was I going to eat on race day? What if I had to pee while I was on the bike? Like I said, freaking out. I tried my hardest to be distracted and not think about it.

Saturday, I got up pretty early and REALLY wanted to run but resisted the urge and decided to go shopping instead. I got new running shoes considering Chicago in a month out and I have a bunch of big races coming up. I picked up a few other things and then went home and found the most awesome delivery in my mail; the Forks Over Knives DVD and Book, plus the Engine 2 diet book - all stuff on plant based eating (for athletes not just for vegetarians and hippies). I spent the afternoon/evening packing and trying to mentally prepare for the race and reading and watching Forks Over Knives. It's so good it's scary. I HIGHLY recommend it. Oh and I went to Life Alive for dinner. :)

Sunday morning I got up at 3:30am and loaded my car to head up to South Berwick for the race. I ate breakfast and had a cup of tea. I tried to relax and reassure myself that I would do awesome, but I always get pre-race jitters and I felt like I was going to vomit. It took me a little more than an hour to get to the race and then there was a huge line for body marking and check in and the race was going to begin in less than an hour and I still hadn't even racked my bike or set up my transition. Freaking out.

I got everything and started to set up my transition area and they were making announcements for the pre-race meeting down on the beach. I still hadn't filled my water bottles or put on my wetsuit or peed one last time. Freaking out. I scrambled to get everything set up just as I was kicked out of the transition area. Got down to the beach and there was so much fog over the water that the buoys were not visible. Not sure if this helped me freak out less or made me freak out more because I couldn't see how far we had to swim. They ended up delaying the start of the race for 45minutes due to the fog for safety. So, I had to stand there ALONE FREAKING OUT!!!! And shivering because it was cold!

Finally, the fog lifted and we could see the buoys and they started the race. Heart now pounding in my chest, oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. The first wave was sent off with a cannon blast that scared the crap out of me and then each wave afterwards had 3 minutes between them and then the race director yelled, "GO! GO! GO!" into a megaphone. I was in the last wave. Before I knew it, I was swimming and I had started my very first half ironman. I tried to just think of it as another triathlon, just a little longer.

I was a little congested and had trouble breathing which made the swim even more difficult for me, but I kept moving, with the words of Dean Karnazes in my head, "Do what you have to do. Just keep moving forward and NEVER EVER GIVE UP!" I made it around the first lap of the double loop course and I couldn't beleive it. I felt pretty good and I was still ahead of some people and even passing people from the wave ahead of me!

I got out of the water and looked at my watch - 42 minutes! Not bad for someone that only swims in races. I thought for sure it would take me way longer. Just a giant hill to the transition and then I could get on my bike. I was a little disappointed they didn't have wetsuit strippers, but to be honest I was a little worried about a wardrobe malfunction having someone else pull my wetsuit off anyway.

I got on my bike and I was off! I LOVE the bike. I'm totally comfortable and blow past people screaming "on your left". I tried to remind myself that I was going to be out there for 56 miles though and I should save a little for the run. It was hard because I was having so much FUN! Thanks to my friends I had a new nickname and a new running/biking mantra "I AM A MACHINE! M-A-C-H-I-N-E!" So, I was singing/chanting that to myself as I powered up and over every hill past people struggling and sailed past more people on the descents with ease - watching the miles fly by on my bike computer. 10 miles, 20 miles, 28 miles, first lap done, 40 miles, only 16 to go then I get to run, 50 miles, only 6 to go. Oh and inbetween my mantra and other random thoughts I was singing Queen's 'Bicycle' to myself too. "I like to ride my bi-cycle. I like to ride my bike."

Made the turn onto the road leading to the transistion and I was WICKED excited to run! I can't remember being that happy and excited to run 13.1 miles ever, especially after biking 56 miles and swimming 1.2 miles. I saw Kim standing at the corner waiting to pace me on the run and I raced into the transition and threw on my shoes and hat and sprinted out to meet her and start the run.

I was so excited and feeling so good that I ran the first mile out of the transition at a 7:45 pace! Kim was having a hard time keeping up and I knew I couldn't maintain that pace (I can't even run a 5K that fast!). I slowed up and settled into a more reasonable pace. The miles flew by. At mile 5 Kim said she thought she was slowing me down and was going to stop and pick me back up on the second lap and run me in for the last 4 miles. I felt AMAZING and just kept going. In no time at all I was back to her and we were on our way to the finish!

We approached the turn to the finish and Kim said go get it, I'll meet you at the end. I kicked it up and sprinted in and crossed the line at 6:10! Still felt AWESOME! I DID IT! I finished my first half ironman and I could have kept going! I felt like I was on top of the world!

I still think it was a dream. I'm still riding the endorphin high 3 days later. I can't believe how far I've come in just 5 years and can't even imagine going back to the couch potato fatty mcfatterson version of myself that I don't even recognize anymore.

Here's a photo of me right when I got home, still basking in the glory of the finish: