Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Triathlon....Bella style

Running, throwing “the stick”, and climbing hills…..sounds like a triathlon to me!

This morning, I took Bella out for a run.  She is not a fan of running on the street;  so many cars and so little freedom (leash).  But when we leave the roads……watch out!  She’s in her element.

The run:
We decided to do “trail repeats”.  What that means for me is absolute insurance that I won’t get lost.  If you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you know I was born sans internal compass.  There’s no use fighting it.  I use a Garmin for driving and I stick with out&back routines like this morning.  We completed 3 out&backs to total 3.44 miles.  That might be a new running mileage record for Bella.  She’s much more of a sprinter.

The throw:
To keep it fun and interesting for her, I threw “the stick” a number of times.  She lives to fetch and epitomizes the essence of the Labrador Retriever.  Occasionally, she’ll get cozy with the stick and gnaw on it, ripping it apart.  She has particular types of sticks that are her favorite.  C’mon, doesn't everyone have a favorite stick?  So my dog might have OCD.  Don’t judge.

The climb:
The trail is flanked by large hills with boulders and forest.  Here is where she has her most fun.  She fetches the stick, runs down the hill, drops it for me, and climbs back up again – waiting for the next throw.  We could do this all day and she’d never get bored.  If I wait too long to throw it, she’ll let me know.  That particular bark has almost a “cry” to it.  She gets so damn excited (and impatient).

What a fun way to get my run in, to start getting my footing on off-road surfaces, and to tucker my dog out.  I just wish I had a medal for Bella’s stellar triathlon performance!

Well deserved rest!


Friday, April 27, 2012


Life is marked by phases.  Lately, I’ve been hearing some of my friends discuss their teenagers’ college decisions and others struggle over their younger kids’ sleep issues. Some are preparing their kids (and the rest of us!) for their driving permits.  While others are already in the throes of the “empty nest” phase of their lives.  Some are heading into or fleeing a mid-life crisis that fuels one to get a tattoo or motorcycle or makes one question one’s own existence.  All phases. 

Running is like that too.  There are some definite phases that exist within the sport of running.  I read many blogs and have lots of friends who are in various stages of their running lives.  Some are celebrating their first 5K, while others are trying to beat that 5K by minutes or seconds.  Others are making the big leap into training for their first half or full marathon.  There seems to be a natural tendency for the runner to at some point explore the triathlon.  And there are those of us considering the next phase of running:  the ultra.  Crazy?  Maybe.  But I think it’s a rather normal collection of phases in the life of a runner….

It’s not that the marathon is suddenly boring or has been so perfected that it needs no more practice.  It’s not that a runner suddenly finds “extra” time during a day to double or triple the training required to participate in an Ironman or ultra race.  And it’s not always the next best thing for every runner.  Many times, we think to ourselves, “I can run a 5K, but no way could I run a [fill in distance]” I’ve thought to myself, “I’d love to try the triathlon, but there’s no way I can learn how to swim at my age – oh, and then there’s the whole bike thing…”  It’s time to stop thinking “There’s no way…”, and start thinking, “Wouldn’t it be cool to try….”

So here I am, embracing a potential new running phase.  I’ve watched in awe as Scott completed a 50 miler two years ago and follow some bloggers who have already trained and completed an ultra.  I’ve downloaded a training schedule (I mean really, how does one train for a 50 miler?), trying to get my head around this new way of running.  I’m preparing once again to tackle the marathon distance only 5 weeks after running Boston, with the hope that running on fatigued legs will not break me, but instead will strengthen me.  And I have yet another marathon I’m eyeing in October to use as a training run for this 50 miler in November.

Suddenly, I’m thinking of things like “train to be slower” and “being OK with stopping” and “what can I eat that will feel good while running” and probably most importantly “how do I mentally manage a race that is likely to take me 10+ hours to complete”.  This phase of running is exciting to me, since it is so very different from what I’ve been doing for the last 12 years.  Each race usually leaves me wanting to shave off time, whereas an ultra is all about a steady pace that unabashedly embraces walking hills and stopping for a handful of M&Ms or an omelet at mile 39….

I love the challenge of something new, something that I really have to think about and plan for, and something that brings its own joy in the form of putting my heart and soul into something I’m really not sure I’m capable of succeeding at.  Until, I prove that I am.

Bring on the next phase...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Next stop...Vermont City!

Signed up...

After a great run yesterday – both physically and mentally – I decided on this potentially crazy idea of running KeyBank Vermont City Marathon (VCM) in 5 weeks!  Don’t get me wrong, I covered every step of that Boston Marathon course (my quads and calves will attest to it), but at the slower pace forced by the heat, I’ve felt a strong thirst for more since that day. 

I have a special place for VCM (Meaghan and I became fast friends while training for 2004) and a special place for VT as well.  Ever since I began working for a VT based company and began taking frequent drives North, I’ve really enjoyed the area and the culture.  VT also took quite a hit during Hurricane Irene last year, so every little bit of tourist (or runner) dollars helps fuel their economy and their rebuilding efforts.

Fortunately, this decision was not made over a bottle of wine, so I don’t expect any race-registration-regret in the morning.  Instead, I’ll get dressed and head out for a run.  After all, I’ve got a race to train/taper for!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DATDA (Day After The Day After)

Hot (jeez, there’s that “hot” word again) off the Boston Marathon trail, I’m back in Vermont for work.  The day-after-the-day-after (DATDA) proved to be all I remember it to be from past marathons – THE WORST!  So.Stiff.

What made the DATDA a little more dramatic was jumping into the car for a 3+ hour drive.  I stumbled out of my car at my work location and willed my legs to cooperate.  Once they got moving again, I joined my VT coworkers and began the fun retelling of the Boston Marathon.  My medal accidentally fell into my bag came along for the trip – what’s a good marathon story without a little “show & tell”?

So many people have told me that I inspire them.  Wow, such a wonderful thing to hear about oneself.  I think it’s less about an admiration that I can run the miles or that I had the guts to complete the task in the searing heat.  I think it’s more about the determination that I believe I can do what I set out to do; whether it’s a marathon or a project at work that no one else wants to touch.  At least that’s what would inspire me if I were in their shoes. 

It’s also interesting how many people admit that “running a marathon” or more specifically “running Boston” is one of their bucket list to-do’s.  To that I always reply, “You can totally do it if it’s what you want”.  Now, it goes without saying that people need to make sure they’re in good health, etc but from the personal determination standpoint, absolutely go do it!  Then when they offer up, “I can’t even run a mile”, I reply, “Neither could I when I first started”.  And there it is.  Believing in oneself is the only way to start a marathon journey or any other journey that is meant to be highly rewarding, yet not necessarily the source of immediate gratification. 

Fortunately, I’ve inspired these legs to become less robotic and more fluid today.  I even took the stairs this morning – down!  I’m feeling good and have got my eyes on a weekend easy run to dip my big toe back in.  Thankfully, the DATDA only comes once per marathon, so it’s now time to move on and set my sights on…..

….more to come on that [wink]!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Boston 2012 - An Experience

Boston was hard.  It was impossible for many.  It was one of the most grueling tests I’ve experienced - physically and mentally.  But there are a whole bunch of positive “buts” I’ve realized, now that I’m cool to the touch…
  • I finished!!!!
  • I had my favorite person in the world, Scott, running by my side.  We finished together in a time of 4:30.  Holding hands.  Smiling.
  • My splits were remarkably even, including a faster mile at mile 23.  Huh???
  • I was fortunate to qualify AND be accepted during the new registration process
  • I did not visit any med tents
  • My head was clear
  • My stomach was iron clad – happily accepting salt tabs & GU like it was its job (when I hadn’t experimented w/ that combo before)
  • My shins once again cooperated, after a training cycle filled with shin-whining
  • I got to appreciate all the goodness that was the spectator – hoses, ice cubes, popsicles
  • My cranky knee that I feared would give up on me between mile 20-21 didn’t – thanks to Scott for reminding me to “increase your pace a little if you can”.  It did the trick.
  • I smiled through most of the race. 
  • I made spectators laugh.  My personal favorite line came just after I doused my body at a water stop, looked up and asked, “Sexy, huh?” 
  • I got my coveted medal
  • I only got one calf cramp – AFTER the race
  • I was able to chill with Scott for the remainder of the afternoon/evening – no other responsibilities but us.
  • We were contacted by one of the local newspapers upon return home.  Always fun to relive such an exciting day at Boston!
  • While Scott was firing up the BC crowd (he lost his voice from screaming at them with “let’s go BC!”), I overheard a visually impaired runner w/ his guide runner state, “This is so awesome”.  What he couldn’t see, he sure did hear and feel.  You couldn’t NOT.
  • I managed the race; it did NOT manage me

That’s what Boston’s all about.  The spectators will us past what we think is our breaking point.  We runners will each other through the rough miles.  Because of the heat, the BAA began referring to this event as less of a race and more of “an experience”.  They should have done that a long time ago.  It truly is an experience.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Boston 2012 (aka Run for the Hoses)


Toughest marathon to date (word is it hit 91 during the race) yet one of the more fun marathons!

Much more to come.....but thank you all for such supportive and encouraging thoughts!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Expo, outfit, and…BAA deferment?

The race is fast approaching and there’s ….nothing really to do, but hydrate and chill!  Now that the trip to the Expo has been made (finally found a good time to go to avoid the masses), all that's left to do is arrange my race day stuff for photos. 

Positioning GU and other running
paraphenalia = NERVOUS ENERGY!
I broke the rule of buying a new piece of clothing for race day, but with the hot/sunny forecast and a black shirt originally planned, a change to a lighter color and lighter weight top was the order of the day.  
Scott's free shirt
Because we were actually able to move around the Expo this year, I easily found a top that fit the bill.  Even better, the Brooks people were giving away a free shirt with any purchase, so I grabbed one that would fit Scott.  We both win!

Now that my race day outfit is complete, it looks like I might receive an A in functionality, but probably a C- in fashion.  Nothing matches.  Check it out – would I lie?
At least the shoes & socks match
each other!
With 26.2 miles ahead of us and a possible record setting temperature, no one will notice.  I suspect if I ran naked, someone would notice that.  I might be cooler, but I’d also probably be jailed.  And that would mean a DNF.

Hot off the presses (no pun intended on the “hot” reference)….BAA is implementing a deferment policy in reaction to what will likely be a dangerous heat.  I think it’s responsible of them to offer that, though I for one will not be biting.  Many people go into these races undertrained even on a good day, so hopefully they will be the ones who defer to 2013.  A race is nothing to risk your health over, but I think I’ll be OK and am ready to tackle the course, albeit slower and more cautiously than if it was 45 degrees and overcast.
Afterall, weather is one of many important elements to managing a race.  This is what we’re getting – it’s pretty evident – so manage it we must.  My mismatched, unfashionable outfit and I plan to rock it.  Now, to define “rock it”…..

Friday, April 13, 2012

So sweet

I’m talking about this….

…and the fact that this delectable cupcake was a thoughtful “good luck” gift from my new friend/coworker today!  On the outside of the box reads, “Good Luck!” and “Run, Lisa…Run!” and “You go girl!” 

How sweet is that? 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Hmmmm, good thing I wasn’t (realistically) looking for a PR on Monday…

Not to say I’m throwing this marathon away.  But I cannot control the weather, and this type of weather is nothing to sneeze at when there’s a marathon at stake.  Of course the forecast might change 26.2 times before Monday.  Of course I want to have a solid race.  Of course I dream of a PR.  Of course I want to finish strong.   I’ll adjust accordingly to ensure I finish.  Extra bonus – no supplemental oxygen or wheelchair.  Solid finish.  Period. 

Now, back to my top 3 priorities for this week:  eat, drink, rest.  Oh, and the periodic weather site stalking.  Duh.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rolling out the “runner” carpet

Welcome runners and spectators to my city!!  Well, I don’t technically live in the city, but close enough.  And although I work hard at pronouncing succinctly words like "car"
(aka caaah) and "yard" (aka yaaahd), I've got enough Boston in me to make me a native.

Although I can’t do the city justice by recommending fabulous restaurants or intriguing, off-the-beaten-path sites, I can offer up some interesting race day tidbits for those visiting Boston for the first time….

  • Wellesley ½ way mark – unless you want a big college kiss and a blown right ear drum, run to the left of the street/screams.
  • Play the game, “What beer do I smell?” as you run through the college areas along the course
  • Enjoy the fresh onslaught of spectators who will file out of Fenway Park after attending the Red Sox game
  • Salute the soldiers who will walk (fully loaded with their gear) the complete distance
  • Pray to the Citgo sign that signifies 1 mile to go to the Finish
  • Revel in that final left turn onto Boylston and smile like it’s your job (how can you not!)
  • Show your commitment to carbo loading by kicking back with a Sam Adams 26.2 special brew to celebrate a great race

I’ve run Boston, I’ve volunteered at Boston, and I’ve cheered at Boston.  I can’t get enough of it!!  Welcome to a fantastic event and a city wide celebration.  I wish you all safe travels, personal bests, and an enjoyable adventure called….Boston J

See you in 6   4 days!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

10 days

On this 10 day mark until Boston, I finally started stalking the weather sites.  Right now, we’re looking at this forecast -

I remember fondly the years I made my way into town to watch the Boston Marathon.  A sunny 80 degree forecast would be music to my ears.  Not anymore….  I could do without the rain part of this early forecast, but the low of 46 works beautifully.  I envision a perfect outfit of shorts, short sleeve shirt (w/ a long sleeve over it at the start, but no tears shed if I toss it), gloves, and my cap.  Gotta have the cap, since I ditched my carefully cultivated ponytail with one sharp pair of scissors last week (queue regret – but it’ll grow back).  If it does truly rain, I’ll have my trusty garbage back and my “race day” shoes in a bag to reveal only minutes before my wave is released.  As long as there’s no crazy talk about potentially cancelling the race due to a Nor’easter (what year was that?), I can bend with the best of them.  Just call me Gumby!

So about these 10 days…..

What will race day bring?  My speed is average and my mid-week runs continue to be my biggest challenge…BUT, I’ve managed to get all of my planned 20’s in.  For me, THAT’S the confidence booster I need at 10 days out.  Those 20’s tell me I have physically and mentally made the distance, especially the 20 I ran the morning after returning from Mexico.  That was the day I had little sleep, a total loss of 2 hours on the clock (due to time change between Mexico/US and turning the clocks ahead), and almost no running for that week in Mexico.  But I did it.  I’ll be counting on that experience and the other long runs somewhere around mile 17, maybe again at mile 21, and most definitely at mile 24.  Memory, don’t fail me now! 

I’m excited, I’m nervous, I’m happy, I’m grateful.  Most of all, I’m ready.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Not after my lunch run!

Running on my lunch break continues to serve me well.  Last night, I packed a bag and parked it by my laptop bag.  Yes, I felt like a “bag lady” this morning as I hauled all my bags into the office.  But it was well worth it.

I seem to be on a roll lately with my old friend Ms. Insomnia.  Bad sleep, broken sleep, no sleep – you name it.  I’ve perfected it.  Add a stiff neck to that concoction and I feel, oh, about 94 years old. 

But not after my lunch run.  Nosirrreeeeeee!

My new friend at work stopped by my cube and lit up when she saw my running bag taking up residence in my cubicle.  I was on a call, but all it took was a little whispering and excited expressions to solidify a running partner for my run today.  Hooray!  My day had started off rough; not just because of the bad sleep and the stiff neck, but the sunny, no precipitation weather conditions that always brings on the worst in the commute.  4 car pile up where????”  Ugh.  I trusted my Garmin to lead me away from the mess.  Although I did avoid that particular incident, I still added a good 25 minutes to my commute.  I’m pretty sure there was an audible growl emanating from me as I walked into the office.  And I hadn’t even started work yet.  Groan.

But not after my lunch run.

Anyone notice a trend??