Dec 30, 2007

morning debates.

should i or shouldn't i?
now or later?
17 miles in the pre-dawn 23 degrees or back to bed?
i am a wuss. i chose the later.

but not before getting up at the crack of dawn, having breakfast, getting fully geared up and ready to go and taking procrastination to new levels. but i had been up for over an hour and wasn't getting any more alert. i wasn't feeling that well. a sore throat had made an appearance overnight and i figured i'd have to get back on my salt water gargling & snorting plan asap to nip whetever it was in the bud. once i was fully satisfied that i had wasted all the time i possibly could, and could no longer prolong the inevitable seventeen miles that lay ahead, i went outside. and stood there. it was so dark and so cold. my running tights may as well have been my pajama bottoms. they flet flimsy and useless. i turned around and came back inside. then i went back out. then i came back in again.

my husband asks what was wrong with me. nothing. nothing is wrong. except for the fact that do i have to be a marathoner? can't i just pretend i am not? and so the negotiations begin. he says do the run later. i say no, that never happens. something will get in the way and mygodits17milesnothingcangetinthewayofalongrunihavetogo. but in no time, i am gratefully pulling off my gloves and fuel belt, taking my sneakers off and heading back up to bed. and i climb in, running clothes, hat and all and go back to sleep. and dream about running, in all things - a torrential downpour.

but i am up now, and feeling a little bit better. my husband will be home in a few hours and i'll head out for my last long run of 2007. for a nice grand total of 1551 miles for the year.

Dec 27, 2007


this is something i've always strived for but never seem to attain. and so because it has always been so elusive to me, i especially love it when little moments of balance appear in my life.

i found some balance this christmas, when i finally acheived the perfect place of not so many gifts under the tree i was embarrased by the excess, and so few i was wrought with guilt. i have been known to go to both extremes. and that's just it. i am a woman of extremes. its all or nothing. there is no in-between.

we had a mid-ride breakfast spread out on our table the other morning, a friend of mine, who knew about my ongoing battle with dairy and now, all things sugar-free asked how things were going; and, motioning to the table full of food - asked what i could eat. i replied by saying i could eat anything i wanted. but then i wanted to elaborate, to explain more. but it wasn't the time. and i still hate talking about food. my consumption of it and relationship with it in particular. i would have explained that i suppose i could eat anything i wanted. but mostly, what i want now is healthy, whole food that keeps me in this place. this place i was never sure i'd ever get to.

this food experiment has not been about replacing one obsession (non-dairy) with another (sugar-free), but all about getting back into balance; which required remaining dairy free and becoming sugar free for a while. dairy was never the issue, and i know that now. but dairy, by nature is hard to digest - and because my intestines were such a mess, it was doubly hard. once eliminated, it made a very immediate & positive impact. and so i rightfully thought problem solved. but not so much. the symptoms remained. i couldn't figure out why. i went to three doctors and had oodles of tests. no doctor ever, ever asked me about my diet. and no doctor could ever figure out what it was. which pissed me off.

and so i spent my days while training for a marathon being afraid to eat so many things - worried about the gastrointestinal consequences i may face on the run the next day. or, i was so stressed by the air of panic and doubt over running and qualifying that hung over me like a cloud that i just didn't eat. i've never been one to turn to comfort food when stressed. rather, i just wouldn't eat at all. the maniacal pacing i did in our hotel room on marathon morning spoke volumes about my stress level. landing on the sidewalk and then in an ambulance just turned the volume up full blast.

fast forward to working with a health counselor for the past seven weeks. my system is no longer a toxic, imbalanced mess. and subsequently, neither is my head. okay. i'm still a little bit crazy and intense, but i'd like to think its been dialed back just a weensy notch and i am on a slightly more even keel.

becoming sugar free for a while is what my body needed to purge itself of all the toxins. they had nothing to feed on once the sugar was gone. i kept a food log and a fatigue log throughout the days. the fatigue log was a scale of 1 - 10, ten being exhausted. the first few weeks, my numbers were all over the place. i was a rollercoaster of exhaustion and energy. there was always a huge spike in numbers in the middle of the day. but now? now i can see the balance plain as day. the number is the same. all day long. sure, i may write a higher number down on some days - but i also may have run 19 miles that day.

i had my first scoop of ice cream in a year the other day. it was on top of a brownie & topped off with homemade fudge sauce. it was sublime. i've had greek yogurt. i've had pizza. pizza, people. dripping with cheese. and none of it resulted in any unpleasant gassy bloaty poopiness. i've gone to dinner parties and not been in a panic over whether there was dairy in anything. i finally, finally feel like a normal person. i hated that friends would ask what i could & couln't eat. and while it was lovely and thoughtful, i hated that they'd go to the trouble of making sure things were dairy free, or "zanne-friendly". but i hated more the gassy bloaty poopiness that made my running and my life a pain in the ass, pardon the pun.

i can eat now without fear of the unpleasant and painful gastrointestinal consequences. i have learned how to stave off any consequences and get myself back in balance when i do indulge. and i realize that i've acheived a level of balance when my husband says to me that for the first time in years, that i go to bed and no longer announce that i feel like crap. he can no longer hear the crazy grumblings of my stomach from the next room (and they were not grumblings of hunger, but that of toxins - making me miserable). i wasn't even aware that i went to bed every night and made this arbitrary announcement. i haven't said it in seven weeks. as far as i am concerned, jen is a miracle worker.

i have learned to apply the same structure with which i follow my running schedule to other areas. i won't die if i take away just a bit of the intensity over the running and put it somewhere else. the running still happens. it is amazing what happens when that panic and doubt are not hanging over you. you can just run. because you love it. and then you can do other things too. it all just happens. it all starts to come together.

i'm not saying that i've reached any sort of nutritional nirvana here and that by eating good food i find myself living in camelot. i was stressed to the max over errand running, gift buying, cookie baking, meal making, guests arriving and children fighting. the good food and balanced intestines don't make me hate mile repeats any less. and i still can't figure out how to get my laundry done in a timely manner, unless my mother comes to stay for a bit and does it for me. and i can take my part-time-work-from-home job to new levels of unproductivity. i am a work in progress. there's always more work to be done. there's always room for improvement. i'm just saying that i have seen how little bits of balance have eeked into my life. and i like it. i have learned things i never expected. i am amazed at how a balanced nutritional life translates into other aspects of life. and i think that maybe, just maybe i am getting a weensy bit closer to finding that in-between. that balance i have been looking for for so long. and that is a nice way to end a year and go into a new one.

my ducks are almost all lined up.

it's official

i just registered for the plan b marathon.
no refunds. no turning back. hit register button.
there is slightly less anxiety than there was the last time i did this.
mostly, i was amused by the field in which you needed to fill out
"emergency race day contact person"
and "emergency race day phone number".
there wasn't enough room to write
the guy who is running right next to me.
but now that i have all my ducks in a row, there shouldn't be any need for a race day emergency contact. but i put one down anyway. i put my husband, who will be cruising around birmingham on his bike, carrying food, extra bottles of water for my snazzy fuel belt and whatever else i'll need.
forty-four more days.
it will be better this time.
it's all coming together.

Dec 25, 2007

christmas run

my christmas present to myself was no mile repeats.
instead, i went out for a run in the park.
sunny blue skies.
fifty degrees.
no wind. no rain.
the run was effortless
they don't get much better.
love the high as a kite runs.
merry christmas!!!!!

Dec 23, 2007

holy headwinds

last night, as i was closing things up around the house & heading up to bed, i listened to the roll of thunder across the sky and watched as the sky lit up with lightning, and thought - yes, perfect. the weather is just as it should be the night before a long run. my plan b long runs have all been in miserable weather conditions, why should it change now? i heard the rain, and then the howling winds all night.

i hit snooze for two hours this morning. prolonging the inevitable. but it finally stopped raining which left just the wind. i had my breakfast and geared up to head out. but not before checking the winds were howling and i was curious to see how fast they were actually blowing.

25-35 mph. 30 degrees. 20 with the wind chill.

i step out to start long run number theresbeensomanylongrunsnowivelostcount and was pleasantly surprised. the sun was shining, i could smell the fireplace fires burning. i was in heaven. for about a half mile. i was wondering where the winds were. i turned the corner and BAM! there's the wind. this is going to be a rough run.

rough is an understatement. for fifeteen miles i wondered when the hell the wind would be at my back. it seemed that it was always coming at me, hindering any hopes of forward progress, or clobbering me from the side. i can't count how many times i wanted to turn home at certain points in the run. at one point i stopped at the bridge to decide. if i went left, i'd be home in two hills and 1.3 miles, if i went right, i'd be home in 4 hills and about 4 miles. i went right. and wished i had gone left.

once home, i felt like i had been beaten up, hit by a truck and thrown into a boxing ring. there needs to be some sort of handicapping system for running in that kind of wind. like, add 2 more miles to your total mileage, or subtract 30 seconds from your overall pace. something that makes up for the youaregoingtogetyourasskickedbymothernature factor. i can run in the rain, i can do cold; but that wind chewed me up, spit me out & kicked the shit out of me.

suffice it to say, long run number umpteenthousand sucked.

postscript: just heard the news. today's wind gusts were 40mph.

Dec 20, 2007

today was not that day

i finally get to write the big dog run report that i have wanted to write for months. the good report. not the report where i am sucking wind, near tears and totally defeated at the end as i bring up the rear. this is not that report.

today was not the day that i desperately struggled to barely keep up on a big dog run. it was not the day that i wondered what the hell i was doing at 5am running with a crazy fast group of people. it was not the day i would come home and write an email to coach begging him to take me off the runs cause i couldn't hack it. (and that day was just a few (more) bad big dog runs away from happening). it wasn't the day i got my ass kicked and came in last yet again.

today was finally the day that i started a run with the big dogs. and most importantly (to me), finished a run with the big dogs. i repeat - i finished a run with the big dogs. not after them. not last. nobody was long done and waiting for me. i finished with them. i could mention that the pace was pretty tame by big dog run standards, but that takes away from the glory i want to bask in for the morning. coach never had to look behind him to see if i was still there. i could actually hold a conversation with people. i felt good and strong. and these are two things i have never felt on a thursday run. until today. today was finally the day.

and because it bears repeating: i finished a run with the big dogs. its a christmas miracle. that, or the hell that is my plan b schedule is finally paying off.

Dec 19, 2007

the (un)kindness of strangers

another mile repeat day.
i start it the same way i've started them for about five months.
by putting my warmup top and water bottle by the bushes at the end of the lap. and i go do my first lap. i end it only to find that my jacket and favorite water bottle gone. so i am rummaging through the bushes to see if my stuff fell through to the ground. i scan the street to see if i can run down whoever took it. i figure they can't be far - they were in & out in less than 8 minutes. if i had to run them down, maybe i could count it as another repeat. then i start yelling obscenities at the bushes. "are you shitting me?" and "wtf"? - only i said the whole thing, not just the letters. the thing is, bushes don't know who took your stuff. then i hear a lady across the street. maybe she knows who took my stuff. she heard me swearing and she asks what i lost. i tell her the whole thing. how i have been doing this every single week for months. and briefly, the thought of how often i am out there is about as depressing as the fact that my favorite water bottle and cool top are now gone. i apologize for my language. but she's horrified that someone in her neighborhood would do such a thing and says "i'd say the same damn things". i like her. then, to counteract the unkindness of whoever took my stuff she offers up her back steps for me to put all my stuff next time. which was very nice. but still. loved that water bottle.

Dec 16, 2007


long run experiment number five was fairly uneventful.
unless you count the howling winds
and the crazy cold.
and the incident.
a minor, yet perplexing snot incident.
i usually blow on the fly.
and this goes off without a hitch.
the snot - goes out, down and back.
never to be seen or heard from again.
until today.
i blow.
and then - wtf?!
the snot

and so i spent the next mile or so trying to figure out the physics of that.

defying all laws of gravity,
it went out and up and to the left
up and to the left.
that was some magic snot.

Dec 13, 2007

easy week

there's nothing like an easy week to remind you that you really do love running.
the workouts have been hard.
i've been feeling slow, defeated & frustrated.
its been raining a lot.
i find myself wondering what i am doing -
why was i out there,
standing at the mile repeat yellow line in the dark?
this week, i remembered.
i am running.
because i love it.
i might have 3 weeks of crazy hard workouts,
but i have this one easy week
to remind me that i still got it.
i remember now.

Dec 11, 2007

finally out the door

i did indeed finally get out the door.
(for those of you sitting on the edge of your seats, wondering)
and the only thing flying was the snot,
cause it sure as shit wasn't me.
which would normally frustrate the hell out of me & bum me out.
but because it's an easy recovery week
and my legs made it quite clear with every step
that they were still feeling sunday's nineteen miles,
i am uncharacteristically not beating myself up over it.
which makes me feel like a rational, grown up runner girl.
it's a christmas miracle, people.
but the day is half done. i may be going back to my 5am thing.
it is strangely, much easier to get out the door.


this is me.
its mile repeat morning and i am trying something new.
that something new being waiting till all three kids are on the bus and off to school before i start my mile repeats.
the butt crack of dawn thing was habit.
left over from early summer workouts to beat the heat.
so now, i thought - why not wait till it warms up a bit?
gets a bit lighter out?
but the thing is?
it's 9:09.
and i'm sitting here.
in my running clothes.
i had to do some dishes. check email.
throw in some loads of laundry.
then there was a good crock pot recipe on the today show
i had to watch.
see, the thing about getting up at 4:45 to go run
is that there is nothing else to do.
get up. get dressed. go run.
under the cover of darkness so no one can see the snot flying.
the sun is up now. still here.
must go. get this done. cross another square off.
the jury is still out on this later in the morning thing.

Dec 9, 2007

avoiding the treadmill

at all costs.

today was my 19 mile long run. it was going to be another rainy one. and while the one and only thing i hate about running is running in the rain, i hate the treadmill more. i pride myself on the fact that i am now into training for marathon number 3, i have set foot on a treadmill only once. that one time was enough. i will run in any weather. i will get up at 4 am in the summer to beat the heat. i will bundle up against the cold. i will wear a windbreaker thing in the rain. the one thing i can't protect myself from? lightning.

so this morning, i'm running. i'm running. and i've got my head down and i'm in a nice little zone. a surprisingly happy place even though i'm going slower than i'd like. i'm only 5 miles into run. i feel good. i'm saving the best for the second half. and then, the sky lights up a bit. but my head was down, i had a cap on & i wasn't sure if i imagined it. there it goes again. shit. lighting. oh, and now the thunder. perfect. this is perfect. and now i am thinking that if it gets really bad, i will have to finish this run on the treadmill. i pick up the pace to try and cover as much ground as possible, in an attempt to lessen the miles i imagine having to plod through on that vile machine. the sky lights up a few more times. but i never see that big lightning bolt sort of a flash. so i think i'm good to go. and the sky never lights up again. phew. in the clear.

and then around mile 9, the skies open up and it is a torrential downpour. i am soaked to the bone. i'm cold. and i really want to be home. but it is raining so hard, that i once again wonder if i am going to have to stop this run and finish it on the treadmill. i start calculating how far i am from home, how many miles are left. and doing all this math in my head takes up a nice chunk of time. but then i think over my dead body am i going home, warming up, waiting for gym to open at noon and plugging through 6 or 7 miles on a treadmill. i'm already cold, wet & miserable, may as well suck it up and stay that way.

and at this point where i have resigned myself to the lesser of two evils - running in a torrential downpour as opposed to the mill; a snazzy lexus pulls up beside me and i'm a little creepd out, but i think hannibal lechter doesn't drive a lexus, i'm not going to get tossed into the back of this car & chopped up into tiny bits. so then i think maybe its a friend. but i don't have any lexus driving friends. the window rolls down, and a woman pops her head out, and says "now that's dedication". and all i can do is laugh. and smile. the window goes up & she drives away. and her comment keeps me going until the downpour stops. and then there is another downpour, but i am too far into this run now. but it clears up and i'm thrilled when i hit the hills because it just means i am 4 miles from home. i did it. mother nature could not force me onto a treadmill today. she tried though.

and i think, is it dedication? or insanity?
i'm leaning towards insanity.

Dec 4, 2007

close call on a closeout

i was this close to falling off the wagon.
like, the smallest unit of measurement close.

so i'm at big lots.
and i'm hungry. and this is the kiss of death. to be hungry.
and i am standing in line,
when what to my wandering eyes should appear,
but my most favorite candy in the whole wide world.
on sale. and i never see this candy anymore.
and in my past sugar-laden life, when saw it, i'd buy it. cause i think its' almost extinct.
my god. it must be a close out. cause i'm at big lots. that's what they do, right?
there's a chance this is it. the last chuckles i'll ever see.
i am in week four of no sugar. week four people. and i thought i was doing well. but its chuckles.
so i wonder, for way longer than a moment - what would happen if i bought it. and then if i bought it, what would happen if i ate it. no one had to know. i didn't have my cell phone. couldn't call a sponsor. and this assumes that i wanted to.

i picked it up.
i put it back down.
then i picked it up again.
and this is where i saw the slippery slope that it could be. i'd start making excuses about why i needed to go to big lots. i'd be in the closet, eating chuckles. soon i'd be on the streets, in and out of rehab. what happened to mommy? she went back to the sugar kids. chuckles were on sale.
i put it down.

so that brazen announcement i made a few posts back?
that one where i got all cocky and said:
don't mess with me sugar, i am over you.
not so much, i guess. shit.
but. i am still on that wagon.


the alarm goes off.
i look at it. 5am.
and for a moment,
i cannot even fathom why i set the alarm for 5am.
and then i remember.
its tuesday.
if its tuesday.
its mile repeats.
so i get dressed.
and head out into the dark, cold morning.
my dollar magic stretchy gloves from krogers did nothing to keep out the cold. twenty-five degrees of cold to be exact.
they couldn't even pretend to be warm,
to offer any semblance of comfort.
not sure what i expected from gloves that cost a dollar.
every single repeat sucked a little more than the previous one.
a slow, and slow being the operative word here; sad, pathetic deterioration in performance.
as if there was any to begin with in that cold.
but at least they all sucked consistently.
they all hovered around the same sad, pathetic pace.
so i had that going for me. consistency.
tomorrow, maybe i'll wait till the sun comes up.
and wear warmer gloves.
bring a better attitude.
they can't all be good. and i know this.
but still. i have a hard time with it.

Dec 2, 2007

happiness is

seeing the banana that was stashed for you on your friends' car in their driveway, at mile 10 of a 17 run. just waiting for you. and you run and eat it with a shit eating grin on your face cause its mile 10 of a 17 mile run and you feel great.

it's hitting the hills. and feeling stronger at the top than you did at the bottom of all 13 of them, kicking their proverbial hilly asses. instead of the other way around. i didn't want to die at the top of maple. i was too busy smiling to want to die.

it's the perfect food. taken at the perfect time. never feeling hungry, spent, crampy or sore. never wanting the run to end.

aside from the fact that i felt like a pack mule, which is something i just need to get over, cause its' obviously working for me. and aside from the fact that it was raining, the entire time; and if there is one thing i hate about running, its running in the rain.

everything else outweighed those two minor details. long run experiment number three was just perfect. a perfect long run to make up for a week of tough ones. love how it all comes around sometimes.

Nov 29, 2007

the big dogs

i was back with the big dogs this morning. it had been six weeks since i had run with the group. before i got my new schedule, i had high hopes that i would finally be able to start and end a run with the gang. i thought my days of bringing up the rear were over. but that was before i got my schedule with two back to back days of mile repeats. keeping up wasn't so much an option for me today.

which bummed me out. and so i had to keep reminding myself that my legs had two days of mile repeats in them and i was still out there, at 5am running faster than i would be if i was on my own. but i wasn't. oh, it was 5am alright, but i wasn't running very fast. once in the car, i ask coach what the mileage was and i found out what our pace was. shit. it shouldn't have been hard. but it was.

this was my first full week of new, shit hard schedule. in looking back at my food log, i did a really good job of refueling from sunday's run. so i'd like to think this wasn't a not-enough-food thing. it was a three-shit-hard-workouts-in-a-row thing. and they weren't awful. they were just hard. and hard is fine. it is what it is. it's week one. and since i love a good experiment, we'll just see how week two goes.

but if it all remains just too hard, in that it actually does kill me, or threaten to, before it makes me stronger, we'll rethink the schedule. rearrange things if we need to. i'm meant to keep coach posted on how i am feeling on the runs. let him know if the big dog runs are just too tough. i think this is sort of funny. they are always tough. i have no doubts he'll know the point at which they've become too hard. cause he'll look back to see if i am still there and i'll be sitting on the curb. crying.

but! hard workouts aside, the sugar free thing is no longer very hard. i can finally walk by the candy aisle and ignore all the bags of chewy, fruity, sugar covered things crying out my name. zanne, eat us. we are yummy.

and i want to say, don't mess with me, sugar. i am over you.

Nov 25, 2007

ten hills

this is how many hills i put into long run experiement #2. now, the long runs are not only an experiment in nutrition, but in the course as well. i need to get ready for this:

that's just the first 13.1. here's the second half:

there's a loop through a park with three big hills that i do all the time, so they are the most familiar and least painful. there is another hill that always remains a pain in the ass no matter how many times i go up it. and there are two hills that i avoid at all costs. one is just shit hard and long, and of course this is the one that coach advises is most like the hill at mile 22. and the other hill i ran by accident last summer & swore i'd never run again. that one is shit harder. and longer and steeper. and i put them both in the last 4 miles of todays' 15 mile run. this is now my new loop for the next 11 weeks. i'll add mileage in at other spots in the loop to ensure that those two shit hard hills remain in the last 4 miles of my run. every sunday.

nutritionally, despite the fact that i felt like i was packing for a day hike, today's run was fairly uneventful. it was a clementine day. i could bring this with me - didn't have to stash bananas at anyones' house. and i thought it might be fun to try something else too, so i brought a zippy bag full of bear naked granola. and i had some at mile 3 and 11. granola is hard to eat on the run out of a zippy bag with gloves on and some of it falls down your shirt and then you have granola in your boobs. and you are running and the granola is hard and this does not feel good. no more granola. but the clementine? that was dreamy. had it at mile 7. drank my heed and my water.which was easy. cause it was right there. on my ass. so handy.

there was no iamrunnerwomanhearmeroar this morning. it was more - at the top of maple road which sounds so lovely and benign, but kicked my sorry ass, i wanted the run to be over. and i walked. for a bit. but you get home faster if you actually run. i was only 3 miles from home, and it was perfect serendipity that the plan b theme song came on. --every plan b needs a good theme song.

so there it is. long run experiment #2. it was hard. i don't know if it was hard cause of the hills, or a food thing, or just cause i was tired. it was just hard. i couldn't have mapped a harder course if someone paid me to. but that's what i'll be doing for the next eleven sundays. i need to get used to it. i need to not want to die at the top of maple three miles from my house. although today dying would have been preferable. i wrote to coach and told him maybe one day he could just meet me at the top of maple road and shoot me.

now, to go start the refueling process. i will not start this week in a calorie deficit and have another shitty week of sluggish runs. scrambled eggs? oatmeal? what goes best with a nap?

Nov 23, 2007

still sugarless

one more week of no sugar. this was purely my choice.

i haven’t graduated to the stage where i can slowly reintroduce it. that’s probably because i still. want. it. and that was made abundantly clear last night as i tried to have a conversation with someone while standing next to the pie table. i. could. not. concentrate. and so until i get to the point where i can have a normal conversation with someone while standing next to a table full of sugar laden things and not want to eat any; i am still sugarless.

i was feeling so great and optimistic in the few days going into sunday’s long run. the no sugar thing wasn’t hurting quite as much. i felt like i had a handle on it all. but i had a hard time this past week with the food thing. i didn’t fill up the tank enough from sundays’ blissful run, and went into my week in a calorie deficit, still running and further depleting whatever minimal stores i had left –which resulted in fairly shitty runs on monday, tuesday and wednesday.

this whole no-sugar, rethinking the way i think (or didn't think, in my case) about food was crazy hard at first, harder than i ever thought it would be. i never have, and never wanted to think about food so much in my life. but then it got easier and i saw for one blissful hour and fifty three minutes how it can pay off so perfectly. then it got hard again and i felt a little defeated and discouraged this week. but i’m seeing the connections and i know there is a point at which it will all become intuitive. the nutrition light is finally, slowly dawning on planet zanne.

i’ve got 15 miles this sunday. i’ll go in well fueled again, but this time, will make damn sure i come out of it well fueled as well so i can get through the next week.

Nov 22, 2007

is there a sponsor in the house?

its hard to concentrate
and have a conversation
while standing next to the pie table
when on a sugar free diet.
here's what i'm thankful for:
a husband who sees me at said pie table
and knows what i am thinking.
and he says,
keep your eye on the prize.
step away from the pies.
thank god he was there.

happy thanksgiving.

Nov 20, 2007

plan b schedule

i've been running whatever miles i want to and however many days i want to in the past few weeks since the marathon. and while i totally thought it would make me wiggy - and it did, for a bit, i started to get used to it. but i never feel like i am officially "in training" until there is an actual schedule. i need a visual. i need a plan. and i need to cross off the squares. and so last night, my plan b schedule finally made its appearance in my inbox. my excitement over having an official schedule subsided a weensy bit when i saw that coach had said to take a deep breath before reading. oh jesus. am i gonna need a paper bag? so i open the attachment - and there's my schedule, staring me squarely in the face. he should have told me to pour myself a double scotch too. mile repeats. are back. to back. twice a week. back to back. screw the paper bag & a scotch. there has got to be a bag of gumdrops somewhere around here that i can cry into.

but after the initial shock of back to back mile repeat days topped off with a big dog run wore off and i had some time to mull over my new and very challenging plan b schedule, i put on my big girl pants and could see it was a good schedule in that what-doesn't-kill-you-makes-you-stronger way; and i'm actually excited.

monday - swimming
tuesday - mile repeats
wednesday - mile repeats
thursday - big dog run
friday - off
saturday - bike
sunday - long run.
total miles most weeks - 44+

the long runs are really long and for this i am thrilled. i love long run sundays, and i love that there's a bunch of 'em. plenty of chances to figure out what works best going into run, during run & coming out of run.

let the madness begin again.
marathon training.
its official.
plan b training started this morning with a mile repeat.

Nov 18, 2007

long run experiment #1

test one of on-the-run fueling. today was the longest run since the marathon. last week & the week before i did 10 milers and brought my own water bottle - the kind that straps on to your hand. it was a pain in the ass. today, however, i got to try out my new birthday present from coach. and while i felt like a total dork with it on, i thought if it saves me from a sidewalk collapse, i'll wear anything. now, that said this was another kind of pain in the ass. the cold, leaky water in 35 degree weather kind. it is a weensy bit hard to get the bottles out and i hadn't quite closed the top each time i had water. i'm sure it will get better with practice. lets just say when i got home, i realized why my ass - specifically, my right cheek - was freezing.

i did love the fact that i could drink on the run whenever i wanted. and the thought of having little bottles from which to drink during a marathon and not having to mess with - literally - the water in water stops and just pray that some of it gets in my mouth and not on my shirt is very appealing. i will learn to close the tops and get the bottles out easily. the fuel belt is a good thing.

so, in addition to my new program of no refined sugar, increased calories and more greens in the days going into this run, i had some nutrition suggestions to follow/try out during the run. GU could not be an option. i had to try real food. a banana halfway through the run. and while i got the okay on HEED in one water bottle, i was meant to go for the water first and listen to my body to determine if the HEED was really needed.

i had my double breakfasts on friday and saturday. i had a small bowl of oatmeal (real, slow cooker kind) one hour before i left. and i set off in the pre-dawn darkness. and i almost never listen to tunes at this hour - mostly because i want to be able to hear the van that all serial killers drive pull up behind me before i get dumped in it - i had some rockin' tunes on and was way happy. way. i turned off the main drag and headed into the park. the pitch black park. and i suddenly remembered that i never map my runs through the park at this hour. and i'm freaked out by the canbarelyseemyhandsinfrontofmyface blackness and convinced that there's quite likely a serial killer waiting in the woods for some unsuspecting runner with a fuel belt to come by. so i turn the tunes off and think i'll just move swiftly and silently through the park and mr. serial killer won't even hear me. wtf is that noise? swish, swish, swish. jesus! the water. in my fuel belt. is loud.

four miles later, i'm coming up to my friends' driveway where i stashed a banana on the hood of their car last night. and i'm just hoping a small animal didn't beat me to it or it's not frozen solid. lo and behold, it is still there. and so 7 miles in to run. i eat. real food. while running. and i am happy. and i get to another park to wait for a friend who is going to run the last half with me. and i have my first sip of HEED - but in looking back, i'm not sure why i took it. i was feeling great. crazy great. i had just run a big dog run by myself. a little over 7 miles in an hour. i think i just took the HEED as insurance. to make sure the great stuck around. we set off for the second half of my run. which was even better. even faster. i took HEED one more time around 10.5, and i wonder why i took it here too. i'm not sure there was ever a moment where i was feeling lightheaded, or having trouble with the pace. again, i think maybe i just took it as insurance. i did definitely feel thirsty and maybe just needed water. i never had that hungry, hollow feeling like my stomach was digesting itself, which, um - would happen on long runs sometimes. and i never worried that i needed to run to the bathroom. i could just run. everything was in a happy place.

i had been waiting for this long run for 8 days. i couldn't wait to see how all my food changes affected the running. suffice it to say i had the best long run i have had in a long time. i was bummed the run was over. i could have kept going. long run experiment #1 was a success. can't wait to find out what happens on runs over 13.9.

all hail the sugar purge.

Nov 16, 2007

one down, one to go

tuesday nights' temptation aside, the cravings for the sugar really are lessening. really, they are. now its' more of a wistful longing. week one of the sugar purge is over. and i have never thought about frosting so much in my life. and i don't really do frosting. really, i don't. but its clearly in my subconscious. cause long before the sugar purge, there was this dream. i don't get it.

okay. i digress. one more week of purge to go. i've been good with my homework and have more assignments for this week. i've been keeping a log. a log of food and fatigue levels. the visual of the numbers has been a huge eye opener. now i need to pay attention to how the food affects the running depending on what, when and how much i've eaten. and in much the same way i love having all the numbers of paces and mileage so i can geek out over all the stats, i now have another set of numbers to add to the geek factor. now, if i can only get it all into some sort of pie chart.

Nov 15, 2007


so i'm making dinner the other night. tuesday i think it was, not that that's important. and i'm looking in my fridge for the fakey soy veggie shred cheese i have come to love and that i know is in there. and i swear its in there somewhere.

so i'm digging. pushing things aside. looking way back. and then i see it. way back in the far corner. holy shit. close the door. open it back up again. jesus. there it was.


there was a can of frosting back there. and i swear, it was smiling at me. if there was ever a time to call a sponsor. this was it. i call my husband downstairs. i text my coach. who responds with step away from the fridge. my husband threw it out. i didn't want to touch it. good thing too - cause as coach said, it might have accidentally opened.

and all of this a mere hour after texting my friend that i'm really not feeling the cravings so much anymore. perhaps i spoke too soon.

Nov 13, 2007

health counselor

my secret food girl. her name is jennifer, she's based in NYC, has run 6 marathons; and this is what she does. running and food. she runs, she trains other people to run. but since i already have someone to help me do that, i’m interested in the other thing she does – the food thing. the health counseling. in four short days, the things i have learned from her have already made a difference. granted, they haven't been the easiest four days, and i realize we’ve just started, but the silver lining is just starting to peek out of those gassybloatypoopy clouds and i can't wait to see what the next couple of months’ hold in nutritional store for me.

i love that her approach is holistic and most importantly, individualized. i mean, the books i’ve been reading are great, and i learn a lot from them; but what i couldn't learn was exactly how to apply all the information to my particular situation and be confident that i was doing it right. and this is where she comes in. the books didn’t address the gas, bloat & poop issue as much as i would have liked. she does. i took "increase calories" to simply mean “eat more”. which isn't that simple. but she broke it down & made it more simple. and after talking with her i now know that i would have eaten more of the same things i was eating, further compounding my problem. the books aren’t talking to me specifically. they don't know how many gumdrops i really eat. and until i hit that wall, i was in denial about the specific amount -- nor was i really aware of how toxic i was making myself. and so in its crazy way, hitting that wall was good, cause it was the catalyst to get my proverbial shit together. i had been told i needed to get my food in gear. just didn't believe it. had to figure it out the hard way. but with jens' help i will get my food in gear. and as always, with coachs' continued help, i'll just keep running and hope it all comes together and translates into a much happier plan b.

third times' a charm.

Nov 12, 2007

updates all around

run update

despite all the incessant chatter about food, not enough food, sugar, too much sugar, etc; i do still actually run. it's been three weeks since the marathon & after enjoying a full week off, i've been back at it and running for two weeks. i've had some crazy good runs and one crazy bad one. which happened to be today. my 5 miles turned into 8. don't even ask how that happens. it just does. it had a lot to do with the fact that i was thirsty & knew of one water fountain in the park that still actually exists & works. 8 miles the day after 10 miles is hard. and so it was more of a 7 mile run with 1 mile walk thrown in at the end. and i don't ever do that. ever. a run like today's would normally have thrown me into a panic of gargantuan proportions and i would have written a pleasetalkmeofftheledge email to coach to whine about how i was a slug and how can i possibly ever run a respectable pace again. but i think maybe i'm growing up. cause i'm not in a downward spiral over the run. a good run always follows a bad one. omg. i must really be coming out of the sugar haze.

sugar update

saturday was day two of no sugar. it was not much better than day one. the afternoon sugar (or lack thereof) slump hit me in the head like a sack of gumdrops. in my past life, i would have had some candy. or cookies to get me through the slump. god i loved those sugar wafers. and because i can't think for myself in my sugar-deprived haze, i ask my husband what i should do. should i go for a bike ride or take a nap? he says it won't kill me to not do something once in a while. and while i think that's debatable, i just went upstairs to sleep off the sugar slump. and the very first thing i think of the nanosecond that i wake up is frosting. i want to eat a can of frosting. the whole thing. with a big wooden spoon. chocolate to be exact. so much for sleeping off the slump.


as i write this it's day four. and things are starting to look up. me & my gi system have very high hopes. we also have a shitload of will power because in my past life i totally would have thrown caution to the dairy winds - gassybloatypoopybedamned and indulged in one of the dozen krispy kreme donuts that arrived at my house entirely uninvited yesterday. but, in this new life - this marathon runner who must get her nutritional shit in gear if she wants a chance in hell at a bq, i did not indulge. now, thats not saying i didn't want to. maybe the not wanting to part will kick in next week.

Nov 9, 2007


so soon? yes.
it aint pretty.

i had my double breakfast. double is a lot. its like, double. but i forged ahead. i had a delicious mid-morning post-shit-ass-fast-run smoothie. i had my lunch with a honkin' pile of greens.

but i'm getting ahead of myself. because before i had my lunch, i had to go to the market to get some bread. did you know that every damn loaf has high fructose corn syrup? i was starting to get mad. i was sort of throwing the loaves back on the shelves, letting them fall where they may. i finally found a loaf. in the homemade, $10 per loaf section. (it is quite yummy). so i'm walking through the market with my spendy loaf of bread. and i'm in a bit of a daze. and a little foggy. god, i'm so hungry. and in my past life, which was ah - yesterday, i would have grabbed a soda. or i would have gotten some gumdrops & eaten some while i shopped. and i bump into a friend and we chat. and i'm getting irritable. and i say i can't chat anymore, i have to go home to eat.

and on the drive home, i wonder if the half eaten bag of gumdrops that i triumphantly threw in the garbage last night is still in there. and then i snap out of it. and i think i need to call a sponsor or something. the stark realization that i am a candyholic has hit me. somebody please talk me off this ledge. i cannot be dumpster diving in my own kitchen for candy.

Nov 8, 2007

a perfect storm

i am unbalanced.
more specifically, my intestines are unbalanced due to a host of reasons.
but one theme kept recurring: i just keep feeding the instability. with sugar.
refined sugar to be exact.

so we chatted today. me and my health counselor. here's what i love: she's pretty convinced that we can get rid of GI issues altogether if i can get back in balance. i've got seven pages of notes from our conversation & my head is still spinning from all i learned. if i am mistaken or have interpreted my notes wrong - i'll post a correction, but i think i got it. lets just say i am contributing to my own demise by half the shit that goes in my mouth by creating a bit of a toxic atmosphere that manifests itself in a general feeling of gassy, bloaty, poopiness - that sometimes may have absolutley nothing to do with whether or not i've had dairy, but quite possibly everything to do with the amount of refined sugar i ingest. and the fact that this feeling of gassybloatypoopiness is a total crap shoot (pardon the pun) and i never know when its' going to happen, i am sometimes downright afraid to eat when i need to eat most because god forbid the gassybloatypoopiness hits during a training run or worse, when you are trying to bq. there is no time for poopiness when going for a bq. i realize there wasn't time for that sidewalk/ambulance thing either, but hindsight is 20/20. but on that hindsight thing: the unbalanced state of my intestines, coupled with my glucose, electrolyte, potassium levels and heart rate quite likely became the perfect storm that knocked me down.

i'll say this -- i like to think i am a fairly smart, educated girl. i just like to think it, i didn't say it was true. i am absolutley amazed by all the factors that come into play and how certain things can just throw everything out of whack. some things that are so bloody obvious if you just put 2 and 2 together. and other things that had never even ocurred to me. never would have put it together. while amazing & fairly mind-boggling, it all makes perfect sense. i should have counted how many a-ha moments i had during our conversation. suffice it to say, a bunch.

so that's part one. getting back in balance. i have some homework for the next two weeks. homework that involves cutting out every ounce of refined sugar. and i am already floored by where all that shit's been hiding. eating whole foods. foods with ingredients that you can read. increasing my calories by specifically doubling up on my breakfast portions in the two days before my sunday long run and after a big dog run. cutting out wine. must add greens.

i love the specificity of it all. instead of just trying to figure out how to arbitrarily "increase the calories" and get to a certain number; the possibility of all that calorie counting struck me as a fairly excrutiating task. but to eat double of the one meal i do really well and am really proud of and do it on specific days? that i can do.

so we start there with the two weeks of homework. then we'll figure out on-the-run foods. because once my body is back in balance, i may be able to tolerate the things i once thought i couldn't. and being back in balance will ensure that the conditions for the perfect storm will never crop up again.

this is gonna be a trip.
but i think i am finally headed in the right direction.
am beyond excited.

Nov 7, 2007

getting my ducks in a row

so i've started to get my nutritional ducks in a row. i figured now was as good a time as any to go to my doctor for a yearly checkup - which is usually not so much a yearly thing for me, but more like a twice in a decade thing. but i think a near collapse on a sidewalk and winding up in ambulance with an oxygen mask on suffices for a trip to the doctor. just to make sure everything is all kosher and it is indeed a nutrition/race day fueling thing and there aren't any underlying issues.

i tell her the whole sad sorry story of me on the sidewalk. then me in the ambulance. she wants to know what the glucose level was. i say 66. she says there's no way that level would have put me on the sidewalk. there must have been something more. she wanted to know what they found out when they took my blood in the ER - what were my electrolytes, potassium & other stuff that i forgot what she said. i laughed and said i never made it to the ER. finish line was more important. so, the poor woman didn't have a lot to work with. i was worried that she would just think i was crazy for running a marathon in the first place. i love her, but the last time i went to see her, i didn't feel a lot of love over the running thing. i mean ok, ok, i was in to see her for bronchitis and i actually ran to the appointment. and ran home. and hacked in her office in between. she didn't seem to thrilled about the fact that i ran there. but this time, i was thrilled that she took such an interest & seemed genuinely determined to figure it out. so she took a bunch of blood. i go back in two weeks.

in the meantime, i have been devouring nutrition books. with highlighter in hand. and a calculator, so i can plug in my weight and figure out how many calories i need to just sustain myself vs. how many calories i need to run 6, 10, or 26.2 miles. i wonder how many calories are in a horse. cause that's what i think i'd need to eat.

it's all a bit mind-boggling and i really wonder how i'll figure this out on my own. and i think because the whole coach thing works so well for me in that he tells me what to do and i do it - i needed to find the same thing for nutrition. i need a food coach. you know where this is going, yes? i am beyond excited to say that i have indeed found a food coach. we've already started. she sent me a huge questionnaire which i have already filled out & sent back. it was long and detailed. of course i had to divulge all the unpleasantries of my GI issues. she'll review. we'll chat. she'll make a plan. we'll work together on getting this right. i've already heard back. she's not afraid to talk poop. this is going to work out great.

love how the ducks are just starting to line up so nicely.

Oct 31, 2007


ok.ok. i'll just tell you.
know y'all are just hanging on the edge of your seats.
birmingham is plan b.
it's, um ... a weensy bit hilly.
and not the easiest course.
but coach says its doable.
and so we're going to give it a go.
we have 101 days.
101 days for me to gear back up.
more hill training, more long runs
plenty of time to get on-the-run fueling figured out.
plenty of time to get my nutritional ducks in a row.

since the events of october 21st have left me a little- ah, shall we say unsatisfied? and i find it difficult to wear my race shirt with the same pride as last years', and my medal was worn for the walk from the finish to the marathon mobile and that's it, (as opposed to last year when i tried to get away with wearing it for a week which led to much ridicule), and the marathon pictures came back & they got us mere seconds before the crash when we are walking, and i need assistance to do even this, and all of this is not so good; i am over-the-moon happy about being able to take a mulligan. and take it so soon. cause i'm not ready to let go of boston 2008. i need one more shot.

and so we begin again.
do i need to say how elated i am?
i love this. love training. love a schedule.
love a goal on the horizon.
i'm willing to bet my husband is about as happy as i am - i was all jacked up this morning for god only knows what reason & he says "when the hell are you going to start training again?"
now baby. i start now.

vickie wins, since she guessed my sad sorry idea for a plan b, the last chance for boston. while qualifying would have been likely (one should hope on a course like that - its' 26 one mile laps) i think it would have been so mind-numbing that shooting myself would have been preferable. so the hills of birmingham it is!

Oct 30, 2007

plan b

in the week since the debacle that was my second marathon,
i asked coach how best to recover before moving forward.
he said i should listen to my body.
so i did.
my body said it wanted a full week off and a lot of wine.
i gave it both.
but by sunday, my body said it wanted to run.
so it did.
and yesterday too.
and now i'm back.
and there is a plan b.
there is always a plan b.

there's a prize.
i'll pool all the correct guesses & pick a name out of a hat.
friends, family & coach may not play in this reindeer game; its likely you already know, cause i told you, you guessed it, or it was your plan.
let the games begin.


i didn't even know what this was until about a month ago when we went to a local cross race. i've never watched anything more wild, fun, exciting or heart stopping and fairly mind boggling. what? they get off their bike? and carry it? run with it? and jump over shit? and then they hop back on? while the bike is rolling? are you kidding me? i spent the entire weekend at the us gran prix of cyclocross which was here in louisville. i'm hooked. on the watching. and the ringing of the cowbell.

and this guy:

who raced his first race in 20+ years. his first cross race ever. and now he's hooked too. only he's hooked on the riding part. i'm gonna stick with the cowbell.

if you know anyone who raced, or want to see some great shots of the day - including all the pros, you can check them out here. and if you live near mercer county, nj or portland, oregon - you have got to go check these races out.

bring a cowbell.

Oct 25, 2007

post mortem

i've mulled it over and over. and over. the pre-race nutrition and the race day fueling and hydration. what went wrong? here are my thoughts:

  • i ate the same breakfast i had been eating throughout my training. bananna, oatmeal, GU.
  • i was well hydrated going in.
  • i was planning to GU every 6-7 miles since this is what i had been doing in all my training.
  • i took water at every stop. i only train with water. never use sports drinks. this was learned the hard way last year when training for marathon #1. i tried gatorade on a couple of long runs & was thanking my lucky stars that i was within a half mile of a bathroom. zanne + gatorade (while running) = not pretty. although it could be argued that neither is collapsing on the sidewalk.
  • i was unprepared for how difficult it would be to get a good gulp of water while on the run. during training, i'd stop at a fountain to drink. and in all the other races i have done (all local) they hand out tiny little bottles which make drinking on the run easy. in the first few stops, i got more water up my nose or down my front than in my mouth. which made me thirsty. early & the whole time. even so - i think this was less a hydration issue & more of a not enough GU issue. i finally remembered that runner's world article about folding the cup & pouring h20 into mouth. it worked, a little bit. but mostly, i couldn't get a good gulp unless i slowed down significantly & then i'd have to kick it in a bit to catch up with coach.
  • i took my first gu as planned, at mile 7. the 2nd at 14 and the 3rd at 21. in previous races, i would open & take gu fully before i got to h20 stop. i think on sunday, i was opening the packs too late, trying to get as much as i could, fast - then dumping the pack before i got to water. i'm willing to bet i didn't get a full gu pack.

so, even though i did exactly what i did during training, i don't think it was enough. and while water always seemed to get me through my training runs just fine, i think i need to find a sports drink that i can train with (and subsequently run with at the next race) - i can't be at the mercy of whatever is being handed out on the course.

which brings me to my next issue. pre-race nutrition.

coach had wanted me to think about the nutrition in the weeks' prior to the race. when he said that, i went back to him with a list of what i ate. his thought was more along the lines of not what i ate, but how much. huh? how much? it never occured to me. i am usually obssessed with what goes in - always worried about keeping my GI system happy. while i'd do anything for a stomach of steel, i've got GI issues up the wazoo. and while there is always room for my nutritional improvement, i like to think i had been really good this time around in terms of what went in. but, if i really think about the how much went in; well, i'm not as good. coachs' thought was that there are not enough calories going in for the level of training. if i go in to race day with tank less than topped off, i'll get into the negative quickly. so, while i thought it was solely a gu/race day issue, i think that the fact that the tank was not completley topped off going in was the other contributor. it makes perfect sense.

so. i need to find a sports drink i can use during training & during a race. i need to figure out how to increase the calories when the training increases. i need to gu more often during a race. i need to learn to drink water/gels on the run more successfully, without the significant slow down. tips? advice? bring it on.

Oct 24, 2007


all the stories have been told, the race reports posted & while i am still mulling over fueling and nutrition and will post about that soon, i need to write about the most important things. my coach, husband & friend. i had to wait a couple of days to do this, because if i sob over my keyboard one more time, my laptop will surely start to spark and short out. but i think i have a handle on the waterworks this morning.

i'll start with marcia. the friend to whom i have been referring. she's more than a friend. when we first met five years ago, there was an instant connection, an instant karma & there was no turning back. we were in this. and we dragged our husbands & kids into it too. we are amazed at how much alike we are in some ways and in other ways we are so different we wonder how we can possibly like each other so much. friends like this come along once in a lifetime. so you just hang on & never let go. no matter what happens along the way.

marcia is a pro at race support. her husband, (my coach) has run - including sundays' - 18 (19?)marathons and i think she's been to every one. she comes to races armed & ready with maps, pace bracelets and watches. she plans when & where she'll be, how long it will take us to get to a certain point and when she'll need to be at the next point. and she nails down all the coffee stops in between. and all the while, she will document the day with her amazing photographs (here and here). and when you are lying in the grass in a glucose deprived delerium, she strokes your hair and reassures you that there is always a plan b. she and my husband rode 30+ miles all over the columbus course on sunday. she pedaled around on an old steel moutain bike, hopping sidewalks and has the bruises to prove it. i look forward to the day i can be on the other side and cheer her on at her first triathlon. her friendship is a gift and i am so glad i stopped to chat with her that day five years' ago.

steven. i've sung his praises here many times. so this will be short & sweet. he drives the marathon mobile to and from the races, and sitting up in the drivers seat, he misses all the fun conversation in the back. he too rode 30+ miles around columbus on sunday, he rings the cowbell, he lugs all the finish line gear for me. he cheers. and he rides up on the sidewalk at a moment when i need him most. i will finally get the chance to pay him back just a little bit when, this saturday morning, i take the kids down to the USGP races to watch him in his first ever cyclocross race. i can't wait to be the one ringing the cowbell for him.

coach. i never know where to start with coach. he hangs back with me on the big dog runs as i struggle to bring up the rear and encourages me to stay focused. he puts up with mile after mile of heavy breathing that makes any conversation impossible. he talks me off the ledge. he knows how much i like to geek out over the numbers and is always quick to provide all our stats. he pushes me and challenges me to do better. he paces me in half marathons 10 days after running the boston marathon in a nor'easter. he runs a marathon with me one month after doing a half ironman. i was worried that he'd have to endure 3 hours and 45 minutes of heavy breathing and little conversation on sunday. had no idea he'd be dealing with much worse. and while i've been on the other side of one of his races to cheer him on & even run with him a bit - it paled in comparison to all he's done for me. i don't quite know how to thank him for all the support for which i am beyond grateful. and so i'll just keep running, doing my best & hope he stays on this wild ride with me.

thanks guys.

Oct 23, 2007

another side of the race report

i've been asking my husband constantly for every excrutiating, minute detail. i wanted no stone unturned, i wanted to know everything that i was not "there" to know. in emails that had gone back & forth between 'team zanne', i noticed the word "scary" a few times. i didn't know it was scary. i wasn't there for that part. i wanted to know what the scary was ...

below is my husbands' account of the day. and here is coachs' account.

I’ve asked Zanne if it would be alright for me to “guest post” on her blog. While her account of the marathon is accurate and inspiring for all of us, especially those of us who witnessed her get up and out of the ambulance to ultimately finish the race, there was a lot left out…mostly because she “wasn’t really there” for big chunks of it. Now I’ll warn you, my wife is a far better and much more creative writer than I’ll ever be so please be kind but I thought some of you might appreciate the “rest of the story” about Zanne’s adventures in Columbus.

Our friend and Zanne’s coach sent an email last night that summed it all up: “Fun. Hard. Scary. Fun. Amazing. Awe inspiring.”

While Zanne and coach were at the start, the support crew was busy shuttling bags from the hotel back to the RV, getting the bikes ready, looking for gear and camera’s and water bottles. Finally we got on the bikes and started chasing down the pack. We finally caught up with our runners at mile 8. They looked great, just behind the 3:40 group and smiling and waving. It was great to see them so far ahead of pace. At mile 15 we saw them again. Zanne looked serious, determined, but well ahead of pace and strong. I rationalized her expression in my head as I’ve been her “focused” look a million times…that was it…focused.

We didn’t see them again until 21. This is when we knew there was a problem. The 3:40 group went by and we didn’t see Zanne and coach. This was somewhat expected as we knew they would fall off the pace after 20 and had made up time in the early miles exactly for this reason. The hope of course is to make it through and kick it in from 23 on. But then we didn’t see her and still didn’t see her. I was getting nervous that we would see the 3:50 group first. The thought of her watching the 3:50’s pass her was too much to think about. Come on Zanne…where are you? Then my eagle eyed support partner spotted coachs' orange hat. They were moving well and the 3:50 group was nowhere in sight. Thank God, thank God, thank God….that was until she got close enough for us to see her. She was pale, really pale, actually almost gray. She didn’t look up at us, didn’t wave, her head was down. Coach fell back a little so she couldn’t see him and shook his head just enough for us to know she wasn’t going to make her BQ.

We knew she would need support at 24 so we hightailed it over cutting through some side streets. We popped out back onto the course and began heading to 24. On the way we saw a runner down on the curb. As we got closer I realized it was Zanne. From the way she was sitting, her legs tucked up under her slightly, her body leaning back on her arms it looked like she injured an ankle or knee. When we got up to her it was immediately clear that is was much worse.

Now at this point I might begin to sound a little dramatic. Perhaps I am, after all this is my wife we’re talking about here…but for the record, and anyone will tell you, I am not a dramatic person but what I saw scared the shit out of me.

Once we got to her she was completely out of it. Mumbling over and over. Some of it was understandable and some wasn’t. Mostly she would just say “I have to get up, I have to finish”. Clearly her head was still in the race, but her body wasn’t and the two weren’t communicating at all. I sat behind her and let her fall into me. As soon as she let go her head flopped to one side. She couldn’t move her arms. We had to pull her legs out from under her one at a time and pick up dead weight to reposition her. Drinking water seemed like it took her a huge effort. Again she would say “I have to get up, let me get up”. I said “honey, you need to rest, I’m here, just relax”. Over a few of these exchanges she got more insistent. I think at one point I just said “Zanne, it’s over. You need to rest, you’re out of the race”. Thinking back on this I regret saying it. After all, she wasn’t out of the race and I hated telling her to stop after the months of training, but at the time she wasn’t focusing on her on well-being and we needed to get her help.

Shortly after all of this things got worse because she stopped talking. She couldn’t drink any more water. Her eyes were rolling back in her head. Coach flagged down a policeman and they radioed for an ambulance. We could hear the sirens in the distance but it seemed like they were taking forever. I remember, for a moment, getting really scared. The kind of scared you never allow yourself to get. My wife was lying on the ground, limp, getting worse and there was absolutely nothing I could do for her except say “hold on…they are on their way”.

When the EMT’s got out and looked her over there was no relief. They were serious, this situation was serious and they took it seriously. I think I was waiting for them to say “give her an orange slice and she’ll be fine”. Instead they strapped her to a gurney, put an oxygen mask on her and gave her an IV while they began checking vitals. “This is not good, this is not good” was the only thought racing through my brain.

A finger prick later we knew it was blood sugar. “We’ll give her an IV and some glucose and she’ll snap right out of it” was all I remember hearing. “You’re kidding! That’s it?” blood sugar (I later learned through the magic of Google that this condition can indeed be deadly, I’m glad I didn’t know that at the time). Within minutes she was back. Sitting up, talking, being a smart ass. When she asked to have her picture taken for the blog we knew she was back.

The EMTs said they could take her to the finish. We began planning how to get the bikes and gear back so I could ride with her. I looked at coach and knew he wanted to finish. After all he was running this race too and was within three miles of a finish. I said “do you want to finish?” He didn’t answer right away so I knew he wanted to. I said I’ll ride back and meet the ambulance. By then Zanne was trying to get out of the ambulance. She said something like “there is no fucking way I’m being driven to the finish in an ambulance”. I asked her to see if she could stand up first but she literally stepped out of the back and began walking.

We scrambled up the gear and bikes and rode alongside them on and off until the two miles. Then we headed for the finish. When I saw them come around the last turn to the finish they were already running. I watched them run down to the line, heard the announcer call both of their names and said “you have finished the Columbus marathon.” It was like a scene from your favorite sports movie where the main character battles back from near death to finish the race. Rocky, but cuter. Indeed it was all about the character. The character of my wife and what she did that day.

I know in the coming days she’ll be filled with doubt about minute decisions she made before and during the race that led up to this “incident”. But in my book she accomplished much more than a BQ. She cemented her status in my book, in anyone’s book as a tough, determined, and a little bit crazy - “BAD ASS”. I’ve never been so proud of her and I’m looking forward to being her support team in the next BQ. After all, if we can keep her jacked up on Krispy Kremes long enough we know she’ll run fast enough to qualify.

Oct 22, 2007

the good, the bad and the really ugly

marathon number two was one for the record books. it wasn't really the one i wanted to record, but it is what it is. i guess i'll just start at the beginning. with my alarm clock. all three of them.

i actually woke up before the alarm(s) went off. around 4:30 am, i had a little nightmare that they never did go off, and it was 8:30 and my coach was texting me, saying where the hell are you? i was too nervous then to go back to sleep, so i just lay there and waited until 5:30 to finally get out of bed. and after i poured over the hour by hour forecast & figured out exactly what to wear, i proceeded to pace. and pace. and pace. and when my husband went into the shower, i followed him into the bathroom so i could pace in a smaller space. he said it was like watching a lion in a cage at the zoo. trying to work out their escape. but mostly, he knew enough not to really talk to me. he knew i just had to do this crazy moving, breathing, pacing meditation. the pre-race morning ritual had to come to an end and coach and i said our goodbyes to our race support and headed down to the start.

as the mass of people shuffled closer & closer to the start, it hit me. this was it. i was at the start. all those months & weeks and i am finally here about to cross the start with coach. i totally teared up and i was glad for the cover of my sunglasses. the first mile was dead on pace, and the following several miles were pretty fast, there were a couple of sub 8's i think and a bunch closer to, but still under target pace. so we were able to buy ourselves a lot of wiggle room - although not quite as much as we would eventually need. we would have had to be kenyan to buy oursleves that much time. for a long time, we were 4 minutes ahead of pace, then 3 minutes, then 2. until the point at which, and i think it was 22 - we had fallen one minute behind.

this race was hard, right from the beginning. this was not my first marathon, where i was in some blissful, iloverunningsomuchicouldrunforever place. there were many points during the race where coach would say "i remember this spot from last year" ... my response was "i do too, only last year i was a lot happier". he asked how i was at one point, and it was fairly early (before mile 10) and i said "good, but not great". "you're not supposed to feel great". right. i needed to forget everything about my first marathon. could not compare the two. they were two entirely different races. run for different reasons.

i was more tired than i wanted to be earlier in the race than i wanted to be. the mantras kicked in. at first, they were fairly benign. forward motion, forward motion. and when i felt myself slumping a bit it was run tall, run strong. run tall, run strong. i think it was mile 15 when things started to really get hard. the mantras got more desperate. i said enough hail marys to make up for the 20+ years i haven't been to church. in the later miles, leading up to the wall, all the words would get mixed up and i didn't even know what i was saying. i remember saying to myself over and over again. don't lose this. don't lose this. hang on. hang on. hang on. and even though it got really tough at 15, we were still on target for that BQ all the way up until mile 21.

and then that's when coach started to say that it was going to be a great marathon pr. i knew what that meant. i knew i had lost the BQ. and when a guy in a hula skirt passed me and i couldn't keep up, i knew it was all over. and yet i still thought that while i may not BQ for 2008, i thought i still had a shot at 2009, when i would be in the next age group and needed 3:50. five minutes more. surely we had bought ourselves 5 minutes. surely my second wind would kick in. if only i could hang on. don't let this go. don't let this go. don't let this go.

i guess sometime soon after 21, maybe closer to 22, i don't know - there was a point that i knew i was close to being in real trouble. i'm sure the point was much earlier, i just wouldn't accept it. i could barely feel my body running. i was in a total daze. it was the strangest feeling. i wasn't dizzy, and it wasn't tunnel vision. i don't know what it was. had never been to that place. at one point, i told coach i felt delerious. and yet i kept up the mantra. hang on. hang on. i literally wanted to hang on. coach was ahead of me a bit. i wanted him to hold my hand and pull me along. i tried to call out his name, but i know it was barely a whisper. so i tied an imaginary rope around his waist and attched it to mine and hung on for dear life. only the rope kept getting longer. don't let go. don't let go. don't let go.

and i think its at this point that we were going through a water stop, and i had been walking through them in the later miles to try and have better success at getting more water in my mouth than up my nose. (more on this later). coach says he turned to say something to me, but i wasn't there, and he looked behind and i was swaying my way through the water stop. like a drunken runner. i don't know if he came back to get me, or if i made my way to him. but i remember his arm under mine, he was steadying me and holding me up and he said we are walking. i remember begging him, please don't make me walk. please don't make me walk. and then he said we are sitting down. and i begged him again, please don't make me sit. don't make me sit. i sort of recall him putting me down on the sidewalk and then i don't remember too much more. he said i was talking crazy talk. frankly, i'd be willing to bet he thinks i talk crazy talk all the time. so it must have been really bad. while i didn't lose conciousness, they said i was as close as you get to passing out without actually passing out.

i remember being cold. i remember warm things getting put on top of me. i remember people trying to give me water. they said they moved me to a warm sunny spot in the grass. i don't remember. i vaguely remember talking. or trying to. what happened? what did i do wrong? i have to finish. i have to finish. let me finish. i think my husband said it's over. i remember trying to cry but i couldn't. i remember my friend stroking my hair. she was saying, there is always a plan b. and she told me about the marathons coach never finished. and i felt better. i guess somewhere in between my delerium on the grass, coach saw a policeman & had him call an ambulance. i never even heard the sirens. thank god. if i had the energy, i would have been pissed. i vaguely remember getting put on the gurney. once i felt all the movement & got put into the ambulance, then i really knew i was in an ambulance. i remember saying through the oxygen mask, this wasn't supposed to happen. and fuckfuckfuck.

they pricked my fingers. it was my glucose levels. they plummeted. and so did i. dammit. maybe that self-imposed ban on gumdrops wasn't such a good idea. (more on nutrition & fueling in next post). after the IV, the oxygen & the shot of glucose, i finally opened my eyes. and the emt guy that was standing outside was saying how they would drive me to the finish where there would be food, etc. i don't know if i said it out loud or just thought it, but i thought over my dead body am i being driven in an ambulance to the finish line. i am finishing this thing. maybe i did say it out loud, because the emt guy who was inside with me said, you can do it. my husband was standing outside the ambulance & i told him i was getting out. i was going to finish this damn thing. i think at that same time i heard that coach was going to finish. and i thought not without me he's not. i just hope he didn't really want to run the last 3 miles. my husband was a bit reluctant - he said why don't you walk around and see how you feel. he turned his back for a minute, i got out. i grabbed my warm top. and started walking. when he turned around, i had caught up to coach.

it didn't take long for me to momentarily regret this choice. i i needed food. badly. i was drinking the gatorade now, and my husband & friend caught up with us and rode alongside us for a while (they spent the entire day riding around the course on their mountain bikes). my friend miraculously produces two of those sporty nutrition bars. i don't even know what they were. and i almost checked the ingredients to make sure it was diary free, but at this point, i thought who gives a shit. it was the nectar of the gods. got me through mile 23. by 24 i was feeling better. and it was just coach & i. chatting. and walking.

we got to 26, the corner to the finish was just up ahead. i was feeling good & there was no way i wanted to walk down that hill to the finish. i said, let's run home. he said it was up to me. we started running. god how those first few steps of running hurt. we turned the corner. running. there it was. the finish. down the hill. we cross the first mat and our names were announced. we cross the second mat and its over. and once again, i was happy for the cover of my sunglasses.

i had always been amazed when reading some race reports when people say at the end of a marathon how much it sucked and they'll never do another. i used to think - how can anyone possibly say that? i couldn't grasp the concept. until yesterday. in the later miles, i was bargaining with myself: you never have to run again. you can fucking walk boston. just get to boston. don't let it go.

boston got away. but i'll get it back. and it did suck. about as much as a race can suck. but i'll do another. and another. and another if i have to. i wrote a post a while back - wondering how far i could go. what am i really capable of? i've always been afraid of what would happen if you gave it your absolute all. do you fall apart? do bits and pieces fall off? i wondered how you balanced on the edge of giving it everything and still make it to the finish line. i didn't do such a good job of balancing on that edge. i came crashing down the other side. but i learned that while it may take a hell of a lot longer than you want, you can still give it everything and make it to the finish line.

the minuate of food and fuel analysis to follow.
and the really important stuff, the thank you's to friends, family and coach - those are forthcoming.

Oct 21, 2007

runner down

i remember hearing the emt's on their radio talking about a runner down. i didn't hear a lot of stuff. but i heard that. and it was me. and i remember lying on the stretcher in the ambulance with the oxygen mask on thinking. shit. that is me. this so was not supposed to happen. but it did happen. and i have a tale to tell ... you are all gonna have to wait till i get all my facts perfectly straight & drink a bottle of wine - cause there's a bunch of detail that eludes me & while i can recall certain things, i only really know what happened from what coach, my husband & best friend told me. but up until just before mile 23 when it all fell to shit, we were right on track. so perfectly on track.

Oct 19, 2007

see you on the other side

it's done. i just crossed the last square off my schedule. well, not quite the last. there's one more. i remember this day last year. this last-workout-before-the-marathon. i came home and sobbed in my kitchen, overwhelmed by the sense of accomplishment. i thought that the marathon would just be the icing on the cake. finishing the training & getting to the starting line was enough. this year, i am not sobbing in my kitchen. now i'm blogging in my kitchen. i came home elated & feeling ready. just one more task at hand. the icing on the cake will be the numbers on the clock at the finish.

before the marathon mobile rolls out in t-minus 2 and a half hours, i wanted to say thank you to everyone who takes time out of their own adventures in running and life to read about mine. i am enormously grateful for this solidarity that we all share. your stories of your lives & running, your comments and emails provide such support and inspiration. and i'm thrilled i decided to share mine with you all. thank you.

Oct 18, 2007


i got an email from the columbus marathon people today.
among other things, it said the following:

you bet i am a runner.

i didn’t run 600 miles in 126 days and stand by various water fountains around town every long run sunday gagging on orange burst gu for nothing.

i better be a runner.

because i’ve sucked wind and brought up the rear of 10 big dog runs. i’ve done 36 mile repeats. i’ve lost 3 toenails and two boobs. i’ve swallowed 3 bottles full of ibuprofen (the big bottles - but not all at once). i’ve given copious amounts of money to hammer nutrition. i have sent umpteen panic emails to coach. i'm not sure how many times i needed to be talked off the ledge. maybe a handful. and i don’t even know how many times i told my husband “not tonight honey, i have a big dog run in the morning”. i’ve lived in my running clothes & a ponytail. i have sobbed in the pre-dawn darkness during mile repeats. i have cried stretching on my front stoop from the sheer punch drunk bliss of a run. i have white knuckled my way through club rides for cross training. i dropped more money on a single pair of running sneakers than i have ever dropped on shoes in my life. and i like shoes. i got a lot of them. only now i live in my slides cause they're the most comfortable after a run. i gave up gumdrops. sort of. okay, i snuck a few. but mostly i gave them up. i played countless mindgames during pool runs. i've come up with more haikus than i care to count. i hated those pool runs just about as many times as i finally learned to love them. i doubted myself dozens of times. i felt defeated, slow and discouraged a bunch. and i've been high as a kite iamrunnerwomanhearmeroar invincible just as many times, if not more.

yeah. i am a runner.

and i got my mojo back yesterday.
just in time. cause it looks like i'm registered for a marathon.

Oct 16, 2007

four more days

i read all the taper articles.
i do the google.
i know the crazy from yesterday was the taper talking.

but still. i was a little blindsided by yesterday's freak out. i honestly thought that having been through a taper once before, and knowing what to expect would make me immune to the mojo-messing madness that is taper. i thought i could fly under the radar and come out the other side, blissfully unaffected by the lack of endorphins.

while my head is still in more of a fog than i would like it to be, the fog is lifting. and my spirits are not quite at the soaring heights of confidence that they were last week; i do know that this damn taper serves a purpose and so i'll just go with it and know that i have done all the work, i just have to let the taper do its thing & trust i'll come out on the other side just fine.

and so i'll just wait. 4 more days.
cause there's one thing that will snap me out of this.
the thing that will set everything right again.
a good long run
4 more days

Oct 15, 2007

where's my paper bag?

confidence and optimism have left the building.
i miss them.
freak-out arrived this morning & hung out all day.
he better be gone by tomorrow.
cause he's freakin me out.
i was in a funk today. a doubt-filled funk.
i hope confidence & optimism come back.
we were having such a good time.

Oct 12, 2007

marathon mobile

aka our airstream 345 motorhome

i have a love hate relationship with this vehicle.

when my husband first proposed (not marriage) but the fact that he wanted to buy an RV, i really thought i had married the wrong man. let me preface that a bit by saying i was born & raised in a lovely, idyllic little bubble of an enclave of a place that does not do rv’s. in any way shape or form. the mere mention of them brings snickers. clenched teeth marble-mouthed jokes. i grew up with some very pre-conceived notions about rv’s. hell, i grew up with preconceived notions about a lot of things, but that’s neither here nor there.

i moved away. i’m better now.

rv’s were tacky. cheesy. fodder for ridicule. i usually provide plenty of fodder for ridicule on my own, but an rv? it was too much. they were for old people. they were for tacky old people. cool, hip young families did not own rv’s. a girl from bubble enclave perfect hometown did not own an rv. i said to my husband, if you think i am ok with buying one, you married the wrong girl. he was persistent. we rented one. just to “try it out” and “see if we liked it”.

this resulted in my nightmare coming true.
it resulted in a lot of things.

we drove it halfway across the country. to my bubble enclave hometown. we had issues getting there (it’s enough material for another entire blog) … i joked that we’d be stopped at the exit. not allowed to get off. i was only half joking. i actually thought – that shit could happen. we did indeed make it off the highway. brazenly driving our RV down perfect mainstreet. there we are … parked in our neighbors driveway (who, although they lived in perfect utopia hometown, welcomed our arrival with open arms & an outlet on their porch into which we could plug in). there’s a special place in heaven for these kind of neighbors.

our children are small. diapers small. the RV needs repair. i am standing in the street. dirty diapers in my hand. the unwashed hair of a road trip. my children are running naked on the front lawn of my childhood home. and now – my nightmare begins: a car. a snazzy, convertible of a car comes down my street. a beautiful, smiling couple – he, with his sweater tied around his shoulders. she with long hair. probably a headband. gleaming teeth. i hear a shout of “suzanne!”. oh my god. who was that? i look. oh dear god. help me. please. no. the car parks. he gets out. my kids are naked. my husband is coming up the driveway in his best grease monkey look, ready to do repairs to RV. i am unshowered. the dirty diapers. the naked kids. it all looks. so bad. so trailer park. the last time mr. sweater tied around his shoulders saw us was at our wedding. we were beautiful. shiny. sparkly. our hair was washed. my husband looks at me and smiles. he knows my nightmare is unfolding in front of his eyes. and he is maddeningly smug.

it’s a friend. from high school. we hug. we say all the things you say to friends you haven’t seen in forever. and then, you follow his eyes as they wander over to the RV and cringe … what’s that? oh. that? its our rv. you own it? oh god no. its rented. a-ha. i see. he glances at the kids. naked. the poopy smell of the dirty diapers in my hands permeates the preppy air. so. he says. where are you living now? i hang my head in shame & barely utter – kentucky. hell. i may as well be barefoot & pregnant with quints. my husband may as well be shirtless with overalls and chewing on a toothpick and tobaccy.

and like that. the reunion is over. he’s gotta go.
the pretty, shiny blonde is waiting in the car.
yes! yes. so good to see you too.
damn all those preconceived notions of bubble enclave hometown.
so stifling.

i am happy to say that i have since grown up. i have since come to love kentucky & be perfectly happy to be living here. and I proudly say in that: don’t-knock-it-till-you’ve-tried-it way to east coast yankee friends’ who’s eyebrows go up at the mention of kentucky at our 20th high school reunion – have you ever been there?

and i have since become not just a renter, but an owner of an RV.

my husband broke me down. i said if we had to own one, it had to be an airstream. cause at least it had some character. it was an icon of sorts. it was different. it would be noticed. he found one. we bought it. and i spent the next several years hating it. it was a money pit. it was old. it broke down. all the time. i could start another whole blog about breakdowns & road trips. we joke that if you put those little cameras on board when we took a trip that it would be a great reality show. in fact, i have some really good juicy stories about breakdowns on the road. i may start another blog. hell. i could write a book on the subject.

i digress.
what does this post have to do with running?
stay with me. i promise.
i will bring this home.

fast forward to october 2006. my first marathon is 3 hours away from home. a simple day trip. while risky, due to the nature of the 20+ year old beast & its’ tendency to breakdown … we plan on taking the airstream. with the LEM (lunar escape module, aka 1971 VW Beetle) attached. – we learned the hard way - never leave home without the LEM attached. my husband is slightly horrified that we drive a home on wheels all the way up to marathon & yet, stayed in a hotel. i try to explain to him, i want to be normal. i want to sleep in a hotel. not a parking lot. still. the preconceived notions linger. i am a work in progress.

i run the marathon. i am elated. it is everything i knew it would be and more. it is over, it’s time to go home. we sit on the grass for a while – my husband announces that he’s going to go get the airstream – he’ll be back in about 30 minutes. we hobble down to a field of grass where we can sit & wait for him to pick us up. we watch as other runners get picked up. cars pull up. they do that marathon hobble. a door opens. we watch as runners bend their sad sorry tired bodies & try to get themselves into the backseats of cars. its’ painful to watch. we lie in the sun on our mylar blankets. waiting. waiting for our ride.

i have never been so happy to see this bane of my existence pull up, this big shiny money pit of a fabulous thing. my husband opens the big door . he’s smiling. the stairs come down … and i know there is a couch, a bedroom, a bathroom & a stereo on which to play some rockin’ tunes and a fridge full of beer waiting for us.

i love our airstream.

it will be parked in front of our house in a few days …
ready to get packed up for marathon trip #2.

i can’t wait.