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.

Oct 11, 2007

new wheels

ask & you shall receive.
(not the bike, but the pictures of the bike)

my new wheels.
a Felt F55. aluminum and carbon.
our bikes hang in the living room.
the wall they hang on joins the wall where i have my marathon pictures, medal & bib displayed & where i have a picture of coach & i running the half marathon together.

never in my life did i think that i'd be the kind of person who would have two road bikes hanging in my living room right next to my marathon shadow box. sometimes i don't even know who i am. but i like this person i've become. this runner girl who sometimes bikes.

same time, one year later

the countdown is now in the single digits.

i think at this point last year, with nine days to go; i was in a constant state of anxiety attack. forever on the hunt for the proverbial paper bag to breathe into. and other than a brief anxiety attack on monday over a less than stellar run, afterwhich i had to be reminded that i was in taper & i needed to snap out of my self induced funk - in comparison to last year, especially in these final days - my performance anxiety attacks are a mere blip and don't send me into the downward spiral they did last year.

at this point last year, i was so sick of running. it took every ounce of everything i had to just get out the door. and one day - i had a total breakdown. i stopped, in the middle of a run when i felt a strange squish (one of those phantom taper pains they warn you about) in my knee and i stopped running to sob & wonder when my body would break in half, wonder how much more i could take. and when i finally made it home from that run, i had continued & escalated the breakdown on my couch. my husband had to do a lot of talking off the ledge that day.

this year, throughout this training, there has never been a day that i really just did not want to run. i have never gotten sick of it. okok. until this morning, when i was so tired and just wanted to go back to bed and i was just hoping that today would be the day that coach just didn't show up for the big dog run. cause that's like, never happened - so it was totally realistic to think that today would be the day. and okok. there have been days when i was less than enthusiastic about it all. but i haven't been in the breakdown mode that i was in last year. the, holyshitithinkthisistheresultofovertrainingimfallingapartandnowi'mfucked. i haven't been in this place. i was telling my husband about how this was the first morning that i really didn't want to run & while this feeling paled in comparison to last year, he said that he was amazed that it hadn't happened earlier. i think he's been bracing himself, waiting for the breakdown that happened last year.

but there's no breakdown. nor do i anticipate one.
i don't feel like i am going to break in half.
i don't feel that i can't take any more.
on the contrary. i'm not going to break in half. i'm way stronger.
i don't think i can't take it anymore. i can totally take it. and more.

what an amazing difference a year makes.
i'm in a good place right now.
it feels good. really good.
9 days to go.

Oct 10, 2007


it seems like just the other day i was singing the
praises of my amazing husband.
today, i am thankful that he is still here to
be able to sing said praises to him.

he was on a club ride yesterday. in a pace line. a driver in a hummer came too close to the pack, close enough for my husband to be able to hit the windshield with his hand & yell "too close!" to the driver. the driver backed off, but then waited. waited for my husband to pull a little bit ahead of the group, when he made a very deliberate move to hit my husband & run him off the road. the driver & hummer just kept driving.

with the exception of a few scrapes & bruises, and a lot of lingering soreness, he is ok. there were other riders who could get a license plate number, who could help him & stay with him till help came. other riders who watched the whole dispicable act unfold and could relay the story to the police.

and so we spent much of the night in the hospital. just waiting. and waiting. and people watching. did you know that some people take the opportunity to clip their toenails while waiting in the er? once we got back to the actual er, and had a lovely waiting spot in the hallway, i saw all the hubbub surrounding the shouts of: "bleeder! we have a bleeder!" and "he's puking!" people run to your aid if you puke.

i told him he should start to throw-up, or maybe he should start bleeding from his head - maybe then they would pay attention to us. i toyed with the idea of pulling an Aurora from Terms of Endearment by banging on the desk & yelling "someone look at my husband! get him the xrays & catscan!". but i didn't. and instead my husband just watched me as i got icier and bitchier about the lack of action with every passing moment. and he, ever the level headed, gentle person that he is - said, i am still here. this could be worse. and as always - he is right. and so i instantly back down & stop glaring at everyone in the hallway. and sit with him & be happy that he is there.

we were in such a rush yesterday.
he, to get ready for the ride & get there on time.
me, to get my daughter ready for ballet & get there on time.
it was a jumble of where are my bike shorts? where's my jersey?
girls! we have to go! now!
i don't even think we said goodbye to each other ...
i usually say, have a good ride. i don't think i did.

it's a nice little reminder to always take a moment to say goodbye,
or to give a kiss.
no matter how busy you are.

it could have been so different.
i am so thankful it wasn't.

Oct 9, 2007

the mile repeat report

i felt good about this mornings' mile repeats when i headed
out the door & down the street.
not because i felt like i'd be fast,
but because i only had 3 repeats (instead of 4, 5 or 6)
with a 5 minute (instead of 4) recovery.

i had freaked myself out a little bit after my mile repeat pr a few weeks' ago. i figured going that fast was a recipe for injury & i didn't want to leave my marathon out on emerson street. coach had said that while he was sure there was a sub 7 minute mile in there somewhere, we could look for it later. and i was totally fine with this. and the following week, my repeats were normal. all within target range. no pr's. just plain old mile repeats.

but, um, this morning. i found it.
that sub 7 minute mile.
i didn't mean to.
i wasn't looking for it.

i went out on the one-mile-at-a-time program & stayed focused.
and when my mind wandered, i brought it back.

at the yellow line, i hit the timer & saw 7:07
and paced circles while i caught my breath & chanted
i do not need to run that fast i do not need to run that fast
i gave myself permission to take it way down on the next lap.
that plan didn't go so well.

on the second lap, i hit the timer and yelled at my watch.
i ran a mile in six minutes and thirty four seconds.
my god. is that right? jesus. that can't be right.
and, instead of being freaked the hell out, i laughed & cried at the same time
and wondered where the hell it came from.
and now i didn't care what i saw the next time i hit timer.
but i knew i had to take it down. way down.

that plan didn't go so well either.
i saw 7:06.

maybe planets were colliding.
maybe i ran through some time suck of a black hole.
or maybe it was the hail mary's i chanted just to get through it.
or maybe, because i've set a precedent of user error with the whole watch thing,
i hit it wrong.
or maybe, just maybe. i actually ran a mile in 6:34.
but i'm thinking, 30 seconds is a big gap.
and now i am wondering what went wrong.
my husband says i was this way when i broke an 8 minute mile. he remembers my complete & utter disbelief that i had just done something that i once thought was so unattainable.
he says, did you hit the watch at the start? yes. did you hit it at the end? yes.
still. i'm gonna have to do it again now just to make sure it wasn't some
pre-dawn zen dreamy thing.

but i'll wait till after the marathon.
cause coach said next week is going to have to be more controlled.
i don't want to leave my marathon on emerson.

but i am going to have to figure out some way to know what the hell my pace is while i am actually running. cause i never have any idea what i am doing till it's all over.

Oct 6, 2007

sea level

i have spent the last 5 months riding my husbands' old steel specialized for my cross training days.

it's heavy.
it's steel.
it's over 20 years old.
the shifters are on the downtube.

but i never really cared. i figured if it had wheels and propelled me forward, it was good. i mean sure - all the bikes i'd see on the club rides & all my friends' bikes were snazzy, shiny, light & fast. but there was an element of riding my husband's old bike that appealed to me -
i would think: my-bike-is-so-old-and-heavy-its-old-school-cool.
but still. i secretly really wanted a new one.

and then again - i was a runner girl. who occassionally biked. and wasn't that good at it anyway. i had one thing. the hills. that was it. i didn't think i really deserved a new bike. i would say - let's just see if i like this. and lets see if i can really get good at it. then we'll think about a new bike.

i would tell my husband that i looked at riding the heavy old steel bike as high altitude training. if i could get good at lugging that thing around, then when i finally got on a lighter, faster bike, it would be like riding at sea level.

runner girl has a new bike.
and i rode it today.
i was right.
it's like riding at sea level.

Oct 5, 2007


the cure for anything is saltwater - sweat, tears or the sea.
isak dinesen said this.

so did my grandmother.
it is my most favorite quote. ever.

my grandmother said this all the time. she took a dip in the icy atlantic off the coast of rye beach, nh every day of the summer and she had the most beautiful, luminous skin i have ever seen – despite having her face in the sun all day every day. if we had a little cut, she’d tell us to go in the ocean. it will get better. she was right. it always did. and now, whenever we are at the beach, i tell my kids the same. when we reached our teen years and had a less than flawless complexion, she’d say – go in the ocean … your face will clear right up. once again, nana was right.

i’m a firm believer in the fact that you always feel better after a good cry, or a good, sweaty run. and if you cry while you run – it’s a total bonus - doubly cleansing.

a small cold has made an appearance the past couple of days. in the form of a sore throat, runny nose & the faintest feeling of a low grade fever. i am uncharacteristically not getting all jacked up about this. it will get better. but, that said - with 15 days to go – this must be nipped in the bud. it needs to get better. now.

the first thing i do when i have a sore throat is gargle with warm salt water. i learned this from my dad, who most likely learned it from his mom - the same one with the luminous complexion and an affinity for the sea.

so i’m gargling. religiously. and yesterday on the way to the big dog run i ask my coach if he has a magic elixir for getting rid of a cold. fast.

of course he does. saltwater.

and now, along with swimming in it, and gargling it –
i can put snorting it on my list too.
i’ve said it before –if it has anything to do with running, i will do anything he tells me to do. and this now includes scooping a bit of my saltwater that was once just reserved for gargling, onto a teaspoon -

and snorting it.

and i’ll tell you – it’s a trip. maybe not quite the trip of college years (figurativley speaking of course, mom) -- but a trip nonetheless. i stand there. at the kitchen sink – spoon poised; and tell myself its for my own good. i need to do this. it will make it better. it will cure what ails me. and so without further ado – i just do it.

my head spins, my eyes want to bug out, i am crying from half laughter & the half burny feeling up my nose. and my husband just shakes his head at the lengths to which i will go for all that this marathon training encompasses. he says - hell, i'd just stay sick.

i love saltwater. i love swimming in it. i love the feeling of salt on my skin after a long hot sweaty run, or after boogie boarding in the ocean. i love the salt in my hair & almost hate to wash it out after a day at the beach. but saltwater up my nose? not really feeling the love -- but i'll keep doing it, because while its too soon to tell if it works, i have very high hopes & no reason to think it won’t.

because saltwater cures everything. nana said so.

Oct 4, 2007

the big dog report

in a nutshell:
i was on.
then i was off.
then i was on again.
and i stayed. for a bit.
then i was off again.
and i stayed off.
but coach stayed with me the whole second half.
i was discouraged that the group had once again gotten so far ahead.
i thought it was going to be my week. to stay the whole time.
i was driving myself crazy with all my heavy breathing, grunting & the occasional spit,
i barely eeked out: i'm terrible company. you can go ahead.
he stayed.
he knew when i was losing focus. he'd get me back on track.
i don't even know what he said. i think he said: focus.
i felt so slow.
but i'd look at my heartrate, and knew that while it didn't feel like it,
i was going faster.
this whole feeling slow when i am actually flying thing completely eludes me.
he asked if i had anything left. i didn't know. couldn't tell.
but i tried to muster it up from somewhere.
we're close now - we can take it down for the last little bit.
up the hill. to the park.
we're done. i'm done.
elated it was over.
more elated when he tells me our pace.
first half fast. second half faster. way. faster.
it was still my week.

Oct 3, 2007


i never thought i'd enjoy a pool run as much as i did today. my pregnant pool running partner had her baby a few weeks ago, and my friend who had joined me for the last couple of weeks while recovering from her brain surgery has returned to work.

so today, it was just me.
and my old friend, waterproof ipod.

there's something to be said for the pool runs with a friend ... its fun to catch up & chat. but i think the timing for today's solo pool run couldn't have been more perfect.

because i didn't have to talk.
i could listen to my new tunes.
close my eyes.
feel myself moving through the water.
long, strong, stretchy strides
watch the reflection of the window on the water
every lane is occupied. but i am the only one there.
slow motion running through water.
visualize the finish line i'll be crossing in 17 days
remember all the familiar spots.
turn the corner. see the finish line. run strong.
it's all right in front of me.
i can see it. close my eyes again.
dunk under water. hear the music in my ears.
stretch. breathe.
i like this place.

for all the worrying i do, i am thankful that this is one thing i can do - and i daresay, i do it fairly well - this visualization of the race. it always calms me ... when i told coach last week about my mini panic attacks that would stop by to visit unannounced, he reminded me to visualize the race. most importantly, the finish.

i got it. the visual - its all in my head.
now to keep it there.
to stay in this place.
and hope that the visual is stronger than the panic & doubt.
stay. in. this. place.