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Friday, December 30, 2011

Free shipping from Saucony

FYI peeps, you can use the coupon code FREE on Saucony's website and get free shipping on any order. Since it's after Christmas, there are lots of great sales, too!

The year in review...from Miss Zippy

Miss Zippy started this...the runner's 2011 in review!
It's generally good to finish a race smiling.
I even have this color
  • Best race experience? RnR New Orleans - I enjoyed the race and felt great the whole time. Not my current PR, but best in my book!
  • Best run? I had a really good negative-split 18 miler this fall - felt strong and fast. My goal was a 3:20 marathon and I realized at the end of the run that I hit exactly the right pace without even pushing. 
  • Best new piece of gear? I got Saucony Kinvaras this year and really like them.
  • Best piece of running advice you received? Incorporate speedwork....I think it is helping!
  • Most inspirational runner? My hubby...running a PR half marathon after only one ten mile training run! Crazy man! 
  • If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Working hard. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Favorite gift....

Ok, I'm going totally materialistic on you here. I want to know:

What was your favorite Christmas gift this year, and who was it from?

My favorite was this computer I'm typing on because geez Louise it's tough to live computerless. But my favorite non-practical gift was The Stick from my hubby. I don't buy myself running toys and stuff, but he does - he bought me my ipod, my Garmin, and my Road ID, too!
Creating "Good Pain" since 2009

Your turn!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Races page

I've been trying to keep all my races in order and you can view the page here. 
As I cleaned this page up (I was several pages behind; forgive me, I have been without a computer for almost 2 months. SO glad Santa finally came!), I noticed that I've very steadily increased my speed over time.
Which is nice.
That's the point, really.
But it brings up a question I have for you. Would anyone be interested in a post on how I train? I don't want to sound haughty or arrogant because I honestly DON'T know what I'm doing. And I'm not a fast runner and I don't have any athletic or training background. The post would be more what works for me/what I am able to tolerate, rather than what other runners should do.  But at the same time, I have chopped 33 minutes off my half marathon time and nearly an hour off my full marathon. So if you think this would be interesting or helpful to me, let me know.
And for your viewing pleasure, this hilariousness I found on Skinny Runner's rockin' blog.
I can SO relate to this!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas...ugly pictures for you!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas! I worked Christmas day but I got off the day after. And it didn't matter anyway since I had a cold all weekend  :(
So much for "I never get sick"!
As my Christmas gift to you, I am revealing a few of the ugliest race pictures ever, courtesy of my husband running the Jazz Half marathon.

It kind of looks like he's being shot, doesn't it?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

FYI and etc

FYI - Andy's comments (see last post) didn't bother me; we kind of kid with each other. I don't think he's serious with anyone.

Today we had a second line and a brass band through the whole hospital, including my pharmacy. Featured performer: Kermit Ruffin! A lady whose daughter died from cancer hosts the second line for cancer patients at the hospital each year.

There was a car fire in the garage at work, and because structural damage is inspected, we've all been forced to use another, further, sketchier garage. Tonight I saw one of the attending physicians make one of his residents go fetch his Porche from the garage for him! Curbside valet! So funny.

I'm working Christmas morning and I'm a little bummed about that.

Oh my gosh I cannot wait for Santa to bring me a new computer. I am so tired of sharing with the hubster!

Tonight I made bitter lime marmalade. So yummy! If you like bitter things that contain more sugar than an entire cake, that is.

My little brother is still sleeping on my sofa. I won the lip-piercing argument and he removed the wretched thing (he confessed that it actually drove him crazy and made eating a gross experience).

I have 20 miles scheduled for Christmas is actually my last LONG long run before the marathon January 15th! So basically my sporadic training is in taper!

I really need to cycle into new shoes. My Saucony Kinvaras have 1000 miles on them! I'm very impressed with how well they've held up - and honestly I am sure I could get more miles from them but my knees are feeling achy so I think the inner foam has broken down. I heard from a few people that the Kinvaras were cheaply made, but I beg to differ - these wore very well.

How long/how many miles do you get out of your shoes?
Are you working Friday or off for the holidays? I'm working and I think we'll be dead. Boredom here we come.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How often do YOU race?

I got yelled at by my "coach" last week.
Back up...
I don't have a coach. I started running on the track with Varsity (a local running store) on Mondays this fall, and the chap who leads it thinks he's my coach.
I've never been coached, and I sure don't want a coach. See, I didn't realize this, but all they do is yell at you.
I told my "coach" about my last marathon...the 27 mile one....and all I got was this:

Um, so rude!!!
Then I let it slip that I was running a half-marathon on Sunday (Old Man River half I ran Dec 18th) and I got a snide, "Yeah, like why would you ever skip a long distance race?"
Why indeed?!
I run maybe 5 marathons a year, a couple of halfs, and some other interesting distances like 10-mile or 30k. Not too many. If I were actually racing these races, as in, in medal contention, I'm sure I'd back off. But for fun, I'd rather run races than do long runs by myself. So why not?
How often do you race - and if you run marathons, how many is too many per year, and how close together is too close?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Old Man River Half Marathon

In pictures...
At the start - 5k and half marathoners starting together made for a slightly crowded start
I tried not to start out too fast since the 5k crowd was pushing the pace. I kind of felt crappy for this race - cold and hungry and tired.

I ran with my (much faster) friend Celeste for the first 8 miles.
 Celeste's last half marathon was a 1:29, so she was kindly holding back and sticking by me early on. I lost her at a water stop and she ended up finishing ten seconds ahead of me in 1:30:16, which is slow for her!

Quite possibly the worst finish line picture ever! 
I finished in 1:30:26, a PR and first in my age group. Celeste was first in her age group, too!
My revolting face should tell you that this wasn't just an easy run for me. You know how some days just aren't your day? I felt like that. Cold, hungry, grumpy, etc. And my cute Santa socks let my feet slide around like crazy, so I could feel blisters forming on the tips of my toes.
Total let-down: there was nothing at the finish but bananas and oranges (I hate bananas and oranges are too hard to eat) and I was starving. This was big for a local race - 900 people - so I thought that was odd. And last year they had a pancake breakfast!

This was a good race for me to get under my belt because I have never run a long distance under 7 min/mi pace. That seems too fast for me - it's all mental - and it's good just to have done it once so I can get over that mental barrier.
Do you have running mental barriers, too? Like, "I'll never break a 2 hour half" or "I couldn't run double digits" or "Girls don't run sub-20 min 5ks"? For me it's seeing a pace under 7 - scares me! What's yours?

Monday, December 19, 2011

A long weekend!

I took off Thursday and Friday last week to make myself a much-needed long weekend. I had some Christmas activities to finish up, but mostly this was just to get rid of some use or lose vacation!
I got interrupted by a very long series of phone calls at work related to one of my hepatitis C patients - this had to be solved or he'd miss his Friday injection. Then I got called in because the alarms were going off like crazy because my sub forgot to turn off a printer.
Other than that it was a fun weekend in which I:
- Had lunch at Commander's Palace, complete with $0.25 martinis and bread pudding souffle (of course).
pic from website 

- Celebrated the end of the semester with friends who are first year law students.
- Took a walk in Audubon park to feed the ducks.
- Baked up a storm: gingerbread cookies, peppermint cake balls, more fruitcake. I tried a British boiled fruitcake recipe and it's just so-so.

- Went to the library and got some fantastic books - I love Trevanian!
- Finished shopping for David, including stuffing his stocking.
- Cleaned the entire house, did groceries, and other boring stuff.
- Watched football.
- Joined the Varsity Sports long run Saturday group for about 10 miles.
- Ran the Old Man River half marathon, 1:30:26, another PR! And first in my age group (I think 6th overall). I wore Santa socks!

And nobody noticed them  :(

- Had an intervention with a sibling who decided to pierce his lip. Since he is now living with me (interim; the semester just ended) I have the power of food to control his actions. He's totally in the doghouse right now.
- Got a brake tag on my car the day it was due; I like to avoid those late fees!
- Snuggled on the sofa with my favorite blanket, a book, and the hubby.

Overall, a fun long weekend! How was your weekend?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Baton Rouge Beach Marathon race review

The Baton Rouge Beach marathon is probably my favorite race so far, although it might tie with the Harrisburg Marathon I ran last year.
The race: You have options to run the full or half; it is a small race, and more runners complete the half (only a few over 300 finished the marathon).
Registration and cost: Early registration is $65 and $75 for half and full; late registration - which can be as late as the night before at packet pick up or even the morning of the race - goes up $10. This is rather high for a small marathon, but it was so superbly done that it is worth it. 

Check out the website to register online; oddly, the website is amateur and silly, but the rest of the race is impeccably organized. 
Free stuff!!!!!!!!

Swag: A ridiculous amount. First off, there is dinner - free - at packet pick up with salad, pizza, jambalaya, and beer. Second, "swag bag" takes on a whole new meaning when you realize that the swag is in an awesome bag! A duffle bag! (Half-ers got a string back pack). The swag included bright wicking socks with the running club's cute silly chicken logo, throw-away gloves, a coozie, a magnet, a temporary tattoo (also the running club's logo) and nice samples like Aquaphor. The shirt is a Brooks technical T, and it has no advertising on it - which I like. The medals also have the goofy chicken logo on them, and our awards were sturdy little plaques. I like the smaller size. I feel bad throwing out race awards but big ones are...awkward. 
Course: You wouldn't think I'd rave about a double loop course, but I am! It's just a great course. There are patches of mild hills and plenty of tight turns, but overall it is flat and easy, and it is quite varied (neighborhoods, LSU campus, and the pretty LSU lakes). Variety is key for me, and even on the second loop it didn't grow dull (Maybe because I got lost and threw in some new stuff!). The course is sort of open to traffic but there are police at intersections. Nice mix of sun and shade.

Support: This is such a smoothly organized race, I'd recommend any race director visit this marathon for tips. Packet pick up the night before was easy and took no time at all; there were shuttles from parking areas to the start the morning of, which went without a hitch; the race started on time and the awards ceremony was quick and I didn't have to wait forever. Most of the water stops had entertaining costumes and silliness and were run like they ought to be - water and Powerade separate, volunteers even offering blue or red Powerade for the picky! There are not many spectators (maybe because finals are about to get underway at LSU?? But I thought more people would be out in the neighborhoods) but the volunteer support was top-notch.
Post race: Beer - and I mean your choice of bud with lime, bud light, bud 55... maybe more! - soft drinks, etc. and a spread of pastalaya, jambalaya, fried fish, french fries, mozzarella sticks (!) and more. It's in a pretty location - on the lakes in a park - so it is a great place to hang out afterwards and knead your hamstrings. 
Awesomely, finishers times are printed and displayed within literally minutes of crossing the finish line, so you can immediately see how you did. Results are posted online the DAY of the race, and the race pictures were emailed out the next day! Which was a Sunday! 
Etc - The race is chipped, and there is a discount hotel option with the race. If you register late you *may* not get some of the fancy swag like socks and gloves (I registered late and still did). The halfway point runs right by the finish line, so if that demoralizes you perhaps you should look the other's a 7:00 am start, which I like, but which disgusts others. The weather can be anywhere from 70's to 40's this time of year. 
So overall? Run it. It is awesome. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cooking dinner

Dear PicktSweet: Can I please have some florettes with my stems next time? Thanks.
You only get two florettes per bag, and thats only because it's family sized. Regular bags only get one.

Dear Premium Sausages: Are you seriously touting real pepper?! Who the heck uses artificial pepper? Is that the only good thing in your sausages that you could think of to brag about?
They aren't expired, I froze them, I promise.

Monday, December 12, 2011

I never get sick!

Well, maybe sometimes I'm a tad under the weather.

Tonight I actually warmed up for speedwork, struggled hard not to throw up, then went home. This is honestly the first time I can remember quitting a run because I felt sick. Not because I'm Superwoman, just because I almost never get sick!
Are you the type with a stomach of iron and immune system of steel? 
Or does every little germ make a cozy home in your lungs and tummy?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ten Reasons I hate the Mississippi Coast Marathon

1. I hate that I hate this race. It's dirt cheap, it's nearby, it's small, and it's got a homey feel. Both times I ran it I placed. But I hate it.
2. What the heck is it even called? Everyone calls it "Stennis" (it is on the Stennis station grounds) but that ain't its name.
3. The course makes you want to slit your wrists. Double loops of boring roads next to deserted highways. No spectators (Ok, this time I saw one family, twice - I was so glad to see them I creepily chased their little kid down for a high-five). After the half you're pretty much alone.
4. The director lies about nutrition. This is the second year in a row he has claimed that there was Gu on the second half and no aid station had any (yes, I asked).
5. The freakin' Gatorade is watered down. Last year the Gatorade was miserably watered down; a volunteer told me that someone didn't show up with half of it and they had to dilute it. Liars, again! This year it was just as pathetically watered down; you could barely taste it and instead of being neon colors it was just kind of off-clear. This was SO dangerous this year - the temps were high and the humidity higher and runners couldn't replace electrolytes.
6. The start is late. We started at 8:30. That sucks.
7. The course support is sucky. Here I am bashing volunteers again. I have never run a race in which the volunteers made you fight and scramble for your own water. This year was slightly improved, and some volunteers even called out, "Water or Gatorade?" which is always helpful. But by the second loop the stops were kind of ghost towns. At the last water stop before the finish, no one even acknowledged me - I helped myself while the volunteers played a board game!
8. The after-party leaves half the runners out. The average finish time for the marathon was 4:52 and that's skewed by the fast male winner (right under 3 hours). The beer was gone by the 4:30 mark; the food had been packed up and ready to go by 5 hours. The WATER was packed up at 5 hours! People who finished later than that were exhausted, wet (it had finally rained), dehydrated, and starving - and all they had was water from nearby water fountains. "Stennis" is a slow field, but the race doesn't take that into account.
9. The lack of support is dangerous. This year as I was getting ready to leave an older runner suddenly went pale and passed out. I ran over, elevated his legs, and noted his very feeble pulse and low body temp. I called EMS for the race, got his wife to bring me his sweats, and called for Gatorade. Guess what? We were out of Gatorade and water. He obviously needed sugars and electrolytes - his blood pressure was nonexistent - and we had NOTHING to offer this man. We were all out of food and drink. Luckily EMS was there...or not! The EMT assessed the situation and ordered ICE! That is the last thing this shivering, shaking, low blood sugar and low blood pressure runner needed! I got angry and told the EMT to shut up and go get glucose, and he told me that all he had was IV and he didn't feel like starting a drip. Nice. The gentleman had revived and someone had a spare Gu and a Poweraid; he sipped and started reviving. I didn't leave until his color returned and he could stand without feeling faint.
10. The photographers take crappy pictures. Joking.
What am I doing with my facial muscles here?! 
Caveat: Some people love this race, and they aren't divas like me (kidding. I'm not a diva. But Ginny is, you know, more hard core than me!)
Final word: If I mention running this race next year someone please kick me in the stomach and talk some sense into me. 
*Edit* - It would help to know that this race only costs $35 with early registration. Like I said, dirt cheap. That is, cheap for a marathon...pricy for what is essentially a long run with a long-sleeved cotton T. The T-shirt was pretty this year, though! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Foody Friday: Christmas Gift Boxes

This Christmas I decided to rely on edible gifts for several family members in an attempt to prevent the "stuff" build-up that Christmas brings. I have a large family (there are 11 of us), so if everyone gives everyone else a gift, we are looking at a whole lot of presents (I remember Christmases growing up which involved 4-hour gift opening marathons. We always sedately and maturely took turns, politely thanking the giver, and it could take forever!)
My table covered in food for packing! 

Food gifts are usually welcome and are gone before you have to store them, so they work well for my family.
Packing up boxes in Priority Mail flat rate boxes

This year's boxes included:

- Brandied fruitcake, which should be nicely aged by the time the packages arrive. Tip: Soak the dried fruit (not the candied fruit) in your alcohol of choice for 12 hours prior to cooking; make sure you add all the alcohol to the batter, too, since it carried a lot of flavor. The cakes will seem dry when first done, but grow moister with age - do not serve for at least one week.
- Cranberry chutney. Tip: Although delicious on turkey or pork, chutney is also a fantastic appetizer spread over goat cheese and served with crackers.
- Peach preserves
- Grapefruit marmalade. Tip: Cook it when fruit is in season and store for Christmas!
- Flourless chocolate walnut cookies. Tip: If you are mailing cookies, choose a recipe that produces a crisp outside (for sturdiness) and soft inside (for freshness). FYI this is the best cookie ever invented. It is extremely easy to make and has just a few inexpensive ingredients, and the finished product is heaven in your mouth.
- Caramel candy corn as packing material - it's like a beanbag!
Festive dollar store ziplocs. The zips on the red bags did not work - the two sides were identical instead of locking together -  so I tied with ribbon. 

And in these festive Christmas ziplocs, we have:
- Maple-walnut brittle. Tip: To keep brittle brittle (especially when humid), make a pouch of dry white rice in a square of tissue paper and toss it in the bag. It acts as a desiccant to prevent the candy from softening.
- Christmas Spice coffee. Tip: When flavoring coffee, you can rub flavoring oils in, but alcohol-based flavorings like extracts will just evaporate. If you add cloves, be careful; clove oil is potent and can actually eat away at plastics, like storage containers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Olde Tyme Pharmacy

I'm at work right now, laptop plugged into guest access since my company blocks my blog (ha!), thinking about how much pharmacy has changed even since I started in this profession. I became a pharmacist in 2009, but my second job was in a pharmacy, so I've been doing this for 12 years (And that is why I know more about your insurance than your human resources manager. I am the THIRD PARTY QUEEN).
So much has changed in pharmacy since I started. Back then, only young white males abused Vicodin and Lortab (now every single demographic does). Manufacturer coupons for prescriptions were rare (now every brand name fights to offer a better deal .... mostly by playing on your hypochondria). You almost never had to contact a doctor for prior authorization (now I do it many many times a day, effectively giving insurers the right to make your health care choices!).
Back in the day drug reps used to bring pens,  pizza, and pill trays (now they are prohibited. I miss my pens. I joined pharmacy for the free pens).
A few weeks ago out state gave us the go-ahead to consider scanned rx images as the legal record. What the heck?! It used to be all about the "hard copy", the actual prescription that the doctor wrote. It was golden. Now it's trash.
I am nostalgic for the hard copy!
I've decided that I practice olde tyme pharmacy - I still know your name. I probably know your date of birth. I definitely know your health conditions and your insurance.
I'll break the law for you. A little. I mean, I wish you'd pay attention and quit running out of refills on Friday night, but I'm not going to let you have a heart attack just because I couldn't give you a few metoprolol.
I get it if you need a vacation supply. I get it if you want me to pretend to put fairy dust in your kid's antibiotic. I get it if you can't afford your Crestor and need me to call and get it changed. I get it if you quite taking your psych meds because they made you sleepy (I'll still tattle on you, though. I know who your case worker is, too).
I kind of like to count by fives, and I am happy to throw in 2 or 3 free pills to use up an old manufacturer we don't carry anymore.
I'm getting so carried away by nostalgia that I just bundled up my hard copies in groups of 100, just like the old days.
Then someone came in and tried to pull the wool over my eyes about an early refill on a controlled substance, and a doctor copped an attitude with me (PUH-lease, you are so new to this darling, do not try to correct me about Louisiana Medicaid!) and I decided that olde tyme, new time, whatever time pharmacy could just all go to heck.

And how was your day?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Running the extra mile: Baton Rouge Beach Marathon recap

This weekend was another PR for me, 3:22:18, which I am happy with. This is the first time I've run marathons back to back weekends, and the course was slightly (mildly) hilly. And that time is for 27.2 miles!
As you probably assumed from my last post, I got off course during this race. I'm not going to go into details, but let's just say I need to be more observant ... and police directing traffic are not course officials, so don't ask them for directions!
But the extra distance and messed up time, although not thrilling, doesn't really bother me. Remember, this race simply took the place of a long run, and I am very happy with my time and pacing for the race. My overall pace was 7:26 min/miles for all 27, but if you exclude the slow mile when I was lost and back-tracked (I stopped, looked around, asked directions, etc) my pace would have been 7:23. 
And even with that slow mile, I hit 26.2 at 3:14:38!
So, while I would like to be able to claim a 3:15 PR, I am more just delighted to know that I have the ability to run a 3:15 - or faster. 
Yes, I am totally showing this picture to PROVE I can run a marathon under 3:15; I am pretending I don't really care but obviously I do, LOL!

I spent the night before the race at a friend's house. BIG MISTAKE. His housemates didn't leave the house to "go out"* until 1 am, and since I had the couch, I had to stay awake. I finally turned out the lights, but I was miserable thanks to allergies. They have two dogs and I was having a very bad reaction to them, worse than usual. I was tired and slept anyway - until 3 am when housemates returned, flipping on lights and making horrific noise. They didn't head to bed until 4, and I got some fitful sleep, but my alarm was at 5 am so I was back up in no time. I was SO exhausted and my eyes and face were itchy and puffy with allergies.
This picture was actually taken AFTER I got lost and got back on course: almost finished!  Look at how pretty is was!

I took a shuttle to the start, hit the port-a-potties, and chatted with some runners in my Monday track group who were doing the half. We started on time and I immediately noticed the rolling hills - I run in such flat conditions normally that the even minimal hills were noticeable.
The miles just flew by this race. I ran the first 6 right around 7:25's, and I reasoned I could shoot for a 7:30 pace or maybe a 3:15 race, depending on how I felt after the half. The course is a double loop, so we actually passed the finish line at the half. I cheered on the runners I knew, who finished just seconds before I crossed the half mark. I still felt just fine, so I decided to run 7:25's until mile 20, then speed up a little. I actually ran the next 7 miles under 7:25, and although I felt great, it was after 20 that I got lost. That was an awful feeling. My stomach dropped when I realized I didn't recognize the route and I would have to turn around! When I got back on course I had to pass two women I'd passed many miles before, and I admit my attitude sucked a little at this point. Knowing you are a full mile behind is so draining! Plus I took my last Gu at mile 20 - ok if you have 6 miles to go, but not really enough for 7!
Nonetheless I kept trucking - my pace for the last few miles was slower than I'd like, about 7:30 to 7:50, but I hit 26.2 in under 3:15, proving I CAN run that pace! After I finished, other finishers crowded around me. I had passed them and then suddenly vanished! And they wanted to know what happened. Let's just say it gave me plenty to talk about!

What was awesome: This pace didn't hurt or feel difficult, even with mild hills and slightly warmer temps than ideal (although it seemed like the North Pole compared to last week's inferno). I loved this race, and I enjoyed myself.
What sucked: It is a huge demotivation to go off course. I usually enjoy the final miles of a marathon - I'm almost done, it's fun to cheer other runners on, spectators are very encouraging. But this time my heart was not in it. I actually considered dropping out when I saw I was a mile behind.

I stayed long enough after finishing to get my age group award - first - and see that I was third overall. The post-race party was awesome, so I enjoyed that, but I missed my hubby and headed home after a little while.
Time aside, I loved this race. It ranks right up there with the best and I can't wait to review it. I had the best time and made some friends!

Question for you: have you ever run off course? If not, please lie and say you did so that I will feel better about my imbecility.
*What does this term even mean? It distresses me.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What marathon?

I bravely chose these heels to wear to dinner Saturday after my marathon that morning. I personally think it's good to work the ol' quads out a tad after a long run anyway.
My feet probably think I hate them. 

Please ignore my blotchy face disaster. I stayed overnight in a house with dogs, to which I am very allergic, and my face is reacting. Combine that with two marathons close together (wind and weather irritate my skin), and you have mild angioedema accompanied by stinging, raw, peeling skin. GROSS.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Garmin says it all

Look closely....notice anything unusual? (Broad hint: it's the distance).

Explanation of the Baton Rouge Beach Marathon to come Monday!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Off to Baton Rouge!

I'm heading to Baton Rouge tonight to stay with my dear friend Brett, who used to be my roomie. We do not take serious pictures together.

Funny story: I lived with Brett, his twin brother BJ, and their mom when I was in college. I worked with Brett at Walmart pharmacy. I worked with BJ at a hospital pharmacy.
And I stayed with BJ for Thunder Road marathon last I'm staying with Brett for the Baton Rouge Beach marathon!
I did decide to run BR Beach even though I ran a race last week. I am just going to treat this one like a training run, too. Hopefully not as many things can go wrong this time!
Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy December 1st!

December is here and I'm all about the Christmas spirit. I kicked it off early last night cooking up a storm!
I made fruitcake...
Waiting to be brushed with brandy

Of course I had to sample it, even though it isn't aged yet!
half a pan, gone in a flash!

Canned some cranberry chutney...
peach preserves, pink grapefruit marmalade, and cranberry chutney (l-r)

And prettied-up jars of peach preserves and grapefruit marmalade for gifting.
I used wrapping paper to cover the jar tops - cheaper than fabric squares

Question for the day: What is your stance on fruitcake?
I personally love it, especially with a cup of tea. I am about to go hide those little loaves from myself.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I beat an Olympian

I suppose you read all my griping yesterday. I was griping because the Mississippi Coast Marathon sucked. It really did. In fact I strongly dislike that race, so someone PLEASE remind me of that next year so I don't foolishly sign up again. I know it's only $35. It's $35 I could have used to buy, like 10 pairs of shoes at the Salvation Army.
So anyway, recap time. As you know, I ended up running this hot, muggy, windy race with no Garmin or watch. Soon after we started, I asked some of the other marathoners their goal pace. I was hoping to find someone to pace me...and keep me company in the boredom. Unfortunately, there was a pretty large pack hoping to run a 3:15 and two guys shooting for 3:30. This was a training run for me, but I didn't want to hit the wall, so I knew I couldn't do 3:15. I considered hanging with the 3:30 pair, but they almost immediately joined the 3:15 group. So I had no pacer - or much-needed company!
I was trying to look cute for the camera - this is at the finish - but my hair was soggy and blowing in my face. Notice the car sharing the road with me back there...totally tried to PASS ME as I headed into the finish. So dangerous. 

For me, this race felt like it was three distinct phases.
Phase one was miles 1 - 10. I felt uncomfortably warm, but I was resigned. The pack hadn't thinned too much, and there were people around me to talk to. I realized I wouldn't have any time for this race and kept reminding myself that it was just another long run.
I kept the 3:15 group in distant sight. They swelled to about 15 people and were drafting each other in the wind. I had expected the warm, muggy weather, but the wind surprised me. It was shockingly strong! I was blowing all over! I wished I could keep up with the faster crowd for some wind protection, but I knew it would be foolish and I'd pay later on. In fact, first one, and then the other of the "3:30" fellows fell back and I passed them. They did not make their goal.
 This part of the race felt like a warm summer mid-distance run: the kind you know you have to fit in, but that you wish you didn't have to run.
Phase two was definitely the toughest part. It was miles 11 - 20. Around mile 11, the heat started to feel very oppressive and the wind picked up. I was struggling to make headway and couldn't hear my ipod. The group in front of me splintered in front of my eyes, and suddenly there was just a line of single file runners trying to keep going in the warm, moist wind. I could feel myself slowing down. I was disgustingly sweaty and the wind was blowing my hair all over. I redid my bun (FYI I always wear a tight bun to run and it has never, ever come undone!). I was annoyed at the very dilute Gatorade and the lack of company (I passed a few runners who had been in the larger group ahead of me, but they were in no mood to talk!). After the half marathoners split off, I was almost totally alone.There was a turn around and water stop at mile 19 and I caught up to another runner there. He was feeling bad, and I told him I was, too. "I want to drop out at 20," I dramatized (I wasn't really going to do that, I mean how would I get back?!). He encouraged me to try to hit 8 min/mi and finish the race. I was happy to have his company, but unfortunately he was fading fast and I had to leave him. But I thanked him for his encouragement and wished him luck (he eventually finished maybe 6 minutes behind me).
This part of the race was mentally very challenging. I felt like I was futilely fighting the wind for a race that I didn't even have a clock for. It is also tough to be on a boring course with basically no company.
Phase three was the tail end and it got easier. After the little turn-around, nearing mile 20, I started to see other runners. I LOVE seeing other people at turn arounds and I talked to all of them! I was pretty sure at this point that I was the first female - I had passed most of the other women I'd seen in front of me and they were all running the half anyway. I had seen one or two faster ladies far in the front but they were doing the half, too. I made sure I cheered the other ladies I saw at the turn around, and I high-fived the second female. The distraction of other runners kept me going for the mile overlap until the course turned off and I was by myself again. However, even though this turn put me back into a headwind, it seemed like the weather had eased up a little. The impending rain had lowered the temps a tad, and the wind was less gusty. I kind of got my second wind. I passed some half-marathon walkers and one lady cheered for me - when I passed her I saw that she was like 8 months preggo! I cheered back! I had to stop once during this part to retie my shoe - how aggravating - but I didn't feel stiff when I restarted. I finally neared the finish and saw the lone clock on the course, at mile 26 (which I think is completely useless). I was shocked to see time in the 3:23 range - the wind had made me feel like I was barely moving, so I thought I was at 3:35 or 3:30 if I was lucky.
This part of the race felt easy mentally and physically, if only because I knew I'd be done soon.
Checking out the clock at the finish!

I saw David as I neared the finish line and I made sure to smile for his camera. As I neared the end someone called out, "You're fifth overall!" and I was much happier about that than the first female part - there were not too many women so I wasn't very excited about that.
After finishing, I gave David a sweaty kiss and sent him grocery shopping while I waited for my award (heck yeah I wanted my first place plaque!). I clapped for other finishers, including an older guy ROCKING a 3:37 finish. Guess what? Turns out he is 60 years old, and he's Benji Durden, a former Olympian. WHAT THE. If I'd known that at the time I would have had him sign my race number!
Turns out the "3:15" group turned into the "3:22" group thanks to the weather, so I probably could have hung on with them.
I waited for David, got my award, and stayed long enough to administer first aid to another finisher. But that story belongs in my "Gripes about the Mississippi Coast Marathon" post, which is still to come.
Oh my gosh the sweatiness. The guy behind me is the runner I talked to at the mile 19 water stop.

Overall, although this was a rough race, I feel like I could get a 3:20 marathon in better conditions or even just with a watch! I felt fine at the finish, no stomach upset, soreness, or pain, and I went running the next day and felt completely fresh. Now the question is - should I try to cram in Baton Rouge Beach marathon next weekend? Or is that pushing it?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The marathon I wasn't meant to run

I have to split my recap of the Mississippi Coast Marathon into two parts: I need a whole post just to describe what went wrong that day.

Let's do this bullet-point style, shall we?
- The night before we had a birthday party and we missed packet pick up.
- The morning of the race I forgot that I was staying at my in-laws' house and that they have tall beds. I dropped heavily to the floor upon waking and rolled my ankle.  It swelled.
- I charge my Garmin before we left - but somehow when I turned it on it was completely out of juice! I didn't even bring it.
- Last year, it took 20 minutes to get to the race start from my inlaws' house. The guards at the gate of the Stennis Space Center simply waved us through. This year, hundreds of cars were backed up as guards checked ID's against a list of participants. Um, slight problem, many people had others driving them to the race! It was such a mess. We didn't even get up to the booth until after the race start time - luckily the directors delayed the start by 20 minutes.
- After showing our IDs, my hubby thanking God he is a federal employee and got in with his federal ID, we got lost heading to the start area! When we finally got to the start hubby picked up my number while I got in the short port-a-potty line.
- I made it to the start with minutes to spare, but they were out of T-shirt (they're long-sleeved, so I wanted it as a pajama shirt).
- Hubby let me borrow his ipod nano, which has a stop watch, in the hopes that I could at least see my time if not my pace. I started it at the gun, but when I checked it at mile three it warned me of low battery - when I tried again at mile 5 it was totally dead! I had no watch and there is no time on the course, so from mile 3 onward I was going by feel! 
- The weather. Oh, the freaking hellacious weather. The forecast looked bad enough:
Look at Sunday's perfect weather to the right. Gimme a break. 

But reality was even worse. Before we even started, a thermometer at Cypress House where we started showed 80 degrees. Basically it was upper 70's to lower 80's throughout, with unbearable humidity. It was like suffocating - there was no relief until FINALLY a rain storm started, which was after I finished!
The worst part, however, was the wind. The course is windy anyway - it's tree-lined highways that act like wind tunnels - but Saturday, with a rain storm brewing, there was a ferocious headwind about 50% of the time. As luck would have it, most of the "tailwind" direction was well-blocked by trees and buildings, so we got no benefit from that (I did feel a substantial tailwind for about a mile of the loop - it is a double loop course). The wet, warm wind was so bad that it actually blew my tightly-wrapped bun out, and I had to re-do my hair. I was hunched into the headwind for so much of the race that my BACK chaffed from being curved against my jog bra. My back has never chaffed before. Besides that, the wind whipped my glases from my face and blew salt from my hair into my eyes. My shirt kept blowing up into my face. I could barely hear my ipod. Misery. Utter misery.
- As usual for this course, the Gatorade was watered down to the point of uselessness, and the Gu that was promised never, ever materialized. Dangerous for a race in this kind of heat.
- I had made a list of thanksgivings to pray about during this "training run" race, as a distractor. When I realized my Garmin was dead, I also penned in mile splits. Hahahahahaha. My sweaty self made short work of that index card! It fast became unreadable.
Not that I ran anywhere close to that pace anyway.
Sounds like a complete disaster, right?! Come back tomorrow to read how I eeked a PR and a first-place win out of that mess!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I just won a marathon.

Under the WORST conditions ever. 3:24:26. Recap to come. Brace yourselves. It was ugly.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My race schedule, revisited

Original race schedule for Fall/Winter 2011:
Clarence Demar Marathon
Gulf Coast Half
Middendorf's Manchac ten miler
Gulf Coast marathon
Baton Rouge Beach marathon
Ol' man River half
The Louisiana Marathon
The Wall 30k

I have to scratch Baton Rouge beach because the hubby has an event the same day. This is too bad, because I have heard that this is a good race.
It looks like we have to scratch Ol' Man River, too, because we MAY have plans and I'd hate to register and waste the money if I can't go.
And I'm questioning The Wall, because now that we have two running clubs in NOLA, there are other races that might not suck as much.

Boo. So much for Fall and Winter racing.
Don't you hate it when life gets in the way of running?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Twenty-six things I'm thankful for

Saturday I am running the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon at the Stennis Space Center. It's actually supposed to be a training long run for me, just supported (sort of, this race has minimal support). I've never done a race truly as a training run, so I'm not exactly sure how to pace or what my goal should be (yes, I am always this last-minute with races!).
If I end up doing a long, slow distance like I ought to for a training run, I might start getting, well, a little bored and fatigued out there. To keep myself going, I decided to spend the race in prayer: thanking God for the many blessings in my life.
I have the handwriting of a seven year old

Or just 26 of them. I picked out 26 things I tend to take for granted and will start each mile out with a thank-you prayer for each thing. I hope my thanksgiving doesn't turn into pleas for help or "let me die" prayers around mile 22.
Yes, I have more than 26 things to be thankful for, but I thought this would help me get through boring miles with a pleasant distraction.
Have you ever created a distractor for a race or long run to get you through? 
Happy Thanksgiving!!! XO

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Skip day and health screening

I'm taking an unscheduled day off running today because I have to go to a health clinic and have my blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, weight, etc measured.
This is required for our new health insurance - that is, if we want any sort of decent coverage. Our insurance has a very high deductible, but the company pays the first $400 of it. IF you get your labs done! If you don't, you only get $200. Lots of companies are doing similar things with insurance. One large employer in the area allows you to decrease your premiums based on healthy blood pressure and cholesterol; others penalize you with a higher deductible if you skip these basic measures.
I like this general idea, but I wish my company allowed you to earn healthcare points based on good results. Right now, as long as you get the labs done (regardless of results), you get the extra $200. But my cholesterol and blood pressure are always very low, so I think I could benefit from a structure that paid you for being healthy.
Actually, I'm drinking coffee right now to increase by blood pressure because it is always so low that I scare people. It's usually something like 90/50 when I'm fasting, so I figured I'd have some caffeine and bump it up a little. Cheating.
What do you think about health screenings required by insurance? Smart move to catch potential health risks? Or invasive and greedy?

Monday, November 21, 2011

At long last, a new ipod!

If you have been reading this blog for so long that you remember before I became obsessed with running, you might remember that my hubby tried to get me a new ipod Nano for my birthday in 2009. I had an old Nano, this one:
Remember these? It's like a relic of a past generation!

And I STILL have it. But it is on its last legs. The problem is that it eats headphones. The connection is eroded and kind of moth eaten, and it will sort of sound OK with brand new headphones. But after 4 or 5 uses, the headphone plug looks kind of eroded, too, and I start to have problems (pretty sure battery acid is leaking out and destroying the plug). Before long, I have spotty sound in just one ear. Or I have only base. Or only treble. Or nothing. Or only very faint and quiet squeaks.
Well, that problem is about to be solved free-for-nothin' (as my father in law says) because my ipod is part of a recall thanks to a few Nano batteries bursting into flame. I'm pretty sure mine WOULD burst into flame if it wasn't for the fact that it is drenched in sweat 99% of the time.

Yay for new free stuff!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Clarence DeMar is turning over in his grave

Remember the Clarence Demar Marathon I ran in September?
The one with open-to-traffic roads, long course, and wacked-out clock at the finish?
They kindly sent out finishers certificates. The only problem is that they got the year wrong.
Someone forgot to backspace last year's certificate. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Recent running toys and tries

Some recent running goodies I've been enjoying...
- Rice. Plain white rice with salt for long runs. It's pretty good fuel and kind of yummy.
But I'm better with butter.
- Socks with heel tabs. I'm not sure why it took me several years to accidentally buy socks with heel tabs and eliminate the raw spot on the back of my heel.
noooo, my socks are not Ralph Lauren!
- New Kinvaras, on sale for $45 - yes, that's over my budget of $39 per pair, but I pay extra for highlighter orange clothes.
Men's sizes, of course. I have big feet. 
- Varsity Sports Monday Speedwork. I recently started to attend speed sessions with Varsity Sports on Mondays. For someone who never did speedwork before, it's a big change - I was surprised at how LONG  the workouts are! They are generally 8 to 10 miles plus warm up, with every third week being "easy" (more like 5 or 6 miles). I've gone for four sessions, but the first was just a time trial. Will the speed help my races? We'll find out! More on this later.
- Hungry mornings. Another new try is skipping food even before long runs. I have really been struggling with balancing nutrition and stomach cramping during long runs, and my latest try is no food at all. It's tough for a slow long run, but for my PR half marathon it worked well. My former PR (from last December) was also on an empty stomach.

What have YOU been trying lately?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Irish Network New Orleans Launch Party

I have no pictures of the actual event. Just imagine lots of pale people and Jameson. I do, however, have a plethora of pictures of the dress I designed and sewed in a another night to hem (ugh, hand hems are boring).

Single strap across the back

Another front view...look, no zipper! 

This detail shows how the neckline stood out from my body (easy to do with proper lining and good interfacing)

And with my sweetie, who wants me to tell all of you that he doesn't really have a gut; his tux short was just billowy.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sewing a formal....

First you buy the fabric. $5 for the entire bolt.
Totally synthetic. But it looks like silk duponi.

Then you make a pattern out of the comics. I used an existing pattern as a size guide.
Why is there a feather duster in the corner???

After you cut the pieces, you sew and sew.

Try not to melt part of the lining with the iron.
Oops. Good thing it was just the lining.

Try it on for fit.

Pin the bodice and stitch.
I always forget that I have no boobs, then I have to go back and tighten the top.

Add in trimmings and decorations.

Pick out your shoes.

All set for the Irish Network New Orleans launch party! Tune in tomorrow to see the finished product.