Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Greens and Peas...

We aren’t big on traditions in our house. For Thanksgiving, our tradition has become one of me getting up super early to run the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half while CR turns the channel to the news and tries to catch a glimpse of me. In our almost 20 years of marriage, we have only put up a Christmas tree once that I can remember. We used to be out of town most Christmases and that was our excuse. Now I think we are just lazy in that regard. It would require someone to take the tree down and all… I have lights on our fake ficus tree. I usually plug them in on Christmas Eve. It is truly festive. :)

Our New Year’s is not totally devoid of tradition, I do partake in black eyed peas, collard greens, ham and cornbread on New Years Day. I thought this was a common tradition but in reading yesterday, I am now wondering if this just might be a southern thing. You tell me… Have you heard of this? Here is the story...

Apparently, greens and peas guarantee a prosperous year. The tradition comes from Civil War days and is folklore so there are other versions of the story. When the Union troops came through and pillaged the land, the only thing left behind were black eyed peas and greens to feed the livestock which southerners used to survive. The greens are said to represent dollar bills and the peas represent coins. Toss in some cornbread to represent gold and you have good luck, wealth and hope for good things to come. I am not sure where the pork comes in to the picture. I did read that the more pork you have the more you luck you will have so pork chops, pork loin, bacon and ham for everyone! (BTW if you have any uncooked greens left over, you can tack them to the ceiling for good luck. I guess that is a southern version of mistletoe? I will probably pass on that tradition…)

Happy New Year one and all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

It is beginning to look a lot like Iron...

Two days ago I embarked on a virtual 70.3 race, Iron Christmas. Two days ago, I was not thinking clearly. My planned runs for the week were easily 13.1 miles. In my mind, I just needed to squeeze in a 1.2 mile swim and a 56 mile bike ride. Child’s play (cough, cough). The swim was easy enough. As always, the bike comes back to bite me. Never underestimate the bike! Do you know how long it takes to ride 56 miles? I do now.

My plan became a series of 2-a-days that came to a screeching halt when on Tuesday evening, CR casually asked me what I had planned for Thursday night. “Oh, erm, nothing”, I replied knowing that trying to explain the importance of me completing a virtual race as opposed to whatever he had in mind for Thursday would go over about as well as my plan to start spelling my name with a Y. Turns out his store is having a Christmas/birthday party on Thursday night. The details are a little sketchy but I am told it involves BBQ, me bringing toffee, and everyone shooting bowling pins. (Not to worry, CR works at a gun range and apparently bowling pins make fun targets).

Given my newfound plans for Thursday, I have been hustling up time on the bike. 20 miles here, 10 miles there. I have logged 44 miles at this point and have 12 more to go along with a 6 mile run sometime between now and tomorrow night. Should be interesting! All in all a big thank you to Lucas for pushing us to get our booties off the candy cane train this week and keep moving. Did I mention there were time penalties for eating cake?

Well, I have some miles to log, BBQ to eat and bowling pins to shoot.... I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gifts in my mailbox...

I opened up my mailbox Monday morning to discover a package with my name on it! I had a brief moment of "what in the world" and "who do I know in MA" before I remembered that I was participating in the Blogger Gift Exchange over at Run with Jill. Trust me when I tell you, your mind really does start to chip away the minute you blow out the candles on your 40th birthday cake.

My gift came from Karyn at Running Mumma. She is in the process of training for her first marathon, so stop over and give her some blog love! Fun (or maybe lame) fact, I tried to get people to spell my name (Karen) with a Y instead of an E for a few months in my late teens. It was only slightly less successful than my half birthday celebration initiative. Somehow spelling Karen with a Y seemed so much cooler. Clearly, Running Mumma's parents knew...

Not only does she have a name that is spelled the coolest way possible but also selected the perfect gift. My gift: a box of Vanilla GU (my current fave), carrot cake Larabars and a ITunes gift card! True blogger gift love. Thank you Karyn!

In other news, the running this weekend went GREAT! I don't believe I have ever felt so prepared heading into a race. I mean, I did the Dopey Challenge (5k, 13.1 and 26) this weekend (minus the cheering crowds, t-shirts and medals) so I just have to recreate it a couple of weeks from now. I am truly excited!

Since I don't have anything else to do this week (LOL), I am doing the Iron Christmas 70.3. If you have some time to work in a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike and 13.1 miles of running broken up any which way between now and Friday, check out the challenge at Super Fatlete.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Three Things for Thursday

1. Our office had its annual Christmas Party this afternoon. Over the years the party has dwindled from a dress up event in a rented ballroom to a catered lunch in the office to this year's "potluck dessert" party. Honestly, today's party was probably more fun than I have had in a while at one of our parties. We had a variety of coffees and assorted fancy creams, baileys and kahlua as well as entirely too many desserts. After everyone was revived from their diabetic comas, we played catch phrase for about an hour. Catch Phrase is a little like the $25,000 pyramid if you are old enough to remember such things. You basically give clues so that your team can guess the word or phrase. So. Much. Fun.

2. Tomorrow begins the final uber long run of the plan for the Goofy Challenge. I am sticking with Galloway for this one. Tomorrow AM is a 13 miles run followed by a 26 mile run on Saturday. Kind of interesting that the Galloway plan takes you to the full 26 miles. It worked well 2 weeks ago with 10 and 22 miles so we will do it again this weekend! Hard to believe the race is only 3 weeks away...

3. I popped into the pool for some laps yesterday AM. It has been way too long and it showed. I did 1600 meters in about 30 minutes which wasn't really bad in terms of time but I could tell it in my arms. I am *this close* to committing to a 70.3 next year so need to work the swim back into my routine. Well, that and get my bike fixed... right after I get my new oven ;)

Speaking of ovens, CR spent all day Monday investigating options and it was determined that my oven is so ancient there are no longer parts made for it. Of course, now that I have no oven, I am craving all sorts of things that can only be made in an oven. Chex mix for example. Yes, I can buy it but for some reason I am dying to make it. I do not know why...

My lack of an oven made the dessert potluck a little challenging but I did manage to pull off some super easy, old school treats on my stovetop.

Nut Mallow Goodies

1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. butterscotch chips
1/2 c peanut butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
1 c peanuts

Melt the 1st three ingredients over low heat until smooth. (You probably could do it in a microwave as well). Once melted, remove from heat and stir in the marshmallows and peanuts. Spread into a wax paper lined 8x8 pan. Chill until firm and cut into squares. Voila. You have a treat for your dessert potluck.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jingle all the way...

My Saturday morning started early with the buzz of the alarm clock at 5 AM. Even though my eyes were barely open, I hopped out of bed to pull myself together for the Jingle Jog 5k. I have wanted to do this race so many times in the past and have never gotten around to it due to other conflicts. I wasn't going to miss it this year! I made a peanut butter sandwich with pumpkin butter, grabbed my ipod full of Christmas tunes and my santa hat then headed out the door.

I have a habit of arriving earlier than necessary for races and this was no exception. I only wish I had the same habit for other occasions in life. My thought in getting there a little early is to avoid an issues with directions or parking once I get there which usually saves me a lot of unwanted stress. I arrived just as the vendors were getting set up so I kept warm in my car entertaining myself with facebook and taking a quick 20 minute nap. (I have no issues sleppeing anywhere which is a bonus for times like this...).

I wiped the sleep out of my eyes and braved the cold to head across the street and pick up my number. For a 5k, this race had more vendors than any I had ever seen. There was a truck from the Salvation Army to pick up toys along with their brass band and a catering truck offering hot chocolate and coffee. In the vendor area, there were bouncy houses for the kids and a rock climbing wall, more than a few restaurants offering up BBQ sandwiches, brunswick stew, breakfast burritos, cupcakes, doughnuts and the like. All at 8 AM.

The race itself was a bit of a spectacle for the variety of costumes. Everything from santa hats to elves to someone dressed like a pink pig (which I am not sure how that fit into Christmas but to each his own...). Plenty of dogs were costumed and out for the run as well. I ran part of the way with a father - daughter pair. The daughter was probably 9 or 10 and the Dad kept sprinting ahead so he could take pictures of her running. He must have done it about 10 times. Hopefully he got a good shot. What felt like minutes after we started, I was sprinting across the finish line. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, this would be a fun race for the holiday season. This was their 23rd running so make plans to attend next year!

In other news, I had BIG plans to do my holiday baking today only to discover that after 30 some odd years of faithful service my oven has gone to the big appliance store in the sky. I might have cried a bit. I doubt if we are going to be able to afford to get a new one any time real soon so there will be no Christmas baking this year. I am the person at work and in my circle of friends that brings copious amounts of baked goods in at Christmas each year so to not be able to make treats, well, it is very sad. I am currently investigating recipes for things that can be made on the stove or perhaps I could start a new tradition of holiday cleaning (or not...) :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Let's Talk Galloway...

I am not going to lie, the last 10 miles or so of the Chickamauga Marathon last month were torture. Extreme knee pain. How ironic that what felt like a 10 mile death march was being played out on a civil war battlefield. After several weeks to sort of analyze the situation, the only thing I can really blame is my lack of commitment to the training plan. My muscles felt great post-race, the only thing holding me back was my knee and somewhat my hip. Basically, the pain was in one knee and mostly limited to going up or down stairs. I think it was probably classic runner’s knee, you know, going too far too soon in the plan without gradually building up the mileage.

A little less than two weeks after the marathon, I had my Thanksgiving half. I knew I didn’t want to cancel the race but had a lack of confidence in my ability to run full force since I was still experiencing knee pain. During the Chickamauga, I noticed more people than usual using a run-walk program. I know this because it was a no headphones race and all I could hear were the chirps of the various timers going off. Well, I could hear than and the dulcet tones of the only songs running through my head (John Denver’s Country Roads and Thank god I’m a Country Boy – I have no idea why as that is not my normal playlist, feel free to mock me).

The idea of doing the Thanksgiving Half Galloway style really appealed to me. I do not judge people who walk a marathon, get it done however you need to do it. You finished the same 26.2 I did, kudos to you. I am, however, hard on myself and judge myself for walking more than a water stop. Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to run the whole half, I had to let go of that issue within myself. I can’t say I completely OK with walking but it definitely made a difference in finishing versus not finishing that race.

The premise of Galloway at a high level is that you are giving your body rest breaks before you actually need it. Theoretically, when you get to those later miles while runners typically might slow down you are still filling good and can maintain your normal pace. The training plan on the Walt Disney website for the Goofy Challenge calls for 2 runs midweek (which I run as opposed to run/walk) and a long run (or two) on the weekend. For the Thanksgiving half, I ended up running a 6:1 ratio. Six minutes of running, one minute of walking. Of course, it took me three miles to realize that I didn’t have the timer set correctly on my Garmin but once I got going, it worked great. In the end it added about 10 minutes to my overall finish time. The difference being, I felt decent when I finished. I probably would have felt great had my knee not been bothering me going into the race.

The Saturday following the Thanksgiving Half, I was able to run 23 miles using Galloway from start to finish. I never felt any knee pain during that run and felt pretty good at the end. Had it been an actual marathon, I am pretty sure I could have pushed out three more miles. At this point, my knee feels 100% better and I am leaning towards running the 5k and Half during the Goofy and then using Galloway for the full. I cannot tell you how shocked I was at my ability to churn out those 23 miles. There is definitely something to methodology. Most likely, I will revert back to my normal running pattern for future races. For now, this works and I am so happy that I got over my self imposed running only rule and gave the Galloway method a try!

On sort of a post note, I have read that runner's knee can be helped by doing some strengthening exercises to include the abductor muscle. I have been working more on strength training the past few weeks in addition to sticking with the running plan in order to help the issue.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Atlanta Thanksgiving Half...

Can you call something that you have done three years in a row a "tradition"? If so, I suppose the Atlanta Half Marathon has become a tradition for me. This year, the course went from a point to point to a loop course so there was much anticipation and excitement over the changes at hand. In addition to the route change, this was the first year that there was not a full marathon to accompany the half. One of the big announcements this week was the date of the Atlanta Marathon. The race will be held on Sunday, October 30, 2011. (Side note, if you register before 12/31/10, the registration fee is $55 which is pretty cheap for a full marathon).

The past two years, I have volunteered at the race in addition to running. It can be a little challenging working out the logisitics of working right up until your corral passes over the start line but I highly recommend it! Last year I worked at the expo handing out race numbers and then race day at baggage check. Both were very fun jobs, you truly feel the excitement of the race! This year, I worked in Corral 4. You know, one of the people who try to make sure that only legit people get in the corral. As anyone who has run more than a few larger races know, the corrals do serve a purpose which is mainly to keep the race from being so congested once it starts. I am a pretty calm, follow the rules kind of person by nature. Apparently everyone is not that way. I was suprised how many people gave the volunteers a hard time for not letting them in a corral that they weren't supposed to be in. Given the chip timing, what difference does it really make?

Volunteer Pics

Me and my Dad (he and his wife Rita volunteered for finish line duties)

Once the first few corrals were sent on their way, my volunteer duties were over so I stuffed my volunteer fleece in my backpack and got ready to run. Normally, I wouldn't run with a backpack but couldn't figure out any other way outside of running with the vest on and it was a little too warm for fleece. The bag was a little annoying in the beginning but quickly got used to it. I have lived in Atlanta all of my life but really have settled into a comfort zone around my house and rarely venture into the downtown area to see some of the sights. For this reason, I was particularly excited for the new route. Some of things we ran by that I never have seen were the Martin Luther King Center and Oakland Cemetary. Oakland is a historic cemetary where Margaret Mitchell and golf legend Bobby Jones among many others are buried. We also ran past a homeless shelter. There were buses lined up to take them to go eat their Thanksgiving Dinner. Kind of a sobering sight.

The track club did an excellent job with water and signage. Each mile was clearly marked, there was plenty of water and gatorade every 2 miles and a sport beans stop around mile 8. The medal at the end was an improvement over previous years. I like for the ribbon to tie into the event instead of just being a plain color so to have the race name on the ribbon was a nice touch. All in all I think the track club did a great job!

My time was not a PR by any means. I wasn't really expecting one and just wanted to enjoy the race. I had been dealing with knee pain so I just slowed it down and soaked it all in. CR and I didn't have any big meal plans so ended up just staying at home and eating pizza. So very untraditional but we enjoyed it :)

Earlier in the week, I was interviewed by a local news station for a story on the race. Check it out here. I am the last one interviewed, not the pregnant lady or the man who lost 85 pounds in case you were wondering.

Today, I stepped back in to training for the Goofy Challenge in January. I had a 23 miler on the schedule and was so pleased that it went well! More on that later when I tell you about my experience with the Galloway method.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Looking Ahead...

My next race is the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half on, well, Thanksgiving... I have done the race for the past three years and really love that it is becoming a tradition for me. In the past, this race has been a point to point race. This year they are shaking things up a bit and changing the course. I am really looking forward to the change as it seems a lot of the Atlanta races tend to pick up the same route along Peachtree Street. I can't wait to see some new sights along the way!

Since I was getting up early anyhow, I decided to get up THAT much earlier and volunteer for the race before the start. My job will be to make sure no interlopers get into Corral 4 come race day. My Dad and Stepmom (Rita) will be passing out mylar blankets and medals so make sure you stop by and say "Hi" while you cruise through the finish area. ;)

If you aren't doing anything on Thanksgiving morning and happen to be in the Atlanta area, I know a great Half Marathon that is calling your name. They need quite a few more volunteers so if you are interested in keeping the peace in one of corrals or helping out in one of many other areas, go the Atlanta Track Club site and sign up now!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon

The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon takes place in the Chickamauga Battlefield park. The 5300 acre park was the scene of the last major Confederate victory of the American Civil War. The park is in Fort Oglethorpe, GA which is a next door neighbor to Chattanooga, TN. If you are looking for a scenic back to nature, small town type race, this is your race. The marathon runs essentially through the park. We were only on stretches of what could be called a main road for maybe a half mile total. The rest of the race is run on paved roads within the park and winds through the various monuments. The monuments must have been erected at significant places in the battle as many of them seem to be just scattered about randomly. You are just running through the woods and there is some kind of monument to Illinois or a pyramid of cannonballs. It is really pretty interesting to think that a major battle took place right there roughly 150 years ago. My Uncle is a huge civil war buff and could give so many more interesting details than I could do here. If you are interested, you can buy his book here (insert shameless plug) ;)

and now for the rest of the story...

I made the 2 hour drive from home last night making it to the expo right as they opened. Did I mention this was a small race? I think there were 2 vendors at the expo which was fine with me as I had no spending money anyhow. I am used to mega-expos so this was a nice change of pace. In and out. Easy.

I can't remember how much the race registration fee was but as registration fees go I remember it being cheap. Considering the low entry fee, I was suprised that we were given a baseball cap and there were separate shirts for the half marathon and marathon. The half marathoners received a short sleeve tech tee while the marathoners got a nice long sleeve tech tee. I loved the slogan on the back "26.2 miles of history".

Getting to the start was a breeze. I got to the race at 6:45 for a 7:30 start. I literally got out of my car at 7:25 and walked 100 feet to the start. I loved not having to worry about a bag drop or freezing my booty off waiting for the start. The mayor gave a short speech, they had a brass band play the National Anthem to which most of the racers sang along and then BOOM the cannon goes off to start the race. An actual cannon shot off by civil war renactors. It was surprisingly loud!

The race has 700 runners total which were a mix of marathoners and half marathoners. The course was a loop course so the marathoners ran the loop twice. At several spots, the two races split off to do a dog leg to make up the mileage. If I were only running the half marathon, I would say I had a stellar half. Unfortunately, I ran a full... The weirdest thing. I was running 10 minute miles exactly for the entire first half. Once the half marathon runners split off for their finish, the wheels started falling off. I had this crazy pain in my hip so there was a lot of stopping to stretch it out. So very odd as I have never had that issue before. Had there been more aid stations on the course I might have stopped with a DNF but just kind of hobbled through it. If I kept running it actually felt better than walking. Eventually it would tighten up so I would stop and stretch it out again and get to running. Very strange. I powered through it and finished but it wasn't the time I thought I would have when I started. Not really disappointed as I kind of feel like I didn't stick to my training plan leading up to the race and through the taper so it wasn't like I did everything I should have to have a great race. I think my time was right at 5 hours which - UGH - but at least I beat Jared the Subway guy, right? LOL.

Post race, there was all kinds of food to be had - my Dad would have LOVED this part. Tons of pizza, cookies, and other typical post race food. They had a band playing and activities for the kids. Seriously it was small town america. So nice!

I slipped on some compression leg sleeves and hopped in my car literally 10 minutes after the race. This was my first time trying compression but am a believer. I was in serious pain during the run. By the time I got home 2 hours later, peeled myself out of the car and took a shower, my legs were fresh like I had not run at all. CRAZY.

All in all I loved the race. Truly a lovely course. I saw at least 6 deer cross my path at various times during the run. Not a lot of crowd support as the roads are a little isolated but they were there at the major intersections. The medal varies each year as they pay tribute to a different monument in the park. I think this year was Tennessee. OH - one more good thing about a small race, you might actually get a good race photo. At one point I was the only person for about 50 yards so the photogrpaher and I had quite the conversation as I ran toward him and he snapped shots. If I ever get a good race photo, that might have been my best opportunity! A few pics from the day, sorry there are not more but I was trying to be a zen runner and not have as many gadgets this time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taper Time!

Doesn’t everyone go on a four day tennis trip during the week before their marathon? Probably not the best idea for my race but I had a great time! The race this weekend has always been my B race so am not expecting any sort of PR – more of a goal to just finish it. I have decided marathons must be a lot like having children. The first is full of packing lists and fear of the unknown. The second marathon you strive to do better, you know what to expect and want to improve based on what you learned last time. This third race, well, I will be lucky if I remember to bring my running shoes. Seriously.

I was perusing the website for an idea of the hills that might be part of this race. I have decided that whether you think the race is hilly or not depends on where you live. The one review I read that I am hoping is correct said that “Atlantans would consider the race to be flat”. Good enough for me! As an Atlantan, I will take comfort in the relatively flatness. :) On a side note, there is nothing like reading race reviews to get you pumped up for the race. There are so many nice comments about the Chickamauga Marathon from the scenery to the cannon start and the post race food. I can’t wait!

I have bought a few GU Gels in anticipation of Saturday's race but have not given a lot of thought to it beyond a little mid race fuel. My prep for this weekend is completely different than the obsessive preparation I had for my first race. It is interesting how laid back I feel about it this time. To be honest, I have a very slight knee issue that concerns me so maybe I am avoiding a race prep to avoid thinking about the knee. After my last long run, my right knee hurt going down stairs. The pain after resting a few days was extremely slight and behind the knee cap but recurred this weekend after many hours of tennis. think it will be OK but a little unusual so hoping for the best.

This past weekend I was invited to go to Big Canoe in North GA with 11 other ladies from my tennis team. I am new to the team so it was a great chance to get to know everyone and was excited to be asked. I was a little concerned about messing up my running schedule but wanted to take part of the group outing so took a chance and threw my running plan out the window. We rented a 5 BR home and spent Friday through Monday playing tennis, eating and playing games. Such a great time! I brought my running shoes thinking I might get my 8 miles in that were on the calendar but when I saw the hills I quickly changed my mind! We are talking serious hills…

Some shots from the weekend...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Food of the week...

As I might have mentioned before, CR and I tend to have odd schedules so there is definitely not a traditional, sit down together type meal in the evenings. Most weekends, I make one big pot of something and we eat that for the week, mixing in other things for variety. Last week it was vegetable soup that you might remember from a previous post. The funny thing about the soup was as I was letting it simmer I decided to go take a quick shower. I forgot to turn the eye down from "high" to "simmer" so by the time I got done it had reduced a bit. Not like a balsamic reduction or anything and there was no scraping food remnants off the bottom of the pot but the volume had definitely gone down.

As CR is eating the soup last night, he was going on about how great it was and how much thicker it was than usual. "Whatever you did this time, you need to do to it every time". LOL. From now on, taking a shower while the soup is on high and risking burning down the house will be part of the recipe.

Soup was soooooo last week. The big pot of something for this week is Beef Spinach Lasagna. My favorite boot camp instructor and all around training superstah, Herb Cables sent me this one. High marks. CR does not eat much spinach and he loved this dish! It has some unusual ingredients like nutmeg and red pepper flakes that give it a great flavor. If you are interested in Fitness Competitions or Bodybuilding, check out Herb's site here. He is quite the expert!

Beef and Spinach Lasagna

Makes 8 Servings

• 1 pound Extra Lean Ground Beef (I am thinking you could sub in turkey or a veg like carrots and squash here)

• 2 cup Fat Free Ricotta Cheese (I actually used cottage cheese)

• 2 big handfuls of Spinach

• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flake

• 1 box of Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles (cooked)

• 3 cups of Tomato Sauce (your choice of sauce)

• 1 teaspoon Basil

• 1 1/3 cup Low-Fat Mozzarella

• Salt and Pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat baking dish with no-stick spray.

2. Microwave spinach for about a minute until they soften

3. In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, spinach, black pepper, salt, basil and nutmeg. Mix well.

4. Place a large no-stick skillet over medium heat until hot.

Crumble the beef into the skillet. Cook, for 5 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink. Add the pepper flakes

5. Layer the bottom of the prepared baking dish with 3 of the lasagna noodles (must be cooked). Top with 1 cup of the tomato sauce and 1/3 of the beef. Spread the ricotta mixture over the beef and sprinkle with 1/3 cup of the mozzarella.

6. Top with a layer of noodles. Repeat the operation 2 times. Cover the last layer of noodles with 1/3 of mozzarella

7. Cover with foil and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbling and heated through.

Nutritional Facts (Per Serving)

• Calories: 290

• Protein: 27g

• Carbohydrates: 32g

• Fat: 6g

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Views from a run...

Today was my last long run before my taper begins. I have mixed feelings about the upcoming Chickamauga Marathon. Mostly excitement with a little fear of the unknown stirred in. This may sound odd but mentally I see this as a training run. I have no real expectation of a time goal, I just want to have a good race. For me, this race is sort of the gateway to the beginning of my Goofy Challenge training so it may be the anticipation of the Goofy that has given me such a relaxed outlook on Chickamauga.

The only two things that have me a little nervous about Chickamauga are that it is such a small race and it is a no headphones race. I am an attention deficit disorder runner. I LOVE the distraction of big races. There will be no bands, cheerleaders or Disney characters lining the civil war battlefield. The race field is limited to 700 runners which makes me think that there may be stretches where there are few people in sight. I guess that will give me a challenge. I must entertain myself for four hours. Shocking, I know... LOL.

As promised, here are a few sights from today's 11 miler at Stone Mountain. Unfortunately, the best sight of the day ws not captured on film. I was passed by a cyclist wearing one of those silver plastic "sweat" suits from the 80s. When he got up to speed, his plasticy suit blew up like Violet, the blueberry girl, from Willy Wonka. I was trying to decide if it was a Halloween costume or an unintended effect. I am pretty sure it was the latter.

Stone Mountain is a little conflicted on how to decorate for Halloween...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Three bits of randomness ...

It is Thursday after all.

1. After 2 years of owning my Garmin 305, I finally decided to look up how to mark each mile as a lap so I can look at paces after long runs without downloading the data. Why did I wait so long??? I know... The funny thing is I had it on at a race last February. The guy next to me at the start line glanced at this rather large piece of equipment on my wrist and asked me what time it was. I had to admit that I didn't know how to look it up on the Garmin. LOL. He sort of shuffled away from me like I was a big doofus. (Does anyone use that word anymore?). I made it a point to figure that out afterwards. No one has ever asked me since, but if they do I am ready!

2. I have changed up my routine and run after work twice this week instead of getting up early and going to the gym. It has been kind of nice. Weather has been in the 70s and Fall colors are starting to peek out. I am planning to meet back up with my group on Saturday AM to get 12 miles in. They might be shocked to see me 2 weeks in a row. Perhaps I should come bearing gifts. Side note, I ordered the Island Nectar flavor GU that was on special last week and just got it. Is it weird that I am looking forward to my long run so I can try the new flavor? Don't answer that.

3. I am getting my "natural" blond restored on Saturday. Woo hoo! Waaaaaay overdue due to a last minute work meeting that was tossed at me on the day and time of my previous appointment. It felt wrong to tell my boss I couldn't go because I had a hair appointment. Sacrifices must be made.... At this point, I either have to get my hair done or resort to wearing ski caps everywhere to cover my roots while my friends adopt my new nickname of "skunk". decisions, decisions...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Running in packs...

This week, after weeks (or more like it - MONTHS) of neglecting my group, I went back for a run. The timing was right. I had guilt of not having shown up to their oh-so-early runs since June and more importantly they were running somewhere that was reported to be... FLAT! As someone who had 20 miles on the schedule this weekend, flat looked pretty good. I don't get a lot of flat around here. Not that we have mountain ranges as such but it is hard to avoid hilly runs in my area of town. Needless to say, we weren't running on my side of town.

The call of the early morning Saturday run is hard for me for a couple of reasons. I have tennis on Friday nights and my CSA pickup on Saturday AM. Luckily for me, the Friday night match was a quick one and I had chosen to skip my CSA pickup this week. (Side note, we have become so accustomed to our weekly veggie pick up that even veggie hatin' CR was a little horrified that we wouldn't have fresh cucumbers, tomatoes and other veggies this week). I would give up my CSA bag every week, or at least arrange for a different pick up day, if all my runs could be as effortless as it was this week.

I hopped in the car at 6 AM to head across town to the Alpharetta Greenway. It was about a 45 minute drive from my house but absolutely worth it. Most in the group were running from 6 to 8 miles that day so my plan was to run with the group for the first bit and then conquer the last 12 on my own.

If you live in the area, you have to check out this greenway. I have heard it can become crowded so I may have just hit it at a good time but it did not seem overly crowded to me at all. The path itself was made of concrete and was flat as promised. In fact, the only hills were slight inclines leading to bridges.

The first 6 miles were easy and done before I knew it. I managed to pick up a second group that was headed out for 8 more miles as I was finishing my first 6 which meant that I only had to run 6 miles on my own. By the time we looped back around and I hit the 14 mile mark, I only had 6 more to go which seemed like a breeze! I really did not feel tired at all until mile 19 which was a miracle considering the less than comfortable long runs I have had this summer. My legs were a little difficult to unfold from the car after the hour ride home but all in all I felt pretty good.

My takeaway from the day was never underestimate the value of running in groups. I was doubting my ability to get 20 miles in on my own and the group helped make it seem easy. I might even have to start showing my face on a regular basis ... Who needs fresh cucumbers? ;)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Virtual Racing...

Have you seen the press release from Lifetime Fitness about their new relay options for the Toyota Triathlon series? There are two new facets to bring people to the series, the "fantasy" and "match" options.

The fantasy is a little like a fantasy football league with a "non fantasy" leg thrown in. From what I understand, you choose one leg of the race to run yourself and then pick your fantasy people to run the other two. So if I decide to do the swim leg, I can pick Chrissie Wellington to bike and Sarah Haskins for the run. They take my time and then add in the time of the other two ladies. Might be a little too "virtual" for me. It seems like it would feel incomplete somehow. No one to hand off the timing chip to, no teammates to cheer on. You step out of the lake and you are done. A little odd. Maybe it is just me.

I do like the "match" option. Basically, you put your name on a list and the race director matches you up with a relay team. I think that is a great idea and am surprised there isn't something in place for that already. I can think of plenty of races where I would have been up for leg of the race but not the full thing and didn't have enough people to make up a relay. What do you think?

In the non-virtual race world, have you seen the coupon code going around? The Rock N Roll series is offering a $20 discount on any of their upcoming races. The catch is the code is only good on 10/10/10.

SAVE $20 on 10/10/10
For one day only!

On October 10, 2010
SAVE $20 on ANY race in the
Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series

Use Online Code: SAVEON10
Coupon is only valid on 10/10/10 from 10A to 10P PST.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What are you afraid of...

I got stuck in a bathroom stall this week. Again. As I shimmied out from underneath yet another bathroom door, I realized I may now be developing some sort of unnatural fear of bathroom stalls. It could have been worse, at least this time I was in tennis gear. The last time I was at our corporate office on the executive floor in a suit. As I shimmied out from under the door then, I could only pray that none of the other “suits” decided to pop into the bathroom. Crisis averted.

I have a 20 miler on the schedule this weekend. I can feel myself beginning to fear it. Maybe not fear so much as a weird mix of excitement and a feeling of not being sure if I can do it. It is not like I haven’t conquered that distance before. I think the summer heat has really played a number on my confidence. The plan this week is to get up early, grab my CSA bag from the farmer’s market and head straight out to run. It has been wonderfully fall like here with some 50s and 60s in the AM so I will have no excuses. I am pumped to get ‘er done and conquer the doubts!

Four weeks until the Chickamauga marathon! Since it is only 2 months before the Goofy Challenge at Disney, I am planning on doing Chickamauga more as a training run with no specific time goal in mind. Enjoy the race, finish it and be proud – those are my three goals for Chickamauga. Ironically, they will probably be the same goals as I have for the Goofy. Why get too creative and confuse things? Since Chickamauga is a civil war battlefield, my Aunt asked me if I was going to dress up like a re-enactment character. As much as I would love to run 26.2 miles dressed like Laura Ingalls I am going to have to pass on that idea unless someone wants to follow me in a covered wagon with snacks, water and supplies....

In other news, there must something to that moderation thing… the bag of Hershey’s Kisses I received for the moderation nation project is still alive and well. Normally, CR would have killed it on the first night!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It is all about moderation...

Upon my arrival home this afternoon, I was greeted with a mysterious box by my front door. Kick off shoes. Throw purse on the floor. Tear open box.

Hershey's Chocolates via My Blog Spark sent me a box of treats to promote their Moderation Nation campaign. It is a pretty clever idea (Lord knows, CR enjoyed receiving a bag of Hershey Kisses in the mail...). The idea behind the campaign is to educate people that they don't have to deprive themselves to lead healthy, active lifestyles. Moderation, not deprivation is the key. Check out their site for links and suggestions on menus and activities that help you find your balance.

In other news...

Do any of you read Frayed Laces? She is racing the Ironman World Championship in Kona on October 9th. Absolutely incredible and inspiring, you have to check out her blog! Anyhow, she had a link on her website for a great deal on GU. If purchase any GU product through their website, you get a FREE 6 pack of their new Island Nectars flavor. The 6-pack normally sells for $15 so if you need to stock up on GU anyhow, now would be a great time. Order your GU products here.

and finally....

Atlanta has kicked Fall into high gear! I took a day off yesterday and the weather was glorious! I spent the morning on a 5 mile run and then headed over to the tennis courts to take part in a tennis fundraiser for the Komen 3 Day Breast Cancer walk. I think the temperature was in the low 60s for my run and a high of 70 for the day. WOO HOO - no more high temperature torture training runs!

This is a fallback weekend for me on the marathon training schedule. I am going to soak up some awesome fall weather with lots of tennis in the plans. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Six weeks and counting...

A month has passed and I keep inching closer and closer to the Chickamauga Marathon in November. I had to check out the reviews and website to remind myself how much I CAN NOT WAIT for it! It is reported to be a incredible, small and scenic race. Runner up in the Runner's World poll for most scenic marathon and third place for overall best marathon. Can't go wrong with any of that from what I can tell! Six weeks. Tick. Tock.

Training is just kind of mediocre at this point. I am making my miles but they aren't exactly comfortable. I am attributing some of it to the heat. I absolutely should be getting up earlier on Saturday's for my long run but have been doing most around noon which is 90 degree heat is not ideal as anyone would know. I have sort of a Saturday ritual that gets in my way. I like to call it sleeping late. Some people call it catching zzzzs. Call it what you like. I need my rest. I am an 8 hour a night person. By Friday night, I am in serious sleep deficit and catch up on Saturday. It is a trade off. My legs may be fresh when I run but it easily 15 to 20 degrees warmer when I get out there.

Last week was 17 miles. It actually was not too bad until the last 3 miles and those seemed to last forever! I finally finished The Help. Loved it right down to the end. I am now on to Freedom, the new Oprah pick. Not that I usually go with Oprah's picks but I have to admit, it looked like a good one. So far, it is pretty enjoyable.

I broke up with Hal Higdon this past week. No particular reason, just trying to freshen up a bit. My new BF is Team Continuum. I am using the intermediate training plan. I know, it really is not all that different from Hal's plan. I think I like the idea of my mid-week runs being X minutes instead of a specific mileage. Somehow mentally it seems more palatable and as we have discussed it is SO mental. Who is up for 20 on Saturday? Here we go!

In other news, CR finally found a job that suits him. It has been a couple of years of a hodge podge of business plans, rebuilding motorcycles and home improvement sales. This one just fell in his lap. He told me last night that it is the first time in his life he truly LOVES his job. How lucky is that? I don't think I can say I have ever had a job I loved. I have liked a few, enjoyed the people and what not but never love. I might be jealous. What a relief in so many ways.

Have a great day!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Getting in the long run...

The irony of my life is that while I LOVE plotting out my training schedules and penciling in each future workout in great organized detail, I find myself rarely sticking to the plan. I try to remember if I followed "the plan" for my last marathon but it has been longer than 24 hours ago and simply cannot recall. My guess would be no. Don't get me wrong, I follow the long runs religiously, it is just the mid-week runs that suffer. You know, the ones that really make the long runs easier. Or at least that is my theory... The mid week base building would make the long runs less of a torture test and more of "slightly longer" run.

My week usually ends up as a juggling act. Fitting in tennis, fitting in dishes/laundry/insert household needs here, fitting in strength classes at the gym or whatever I think I might be lacking or strikes my fancy. If I have tennis practice until 10:00 PM on Monday, my Tuesday AM run becomes a no go. (Unfortunately, I am one of those people that requires a minimum of 8 hours of sleep. Anything less and by Friday I am a walking zombie.) As always, I have too many things I want to do (i.e. group runs on Saturday AM conflict with Zumba on Saturday AM) and not enough time to figure it all out.

I think today's 15 miler was a victim of not enough base building, too much personal stress and anything else I might like to blame. I knew when I woke up that my legs were feeling overworked but also knew I had 15 miles in pencil on the calendar that I could not ignore. OK, I could ignore it but as we all know the miles just keep compounding so you know the issue here. I set out on my run and did get my 15 miles in but wasn't happy with the way it went down. A whole lot more walking than running. In the end I got in the miles. I don't really count it as a successful training run but... at least I kept my legs moving. I am not really sure what the issue was, I KNOW I could do better at mid week runs. I also know that I am under a ton of personal stress right now so I wonder if the mental part is what might be bringing me down. In the end, I am proud that I kept going regardless of how it got done. Sometimes, half the battle is just overcoming yourself, right?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Do I Smell Bacon?...

After 19 years of marraige, the anniversary gifts become less and less creative. At some point you kind of have everything you need or maybe you are just content with not exchanging gifts. Last weekend's anniversary offering was me making bacon and pancakes for breakfast. CR literally has no sense of smell since the accident so it was odd that he thought he smelled the bacon as it cooked. That was last week. This Saturday's exchange went something like this:

CR: Do I smell bacon?
me: No.
CR: Do I smell pancakes?
me: Nice try...

My CSA pick up is on Saturday mornings so I typically roll out of the house around 8:30 to make my pickup and then go on my long run. Today's pick up was looking pretty good.

A couple of unusual eggplant looking items. Odd looking and no real idea of what to do with them. I guess my non-farming experience is showing this week...

As I pulled out of the farmer's market, there was a light drizzle and cooler than normal temperatures. My plan for heading back for a long run session with Raven and Hannah Montana suddenly seemed less than tempting. Something about running in the rain seemed to be just what I needed. I pointed the car to Stone Mountain.

I pulled in to a spot, tied my car key to my shoe for safekeeping and turned on my ipod. Today's plan was to knock down 12 miles. On my Ipod I have been listening to The Help by Kathryn Stockett. At this point I am half way through the book and absolutely love it. Honestly, I hate to turn the ipod off at the end of my workout. I have always loved reading since I was young. I can remember reading for entire weekends. It feels like a cop out to listen to a book but it is so enjoyable on a long run. This particular book is set in Jackson, MS in the early 60s during the civil rights movement. My Mother was born and raised in the Jackson area and still lives there so I think that connection might make the book all that more fascinating to me.

The first 5 mile lap around the mountain seemed to go so quickly. I made a quick stop at the car to pull the sweaty mess that was my hair into a ponytail. The temperature was starting to heat up and the humidity must have been 100%. Seriously. I munched half a Marathon bar and took in some water then took off for lap number two. Oddly enough, I normally use GU gels to refuel but the last two weeks I have refueled with Marathon bars and it has worked very well. I was not sure how they would digest on the run but I haven't had any issues.

I wrapped up lap two to complete 10 miles and was starting to feel it. I had that internal debate you probably know very well. Should I keep going and be happy with 10 or just suck it up and do the 12? I decided to suck it up. I ran another mile past the car and turned around and came back to make it 12 miles. WOO HOO! While it wasn't overly easy, it did feel easier than the 10 miles I did a few weeks back so I am making progress. While it is so easy to lose running condition, I guess it is just as easy to get it back. I think the trick might be to set yourself up for a good run by being attuned to what will get you through any given run. Last week, for me it was the treadmill. Today, it was a run in the rain with a good book. Do what works and enjoy it.

Oh and when you are done, enjoy that runner's high. I did. I used my runner's high spurt of energy to make some treats...

CR: Do I smell cookies?
me: No.
CR: What are these?
me: cookies.
CR: Will I like them?
me: No. (I kid...)