Monday, October 31

How much candy?

24.7 pounds = per capita consumption of candy in the U.S. in 2010.
According to Google, 1 pound = 453.59 grams.
According to my personal candy stash, a 58.7 gram Snickers bar* has 280 calories.

With some fancy math, we can figure out that it takes about 7.73 Snickers bars to make a pound, which adds up to 2,165 calories per pound of candy (give or take a calorie).

Multiply that by 24.7 pounds...
and you get more than 53,400 calories worth of candy consumed per year, per capita, in the U.S.

Divide that by an approximate 105 calories per mile run
...and you would need to run more than 509 miles (19 marathons!) to burn off the average American's annual candy consumption!

*Note: I used what I had available. Different candies might yield somewhat higher or lower results.

Data sources:
U.S. Census Bureau, Current Industrial Reports, Confectionery: 2010
Google Calculator
Runner's World "How Many Calories Are You Really Burning?"
Author's calculations

Haunted Halloween hash

On my life list of running I can check off:

Running at night
Trail running
Running in costume
Hashing

But trail running, in costume, in the dark, for a hash run?
Now I can check that off too!


The weekend's Haunted Halloween Hash run was a trail "run" that started after dark and wound through an oak forest. We ran the streets from our starting point to the trailhead, but despite flashlights, we slowed to a brisk walk once we left the pavement. (I still got whacked by a few unseen branches... )

The hares claim that the trail was "only" two miles, but when you're walking through unfamiliar woods, in the dark, with only the occasional glow stick marking the way, the trip seems much longer than two miles! Toward the end I started to worry that we were going in circles. (I'm pretty sure black-and-orange knee highs + a tech t-shirt are not acceptable attire for a night spent sleeping in the woods.)

Hubby added that bouncing through the woods with flashlights reminded him of a creepy scene from Blair Witch.

Which brings me to the haunting...
One of the "ghouls" got me good! I knew there would be hashers hiding behind trees to jump out and scare us. I heard the screams of a group up ahead, and knew a "haunting" was coming up. But the hidden hasher still managed to scare the bejeebers out of me!

After the run, we huddled around a bonfire, with bowls of chili and our beverages of choice. One particularly kind hasher also baked a cake to celebrate Hubby's October birthday. Aww!
Haunted photo?
We're pretty sure everyone made it back safely, but we forgot to do a headcount.

So who knows...
...maybe the woods really are haunted now?
*cue evil laughter*

Happy Halloween all!


Sunday, October 30

Caution: chafing ahead

The best thing about training runs is that they give us an opportunity to figure out what works and what doesn't work before race day. With any luck, we'll learn from trial and error about what food, hydration, pacing, clothing, and other strategies work best for us for the distance we're racing.

This weekend I learned one lesson well. (Perhaps a little too well.)

Lesson learned: I will make sure (very, very sure) that I apply Bodyglide or other goo to chafe-prone parts.

In my mad dash to get out of the house on Saturday morning, I forgot this key element of my typical pre-run routine. Now my thighs, toes, and ribcage are very angry at me. They reminded me of my forgetfulness about an hour into my two-hour run. They screamed in anger during my post-run shower. I won't be able to wear a bathing suit in public for at least a week.*

So, to see if there was anything I could do (short of buttering myself like a biscuit in Paula Deen's restaurant), I looked up chafing on MedlinePlus.

I laughed out loud at their advice:
I have to assume this anti-chafing advice was not written by a runner.
  • First of all, cotton fabric is the WORST for running-induced chafing. Ok. Maybe wool is worse. But cotton is pretty horrible. I speak from experience.
  • Second: The "appropriate clothing for the activity" advice directly contradicts bullet point number 1. There is no such thing as 100% cotton cycling shorts.
  • Third: Sure "avoid the activity" sounds great. Oh, wait "unless it is... exercise." What kind of chafing is this person talking about? Ohhhhh.... nevermind.
  • Fourth: Clothing stays neither clean, nor dry, on a two-hour run. This is my proof that the author is a non-runner.
  • Fifth... Ok. Now we're talking. Which brings me back to my original point: BODYGLIDE.
I suppose it's best that I was reminded of this lesson before race weekend. I made this mistake one time several years ago and wound up with wetsuit chafing around my neck after an Olympic-distance tri. (Sand, salt water, and a mis-measured mile swim made for some raw skin... Try explaining that one to the coworkers. "Really! It was from a race!") You'd think that after a stunt like that, I'd never make the mistake again... but at least this time I goofed up in training and not on race day!

Do you have any anti-chafing suggestions?
Have you ever goofed up royally on a training run?


*For those of you who survived Snowtober and can't imagine going to the beach this week: It is still mid-70s and sunny in Florida... But before you get jealous, just remember: summer here is 3-digit temperatures, mosquitoes the size of your cat, and fog-on-the mirrors humid. We get two, maybe three, weeks of truly pleasant weather all year. Don't be jealous.

Saturday, October 29

Another runner costume

Hubby and I needed new runner-friendly costumes for the Halloween Hash run.
I used my road runner idea earlier this week.
So...
Meet our pumpkins!
Costume instructions:
  • You'll need a bright orange shirt* and some black duct tape.
  • Cut duct tape into the shape of jack-o-lantern eyes and mouth and stick the tape to the shirt. (Note: cutting duct tape is a little tricky, but with some patience I put both shirts together in about half an hour.)
  • Wear this shirt with black or grey shorts, running shoes.
  • For bonus points add black-and-orange socks, jack-o-lantern earrings, or pumpkin "leaf" headwear (which you cannot see well in the photo, but trust me, we were rocking the leaves).
To be honest: I never thought I'd turn into one of those people who dresses like my significant other. But the overall effect of the costume was more striking with two of us. What? We blinded the other runners with the brightness of our orange shirts? Nonsense!

Do you and your S.O. ever dress alike?

*We found two wicking-material long-sleeve shirts -- cheaper than a "costume" and re-useable for winter running and hiking!

Friday, October 28

No better way to experience a place

I love to travel + I love to run = Best way to see a new place is to run through it.

Apparently I'm not the only one...

This showed up in the week's Runner's World Quote of the Day emails:
There is no better way to experience a place than to run it. You get to experience the deep crevices of an area, the senses beyond the visual, something you would never do if you didn't run.
Tawnya MacNeil, Runner's World Challenger
I recently had the opportunity to run in Tallahassee, and have an upcoming work trip that will give me a whole week to run in San Diego. (Best running city in the world! Oh wait... I might be a biased judge...)

I keep a list of all of the places I've run, and get a warm feeling in my heart when I get to add a new city to the list.

Do you run when you travel?
Where is your favorite place to run?

Thursday, October 27

Thursday thanks

I have a handful of things to be thankful for this week. It was hard to pick just one, so I didn't.

First, a huge thanks to Gracie, at How I Complicated My Life Today for sharing information about the Rock 'n' Roll NOLA race discount.* Thanks to the New Orleans Saints for winning last Sunday's game by 55 points, and thanks to the Colts for... well... for not showing up to that game.
Total race savings for two entries: $110.

Who said blogging doesn't pay?
And who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?


Second, Hubby is an October baby. I normally don't get all mushy about him on the blog, but birthday month is an acceptable exception. He is smart, kind, thoughtful, and one helluva fast runner. (He makes a pretty good running buddy, too. I had to get faster just to try to keep up!)

Since I met Hubby, I regularly feel like I won the lottery.
Happy Birthday Honey!

And last, but not least, after last weekend's hip incident, I send my thanks to SUAR for a reminder that a crappy run does not have to be crappy:
"I mean, really. Even if you are puking or being carried off in as stretcher with a broken leg, how can you not appreciate the beauty around you? Being grateful for these gifts takes the edge off of our own personal crises. Sometimes we just need to get over ourselves and our drama."
So in that spirit, I've got plenty to be thankful for!

What are you thankful for right now?

*Note: The discount is still in effect for any Saints victory, but apparently the Competitor Group doesn't want to lose $385,000 again (7,000 entries x $55 discount each!), so they've capped the discount to three touchdowns. Still $18 off $14* isn't bad.
*correction issued. The cap is $14, even if they win by 3 touchdowns.

Wednesday, October 26

Dress up dash

Last night was the local running club's annual Halloween run.
Have you ever needed an idea for the easiest runner-friendly costume EVER?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present...
the Road Runner costume
Don't mind me, I'm just trying to blend in with the road.
Costume instructions:
  • You'll need black or dark grey clothing, including a t-shirt that you're willing to "ruin," and some yellow paint.
  • Paint two parallel yellow stripes down the middle of the t-shirt. (Paint one solid stripe and one dashed, if you want to get really fancy.)
  • Wear this shirt with black or grey shorts, running shoes, and for bonus points add a black-and-yellow mask and carry a toy car.
I think it's a pretty clever costume. Unfortunately it was not clever enough to win the costume contest. (I'll admit that I recycled this costume from a couple of years ago... but no one in FL knows that!)

The contest winner was a man in a very tight guy-slutty-police-officer costume. All I can say is: his shorts were definitely tighter than mine...

What's the best/funniest/most clever costume you've seen on the run?

Tuesday, October 25

Spotlight

Good morning all and Happy Tuesday!

This morning yes, folks. i run like a girl is featured in the Blog Spotlight section of Fitblogger!


Monday, October 24

HUGE race discount for NOLA half (March 4)

A little birdie told me...
That tonight until midnight (or from noon-midnight following ANY Saints victory) you can get a discount off of Rock-n-Roll New Orleans race entry fee. The discount is $1 for every point the Saints score over their competitor (no discount if they lose).
Tonight's savings is $55 due to the complete collapse of the Colts...
Sorry Colts fans, but your loss is my extra Hurricane after the race!

See: http://runrocknroll.competitor.com/2011/09/new-orleans/saints-victory-savings_19053 for more details.


Supremely productive day

Today I gave the hip a rest and put my energy into other projects.
Maybe this is over-achieving for a Monday, but I...
The bread: ready for its close-up.
  • Finished grading papers
  • Had a very productive day at the "day job"
  • Baked bread and made a big batch of vegetarian tortellini soup for Meatless Monday (oh... the joys of working from home... you can start dough on your lunch break and have fresh bread for dinner!)
  • Did (gentle) yoga stretches while the bread was baking
  • Scheduled a much-needed sports massage
  • Re-organized the refrigerator and pantry
  • Started building my training plan for the winter months... I know it's not even Halloween yet, but there's no time like the present to start training for spring races!
  • Speaking of Halloween... I dug my favorite running costume out of the mothballs for this week's Haunted Hash Run and other holiday running adventures...
I'm in the black and yellow.
Can you tell what I am?
PS - I'll post the answer later this week.
Cue contented/exhausted sigh!
Now it's time to catch up on Monday Night Football.

Are you doing any dress-up dashes for Halloween this year?
If so, what are you planning for your costume?
Do you plan your costume to be running-friendly, or do you just go for the most memorable getup you can think of?

Sunday, October 23

Keep going? Or not?

Yesterday Hubby and I went for a "hike" (ok, a glorified off-road walk) at the University of West Florida cross-country trails. These signs were my favorite part of the adventure:
Caution: You may encounter poisonous snakes
and alligators in this area.
We saw fish, turtles, squirrels (including an albino squirrel!) and birds... but no gators or snakes. I'm a little bummed about that. I live in a swamp, yet the only gator I've ever seen in the wild was in South Carolina!

How often do you get to go for a walk or run where the wildlife might eat you?

Today was our scheduled long-run day in preparation for an upcoming half marathon. Hubby knocked out exactly 13.1 miles. I, on the other hand, had "issues."

I have been trying to ignore nagging hip pain on my runs for the past couple of weeks, but this morning the offending hip was worse. I stretched and foam-rolled before the run. Yet the hip didn't ease up after the first 15 minutes of running like it usually does. So I had an epic "should I keep going or not?" battle raging in my head for nearly two hours.
My run / don't run brain fought like these sea lions...
Keep going: Run my planned 12 miles, despite the hip pain.
Not: Risk aggravating what is clearly an injury.
Keep going: Suck it up. After all: No pain. No gain.
Not: Skip my 12 today, hit the foam roller, and try again tomorrow.
Keep going: There is only one more long run between now and the race. This is crucial training time!
Not: You might not be able to race at all if you make this injury worse.
Keep going: You're being a wuss!
Not: You'd be stupid to push this! This isn't just tired muscles!
You know it's bad when your mind starts calling itself names...

And, of course, this debate was in full swing as I was out on the road slogging along. (Do as I say, not as I do?)

In the end I decided on a middle-of-the-road course of action. When the hip showed no signs of loosening up, I adopted a run 10 / walk 5 strategy. (And yes, I am ashamed to admit, on my running blog, that I walked so much of my morning "run." I am also embarrassed to admit that I continued running when I probably should not have...) I finished something closer to 9 miles than the planned 12.

Over post-run breakfast, Hubby and I were debating the "should haves" again. His perspective was:
"If you had asked me this three years ago, I'd have said 'suck it up.' But now I know powering through can make things worse, so I'd say 'this won't be a PR race for you anyway, so you risk more with injury than with miles at this point'."
That perspective should make me feel better... but I still feel like a wuss for my poor performance this morning.

And yet I also worry that I pushed too hard this morning for "junk" miles when I should have just called today a rest day and tried again tomorrow.

ARGH!!!

Maybe I'll go back to focusing on 5ks...

Do you ease up when you feel joint pain, or do you push through it?
Do you feel nagging guilt when you cut a run short?


Photo (of sea lions) courtesy of Liz Noffsinger / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Friday, October 21

Set up on a (running) blind date!

This blog post comes to you live* from Florida State University. I drove in at the crack of dawn yesterday morning.

The work/academic portion of my visit has been fantastic so far, but what I really want to tell you about is the running. (Of course!) And I really want to share my first "blind date" story with you! (Note to Hubby: just keep reading.)

Before the trip, I exchanged emails with one of the professors here. Unfortunately, I used the wrong signature block on one of my emails. Rather than list my professional contact information, I accidentally used the signature block that says:

San Diego / Pensacola / i-run-like-a-girl.blogspot.com

Oops!

In correspondence with a professional colleague, my signature should have listed my "day job" and my teaching gig, not announced that I run like a girl!

Fortunately, this story has a happy ending. The professor clicked on the link, realized I'm a running fanatic (who? me?), and sent my contact info to one of his students who is ALSO an avid runner. She and I got together for a run this morning before work, and I'm very glad we did!

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about a running blind date. What if she was way faster than me? (She is.) What if we have nothing to talk about? (Um... that would never happen with two running geeks. Why was I worried?) What if she's a running skirt-wearer and looks down upon my collection of mismatched race T-shirts and time-worn shorts? (Also turned out not to be a problem... She was wearing a race shirt, too!)

My pre-run anxieties were just like a blind date! (And I'm a married woman, for Pete's sake! I'm supposed to be past pre-date jitters!)

I can't speak for Runner-Student** but I thoroughly enjoyed our morning run. 7am is much darker here than it is at home. (Hello new time zone!) While I've been known to throw caution to the wind for the sake of running, I've never been in Tallahassee before, so I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to run alone, in the dark, through a strange college campus. (Ok. Let's be honest. I would not have run through campus in the dark. I'd have wussed out and run on a dreadmill at the hotel gym.) Having company was a huge bonus this morning.

Plus, while RS and I were talking, I discovered that the match-making professor also used to be a runner and would organize group runs for conference attendees. I have no idea why the tradition ended, but you can bet we'll be bringing the group run back at the next conference!

RS and I ran around campus, stopped at the track so I could get some sprints in (so thoughtful of RS!), and ran back. I have no idea what route we took or how far we went. I tried to map our route upon return to the hotel, but quickly realized that I have no idea exactly which turns we took. I do know that we ran from the east end of campus to the west end, and that we ran past a cemetery and crossed one busy road... It was dark. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it!

The campus is quite a bit hillier than I was expecting for a Florida run, but it felt good to run on rolling hills again! The fact that it was a glorious 38 degrees outside when we started certainly didn't hurt either! (Hello autumn! I'm so happy to see you again!)

So, all in all, this was a great way to start the day!
Now it's time to get back to work...

Have you ever had someone "set you up" for a running date? (Purely platonic, of course.)

This is definitely my first "running blind date" ever, but it was an excellent experience!


*Ok... by the time you read this, I'll have moved on. But you get the idea.
**By now you know I don't use names unless I get the person's permission to do so. ;-)

Thursday, October 20

Thursday thanks

This Thursday Thanks is brought to you by the magical powers of coffee.

By the time you read this, I will have been on the road for at least two hours en-route to a work event.

Coffee: You make it possible for me to wake up at ungodly hours to log my weekend long runs, and you make it possible to drive long distances before the sun even rises. My life would be dull without you.

Thank you, coffee. Thank you.


(Hopefully I will soon have fabulous stories to tell about running in a new city. But for now, I just need a refill.)

Wednesday, October 19

Dog chases and birthday races

This morning was one of those runs... The kind that should be excellent (62 degrees! Sunny!) but just wasn't. I ran last night and generally don't do two runs in 12 hours, but my schedule for the rest of this week is a mess, I needed to get a run in, and it was just so gorgeous outside!

I slogged through my planned 3.7 miles. Why 3.7 miles? Because Jess, over at Run With Jess, is having a virtual race, "The Cupcake Classic," to celebrate her 37th birthday. In honor of this event, I did two 3.7 mile runs in the past 24 hours, including last night's run club birthday bash (a regular 5k to which I added a 0.6 mile warmup).
Cupcakes to celebrate the Cupcake Classic

So... two days, two runs, to celebrate two birthdays!

This should be cake, right?
(Sorry... bad pun.)

Unfortunately this morning's run was not nearly as much fun as a birthday party should be. It was more like: keep putting left foot in front of right. Switch. Repeat. Try not to think about running. Watch the pelicans.

And in the last mile, I started thinking "I'll be home in just a few more minutes!"
And then...
I was chased by a dog!
I only wish the dog-chasing had been in this direction!
I'd like to say this was a first-time occurrence for being chased by a canine, but northwest Florida has the most relaxed dog-leash culture of anywhere I've ever lived or traveled. This was, however, the first time I was chased by a dog at least as big as me. Not fun!

Fortunately, dog-on-the-loose did (sort of) listen when I stopped and shouted at him to "go home!" But, as with all dog-chasing cases, as soon as you start moving away they think "game on!" (Oh... if I could only find his owners and give them a piece of my mind!)

Don't get me wrong, I love our furry friends. And it is exactly because I love pets that this situation makes me angry. Dog owners: your pooch is not safe running in the street, chasing cars (and runners)! I have to wonder: Do you really want your dog getting hit by a car? Or pepper sprayed by a more anxious runner? Probably not. So, for the love of Pete, keep Fido at home!!!
Bad dog!
Ever been chased by a dog?
What did you do?

Photos courtesy of the State Library and Archives of Florida, and the State Library of New South Wales.

Tuesday, October 18

Tuesday 5k and run-club birthday bash

Don't try to drive through downtown Pensacola on a Tuesday evening.* Every week 300(ish) runners take to the streets for a free, weekly 5k "fun run" hosted by McGuire's Run Club(Unsurprisingly, there are fewer runners when temperatures climb into the 100s, and there are more runners when there is free beer).

The tradition started seven years ago, right after Hurricane Ivan. McGuire's Irish Pub wanted to do something to give back to the community, which was still reeling from storm damage... and from that one idea, a tradition was born.

McGuire's staff say that about two dozen people attended the inaugural run, and they were thrilled when they reached 50 runners. Now the weekly event requires a police escort (note: thank you police officers!!!) and over the past seven years more than 11,000 runners have run the 3.1 miles route along Pensacola Bay. (Yes. Hubby and I count for 2 of those 11,000.)

To celebrate their 7th birthday, the restaurant (also a brewery) provided two kegs of their beer to thank the runners who attended. (Happy birthday to us!) And it's almost my one year anniversary with the run club, too! (Like I need an excuse to celebrate running?)
I think this is the first (and probably last) time I
color-coordinated with my beer.
Thanks McGuire's!


Does your hometown have any running traditions?
Do you celebrate running anniversaries?


*Note: The traffic really is not that bad -- a 3 or 4 minute delay, tops. But tonight there was some crazy guy blaring his horn at us and shouting out the window of his car. First time I've ever seen that happen! Maybe he was trying to be funny? Either way, I'd hate to see that guy in "real" traffic!

Monday, October 17

Help! I need your input!

I need to select one blog post to submit as a Fitblogger featured blog, and I need your help!

Should I:

A: Write a new piece, summarizing "yes, folks. i run like a girl."? (This appears to be what many featured bloggers do, but I see dozens of intros that say "Hello Fitbloggers! My name is..." and my eyes glaze over. I want "yes, folks." to stand out!)

B: Select a reader-favorite post and make sure it's up-to-date? (If so, which one???)

C: Write an entirely new content piece, just for Fitblogger? (If so, what topic would you want to read about?)



Let me know what you think! Leave your suggestions in the comments.


Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution.

Sunday, October 16

Win some, lose some

Regular readers will know by now that I am happy to share my successes with you (like fast 5ks and taking home medals). In this blog I generally focus on the bright side of life (there is enough depressing news on television already). In large part, that's where the Thursday thanks series comes from.

But no life is always wine and roses.

Into every life, a little failure must fall. This weekend, in particular, was a win some / lose some kind of weekend. Friday was epic. Saturday morning was an epic fail. Friday I took home a medal for 3rd female in the CFC 5k. Saturday I received notice that my research paper did not win an award I was seeking.

Friday I was thinking:
"Hooray! I won third place!"

Saturday my thoughts were clouded by:
"Second place is the first loser."

Important side note: I have always HATED that phrase about second place.

But for the first time, I finally understand it. (Note: it is not lost on me that I was tickled pink to be third in one event, but bummed for second in another. In running, third place is still medal-place. In research awards, you don't get to put "almost-but-not-quite" on your resume.)

Fortunately, as with races, there are plenty more conferences to attend and awards to compete for.

And, as with races, I had better start putting my game plan together right now to be ready for the next one.

So I'm off to start plotting my next research project!


How do you deal with disappointing news? Do you sulk? Start planning your next attempt? Find a different hobby to distract you? All of the above?


Saturday, October 15

Cheater cheater pumpkin eater!

Quiz Question: How do you place third in a marathon?

A - You outrun all but two other people.

B - You take a bus for 10k of the 26.2, and conveniently hop back onto the course right before the finish line (making sure to do so only after runner 1 and 2 have passed, because cheating to win would be too obvious).

C - You find a way to get some obscure IAAF rule changed so that only people with your last name are eligible for third place.


So, folks, which of these things actually happened last weekend at the Kielder Marathon?
Source: The Telegraph. For original story, see link below.
If you guessed B, you are correct!

According to The Telegraph, Rob Sloan (age 31) initially expressed shock at the allegations of cheating. In fact, to make things more surreal Sloan...
"was seen boasting to reporters minutes after completing the event. He described the race as 'absolutely, unbelievably tough'. When his placing was brought into doubt, he was indignant. 'I’m upset and angry that someone wants to cast these aspersions. It’s laughable, is what it is,' he insisted."
No, dude. Laughable is your attempt to claim a marathon was "unbelievably tough" when you skipped six miles of it, hid in the woods, and jumped back on the course when you thought the coast was clear!

After race organizers launched an investigation, Sloan finally admitted to taking a bus to finish.

He has now been disqualified from the race and stripped of his medal. The race organizers have issued a press release summarizing the event.

What sort of penalty do YOU think there should there be for this kind of cheating? Suspension from running events? A fine? Tar and feathers?



Friday, October 14

Fun-filled Friday (even though it's a workday)

How to have a Friday (workday) that feels like you've already started the weekend:

Wake up at 6am.
Brush teeth.
Change into running clothes.
Place THIRD FEMALE OVERALL in a 5k.
Take ridiculous picture showing off race swag.
Buy Hubby a coffee for humoring you by taking ridiculous pictures with his cell phone so that you can post them on your blog.

Rock out to "Pumped Up Kicks" on the drive home.
Confuse fellow drivers at stop lights because you are car-dancing.



Notice fellow drivers laughing at your car-dancing.

Keep dancing anyway.

Return to home office, and start work day still in gross gym clothes, because you got home too late to take a shower.

Start working on a project that is challenging, fun, and will keep you busy long enough that you won't notice the time going by.

Be proud that you're still in your sweaty running clothes.

Dear blog readers,
I hope your whole Friday is as epic as mine has already been.
If I could bottle this feeling and share it with you all, I would.

Have a GREAT day!

PS

Special thanks to the woman who was right behind me in the final stretch. Hearing her footsteps coming up behind me pushed me HARD in that last 800 meters. Girl, you made me run faster than I thought I could run this morning! Thank you!

Thursday, October 13

Thursday thanks (versatile blogger award edition)

I've got plenty to be thankful for, since I've made the Big Time.
I've been graced with a Versatile Blogger Award!
The "official rules" of the Versatile Blogger Award are that you must: (1) Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post. (2) Share 7 things about yourself. (3) Pass this Award along to 15 recently discovered blogs.
But I'm a fan of breaking the rules. (I put more than 500 miles on every pair of running shoes, and I regularly wear white pants after Labor Day. Call me a rebel and judge me if you must.)
Sandra Day O'Connor being sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice
Because... let's admit... this award's rules make it seem a bit like a chain email (remember those from the early days of the interwebs?) or a Facebook post that warns you that you'll lose all your money, friends, and health if you don't re-post RIGHT NOW. (Why do the originators love their CAPS LOCK key so much?)

But rules or no rules, I am honored by this award.

I do want to thank Chef Mom, Chef Dad, Mr. N and Miss A over at Eat, Play, Love for suggesting that my blog was worthy of Versatile Blogger status. Their recipes, geography lessons, travelogues, and fabulous photography set them apart from other culinary blogs. (Plus it's hard not to love a blog in which the youngest child is picky about some foods, but has a deep appreciation for balsamic vinegar. Go figure.) Drop by Eat, Play, Love and say hi! You'll be glad you did.
10/30/11 Update: I also want to than Megan at Watch MeGo Run for a second nomination for the award. Her blog manages to be both upbeat and down to earth, and is one of the blogs I read regularly. Thanks Megan!
I also regularly post "gems of the web," so here are a handful of the posts I've come across this week that immediately struck me as having Versatile Blogger status. (There are plenty of excellent blogs I follow, but I am not about to count to 15 just to fill space. Just visit again soon. I post lovely new discoveries whenever I find them.)
(Ladies and gents, if you've been tagged, feel free to claim the award and skip any, or all, "rules.")

What's YOUR favorite blog?
I'm always looking for new reading suggestions!

Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives

Tuesday, October 11

A day in the life

The ever-popular Beth (no relation), over at Shut Up And Run, regularly posts "a day in the life" posts. Friday she asked readers to post their own "day in the life" adventures (or rather, non-adventures). And, of course, readers respond. Her take on a day in the life:

"Life really is made up of the ordinary moments. A cup of hot coffee. A satisfying dump. A syrupy kiss from your kid as they head out the door. Changing the sheets. Putting dinner in the crockpot. Adding finishing touches to a report. Lighting a pumpkin sugar Yankee candle and letting it burn all day, filling the house with sweet aroma and covering up the odor of the satisfying dump.
This is precisely why I like to do my “day in the life” posts. Not because my life is so exciting. It is not. But, because these posts represent the every day wonderfulness of a life full of the small, exquisite details. All of them imperfect and perfect at the same time, if you know what I mean."

(I hope to one day be as popular, influential, and well-versed in bathroom humor as the Other Beth is.)

In the meantime, here's my day in the life:

I don't start my "day job" until 10am, but I wake up at the same time as Hubby. Normally I use the morning hours to get in a run, lifting, yoga, or just a walk around my neighborhood.
"Time to make the donuts!"...or something.
If you don't understand the reference,
you're probably too young to be reading this blog.
Unfortunately, today's morning workout plans were sidelined as I had a doctor's appointment. Sitting on a cold exam table, wearing a crazy hospital gown, all I could think of is "I'd rather be running!" (Sorry, no pictures of my super fancy exam room attire.) But I suppose, in true "a day in the life" fashion, I should be glad I have health insurance and have the luxury to whine about things like having to go to the doctors instead of getting in few miles before work. It's a rough life, I know.

Freshly brewed Community Coffee with chicory --
one of the things I love best about the south.

It takes at least one cup o' joe to get me out the door, and another one before my brain is functional enough to start work for the day. (Another clever reason for the early morning wakeup time!)

Speaking of work, I work the "day job" from my home office. Today I also was informed of my spring teaching schedule (that's the "other job"). My teaching schedule conflicts with one conference I was supposed to attend, but not with any running nights. Hooray!
The home office...
Looking a little messier than usual,
but it was a busy day!
On my lunch breaks I try to get a load of laundry washed and dried. (One of the biggest perks of working from home: No weekends spent doing laundry!) But lunchtime is not long enough to fold said laundry. So the cat thinks I do this all for her entertainment. She sees laundry, and no matter what she was doing the prior moment, she dives in and builds a fort in the pile. (And my running buddies wonder why there's an occasional cat hair on my t-shirts...)
Peanut being both annoying and adorable all at the same time.
After work (if I'm not teaching) I cook dinner. Hubby does the dishes. If I am teaching, he cooks and I do dishes. We make a vegetarian meal at least one night a week, even if it's just soy "chicken" nuggets and macaroni and cheese with a side of carrot sticks. Speaking of which... tonight is veg night, and I hear an eggplant crying for attention.

And there's still yoga to do.
I can't go a whole day without a workout.
That's just crazy talk.

What's your "day in the life" story?
Did you have any perfectly ordinary, but also wonderful, moments today?

Monday, October 10

Marathon mom!

Hold the presses!
Yesterday, in the Chicago marathon, a woman finished in 6:25:50.
What?
Not an impressive time?
What about the fact that she was IN LABOR during the race?

Read the full story at ESPN or the Chicago Sun Times.
See ESPN or the Associated Press for the full story (link above).
This is definitely a story to keep in mind on upcoming track workouts and long runs. New mantra: "If she can run in labor, I can sprint another 800!" or "If she can run through contractions, a calf cramp is nothing!"

What do you think of this story?
What marathon mom running mantra would you suggest?


Mid-evening update... Kristy at Breath of Sunshine has some brilliant insights on the whole running-while-pregnant phenomenon. Her entire post is worth reading, but this section is particularly well said by another running-while-pregnant woman:
"I'm pregnant not broken. Our bodies are made to be pregnant. As woman, we are designed to have children. The human body isn’t designed for sitting on a couch with feet propped up for 10 months. Although I agree with taking certain precautions while pregnant and consulting with a doctor before taking certain risks, I think active pregnancy should be celebrated in the same way that an active lifestyle should be celebrated."

Tuesday update: Apparently there has been some confusion about this story. It is important to note that the marathon mom received permission from her doctor before participating in the race, and her husband was reportedly by her side the entire time. In addition, the Mayo Clinic provides this guidance:
If you exercised before pregnancy, you can probably continue to work out at the same level while you're pregnant — as long as you're feeling comfortable and your health care provider says it's OK. In general, you should be able to carry on a conversation while you're exercising. If you can't speak normally while you're working out, you're probably pushing yourself too hard. Remember to stretch before and after each workout. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, and be careful to avoid overheating. No matter how dedicated you are to being in shape, don't exercise to the point of exhaustion.
So... to be clear: This blog post is intended to express surprise at an amazing feat of endurance. It is not encouraging every pregnant woman to go run a marathon. It is also not condemning marathon mom. Rather, I would encourage anyone to listen to your doctor and make wise, informed choices about your fitness and the health of your baby.

Sunday soup and Monday miles

The head cold is officially over!
And I'm back on the wagon running-wise.

I hid away all weekend, drinking tea and eating spicy soup. (More on that later...)
Aside from cooking soup and sipping tea, I did absolutely nothing.
Peanut demonstrating how I spent my weekend.
I skipped the symphony. I postponed Sunday's long run (though I did shuffle through a couple of miles, just to make sure my legs still worked).

But the long run cannot be skipped just for sniffles. So I laced up my shoes and did a 90-minute run this morning before work. (This was one of those run for time, not miles, kind of days.)

Post-run I feel fantastic. And because I have to work, I have no guilt about sitting around resting my legs all day. I wonder if maybe I should do long runs on Monday mornings from now on?

Then again, maybe my high energy level is just the week-long rest talking? Or maybe last night's dinner was good running fuel?


I made a big batch of one of my all-time favorite soups: Black-Eyed-Pea, Greens & Ham (from Food and Wine). This is a recipe I make on a regular basis, but it's even better when I'm not feeling well. (It's at least as good as chicken noodle, plus it's spicy. I don't know about the rest of you, but I crave spicy foods when I'm sick. The hotter, the better.)

The best thing about this soup: it works with any bean, green, protein combo. I've used spicy andouile instead of ham (soy sausage might even work for my vegetarian friends). Collards, turnip greens, or spinach instead of chard. Black beans instead of black-eyed peas. Success each time.

Hands-down, this soup is my favorite cold-curing home remedy.

Do you ever run for time, rather than for distance?
What's your favorite cold-curing home remedy?

Sunday, October 9

Putting aside my fantasy fashionista

I had one of those slap-myself-in-the-forehead moments courtesy of Miss Minimalist's post, "Declutter Your Fantasy Self."

Doh! I am definitely guilty of fantasy #2.
"A socialite with a closet full of cocktail dresses, with shoes and bags to match… when the social event of your week is going to the coffee shop?"
I covet gorgeous, high-fashion clothes. Although I rarely admit this in the running blog universe: I read Vogue like my life depends on it. I attend art museum events and take mental notes on all of the brilliant outfits around me thinking that "someday I could look like that!"

But at heart, I'm a RUNNER. (And, ahem, I work from home. My cat cares not what I wear to the home office, as long as she's allowed to sit in my lap while I'm crunching numbers or on conference calls.)

While I'm not about to stop going to cocktail hour at the art museum, no one at the museum cares what I'm wearing, so why do I waste the mental energy (and closet space) on my fantasy fashionista?

And, maybe more importantly, someone else's "fantasty self" is fitness devotee, while I live that life to a T. I own a stationary bike, free weights, yoga mat, and half a dozen pairs of athletic shoes. My living room looks like it wants to be an Equinox gym when it grows up, and let's just say that I never have to dust the equipment.

Maybe I need to shop for a little less BCBG and a little more Brooks. After all, my $70 "splurge" on a new, matching Addidas pair of running shorts and singlet (the pride and joy of my running wardrobe!) has been put to good use every week for almost two years. On the other hand, that $70 little black dress has been worn exactly once.

Thank you, Miss Minimalist. This might just free up some closet space for a new pair of yoga pants or running tights. (After all, the cold weather is coming soon, and a new cocktail dress won't keep me warm on long morning runs.)

Do you have a fantasy self?
If so, what clutter could you get rid of?

Saturday, October 8

Links that make you think

I'm out of commission for one more head-cold-and-fever-recovery day. But in the meantime, I've had a chance to catch up on my reading. In the process I stumbled across a couple of web gems that should be shared:
If you had 6 months to live, what would you do?
What would your one-line obit say?
Maybe rest days have left me with too much time on my hands, but I've been thinking about what I'd do with only 6 months to live... Oddly (or not) I think it would look a lot like what I did this past week: some travel, some work, some running, writing and reading, going for walks on the beach, and trying new restaurants with Hubby, plus lots of time with my family.

I would definitely drink much more wine if my liver didn't need to last another 50 years. I might also do something crazy like try to run a 100-miler on not-enough-training.

But otherwise, I wouldn't change much at all.

I started to worry that this means I lack imagination, but then I realized it really means that I'm living a life I enjoy. If I get an idea for a trip or a new project, I add it to the list and get it done. (Except rock climbing... that's been on the list forever, and a friend even got me lessons for my birthday, but I still haven't checked climbing off my life list.)

Hubby suggested we could pack a couple of suitcases into a van, and travel from state to state running the most interesting routes and eating the best local foods... But that's not such big a change from the way we live now. We'd travel more (continuously, instead of 1 or 2 trips per month) and by wheels instead of wings, but otherwise the goals are the same: travel, eat, run, repeat. (It's probably good news that we have the same goals.)

I'm not sure what that turns into as a one-line obit? That requires more thought, more wine, or both...

And I really need to get on that rock climbing thing...

What would your answers be?



Friday, October 7

It's all in my head

Flu-prevention mask, circa 1918.
It's all in my head.
Literally.

I've got a sniffly, sneezy, slimy, sleazy head cold.

Today was supposed to be speedwork day. I can't go to the gym, lest I sneeze on others. I don't want to go to the track, because, quite frankly, I feel like crap.

So I'm staying in.
Already did yoga.
Will go for a lunchtime walk.
Or just eat soup.
I'll figure that out when I get there.

But I was looking forward to 800m sprints. (Dear readers: The next time I need motivation, please remind me that there are times when I really WANT to run intervals and feel cheated when I cannot.)

Speaking of feeling cheated... To this cold, I have only one thing to say:
GO AWAY!!!
You're messing with my running.*
And don't even think of sticking around for my long run this weekend.
That's not an option.

Do you keep running when you're sick?
Or do you take a day off?

*Note: If Runner's World is any indication, I'm not the only person suffering from this malaise.

Photo courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.

Thursday, October 6

Thursday thanks

This week's thanks go out to Delta Airlines. (Important note: I am not getting paid to write this - just reporting really good customer service. It's a dying art. It should be recognized when it occurs.)

I spent the better part of Monday on an airplane. (Story of my life!) Leaving New England, my flight was delayed at the gate so technicians could inspect a part on the wing. During what should have been a 2(ish)-hour flight, I spent nearly four hours with a blue seat and tray table for scenery.

Normally a 90-minute delay would have me fuming, but this one didn't, and here's why:
  • The pilot kept everyone well-informed on the status of the issue. (Ok. He was a little too informative for my tastes... I really don't want to know exactly which component on the wing has you nervous. I just want to know that you're going to fix it. But at least we received regular updates and timelines.)
  • The crew kept the air conditioning on, and walked around passing out cups of water.
  • For those who would miss a connection, the Delta gate agents re-booked everyone onto later flights, and flight attendants handed brand new boarding passes out so people wouldn't have to deal with that hassle once we landed.
  • When we did, eventually, get to our destination, the flight attendant thanked the passengers for their extraordinary level of patience. The language she used showed both that the customers aren't always so calm, and that she was truly thankful.
  • Oh... and there were free-drink-on-next-flight cards for everyone.
And yes, this "thanks" is not running related at all (except that I was more sore-and-achy than usual on Tuesday from all the extra time spent on the plane).

Tuesday, October 4

Two for Tuesday

Two runs. Two blog posts. Both completely unplanned. So today turned into a two-for-Tuesday! (Maybe not as good as Taco Tuesday, but who's counting?)

I went for a morning "shake the dust off" run to take the edge off of post-flight achiness. Sometimes the best way to work out the kinks* is to get moving.

Apparently the morning run worked well, because by 4pm I was ready for another run. I called Hubby and we made plans to do a 5k after work. (If achy limbs were like dusty furniture, I'd be 60s sitcom sparkling! My house never is, so my legs might as well be...)

When we started, I kept telling myself that I'd just run a mile, then walk the rest. After all, I had already done the run that was on my schedule.

But the farther I ran, the more convinced I was that I'd just run the whole 5k. I even had enough kick left to sprint the last quarter mile.

Honestly, I can't remember the last time I did a two-a-day run, but it felt good. I just hope my legs don't hate me tomorrow.

Do you ever run twice a day?

*No, not that kind of kinks, and not that kind of kinks either.

Photo courtesy of Nationaal Archief.

Shaking the dust off

Autumn leaves along the Housatonic River
in Stockbridge, MA
I spent almost all day yesterday on an airplane (story of my life). Between too much time wearing my over-heavy backpack and too many hours sitting in a cramped chair, I woke up today feeling like I got tossed around the luggage compartment, rather than sitting in a seat, for my flights.

I read the muscle-aches as a sign that perhaps I should sleep in and skip my morning run.

However, I also awoke to Florida temperatures in the sixties.
60s + sunny + dry = perfect running weather!

Clearly I brought some Berkshires autumn weather back with me. (That might explain why my pack weighed so much. Normally I'm an ultralight traveler.)

As I'm sure you can guess, in the debate between rest and running: the weather won the argument on the side of running. I couldn't resist a couple of morning miles. I rolled out of bed, pulled on my running shoes, and promised myself that this would be a "shake the dust off" recovery run.

I think of these runs sort of like clearing the dust off of a bicycle that sat in the garage too long. If I don't go, I'll just get rustier.
Pelican on a Pensacola pier.
I'll bet he has no problem flying all day!

I promised myself that I would run as long as it helped to loosen the knots in my neck and back, and I would switch to a walk if my backache got worse. I wound up knocking off almost four miles (no walking) and enjoying a gorgeous morning.

I won't say this morning's run was my most glamorous effort ever, but I loosened up after about 20 minutes, and felt better at the end than I had when I started.

My house might still be a post-travel mess, but at least I brushed the dust off myself.

Plus, I had a chance to chat with neighbors and watch pelicans fishing for their breakfast. It's no apple cider and autumn leaves, but I'll take it.

Monday, October 3

Weekend in the Berkshires

While I admit this is not much of a running post, even the most dedicated runner needs a "rest" day. So let's file this under cross-training, travel, and gorgeous autumn scenery.

Traveling this weekend for a wedding, I spent a couple of days in eastern New York and western Massachusetts. It was a bit early for the peak of fall "leaf peeping" season, but the Berkshires are gorgeous any time of year.

On the last day of the trip, I went for a morning hike with my family. The trailhead is at the Housatonic river, just outside the tiny town of Stockbridge, MA. From there, we trekked to Ice Glen (1.4 miles, 275' elevation).
Trailhead signs.
Bridge at the trailhead
The trail starts out wide, flat, and easy, but turns into a boulder-clambering adventure about 1/2 mile into the hike. It rained earlier in the morning, so to say we got muddy would be an understatement. I only packed running shoes for this trip (the hike was a last-minute decision), so if anyone has recommendations for shoe-cleaning, I'd appreciate it!
Then we went back down to the river, and hiked the Laura's Tower trail, adding another 1.5 mile round-trip and 600' elevation (not counting the stairs to the top of the tower).
Stairs to the top of the tower.
View from Laura's tower.
I only ran enough to get ahead and take pictures of my family coming up the trail. I considered running more, but then I slipped and fell on my arse, so I decided that was enough running. Fortunately my camera and my tailbone survived the fall.
I suspect a trail running career is not in my future...

Any recommendations for getting ground-in mud out of running shoes?

Do you have any favorite fall hikes or trail runs?