Saturday, March 31

Post run sweatpocalypse

You might call it Sweatmageddon.
A Sweat Tsunami.

Summer has arrived on the Gulf Coast and my evening 12-miler was a sweaty affair to say the least. Thankfully Hubby was around to document the damage.
Post run: The cold floor tiles feel sooooo good!
Just ignore the puddle of sweat...
Don't judge.

After 2 slow, slogging hours in the sun, I wanted nothing more than to cool off and put my feet up. The floor tiles just happened to be the coldest thing in the house. If I could have taken a nap in the refrigerator, I probably would have.

What I didn't count on was condensation. 2 minutes after laying down, I realized I was making a sweat puddle.

Sexy, I know.

But I'm proud of it.

Today tried really hard to be a no good, very bad day. (I did my fair share of cussing, whining, and complaining, to be sure.)

This morning's thunder and lightning tried to sideline me. My mid-day was steamrolled by project deadlines at work (yes, working on Saturday. Ugh.) and California non-resident tax forms. (Hello California, could you make the forms any more confusing?)

When I went out the door this evening, I was already in a pissy mood. The temperature could have turned me around for home. The heat was just another straw on the bad-day camel's back.

But, knowing I needed a little extra motivation, I packed my mp3 player (rare event unless I'm on a treadmill). I played some of my favorite running songs and just kept putting one foot in front of the other for 120 minutes.

I admit that I wussed out a little and turned down streets for their shadiness or lack-of-hills, rather than tackling a tougher route. I won't claim this was my "best run ever." In fact, there were times when it was downright ugly. (Photo above is an excellent case-in-point...)

I did, truth be told, stop back at home at the 100-minute mark, grab a glass of ice water (my water bottle was bone dry) and ask/beg Hubby to come trot with me for the last 20 minutes.

He obliged.

And then took the photo.

..but it will be harder for him to use it as blackmail now that I've posted it on the interwebs. Heh.

What's your strategy for coping with a bad day?

Washed out

Last night, even after a late date-night with Hubby that involved 3 glasses of wine, I set my alarm for 6am. The coffee maker was programmed to brew bright and early, too.

When the alarm went off, I did not want to get out of bed. But I did, because I have one last long run on the calendar before my 2012 half marathon #3. Today my training schedule called for 12 miles.

I rolled out of bed and poured myself a cup of coffee.

I thought I heard the pitter-patter of rain, so I opened the blinds and saw:
Rain dripping from the eaves...
...but I was determined to go out for a run!

So I started getting ready to head out the door.

And then I heard a rumble.
And another...
And it wasn't my tummy.

Thunderstorms are one of the few things that will keep me indoors.

If it clears up, I'll try again this afternoon. Otherwise it looks like I'm long-running tomorrow.

Are there any weather conditions that will make you change your training schedule?

Friday, March 30

Friday potluck

I've noticed a pattern: my Friday posts tend to be a collection of funny, freaky, or otherwise interesting tidbits that don't make it into a post during the week. So I'm going to make it official with a new series: Friday potluck. I provide the place (and may have my own tasty morsel or two to add to the mix) other people contribute the meat of the content.

Hopefully the result will be better than this:
Jello in pineapple can: worst potluck food ever?
Contributing a tasty beverage to the buffet:
XLMIC ranted about the marketing behind the chocolate milk craze, and confirmed my suspicions that I'm not missing out on anything by skipping the post-race dairy and refueling instead with a couple of orange slices and a bottle of water. (Note to chocolate milk lovers - if it works for you, great. Milk and my stomach just don't play well together after a hard workout.)

In the showstopper drink category, the bloggers over at Eat, Play, Love turned their after dinner coffee into an in-home replica of the Northern Lights. You have to read their post to see what I mean...

Why are we having a potluck today, anyway?
Today is Cesar Chavez Day. Many offices in California are closed. My co-workers get a day off. Unfortunately I'm on deadline, so I get to work. Boo!

But at least I'm working from home, right? And my office phone won't ring... And no one will notice that I went to the beach this morning for an hour-long walk, logged in "late," and still have sand between my toes...
Morning walk on the beach
Today that long walk on the beach is my only planned workout. I ran sprint intervals yesterday (mile warmup, 6 x 90 seconds, with 90 seconds of rest, and mile recovery), so today is a rest day.

Speaking of workouts, and hunger...
That girl with the Blonde Ponytail developed a Hunger Games themed home workout. If this doesn't get you ready for the arena, nothing will. (Thanks, Jess!)

And the cherry on top:
Source: via Patricia on Pinterest

Now for the best and the worst...

What's the worst food you've ever had at a potluck?
What's the best thing you read on the interwebs this week?

Thursday, March 29

Thursday thanks

This week I'm thankful for the plants growing in my garden.

Pensacola is not exactly known for its farmers markets, so in search of fresh produce last year I planted a garden. Because the soil here is sandy, and because Hubby and I are renters and can't re-landscape our yard, my gardening adventures are confined to container-friendly plants.

In 2011 I had success with hot peppers, cherry tomatoes, green beans, and basil. This year I'm branching out (silly pun intended) and trying several new crops.

With any luck (and some effort) this little guy is going to turn into eggplant parmesan and spicy szechuan eggplant stir-fry.
These green shoots are the beginnings of what will hopefully be a bumper-crop of zucchini. Unfortunately squirrels like zucchini, and we have an over-abundance of squirrels, so keeping these for myself might be harder than I think. But I like a good challenge, especially if it involves zucchini bread and vegetarian moussaka (when paired with the eggplant from above).
And these little shoots will soon show up in a salad bowl. It only took 4 days for them to sprout! I am a very proud plant mama.
This will look like a salad in 3 weeks. Really!
And last, but not least, some of you may remember that I bought a kumquat tree last November. Well... There is definitely fruit on my tree, but kumquat it is not! Kumquats are tiny little fruits - the diameter of a quarter at most. The things growing on my tree are goose-egg sized. Clearly my fruit tree was mis-labeled, which leaves me wondering: What is it?
So, what is this fruit?
Any other gardeners out there? What are you planting this year?
And does anyone know what this citrus fruit is? They're delicious, but definitely not kumquats!

Wednesday, March 28

New-to-me cross training meets skull crushers

As I mentioned earlier this week, the clock has been ticking on my March deadline to meet the (Just) Trying is for Little Girls new-to-me cross training challenge.

I received some excellent cross training suggestions:
Viper suggested jumping rope.
Jamoosh recommended rowing.
Sarah said cycling.
Kathy told me to go take a hike.

All of those are excellent recommendations, but part of the challenge is to get out of my comfort zone and "try something new." I have jumped rope, rowed, cycled, and hiked before... But I haven't been on a rowing machine in 2 years and I haven't jumped rope since grade school. Do those count as "new?"

I am quickly realizing that I have tried lots of cross training activities over the years, and am running out of "new" ideas. Can a blast from the past count as long as it's new to my current routine? I think I need a ruling from Kim on this topic... But in the meantime, I wanted to stick with the letter of the challenge. So I broke out the stability ball.
Hubby bought a stability ball when we moved to Florida. I often use the ball instead of a chair, but I have not used it for actual exercise. This morning I figured out why I have not used it for exercise... but we'll ge to that.

I decided to try two exercises: stability ball crunches and tricep extensions (an exercise sometimes referred to as "skull crushers" -- you can read that as none-too-subtle foreshadowing).

The crunches were a success. I will likely be adding those to my workout rotation. My abs could use a new challenge and the stability ball forced me to work minor muscles that get no action when I'm on a mat.

The tricep extensions, on the other hand, were a complete disaster. The exercise should look like this:
Image source
The picture makes it look easy, no? warns:
Remember to use some caution when exercising on a stability ball, as it can become unstable quickly if you don't maintain proper form. Keep your feet in a comfortable, stable position on the floor for most of the exercises and don't bounce around too much. Also, make sure the ball is inflated properly as per the manufacturer's instructions. It should have a slight bit of give as you sit or lie on it.
Let's just say: they're not kidding. I am pretty sure I had "proper form," feet flat on the floor, and wasn't bouncing. But when I was attempted the tricep exercise, the ball rolled out from under me and nearly dumped me on my head!

(Fortunately my butt hit the ground first, and through a combination of core strength and luck I managed to not crack my head on the tile floor or drop a weight on my skull...)

But imagine how ugly that could have been! I can just picture the fallout: "Sorry, I couldn't make it to class today. I broke my neck and my nose when I fell off a giant bouncy ball in my living room." I'm pretty sure my reputation (not to mention my spine) would suffer.

So the verdict on this one is: I like the crunches, but will not attempt any arm exercises on the stability ball again!

What's your favorite strength-training activity? Least favorite?

Tuesday, March 27

Reframing eating disorders as a personal choice?

On a recent essay assignment, one of my students clued me in to a new term: "pro-ana."

The term, shockingly, is short for pro-anorexia.

I am aware that eating disorders exist, and that mass media plays a none-too-subtle role in reinforcing body image issues. In fact, that was the topic of the essay assignment (and to be clear, my student was reporting on the phenomenon, not encouraging it). But as I stared at the page, I wondered how anyone could reframe an eating disorder as a good thing? *shudder*
Image source
Pro-ana? Not only is there a cute-sounding term to describe this disordered behavior, the topic has gained a cult following on the interwebs. The Huffington Post provides a detailed analysis in their recent article "The Hunger Blogs." I would highly recommend that you read the article in full, but if you are short on time, here are some of the most shocking quotes from pro-ana bloggers interviewed for the story (note: thinspo = "thinspiration"):
Sixteen-year-old Antonia (last name withheld) also runs a popular, photo-based thinspo blog out of her bedroom. "I like images that show skinny, happy girls," she writes in an email to the Huffington Post. "They look so confident and we can see their bones through their skin. It's the most beautiful thing ever. I also like tips about food or how to ignore hunger."
And this one...
It documents addictive and compulsive behavior, yet masks this behavior in the rhetoric of self-control and willpower ("Your stomach isn't grumbling, it's applauding").
Keep in mind that this next quote is from a girl who started modeling in ninth grade:
"[Modeling and fashion] was one of the original reasons I started looking at thinspo," she says. "I had an interview with a very, very tough agent in ninth grade and they told me that they would be happy to represent me because of my height and my facial structure. But they wanted me to lose 25 pounds. I wasn't overweight at the time -- I was probably average for my height. It was a big shock for me and that's what really pushed me in the direction [of pro-ana]."
And this is where my jaw dropped...
"They say, 'You know, this is my lifestyle -- I live an extremely low-calorie lifestyle and this is my choice,'" says Pascoe. "And what goes along with that is all sorts of personality traits that they're very proud of. They have an extreme amount of self-control, dedication and willpower. And when they talk about it, they seem like these extreme athletes who run a hundred miles in a shot or do these 24-hour races.”
To be clear, I am not a 24-hour runner, but I do work out nearly every day. On Tuesdays I will sometimes run twice a day 2-fer-Tuesday style... But I fuel appropriately. I take time off when my body needs a rest. Frankly, I am in shock that anyone with a serious eating disorder would compare my running with their illness, because:

Running. Won't. Kill. Me.

Ana Carolina Reston, fashion supermodel who died from her eating disorder, is just the most famous example of an extremely debilitating lifestyle. She was 5'8" and weighed 88 pounds when she died of multiple organ failure due to anorexia.
A modeling photo of the late Ms. Reston.
Image source
At the time, Ms. Reston was still modeling.

So. Eating disorders can kill.

But what about running? Isn't it possible to have a heart attack while running a marathon?
Sure (though the likelihood varies based on underlying conditions). Isn't it bad for your knees? No. But that's another post for another time...

Yes, runners can be slim and dedicated to the point of distraction. (And yes, there are people who have a disordered relationship with working out - similar to and often linked with an eating disorder.) But here's the difference: Not all runners will die from running.

In fact, most will live longer because of running.
(note: you see abs, not ribs, on Shalane)
Image source
On the other hand, eating disorders do - in no uncertain terms - cause serious physical harm and can lead to death.

Having the willpower to complete the last hill repeat in a series is not the same thing as starving yourself for a 50-day anorexic bootcamp, aka the "ABC diet," that limits caloric intake to 500 calories or less per day! (If you don't believe me, skip to page 3 of the Huff Post article).

Glamorizing starvation in terms that reframes it as willpower is just plain wrong.

What are your thoughts/comments on this issue?

Monday, March 26

Cross training challenge - need your input!

It's nearing month-end, and I need to find a new-to-me cross training activity to keep up with Kim at (Just) Trying is for Little Girls and her cross training challenge.

Source: loseweight-safe
via Myra on Pinterest
So far I've done cardio kickboxing and burpees. Over the summer I want to add stand-up paddleboarding to my list, but this month's travel schedule (racing in New Orleans, followed by a 5k in Pensacola, then spending a week in San Diego) made that a bit difficult to schedule. So I'm planning paddleboarding for my April new-to-me challenge.

In the meantime, I have 5 days to find and DO something new.

So, folks...
What new cross-training should I try? (And why do you recommend it?)

Sunday, March 25

Hello Pensacola

Hello Pensacola,

It is nice to see you again.

Thank you for welcoming me home with a weekend of summery, 80-degree days. I know you thought that I got soft after a week of San Diego's sunny, 60-degree, perfect weather, but it did hail on me there. That hail kept me on my toes weather-wise.

I also suspect that you thought 80-degree temperatures would keep me indoors. You know I don't like running in the heat. But on that count, you were mistaken. I took to the trails this morning and enjoyed every minute of my 10-mile run through Fort Pickens, even though there was no shade at all. (Yes, I am now showing signs of the first sunburn of the season... I never claimed to be a skin care role mode...)

Running over your soft sand trails will make my ankles and calves stronger. Powering through a shadeless run, with the sun beating down on me, is good mental preparation for next month's half marathon. The conditions then will be no cooler (or shadier) than they were today, so really, the weather was perfect for training.

And - dear Pensacola - you must, on some level, be glad to see me, too. Otherwise why would you have graced my run with blue skies and even bluer seas? You even had the hospitality to send some winged ambassadors my way. Great herons and ospreys greeted me at every turn. (The ospreys seemed to ignore me. They were intent on building their nests... and... ahem... filling those nests. But I enjoyed their company nonetheless.)
And the snapping turtle at the turn-around? She swam quietly under the bridge as I passed, and gave me a good excuse to pause and catch my breath.

I might not have wanted to move to Florida a year ago, but this morning's run felt pretty darned good. Thank you for welcoming me home.

Beth (i run like a girl)

What running tales do you have to share this weekend?
And... sunblock or no sunblock? Am I the only (crazy) person who prefers to run early morning or late evening rather than slather on the spf?

Saturday, March 24

Running Balboa Park

At least once a week my friends at the San Diego Running meetup get together and run through Balboa Park (one of my favorite places to run in the whole wide world). I used to lead a weekly group run through the park - taking advantage of many miles of trails in the summer months and lighted pedestrian paths in the winter.

Last week Hubby and I were lucky enough to catch up with our SDR friends for 5 miles of hilly, muddy trail running. Let's just say, it was good to be back...
Greetings from San Diego!
The trails were muddy from a recent rainstorm, but the weather cleared and was perfect by the time we started running. For the last half mile we were running into a perfect San Diego sunset...
The home stretch, down the Prado... Running into the sunset.
One trip to Balboa Park is rarely enough for me, so I went back later in the week. For my second spin around the park, I took a different route - more garden, less trail.
Alcazar garden
One of the coolest things about the park is that I always see or learn something new. I recently discovered that today's lily pond (in front of the botanical house) was used as a swimming pool for sailors during World Wars I and II.
Botanical building and reflecting pool.
Today that same space is a favorite photo spot for weddings and QuincaƱera celebrations. (My how times have changed.)

I'm just lucky enough to have been able to run through the park hundreds of times over the past few years, and lucky enough to be able to travel back often - to keep running in my favorite place even though I now  live far away.

What's your favorite place in the world to run?

Friday, March 23

Freaky Friday

I'm home safe and sound in Florida today, and will soon be sharing some photos from my San Diego trip, but first...

Hubby rented a car for this trip, which was a novelty for me. (I almost never use a car in San Diego, as the trolley and my two feet can get me almost everywhere I need to go...) One evening Hubby and I had some errands to run. I stashed our shopping bags in the trunk, but then I couldn't get it to close properly. I opened the trunk back up to see what was blocking the latch, and I found this:
Pull-tab seen inside the trunk of our rental car.
Apparently our rental car was equipped with an escape lever so a clever abducted person could make a getaway attempt.
Close-up of the escape mechanism.
I do appreciate that the instructions show the cartoon-person running away, but seriously, am I the only one who is disturbed by this feature? The mere presence of this "pull tab, jump out of trunk, and run!" device implies that the manufacturer thinks abductions are common enough to warrant an escape hatch built into their cars. Maybe the designer was watching too much Hawaii Five-0?

Or maybe they saw this...?
Source: via Rose on Pinterest 
Weird, no?

What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen in a car (rental or otherwise)?

Thursday, March 22

Thursday thanks

Today is my last day in San Diego (for this trip), so this thanks is for wonderful group of friends, family, and co-workers who have made this a particularly pleasant trip.

I'm thankful for running buddies who covered 15+ of this week's 20-something miles with me. (Yes, folks. I'm here for work, but I've been on a bit of a running/blogging vacation, so I haven't logged a single mile in my spreadsheet yet!) We ran at Mission Bay, Balboa Park, and the downtown Waterfront...
... and there's just something about catching up while running that beats almost every other way of reconnecting with old friends.

I'm thankful for the co-workers who make work interesting every single time I'm in the office.

I'm thankful for friends who accommodated my crazy-whirlwind schedule so we could meet for dinner, drinks, dessert... and thankful for those who just dropped by to say Hi.
1st anniversary celebration
And last, but certainly not least...
I'm thankful for Hubby, with whom I'm celebrating a first wedding anniversary.

What are you thankful for this week?

Wednesday, March 21


Inevitable pet behavior:
I start packing, and Peanut tries to go along for the ride.
My trip to San Diego is winding down... but there is one photographic gem I wanted to share with you before I go back to Florida.

Peanut seems to know when I'm leaving. Her favorite trick, when I'm packing, is to lie in the middle of my pile of clothes. I have had to learn to pack around her (or to hang my clothes well out of her reach).

I can't figure out whether Peanut is trying to get in the way so I can't leave, or whether she's trying to blend in with the sweaters in hopes that I'll "accidentally" take her with me. (Maybe she knows I'm back in San Diego, and she misses the weather as much as I do? After all, this is her "real" home too...)

Either way, I'll be back in Florida soon, and I'm sure we'll go through this dance all over again next time I have to pack my suitcase.

What items are on your "must pack" list when you travel?
Do your pets "know" when you're going away for more than a day?

Sunday, March 18

A tale of two San Diegos

This is either a tale of two cities, or a story about one city with two personalities. (Keep in mind that the following photos were taken within a 60-minute period of time this morning...)

I woke up to the sound of rain on the hotel windows.

By the time I walked downstairs for a cup of coffee, the day looked like this:
View of sunny skies over downtown San Diego
"Great! The storm is over!" I thought to myself... I pulled on my workout clothes, grabbed my camera, and headed out for a nice long walk.

Within minutes, the sky turned dark, the heavens opened up, and I was being pelted by stinging hail!
Hiding from the hail (round 2) in a bus shelter

I am proud to say that, while I considered retreating to the hotel gym, I decided to tough it out. I hid next to a tree hoping that the 30 mph winds wouldn't topple the tree onto me. (What a horrible travel story that would be!) And the sun reappeared a few minutes later.
Beginning of the MLK park in San Diego

I walked a good 4 miles, stopping to take the occasional photo and dodging the occasional sprinkle of rain and gust of wind.
Marina in downtown San Diego
With about half a mile left to go back to my hotel, thick clouds rolled in and the wind picked up again. I started to run, but wasn't quite fast enough. Wind-driven hail pelted me sideways.

My realization of the day: hail hurts!

And... of course... as soon as I was safely back at my hotel, the sun came out again.

I gave the crazy weather a couple of hours to sort itself out, and headed out for an evening run with Hubby "hash-run" style... We ran through my old neighborhood, stopped for a glass of wine mid-run (hashing has taught me that I can, surprisingly, have a beverage then keep running), and sprinted back to the hotel.

As we were running back, we caught a brilliant sunset over the bay. Those clouds are really pretty when they're not spitting hail!

I'm here (mostly) for work... but today's wine-fueled run felt like a vacation.

Chopped: The Empty Refrigerator Edition

Image source
Before travel, Hubby and I try to eat everything in the fridge.

There is no sense in leaving a head of lettuce or a bowl of leftover lentil soup hanging around while we're out of town. So for at least a week before a trip, we stop grocery shopping and start pretending meal time is an episode of "Chopped: The Empty-the-Refrigerator Edition."

The fact that we keep our pantry stocked with good basics (whole grain starches, spices, asian sauces, nuts, and frozen vegetables) makes this game a little easier than it could be. We're not talking about frat-house bare fridge, where the leftovers include only beer, a couple of packets of ketchup, and a half-eaten pizza crust.

We have a bit more to work with.

So we ate some meals that were tasty but certainly wouldn't land our kitchen on the cover of Food and Wine magazine. There was a rice caserole built from leftover veggies, salsa, and a chunk of cheddar. There were several "creative" salads.

Image source
And this week's winner was tofu pad thai that used up our last egg, an old carrot, and a lonely lime. We had no bean sprouts, but we did have crushed peanuts, thanks to my inability to say no when a Delta flight attendant offers a snack. (Yes, I have a plentiful supply of airline peanuts in my pantry.)

Those airline packets are the perfect amount to garnish a serving of pad thai. With the packet still sealed, smash the peanuts with a rolling pin. Open packet. Pour perfectly crushed peanuts over pad thai.

What creative use-what-you've-got meals have you cooked up lately?

Friday, March 16

Funny weather

In another sign that spring has sprung...

And the next time you need to check the weather forecast for race-day, consider this...
Source: via Alex on Pinterest

It might be the best weather forecasting tool.

Happy Friday, people!

Thursday, March 15

Thursday thanks

This week's Thursday thanks goes out to you, dear reader.

As is probably the case with many bloggers, I had no idea what I was doing when I started this adventure more than a year ago. I learned on the job and picked up tips from other bloggers along the way.

You, dear reader, have made this all worthwhile.

Without you, "yes, folks" would be a very lonely and boring online diary.

Thanks to you, I get daily doses of inspiration and feedback on those pressing life issues, like:
But all kidding aside, I read and appreciate every comment. (And I'm doubly thrilled that I fixed the "reply" feature.)

So thank you!

Now tell me... (pretty please)
What are YOU thankful for this week?

Wednesday, March 14

Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung in Pensacola.
For the past two weeks, my runs have looked like this:

(Well, to be honest, one of my runs looked like this...)
St. Patrick's block party posing as a 5k
But you get my point... Running in Pensacola lately has been warm and sunny, with birds singing and cool breezes blowing. And all of my runs have been very, very green. Even my legs feel like they have an extra bounce... an extra spring. (Sorry - bad pun. I just couldn't resist.)

Now, if only we could hold off mosquito season just a little longer...

Do you mourn the ending of winter, or look forward to the warmer weather?

Tuesday, March 13

What do you want in a race?

A few months ago Jamoosh (Last Mile Lounge) and Miss Zippy each posted some interesting questions around the topic:
"What do you want in a race?"
1. Do you prefer a lower race fee/fewer frills or are you willing to pay extra for a nice premium?
Lower fee with less bells and whistles is the way to go. I prefer to race early and often.
2. At the finish line, do you want something simple like bagels and bananas, or do you want goodies like beer, pizza, and desserts?
As long as there are orange slices and water, I'm a happy camper. If there is beer, too, even better. But orange slices are my only must-have. I do enjoy a good post-race party, but I'm there to run. I can go out to brunch later.
Orange slices are the way to this runner's post-race heart.
3. Is a finisher’s medal important to you or do you think they should be reserved only for those who place?
I do keep my bibs from all races, but the only medals I've ever kept are medals earned by placing (either AG or O'all). The rest go to Medals for Mettle.
I don't have any moral objection to races handing out medals to all finishers, I just don't have any particular attachment to finisher's medals. (...except that one from the Gulf Shores half. That medal is really a beer bottle opener. I'll probably keep that one.)
I'm wearing the medal post-race,
but I won't be keeping it...
4. Do you prefer a big race with a high cap on participants or something a bit more intimate?
I used to think I didn't care... Then I spent a year running 150-400 person races. I'm hooked on the small stuff now.
5. Expo or no expo?
No Expo! I really dislike it when the packet pickup procedure forces participants to weave through the expo vendor booths. It's like we're being herded like consumer cattle. I almost never buy anything at an expo and just find the whole thing a total waste of time. (This might explain part of #4 above.)
So I guess I've become a small-town (runner) girl?

What are your answers?

Monday, March 12

Monday motivation (from the archives)

Thanks to Kathy for posting this this Nike commercial with Joan Benoit (Samuelson).
What an inspiration...

What's motivating you this week?

Sunday, March 11

Postcards from?

Hello dear readers!

It is guest blogger request time.
I'm working on running-while-traveling state profiles for Texas and Louisiana. I've run in both states, but would love to add an in-depth local perspective, similar to the "postcards" shared by Kristin (Philadelphia) and Alma (Seattle).

If you live in one of those states (or any other state, province, or nation), and would be interested in "sending a postcard" from your hometown, just drop me a line.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Saturday, March 10

Race report: McGuire's (St. Pat's) Prediction 5k

The start:
Can you say crowded (but in a good way)?
That sea of people behind me stretches on... and on... and on...
The organizers aren't kidding when they bill this event as the "nation's largest prediction run." According to pre-race announcements, this year's McGuire's Prediction Run 5k welcomed a whopping 15,000 runners! (The local newspaper reports that 13,500 actually toed the line, but either way - it's a huge 5k.)

To give you a sense of how very many people show up, I heard officials and volunteers saying that the last runner crossed the starting line about 15 minutes after the cannon, and the race winner came in about 2 minutes later...

The race kicks off with a bagpipe band, the national anthem, words of wisdom from the mayor of Pensacola, and a traditional Irish blessing.

Oh, and the starting gun is a cannon.

The race start at McGuire's is like no other starting line I've ever experienced. The 5k's uniqueness draws runners from all 50 states and from nations around the world. (One runner I talked with had traveled from Switzerland.) And unlike other events, where many runners are nervous - anxiously checking watches, and re-typing shoes - this race feels more like a moving block party. Runners compare costumes and talk about how many times they've run here before.

The bad:
At 15,000 runners for a 5k, there is no way the course could not be crowded. But in this event, the crowd is part of the fun (as you'll see in photos below).
A wave of runners takes off from the starting line at the 2012 McGuire's 5k.
If you enter the McGuire's Prediction 5k thinking you're going to be fast, you had better arrive early and line up at the very front. And I mean the very front. Even 15 feet back is too far back for a "fast" 5k. You'll be dodging walkers for most of the 3.1 miles.

As we learned last year, this event is intended to be a fun run, not a racers-race.
St. Pat's mariachi runners. How did they keep those hats on while running?
Also, while pre-race packet pickup is surprisingly easy and un-crowded, information about when/where/how to pick up bibs and t-shirts was non-existent this year. Hubby called the race organizer to find out packet pickup location and times, since there was zero information available on the event website.

And last, but certainly not least, parking is a bear. Hubby and I hoofed it over from a location about a mile away (a pre-planned choice). We walked past other people who were trying to park in the limited space available, and that re-affirmed our decision. If you have to drive, arrive early and plan to walk.

The good:
The course is flat and beautiful. But to be honest, you are more likely to see a sea of green-clad runners than you are to notice any scenery.

If you're willing to just relax and enjoy the ride, running in a sea of people can be a really amazing experience. The course makes a couple of turns that allow front-of-pack runners to see the back-of-pack runners (and vice-versa) and it is incredible to watch thousands of people all moving in the same direction.

The race also brings out some crazy costumes. While it's no Bay to Breakers, the crowd-watching is thoroughly entertaining.
Photo op with the Grinch.
In addition to the 5k itself, there are two features that make this a truly distinctive event.

First, the "prediction run" bit: When you register, you report a predicted finish time. To compete, you must leave your watch at home. Awards are given to the fastest overall men, women, and teams, and to the runners who finish closest to their predicted finish time.
Post-race party.
Second, the after-party is epic. McGuire's restaurant provides coffee, donuts, and other goodies before the race. They also provide a feast (fruit, stew, rolls, water, sports drink, rootbeer floats, beer, and their house-special "Irish Wake" rum punch) for all 15,000 participants while a band serenades runners with Irish folk songs.
The Irish Wake rum punch is delicious. And strong.
Don't underestimate it.
My race:
Results aren't posted yet, but I am certain that I blew my chance at an accurate prediction. Based on last year's crowd, I predicted 28-something.

This year I broke away from the pack earlier than expected and think I ran closer to 25 minutes. ***update *** results are in: 25:48. Not my fastest 5k ever, but I'm happy with it, given the conditions. I was in the top 200 of more than 5,000 female runners.

Either way, at least I made it to the start on time!

Friday, March 9

F-word Friday

Welcome to F-word Friday!

...Funny! I meant funny Friday!
(What did you think I was going to say?)

And Free stuff Friday:
The Gourmet Runner is giving away entries to the color run. Click here for details.

And Fast(ish) Friday.
I intended last night's 5k group run to be an easy recovery run at a 9-10 minute mile pace. My running buddy EG had different plans. 25 minutes later we were done with our run. (Maybe I should re-name that Foolish Friday?) We ran much faster than I planned to run on my still-sore legs, but I feel fine today, so no harm done.

Source: Uploaded by user via Larissa on Pinterest
And Frenetic Friday:
It's mid-semester. I have attendance recording, essay-grading, and mid-term reporting to do. Thankfully the administration gods realized that giving us 4 days between mid-terms and our reporting deadline wasn't very nice, so they've granted an extension until Monday. Guess what I'll be doing this weekend?

More Frenetic Friday:
I also have several major things on the "to do" list for an anniversary party Hubby and I are hosting soon. I need to stop thinking about "how much I have to do" and just focus on knocking tasks off the list one at a time. Eventually it will all get done, right?

5k Friday...
Speaking of running, there's a little race coming up tomorrow, which I suppose also makes this a (pre)Five-k Friday. But that run is more of a block party than a race, so it won't prevent me from having a...

Source: via Alyson on Pinterest

(you know I had to do it...)

FUN Friday.

What sorts of events do you have lined up for the weekend? (Bonus points if you can work in some clever F-words.)