Wednesday, October 31

Down to the wire

Alt title: Crunch month

My October entry into the New 2 U Cross Training Challenge is the latest of my entries to date. (Thank goodness for 31 day months.)

My only goal going into this month was "stay on dry land," because my last three entries into the challenge were all aquatic.

Little did I know that being airborne 3 weeks out of 4 would also complicate this month's challenge. (Anyone know of good exercises to practice in seat 13B of an MD-88?)

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have changed my schedule for the world. Attending a conference and running my way through Williamsburg, VA was pretty awesome. But my schedule was tight enough that I had a hard time fitting in basic workouts, much less getting creative. 2 mile run around the block on my lunch break? Check! Research, find, drive to, and participate in a Zumba class? ...Not gonna happen.

But with only 7 days left in the month, I realized that I couldn't let a little schedule squeeze derail my Challenge! So I did what any good blogger would do...

I asked Twitterverse and Facebookland...
... and I got several excellent recommendations:
  • Kia (@Keyalus) recommended BodyRock.TV
  • Jim (@jmacpcola) recommended a circuit of 4 x 25 each: pushups, crunches, lunges as fast as possible
  • Hubby suggested tennis (maybe prompted by a birthday present he received from our family?)
  • Lori CS suggested I just suck it up wake up earlier
So, what workout did I crunch into the end of the month?

While Lori's suggestion is a clever one, I'm not the kind of person who can skimp on sleep. I envy those who can, but I start stumbling for words when I'm sleep deprived -- not a good situation for a teaching-heavy and conference-heavy month.

So Kia and Jim won.

On Monday I did Jim's circuit of 4 x 25 push ups, crunches, and lunges. I breezed through the lunges (and yes, one lunge = one on each leg). I figured the crunches would be easiest, but I felt those because I did 'em right after the pushups (and good pushup form engages the core). But the pushups... nearly killed me!

Ok... ok. I'm being dramatic like Jim Cantore on a sunny day. But... I've never in my life done 100 push ups in one workout.
The verdict: 100 push ups = new PR for me! (And I'm bloody sore now!)
Pros: What I loved about this workout was the simplicity. I can do this circuit in any hotel room. In any time crunch. Heck, I could probably find a way to do crunches at the airport.
Cons: Um. None. Thanks, Jim!

As for
I'll admit that I was a skeptic.

I skimmed through videos and found that many focus their cinematography on sweat dripping down the instructors silicone cleavage. All I could think was:
"What is Kia getting me into???"
I almost turned the videos off, but in the spirit of "out of my comfort zone," I persevered with a workout that I would have dismissed otherwise.
The verdict: Loved it! I fit 12 minutes of high intensity intervals in before a morning class, worked up a sweat... and... I'm gonna' be sore tomorrow.
Pros: Most of the workouts are brief and can be completed with minimal equipment in a living room or hotel room. The interval timer on screen was also a nice touch.
Cons: Um... The cleavage shots were a little excessive, and if it hadn't been for Kia's recommendation, I would've ignored these workouts forever. Also, the exercises were a somewhat complicated, and there was precious little instruction about proper form. These workout videos are not intended for newbies.

Next month... tennis!
(We'll see how long it takes me to break the racket or hit someone 3 courts over with my serve...)

How do you balance competing priorities?
Any suggestions for an aspiring (but completely uncoordinated) tennis player?

Tuesday, October 30

Postcards from Rhode Island

(Belated) greetings from Rhode Island!

All I'm going to say is thank goodness my family visit was last weekend. As a Florida resident, I have zero interest in spending my vacation time hunkered down during a hurricane. (Hope ya'll are safe and dry after Sandy!)

My family is outdoorsy (and you wondered where I got it from?), so we spent most of my visit hiking our way through some spectacular autumn scenery. (I really did get the luck of the devil with my travel planning - caught all of the foliage fireworks, and none of the storm surge.)
View of autumn color at Barden Reservoir
Now I'm going to take you on a loop around Barden Reservoir in Scituate, RI. This is an easy hike on gravel roads and a small stretch of paved roadway.
Hike on gravel roads around Barden Reservoir

Many pages of google search resulted in no maps of this hike/trail run, so I'm going to give you directions Rhode Island style (based on landmarks and road names).

Start on Hemlock Road, just west of the intersection with Ponagansett Rd. There are a few places to park off the road near reservoir dam and waterfall.
Waterfall over the dam at Barden Reservoir
Head back toward Ponagansett Rd and turn left. Stay to the left, and turn left at each roadway intersection for a complete circuit of the reservoir. (Left onto Ponagansett. Left onto Central Pike. Left onto King Randal Rd. Left onto Hemlock.)

A small section of the route traverses paved Central Pike. Stay to the left on this stretch as cars travel quickly on this section of road, but pause to admire the views out over the reservoir.

View from Central Pike
New England farmsteads are rocky places. Most farmers, during colonial times, cleared rocks from their land and piled them up in free-form stone walls between sections of their farm and along property lines.

Despite hundreds of years of wear and tear, these stone walls still crisscross the woods throughout New England.

In addition to the historic stone walls, a hiker often stumbles across tombstones on a typical trek in southern New England.

Historic New England cemeteries are a bit different than cemeteries in many other states in that they were often family plots, on local farms or homesteads, and not in a church yard.
Early Puritans rejected churchyard burials as they rebelled against other "papist" practices, as heretical and idolatrous. Instead, many 17th century New England towns set aside land as common community burial grounds.
Source: National Park Service
Tombstones in one of many historic graveyards near Barden Reservoir
Lichen and leaves in one of the historic graveyards
On this hike there is ample evidence that nature reclaims most of what humans can build...
Tree is slowly growing over a traffic sign
View over Barden Reservoir near the end of the hike
View of autumn foliage reflected in marsh near Barden Reservoir
  And while we did not see much wildlife on this trek, we did see this little guy...
Caterpillar. Anyone know what type he is?
And no New England autumn hike is complete without some fresh-from-the-farm apples.
Winesap apples, an absolutely delicious heirloom variety.

What's your favorite autumn hike?

Monday, October 29

Morning motivation

There is no such thing as bad weather only...
... soft people.
... inappropriate clothing.
... different kinds of good weather.
While I'm a fan of this mindset in general, I believe hurricanes DO count as bad weather, regardless of what the quote says.

So for those of you in Sandy's path, I wish you safe passage through the storm.

Source: Uploaded by user via Beth on Pinterest

And for those of you who aren't...

What are you doing sitting inside? It's a beautiful day!

Get out and play!

Source: via Jeanne on Pinterest

What's the foulest weather you've ever experienced?
What bad weather will keep you indoors?

Sunday, October 28

Race report: McGuire's Halloween Run

Yesterday nearly 1,000 runners, walkers, superheroes, and zombies took part in the sixteenth annual McGuire's Halloween Run 5k and 10k in Destin, FL.
Bagpipers serenade runners at the start of the race.
The start:
McGuire's provided coffee, donuts, and bananas for pre-race breakfast. While I generally do not eat before a race, the goodies were a nice touch.

The bad:
If you were looking for a race, this is not the event for you.
Runners make their way to the starting line
More than half of the runners are decked out in Halloween attire, so most participants (myself included) cruise along and enjoy the spectacle of a 3.1 mile trotting costume parade. In other words, this is a participatory event more than a race.
Where's Waldo? (Hint: There are 3 in this photo...)
In fact, I would caution runners against trying to race the 5k course.

Since the 5k route is out-and-back, the fleetest runners had to weave their way through a slow-moving mass of runners and walkers who took up most of the roadway. Let's just say that traffic cones might have helped to corral runners onto the right side of the street... Fortunately, 10k runners had less trouble with course crowding.

Also, the race had one other major flaw. Rather than hand out cups of water, volunteers were distributing disposable water bottles. If runners wanted to run holding a water bottle, chances are, they would have brought their own.

Based on the pile of discarded, half-full plastic bottles I saw littering the course, I have one word for whoever made the plastic bottle decision: wasteful.

The good:
Any race that provides ample parking and flush toilets is a good race in my book.

The race, despite the Halloween theme and promise of post-race booze, was well attended by families with children. Many parents, dressed as caped crusaders, pushed jogging strollers full of pint-sized Power Rangers and pumpkins.
As Halloween events go, the crowd was fairly tame - with risque outfits outnumbered by Gumbies, zombies, and superheroes by a wide margin.

The finish:
The post-race party is the highlight of any McGuire's race, and the Halloween Run did not disappoint. Finishers re-hydrated with beer and Irish Wakes (the restaurant's signature orange juice and rum drink).

Restaurant staff and volunteers also dished out stew, bread, and other goodies for hungry runners.
Irish Wakes
The highlight of the already-good post race party is the costume contest, which involves a costumed chorus line (think Rockettes, but with zombies and superheroes).

If the costumed antics don't get you laughing, you have no soul. (Maybe a vampire got yours?)
Costume contest chorus line

The verdict:
Run (or zombie crawl) this race if:

  • you love Halloween,
  • you like a good rum drink, or
  • you feel like spending your morning at a block party.

Zombies! Run!!!

Do not run this race if:

  • you want a PR,
  • you think Halloween costumes are stupid, or
  • you are disgusted by crowds of people drinking at 10am.

Oh... and our costumes!
My friend, C, was visiting for the weekend, so she and I dressed in matching uniforms (complete with beer pitcher and chicken wing props) and Hubby was... well... let's just say he was a big hit with the kiddies on the course because he frequently stopped to hand out COOKIES.
Putting the finishing touches on our Cookie
Monster and Waitress costumes and props
For what it's worth, running in thick nylons while carrying a pitcher was not nearly as miserable as I thought it would be. That said, this is the scariest running costume I've worn in years (see last year's pumpkin and the prior year's road runner)...

For more photos from the event, see the McGuire's Halloween Run slideshow.

Halloween costumes: yea or nay?
Are you running and Halloween-themed races this year?
Best Halloween costume you've ever seen?
(My favorite at this year's race was a trio of women dressed as rock-paper-scissors. Loved it!)

Friday, October 26

Weekly roundup: Halloween edition

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!
This week's theme: Happy Halloween!

Funniest signs seen at a marathon:
(Halloween edition)
  • Run like a zombie is chasing you."
  • "Mortuary ahead....look alive!"
  • "The end is near." (Sign held by man dressed as the Grim Reaper at mile 21 of the Marine Corps Marathon, on October 31, 2010)

Choose your costume carefully...

No wonder diabetes is epidemic...

Americans eat nearly 25 pounds of candy, per person, on average each year.
That's scarier than a Freddie Krueger flick.

Freaky book titles

Need a book on festive uses for duct tape for Halloween? 101 More Uses for a Dead Cat? (Sadly, this makes me wonder what the first 101 were?) Or a book on Minnesota's natural resource: ghosts?

Look no further than the Weird Book Room at Abe Books.

Nightmare on Run Street

Kristin tells a ghost story (a ghostly injury story) that I'm sure many of us can relate to.

More things to look forward to on October 31st:
Source: Uploaded by user via Susan on Pinterest

Crazy confections

American confectionery manufacturers produce about 35 million pounds of candy corn each year. That adds up to 9 billion candy corns - or about 30 kernels per person in the U.S. If laid end-to-end, the candies would circle the moon nearly two dozen times.

Best running-themed jack-o-lantern:
Source: via Beth on Pinterest

Quote of the week:
"On Hallowe'en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can frighten you
And if somethin' scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it's Hallowe'en fun."

Happy Friday, friends!

Free Colorful 5k for one lucky reader (+ discount code)

Today might be your lucky day!

Thanks to Color in Motion, I get to raffle off a complimentary entry to the Color in Motion 5k in Ponte Vedre, FL (near Jacksonville).

The Prize:
One lucky reader will win free entry into the 5k, scheduled for December 29, 2012.

The Drawing:
You receive an entry into the drawing for each of the following. To enter, log your entries using the Raffle Copter widget below. (We ask for your e-contact info only so that we can contact the winner.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Entries will close on Saturday, November 10th. I will draw a winner at random using Rafflecopter, and will post the results no later than noon on Monday, November 12th.

Don't want to wait?
Color in Motion also provided me with a discount code, RUNGIRL15, which can be redeemed by any reader/runner for 15% off of the entry fee.

The fine print:
I received a complimentary entry for the 5k, but received no other compensation for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.
Prize is a complimentary race entry, and does not include travel costs. There is no cash redemption value for the prize.
Email address will be used to contact prize winner, and will not be used for spam/marketing purposes.
If you have questions, please contact me at: coffeeb123(at)yahoo(dot)com

Thursday, October 25

Thursday thanks

I've suffered a bit of "thanks" writers-block the last couple of weeks.

I have nothing to complain about, but I'm exhausted.

Teaching + work + conferences + consulting + travel to-and-from all of the above + keeping up with day-to-day chores has worn me out. How do people do this once they have kids??? Maybe they skip the conferences? Get no sleep? All of the above?


There are things I'm thankful for, but skipping the blog to squeeze in a 2-mile run or to get another 20 minutes of sleep has seemed sooo very much more important lately.

Then it occurred to me that the harried times are when "thanks" matters the most.

So... I'm thankful for this habit. Because even when I don't want to take the time to write my thoughts down, I spend every Thursday morning (and sometimes Wednesday night) ticking off a mental list of all of the things I have to be thankful for.

Officially I'm sorting through ideas for blog content.

But how can you think about life's little pleasures without feeling grateful?

Source: via Rowan on Pinterest

The thanks-blog habit helps keep things in perspective.

What are YOU thankful for this week?

Wednesday, October 24

Behind the scenes at a 10k (interview with a race director)

Eric and son after the 2012 Mardi Gras Mambo 10k
Do you daydream about quitting your day job to work in the athletic industry? Maybe the lure of being a race director tempts you when you're tired at the end of a long work week?

If you've ever wondered what it's like to organize a race, this interview is for you.

Eric Engemann is Vice President of Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation and Race Director of the Amedisys Mardi Gras Mambo 10k. Eric took some time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions so readers can get a sense of what it's like to run a race (pun intended).

Beth: When did the Mardi Gras Mambo 10k get its start?
Eric: The Mardi Gras Mambo 10k started in 1999 after our local newspaper suspended what was once the Great River Road Run 10k here in Baton Rouge. Our organization, with the help of our local running club and race partner, Club South Runners, looked to fill that void with the Mambo.

Beth: What other races/events does BRASF organize during the year?
Eric: We help support about 75 different sports events in Baton Rouge annually but we are solely responsible for the Mambo, the Battlefield Cross Country Festival which is a high school/middle school cross country event and a flag football tournament series that we are just starting this year. We also serve as the volunteer coordinator for the Louisiana Marathon, which is in its second year coming up in January.
2012 Mardi Gras Mambo 10k

Beth: How long have you been working in the athletic event industry?
Eric: My athletic industry career started in college athletics at LSU, University of Kentucky and the University of Wisconsin. I started working on runs when I was at UW with the Crazy Legs Classic (8k run, over 18,000 participants) and loved it. I started here with BRASF in 2007 and got the opportunity to work on and eventually direct the Mambo as well as a number of other Baton Rouge area running events.

Beth: How did you get started?
Eric: Volunteering got me started in running events; I wanted to learn as much as I could so I grabbed a race calendar and just started showing up to learn as much as I could – those early days paid off a ton.

Beth: How far in advance do you start planning an event like a 10k?
Eric: We generally start in June for a February race but that start date is getting pushed back further and further the larger the race gets!

Beth: How many staff and how many volunteers do you need for a 5k or 10k race?
Eric: We will have four staff members and about 40-50 volunteers on site for our 10k of about 2,000 runners. Some advancements have allowed us to use less volunteers and a number of our sponsors now bring large contingents of their employees to help out in different ways as well.

Beth: What is the hardest part of organizing a race?
Eric: Definitely race week – there’s so much that has to be done in such a short time frame that it wears on you mentally more than anything.

Beth: What is your favorite part of organizing a race?
Eric: Everything else! Honestly it is a lot of fun when you can facilitate a race where people can participate for a fair price, get some great stuff, run a fun course at a distance they may not tackle very often, and help them meet a fitness or distance milestone that they have been shooting for. That’s the “good stuff” as they say…
2012 Mardi Gras Mambo 10k
Beth: What is the strangest complaint (or compliment) you've ever received from a participant?
Eric: I'm not sure if this is a complaint or compliment but we traditionally announce the age group winners oldest to youngest – we like everyone to recognize those older ladies and gentlemen who can still go fast! And I think they appreciate the recognition.

Beth: ... after reading this, I know exactly what my "retirement career" will be. Until then, I have a couple of decades of volunteering and daydreaming to do. Thanks, Eric!

What's your "dream job?"
What else would you like to know about being a race director?

Tuesday, October 23

Postcard from an autumn walk

Next week, when my schedule has gone back to something approximating normal, I'll write a real postcard post about my travels.

In the meantime, here a photo from one of my runs last week:

Any guesses as to where I was???
Hint #1: Not Florida.
Hint #2: Chi can't guess because she knows the answer.

Friday, October 19

Weekly roundup: Friday potluck

Welcome to another installment of the weekly roundup we all know and love: Friday potluck!
At this week's party, let's all lace up and go for a run!

After all, the news this week has been full of incredible running stories, like the guy who ran a sub-3 marathon. (Wait for it...) In flip flops!
(Take that, Paul Ryan!)

Athlete or armchair warrior?

Perhaps that title is too bold, but Jamoosh poses an interesting question (spurred by a recent marathoning article in the NY Times):
Is a marathon a race?
Or is a marathon an activity?
Do you participate in the event? Do you race? Or does it even matter?
Please share your thoughts in the comment section!
Finish line at the Eugene marathon & half (2010)
Pronate much?

Runblogger reviews the differences (or lack thereof) between stability and motion control shoes, and makes me wonder why I read shoe descriptions at all. The article is long, but informative, and the pictures are worth a thousand words.

The takeaway: find a shoe that feels comfortable and suits you.

Sprinkle when you tinkle?

SUAR posted an honest and informative summary of common urinary tract issues among runners. Even if you don't need this information today, you may need it someday.

Own worst critic

If you wouldn't trash talk another runner, why do it to yourself?

Is it time for happy hour yet?
Source: via Beth on Pinterest
Beer belly, literally.

I really want to put these two devices into the "stupid people tricks" files, but to be fair, they belong in "what will they think of next?"

New carrying containers offer a clever solution to a problem that plagues cheapskate drunks: most events ban outside booze. So if you can't beat 'em. Hide it?
The WineRack
The BeerBelly

The WineRack comes in a variety of sizes in a runner-friendly sports-bra style. (Hashers take note!) The bra holds up to 25 ounces (no word from manufacturers on whether or not it chafes).

The BeerBelly holds a whopping 80 ounces of booze. (I wonder if it comes with a Life Alert bracelet for the inevitable alcohol poisoning?)

(For what it's worth, the customer reviews on these products are PRICELESS.)

Quote of the week:

"Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too." ~Richard O'Brien

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, October 18

Thursday thanks

This weekend, instead of work travel (for a change) I'm spending time with family and friends.

Completely unplugged.


Happy Thursday, friends!

Wednesday, October 17

Photoshop horrors

A couple of weeks ago, this ad greeted me in the sidebar of my online email.
Notice anything wrong?

I'm pretty sure that woman would snap in half, if she were real, given that her neck is wider than her midsection.

I've blogged before about the shocking use (and abuse) of Photoshop in our culture to glorify unhealthy and un-human standards of beauty. I see these images all the time. Pictures, like the one above, form the basis of a lecture in the Sociology course I teach.

But every once in awhile, a photo(shop) still shocks me.

Sometimes the (ahem) adjustments are extreme, as in the case of a model that lost a hand in overzealous photoshopping by Vogue. Limbs go missing all the time. More than one model has lost a leg. A surfer's hand remains, but the arm... eaten by a Photoshop shark?

Sometimes the adjustments are more subtle, as in the example of before-and-after photos of Victoria's Secret model Candace Swanepoel. Basic body functions, like skin bending and folding as we move (because, um, that's what it's supposed to do) are removed from the finished photo, setting a standard for aesthetic appeal that even the world's most classically gorgeous women can't attain in real life.

And last, but certainly not least, thanks to demands for ever-thinner models, Photoshoppers have now resorted to retouching photos to cover unsexy things like protruding ribs.

(sarcasm intended)

What's the worst Photoshop tragedy you've seen?

Tuesday, October 16

Postcards from Williamsburg

Greetings from colonial Williamsburg, VA!

The term bucolic is almost (but not quite) right in characterizing Williamsburg. After all, the colony was more city than rural (at least for its time). But with sheep grazing alongside homes, "bucolic" will have to suffice.
View into colonial Williamsburg across a pond
The architecture is quaint, and the streets are wide, well-shaded, and runner-friendly even when throngs of tourists are touring.
One of the main boulevards in colonial Williamsburg
The governor's palace

Shady paths are runner friendly
Unfortunately, while most of the trees are oaks, black walnuts are also native to the area. One tree tried to bludgeon me with a softball-sized missile.

The walnut landed a few feet from where I was running on the trail.
(Score one for being just a little slow that day?)
Black walnut (still in outer hull) that tried to knock me unconscious
Livestock was crucial to colonial life, and still play a starring role in today's tourist-oriented recreation of Williamsburg. Horse-drawn carts ferry tourists to and fro. Oxen roam the streets with their handler. Sheep and cows graze in pastures between homes.
Yoked oxen
Horse drawn carts ferry tourists through the town
The cart drivers are in period costume
And it's not only animals who go to work in colonial Williamsburg each day. The town includes a bevy of period reenactments including a fully-functional brick yard, a blacksmith shop, wood-working shops, etc...
Brick yard, with piles of oyster shells, sand, clay, and bricks in various stages of completion
Blacksmith shop

Baker shaping loaves of bread for baking
Baking loaves of bread in an outdoor oven

Not to be outdone by the historical reenactments, modern-day archaeologists spend their afternoons digging up bits of the past.
Archaeologists at work...
People in period costumes relaxing in the shade
For what it's worth, this was not a town that took punishment lightly.

Like most British towns from the 1500s - mid-1700s, Williamsburg had a working stockade. And used it.
Stockade in the town center
My shadow, waving goodbye to Williamsburg, on my last run
Have you ever been to Williamsburg?
Are you a fan of historical re-creation tourist destinations?