Monday, May 30, 2011

Race Report: Vermont City Marathon

I thought I'd have to work so hard to stay awake on my 6 hour drive home from Vermont tonight, but I think I still had a lot of adrenaline coursing through me because I basically sang to music at the top of my lungs the whole way home, with some breaks to listen to the Red Sox game.   I also drank 3 cups of coffee and a frappaccino.  Whoa.

I am flying right now.  I am not going to sleep for hours.  Looks like I'll write a late-night race report!

marathon outfits ready, overlooking Lake Champlain

Here are lots of details about today's race:

The humidity was 90% and the temps were low 70s when we walked up the hill from our hotel to the starting line.  A few minutes before the start, it began to rain which felt so good. We lined up with the masses of runners and pretty soon people were moving forward.  About 5 minutes later, we crossed the starting line.

The first part of the course is 3.5 miles, all of which felt great.  There were some nice downhills on brick streets, it was still raining, and the rain was keeping the temperatures reasonable.  It was indeed very humid and the air just felt thick and stifling, but I still felt pretty good.  Christine and I were only together for the first couple miles, which is what I'd anticipated.  I knew I needed to stay at my own pace in the beginning and not overdo it, and I had completely mentally prepared to run this race alone.

Right from the start, I knew I was in a better mental place than I was last year when I ran the same marathon, where I pretty much struggled mentally the whole way.  I kept comparing notes with myself and realized right away that I was feeling lighter, happier, more open to whatever the day was going to give me, and best of all, I was so much more aware of my surroundings.  The crowds are electric in Burlington, and I was looking around at all the supporters, hearing the cowbells, and just loving it.

Part two is the dreaded out-and-back on a closed highway, miles 31/2 to 8.  I hated it last year, and this year it kind of sucked too.  As I started this part, the rain stopped, the streets started to steam, and the sun started to shine through.  I could feel it getting hotter by the minute.  This stretch is basically a gradual downhill for 2.5 miles and then back.  There is nothing enjoyable about a downhill when you know you have to run back up.   As it warmed up, I felt myself slowing down.  That part couldn't end soon enough, but I still stayed calm and in control.

The day before at the expo, we had learned about the 4-tiered Alert system that would be in place to let the runners know how to proceed through the race.  These play a big part in my race report, so check this out:

When I ran down the highway, the water stops were holding green "Low Danger" signs and when I ran back up, they had switched to yellow "Moderate."

Part three of the course:  I ran back up the hill and into town, ran past the spot at mile 9 where Sam was waiting for me last year (he ran 6 miles of the course with me), and I mentally ran those same 6 miles with him this year.   During this stretch of miles, it just kept getting/ feeling hotter.  When I'd stop to grab water, my face was kind of throbby hot.  I started a routine at this point that I kept up for the entire race;  at each water stop, I'd grab 3 cups of water, drink one, dump one down my back, and dump one on my head.  It felt so good every time.  I was also drinking gatorade out of my camelbak the whole day.

As hot as I was, I felt okay.  I ate a banana that I had carried under the flap of my camelbak.  Aid stations had orange slices (wow... so good) and salty pretzels to help with all of the sodium lost through sweat.  I was going slowly, but I was smiling, talking to people, thanking volunteers, and feeling very present in a really wonderful way.  I got the halfway point which swings you down onto a bike path along the edge of Lake Champlain.  Instead of the cool breeze I expected, it was even hotter down there.  At the next water stop, the signs switched to the red High Alert.  Oh boy.

I remembered that the directions for High Alert said "Slow Down" and "Consider Stopping."  So from about mile 14 on, I went into self-preservation mode, and began to alternate between running and walking.   So here I am on this very hot and humid day, and I'm running a little, walking a little, and I'm telling you that there was nothing pathetic about how I felt.  I felt happy and strong and totally in control.  I just knew I didn't want to overheat and end up in an ambulance, so I did what I had to do to stay in control.

Turns out, I have found the secret to a happy marathon:  High Alert signs at every water stop.
There is nothing more liberating.  I knew I had nothing to prove to anyone, and that I was just going to do what I had to do to stay up on my feet.  The difference in how I felt this year in Vermont compared to last year is astounding.  I was a different person out there.

At the bottom of the huge hill at Mile 15, I once again totally loved the Taiko Drum Group, the sound of which I could hear and feel about a quarter mile before I got there.  It was just as awesome as I'd remembered it.  And, I was happily surprised to hear my name and see Christine's husband Keith at that point.  A familiar face is always a boost.

After mile 16 begins the last big loop of the course.  Knowing where I was going and being able to anticipate all that was ahead of me was very helpful.  Alternating between running and walking, knowing now that I officially had no time goal, was a perfect strategy to get me through the next section.  All the aid stations were still advertising High Alert.  Ambulances were passing me every couple minutes.  Each mile I'd see one or two runners collapsed on the grass.  It was disconcerting to say the least.

My friend Jeffrey and his wife Kim were visiting their family who live at mile 17.5.  I had asked Jeffrey to have some things for me and as I got closer, I was really ready to get there.   It was another great boost to find them; Jeffrey refilled my camelbak with beautifully COLD gatorade and gave me a banana.  They said sweet things like "You look great!"  (my beet-red face and crazy hair?).   I chatted for a few minutes (no time goal, remember?) and then carried on.  Their neighborhood was the best because every other house had hoses or sprinklers going and I just zig-zagged around the road to make sure I hit every possible drop of water coming my way. 

Between miles 18-20,  I had some cramping in my calves and in my stomach, but it was all alleviated when I came to an aid station that had more salty pretzels and orange slices.  Seriously, these things have never tasted so divine.  I could still hear a lot of sirens from the ambulances buzzing all around, and we were still at High Alert.

At Mile 21.5 is the downhill turn onto the bike path, the point last year that I was begging for death.  This time, I was feeling hot (like temperature hot) but still in control, and was ready for redemption on the bike path, the last 5 miles of the course.  Everyone around me was walking and suffering.  I walked beside a woman who was audibly sobbing, put my arm around her, fed her pretzels, and promised her she would get to the end.  I felt so happy to offer some assistance to others and to not be needing it myself.   I started to run more consistently at this point, the temperture felt a little cooler, and the signs switched back to Moderate Alert.  I was home free.

For the next 4 miles, I mostly ran with walk breaks just through water stops. Before too long, the sun came back out strongly, the temperatures climbed into the 80s, and the signs switched back to High Alert.  It turned out to be the hottest part of the course.  But I was so close that I didn't let it get to me.

Because hardly anyone was running on this stretch, I passed a lot of people, and just focused on that as a way to keep me occupied.  My legs were tired, yes, but again, it was a different world.  I never once wanted to die, and I never once doubted that I was going to finish.  When I got to mile 25, I could hear the music and the crowds at the end.  I saw the fences with people lined up along them, cowbells ringing, and I smiled at everyone and just brought it home.  I crossed the line in 5:28.06.  Considering the conditions of the day, I had absolutely no problem with that. 

I got my beautiful medal, made my way through the maze of finishers and found Christine (who ran 2 strong marathons in 2 weeks.  Just awesome).  I felt great.  I was not dizzy or confused or in any kind of distress.  I was soaking wet, my fingers were super swollen, and I had basically turned into a walking salt-lick, but I was still standing and still smiling.

Have I mentioned that feeling this light and happy in a marathon is a miracle for me?  I'm telling you, run a hot, humid marathon with High Alert signs all along the way, and you too can experience such joy.

Marathon #3, check.  I am honored and privileged to be able to do this.  I am incredibly happy, and still rather alarmingly caffeinated.  Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

good morning!

It's 6 am in Burlington, and we're about to get ready to do this.

Christine and I (missing our Jen, who got sick with the same illness that I had during Sugarloaf and sadly had to stay home) had a very relaxing evening here.  We ate dinner at American Flat Bread (best salads and pizza ever), and then watched a crazy lightning storm over Lake Champlain from our hotel window.

The weather is definitely the talk of the marathon.  There are warning signs and pamphlets all over the place about how to deal with high heat and humidity.  Right now the humidity is 90%, and I frankly don't even know what that's going to feel like once we get outside.  I guess we'll run a few miles and make our strategy from there. 

Yesterday at the Expo, while I was waiting for Christine to arrive and meet me, I was able to sit for an hour and hear a talk by Bart Yasso, editor in chief of Runner's World.  He was an incredible story teller, showed photos of his life of running on all 7 continents, and put me in such a good frame of mind for this race.  He stressed all of the wonderful opportunities he's had and people he's met through the world of running, and just made me feel lucky to be a part of this crowd. 

We are about to get dressed and will soon head down to the starting line.  I'll try to update when we're done.  Should be an adventure!

Friday, May 27, 2011

here goes nothing.

When thinking about the marathon this weekend, and the forecast for high heat and humidity, my inner voice has been stuck on:  "I'm screwed." 

That being said, I'm actually in a pretty good place about all this.  Because though I'd really like to have a little control here, there is not a thing I can do about the temperatures.  I feel equally pissed at the universe about how this marathon season has turned out for me, and kind of bemused about it all, like I want to throw up my hands with a big old "whatever!"  I don't have a burning desire for success anymore.  I feel like I've completely moved on from the mode I was in all winter long.

I know.  My competitive drive is intimidating you.

My new goals for this race are, in order of importance:
1.  have fun!
2.  don't die.
3.  finish.

Maybe "don't die" should be first?  But I'm determined to "have fun" on this course, dammit!

That's my plan!  I'll let you know how it goes!

I'm leaving tomorrow morning.  Please send prayers for a 30 degree temperature plummet, cool breezes, and overcast skies.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

random wednesday.

 (There is a bloody photo at the bottom of this post.  Don't miss it.  If you're into that.)

1. The sun is finally out this week after an almost completely rainy month of May.  I would say that I had forgotten how much I love the sun but that would be lying.  Everything smells so good and earthy and flowery right now that when I walk around, I do a lot of sniffing and deep inhaling to suck it all in.  We've officially paid all of our bad weather dues this year, so the sun will now remain out, with a slight cooling breeze to keep the black flies away, for the rest of the summer.

Speaking of weather, I have this little thing I'm doing in Vermont this weekend, and the weather forecast calls for 80 degrees and humid conditions with possible thunderstorms. I have not run one training run for this marathon in temps above 55 degrees, and almost all of my running has been in 30-40 degrees.   Let's just say that the attitude I adopted last week to just "take it as it comes" couldn't be more timely.  If the temps turn out to be that high, there is no telling what might happen.

2.  Sam and I, along with a big crew of friends, are going to see Ray Lamontagne and Brandi Carlile tomorrow night right here in Bangor.  Bangor has a new summer concert series in the waterfront that is doing its part to make Bangor a cool(er) place to live.  I'm very excited!

3.  My sister Liesel emailed me three recent photos today.  Since she doesn't have her own blog (I wish she did!), I'm going to put them here.  Cameron's soccer team won their big tournament this weekend in Colorado and Cameron got "Player of the Tournament."  The kid is crazy athletic.  He's pictured 3rd from the right in the back. 

She also sent me this photo of Grant wearing the birthday present we mailed to him. He's a big Sox fan, and is looking so tall and handsome.

Lastly, she told me that while Cam was playing soccer, Craig, my brother in law, was mountain biking and got into a crash.  Apparently he got a branch stuck 2 inches in his arm.   He had to go to the ER with the branch sticking out of his arm and ended up with a bunch of stitches.   I wrote back to ask if there was a photo of Craig's wrist, and indeed, a few minutes later, there it was.  You want to see it?  I figured some of you would not (it's bloody and gruesome!) but if you are like me, I bet you'll click here.  You looked, didn't you.

Hope you are all having a great week.

Monday, May 23, 2011

dinner is served.

Last month, our school held a fundraiser and silent auction for the Japan Earthquake victims.  My friend Susan and I donated to the auction a "gourmet dinner for six with dessert."

I should pause here to say that Susan (one of my sole sisters and a colleague of eleven years) and I are very like-minded in many ways.  On any given day at work, I might be teaching a lesson that I got from her and she might be teaching a lesson that she got from me. We share ideas freely and have so similar a teaching style that our lesson plans are practically interchangeable. That is, we like to teach the same books in the same ways.  Because we teach next door to each other, I can sometimes hear her say something and know what lesson she is teaching because I have used it recently too.  It is quite an amazing benefit to have a colleague like that.

Also, on any given night she might be cooking something at her house that I would cook at my house.  We have the same tastes in healthy foods and do a lot of recipe swapping.  It was very easy to coordinate this meal together since we do so many projects at work together and like all of the same foods.

Maybe we are actually the same person.

A local family who won our meal at the auction asked us if we would make the dinner for eight and skip the dessert, which was fine with us.  The couple was having a dinner party with eight guests and we did the cooking.  How cool is that?  (for them, and for us!)

This weekend, Susan and I prepped, cooked, and delivered our hot meal to the eight people who were waiting for it. We had given them three menu choices in the weeks before the dinner party.  The choices we offered:

Option 1:  Chicken Marbella: Roasted chicken first marinated in oil, vinegar, capers, and herbs, then baked with olives, prunes, and added brown sugar and white wine.

New Potatoes tossed with pesto

Spinach Salad with red onion, blue cheese and toasted walnuts

Option 2:  Butternut Squash Lasagna

Roasted Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Shallot Vinaigrette

Option 3:  Spicy Sauteed Talapia with Parsley and Cherry Tomatoes

Greek Pasta Salad with Olive Tapenade and Feta

Roasted Vegetables:  Asparagus, Onions, Brussel Sprouts and Zucchini

They chose Option 3, we divvied up the shopping list, did some prep at home on our own, and then got together in Susan's kitchen to pull it all together.

While chopping onions and tomatoes, if you didn't already see this coming, we started daydreaming about catering like this for other dinner parties.  We figured we'd happily cook a feast for someone else's dinner party once a month or so.

So, we're just putting this out there.  Maybe, if you are local,  you would like to host a dinner party, sit around and leisurely sip wine with your guests, and just as you are ready to sit down at the table, Susan and I would show up at your door with a hot delicious meal at a reasonable price?  Or we could drink wine in your kitchen while we cook for you right at your house.  We also bake some mean pies.  Seriously.  Let us know.  We just might start doing this on the side.

Underneath the garlicky cherry tomato sauce on the long platter are 8 talapia fillets prepped in a spice rub of paprika, pepper, crushed red pepper, and coriander.  It smelled awesome.

We actually had a great time cooking together, which means the food tasted better because it is made with love and friendship and good cheer.  Maybe we'll call ourselves:  Love and Friendship and Good Cheer Catering. Too wordy? 

The food will be healthy, fresh, and delicious.  You know where to find me!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

so fleeting and so wonderful.

Considering I was away last weekend and will be away next weekend, I decided to give Sam the gift of a whole day to get some stuff done, and give myself the gift of a whole day with the kids to myself.  We left the house at 8 am and got home at 5 pm.  Despite the chilly weather, we headed straight to one of my favorite places in the wide world:  Sand Beach.

 I love hanging out with my kids at these ages.  Everything is so much more doable. They walk themselves, they cry less, they cooperate, they have conversations with me.  I can walk through the grocery store with them and discuss what we should get for our picnic lunch.  They giggle a lot, shout "WOW"  and "COOL" at every new turn,  and genuinely relish our time together.  I know it's a fleeting stage, so I am soaking it up.

I thought it was cold, because it was (48 degrees). But what can I say, my kids are rugged Mainers who got right into the water.  I had to wade through this stream too, and my feet were instantly numb, but they didn't care at all.

I did not bring their bathing suits.  I guess I should have.
 We dug, we built sand castles, we picknicked, they got really wet and started to finally get cold, so we hiked back up to the car where we changed, blasted the heat AND the Disney Princess Soundtrack (I'm a good mother). 
 We'll be back, Sand Beach, when it's hot and sunny.

From there we went to the playground at the MDI YMCA known to the kids as "Half Marathon playground," since that is the only time they've played there, then to Reny's (it's a Maine thing) to get some new shoes for Skyler.  Reed picked out some new socks.  They both left so happy.

Next stop, the movies!  We went to see Rio (it was very cute). We got settled as the movie was just starting, and I looked to my right to see Reed, his little face glowing from the movie light, eyes wide and mouth stuffed with m&ms, and to my left to Skyler, who looked at me and smiled.  Reed loved his new socks so much that he had brought his little Reny's bag into the movies and was clutching it proudly.  I swelled with love for my time with these crazy, cool kids while they are so little that they can barely hold the movie seat down, but big enough to laugh at the funny parts of a movie and sit still for the whole show.     

As we walked out of the theater, Reed shouted:  "BEST DAY EVER!" And that was before we came home to dinner on the patio and roasted marshmallows by the fire.  And just to keep me from ending the night all sentimental, Jackson got out of the house just as we were coming in and ran away (there is a dead animal that he's interested in under the neighbor's wood pile), and Reed stood on the porch and yelled:  "YOU IDIOT!" 

It's such a good life.   I'm so very lucky.

Friday, May 20, 2011

product review with disclaimers.

Last month, the company 2Toms sent me an email to ask me if I had a chaffing problem, which is kind of a personal question, don't you think? 

I also got an email a while ago asking me to try out some really strong laundry detergent for my running clothes, and I wanted to write back:  are you trying to tell me something?  But I digress.

Actually, I do have one spot on my body that gets into trouble on long runs, and that is under the bottom band of my sports bra.  It looks and feels like a terrible, red rug burn and it hurts like hell especially when the shower hits it after the run; it always heals just in time to go for another long run, at which point, it turns into an even worse strip of red burny skin.  Lovely, huh?  So I told 2Toms that I would love to try out an anti-chafing product.

But the ridiculous thing is that I had never gone out to buy any anti-chafing products before.  I had used one free sample of a kind of thick cream product that I got on the Vermont marathon expo, but otherwise, I just sort of suffered through the chafing for no real explainable reason. 

Maybe I was just waiting for someone to send me some.   Now I apply some of this Sport Shield onto my trouble zone before a long run.  It's a liquid product that goes on with a roll-on, like deodorant.  Very easy, and super effective.  I have no new chafing marks or tenderness.  Success!

My review may not totally be fair because I don't have a lot to compare this to, but it worked, it was easy, it smelled normal.  I give it two thumbs up.  Locals, you can buy it at Epic Sports in Bangor.  You can also order online.  Thanks, 2Toms!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Here is another recipe that I improvised after watching something on the Food Network when I was hungry. A while ago, I watched some show that featured an Italian eatery in New York that was famous for calzones made with sausage, potatoes, mozzarella, tomato, and red onion.  I was starving when I watched it and I couldn't get them off of my mind. 

I know this is a carb-heavy meal. Hello,  potatoes wrapped in dough? But what could be a better pre Marathon 15K meal? I served these up last week before the race.

Sausage and Potato (and other veggie) Calzones.

I found some locally made Chorizo sausage which was good and spicy.    Clearly, you could make these without the meat at all, and in fact, anything wrapped in dough would be good, so just use whatever you have.

I started off sauteing red onions, then added the sausage, then broccoli, then spinach.  Just sautee for a few minutes... no need to cook it all through, since they will cook more in the calzone.
Next, ask your husband to roll out the dough because that is your least favorite part.

This was pre-made pizza dough that I can buy at our grocery store.

Pile it all on.

Next, add some chunks of fresh mozzarella or other grated cheese.

And then roll her up, and brush with olive oil.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.. until golden brown.

Bonus:  the second half of this was wrapped up for my lunch the next day.
As you can see, my calzone crust was too thick on the bottom and too thin on top, so I need more practice. 

I guess I'll make them again very soon. 

Think of the calzone possibilities!  Mushrooms and cheese?  Roasted red peppers, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and feta?  Barbeque chicken and red onion and Gorgonzola?   We should all wrap our food in dough more often.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

attitude check.

Whoa:  this is my 1,001st post on this blog! (and want to know something adorable?  Sam's mom Lila has printed every page of this blog and she keeps them in thick three-ring binders.  She's on Volume 7 I think.) 

As you probably know by now, I trained all winter for a marathon I was unable to run because I was sick. When I was out there on the course on Sunday watching my friends run, I couldn't help but wonder where I would have been and how I would have been feeling if I hadn't gotten sick.  I had spent so much time and energy envisioning myself on that course, and it was weird to have to let it all go.

But, I scrambled and quickly made plans for a different marathon 10 days from now, a marathon I ran last year on a day that was not my best.  I have a lot of baggage about my marathon in Vermont.  I basically remember not feeling well from like mile 3 on, and really not feeling well during miles 17 to the end.  And so, I have had to bat away at negative thoughts all week since I realized Vermont was going to be my spring marathon this year. I'm also still not 100% healthy and still have an annoying and persistent cough.

For these reasons, I have had an attitude check this week and have successfully re-framed the upcoming marathon for myself, relieving myself of any unnecessary pressure.   I don't really know how my body is going to respond to this extended taper period and having been sick.  When I get to the starting line in Vermont,  I won't have done a really long run (20 miles) for 6 weeks.  Instead of weighing myself down with worry about how I'll do or what my time will be, I've allowed myself to just relax and just see what happens, to just feel thankful I get to go back to Burlington and run through that beautiful city's streets, to run past Lake Champlain again, to be with my friends, and as Christine said, some of that chocolate with the salt on top from Lake Champlain Chocolates isn't going to hurt either.

I am fully aware that there is no logical reason to make myself nervous with my own expectations of how I will run when I'm such a total amateur anyway, and yet, I tend to get so nervous for marathons that I make myself sick.    It might sound like having a relaxed attitude about an upcoming marathon is easier said than done (especially for me, in frequent battle with mental demons), but I'm surprised at how a slight shift in my attitude about this has given me a lot of relief. 

The truth is,  I'm a back-of-the-pack runner just trying to cover the distance with a light heart and a smile.  That's all.  I'll do the best I can do.  I will stay calm and carry on.  Sure, I'd like to run a better time than last year, but actually, what I really want to have happen in Vermont is to at least have some stretches of time on the course where I find my stride, feel comfortable running, and enjoy the scenery and the amazing crowd support.  If I close my eyes, I can imagine the feeling of the beat of those Taiko drummers who stand at the bottom of the hill at mile 15.  I can feel it in my whole body. That great energy is the part of the Vermont City Marathon that I'm focusing on, to feel the crowds, to relax, and to let my legs do what I know they can do.

"If movement is a sign of life and stillness is death, running is an example of life most fully lived. It's beautiful." -- British artist, Martin Creed

I also realize that I am writing this post mostly for myself, but I've dragged you with me on so many training runs and rambling reflections about running, that I figured I'd include you here too.

Monday, May 16, 2011

more Sugarloaf photos.

Sandi, Suzanne, Jen, Emilie, Susan, Christine, Amy, Amy's beautiful azaleas.
on the way!
it's the plastic poncho that made me so fast, even Sandi's camera couldn't catch me.

with Tom and Rachel at the finish of the 15K.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sugarloaf in the rain.

Sugarloaf would have dissolved today if it were truly made of sugar.  It rained hard-- all day long.  In fact, we never saw the mountains at all because we were so socked in with fog and rain.  It sure seemed like it would have been a stunning course if it were clear, but alas, despite our obsessive weather checking the night before, the weekend held nothing but rain.

We still had a great time hanging out together, going out to eat, and staying in a condo on the mountain with (what would have been) a beautiful view.

I spent a good part of the evening coughing and feeling legitimately sub-par.  I was actually glad that my illness was definitive, and that it was not tough decision about whether to run the marathon or not.  I went to bed feeling fairly certain that I could muster the 15K (9.3 miles), but that was the extent of what I could expect of my body this weekend.

The other 5 girls, however,  were ready to go.  We all had breakfast and geared up to brave the elements.  Leave it to our Christine to provide us with matching ponchos.

The theme song of the day? Purple Rain.

Just after this photo, the girls hopped in the van and took a left to drive to the marathon starting line, and I hopped in my car, heat blasting, and drove to the right to the 15K starting line.  I had about 30 minutes to sit in the car before my race during which time I felt really sick.  After a while the Ibuprofen kicked in, I ate a banana, and was good to go.

I ran the last 9.3 miles (though my Garmin clocked it at 9.4) of the marathon course.  My former student Rachel and my current student Tom were running, and I once again benefited from having them there because Rachel's dad Roger was there to cheer for them, and was kind enough to hang out long enough at 3 points along the race to cheer for me too (and hold my car key).  Thank you!

My legs were super fresh after not running for a full week, but the rest of me was definitely sick.  I felt okay; that's as far as I'll go, but I finished strong and was glad I did it.  Sandi came upon me with about 4 miles to go and shouted:  "Are you okay?  Do you want to keep running?"  I made myself smile and say "YES!" even though her dry van looked soooo nice. 

I will have photos once I get them from Sandi who so graciously made it to the finish line to cheer for me. 

Got my medal, grabbed some food, hugs from Tom and Rachel, and took off to find the girls, who by that time, were at mile 16.

As you will see from the photos, the rain was not doing any damage to their spirits.  It was an amazing sight to behold.

Jen and Amy still full of love at Mile 16

Christine and Susan killing it at mile 20

big smile at mile 20

Barbaric Yawp... Mile 20

Amy hanging tough... mile 20

Thumbs up!  Looking awesome at mile 23.

Sandi gets Suzanne through a tough stretch.. so much love.
All together, wet, cold, and DONE.  Congratulations to my inspiring, strong, beautiful friends.
Yes, it was a little sad for me to not be running with them, but it was much better for me to be a part of the day than to be at home wondering how they were doing.  Everyone had a very strong race, and I was proud (and teary) to see each of them cross the line.   MY hot shower felt incredible, so I can only imagine how good they are feeling now that they are dry and warm.  Love you, girls.

Friday, May 13, 2011

decision made.

I tossed and turned about the Sugarloaf Marathon last night and woke up still feeling badly and knowing what I had to do. This is not just a cold; I have some kind of virus that has sapped me of my energy.  I was winded after walking from my car to the front door of the school this morning.  I cannot run a marathon.  It actually didn't feel like a choice because I am sick enough that it just isn't possible.  I'm not running Sugarloaf.

I spent some time being mad at the universe and feeling sorry for myself (and crying just a little).

Over the course of the past 24 hours, I've been busy scheming, and I've come up with my back up plans and now I feel much, much better.

Plan ARun the Sugarloaf Marathon healthy and strong.

Plan B:  Run the Vermont City Marathon in Burlington, VT in 2 weeks.  I should be good to go by then.   And may God bless Hal Higdon, because there is even a training plan for this very scenario!

Two of my girls, Jen and Christine, were already planning on running Burlington, and I'm going to join them.  I bumped into my friend Karen today and when I told her the plan to run Burlington again, she quipped "Oh, good, because you had such a good time doing that last year."  Yes, I'm a little scared of that marathon since last year was a struggle, but I'm going to go for it.  And if Jen and Christine can run Burlington after running a marathon 2 week earlier, then I can certainly do it, right?

Once plan B was firmly in place, I began to feel a lot less sorry for myself, and then just in the last few hours, I have hatched two more plans.

Plan C:  Get over myself and go cheer for my friends running the marathon at Sugarloaf.

I am starting to feel a little better, and I got Sam's blessing to go on with them. And then once I knew I was going to Sugarloaf for the weekend, I started to hatch another plan.

Plan D:  Run the 15K instead of the marathon.  Sugarloaf hosts both a marathon and a 15K which runs the last 9.6 miles of the marathon course.  IF I feel better by Sunday morning, I will run 9.6 miles and then settle in to wait for my girls to cross the finish line.  It will even earn me a shirt and medal for my efforts.

I've almost totally lost my voice with the combination of my cough and all of the processing I've been doing, so I better shut up now and watch the Sox game and get ready to drive to Sugarloaf tomorrow.
Thanks for all of the kind thoughts and healing energy... I have felt it!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

this was not part of the plan

We have a situation here.  I've been sick since Tuesday.

I've been doing everything I can do... resting, drinking water, green smoothies, echinaccea, Emergen-C, extra sleep and I'm not getting better. 

To say that I'm stressed out about his would be an understatement.  Everyone keeps telling me to stay positive, that nothing can stop me, etc. etc.  Well, if I am sore and achy with a sore throat, cough, swollen glands, and can barely muster the energy to walk to the mail box, I'm thinking that it's going to take more than mind-over-matter.

There is a chance I'll feel much better tomorrow, and even better on Saturday.  But I know how it feels the first time you run long after you've been sick.  I won't be 100%.  I'm not really interested in slogging through a marathon this weekend.  I want to run a marathon.  I don't want to "just finish" anymore.  I want to finish strong.

No, it's not going to be the end of the world if I can't go.  I'm trying to keep things in perspective.  There are worse things that could happen to a person.  But I did not run so many miles through that god-forsaken Maine winter for nothing, and the thought of my running friends all going on with out me is kind of breaking my heart, so I'm hoping for some miraculous healing over here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

happy birthday, daddy.

Today is my dad's birthday, and I swear to you, that even after 8 (!?) years since his death, in early May I still catch myself thinking of ideas of what to get him for his birthday.  I notice books he would love or shirts he'd look handsome in, or photos of my kids he would appreciate.

I just re-read what I wrote last year on my dad's birthday, and yep, it still captures how I feel.   The most important thing I would reiterate that I learned from my dad is to treat others gently, to give the benefit of the doubt, to see the good in everyone.  He not only gave me this advice, he lived it.  He was very quick to assume good intentions, he was kind to everyone he came across, friendly to strangers, and appreciative of whatever each person had to offer.   Seeing people from this perspective not only makes you a kind person, it makes you a happier person.  Thanks, dad.

One quick memory to illustrate my point:  Once when I was in high school, I drove with my dad from Michigan to Maryland to see our Maryland relatives, but I can't remember why it was just the two of us.  We got up and left very early, and so the roads were pretty empty on our way to the highway.  My dad was going on about how amazing it is that so many people did their part to allow for everything to function so smoothly in society.  "Isn't it incredible? Everyone who needs to be is up early and off to work.  There are attendants at the gas stations, coffee is made in all of the restaurants, the toll both workers are ready and waiting for us, the street cleaners are out, construction crews are up and at it, police are on duty, everything is running smoothly.  What a wonderful world."  He would go on and on, and I would probably roll my eyes with my teenage self, amazed at how my dad was so easily thrilled by things most people would never notice, but what I would say to my dad today is:  "Yes, dad, I was listening, and I notice all of these things, and yes, you are right, it is a wonderful world."

My dad was a great (and prolific) photographer, and he loved to take photos of us when we were distracted by something, and therefore not fake-smiling or posing.  He was notorious for making us hold flowers in our hands to look at while he was photographing us.  We have shoe boxes full of these photos.

Here are two pictures he would love. I might have framed them for his birthday.   I hope he can see them.

My mom's neighbor got a brand new pug puppy and my kids, especially Skyler, fell instantly in love.

She has another pug named Ming so she wanted a matching Chinese name for this little one.  I suggested Dumpling.  That's, Chinese, right?   I think it might stick.

Reed doesn't exactly have a gentle touch, and did more squeezing than holding; he made me very nervous.  We were also glad that Jackson wasn't around considering that Dumpling might seem like a tasty appetizer.

And yes,  I realize that Reed's hair is totally out of control.  It's getting more big than long, and I wanted to cut it, but we are trying to cultivate a particular look and we're going to have to be patient.   We'll see what happens. 

 Happy Birthday to my greatest-ever Dad.

Today's marathon quote:
"The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life." - George Sheehan

Monday, May 9, 2011

Kid Central Festival

One thing I hear myself say a lot is:  "We didn't really intend to stay in Maine for this long, but it's such a great place to raise kids."  Case in point:

Saturday was a new event in downtown Bangor, the Kid Central Festival, where each downtown shop offered an activity for kids.  We started with shopping at the kids' book store, and free comic books at the comic book store, and then...

Giacommo's for cannoli making.

We hung in the park for a while, and the big kids climbed trees.
Brady, Ella, Skyler.

My beautiful friends Ange and Suzanne, and Ange's brand new baby Beckett tucked in there.

We went to the tattoo shop for face painting and waited for a loooooong time.  The guys that work there said they thought that parents wouldn't let their kids in the tattoo shop, so they expected only a few customers.  Instead, the line was out the door for the whole day.  We were not afraid of the tattoo shop.

The kids were actually incredibly cool.  See?
And it was worth the wait.

This guy was incredible.  Patient, sweet, and talented.
Reed asked for a super hero on his (grubby little) hand.  Done.
My favorite photo of the day:  Reed taking a break from the action to check out his comic books.

We ended the day with chocolate ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles.  And iced coffee.  It was a good, good day.