Thursday, December 30, 2010

730.1 AND DONE

Guess what? I DID IT! Today's 6-miler put me one little tiny tenth of a mile over my yearly goal. After all the confusion and re-planning, I can officially say that this year is in the books. DONE. And as proof of this (and proof that I don't post only the nice pictures), here I am the minute that treadmill stopped. And btw, and you can quote me on this, you know you're a runner mom when you wipe sweat off your brow at 4.3 miles and realize that your hands smell like Play-Doh. 

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for all of your support and encouragement, not just here at the end, but throughout the year. It's been a totally crazy year. I liked the list approach RunningFirst took, so I'll do the same. Here's a good/bad recap of the year in roughly chronological order.
  1. I got to run a half-marathon with my much-missed Meg
  2. I PhinisheD my PhD! And had a great big party. My West Virginians came and everything. 
  3. With the Team, I ran my first trail race the morning of my son's second birthday....and had an emergency appendectomy that night. And an open house the next day. 
  4. We sold said house. (well, sort of. It's complicated, but is occupied by people other than us)
  5. My parents came to help finish packing, moving, and painting the new place. I drove over our mailbox with a 24' Uhaul truck. We had movers pack the truck, but still needed help at the end. Some of our good friends came to our rescue and helped us get the job done. Then I drove all our worldly belongings to our new house in a new city and state. 
  6. The Beastie and her husband came to visit. Saying goodbye was really hard, knowing that they were moving many states away. We'd lived nine of the last eleven years within a few miles of each other. Thank goodness for Skype.  
  7. Mr. Joanna and I started new jobs, the kiddo started a new daycare.
  8. I endured the hottest long run in history (let's assume no one's ever actually run Badwater). 
  9. I tripped and ate massive quantities of asphalt while running...twice. Consequently gave up wearing statement tees, such as one that might have said "Kick Asphalt" that I might have been wearing the second time I fell. 
  10. RunningFirst came down to run L&C with me, my second marathon. I set a new PR by 27 minutes, which I'm still pretty proud of. 
  11. I got to see some of my college girls, meet some of their other friends, tour San Francisco and run a half-marathon there, including going over the Golden Gate bridge! Not my fastest race, but fun. And I got to run it with Frank (and her "passenger"!).
  12. Two trips to Detroit, one for the baptism of my newborn niece and the other for Christmas. 
  13. After months of repairs and breakdowns, Mr. Joanna finally got a new car that includes such luxuries as a radio and working windows. Then wrecked mine. (I got glared at for that last part, but it's true. Although it was a minor fender bender and it's been fixed). 
  14. I met my running goals for the year and did it injury free!!
I hope I'm not forgetting anything. I probably am. There were so many big moments, not just in our lives but in the lives of our friends.  

In conclusion for 2010, here is the monthly mileage report from runningahead. I'm really grateful that RunningFirst introduced me to this site this year. It's been great for helping me track everything. It's no surprise that June was my lowest mileage month, given the appy and the move. What this graph also tells me is that I clearly need to be doing more tempo and interval work. I also know from my incredible (and historically unprecedented) inflexibility that I have to do more cross-training (read: I need to do some, any cross training).  I'm on it. In the next few days I'm going to start putting together, with help from RunningFirst (aka, Coach Mike) my training plan for spring. Here's to high hopes for my spring races!!

A bloggy meet-up and joint race announcement

The time has come for race announcements! And not just any race announcement, but a joint announcement with my bloggy friend Jess over at Run Jess Run.

A while back I put out a call for suggestions for spring races in the Midwest. Meanwhile, Jess was looking for a half-marathon (her first!) to register for. She lives in Michigan and I have family there, and the stars aligned and calendars worked so that we both decided to run....


which you can check out here. I am so excited to get to meet her! Also, I'm really looking forward to racing again in Michigan. Although it was painful (due to an injury), I really enjoyed running there a year ago (race recap here). AND I get to see family. Awesome piled on top of awesome.

And, although I'm nervous about the timing, I've also picked a spring full marathon. It shall be:

The Cleveland Marathon

I'm nervous because it's only 6 weeks after the Martian Half. I'm also nervous because I've never done a spring full. But, as Mamarunsbarefoot (a fabulous blog I just found) says:

"Everyone who steps out of their comfort zone, works, sweats, and yes even cries comes across that finish line changed forever, and yes they all win!!"

Time to put together my spring training plan and get excited about Half #6 and Marathon #3!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

724.1 down...

**In all the craziness of the holidays, I didn't thank Stephanie at It's all happening for nominating me for a Stylish Blogger Award. THANK YOU!!**

On to today--thank you all for your support over this mad dash to the finish line for 2010 goals. Kel is absolutely right that if I don't follow through on this, I'll forever have an asterisk next to 2010 when I think about it. So, how much of a compulsive over-achiever am I? Let's start with this week. I have this week off from work, a few days with the kiddo and a few days without, which is an unbelievable luxury for me. So what did I do? I not only made a to-do list for my time off, but I prioritized the items on it. Sadly, I didn't even think to feel nerdy about this until I realized my husband had probably seen it. Busted.

So compulsive me over here went to the gym at 5:30 last night and laid down 4.5 miles. Then went back today and did 6 more. That brings me to 724.1. Only 5.9 to go. I can do this. That's just one more 6 mile run. Bring it. Day after tomorrow. Gym is closed tomorrow (insert name-calling here) and my street is still a solid sheet of ice.

And while I'm at it, today was freaking awesome. I slept in. I scrapbooked (see other blog). I finally bought blinds for my scraproom--the last room in the house with nothing on the windows. I ran. It was fantastic. And tomorrow is going to rock my face off.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Rule 104.3B

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas. Personally, I ate my way through the entire Detroit region and had a great time doing it. I even ran one day on the hotel treadmill--oh yeah! My family did a vaguely-white elephantish-stocking stuffer exchange, where we all bought three random items less than $5/each and traded them amongst ourselves (kids' stocking stuffers were chosen much more intentionally). Among my items, I took a pair of red and white women's knee-high socks with white faux fur around the top. I was really hoping my Dad would get them, but no such luck. But that was actually my third gift exchange of the season. One was with my boys (and MJ & family by phone) before we left, and one was before that, with The Beastie.

I love her to pieces. I really do. We were young enough when we met that we exchanged Christmas and birthday gifts. We have continued this tradition and we always have fun with it. Our birthdays are only 4 days apart, so it's sort of a semi-annual party tradition. Anyway, this year, since we live far apart, we mailed the gifts then had a Skype gift exchange. Complete with this photo of us in front of her Christmas tree. Silly? Maybe. Fabulous? Absolutely.

What do you do to keep in touch with far-away friends?

So, Blogger Rule 104.3B, as invoked by TnT Coach Ken: if you blog it, you must follow through. Yeah, yeah, guys, I know. I'm ridiculous for obsessing over the difference between 720 and 730 miles. I get it. But do you know how much it would bother me to run 727 miles and know I was *this close* to what I said I was going to do? Have you ever read my self-description on this blog? Compulsive over-achiever. Stick with me until the end of the week--let's see how close I can come. Right now I'm at 713.6. Hellooooooo treadmill!

And....race announcement coming later this week! Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Uh, oops. I'm supposed to be good with numbers.

A Beautiful Bah-Humbug
Don't get me wrong--I love Christmas. Really, I do. I have great memories of sitting around the dining room table as a child, eating dinner on Christmas Eve, looking into the living room at the softly glowing tree, with all its ornaments and the gifts beneath it. All the childish anticipation of Christmas morning. Then the late night Christmas Eve service, which was always beautiful. We lit candles in church and turned off the lights, some years we processed outside onto the sidewalk, singing Silent Night with our candles, sometimes in the snow. It was all lovely.

And then yesterday on the phone with my brother I heard myself saying, "We're all excited, but I don't have time for this *%!$!"

And sadly, it's all beautiful and true. Beautiful--the stocking I finally finished knitting for my niece. My son who keeps talking about Jesus's birthday. The wrapping of gifts so lovingly picked out. True--that I don't have time to do things like clean my house and buy groceries while knitting said stocking, working, running, and continuing to settle into our house. The buying holiday cards, sending them out, buying gifts, shipping gifts, decorating, all of it. It's not that it's no longer fun--it's still beautiful--but for the first time in my life I'm finding all of this stressful.

The Dreadmill
After last Sunday's failed attempt to run, it got icy out. That's where I draw the line. Ice. So after a few busy days at work, I made it over to the rec center and signed up for a month's membership. I got two runs in, a 4-miler yesterday and 7 miles this morning. I'm really thankful for a safe place to run, but why does it have to be SO boring?!? I know we're all suffering the dreadmill right now. It gives me solace to know you're all doing the same thing with me. Time to recharge the mp3 player.

First, the good news--I hit 700 miles today! I know a lot of you passed that milestone back in August (or earlier), but this is a big hairy deal for me! It's a first!!

The bad news--I went back to my January blog post this morning just to double check my 720 goals and discovered, much to my dismay, that I actually said 730. Crap!! I sort of feel attached to the 720 goal. I can reach it at this point, and it's what I've been planning for. But it's not what I said a year ago! I feel conflicted. Time to write down a new plan for the next 13 days and see what is realistic.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Running in a Winter Wonderland

This morning I awoke to our first snow. I remembered a run last winter in the snow, where it was just the sound of our feet crunching softly on the snow, and the beautiful trees around us. That is not what happened this morning. But before I tell you about that, an update of the issues I've been having with The Vengeance.

Thank you all so much for your genuine concern after my last post! I feel I should clarify:
1. Although I almost always run with my Garmin, on most runs I don't check it at all or only check it when it gives me the mile interval beep.
2. I can still run without it!
3. I'm still hoping it can be fixed.

Hopefully I somehow screwed up a setting, or its still under warranty, or something. After my last post, I tried running with it a few more times. It hasn't blacked out on me again, but it doesn't seem to be recording pace, location, elevation, any of that. When I hook it up to my computer, it shows my mile times, overall time and pace, but that's it. No map. So there is definitely something screwy with it. If anyone has any clues, PLEASE let me know. It was a fabulous, expensive gift and I've loved it.

back to my wintery wonderland

It seemed like a good idea to run. Yesterday it rained all day, so no run there. Snow? I can handle snow. I love running in snow! A little wind? No problem. It was windy 98.9% of all hours of all days in the town we used to live in (and worse in the winter. Seriously, by the time of the spring thaw our first year there, I thought I was going to lose my mind from the constant sound of wind. Mercifully, it lightened up in warmer weather, and eventually I got used to it). So around 10am I bundled up and headed out.

I almost bit it twice about a block from our house, at an intersection where the snow was particularly compacted/icy from traffic. "It will be better in the park," I told myself. After all, the park has rangers (seriously. Just like in Elf, but not on horses). They must have plowed/shoveled by now. Right?

I got to the entrance of the park.

As usual, I veered to the left to begin the lap around the park. I start on the road for a bit, then merge onto a walking/running path. The road wasn't too bad. It was when I got to the path that trouble really arose. Because, well, I may have been the only person to have set foot there all day.

At first I thought it wouldn't be too bad. It was only 3-4 inches of snow, and pretty powdery. But then it was windy, and in places I couldn't see where the path was at all. Halfway down this side of the park, the path crosses a street. At that point I decided to turn back and run along the road instead of the path. I think that's when I took this picture.

There were still some icy spots, but I think if I'd stuck to the roads from the beginning I could have finished a longer run. I do love running in the snow. Like almost all runs, I'm really glad I went. Even if it was just 2.7 miles. As the city remembers how to handle snow, I'm sure it will get easier to run in it.

Mileage update: 10.6 this week and 689.6 for the year. I WILL reach 720!! So close!

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I went for a run today. I walked outside. Tapped the bezel on my Garmin. Got a satellite signal. Locked the bezel. Hit the Start button. Started running.

A while later I thought I should have heard the one mile beep. Maybe I didn't hear it, I thought to myself. I checked my Garmin.

It was off. OFF.

And I can't get it to turn back on. It's charged. Fully charged. I just charged it earlier today.

What the heck is wrong?!? I've only had it for 7.5 months. It can't be broken. HELP!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Clarification and Gobble Gobble

Ok, people. I've received some questions about "popping the deuces." There was a trace of concern. I feel you should receive an urban education on this topic. Per the Urban Dictionary:
"Poppin' Deuces--to peace out, to throw the peace sign and leave."

So no, my husband was not doing anything questionable. The man is a peace loving albino!
(note: no, he is not actually an albino. but...close enough)

Ok, moving on. Today was my first ever Turkey Trot! It was called the Gobble Gobble 5k. Seriously. Gobble gobble, a recap.

The race website (as well as the registration page) was almost entirely devoid of details. Pesky things like start time and location. I finally found an address last night, looked it up, wrote out directions, laid out my clothes, and went to bed. This morning I was up, dressed, and out on time and headed to the race.

Except I got there and found an empty parking lot. Gaaaaaah! I called Mr. Joanna, who was still sleeping and couldn't hear his phone. I called a co-worker who I knew would be awake, but didn't get an answer. I finally called my mom, only because I knew they have a land line phone and it would wake her up.

Now, let me tell you how seriously I had to consider this decision. Rule #1 of my family is never under any circumstance take driving directions from my mom. When my sister-in-law joined the family, it was practically the first thing I told her. My mother's directions have never, and this is not an exaggeration, never gotten me to my intended destination. And working with her to get directions while you are in motion is another whole debacle. So it was with great consternation that I called her.

I have to hand it to her, she came through for me today. Not only was she totally gracious about the fact that I called her at o'dark-thirty on a holiday, and the fact that she knows how I feel about her navigation skills, she got me from point A (aka, lost) to point B (start line) very smoothly. So here it is Mom, in writing for all the world to see: GOOOOOO Pepper!!! Great job on the directions and THANK YOU!!!

So I finally got to the race, picked up my packet, jogged around a little bit to warm up, looked (unsuccessfully) for my runner-girl co-worker, and lined up. Now, usually at races, I'm a mid-packer. No use in being all cocky and lining up in front and having everyone have to run around me. I try to line up in the proper starting corral. But at Gobble Gobble there weren't corrals. It was a 5k, after all. And the field is startlingly different than the field at any large half- or full marathon. People in the rain. Mothers announcing that they have snacks just in case anyone gets hungry during the race. You get the picture. So I moved up a little farther than I normally would. I still spent the better part of the first half mile dodging around people and having to slow down to get around them, but it thinned out and I took off and I smiled ear to ear.

It had been 12 years since I last ran a 5k. This felt so different than I remembered it. Three point one felt like a long way to run in high school cross country. Today it felt like, run hard, run fast, it's so short! I put my head down and just kept my legs moving under me. It was over before I knew it. I finished over two minutes faster than my high school PR. Woot!! Today I finished in 25:19. And I had a great time doing it. And I know I could do it faster. Now I can't wait for more 5ks!

I learned a lot today. Nerdy girl list time:
  1. My Garmin rocks my face off. It was so nice to know where I was on the course and how far I had to go and how fast I was running.
  2. I shouldn't be afraid to move toward the start line at a 5k. It's such a different bunch of runners. It's a lot more people who are just out for something to do and a lot less people who are serious runners.
  3. I can push harder through a 5k than what I did today. At no point was I sucking air or considering throwing up. It's not a distance I'm comfortable pacing myself for....yet. But I will get there. After all, once upon a time it was the only distance I knew.
  4. It was a good call to take an extra layer to change into before heading home.
I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving today! Some of you have had great posts about the holiday. I am incredibly thankful for my family, the best friends a girl could ask for (even if they are all far away), a job I love, a warm home, and the ability to run my heart out!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Inexplicable popping of the deuces

Sometimes you run and you're focused on the run. Sometimes you look at the scenery. Sometimes you don't look at anything or focus on anything. Your mind just wanders. And then you snap out of it and realize several miles have passed. Today was one of those runs. My mind just wandered and processed my work week and things to do before Thanksgiving and a hundred other things. Like my header says, this is my me time.

My 4-miler yesterday and my 5.8 today reminded me that I need to pull it together and get back to the consistent running I was doing all fall. For one thing, my 4-miler left me a little sore, which is unacceptable. It reminded me how quickly endurance drops off. And, it reminded me how much more enjoyable running is when you're running consistently and it feels easy. And then there are those upcoming races. That's right.

I signed up for my first ever Turkey Trot! It's a 5k on Thanksgiving (this coming Thursday).

I am super excited about this. I haven't run a 5k since high school cross country. I'm not only pretty sure I can beat my fastest time (I remember approximately what it was), but I know I'm going to have a great time doing it. Pictures and race recap will follow!

Finally, Running Diva Mom's post about hitting her goal for the year reminded me that I haven't posted miles recently. I'm at 659 for the year. I realize this is really low for a lot of you and high for others. Back in January, I set a goal for 720 miles for the year. Just 60 to go! With just about 6 weeks left to go in the year, that means about 10 miles per week. I've got this!! How are you doing with your goals this year?? Do you already know your goals for 2011?

632.6 + 13.1 + 3.9 + 4 + 5.8 = 659.3

In non-running news, Mr. Joanna and I went out without the kiddo last night. Once a month the kiddo's school hosts a parents' night out, where the kids stay and eat dinner, watch movies, hang out in jammies, all that. They have a blast and we get a night out. We had SUCH a good time. We went out to a low-key dinner, went to a Blues game (hockey, my first NHL game!), and got ice cream afterwards (growing up, my family always went out for dessert after outings--it's a nice tradition). I think more Blues games are in our future! We only took 2 pictures at the game. I had a hard time choosing between this goofy pic or the one where Mr. Joanna was inexplicably popping the deuces.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Photo Phriday

For a while now I have been promising to post some fall pictures of the park I run in. Today I finally, finally forced myself to run with a camera. I'm really glad I did. Join me for today's 4-miler!

It took a minute to cross the street, so while I waited I snapped this picture of the entrance.

Just inside the park I spotted these vine-covered trees.

A little on down the trail

This park has a lot of gazebos in it. This isn't my favorite of them, but it's still pretty groovy.

Rounding the bend at the far end of the park

I think this is my favorite of the gazebos.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Race Report: US Half

Warning: long post!

I'm just back from a wonderful weekend in San Francisco. It was a carefree weekend--the first in I don't even know how long. Probably a year and a half, really, since I had a few days that were both kid- and work-free. Oh, and then there was that race you're here to read about.... :) Here's the recap:

While in flight to CA, I realized that I had no memory of packing my Garmin. Then I thought about the packing list I'd made the day before and realized that it, too, had not included my Garmin. Fail. At least, I thought, I'd done races before without it. But still, fail. But my flights went smoothly and by dinnertime I was sitting around a table with old and new friends enjoying yummy food and laughing.

We slept in and lounged around, then went out in the afternoon/evening for the race expo then some touristy things. The expo itself wasn't much, except that I did introduce Frank to the world of Gu and double-layer socks. I love that she let me geek out about running! Also, I like the race shirt. Check it out. The back is nice too.

After expo-ing, we headed to Muir Woods, aka, the redwoods. Due to its obvious popularity, it took a while to find a place to park. When we finally did and I got out of the car I saw this, to my complete surprise. Runners, this is for you:

I'd read runners' blogs about Dipsea. I'd certainly heard of it. But to tell the truth, I never knew what people were talking about. As I learned on Saturday, they are referring to "The Race from Hell." I saw one tiny piece of where the Dipsea trail cuts through the park, and I understood immediately how it got that name. It's a 7-mile race through Muir Woods. Not even through it, but up the side of the mountain apparently. Anyone completing this has my total runner respect. It is the real deal. And completely gorgeous.

A few more pictures from the park.

Frank, me and Jess

As it approached the park's closing time we packed it in and decided to drive down to the beach. I'm pretty sure I was the only one of us who loved the drive down, but I did. It was so reminiscent of those long drives up and down Spruce Knob all those years ago. The vague fear of rolling over a mountainside to one's death overwhelmed by friendship and the gorgeous scenery. It was total zen for little ol' me. The beach wasn't bad either (to say the least!).

After we left the beach, we drove into Sausalito for dinner at a little Italian place. It seemed sort of like something out of a movie, picturesque, upscale, and with a character of a waitress who told us not to order spaghetti and meatballs because she thought it was kind of mediocre. Who does that?!? It (the spaghetti) was lovely.

We headed back to San Francisco to get settled in for the night.

I'd looked at the weather earlier and I knew there was possible rain on Sunday, but I wasn't sure when on Sunday. As soon as we got back, Frank (a nickname she had when I met her, btw) and I checked the hourly forecast. Then the radar. Because the hourly looked like this and we wanted not to believe it.

6am: rain, 100% chance, 60 degrees
7am: rain, 100% chance, 61 degrees
8am: rain, 100% chance, 61 degrees
9am: rain, 100% chance, 61 degrees
10am: rain, 90% chance, 61 degrees

Expletive. Expletive. Expletive.

We decided that for our own sense of self-worth, we had to at least get up in the morning, get dressed, and go down to the start line. We had to at least make an effort to try to make ourselves toe the line. We couldn't go all the way to CA to intentionally oversleep our race. Even if it was 60 degrees and raining and our bodies hurt with various runner injuries. We still had to at least go.

Morning rolled around and by 6am we were in a cab headed to Fisherman's Wharf for the start. We found the start area then promptly found a building overhang to huddle under to stay dry for a while. When the noise of the start area grew louder, we decided to head over, port-a-potty and line up. And once we did that, I don't think either of us really thought there was any turning back. We had to do this. Even if we did verbalize that it was probably one of the stupidest things either of us had ever done. And even if we both knew that, in all likelihood, all PR bets for me were off.

I've never seen a crowd more anxious/excited for the gun to go off. We were all ready to get moving. Finally, mercifully, it did.

Miles 1-4
Miles 1 and 2 passed easily, even if everyone was completely soaked by that point. The first water stop was around mile 2 but I didn't even see it until I was almost past it. Why? Because it was about 50 feet to the side of the course and was ONE TABLE. I decided that was fine, I probably wouldn't have stopped even if it had been more obvious. So on we went. The second water stop came up around mile 4. This one was on course and it was time for a drink.

Let me just say it: I have never seen water stops more disorganized. Ever. The cups were empty and stacked on the tables, a free-for-all for runners to try to grab. A guy, ONE volunteer, was pouring quickly into them and occasionally just putting the pitcher down for runners to dip their cups into for timeliness. It was disgusting. And Frank had to ask him three times to pour her more because she barely got anything in her cup the first two times.

Miles 5-9
Somewhere in mile 5 I lost Frank, at a water stop I think. In mile 5 also came the first real shock of the morning--I turned a corner to find that we were running about half a mile down a steep, muddy trail. At first I was afraid of slipping, but a woman from Nova Scotia next to me gave me a little pep talk about it and I picked up the pace again. There was something fun about getting that truly filthy. It became my own little Warrior Race.

Then we were up and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and coming back. Even in the rain, even with me soaked, it was beautiful. To see the fog and the boats and the waves. Pretty surreal. And yes, the Full House theme song popped into my head every now and then. Ah, TGIF. By mile marker 9 we were off the bridge and headed back.

Miles 10-11.5
From mile marker 9 to mile marker 10 was a leg out, then the turn around was just past mile marker 10. It was at this point that I realized that I'd held back too much. I still had WAY too much in the tank at mile 10. I realized immediately that after the muddy goat path around mile 4, I'd gotten too apprehensive about not knowing what the next turn might bring. Even though all bets were off the moment we arrived on site in the rain, I was still frustrated with myself for having left so much slack. I should mention in here that there finally was a well-organized, hygienic water stop. Finally.

Mile 11.5-13.1
I think I did a respectable job at the kick. I kicked about a mile and a half out, then stronger at a mile out. It was probably the best kick I've pulled off, but also probably because I held back too much earlier on. Part of this stretch (and about half a mile of the last section) were right along the beach. I sort of had to pinch myself that I was running with the surf splashing up around my feet. Again, even in the cold rain, it was really beautiful. By mile 12 or so we were a little further off the beach and on a street. I just put my head down and ran. I walked up one insanely steep and very short hill, then poured it on through the finish. The finish felt great. It really did, even knowing then (even without my Garmin) that I hadn't PR'ed. I *did* get cool new bling.

Official race results put me at 2:17:02. At first I didn't believe it. I thought for sure they had somehow added 10 minutes by accident. Since they haven't rescinded the race results yet I have to accept that I really ran a 2:17 half. Other stats:
Females 20-29: 333/705
Gender: 697/1623
Overall: 1637/2976 (I should mention here that there were 5,000 registered participants)

Things I learned this weekend
  1. What people are talking about when they say Dipsea
  2. That it really does help a LOT to know a course beforehand
  3. That yes, Garmins really do make a difference
  4. That sometimes nature's got you beat, and you can't do much about it
  5. That my Detroit Marathon jacket is fabulous, but not in fact waterproof
  6. That San Francisco is really beautiful
  7. That a little down time, and friends, are really good for the soul
I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed about my finishing time. But at the same time, I think I did reasonably well for me for those conditions. And doing something kinda stupid every now and then just reminds me that I'm still alive. I wouldn't change that for the world.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Headed to my race!

This is it guys--last post before my last big race of the year! I head out tomorrow for sunny California. I am excited and just a tiny bit apprehensive. But mostly excited.

I've had two great runs this week, and great for two totally different reasons.

Run #1: great because it was fast and it was with a tough runner co-worker I've never run with. I really admire her as a runner. She's a little faster than me at the half and she's a very consistent runner. I was sort of scared to run with her because I thought she might be too fast for me. But seriously, it was an amazing run. We were fast and talked and had a great time.

Run #2: great because I got to do a fun runner thing--reintroduce a co-worker to running. She did one or two half-marathons sometime a long time ago, but hadn't run since 2004. She's been talking about wanting to get back into it a bit, so I invited her to join me on the track while I do speed workouts. She couldn't come last week and since I did a tempo workout yesterday, I didn't need to do a track workout today. So instead, we just headed toward downtown doing a walk/jog. We covered 1.9 miles and I think she felt really winded, but really good about it. It was awesome to get to be part of that!

626.2 + 4.5 + 1.9 = 632.6 miles

Ok, wish me luck everyone! Race report (and some pictures) to come next week!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Loving the fall

We had a beautiful Saturday. After running this morning, we spent most of the day working on house projects and playing with the kiddo. But this is a running blog, so let's talk some running.

My RW taper schedule told me to run 11 miles this morning. But for reasons I outline below, that wasn't going to happen. I cut it to a little over 7 (which is what I've always done during the taper anyway). It was a great morning for a run. Check out the view from my house to the park. Love this!

Yesterday I decided to do a short jog at the end of the day in hopes of loosening up my legs before today's last long run. I was trying to explain to Mr. Joanna that something the only solution for sore legs is more running. Like that makes any sense. It didn't help much, though I was still glad I went, just because it was an unbelievably gorgeous day.

I hate to say it, but my body is ready for the end of race season. My hams are tight ALL the time, and my on-going problem at my left butt-bone only gets worse with time. My right IT Band has to be stretched before and after every single run. I think a little help from a sports medicine person will go a long way (and maybe a massage). That's the hope anyway, since I have no intention of giving up running over the winter. A decrease in miles? Sure. Stopping all together? No way. So here's hoping a little rest and some highly trained input will help.

Ok everyone, ONE WEEK until the US Half, my last race of the year. I'm SO looking forward to seeing some college friends and exploring a new city. The countdown is ON. And GOOD LUCK to everyone racing this weekend--MCM and all those Halloween-themed races. Rock those races!

616.8 + 2.2 + 7.1 = 626.2

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Come on, up high, a little love

I had absolutely no idea that it had been a week and a half since I blogged. Really. I'm not going to give you an excuse. I'm going to tell you the truth: I love my job. I absolutely love it. I love that it exhausts me mentally. And when that happens, I come home and I play with my kiddo, and then he goes to bed, and I get totally sucked into either running or scrapbooking. And then it's a week and a half later and I'm all, "what the crap happened? My blog claims it's been 10 days since I last posted." Here we are.

So lots has happened. Let's go numbered list.

1. I decided to use the RW 2-hour-half taper schedule. It's a 5-day-a-week plan, and unlike any taper plan I've ever used, it has me running 11 miles the weekend before the race. Does anyone do that? It also still has me doing speed work, which I'm pleased with. Luckily there's a 3 lap/mile outdoor track about 150 yards from my office. So yesterday I headed there over the lunch hour to do mile repeats. The track is owned by a university. In the middle of the second interval I saw the university's mascot walking toward me in full costume. As I approached it I said, "Come up, up high, show me some love." I totally high-fived a mascot in the middle of my interval workout. That's one way to make a track workout memorable!

2. I don't know her, but I read B.o.B.'s blog and enjoy it. She posted this video today. I definitely teared up when I watched it and decided it was worth re-posting. This is how I feel about marathons. The camaraderie shown, the excitement of it, the personal goals of runners.

3. Remember back in January when I joined the 1000 mile challenge group with some of the Team? Well, I said up front that 1000 miles was probably too much for me, so I was going to call it my 720 mile challenge. Well, I'm really happy to say that it looks like I'm on track to reach that goal!
592 + 4.7 + 9.2 + 3.2 + 3.2 + 4.5 = 616.8

Wait. Is it Thursday? Did I just post 3 things? Even if it was inadvertent, I guess it's still a Three Things Thursday. Go me!

Monday, October 18, 2010

You know you're a runner when...

As you leave for work on Monday morning and realize your house key isn't on your keychain, the first and second places you check are the washer and dryer.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lesson learned

Last week I mentioned that Mr. Joanna and I were working on a new display area for my race medals. Well, I am very pleased to say that it's finished and I love it! It's in what I would describe as a hallway off of our bedroom. The framed medal up top is my very first medal, from the Chicago Distance Classic in 2007. It's nothing fancy, but I love that I finally have a real place to display my hard-earned hardware!

On the training front, today I learned a lesson the hard way. It sounds so ridiculous in hindsight.

I've always wondered why we do long runs slower than race pace. It seems logical that you should train to run the distance you want to run at the pace you want to run it. And I've been feeling really good recently about my tempo work, and maybe got a little over-confident after my 27-minute PR in marathon #2. So, you guessed it, I decided to do my 10-miler today at race pace.
Mile 1: 9:15
Mile 2: 8:59
Mile 3: 9:07
Mile 4: 8:54
Mile 5: 9:13
Mile 6: 9:16

And now I know why it's a bad idea.

I haven't been tapering. I'm not that rested. It's my first attempt at 10 miles at anything faster than about a 10 minute pace. It was too much. Now I get it. This is why I shouldn't be left to my own devices, people.

All this brings me something kind of exciting.

I'm slowly converting to someone who swears by running by the numbers.

A while ago I posted about wanting to follow the Runners World 2:00 half-marathon training guide in the spring. Then last week Morgan over at Caution: Redhead Running posted a link to the McMillan calculator, which I'd never seen. I know my tempo work and longer mid-week runs were a big part of my success this training cycle, but I have a lot of room still to improve. Historically, I haven't paid as much attention to the type of mid-week run I've been doing or the pace I did it at; I just went for a run. I think I'm ready to change that. And in a hugely running geek way, I am so excited about it!

577.8 + 4.0 + 10.2 = 592
set to break 600 next week!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Wednesday Where

First things first--I want to say a huge THANK YOU for all your comments here and (for those of you who know me outside the bloggy world) on Facebook after the marathon. Every single one of them made me smile.

I had planned to do my first post-marathon run on Monday, but this was my morning instead:

Dear Student,
I skipped my morning run today so I could be here for our meeting. You know, to help you complete the final project that I wasn't even here to get you started on last year, but that I inherited responsibility for anyway. Your strategy of not showing up was fascinating. Let's see how that works out for you.
All my best through gritted teeth,

After crazy long work days Monday and yesterday, I decided I could leave work a little early this afternoon to come home and run. I expected my legs to be fully rested and ready to run. I was surprised to find them stiff and reluctant, but the reluctance didn't last long. Two and a half miles in I hit my stride, loosened up, and felt great. Oh, and loved all the gorgeous leaves falling onto the path through the park.

573.8 + 4.1 = 577.8 miles

One run on board for tomorrow or Friday, then 10 miles on Saturday. 25 days until the US Half!

And a Wednesday Where for you: where do you keep/display your race medals? I used to keep mine on my dresser, but the pile was getting beautifully large and they got packed when we moved. I devised a new way to display them and I *think* it's going to be assembled tonight or tomorrow. Picture coming soon!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy 200th!

I can't believe this is my 200th post! Admittedly, this blog existed for a while before most of you started reading it. Don't feel bad, my parents just started reading it last week. I know. But still. 200! That makes me smile.

So what do I have planned for such a momentous occasion? Some race strategizing and some travel recap...including a picture I took just for you.

Race Strategizing
The US Half is in 27 days. I need to quickly get shorter, faster, then taper. I don't have much time. My project after writing this post is to put together my training schedule for the next 3 weeks. I think it's going to include a 10 mile race. I've never raced at that distance before, so in addition to being great race prep, it's just plain exciting in its own right.

Goals: I want to PR, which means beating a 2:06:09. I didn't write down my goals before L&C. It makes me too nervous. I'm going to do it anyway (that's courage, right?) and set 4 for this race:
The PR: sub-2:06:09
The hopefully safe goal: 2:04:00
The real goal: 2:02:00
The I-can't-believe-I-just-ran-that goal: 1:59:59

Travel Recap
I spent the latter part of last week in Minneapolis. It is a lovely city.

That's right. I said it. It's lovely. I, the girl who once proclaimed that the entire Midwest should be converted to a penal colony. I, the girl who semi-seriously refers to the Upper Midwest (I'm looking at you, Dakotas and MN) as Canada. I, who once said that the three meanest people I'd ever met had all either come from or moved to Minnesota (ok, that one is still true). And here I was, wholeheartedly enjoying Minneapolis. There. I said it.

Yesterday when I boarded the plane to come home, I started flipping through the in-plane magazine. And then I saw this. And took this picture for you.

This thing belongs in a category with the downhill treadmill ShutUpAndRun found a while ago. Or in a category with cigarettes, because you'd might as well burn your money (pun only sort of intended, reveled in regardless). This ad has prompted me to add a "bullshit" label for this post. What's the craziest piece of exercise equipment or workout plan you ever saw? 'Cause this thing is up there with the Mountain Dew and watermelon diet. Seriously.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Race Report: Lewis & Clark Marathon

The last 24 hours have been such an incredible experience. Marathon #2 is in the books and I cannot wait to tell you all about it!

RunningFirst came into town yesterday afternoon. We picked up our race packets, spent some QT with my boys, and had the traditional pasta dinner. I turned in pretty early in anticipation of the 4:50am alarm.

At 0-dark-fifty I dragged myself out of bed. Attempted to eat some oatmeal. Nervously checked and re-checked my do-not-forget-these-things-under-any-circumstance list. Worried about my back, which was giving me some shooting, pinching pains 'cause I slept on it funny. Took the obligatory pre-race picture. Packed up. Headed out.

At 5:25 we left my sleeping boys behind and left to head to the race.

It was probably 40 degrees at the start line, but warmed up quickly once the sun came up. We pre-Gu'ed (ate runner food), put our bags in the bag drop, and lined up right about 7am.

Miles 1-5
After just a mile I'd warmed up and was just enjoying the sunshine. My strategy was to run the whole race and walk the water stops. So, dutifully, I walked through the first water stop. And then my right shoe was off. You read right. The guy behind me stepped on the back of my shoe. RunningFirst helped shield me from the stream of runners (I was *right* in the middle of the road) while I put it back on. Shoe back on, and we were off again.
10:31 (shoe incident)

Miles 6-10
Were pretty easy. I Gu'ed at mile 6, as planned. Around mile 7 we hit the bridge over the Missouri River, which was lovely. Shortly thereafter we turned and started running along the river. We talked our own ears off all the way through mile 10 (read: I talked non-stop and RunningFirst responded every now and then), which helped to make the miles pass a little faster.

Miles 11-15
Gu'ed again at mile 12. As we approached the half-marathon finish I started scanning the crowd for my boys, since the plan was to see them at the half and at the finish. I looked and looked and looked and didn't see them. I started to fear that I'd missed them. Then we were past the halfers' finish and getting toward the start of the Katy Trail and I still hadn't seen them. I was holding back the tears with everything I had. I hated thinking that they might be out all morning and we missed each other. I worried that they'd gotten lost or run into trouble along the way. Seeing them in a race is always incredibly emotional for me, and the idea of missing them tore me up. And then, just as I was giving up hope, I saw them! My boys! They both yelled "Momma!" and I just beamed. And maybe cried just a little. You would too. Don't lie.
9:32 (this was through the half-marathon finish, and it just pulled me along)

Miles 16-20
One word: hilly.

And in case you were wondering what my boys were doing to pass the time, I give you this:

Miles 21-25
I still hadn't hit the wall. In fact, I kept waiting for it and it kept not coming. Score! At mile 23 I took about half a Gu. I was starting to tire out, but I kept going. Between 23 and 24 I really wanted to walk, but there was no way I was going to run that far and walk when I had less than 3 miles to go. Plus, I knew my time was way under my target and was starting to believe I might hit a 4:30. At mile 22 I told myself to get to 23 so I could Gu. At 23 I told myself to get to 24 and see how I felt. At 24 I told myself I had to wait until 25 to pick up the pace. At 25 I was not fast, but I was determined.

The Finish
I saw the finish line from about half a mile out. I just went for it. My Garmin was showing lap time, lap pace and total distance, not total time. I knew from what people around me were saying and a quick mental math estimate of time, that I was close to a 4:30. I didn't know if I was going to do it or not. As I passed my boys, Mr. Joanna yelled "Great time!! It's a great time!" I knew he also thought I might be under 4:30 but also wasn't 100% positive. Neither of us could see the clock on the finish line yet AND I didn't know what it had said when I started. I smiled at him (or tried) and went for it.

When I went over the line, the clock read 4:33:28. I didn't know what the start clock had said, but I knew it was going to be close. Two things that didn't occur to me at this point: 1) to stop The Vengeance (my Garmin), and 2) to check my history for the total time. It turns out that I remembered to stop it 65 seconds later, and didn't think to check the history for about another 5-10 minutes after that. Do you know what it said?


Somehow, beyond my wildest dreams, I'd come in under 4:30. Chip time puts me at 4:27:23. 27:31 faster than my PR. I prayed in thanksgiving. I made a few calls. I gave Mr. Joanna the whole run-down of the race. I beamed.

RunningFirst came in a little over 5 hours. I am super proud of him for toughing it out to finish. And still thankful for his company over the first 13.1. I don't know if he'll blog this or not, but if he does, be sure to stop over and tell him congrats.

What Lies Ahead
The US Half, November 7. Time to get faster and shorter. But for now, a week off!! Thank you all SO much for your encouragement, advice, and friendly support that got me to the finish line!

543.5 + 3.8 + 26.5 = 573.8 miles

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Gorgeous weather
My beloved park
3.8 miles @ 8:59/mi pace*
Black Cherry smoothie at Panera on the way home
Less than 4 days until race day
All during lunch break on my work-from-home day.
Could life get any better than this?!

* I was not trying to run at a sub-9 minute pace 4 days before a marathon. I truly was not. I think I've just gotten faster over time. It was glorious and easy. I promise. Tomorrow will be slooooooow.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Product review, men need not read

I am not a member of the IBTC. Consequently, it's hard for me to find a good sports bra for running (dudes, I warned you not to read this!). Last year Runner's World published a product review of different bras categorized by cup size. So, I clipped the article and kept it for future reference.

Maybe 6 weeks ago I spotted one of the reviewed bras at REI. I tried one on and brought it home. I've run in it enough times to get a sense now of the pros and cons. So here you are, a product review of the Under Armour heatgear Endure. (I paid for the product and have no connection whatsoever to Under Armour).

The pros:
  • When they say no bouncage, they mean *no* bouncage. None.
  • It is meant for and responds very well to hot weather. Which as you all know, we have here in the summer.
  • Individual cups. No uni-boob.
The cons:
  • The straps cross across the back, which provides support, but also means that they push inward at the shoulders. They are a little tight for my liking. This may however also be because I fall between a medium and large and bought the medium.
  • I don't personally like the zip-front closure. For one thing, the zip-pull sometimes sticks up and pokes me (easily fixed though). For another thing, it is sometimes hard to get closed. I actually delayed writing this review on the hope that it would stretch after a few wearings and be easier to close. Only a little, it turns out.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this bra for women in similar circumstances as myself: not waify, and living in a warmer climate. I would strictly recommend it for mid-week runs, not for long runs, on account of the tight straps. It's one that I will keep in my collection and continue to wear.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My send off

Maybe it's because when I trained with the Team, the last track practice & long run before a race was treated like a big send off. Who knows. But my "long" run (of 6 miles) had the distinct feel of a send off this morning. It was just me and me, preparing myself mentally for the journey ahead. Coming to an end of the marathon training cycle, and giving myself some closure on that. I just breathed it all in, the morning, the sunshine, the cool air, the park, my me time, and savored it.

A six mile "long run" is an oxymoron, by the way. Long runs are meant to be LSD (long slow distance) running. Usually slower than race pace. But at the end of a marathon training cycle, 6 miles feels very short. It's hard to run that distance and not feel like I need to tear through it. But I heard the good angel on my right shoulder (and Coach Paula) telling me to hold back. Good thing there were two voices on that side to reason with me.

For a while now I've been wanting to share a little more of the park I run in. The problem is, I hate running with a camera. Solution: send my boys with a camera when they walk down there to go to the kids' play area during my long run. This is what they came back with (this is one entrance). I seriously love this park. More pictures will come. After the race.

529.6 + 3.5 + 4.0 + 6.4 = 543.5 miles

Just a couple of 3-4 mile runs this week and then RACE DAY!!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A very special announcement

I am pleased to announce the launch of my new blog, JoannaScraps.

I decided to create a separate blog for scrappy reasons described on the welcome post over at the new blog (which I encourage you to read). But there are some running-related motives as well. See, I have the distinct joy of having two hobbies that I love. But I get that running and scrapbooking do not go together for all runners, especially those of you of the male persuasion. I wanted to be able to blog about both without boring all you fabulous runners to death. Or just simply confusing you with the intermittent post about my beloved Slice. Or adhesives. Or border punches.

Should you feel inclined to stay current on all things crafty, I've created a link to JoannaScraps, which is in the right sidebar here. Page design will be evolving over the coming weeks. Stop on by!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three Things Thursday

I know, I know. A lot of you are totally consistent about doing Three Things Thursdays and/or other themed blog days. I am not. But from time to time I do enjoy participating. So here you go.

1. THANK YOU all for the comments about my taper. I know it's a necessary step. I know it's going well. I know I'm reasonably prepared for race day. So, per Coach Paula's instruction, I'm gonna chill out. :) 10 days to go!

2. Here's a quick glimpse into my life. #1: The little magnets at the top are from The Beastie. #2: The WV magnet under that is from The Original Bestie. #3-4: The two under that are because I'm a runner. #5: Penn State Forever. #6: Katrina clean-up, because I believe in helping people when they're down. #7: kdot, ODP, and the Princess of Detroit. *love them*

3. I'm considering the Martian Marathon in Dearborn Heights, MI in April. Well, the half actually. Does anyone know anything about it? Any MI people wanna meet up and run it with me? I'm undecided.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Weekend Update

Oh, I miss Norm MacDonald.

I have a heapin' handful of updates for y'all. So, per the unpredictable nature of SNL, here there are in no particular order.

1. More Taper Freak Outs
Taper Freak Out #4: That I'll eat so much between now and the race that my shorts won't fit.

Taper Freak Out #5: That I'll get to the start line and realize that I forgot to Body Glide.

2. Cutting down on miles
Yesterday over lunch I crammed (and I mean *crammed*) in a 3-miler. It felt unnatural. I honestly can't even remember the last time I stopped after 3 miles. Probably right after my appy. This cutting back on miles thing kinda weirds me out. Is that just me? Thought so.

3. I love Dove chocolates just as much as the next girl
...but this is bullshit

4. The collective need to harass RunningFirst
One of my old TNT teammates/coaches has filed two DNS's this year and has registered to run L&C with me in 15 days. To date, his long runs have peaked at something like 15 miles (which he ran-walked once). Injured? Nope. Without running buddies? Not a chance. So what's the deal? I have no idea. I dialed down the harassment for a while. Maybe I shouldn't have.

5. Spring Races
So, a while ago I asked you to stay tuned for a spring race announcement. Well, the decision I thought I'd made got un-made. Hence no update yet. I haven't forgotten. Far from it. I'm just trying to figure out what the crap I'm going to do. I like the pattern I did this year: spring half, fall full, possible second half before or after the full. Smaller races as the desire strikes me.

So here it is: I'm asking you to nominate spring races. I'm generally open to anything in the Midwest, particularly Michigan, Illinois, or Missouri. I need a plan.

6. My totally Type-A son
Is still totally Type A. This CRACKS ME UP. I make a point of not going on ad naseum about my kid, because I get that it's not interesting to most of you. But this cracks me up. This is all him. Oh, and the other day he got a napkin to wipe the liquid off the kitchen floor when he dropped an ice cube. Did I mention he's 2?!?

7. Pain in my rear end
After my fall races are over, I'm going to a sports medicine person. My left hip/butt bone has hurt almost constantly since spring. It is definitely related to running, but doesn't hurt when I actually run (except when I'm starting out it's crazy stiff). But basically every other moment, it hurts. It's like my hammy is ridiculously tight where it inserts at my butt bone. What in the world is going on?? Anyone ever had this happen before? It's getting old.

Mileage: 509.7 + 4.8 + 3.0 + 12.2 = 529.6 miles

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taper Freak Outs--The Beginning

Taper Freak Out #1
That all these slower-than-marathon-race-pace miles I'm running are going to seriously eff with my ability to PR the US Half in November.

Taper Freak Out #2
That I'm going to trip again but actually for real seriously injure myself and be unable to race.

Taper Freak Out #3
I retired my previous "race" sports bra, and I'm terrified that anything else will chafe in unpredictable places after 26.2 miles.

All of that, my friends, within a 4.75 mile tempo run this morning. 18 days and counting.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On your recommendation...

First things first: I thought you would all want to know that I have banned Statement Tees from my running wardrobe until L&C and the US Half are over! A few of you recommended this move and I think it's a good call. :)

I also decided to do more of my mid-week runs in the park, which has neither concrete slab sidewalks to trip on nor traffic. So I headed down there on Wednesday. It was one of those days...I got to the edge of the park and realized I was grinning ear to ear. The weather was gorgeous. The trees were beautiful. The park was calm. And I was just gliding through it. I didn't set out to do a tempo run, but when I realized how comfortable the run was, I turned it up and did a tempo run for the day.

Friday morning I got up super early to run before a hectic day at work, only to find that it was raining just a *smidge* too hard to run. Coach Paula told me to rest up last week anyway, so I figured it was all good.

I'm so anxious to get to this part of my week, I'm sitting here smiling. After work on Friday we packed up and headed back north to C-U to visit friends! We had a baby shower and a birthday party to go to. It was a fantastic weekend. I got to see Ears (& her hubby, who I don't have a nickname for), RunningFirst, The Minnesotans, MJ and a group of people I'll collectively refer to as the World's Biggest Illini Fans. I think this is my favorite pic from the weekend--Ears playing with the babe while I got The Princess of Detroit's birthday present in the mail.

It was a great weekend. It was so comforting and fun to see our friends, laugh, gossip and catch up. *love you all*

So that left me this morning to get my all-important 20-miler done. How to put this positively...I am going to have to trust the logic that a bad dress rehearsal makes for a good race day.

Miles 1-6ish were fine. But the energy just wasn't there after that. I totally hit the wall at mile 12 (scary early, I know) and took 2.5 more miles to snap out of it. Miles 15-20 went easier than the middle chunk at least. The whole thing was slower than I'd have liked. I don't know. I'm nervous now about L&C. I don't know if I'm ready. I don't think I've done enough speed work. I think I had an insufficient base and didn't average enough mid-week miles through this training cycle. On the other hand, I'm WAY more prepared than I was before Detroit. No question about that. I'm just...nervous. That's normal...right?

So stay with me through the taper! It promises to be hilarious. I'll keep a list of all the crazy things I freak out about. We can laugh together. 21 days until L&C!!

485.8 + 4.0 + 19.9 = 509.7 (and YEAH let's hear it for breaking 500 miles!!)