Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thursday Thoughts: Adrift

  • I think I have that post-marathon funk I've heard about. All that training and planning and working for four months, and now it's...just...over. What the hell do I do now? I'm totally unstructured. I can do whatever I want, and that kind of scares me, because I thrived on my schedule. There was no question about what I was going to do each day. Now everything is a big random mish-mash. I need to come up with some kind of routine.
  • But on the other hand, my ankle/fibula region feels fantastic!
  • I picked up my last share of vegetables from my CSA farm yesterday. Five months of delicious fresh organic veggies is over. I have enough of some things (potatoes, squash) to last for a while but I will have to cook and freeze some of the more perishable stuff for use during the winter. I'm cringing at the thought of buying produce from the grocery store.
  • My new song obsession of the moment: Rogue Wave, "Lake Michigan." (Except the video was shot in California. I can spot those bleached blonde hills and live oaks from 2,500 miles away. O land of my childhood, I miss thee!) I heard it on the radio (not "regular" radio-- yeah right-- but Sirius' "Left of Center" station) a couple of days ago and instantly fell in love.
  • This is closely followed by the Olympic Symphonium's "Intentions Alone."
  • We had a fitness fair at work the other day and I had my body composition measured with one of those electrical current impedance devices. It said I have 26% body fat. I was kind of like, "WTF?" because at 157-ish pounds and just having run a marathon I really thought I would have less body fat than that. It's within the "average" range for a woman but I don't wanna be "average," I wanna be in the "athletic" category!
  • On the other hand, I dropped 1.4 lbs at my weigh-in so I shouldn't complain too much. My final goal weight is out there, waiting. I'm going to get there this time.
  • I'm giving blood this morning. I have been donating blood since I was in high school. I've donated so much I've lost count of how many gallons it is. I donate every time I'm eligible which works out to about four times per year. I'm the least philanthropic person this side of Sccrooge so this is my only act of kindness toward my fellow man.*UPDATE*: I was DENIED! The iron count (hemoglobin) in my blood was too low. It was only 12.1 g/dL and they want it to be at least 12.5 g/dL. I haven't been deferred for low iron in years. It's odd, considering the vast quantities of dark green leafy vegetables I eat. Speaking of which, last night I whirled up another enormous batch (at least a gallon) of the famous kale-banana smoothie. This time I threw in more blueberries, strawberries, and an entire quart of nonfat yogurt. I LOVE the K-B-B-S-Y smoothie (aka "green slime" to the more squeamish members of the household).
  • Cat + marathon = awesome.
  • Good luck to my fellow run-bloggers TK of Pigtails Flying and the Running Laminator as they tackle the mighty New York Marathon on Sunday!
  • And, finally, cats on a treadmill. I laughed so hard I cried.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Special Thanks Goes To

I can't believe I didn't include this in my race report. I want to give a special shout-out to my RF501 teammates Ted, Kara, Trevor (who all ran Detroit with me), and Lorenda, who ran the Grand Rapids Marathon on the same day. I am so glad I spent the summer running with you guys. YOU ALL ROCK!!!

And I can't forget my fellow Michigan running bloggers Chiarunner (Grand Rapids Marathon), Nitmos and Lisa (Detroit), DirtDawg50K (Columbus Marathon), and Big (Chicago Marathon). So when are we all going to get together for a beer? :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Race Report: Detroit Free Press/Flagstar Marathon

Where the journey begins.
My first marathon.

I haven't had a "first" quite like this for a long time. I thought all my "firsts" were over and done with. First word, first step, first lost tooth, first car, first day of college, first kiss, first...well, you know, first hangover, first job, first house. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would add "first marathon" to the list.

In the predawn chilly chaos before I went to the starting corral area

Saturday we went out to dinner and I said "no" to the wine and "yes" to five rolls, the same rolls of which I won a dozen in the Run for the Rolls. I chowed down on chicken pasta (carbs and protein!) and went to bed around 9:30. I had a decent night's sleep and bounced out of bed when the alarm went off at 4:30. We were on the road just after 5:00 and parked in downtown Detroit about an hour later. I found the bar that Running Fit had rented for the RF501 team and made some final prerace preparations: strap on the heart rate monitor, pin my Gu packets into my shorts, put on my new headband, don the throwaway sweatshirt which John sacrificed to the cause of keeping me warm while waiting for the start.

Standing in the corral immediately before the start, I was overcome with emotion and had to scrub briskly at my face to dispel what might have turned into tears. I just couldn't believe I was about to embark on this crazy adventure. I thought, I'm going to run a MARATHON. It was totally dark, freezing cold, and I was about to take the first step of thousands on my 26.2-mile journey. I folded my hands and tucked them under my chin to keep them warm. This was not the time for weepy introspection.

And then we were off.
I'm in this teeming mob somewhere.
In the Beginning

I ditched the sweatshirt around mile 1. I wasn't cold anymore. I felt great. I breathed deep, slow and even and let the excitement of the day sweep me along. I passed the lonely monolith of the one remaining side of old Tiger Stadium, fallen victim to progress and the wrecking ball. As we neared the bridge around mile 3 the sun was just beginning to rise. A long line of runners, silhouetted black against the sun, stretched across the span of the bridge. There were just enough clouds to turn the sky pink and orange (just like my headband!) and I thought it was beautiful. My friend and fellow RF501er Erika caught up to me on the bridge ascent and we started running together at a good pace. We came down off the bridge and then we were in Canada. From the other side of the river, Detroit didn't look so bad, the glass of its buildings shining in the morning light. After three or so miles of Windsor we looped around and headed for the Detroit-Windsor tunnel. Last year this was my least favorite part of the race: hot, loud, crowded, and stuffy. This year it was less loud, less hot, less stuffy, but still really crowded. We were spat out of the tunnel at mile 9 and the crowd support there was awesome. After a cruise through Corktown (where we saw a woman running totally barefoot) I was almost at the halfway point and feeling great.

(Miles 1-12: 8:34, 8:27, 8:30, 8:46, 8:21, 8:33, 8:23, 8:40, 8:58, 8:07 (yikes!), 8:28, 8:15)

The Pivotal Moment

Somewhere during mile 13 I said to Erika, "I have to stop. I have to go to the bathroom." We had been hanging just behind the 3:45 pace group for miles and I thought I had a good shot at meeting my top goal of a BQ time. I had been feeling twinges of unrest for a few miles and knew the beast in my GI tract wouldn't stay under control for much longer. I pulled over at a Porta-Potty stop; unfortunately I chose one with a line and SOME SLOW-ASS PEOPLE DOING WHO KNOWS WHAT IN THERE FOR WHAT FELT LIKE FREAKING 15 MINUTES. I stood there getting colder and colder, feeling my muscles start to chill and stiffen, as my Garmin whirred on and about a bazillion people passed by. FINALLY it was my turn and I wrestled my shorts and underwear off (they were recalcitrant and glued to me with sweat), took care of business (AAAAAAHHHHHH) and wrestled my clothes back on, popping a pin in the process, sending a Gu packet to the ground, where I snatched it back up after an instant's pause (ohmygod it fell on the floor in a PORTA-POTTY...oh, what the hell, I can't leave it there) and burst out of the john with my shorts all bunched up and askew, underwear half hanging out, and my rear on display because the hem of my shorts had gotten tucked inside the liner. I saw that the 3:50 pace group had just gone past, and I bolted after them, rearranging my shorts as I went. I turned it on hard because I wanted to catch back up with the 3:45 group so badly. I passed the 3:50-ers and by the halfway point I was somewhere in between the two groups and feeling the first pangs of something deep in my quads.

(Mile 13, the Porta-Potty Stop Mile: 10:02)

Approaching my family at the halfway point. I'm the crazy person waving my arms.

Things Get Ugly

I saw my assembled family right at the halfway mark and I ran exuberantly over to the side and gave John a big high five. My time at the half was 1:54:44, an 8:45 pace, and faster than my official half marathon race PR I set in May. I was now on a course out of the city that would lead me to Belle Isle. I had heard unpleasant things about the Belle Isle portion of the course (miles 17-20): windy, dismal, boring, no crowd support. Shortly after mile 17, I had to make a quick stop at a Porta-Potty again. I just groaned when I realized I needed to stop again. My quads were now officially singing an aria of pain the composer of which I did not know. This level of pain and interference with my performance was new to me. Never before had my muscles rebelled so thoroughly against what I was asking of them. I had smoothly run 16, 18, even 20 miles before without experiencing this mind-boggling ache. When I left the Porta-Potty the 3:50 pace group had just gone past and I staggered after them. Try as I might I would never pass them again. I slogged onward. I found the Belle Isle miles rather pleasant from a scenic perspective. The 20-mile mark was right after I crossed the Belle Isle bridge back to Detroit.

(Miles 14-20: 7:47 (still playing catchup), 8:13, 8:37, 8:33, 9:53 (Porta-Potty stop #2), 8:36, 8:41)
Closer, but more blurry. I still look happy!

On my way out of the city toward Belle Isle. A long 13.1 miles still lie ahead.

Running along the Detroit River Walk around mile 16.

On the way to Belle Isle.
The Long Run Home

I was now in uncharted territory: over 20 miles. As I came off the bridge I thought, Only a 10K to go. What's a 10K? I can do this. I came up behind a familiar blue shirt: it was my RF501 teammate Ted. He looked less than his usual self. I asked him how he was doing and he replied he had been in pain since mile 5. We hung together for a long time, trading places back and forth as the course wound through the Indian Village neighborhood. Around mile 21 things really started to disintegrate. I could feel myself falling farther and farther off my intended pace as the pain in my quads reached a crescendo. I zeroed in on a spot on the pavement about 20 feet in front of me and stared at it grimly as the street slipped by under my feet. I didn't even look around at the beautiful old homes which normally I would squeal over. I even passed up a table full of shots of beer (sorry, Viper). I just wanted it to be over. The course made one final turn onto Lafayette around 22.5 miles and then it was just one long-ass straight stretch (death march) all the way back into downtown and the finish. As I swung onto Lafayette and saw the Renaissance Center miles away in the hazy distance, I cried inside, knowing I had to run all the way there. How was I ever going to be able to do it?

One foot in front of the other. Just keep moving. I couldn't even see the 3:50 pace group any more. The 3:55 group hadn't passed me yet, and I decided that if I couldn't meet my A Goal of a Boston qualifying time, I was going to move mountains to finish in under four hours and meet my B Goal. I gritted my teeth and pressed on. At a water stop at mile 24.5 I was walking (well, lurching would be more accurate) with my cup when my friend and fellow runner Fritz, who was spectating and helping cheer on the RF501ers, came across the road to me. I rolled my eyes and gasped, "I'm in so much pain." "You're almost there, just keep going," he said. I staggered off, legs clamoring in protest as they were forced to start moving again. Not long after, shortly after mile 25, I passed another table full of little cups and a sign that said, "BEER." I thought, Oh, why the hell not, and swung over to the side to grab a cup. The guy handing out cups yelled, "ALL RIIIIIIGHT!" as I tossed back a shot of warm, nasty, light beer. Why couldn't it have been something really awesome, like Motor City Nut Brown Ale or Atwater Brewing Vanilla Java Porter? I thought, Well, if this makes me feel gross, at least I'm almost done.

At long, long last I was back downtown. The course made a 90-degree turn to the north, a little curve to the west, and then plunged south down Woodward Avenue to the finish. When I rounded that final turn and saw the finish line in the distance I reached down and scraped up everything I had left to make a strong run to the end.

This is the face of suffering at Mile 26.

All of the spectators were screaming and rattling cowbells and the banner over the finish drew closer and closer. I saw the clock reading "3:53:XX" and I rejoiced because I knew I was going to come in under four hours. I reached my arms up and crossed over, mashing the stop button on Garmy, and finally, finally, it was OVER. I looked once, tiredly, at Garmy and it said 3:52:00. I then lapsed back into a daze, repeating to myself, I ran a marathon. I ran a marathon!

Can you feel the power of the moment?!

Don't forget to stop Garmy!

(Miles 21-26: 8:59, 8:47, 9:18, 9:11, 9:33, 8:54, and the final 0.2 at an 8:13 pace for my official chip time of 3:52:01, an 8:52/mile average)


A finisher's medal which weighed approximately 50 pounds was slung around my neck, a Mylar wrap found its way around my sweaty body and promptly sealed itself to me, a bag of food was pressed into my hand, and I ambled out into the bright sunshine of a gorgeous October morning to find my family.
My mom and I

John and I

One newly minted marathon runner.

After a rambunctious reunion we made our way back to the RF501 HQ where I changed clothes and gathered my things. A mere 45 minutes later we were tucked into a booth at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor where I enjoyed my first beer in five days, a delicious Stoudt's Pale Ale. I inhaled both the beer and my lunch of the best macaroni and cheese (smoked chicken & Monterey Jack) known to mankind.

I know you've seen this one already but I like it so much I had to post it again.

What you haven't seen: what happened after I finished my beer!

I stayed conscious enough to take a shower and put on clean clothes once I got home but then I crawled into bed and took a long nap. I got up around 5:30, hung out downstairs for a couple of hours, and was back in bed around 7:30 (reading) with lights out at 8:30.

I was exhausted, sore, but triumphant.

What Next?

For the first time in four months I do not have to get up and go running each morning. This is not to say I don't want to, because I do. I'm just a wee bit sore. However, I believe the mornings of 8-mile runs before work are over for the time being. I have a few months to relax and just enjoy my running before I start training for the Cleveland Marathon. Oh, wait, did I just say that? Yes, folks, I already have my next marathon picked out. I ran my first in my adopted big city hometown of Detroit. Now I shall return to my roots and run my second marathon in my real big city hometown of Cleveland. And this time I'm going to qualify for Boston.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Best Part of the Day

To tide y'all over until I finish my official race report for the Detroit Marathon (I'm working on it, I swear), here's a picture of me enjoying a well-deserved pint of Stoudt's Pale Ale at lunch on Sunday:

This was one of the most delicious beers I have ever had.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's Over (Detroit Marathon)


Full race report...eventually...but I can now say four special words:

"I am a marathoner!"

Saturday, October 18, 2008

As Ready As I'll Ever Be

Personal Trainer and Fashion Consultant Bouhaki approves of Smartwool socks.

Bouhaki also approves of my new Bondi Band.

Everything a girl needs for her first marathon.

Here we go! Catch y'all on the other side!

Brotherly Love

I just finished talking to my brother. He wished me luck in the marathon tomorrow and then said, "Well, have as much fun as that can be."

LOL...thanks, bro. ;)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Keep Your Eyes Ahead

Let's talk About Goals, Baby:
  • A Goal: Qualify for Boston Marathon with time of 3:45:59 or better.
  • B Goal: 4:00 or better.
  • C Goal: 4:15 or better.
  • D Goal, as in Massive Ankle/Fibula Implosion: Just Finish. Crawl If Need Be.
Ankle-Fibula Update: After an entire week of RICE, Redneck Style (I did upgrade from the dish rag to an Ace bandage provided by my co-worker so instead of a trashy gimp I looked like a more professional gimp) and a drastically reduced running schedule, I am happy to report that the problem seems to be nearly resolved. Pain while walking is nonexistent and pain while running is very slight and disappears as I warm up. After weeks of pain and worry this is a welcome feeling indeed.

Mental Health Report: I'm freaking out. Yeah. Like, totally. My helpful friend said, "
They should totally invent some sort of 'chill pill' that people could take a couple of days before a big event. Oh, wait, it's called Xanax... anyway, probably not a good time to be all hepped out on Xanax."

Sadly, I think you're right, E. I'm going to have enough trouble managing the adrenaline rush.

Nutrition Report: I have been hitting the carbs pretty hard this week and wonder of wonders I have not had any alcohol since Tuesday night when I went out with a bang by ingesting a Nutty Martini (vodka plus Frangelico) and then a Stone Brewing Co. IPA and an Erie Brewing Co. Misery Bay IPA. It's been teetotaler town since then. And lest ye think I'm forswearing my Booze Hounds Inc. credentials, I have been looking longingly at John's dinnertime beers all week. One of the first things I have on my list of things to do after the race (aside from "collapse in a heap") is to have myself a big frosty one at the party headquarters for all of the RF501 people.

Random Thoughts: Nerves aside, I'm so ready for this. I'm in fantastic shape. I'm healthy. I've been training for months. My confidence is high. I can't wait. I can't wait to stand shivering at the starting line with 4,999 of my closest friends come Sunday morning as we all embark on our personal journeys.

I checked with the Free Press web site's list of registered marathon participants and my name was on the list. I had this fear that I was going to arrive at packet pick-up tomorrow only to be told they had no record of my registration.

My biggest dilemma: which headband am I going to wear? I have to make a STATEMENT, people! I need to select one that will scream "Here I come!" to any folks who might be keeping an eye out for me. Right now I'm thinking the black one with the really big white and pink polka dots or maybe one of the brightly-striped ones (the one I'm wearing in the picture might do the trick). I'll be wearing my official RF501 shirt and some variety of shorts, probably my blue Asics ones because they're the most comfortable and least prone to binding and chafing.

Motivation: The Helio Sequence, "Keep Your Eyes Ahead." I've been listening to this on a nearly endless loop at work all day today.

Keep your eyes on right
Keep your eyes on right ahead

Keep your rudders right
Keep your rudders right ahead


Monday, October 13, 2008

R.I.C.E., Redneck Style

I've got a bag of ice tied snugly to my lower leg with an old dishcloth, and my foot is propped up on my overturned wastebasket underneath my desk. Now, if I was wearing my #48 Jimmie Johnson hat I'd be all set...

Update as of 2:30 pm: Ice application has rendered ankle region completely numb. Feels great now!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

You Know You're A Runner When...

  • You carry around a sample package of a sports drink powder in your bag or purse
  • You have a crumpled race T-shirt riding shotgun in your car
  • You dream about running, to wit:
I had yet another marathon dream. This one involved me running the first ten miles of the marathon by myself somewhere else and then attempting to join the field at mile 10. Once again I was wearing my green first-timers bib, but this time I had not picked up my race packet and therefore did not have a timing chip on my shoe (I know, I was wearing my bib, but it was a dream, it's not supposed to be 100% logical). When I realized that I was not going to receive a time for my effort, I became very upset. There was crying and yelling. I said, "But what about Boston?"

Indeed, what about Boston. What about everything. I have a sick creeping feeling that the flaring pain in my fibula is not going to go away and I will be running on it as it is come Sunday. I am on the verge of downgrading my expectations to "just finish." It hurt like hell for the duration of my 12-miler yesterday, though it hurt less when I ran faster. I decided to pretend that the last 2 miles of the run were the last 2 miles of the marathon. How much did I have left; how badly did I want it? I ran miles 11 and 12 in 8:04 and 7:57 respectively. Of course once I finished, I was in agony and limping very badly as I walked home. Icing the traitorous area seemed to help but I am really anxious. Very anxious, very nervous, very upset. There is only one week left before the race. Why did this-- whatever it is, and I don't even want to think about "the S.F. word"-- have to happen NOW?

I shall see how it feels when I do my easy 4-miler tomorrow morning. Please please please please PLEASE let it be nothing skeletal.

I hope to soon read some race reports, from my fellow run-bloggers who participated in marathons this weekend.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Back Talk

I should talk about my clothes more often! I was going to post a response comment to my wardrobe post but it was getting longer and longer so I just said, heck with it, I'll just write a talkback post a la Viper (though with much less snark since I don't want to verbally abuse and alienate my handful of readers).

jd-- have a bazillion shirts from races... Yeah, I completely forgot about my race shirts! That's another post entirely. I have, like, HEAPS of them. They have completely taken over my T-shirt shelf in my closet. I even have a few from my high school cross country days that I've hung onto all these years. Sim Earich Invitational, Warren, Ohio, 1988 and 1989. YEAH! (we won, by the way.)

Fritz-- no, I don't have a spreadsheet tracking clothing vs. temperature. What do you think I am, some kind of nerd? ;) And you are coming back to MI at the wrong time, you know. Just in time for WINTER! And, also, I think you are right, I will have to master the "drink on the run" technique during the marathon. I may well end up splattered with liquid (hell, I do that under normal circumstances when I'm just sitting on the couch) but I won't be hauling an extra five pounds on my hips. My Gu packets will just have to get cozy inside my shorts.

Viper-- My winter arsenal is much smaller, and I just keep wearing the same clothes over and over until laundry day. That's 'cause you're a dude and dudes just don't care about clothes the same way as chicks. Or at least certain chicks. This chick, for one. I try to wear my stuff twice before it goes into the hamper. Any more than that and I can't stand my own stink, and since I can't outrun myself like I could outrun you and your stanky same-clothes-all-fortnight self, I have to get out fresh clothes every couple of days.

(Just kidding on the "I could outrun you" part since your half marathon PR is way better than mine though I think I still have the edge in the 5K department. But you probably still smell pretty bad by the end of the week.)

Mike-- Totally, when it comes to temperature it's all relative. 45 degrees feels like Antarctica right now but if it was 45 degrees in January I would probably be tempted to run in shorts. Or I would complain that it felt "too warm." I'm never happy.

Megan-- how do you carry water to drink if you don't have your hip pack? Or do you find water fountains? For all of my long runs this summer I have been spoiled. I either have water stops every two miles provided by my training group, or John is with me on his bike and carries water for me. I've never had to hunt for water. And if my run is less than 8 miles, I don't even worry about water (though I probably should).

do you mind if i point my running group here to look? Of course not-- the more the merrier, LOL!

i just realized something you may have forgotten - sports bras. I was going through my must have list. a good sports bra definitely makes the cut. Oh, I didn't forget-- I just didn't think everyone should be seeing my unmentionables. ;) But for the record, I am a huge fan of the Champion Seamless line (I have four of them, all exactly the same). I also have an InSport "DriTec" plain white bra which doesn't appear to be in their product lineup anymore. I'm fortunate to have Nearly No Boobs so I don't have to strap "the girls" down or hold them up with massive amounts of Lycra, so I can't offer any helpful suggestions for the bigger-bosomed lady runner. I'm definitely not ready to go all Katie Holmes when I run, however!

Nitmos-- I'm angry that you have reminded me of winter running though when I'm still wallowing in a state of seasonal denial. It was 31 degrees this morning. Denial will only get you so much further, my friend.

e-- Holy F do you have a lot of running stuff! And this from a guy with boxes of rocks in his garage... ;)

Bri-- Do you have specific temperature ranges for each outfit as I do, for example, under 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, etc. OF COURSE! Like, today, for instance, I decided to go with my "If You Look Good, You Feel Good" outfit which was perfect for the conditions (around 35 when I started just after 8:00, but warmed up to about 50 by the time it was over 2 hours later). I didn't wear the red hat, however, just my stretchy black Sugoi headband. I took off the gloves around mile 4 and the jacket around mile 10. And I just know it was the outfit which propelled me through my 14 miles in 1:58:30 (8:27 pace). Because when you look good, you feel good, and you run really good. (I know it should be "really well," and it nearly killed me to write "good" instead, but I wanted to stick with the theme. Forgive me, o grammar gods!)

I've had my kale-banana smoothie and now it's time to hit the shower. I have a busy afternoon of drinking beer for which to prepare! Why else do y'all think I run so much? So I can drink beer and eat pizza, of course! Physical fitness is just a pleasant side effect.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Post Which Will Make Everyone Who Runs In A Warmer Winter Climate Very Glad

Edited to add on January 4, 2009: I submitted this post to the Runner's Lounge Take It And Run Thursday (January 1) as my favorite post of 2008. This post was the most fun to write (it involved no running to acquire content) and provoked many wonderful comments which I had to address in a separate subsequent post.

Megan in the comments of my previous post asked if I would mind posting about the stuff I take with me when I run, especially in the colder months of the year (aka "most of the time in Michigan").

Ask a girl (who normally doesn't give much of a crap about clothes but has an unnatural obsession with running gear) to talk about what's in her closet? Are you kidding? OMGBBQ!!111!!!!

It seems appropriate to me to do so now because Thursday morning, for the first time since April, I donned a full cold-weather outfit for my 8-mile run. It was about 42 degrees when I got up at 5:30 and the brief yet chilling blast of air through the door when I let the dog out made me think, yep, time to dig out the jacket and gloves again.

Here we have the hub of activity. This is the area where I keep all of my running gear. The top drawer is stuffed full of running clothes and as such cannot be closed all the way. My training schedule (with handily-placed pen for notes) is on the wall next to a pace chart. The area on top of the built-in bureau is where my odds and ends reside.

This is my Garmin Forerunner 305, also known as The Sainted Object, That Which Has Transformed My Running For All Time. In this picture one can see the evidence of Thursday morning's run, namely, eight miles in one hour and seven minutes. I never ever ever ever leave home without Garmy. If I have shoes on my feet and Garmy on my wrist that's all I need. If one interprets that to mean I would run naked, well, I guess I just might. Last year I decided to ditch the annoying rubbery wristband which I could never fasten quickly nor gracefully in favor of a Velcro-based wristband, which is available as part of the Quick Release Kit. I believe the QRK is intended for use with a bicycle, but my wrist and a handlebar are all the same to a Velcro strap. I love the Velcro strap (though it's a little funky-smelling after a long summer of sweaty running). And if you're going to get a Garmin 305 and all its accompanying accoutrements, you might as well get the ultimate in Garmin gear conveyance:

The Garmin Carrying Case. It totally rules. It holds Garmy, all of the charging and data transfer parts, the heart rate monitor, plus extra wristbands, wristband changers, and even my RoadID.

RoadID. Really, really don't leave home without it. If I ever get hit by a car and knocked into a ditch this will help them identify my unconscious/dead body. Okay, that's a worst-case scenario, but it's one we runners have to consider. Garmy on my left, RoadID on my right, I'm all set. I have never carried any other form of ID with me nor do I carry money or my cell phone. I suppose one could say I have grown complacent, running around my town never more than 3 miles from home on my weekday runs or being accompanied by John or the folks from RF501 on longer runs.

This is the elusive Bouhaki, my other personal trainer, and that is his customary spot when I am getting ready in the mornings. I do not take Bouhaki on my runs with me but he provides Valuable Feline-Based Support and Encouragement. As far as I'm concerned he is as important as Garmy. Or a pair of shoes. Isn't that right, little Boo? (Notice Garmin charger which is perpetually plugged into wall in the background.)

Now on to the nitty gritty. This is when those of you who live where it stays warmer or warm-ish during the winter will be all, "I'm SO GLAD I DON'T LIVE THERE OH MY GOD LOOK AT ALL THE CLOTHES."

Here we have my pants and tights in descending left-to-right order of Inclement Weather Resistance. The ultimate in wind and precipitation blockage are my Asics Storm Shelter pants. They block everything. I wore them when I went running in this last December and didn't feel a thing. Impervious, I tell you. Next to them are my Asics Thermopolis pants, not quite as wind-resistant, but very warm and soft. They are my go-to pants for most cold-weather runs. Next we have my Nike capris, soft and stretchy. These are my favorite pants for middle temperature days, when it's too cold for shorts but not cold enough to break out the big guns. I'm wearing these pants a lot right now as we transition into fall. I also frequently wear them in races. Finally, tights. You gotta have the tights. I wear them by themselves or underneath other pants in bitterly cold weather. I have three pairs: Sugoi (with the teal patches), Pearl Izumi (at the top with the red stitching) and Danskin (far right), which are actually my favorite tights to wear in winter races. The Sugois are really thick and heavy. I wore them in last year's Detroit Half Marathon which in retrospect wasn't an extremely wise decision as I got very warm during the race. Not this year, folks. I'm going for the minimalist look (shorts and singlet) unless it's pouring rain.

But one's stable of cold-weather clothing would not be complete without jackets and tops. And boy do I have plenty of both.

Blue Asics Storm Shelter, black Mizuno, red and black Pearl Izumi, Brooks Nightlife vest, New Balance X Windblocker. The Asics is my most impervious jacket. It will resist a blizzard. I know; I've run in one. My Mizuno jacket is similarly wind-resistant but not as bulky as the Asics. It was the jacket which I wore one frigid December day and actually became so overheated I ended up unzipping it all the way. The Pearl Izumi is very lightweight and not as warm as the previous two. It's a great cool but not cold weather jacket. My Brooks vest I wear when I want to keep my core warm. Additionally, it's extremely eye-catching (hard to tell in this photo, but if you've ever seen its color, you know what I'm talking about) so I wear it in the country this time of year (crazy deer hunters). The New Balance X jacket I just bought last weekend and haven't had a chance to wear but I am looking forward to doing so. So soft...ooh...soft and fuzzy...

Base layer time! My heaviest shirts are on the left (Pearl Izumi, Hind, Asics); midweight ones in the middle (another Asics, Columbia) and on the right, my beloved Nike Personal Best Dri-Fit shirts (four and counting). My Nike shirts can be seen in virtually every photo of me from every race I run from September through April. I love, nay, adore my Nike shirts.

So what is my ultimate ensemble, the one I would put on for a run in a howling blizzard or near-zero temperatures?

Sugoi tights under Asics Storm Shelter pants, Nike Dri-Fit base layer, Pearl Izumi middle layer, Asics Storm Shelter jacket, InSport hat, Sugoi neck thing (I can't remember its proper name), and my Brooks gloves. Yes, all of this goes on my body when I head out for a nasty winter run.

On days when it's cold but not too cold, and not very windy: Asics Thermopolis pants, Asics base layer, Mizuno jacket, InSport headband, and Brooks gloves.

My "I want to look uber-stylish and coordinated" Christmas-present-from-my-parents outfit: Pearl Izumi tights, base layer, and jacket; InSport red hat, and gloves.

What I've been wearing lately: Nike capri pants, Nike Dri-Fit shirt, Brooks vest (or no Brooks vest). Darwin approves. The Orange Tabby Stamp of Approval is very important.

However, no discussion of what I take with me when I run would be complete without:


I have 17 of them. I love them. They keep the white chick 'fro under control. I can match them to any outfit. Or not. The day I discovered Bondi Bands was a very good day indeed. The only day in months I went running without a Bondi Band was the day of the Run for the Rolls. I figured my hair was sweat-plastered back well enough after running 18 miles earlier that I didn't need additional assistance.

Finally, my CamelBak FlashFlo waist hydration pack. I have worn this in the two half marathons I have run. I have not decided if I am going to wear it for the Detroit Marathon. I have not been training with it this time around but its convenience is unparalleled. Along with its 42-ounce fluid capacity (available for deployment at any moment) it has ample room for small item storage (Gu packets, cell phone, etc). I really don't know what I am going to do with regards to wearing this for the marathon. It's a quandary. For my 20-mile run at Kensington last Saturday, I safety-pinned my Gu packets to the waistband of my shorts (the packets themselves were on the inside of my shorts and not flapping against my hips on the outside) and that worked rather well. I normally do not carry my cell phone with me, but I think the marathon may be an extenuating circumstance as I will be anxious to contact my family at the end. I will most likely waffle on this like the champion procrastinator that I am until the night before the marathon.

I hope y'all have enjoyed this tour through my closet, and Megan, I hope I covered the material you requested adequately!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big House Big Heart Photos

My usual Staff Photographer and Support Crew was not on hand at Sunday's Big House Big Heart 5K race so I had to rely on being randomly captured by the official event photographers. As far as I can tell, the person who was stationed at the final turn before the 50-yard dash to the finish had to swap memory cards right when I went by (one set of photos ends with a guy whose gun time was 29:12 and the next set picks up with a kid whose gun time was gun time was 29:43, nice, eh?) but I was captured at the finish in all my polka-dot headbanded glory.

Notice the common runners' facial expression of "eyeballing chip-timing mat in order to stop watch at the exact right moment."

The Big House: holy ground. I'm not talking about my rear.

Please ignore the large, unsightly construction sprouting like a toxic fungus on the east side of stadium. Said construction is creating the Big House's first luxury suites (aka "rich alumni and corporate bigwig schmooze palaces") the inside of any of which I am sure I will never see. Additionally, the stadium remodel is reducing the total number of seats in the formerly Biggest House, thereby making it the Not-So-Big House, or perhaps the Second-Biggest House. I believe Penn State's stadium is currently bigger, and if we don't watch out, the ohio state Horseshoe will overtake us as well.

The Wikipedia entry for the Big House states "The largest crowd in NCAA college football history was 112,118 on November 22 2003 for a game against Ohio State." I was at that game. We won. It was awesome beyond belief.