Saturday, December 29, 2007


I missed my first GTS (General Training Session) since Labor Day. Last night while walking upstairs, I managed to twist my right knee somehow. It was already a little sore this week and I've been fighting off a cold or sinus infection, so maybe the low resistance was a variable. I don't know, but now I can't put any pressure on my right knee - which is inconvenient, annoying, and painful (especially when you live in a house with three sets of stairs).

I'm sitting here with ice on my knee (for the second time this morning). I had a horrid night's sleep because each time I turned, I woke up because my knee hurt. Not good.

So I'm running in my head ... and while reading emails this morning, I came across this link that was passed along by a fellow TNT member. It's a movie trailer for "The Spirit of the Marathon". This will give you some sense of my thoughts this morning!

I love the part where one of the runners says, "I'm going to be running for 4 plus hours, I must be insane". For me, I'm going to be running for 6 plus hours, I must be beyond insane. I also like the runner's comment about "the runner's high". He says he only experiences it when he stops running! HA!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More is not always better! - Part 2

Well, it's true, "more is not always better". Running 20 miles is definitely more difficult than running 18. My friend Russ pointed out today that it's the more difficult runs that end up being the most effective, because you know that you did it - as bad as the weather was (e.g. - the Thanksgiving half marathon in the rain) or as bad as you felt (e.g. - my first 12 and 14 mile runs) - you made it. I've heard repeatedly that "if it were easy", everyone would be doing it.

I felt surprisingly good after the 18, with the slight exception of the vice grips on the top of my feet, which after 20, I now believe the hypothesis of the shoe laces being too tight was correct.

Let me back up just a bit. I wasn't nervous about the 20 at all - too many other things to think about and do. And, as I wrote earlier, I was definitely on an emotional roller coaster which was a great way to be preoccupied, so the anxiety about 20 didn't hit until Friday night - as I was trying desperately to find my running clothes, prepare my 3 AM snack "banana, sports drink, and a bagel", and load some new tunes on the ipod.

The temperature was in the mid to high 40's when we started Saturday morning, high humidity, and about 15mph winds. We were running in my neighborhood, so the probability of getting lost was pretty low (not entirely improbable, just low). I arrived on time, but things were just a bit off. I forgot my cell phone at home, I didn't have the timer on my watch pre-set... overall, I was just slightly left of center (or right, I can never remember).

When we started off, I was trying to set my watch and fell just a bit more behind. As usual, the first 20 minutes or so were brutal - but I had to sprint to loosen up my leg muscles - so I thought my energy level was good.

For the first 6 miles, I played tag with a fellow runner. We took turns passing each other every few minutes which definitely helped keep us on pace and made the time pass quickly. I was running a bit ahead of schedule even. Somewhere around mile 8 and the beginning of the "4 miles of hills", I felt exuberant. By mile 10 (halfway through the hills of hell), I was slightly less confident. By mile 12, I was losing momentum fast, but I still hadn't gotten lost (and even successfully fought the temptation to run the half mile to my house and quit).

I regained composure and focus around mile 14 - which was largely down hill. I pulled into mile 16 pretty strong and not quite to the "bite me" phase, although I felt it's seductive pull. By mile 18, I just wanted it all to be over and by mile 19, the lovely water stop person actually met me a few paces before the water stop. I think she saw my focused gaze, or glaze as the case might have been, and came to see if I was ok. I remember her saying, "I'm your last water stop, you're almost there, are you ok?" I don't know what I said in return. I just know that I had one last hill and I wanted it to be over.

So I went as quickly as I could up that one last hill - and when I saw Chuck standing there with a camera, before I crossed the street back to the parking lot. I even managed to sprint to the finish!

And then the soreness came.

My left foot, the back of my right knee, and my shoulders - and it felt difficult to breathe. I remember eating some banana bread and drinking some sports drink. Doug and Dominic were there to great me again and I remember driving home (no tears, no traffic violations, but it's definitely a fog). I also remember telling two of the walkers about the fabulous benefits of the ice bath.

Speaking of which, I definitely needed the ice bath, it hurt worse than I remembered it hurting in the past, but I managed to stay in for 10 minutes (largely because I couldn't move).

I remember eating a hamburger and laying on the sofa for the remainder of the afternoon. Doug and Dominic went outside for a bike ride around the neighborhood (it's roughly a 1 mile loop). They must have done at least a hundred loops, because when they returned about 30 minutes later, Doug had to take a nap. I think it was mostly a sympathetic nap, because he knew how exhausted I was. Either that, or he's really a social sleeper.

Dominic, on the other hand, was quite energetic. He crashed the fire trucks and every other vehicle he owns into eachother for hours. After the mass vehicular homicide, he switched gears and woke Doug up to help him with his play, "Mary and Joseph in the Stable". He cast theatric newcomers, Noah and Mrs. Noah (does anyone know if Noah's wife has a first name?) in the lead parts of Mary and Joseph. Although Noah seemed to take immediately to the stage, Mrs. Noah was a little more, um, well, let's just say, she turned out to be a little more high maintenance than anticipated. She kept calling the Stable "a box" and saying it was "too cramped". Then there was the whole bit about "why she couldn't go back to the Ark, where the accommodations were more to her liking ... there was the 46 inch 1080P plasma TV and the soft leather chairs, and lobster and filet mignon ... you get the idea.

And, don't get me started about the crocodiles ... apparently they kept wanting to eat the other animals in the cast (the pandas, and the giraffes, and especially the parrots). The lions were pretty safe, but the hippos were viable crocodile food as well. The crocs were just plain trouble with a capital "T". I'm fairly certain this is what sent Mrs. Noah over the edge. By the time she stormed off the set, Dominic was in fits of laughter (although I was still safely nestled in the bosom of the sofa, and half asleep, I believe Dominic was giving the stage direction to the crocodiles).

Anyway, after the theatrical induced hilarity subsided to a low rumble, we ordered pizza. After that, I called it a night (I believe it was about 8:13pm).

I felt a little soreness Sunday morning, which gradually lessoned as the day progressed. I had a 6oz steak, eggs, grits, and two biscuits for brunch (ala The Flying Biscuit Cafe) and made certain to mention to the server that I had run 20 miles on Saturday. (Somehow, I convinced myself that I needed to explain why I had ordered such a large meal ... which, by the way, I managed to devour every last morsel, plus an extra half of a biscuit).

When we got home, I was able to make a brief walk around the neighborhood with Doug and Dominic to deliver Christmas cookies to the neighbors. By the time we made a quick circle and got to our almost next to last stop, the Walkers, we went inside their house to warm up a bit and chat. I was completely done by the time we left - I didn't want to leave, I just wanted to sit down again and not have to get up!!!!

So here I sit, still trying to wrap my mind around my accomplishment and not try to think too much about the upcoming challenge ... 26.2 in 3 weeks.

Maybe another glass of wine will help!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Let's compare friendships to my training runs. I'm not certain that I can call them a microcosm at this point, but they definitely have similarities.

Last week was quite the emotional one - at many levels. (I have definitely had friendships that were "quite emotional"). Although the 18 mile run was not as physically draining as it could have been, there was certainly an emotional aspect. I keep hearing veteran marathoners say that the majority of a marathon is "mental". Now, whether that means that you have to be mental to do it is wide open for quite a variety of interpretations.

On Tuesday last week, I was still elated with my accomplishment, but late that day, I boarded the emotional roller coaster. I cried, I lost sleep, I woke up early Wednesday and ran 6 miles. I still felt drained, everything was just a bit off. Later that morning, I received my first deep tissue massage in about 7 years. I think the word "massage" should be omitted here.

The therapist was fabulous and well trained. However, I learned that there are a few places on my body that don't get stretched nearly enough (primarily in my shoulders - which carry tension - HA! and where my minor and major glut muscles meet - let's not go there). For someone who has an extraordinary high pain threshold, I can honestly say that the pain brought tears to my eyes and still being on the emotional roller coaster, I let the flood gates open. Later, mentor Page, told me that those massages (let's call it deep tissue stimulation - massage evokes too much of a spa relaxation event) should be treated like one would go through the birthing process. You need to put yourself in a happy place outside your body to focus on and take deep cleansing breaths. Now I know.

I had to drink a ton of water, soak in epsom salts, and take ibuprofen to be even semi-mobile. Physically, I felt worse after the deep tissue, um, stimulation than I did after the 18 mile run. Seriously.

But the pain eventually subsided to a dull ache (as opposed to gut-wrenching-eye-watering-I-can't-bear-the-touch-of-a-feather pain). I moved on. But my emotional and physical resources were still depleted.

By Saturday morning, I still ached, but with the help of Chuck and Page, I managed to run the fasted 8 miles I've ever had (1 hr 41 minutes). They kept it interesting, dodged traffic with me, challenged me, and of course made me laugh. Chuck, at one point, held on to my arm and "pulled" me up the last few paces of a hill (thanks Chuck!!!). Page challenged us to sprint to a light pole (I won't say who won that one!!!). The first 20 minutes or so of the run were painful (in the places that were sore from the deep tissue event). But after that, it didn't really matter. I put myself in happy place and stayed there.

My sincere thanks to Chuck and Page for staying with me and taking walk breaks (and also for making me stop walking and RUN)!

As for friends and friendships ... there are good times and not so good times. Sometimes you have to ask people for directions. Sometimes when you get directions from someone, you still grab the map out of their hand. Sometimes, you have to learn to trust the person holding the map. Sometimes the shoe is on the other foot (i.e. - when you're holding the map and someone asks you for directions). That's when you have to learn to trust your instincts (a la Polar Express girl).

But like training for endurance events, friendships are tremendously rewarding. They give you strength, they give you perspective, they give you humility, they provide laughter, they challenge you, they can make you cry but they can also bring you peace.

So to my friends and family (both new and not so new), I thank you - I thank you for listening while I regale you with my running stories. I thank you for meeting me for coffee. I thank you inviting me to do things with you (even though you know I'm going to talk about running or legos or Dominic). I thank you for helping me with fund raising, for sending me earrings, for meeting for lunch or dinner, for letting me cry in front of you, for providing words of encouragement - even if they are from an easy chair and your feet are propped up, for all of the helpful tips, funny stories, and empathy, for your prayers, for reading my blog, and for your concern not only for my welfare but for the well being of Laura, the friend in whose honor I have inspired to attempt this test of endurance.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I really hate to tell you this, but ...

Before I finish that sentence, let me cut to the chase (for those that are a bit short on time) ... ok, "chase" might be a bit of a stretch.

I completed the 18 ... energy wise, I felt "FINE" - "JUST FINE" ... seriously, though - I still felt like there was some "umph" left in me - with the ever so small exception of my feet - which felt like vice grips were attached to them with each step I took.

Now for the full story. Skip to the very last paragraph if you have to run. It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day here in the metro Atlanta area - 70's, sunny, clear, slight wind from the northwest (just to keep us humble). I even arrived to the group meeting point AHEAD of schedule (about 5 minutes early ... something just slightly short of a miracle). It was going to be a great day!

I signed in, did my warm up lap, stretched, chatted with the coaches and mentor Page (who was ONLY doing 12) and grabbed my 18 mile map, replete with visual and written instructions.

After the stretches, Assistant Coach Yo gave me a salt packet (small paper package ... think the little red and white condiment you receive in the plastic wrapped pre-packaged silverware, napkin, salt/pepper combo). She said, "Take it now before you start, then take another one about halfway through." I did, because I have been following instructions like a good girl but ... (I laughed while I "did the shot of salt" and thought to myself - "Without the tequila? Are they just insane? How could they? It's an abomination!"

We received a few words of encouragement, remained silent for the first mile (out of respect for our honored heroes) and off we went.

At the first water stop (roughly mile 1), I chatted with Page briefly, still laughing over last week's antics (she's still speaking to me even though I wrote about her in my blog) and so it goes. She and I followed the same instructions until about mile 4, - which is about the time I realized that the print on my map was about a 7pt font (and hers was about a 10pt font). A slight amount of panic set in (the written instructions took up 3/4's of my map page (in the EXTREMELY small print). Foreboding engulfed me. I tried to shake it off.

Page and I parted ways at W. Conway (she went left, I went right) ... and that's the beginning of my unsanctioned tour of Buckhead. I followed the written instructions - or so I thought, but apparently ended up running an extra mile or so around the horse park (which coincidentally is where I got lost the first time we were in the area). It must mean something.

To continue, and I did ... at some point, one of the 18 mile runners had turned back because she was sick, and passed me at a cross street. She said, "I think you're supposed to go left" ... to which I said, "but the instructions say right". She wasn't feeling well so I thought maybe she was disoriented.


So on I went ... and when I got to the next water stop (even further behind the pack than I already was), I was in a state of frustration and said "I hate this course" - which I sincerely did at that point ... who in their right mind would map out an 18 mile course that has 40 instructions? Sure, they are trying to keep it interesting, but I'm still bitter.

By mile 9, and a dozen streets later, I was still feeling frustrated, which was probably a good thing and still venting to the poor helpful souls at the water stops.

Physically, I felt fine - mentally, I was steaming.

Around mile 12 or so, at a water stop, I re-laced my shoes, as they were feeling a bit loose and starting to rub on my heals. Did I mention that I was still frustrated? I kept looking at the map and instructions - thinking, "Dear God, please help me get through this - I have no idea where I am!"

By the time I got to mile 15 or 16 - my feet started to hurt (I mean REALLY hurt) - like the kind of pain that makes your eyes water ... and I was frustrated (I may have mentioned that). I had been running for 4 hours - 240 minutes ... and I just wanted to stop reading the map. My shoulders were tense, I was trying to dodge hummers, large luxury vehicles, and landscaping trucks driving at recklessly high speeds around blind corners. I kept hearing trains in the distance which for the most part kept me alert (because I imagined that my dad - who was a railroad engineer until he died, was sending me signals somehow).

As I passed the last bend between Lake Forrest and Powers Ferry (by Chastain Park), I turned onto Pineland (I gave up on the map) ... because I wasn't going to run around Chastain Park for a second time. About a third of the way down Pineland, the sweep car pulls along side me and the helpful TNT girl driving says, "I really hate to tell you this, but you turned a street too early."

I glared, and said in a demon inspired tone, "At this point, I really don't care." She said, but do you know how to get back to the church parking lot from here?" I said, (again using harsh tones) "Yes, I do" She continued, "But will you be able to get to the last water stop at King and Northside?" I was almost in tears at this point - because she was driving the car as I was running and it was difficult not to say - please just let me get in and drive me back. So I said with gritted teeth, "Yes, I will". That's when she said, "I'll just drive up here a bit to make sure."

I groaned.

As I crested the hill, I saw her car waiting for me at the water stop. I stopped running and walked to the last stop, belligerent and frustrated to the core. By the time I got there, the sweep car had "sped" away. No doubt, she sensed my frustration and wanted to avoid a scene. :-)

So naturally, I vented again to the poor girl who volunteered for that waterstop. I was beyond frustrated by this point (could you tell?) - the vice grips on my feet were getting tighter by the second and my shoulders had turned into stone. Energy wise I felt good - probably fueled by rage - but still it was good - I wasn't ready to fall over or anything.

I managed somehow to find my way back to the church parking lot (which was our starting point) - thank you for your thoughts and prayers on that one! I had to walk the last mile because I couldn't find a comfortable pace if I ran. I honestly have no idea how far I ran (somewhere between 18 and 19 miles I would guess). It took me somewhere in the vicinity of 4 and a half hours - but who knows how long it really took, because there was a lot of venting at water stops (during which I stopped, stretched, tried to regroup), a lot of stopping at intersections to read the map and a lot of diving into bushes in attempts to avoid being run over by high speed oncoming traffic (and I'm not going to even mention the hills ... that was insane).

But I finished (without tears), wrote down my time (including the stops), drove home without a traffic violation, took an ice bath, hydrated, stretched, put my feet up for awhile, and then went to a party that night. (Feet recovered enough to just a mild aching pain).

I'm ready for the 20.

Bring it.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Spoiler Alert!

It didn't happen ... running 16 miles on Saturday, that is. I only ran eight miles ... ONLY 8. Apparently, the powers that be decided that 16 was not needed after all, since we slogged our way through the rains on Thanksgiving.

Think Hallelujah Chorus!

Thanks to those who sent me positive energy and prayers on Saturday morning. They definitely worked!!!!

I had talked briefly to my mentor on Friday morning and knew that instead of 16, I was probably only going to do 12. I was prepared. However ...

I was a tad late arriving at the GTS ... (read in, people were starting to run as I turned pulled the car into the parking lot. ) I didn't know where I was going and got lost ... but we already know that's a common theme with me.

Mentor Page, waited for me to check in and said, "So are we going to do 12?" I paused, ever so briefly, and said, "Uh ...", about that time Page, said, "OK, how about 8?".

Again, think Hallelujah Chorus!

Until we got to about mile 6.

Things were going well. Page had me laughing most of the way - about mile 1, as we passed dear Margaret and Yo along the way, she (Page) casually tossed her vest to Margaret. To which Margaret replied, "What do you want me to do with this?". As we jogged a little further ahead, Page yelled back, "I'll pick it up later, thanks!" I chimed in with "Margaret, I didn't realize you were Page's valet!" You had to be there, it was funny. There was a bit more friendly banter, but I have to G rate this version of the story.

So onward we went, got a bit turned around on this course - as the majority of the streets were a variation of either Club or Brookhaven (e.g. Club, W. Club, E. Club, Brookhaven, W. Brookhaven, E. Brookhaven - you get the idea) ... and it didn't help much that some of the streets didn't have street signs ... but who's complaining? It was a delightful morning (about 38 degrees and clear).

Maybe because we were running a bit slow and boredom set in, or maybe Page just got a wild hair ... but around mile six, Page said, "OK, Lisa, let's see what you've got - let's sprint to the light post." So I sprinted. Then seconds later, she said, "Let's sprint to the stop sign." So I sprinted. Then she said, "OK, let's sprint to the next stop sign." That's when I said - no, gasped, "But Page I don't see the next stop sign." She said, "I'm sure there's one up there some where." So I sprinted. As we passed a couple walking their dog, I shouted to them, "If you guys see me passed out up ahead, please call 911." The woman yelled that she had a phone so all was good.

As we rounded the next corner, I saw the mythical "stop sign" and had to laugh. It was good to be challenged. We made a quick bathroom break at a Dunkin Donut and Page wouldn't let me get a donut to go (I even argued for a donut hole ... but the answer was still "absolutely not") ... and the fact that I only had my charm to pay.

So about the time, we got to the last water stop (and just short of a mile to go) ... it was all UP HILL. That's when the music in my head changed stations ... think Under Pressure - David Bowie Page wanted me to sprint up the hill. Yes, I said, "UP" the hill. I said, "Page, I'm not going to write nice things about you in my blog." She said, "I don't care." I laughed. She said, "Lisa, dig deep, reach in." I said, "Page, I dug deep about 1.5 miles ago ... I'm done." She laughed.

I said, "Page, I can't feel my toes any more ... " She said, "Think of what your friend is going through, think of the little children that are battling cancer ... they don't have a choice, they have to keep going." I kept going ... albeit not quickly, I kept going.

We breached the summit, I had no idea how much farther we had to go, but I knew the end was in sight. Page stayed a few paces ahead and got to the last intersection. She yelled, "Hurry, we need to make this light ..." the TNT members behind us, "rapidly" approaching, yelled, "wait until the light changes, don't get killed ..." which I heard off in the distance, as Page was dragging me across Peachtree Road (arms flailing ... I wish I had a video).

I was still laughing.

When we got back to the The Big Peach Running Co. (yes, it's a running store in Georgia, what else would it be called?), I was recounting our journey to Margaret, Yo, and Chuck ... when Page jokingly called out, "Lisa, did you sign me back in?" I said, "I'm not Margaret!!!!" Really, it was funny. Margaret and Yo told me that they are the ones that usually "challenge" Page. I said, "Thanks, now she's finally found someone she can "challenge"!" All good.

It was good to be challenged (have I officially used that word enough yet?). So now when I do the 18 miles next Saturday (Dec 9) ... with no chance of a last minute reprieve, I will have Page's voice in my head (and probably at the end, the Hallelujah Chorus!)

P.S. - We were honored to attend a goose bump delivering performance of the Hallelujah Chorus at our church this morning. Amazing.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Let's Talk Turkey

First, let's talk about the saying that "you should always listen to your mother". On Wednesday night, before the race, my mom said to me, "What you are going to do if it rains in the morning?" I replied, "I guess I'll run". She then said, "But won't that be unhealthy and aren't you running to raise money for a cause promoting health?" You really can't argue with that.

On Wednesday morning at 5:30 AM, there was thunder and lightning in the distance. Doug logged on to to view the current radar map. The good news was that it was 64 or 65 degrees outside, and according to the website, the big green blob was to pass directly north and slightly south of the course.

So much for accurate weather forecasting. Crossing the bridge to the starting line, it started to drizzle ("I can do drizzle", I thought to myself ... "at least it's not cold"). Little beeps sounded as I crossed the start line (about 6 or 7 minutes after the gun time). Adrenaline rushing, feet pounding the pavement, runners with garbage bags over their heads, a walker with an umbrella, all united in the darkness before the dawn. But we never actually "saw" the dawn, because somewhere between mile 1 and mile 2, the heavens broke open. Thus began the downpour, which was to come and go for 11 of the 13 miles (intermittent downpours and drizzle).

Yes, it RAINED for MOST of the race.

At mile 2, I called Doug and said, "When you meet me at the finish line, can you bring me a change of clothes?"

Somewhere between mile 4 and 5, my shoes got soggy and started to slush.

Just when I would think it had stopped raining, it would start again ... but for the most part, I just had to laugh. Because it would have been way too easy to cry and call to be picked up. So like lemmings, we all moved forward. One of the runners in front of me raised up his hands in the air (out from under his garbage bag) and shouted "Thanks a lot Sonny, you couldn't have waited until after Thanksgiving?" <---- reference to GA Gov. Sonny Purdue who assembled everyone together in a united day of prayer for rain last week. Well, it was a hard one ... we needed the rain (and still do) so maybe spending the next few hours running/walking in the rain would be a small sacrifice to help fill the reservoirs. I'm fairly certain in that instant, I truly believed the rain would stop.

But it didn't.

The race itself was good (with the exception of soggy feet). It was like a chronicle of my almost 9 years in Atlanta. I ran by dozens of restaurants that Doug and I frequented, (and as I ran, it rained), past the Borders book store in Buckhead where we used to start or end our non-dates, past the MARTA stations I would take to the airport when I traveled for work(it was really raining hard here), past Lenox Mall where we visit Santa each year, past PRUMC, the very first church I attended in Atlanta(have I mentioned that it was raining?),
past Peachtree Christian, the church we attend each week and where we got married (the sun tried to break through the drizzle at this point), past the Peachtree club where we had our wedding reception(oh, and by the way, it rained on our wedding day), past the Fox theatre where I attended my first opera in Atlanta (and when Doug would go with me months later, we would smuggle in boxes of Junior mints), past Doug's apartment where he lived right before we got married, past the Capitol(the sun was trying to break through again by this point), and finally to Turner Field.

For the most part, I ran down the hills and walked up the two big hills, but as Doug said, "I finished strong". He said I had the "face" ... the moment I crested the last hill and started running around the corner, thinking the end would be in sight, I was determined to finish this thing as quickly as I could. So, slush, squish, splat, slush, squish, splat, I crossed the line ... to insanity. It wasn't a long trip, though - since I was already so close.

A couple of notes:
1) No tears this time ... I was way too determined. Haven't cried yet ... and it's already been 24 hours - always a good sign.
2) Doug and Dominic were able to watch me cross the finish line (that was so cool!) Doug brought the change of clothes and coffee. He should be sainted.
3) My mom allowed me to lay on her sofa for the entire day (after providing a Thanksgiving feast fit for royalty - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, green bean casserole, homemade applesauce, coleslaw, homemade bread, minestrone soup and meatballs<--it's an Italian thing ... ). My small contribution was to bake an apple and a pumpkin pie (which I did on Wednesday). 4) I did take another ice bath, like I said, I'm insane, but they really do make a difference. 5) I feel pretty good today (Friday) just a little tired. 6) I completed my second "13 miles" and my first official half marathon!!!!!

Now I have to get ready for 16 miles next week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Eight is Great!

I only did 8 miles on Saturday. It was fine ... it was good. I ran it in under 14 minutes a mile (ok, I know it isn't quite running). I played little mental games along the way ... you know, "I'll just run really, really fast until I get to that mailbox up ahead, then I'll take a break" ... then I would get to the mailbox, and say "OK, I'll keep running until I get to that crimson colored tree" ... and so forth. It was a decent run in all (although when I started it was 33 degrees outside ... and I was cold ... and trying to convince myself that running would keep me warm ... ).

In the end, I managed to run (not slog, not walk, but run) into the parking lot where the team was congregating ... I felt exhilarated. One of the coaches said, "Hey Lisa, how do you feel?" I said, "Not too bad, no tears this week!". He laughed ... it was all good.

I went home, stretched (no ice bath this week, it was really cold outside), ate, stretched some more, went to the chiropractor ... had a photo shoot at the house ... all good. No tears, none at all! I was on a roll!

Dominic was in bed asleep by 8pm. Doug said, "Do you want to watch a movie?" And then it happened ... after a positive, high energy day, feel good day, the "Blockbuster mailer" was opened and the DVD inserted into the player. Heavy sigh - can't quite remember when this movie was actually put into the movie "queue". Must remember to edit it soon.

Griffin and Phoenix.

I cried for most of the two hour duration - tissue after tissue after tissue, it was exhausting. As for the movie, it was a bittersweet love story (Dermot Mulroney and Amanda Peet). Think bittersweet "a la Ali Macgraw, Ryan O'Neal Love Story".

My only comment after it was over was, "I made it through an entire Saturday without sobbing until this movie, I can't believe that I cried through the entire thing! We're only renting comedies from now on."

I'm not making any commentary on the movie itself. Just know that it's a love story with a twist and if you have any even remotely emotional fiber in you, you will cry, it would be highly improbable not to.

Back to running. At some point on Saturday (before the movie), I realized that if I can just figure out how to do 3 - good 8 mile runs in a row, I'll just about have the marathon done. After 3 - 8's, it will only be 2.2 miles to go and that should be easy, um, relatively speaking.

I'm always open to suggestions.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flashing Blue Lights

I only did 14 ... HA!!!!! I ONLY DID 14 MILES!!!!! OK, sure - it was hard, I was sore ... every bone, muscle, ligament, and tendon hurt - oh, and it hurt to breathe. But, I did it! Around mile 7, I was running alone (because no one runs as slowly as I do) and had just gotten to the turnaround point (which is about 1.8 miles from our house) and was greeted by Doug and Dominic, standing on in a parking lot holding a sign that said, "Go Mommy, We love you !" I cried (naturally), gave a few quick hugs, tried desperately not to think about getting in the car and having them take me home ... and then as I began running again, Dominic (in his newly acquired 5 year old wisdom) said, "Mommy, why did you run all the way up here? Why don't you just get in Daddy's car?" Sigh.

I replied, "Mommy is thinking that very same thing, but I have to run back now! Thanks for meeting me!"

So with renewed vigor, I ran back to the water stop (which would be mile 8 for me). Doug and Dominic showed up there again (bless them) ... more hugs, and then I was off, to run down a really big hill (which took me over 18 minutes to run up, but only about 7 minutes to run down). I was feeling good. The base of my left hamstring was a bit sore, but I still felt ok.

Fast forward (because if we stayed with Lisa running time, it would be another 15 mintues), to the next water stop (mile 10). The hamstring was a bit more sore and I was tired and running more slowly, but I still figured that I had "some" left in me. Yes, Jim, at this point, I took the Gel Goo ... a little sweet, had to take it in small doses, but it gave me a quick kick where it was needed.

One more water stop to go - I slowed down to a walk and tried to convince myself there wasn't much more to go ... by the time the discussion was over in my head - I was only .8 miles away from the end ... I kept thinking ... don't stop, don't stop, don't stop. But, because I am who I am, I stopped, and unfortunately realized it hurt more to walk than it did to run, so I started running again. I slogged up the last hill (about .2 miles away now) ... and heard footsteps behind me. Flashing blue lights? No, not yet ... hang with me, I'll get to that.

So, I'm slogging up the hill, I can actually see the parking lot to my car, and the footsteps get closer - they were those of the 20-something(I could be wrong) slender, gazelle visiting from a TNT group in San Francisco ... her legs were at least 5 feet long (give or take an inch) ... and she was doing 20 miles ... so, as she glided by, barely breathing ... she said, "Oh good, you're with TNT, is the stopping point up ahead?" I gasped for a breath and said, "Yes, just a straight shot" ... she said, "Great, thanks ... " but by then, she was already actually there.

I was greeted again by my mentor, Page, and my two team coaches, Yo & Chuck ... hugs and high fives all around ... as we climbed the last few yards to the stopping point. Then Barb, the mentor that was there for me for my 12 mile run provided moral support, hugs, and said ...
"hey, guess who else is here?" Yes, Doug and Dominic, made a third appearance ... more hugs and moral support! It was awesome ... I cried ... it could be a theme ... get ready for the Flashing Blue Lights ...

As I said, minutes ago (if you're still with me), I was sore - very sore ... Everyone there gave me advice - here it is and in this order.

1) Stretch
2) Hydrate (water and sports drink)
3) Ice bath (fill tub with about 8 inches of cold water, stay in running clothes, immerse, add a bucket of ice - stay there at least 8 - 10 minutes & enjoy a beer - which was graciously provided by mentor Barb)
4) Warm shower
5) Eat protein
6) Nap
7) Tell everyone that you "only did 14 today"

So I stretched, managed to somehow drive home (while Doug and Dominic went off in search of the perfect hamburger to bring me for lunch), and I decided to try the ice bath as horrible as it sounded because I figured I couldn't possibly be in any more pain. Here's the funny thing, as I made a few expletives when put my feet in, I realized soon that they were numb (and it was good Dominic was not in the house), but sitting there immersed in cold water really wasn't that bad - I couldn't feel anything after the first few seconds ... and quite frankly, I didn't have enough energy to actually get OUT of the tub, so sitting there for 10 minutes was not a problem. There was no way I could have gotten out sooner. Seriously. The bad news was that I didn't have any strength to open the beer.

The hamburger was good, and I did have the beer to wash it down (I had already hydrated with about 32 oz of water and somewhere close to 12 oz of sports drink). The nap was a bit short, because Doug was busy preparing the backyard for the Pirate Birthday Party and Dominic was in need of a playmate - but we played with things that did not require me to be on my feet (which were completely non-functional).

Fast forward again to about about 5pm Saturday evening (if you're still with me, I promise the end is in sight) ... I started to feel vaguely human and mobile again and forced myself to drive to Trader Joe's. I made some quick purchases (mentioned to the check out clerk that I had run 14 miles that day and felt huge waves of pride) and went to the Chinese restaurant across the street for take out (also mentioning to the host that I had run 14 miles ... I was on a roll). I'm only about 3 miles from home at this point. So I decide to take the same road home that I ran on that morning (but I was in the car and it was dark).

That's when the rush of emotion hit me. As I started down the street, I was thinking about how much my body hurt, and the fact that I had actually managed somehow to run 14 miles ... which took 3.5 hours, but still ... I did it ... and I cried (there's the theme) ... and here's the thing - like I said, it was dark, and I was on a familiar back road, and I wasn't thinking about driving, and I was crying (hard), and that's when I saw ...

The Flashing Blue Lights.

"Pull over at the next street ma'am" (love the bullhorn).

I came to a stop, rolled down the window, got out my driver's license and looked at the officer (tears streaming down my face). He said -

"Are you ok, ma'am?"

"No!", I sobbed, "I ran 14 miles this morning, and I'm so sore, and I had to go the grocery store, and get things ready for my son's birthday party tomorrow, and I still have so many things to do, and I have dinner here for my family, and I actually ran on this road this morning and I can't believe I actually was able to do the 14 miles ... but I'm training for this marathon because a good friend of mine has lymphoma and I'm trying to raise money and ..." (you need to insert alot of sobbing and gasping in between words because I was really over the edge at this point).

He said, "Can I have your license ma'am"?

After what seemed an eternity (and alot more crying), he came back to the car and said,

"Listen ma'am, this stays between us, everyone makes a mistake, and I sincerely believe you know these roads, so I'm not going to write you a ticket (since the stop sign was less than a mile from mile house) and I think you're doing a really good thing with this marathon for your friend, she will definitely be in my prayers, and I hope you get everything done for your son's birthday."

I was still sobbing as I choked out a sincere "Thanks" - and he said, "are you ok to drive home?"

I should have said, "no, but I could walk from here" - but I didn't ... and I kept crying, I don't know why and Doug met me in the garage, because I had been gone longer than expected (but laughed when I told him the story).

It was an exhausting day all around ...

But it makes a good story (and I did 14 miles!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

More is Less (I almost had it right last time)

Today is my son's 5th birthday (and yes, he did get legos as some of his presents - seriously, what did you expect?) - unfortunately, he is not feeling well (fever and cough) ... so he stayed home from preschool today and we have been watching movies and napping all day. (Just for the record, I'm going to do my training run when Doug returns home - in case anyone is keeping track.) ---> the Legos pictured are courtesy of Miss Heather and Mr. Erik (Great Job!!!! Thanks!!!!)

I'm hoping Dominic will be better by Sunday (which is the official day of his Pirate Party - 12 - 14 boys playing pirate in our back yard - Arrrr!!!!

Anyway, back to More is Less ... I almost had it right in Saturday's post ... here's the email the team received from our Head Trainer, Tommy Owens.

For anyone who has never done an endurance event - this seems like exactly the wisdom you need!

"Phoenix Team,

Congratulations on your commitment and progress in training for your event. As we reached the halfway point, and as the mileage increases, there are certain things that you should remember:.

** You will be experiencing some chronic fatigue. Fatigue is cumulative, and is to expected. To help manage this, be sure that you are training at the lowest level schedule. You will have a good event experience, no matter which level you choose. Close attention to diet and hydration will make you stronger, as well as recover better..

** Recovery from longer training takes time. That is why we are now showing more rest and recovery days and weeks in the schedule.

** Remember, many times “MORE IS LESS”. When determining your day's plan, always use this guideline: “IT'S NOT WHAT YOU COULD DO, BUT WHAT YOU SHOULD DO”.

It is normal and expected to feel some doubt, and concern at this point in training. Vince Lombardi said, “FATIGUE MAKES COWARDS OF US ALL.” We have all experienced these same feelings. I can assure you that you are progressing well. You will find that you will begin gaining more strength and confidence over the coming weeks. We are getting close to our goals.

Thanks you for your continued dedication, and please don't loose sight of the impact you are making in saving lives and finding cures for blood related cancers.

Congratulations on your progress, and best of luck as you continue your journey. You may have heard…the destination is nothing compared with journey, and the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.
Coach Tommy"

Saturday, November 3, 2007

More is not always better!

First, let me says thanks to those who commented last week (Barb & Jim) - And to those who commented either via email or in person. I thrive on the encouragement! Seriously.

Yes, I did eat a banana last night prior to going to bed. Good times. I also woke up 3 times because I was anxious (just guessing). When I got to the GTS meeting point, I was greeted with a hug (Thanks Barb!). My mentor, Page, offered to run with me this week (with me setting the pace) - it was a good run (yay!) ... and over before I knew it.

The weather was a bit cool (mid 50's), but good for running. We finished in about 1 hour and 10 minutes (a bit under my "normal" 14 minute pace) and we only did 8 miles. It's a bit hard to wrap myself around the fact that I can say "I ONLY ran EIGHT MILES". But I did and I can.

I've also decided that I'm going to run the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day (The mileage fits in nicely with our training schedule and I really want to get a sense of how the larger races feel.) More on this in the next few weeks. But for now, I will be somewhere around a starting line around 7AM on Thanksgiving morning ... but I'm guessing I will be very Thankful by the end of the day.

So the 8 miles today was "easy" - no cramps, no breathing issues, no weather issues - just running. And, when I arrived home, my mom and Mack had come over to make breakfast for everyone ... eggs, sausage, bacon, country ham, cheese grits, toast, and English muffins ... much better than the day old bagels I usually eat. Thanks Mom!!!!!

Thanks again to everyone who has offered encouragement along the way. It is indeed the best type of fuel to keep me moving forward!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A little bit more, a little bit more

Twelve miles ... 12 ... that's 10 PLUS 2 - 12 ... there's no good way to sugar coat this one - it sucked.

It was about 53 degrees this morning, crisp and clear. We ran by the river so there was no chance for me to get lost. I was adequately dressed (or so I thought when I started) and felt fine ... until mile 8. Shortly after I reached the 8 mile mark, I looked at my watch and said to myself, "wow, I'm doing great, I feel good, I'm running at little bit under my rocket 14 minutes a mile, and I'm breathing ... all good, I rock ... I can do this."

And then, so as to keep me in my place, I got a cramp in my left arch. The pain was what I would imagine akin to a chain saw slicing through the arch of my foot (I watched Grey's Anatomy on Friday night - if you didn't see it, you should have).

Back to the pain ... I had no choice but to stop. And, as those of you who have gone before know all to well - when you stop - you are hosed. So I stopped (it hurts to even say it) to stretch out the cramp. I stretched and stretched and stretched some more and then my body finally realized it wasn't moving any more. It took EVERY fiber in my being (physical, emotional, and intellectual) to take another step forward. And when I did, the cramp was not gone. So I stretched again (rather happily at this point because I had STOPPED). I continued the cycle of mind game of convincing myself to move on - then stepping forward with pain for about a half mile. By that time, my muscles had a chance to cool down and felt like bricks (which made the mental and physical arguments to stop much more interesting). But I made it to the 10 mile mark and thought - "ok, I can do this, it will be fine". But it wasn't - by mile 11, every muscle was screaming, "Lisa, are you insane?" I just laughed maniacally in response and kept moving. I finished in 3 hours and 3 minutes which included 7 water stops, a half mile of stop/starts for stretching, and a bathroom break. I was in tears by the time I reached the parking lot.

There was another team member a few minutes ahead of me, and three of the mentors and TNT alumni. Everyone, team member, mentors, and alumni, were extremely encouraging. Reminding me that it's a big jump from 10 to 12 miles and that I actually completed it (and still slightly over 15 minutes/mile). I'm not sure why I was so emotional about the whole process - the fact that I was the caboose, the fact that every muscle was in pain, the fact that now it seems a bit harder to achieve the final goal, the fact that I was cold ... or maybe a combination of everything. It just sucked.

I had to make a couple of stops on the way home and didn't realize how sore I really was until I tried to get out of the car for the second time. I finally made it home and to the shower - but I just couldn't get warm, but didn't have enough will power left to actually turn off the water.

Fast forward about three hours - and I'm still sitting here - trying not to move to much.

Things I learned today:
1) Eat a banana the night before a big run, and a half of a banana the morning of. 2) Drink plenty of water the day before a big run
3) Wear layers of cool max or dry fit clothing
4) There is a "big" difference between 10 and 12 miles
5) Stopping physically is bad - mentally, it's even worse ...

Next week, I am scheduled to run 4/6/4 miles then a rest day, then 8 miles ... the following weekend, Nov 10 will be a 14 mile run ... yikes.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I didn't want to run this morning ...

I really didn't ... I had a sinus headache and a dozen other "reasons" not to do it. I even called my friend Esther, who graciously offered to meet me afterwards with a pumpkin spice latte and a bagel. But I still wasn't buying into it.

My car found it's way to the river run site ... I parked. I sat there for a few minutes leaning against the steering wheel, trying to come up with something "convincing" that would allow me and my conscience to head straight to the coffee shop. But to no avail, the more I struggled with not running, the more I thought I should just get out of the car and do it.

So I did.

It wasn't the greatest run ever, it wasn't even a good run, comparatively speaking, but I did it (only 4 miles scheduled for today). I'm hoping that my psyche will be in better shape for Saturday's 12 mile event ... it would be good not to have to sit in my car while the rest of the team is outside stretching.

So here's the quote for the day -

“The only one who can tell you “you can’t” is you.
And you don’t have to listen!”

I thought it was appropriate ... especially since when did I ever listen to anybody?

Monday, October 22, 2007

An update on Laura

Just in from my friend Laura's mom -

"FABULOUS news to report: Laura's bone marrow biopsy and aspiration of 2 weeks ago shows 'successful engraftment'! and reveals that '100% of T-cells are of donor origin'!! and that '100% of myeloid cells are of donor origin'!!! Peter's boys are now Laura's guys, and Laura's (invaded) gals are no more! (couldn't be better!) Furthermore, the DNA array shows no more presence of JH/BCL2 (the baddies)!! And 'no morphological evidence of lymphoma'!!! And her PET results were perfectly normal!"

This is awesome news indeed!!!! Unfortunately, she is still dealing with effects from the steroids being used to treat the Graft Versus Host Disease (GVHD).

Thank you to those who have included Laura and her family in your prayers and have been sending her positive energy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ten Ten Ten!!!!

10 miles ... yes, 10 ... T-E-N! It took me 2 hours and 16 minutes (it was our first timed evaluation) ... so 14 minutes a mile (and yes, I know some people can actually walk that fast) - but hey, it's 4 minutes a mile FASTER than when I started this little endeavor 10 weeks ago (there's that number again).

The run was fine - "the" blister was fine ... I figured out that if I use ALL of the various remedies that people have given me over the last few weeks (with the single exception of kerosene), I can run blister free. I put neosporin on the blister area, then cover it with the band aid brand blister patch (thank you to YB), then put a large piece of moleskin over the bandaid (to keep the band aid from slipping), then put waterproof tape around the edges of the moleskin, then wrap cloth athletic tape completely around my foot (to keep everything from slipping), then put more waterproof tape around the edges of the cloth tape to keep the moisture out, and finally add a touch of vaseline to the outside of the cloth tape to keep the area slightly lubricated as it is prone to rub against the inside of my shoe after 4 miles, blister prevention can be achieved. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. It takes longer to wrap my foot than it does to get dressed - seriously.

So in keeping with 10 miles in 10 weeks ... here are 10 things I've learned.

1. Running after a restful night's sleep is GOOD (running after a non-restful night's sleep is BAD).

2. Running on a brisk autumn morning, when there's a slight chill in the air, and the sky is clear is GOOD (running in the RAIN, not so much).

3. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER stop moving forward ... once you stop making forward progression, you MUST NOT stop for any reason ... especially after 6 miles or so ... if you stop - IT IS REALLY HARD TO START AGAIN.

4. Always go to the bathroom before you run ... ALWAYS.

5. Breathing in deep, rhythmic breaths is GOOD ... not breathing is BAD.

6. Smiling at other runners/walkers and greeting them using your words (as opposed to grunts) not only makes you smile, but forces you to breath.

7. Waking up at 3 AM to eat a bagel because you have to run 10 miles can be a good thing.

8. There's really not a huge difference in running 8 miles and running 10.

9. The easiest way to insure that a run is completed is to start it before I'm fully awake in the morning.

10. What I am going through right now, doesn't even remotely compare to what those who are battling life threatening illnesses.

This has been a good week (with respect to running ... even though I did have to run in the rain again ... at least there was rain, although not nearly enough). I can't thank you all enough for your kind words, your urbane wit, your encouragement and support, and the various pats on the back (both literal and figurative). I couldn't do this without you all!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I didn't get lost this time!

I ran (slow jog/fast walk) 8 miles on Saturday. I really did! I felt fine (I really did). The blister from last week (errant lego in my shoe - or at least that's what it feels like) has decided to apply for permanent resident status. I'm trying to find a loop hole to prevent that from happening. I'm open to suggestions, so please feel free to comment. To date, I've received some delightful suggestions:

My favorite one so far follows - it's allegedly an old British Army trick:

"dip your feet in methylated spirits ... (something like Kerosene) every night before going to bed. Of course you'll ruin your sheets, don't even think of smoking in bed, you're chances of becoming an Italian shoe foot model are pretty much dead and ... well sex is probably out of the question too ... but I can almost guarantee no blisters. (I guess British soldiers didn't have to worry about 3 of the 4 issues ... )"

Although I don't actually smoke, the other 3 seemed to propose a bit of a challenge, so I have opted for some of the other less creative suggestions: Band Aid blister pads, CVS brand blister pads, waterproof tape, Neosporin, athletic tape, moleskin, Vaseline ... next on the list is New Skin ... I'm remaining hopeful that there will be a successful alternative to the kerosene.

Back to the 8 miles ... we ran along Columns Drive so I didn't get lost. It's pretty much of a straight shot for those not familiar with the area. It's a 5 mile loop attached to a park that's a 3 mile loop. And, if you start at a local restaurant called "The Line at 285", you add another mile. So, I had a great run (well, almost great if it weren't for THE BLISTER). I finished in about an hour and 50 minutes (which included 3 leisurely water stops, a bathroom break in a stunning port-o-john, and a brief pause to cross the street to turn around. I know it's slow for all of you real runner types, but that kind of pace not only doesn't kill me, but will permit me to finish the marathon in the allotted 7 (SEVEN) hours!!!!! Maybe I'll get faster over the next 12 weeks ... maybe even, dare I dream ... ... a 12 minute mile! OK - 14 is good, it's fine. Let's be realistic.

In a nutshell, 8 miles is not really that bad - it's just not. Once I get past the initial 25 minutes or so - it's fine. That first mile and half - two miles is just plain icky. I want to stop, I don't want to keep going ... my legs hurt, my back hurts, my shoulders hurt, I can't breathe, I nose runs, my ears water ... about the only thing that doesn't hurt is THE BLISTER, it doesn't start to bother me until about mile 5 or so. But once I push past that first few minutes, it's all good (until THE BLISTER starts to blister again ... yes, I do clean and puncture it after each run).

After I got home on Saturday, I walked in and Doug said ... "hey". I said, "hey". (Sure, I could have left that out, but why? It's my blog, and I like to embellish.)

He was fairly focused on blowing leaves off the deck and we know how much of a "chatty Cathy" he tends to be anyway.

Before I went upstairs, he said, "How was the run?" I said, "Good". He said, "How far did you go?" I said, "8 miles". He turned and went back to the deck (like I said, he was fairly focused on the task at hand). About a minute later, he came back inside and said, "HOW FAR?" I said, "8 ... I rock". He said, "Yes, you do ... that's awesome wait a minute, aren't you back a little early?"

Tee hee. See? I am getting faster (little by little) .... or maybe he was expecting me to get lost again!

Monday, October 8, 2007

I think a lego must have been stuck in my shoe.

Well, race fans ... I did it ... 6 (S-I-X) miles. No, I didn't run the whole thing, are you guys crazy? I ran/walked it. I met a lovely person named Celeste (how could a person named Celeste not be lovely?), who ran/walked with me for the first 3ish miles. Then, unfortunately, our paths diverged. She was doing 8 miles (and me, only a mere 6) - plus, she has been doing triathlons for the last 3 years! Anyway, we got lost, because we were chatting and running (for me sloooooowwwwww jogging/slogging), and completely missed the turn (twice). The national training coordinator, Tommy Owens, even ran after us to make sure we knew where we were going. OK, that was kind of funny. About mile 5, close to the last water stop, the band-aide blister must have slid off ... and it literally felt like a lego in my shoe. REALLY, IT DID! So, I walked and trotted, then decided to just walk the rest of the way. It took me about 90 minutes to complete the whole thing. I felt great! OK - a little sore, especially the blister, but it did feel good! And, I went to the chiropractor immediately afterwards, and had my talus adjusted, plus a few others ... well, actually, a lot of other joints needed to be adjusted. But who's counting? My sincere thanks to my caregivers who are keeping me in line!!! (or should I say, aligned!!!!)

This week, I have to run 4 on Tuesday, 6 (again) on Wednesday, 4 on Thursday, then 8 (yes, EIGHT) on Saturday. If I can, then 4 on Sunday (we'll see about Sunday).

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement and support. I sincerely appreciate it. Even those of you who said this ..."I'm behind you all the way ... (in a comfortable chair, with glass in hand and my slippers on)." (you know who you are!)

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Raindrops keep falling on my head ...

I went to the chiropractor this morning to receive some well needed adjustments ... in just about every joint in my body. Running 4 miles two days in a row after being sick for a week apparently took a toll on my body. I also received a complimentary blob of what Justin, chiropractor extraordinaire, referred to as, "icy hot on steroids" and I have to say he was EXACTLY right. If you have any reason at all to use this stuff, please stop by Healthquest. Conveniently, they have large jars of it available for purchase. Please mention my name, maybe if they have a deluge of requests, they'll donate a portion of the proceeds to my fund raising campaign!

So after the chiropractic care and the application of "icy hot on steroids", I went for a run by the river. "Run by the River" is actually secret code for a run at the Chattahoochee National Park entrance at the end of Columns Drive in Cobb County. It's a quiet, picturesque, serene venue and a three mile loop. I never thought I'd be qualifying parks by the distances of their running loops, but I am. Columns Drive is a 5 mile loop, so the combination of the CNP and Columns will work for me (at least through the week) for a few more weeks of training. I'll be jumping to 6 miles on Saturday (well, in theory anyway), and then soon it will be 4 and 6 miles alternating through the week. By November, it will be 6 and 8 miles alternating through the week. Hard for me to believe.

Where was I? Oh, right, the run. It wasn't so much a run, as a brisk walk, with brief intervals of moving quicker. About 12 minutes in, I started to get "the blister" again. About 15 minutes, it started to gently drizzle. By 30 minutes, it was RAINING, by 48 minutes, I was done, but the RAIN was still going. I slogged my way to the car, and squished in. Somewhere between minutes 38 and 42, I thought to myself, "I am a runner. Not only do I have a blister and I'm still moving, but I don't care that it's raining." At minute 43, I thought to myself, "I HAVE A BLISTER AND IT'S RAINING."
At minute 48 when I arrived at the parking lot on the way to the last mile, I saw my car and thought to myself, "I'm really just a runner in training.".

So today, the box of legos is wet - but tomorrow is an official day of rest on the schedule, so maybe it will dry out.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

You know you’re training for an endurance event when...

(courtesy of TNT!!!! this is soooooo true!!!)

You drive down the road and you begin thinking “this would be a great training route.”

Your shopping trips are for dri fit singlets, socks and shorts.

The thought of a day old bagel and PowerAde propels you to speed up your last mile of training.

Your pile of laundry is a mountain of smelly training apparel.

You spy someone wearing purple and you do a double take to see if it’s a teammate.

You smile when someone asks what you’ve been doing every Saturday morning for the past 2 months

You know that every blister and every ache are giving patients and their families hope that one day we will find a cure.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

It could have been worse

This was, by far, the worst week of training that I have had to date. I started the week out not feeling well, and as the week progressed, my ability to breath freely without coughing decreased dramatically. I did not run at all on Wednesday, managed to run inside on a treadmill on Thursday, took Friday off, and tried to run 5 miles on Saturday "with the team" because my mentor was expecting to see me.

In all honesty, I didn't think it would be that bad. I figured that since I was able to run on Thursday and took Friday off, I would be able to easily do the training run on Saturday.

However, I was wrong.

Saturday proved to be one of those perfect fall days. The ones where the sky is crystal clear, there's a hint of chill in the air foretelling cooler days ahead, a gentle breeze, and ragweed . Apparently, I have a ragweed sensitivity. Who knew? So limiting outdoor activity between 5am and 10am when pollen is typically emitted was not the best time for me to be outside. Ergo, the training run, starting at 8am and running through lovely foliage lined streets was during the WORST possible time for someone who apparently has ragweed sensitivity.

I was panting heavily after the warm up run (we run about a tenth of a mile and then stretch for about 15 minutes) and by far, the slowest person out there (which has been typical, but on Saturday was noticeable). Then, as we started the run, UPHILL, my mentor tried to send someone back to "pace me" - but I was coughing so much, I couldn't keep up the pacer's pace, so she moved ahead. Really, I'm OK running by myself at this point. I'm not trying to set any records and I use the time to think (sometimes reflective thoughts, sometimes what I'm going to have for breakfast, sometimes my mind is just blank - it's all good). So after pace person one moved on (in the first 10 minutes), pace person two tried to help. I sincerely appreciate the advice and the camaraderie, but like I said, I'm OK running solo at this point. So, after pacer two moved on, I somehow managed (ALONE and hacking and coughing) through mile 2 only to discover that my sinuses were bleeding, so I opted to turn around. Plus, to my surprise, there was someone just a bit ahead of me who yelled back - "how many are you doing - this is the 4 mile mark" and I said - well more like "coughed" - "Fah---or". So I turned around. I managed to stay with this kind soul for about 6 minutes, but then he pulled ahead, and I just prayed for oblivion so that I could make it back to my car. I seriously considered calling a cab on Peachtree, but since I was wearing my "Team In Training" official shirt, I thought I should probably try to stick it out.

Fast forward another 25 minutes - I think all the coughing affected my gait, and I ended up with a blister the size of a quarter on my right foot. I thought about taking a picture of it to post on the blog, but changed my mind on that one too.

So when I returned to the car, tired, coughing, and not able to breathe through my nose, I saw my mentor and immediately greeted her with, "I only did 4". The woman beside her, said - "that's great! just think - in a couple of weeks, you'll be saying 'I only did 16'!" I can't even tell you what went through my mind at that point. I was numb.

So I hobbled to the car, made it to Dominic's T-ball game (more one-on-one time with the ragweed), and then to the Georgia Tech/Clemson game to sit in the upper decks OUTSIDE where the breeze carrying the ragweed could find me. By nightfall on Saturday, I was ready for something indoors ... like staying up until 11pm making sausage balls, blueberry muffins, and brownies for an open house at church on Sunday morning.

My lego box is definitely full of something. But, all of the pieces did fit together - I woke up at 6am on Sunday morning to make ham and cheese biscuits, too. Everyone enjoyed the food at church. Afterwards, I walked on the blister for about 5 hours Sunday afternoon while enjoying a Japanese Festival. Good times! (The festival was really interesting and even with the blister, was quite fun!)

Now it's time to put the legos aways for today. Tomorrow is an official day of rest on the schedule. I'm ready.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hanging in there ...

I managed to run/walk/jog for about 2.5 miles today (indoors and on a treadmill). I decided to bail when I felt light headed and clammy. Great visual, right? It wasn't the 4 miles that I was scheduled to do, but hey, I did something (and I'm hoping that counts!)!!!

We'll see what happens tomorrow. I've loaded up with vitamins and minerals and claritin D. It could be worse.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Four is the magic number

I'm up to 4 miles ... sure, it's not actually running the whole time, but it's STILL FOUR (4) MILES!!!!! Here's the funny part. On Saturdays, the entire Atlanta Team (all participants connected with Team In Training) are supposed to meet for General Training Sessions (GTS). As discussed in prior posts, it is EXTREMELY important for me to participate in these GTS meetings. I have now been able to run with the team on TWO Saturdays.

I'm getting to the funny part, honest.

So this past Saturday, the team is supposed to meet "at the River". So, I assumed that "at the River" meant at the end of Columns Drive (in the parking lot for the Chattahoochee National Park entrance which is about 2 miles from my house and well, why wouldn't they pick the location that is most convenient to me?). Well, as we all know what happens when one "assumes".

Here's the funny part (finally).

I go to the parking lot (which coincidentally the same one that I use when I run on my own) about 5 minutes prior to the start of the meeting. That's kind of funny too because I'm rarely ever early or on time for anything, but I digress. So I get there ahead of schedule, and NO ONE IS THERE. Coincidence? I think not. I do spy, however, a TNT water stop ... someone standing behind a table with large coolers handing out powerade and water for TNT.

Ah HA!!!

So I casually saunter over and say, "Hey! Isn't there supposed to be a TNT training run here this morning?"
And the guy behind the cooler says, "Yes, there is! Are you part of that?"
As I stand there in my "official TNT running shirt", I say, "Uh, yes, but where is everyone?"
He says, "Well they always start over at the Powers Ferry Frontage Road end."


So I run, and I do mean run, the 1.5 miles through the park down to the Powers Ferry end. Where, wouldn't you know, there's another water stop - but still no "TEAM". So I get some water, regain consciousness (because I made it down there in about 18 minutes which is pretty fast for me), catch my breath, do a few stretches and say (with much control) to the lady behind the coolers on this end ... " Hey, where is everyone?". She says with a grin, "They haven't started yet."


So I did a few more stretches and sure enough, my mentor shows up a few minutes later. I started to jog with her so I could tell her that I had already run 1.5 miles and that I parked/started on the wrong side. Alas, her pace was a bit too quick for me, so I dropped behind. However, I did catch up with her at the second water stop (the one that I started on) and she suggested that I run with her the last mile. So we did and I worked on my breathing, and she was very complimentary! She said I was doing great for just 5 weeks in - called me a powerhouse! Which was really nice, but I wondered if she was confusing me with one of her other proteges? OK, I'll try to learn how to take a compliment.

I'm not sure how this week is going to go, however. I woke up this morning with a horrific case of sinus congestion, headache, and general icky feeling. I just want to go to sleep. Fortunately, as Monday is my official DAY OF REST, maybe if I take 10,000 MG of vitamin C, I'll feel better in the morning!

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 17, 2007

5 Weeks and Counting!

In case anyone was keeping track, YES, I did go to the General Training Session (GTS).

See previous post Every breath you take ...
for why this is important. Coincidentally, my mentor was not there. HOWEVER, ALL of the coaches and coaching assistants were there. They rock. Seriously.

Before we ran, we sat through a brief forum on fund raising. One team member has raised over 10,000 dollars in 2 (YES TWO) weeks by simply sending out emails. I can only hope that the recipients of my emails will be that responsive! This is for a great cause and all donations are 100% tax deductible!

OK - now back to running. My last easy run was on Thursday, September 13, 2007. It was 2 miles. It's all uphill from here. Literally. I ran 3.2 miles on Saturday and was slightly faster (well, not really) than the run/walk team that was training. It took about 41 minutes total including 2 water stops and a brief stretch right before returning to my car because of a cramp in the arch of my left foot. OUCH! But the good news is that I am breathing.

At this pace, including water stops and bathroom breaks, I might be able to eek out the full marathon in a blazing 7 hours. That's real time, not football time. 420 minutes. That's FOUR-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-MINUTES. Just for fun, it's 25, 200 SECONDS ... I won't write that one out for you. So, in 420 minutes, you could bake 10 bundt cakes, watch 7 episodes of Grey's Anatomy or 14 episodes of Thomas the Train. You could wash you car 20 times or wade your way through two Wagner operas. But me? I'll be running (walking some, jogging some, maybe even log rolling some) - but I will finish this.

My friend Laura is on day 7 of her 100 days (after the bone marrow transplant). There's one final round of chemo and then waiting. I know that she and her family appreciate all of the encouragement they have received along the way.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Every breath you take ...

As a participant of Team In Training (TNT), you are STRONGLY encouraged to attend the General Training Sessions (hereafter known as GTS) on Saturday mornings. I have been running, REALLY I HAVE. I keep a training log in which I record each run. In 4 weeks, I have run 35 total miles (that's about 35 times more miles than I have run in the last 5 years).

Also, as a TNT participant, you are assigned a mentor. Your mentor is responsible for ensuring that you are A) Training, B)Attending the GTS sessions, C)Making forward progress. My mentor, Page calls me every few days to check on me. She is fabulous, and for me, a bit intimidating in that she is an experienced marathoner and in WAY better shape than I am. But since she is such a good mentor, it's difficult for me to be intimidated for long. So for the last four weeks, I have had "GOOD" excuses for not attending. Heather and Erik's wedding, Dominic's first T-ball practice, and Dominic's first T-ball game. I actually attended the first GTS but had to leave early. So since I was going to miss the GTS yet again on Saturday (9/8), Page assured me that she would run with me at 6am on Saturday morning, before my T-ball obligation at 8:30am. So we met at the River (Columns Drive - the surreal 5 mile stretch of road that spans part of the Chattahoochee). The results of my one on one training session - I don't breathe (ahh, now the title of the blog makes sense) efficiently.

So my homework for this week is to breathe. Breathe deeply and slowly, control is the key word here. And those that know me would think that would come so naturally. My mentor suggested that I am panicking a bit ... taking into consideration that I ran/walked 2.5 minutes faster a mile with her than in my usual runs, and that I was nervous, and barely slept on Friday night because of being so anxious. So breathing will be my concentration for this week and YES, I will attend the GTS on Saturday, 9/15 no matter what.

Oh, and she also suggested that I might want to minimize the time my heel is on the ground. One thing at a time - maybe breathing will help that too!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


This morning, I asked a series of questions in my head while I was running. They all seem to be related somehow.
"Why are all of these people up and moving around so early in the morning?"
"Why is it so peaceful to run by the river?"
"Why would I want to run/walk anywhere else?"
"When will the weather be cooler?"
"When will my shins stop hurting?"
"What am I going to have for breakfast?"
"What do I need at the grocery store?"
"Who do I have to call today?"
"How many loads of laundry do I have waiting for me?"
And the ever recurring question, "Why haven't I exercised in over 5 years?"

I don't have a good answer for the last one. Every "reasonable" excuse that I have used in the past half decade now sounds feeble. "I got pregnant", "I travel too much", I'm too tired", "It's so nice to sleep in", "I don't have any time". Exercise is great, running is awesome - I have been sleeping better, I have more energy, and somehow I even found the so-called elusive "time" ... so what has taken me so long to remember all of this?

I'm still working on that one. Maybe I'll figure it out on tomorrow's run.

Monday, September 3, 2007

And the beat goes on ...

This week, I have learned about running cadence - the number of times either foot strikes the ground in a minute with the ideal being about 90. What amazes me is that by paying attention to the number of times my foot hits the pavement, not only do I forget that it's 6 AM, I'm outside, it's muggy and unbearably hot, and I'm exercising, but it provides focus. (Please note that I didn't say that I forgot that I'm awake. I'm still trying to come to grips with that.) If I knew about running cadence (when I exercised and read books about exercising), I have completely obliterated it from my memory. Maybe, since running is clearing the cobwebs, I'll start to remember more things about the demon exercise. One can only hope.

I am up to 26 miles year to date, that's 11 days of running in the past 3 weeks and more miles than I have logged in the last 5 years total. I still cannot run (slow jog) the entire 3 miles, but I am running 3 minutes, walking 3 minutes for the duration of the run, which on Saturday, 9/1/07 took about 48 minutes.

The other amazing thing is that I had the perfect excuse NOT to train this weekend - I was out of town for a family wedding/fun-fest (seeing friends, visiting familiar places, etc.) - but I got up and ran and had witnesses that I even completed the task!

My husband told me he is proud of me, some of my friends have told me they are impressed, and one friend told me that she would even train with me!!!! (C, I won't hold you to it ... it may have been the wine, but I would be thrilled if you did!)

My shins are not as sore as they were but ICE is still my friend! (And please don't forget to DONATE !!!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ice Is Your Friend

Or maybe I should call this post, "Ice, Ice, Baby". Nah, that would surely date me.

Sure, prior to the end of Week 2, I liked ice. I used it in coolers and in drinks ... it was good, I saw that it had purpose ... to keep things cool. But since my shins have rebelled, I have found that ice is my new closest friend (no offense to those of my close friends out there, you still have your place, but it's just not sitting on my shins). I have had to ice down the rebellious little offenders a few times this past week so that I can walk without flinching in pain. Let me restate that, so that I can move my shins without flinching in pain. Amazingly enough, ice works wonders. Who knew? I mean other than the millions of professional athletes and trainers and health professionals, and a few astute others. But besides that ...

Anyway, week 2 is over. I managed to run 9 miles last week total. OK, well, I'm still not actually running all of them - but I'm up to running 3 minutes, walking 3 minutes, running 3 minutes ... and OK, it's not really running either, it's more like a slog jog ... but I keep doing it, which is sort of amazing in itself, but you get the picture.

My friend Laura is in Houston at MD Andersen now, preparing for her bone marrow transplant. Her brother's stem cell production is being boosted and when it's ready to harvest, they will begin. After that, it will be a fairly long process to see if it actually worked or not. And I thought that my endurance training would be difficult. Her mom has some pretty humorous anecdotes about their mad scientist German doctor . Apparently, Laura's brother enhances the doctor's visits using mime. I think we need a video. We know how wacky those Germans can be.

Speaking of which, my wacky German (a.k.a. my husband Doug) has just published an article on the web. How cool is that? Naturally, it has nothing to do with Legos, running, marathons, or me, but it's about the Liquidity Squeeze, no really it is. For those interested, you can find the article here.

Liquidity Squeeze article

I guess that's it for this week, I have to go and bond (literally) with my new friend ICE.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Week 1 is OVER!

I managed to eek out a scant 7 miles (that's 2m on Wednesday, 2m on Thursday, and 3m on Saturday). My schedule says REST on Fridays and Mondays, honest. On Wednesday morning, I ran/walked the loop in our neighborhood. I had NO IDEA there were so many people awake and outside at 6:30am. There were the bus stop moms (and dad), the dog walkers, and the exercisers. Unbelievable. It was truly an enlightening experience. I think at one point in a past life, I used to get up early and see people out and about. But in truth, it's such a vague and fuzzy memory that I can't quite remember if it was just something I dreamed, saw on a movie, read about, or a story that someone told me. It's difficult for me to comprehend that people are mobile and vocal(meaning they speak to you) before sun-up. It's kind of neat! In the past, I have been safely ensconced in the bosom of my home at that hour, barely mobile (meaning I stumble to the kitchen with eyes closed to pour a cup of coffee), and not at all vocal (meaning, I rarely speak until after coffee - and as my dear husband can attest, if I do speak, the conversations are not my best). After my walk/run which took about 35 minutes, and talking to all of the neighbors, I felt good - REALLY GOOD! Of course, my shins were on fire (can you say shin splints) but the energy that followed me for the remainder of the day was awesome. Thursday was more of the same. I ran/walked the same loop in the neighborhood, spoke to the neighbors, and put ice on my shins. On Sunday, I attempted cross training, which for me meant upper body strengthening. I followed an upper body circuit for about 35 minutes and realized that I am in much worse shape than I thought (and that's pretty bad). The most I could lift was 16 lbs (an 8lb weight in each hand). I felt pathetic, especially considering my son weighs about 45 lbs and I manage somehow to carry him up 2 flights of stairs when he falls asleep in the car. But maybe I can attribute that to maternal motivation. Let's go with that theory. I'm not really discouraged though, just a bit more determined. It felt good to sleep in this morning and my shins don't hurt any longer - so I'm ready to go again!

Friday, August 17, 2007


I'm starting this to primarily journal my experience of training for a marathon. No doubt there will be other things I feel compelled to share, but we'll see how it goes. If you're wondering about the title of the blog, it comes from spending hours upon hours (more like weeks upon weeks) of playing with legos with my 4 year old son Dominic. Again, like life, you can easily get frustrated if the pieces aren't quite fitting together the way you expect. Or, you can have a "mountain top" experience of triumph and jubilation, not only because you found a piece for which you had been searching, but also because you created something brilliant! It's all good ...

But back to the marathon.

I have signed up to train for a marathon in honor of my friend Laura who has been diagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. See the links on the right. As I learn how to make my body endure a long distance run (26.2 miles), she will be going through a bone marrow transplant. There is no way that my journey even compares to hers (or to that of her family), but hopefully the money that I raise for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society will help those who are battling blood cancers. Please give serious consideration to donating via my fund raising page. Remember that all donations are 100% tax deductible and it's for an excellent cause!


On the lighter side, I hope that you find some amusement in my training "antics". For those that know me well, there will be eye rolls, and nods, and most likely a snort and a chuckle here and there.

Let's get this party started!