I Wish I Was In New Orleans: Rock N Roll New Orleans Half Marathon

“Hoist up a few tall cool ones, play some pool and listen
To that tenor saxophone calling me home
And I can hear the band begin ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’,
And by the whiskers on my chin, New Orleans, I’ll be there” – Tom Waits, I Wish I Was In New Orleans

Last Friday, my husband, Mike and I left our children sleeping in their beds (no worries, my dad was there to watch them) at 4:30 AM and headed to the airport to board a plane to New Orleans. The original intent of the trip was for me, Heather, and a few more of our running friends to run the New Orleans Rock N Roll Half Marathon but, after the last month or so we’ve had, it was really just to get away from it all. Running was secondary on this trip.

I love New Orleans. I know people say that about cities all the time but I can’t really adequately express my feelings for that city any other way. I wouldn’t want to live there full time because I think it would lose some of its charm but I visit any chance I get. This was my sixth trip. My first trip was right after I finished graduate school and I went with my very best friend, Karen. We had a fascination with the city since high school and it lived up to all of our expectations. I’ll never forget that first trip or any of the ones in between. I had my bachelorette party in New Orleans.

I used to be a bit wild (you’re shocked, I know). Since I have a grown-up job, two children and I have been adulting for some time now, I gave all that up. I’m the first one to suggest we go for a beer after run group and I have a glass of wine with dinner but we’re the people who are home on a Saturday night eating a $5 pizza from Aldi and watching the backlog of shows on our DVR, asleep by 10:30. Mike and I needed to have some fun. Heather and I needed to have some fun. We’ve known each other for years but we’ve worked for the same company for the past three years and we just solved a huge, all-consuming problem here and we wanted to cut lose.

It was less than an hour after our plane landed that Mike and I were at our favorite place on Decauter eating boiled crawfish, fried alligator tail and drinking tall draft Abita Amber beer. We then headed over to the Expo (Mike kept eating and drinking Abita because he doesn’t run) to get our race numbers.


The Expo was pretty small, as far as Expos go, but that was probably a good thing since I tend to overspend at these things. We had to hurry because our group was headed out on the Cocktail Walking Tour. We had a blast on the tour and I highly recommend it if you go to New Orleans. We walked a total of 12 miles on Friday. Rest wasn’t really part of the agenda!


At Antoine’s, waiting on our Sazaracs

Saturday we were supposed to “take it easy” but Mike and I ended up eating a fabulous breakfast at The Old Coffee Pot (poached eggs on crab cakes with creole sauce and callas cakes). We walked around the French Quarter for a bit and then ended up at Deanie’s Seafood to eat crawfish and drink some more Abita. (This will become a theme). We met two drunk guys at the bar who had been drinking there since 11 AM (it was 3 PM) who were in town for the one guy’s bachelor party. We talked to them for an hour and it was a hoot, giving all kinds of marriage advice. I think he might have ended up deciding to call the whole thing off (I’m kidding).


Don’t they look yummy with all their legs and eyeballs? 

Somehow, we found ourselves on Bourbon Street (haha) which is not my favorite side of the French Quarter. We ended up listening to the house band at Huge Ass Beers (yes, that is the name of the bar) and drinking these beauties – 48 ounces of delicious Coors Light.


Huge Ass Beer (we didn’t keep the cups but should have)

For the record, it took me well over 2 hours to drink that much beer. The bar had an ice cooler built in the bar for one to put their Huge Ass Beer on because, apparently, Huge Ass Beers become Really Gross and Warm Beer over time (especially when you are drinking Coors Light which is Kind of Gross to Begin With Beer). We left to meet for dinner at the pizza place where we were carb loading and were in bed by 10. I wasn’t asleep by 10 because New Orleans is a noisy place and we were staying right beside Jackson Square, which is only slightly less busy than Bourbon Street.

A mere 4 hours after I actually fell asleep, I was up and out the door to walk to the corrals. There were 22,000 people running this race and  you could tell. Crowds were everywhere. We made it to our corral and waited 45 minutes from the first gun to cross the start. Heather and I decided before we even landed in New Orleans that this race was just going to be for fun. We didn’t really know what that meant other than that we were just going to see how it went. This was my 14th half marathon. I know I can run this distance so I just wanted to have fun. Each runner was going to do her own thing but Heather and I pledged to stick together since we didn’t care about time.


Me, Heather, Jen and Sissy


Corral Selfie

The course started in the Central Business District and turned down St. Charles Street and into the Garden District. The run down St. Charles lasted FOREVER and was, mostly, in full sun (we all ended up sunburned). We could see runners making their way back up St. Charles but we had no idea when the turnaround would come. It was boring and there were practically NO spectators. The few who were out were making an effort with costumes but it was sadly disappointing. I really thought New Orleans would bring it but I guess no rich white people want to get up early on a Sunday to watch strangers run by. Finally, we turned around and headed back up St. Charles. There were also no port-a-potties. I rarely stop during races to use them but when I saw one at mile 7, I waited in line because there were not many other chances. The bands were also pretty scarce. At this point, we were really bored. The course was just trees and the street car lines.


Preservation Hall Jazz Band – best band on the course

CAVEAT: The rest of the race report is NOT how one should run a half marathon. If you are trying the distance for the first few times, do not do this. Also, if you are a lightweight (no shame in that) do not try this. If, however, you give zero fucks, you have a relatively high tolerance to alcohol, you’ve run several races and are in a place where drinking on the street is legal, I say “Go for it” because this is the most fun I have ever had during a race. 

Once we left the Garden District, the course headed into a less prestigious neighborhood but the crowds got a little better. Folks were out on their balconies drinking mimosas and a couple of folks had kegs of beer and were filling Dixie cups for the racers. Of course, Heather and I took free beer. A little before mile 9, on Magazine Street when the course was winding back to the French Quarter, we came up upon a crowd of women runners (they looked like moms) who were drinking mimosas and Bloody Mary’s while speed walking. We were like “hey, who was handing out those drinks and how did we miss that?” They said they stopped at a bar and bought them because they were trying to PR in Most Number of Drinks during a half marathon. Heather and I know each other so well, we didn’t even have to ask the other if we wanted to take this challenge. The next bar was just steps away so we stopped, ran into the bar and ordered our first mimosa!


Mimosa #1 – Bar on Magazine Street – We timed the bartenders and this one was the fastest!


OK, so rookie mistake, we forgot to get STRAWS! What?! Who knew running and drinking out of an open container was so challenging? This was our second-to-slowest mile because we pretty much had to speed walk and chug the drinks. We call it The Mimosa Mile on our splits. The spectators on the course were cheering and laughing at us. I would have, too, if I had seen someone like me.

Our slowest mile was the Casino Mile where we stopped to play the slot machines, because, hey, why not? In a city where gambling is legal right in the middle of downtown, you should visit all the sins while running.


PR in Fun but no luck in the casino!

Mimosa #2 came around mile 10 at a bar at the start of Decauter and the French Quarter.  The bartender was slow but we got straws this time so our mile split was faster. The mimosas were on special so they were much smaller than our first and we finished them, quickly.


Cheap mimosas

We switched to Bloody Mary’s at The Gazebo Cafe at mile 10.5 near the French Market (the mimosas WERE small, I said). This bartender was pretty fast but I don’t recommend the spicy version if  you are running so that was rookie mistake #2. It was also hard to eat those olives off of toothpicks while running.


We should have bought some of those tie dyed t-shirts in the background.

The Bloody Mary’s lasted for a while. Tomato juice just doesn’t go down as well as OJ. Heather let a couple of fellow runners try her drink. They were appreciative. At this point, the spectators started to pick up or Heather and I made our own fun. It is hard to say but the race really improved at this point and we were having so much fun. We talked to fellow runners. We talked to the cops on the course. We talked to the crowd.


These girls refreshed us with champagne.


This dude had the best sign of the day. Maybe, the best race sign EVER.


Not THE raunchy end of Bourbon Street but still fun.

By mile 12ish, we were out of alcohol so we stopped at bar and ordered a pitcher of beer when we saw a sign that said “$5 pitchers with race bib”. I’m pretty sure they meant AFTER the race but we weren’t sure we would come back that way so we took advantage of the sale. They let us take the pitcher.


$5 pitchers of Abita

Out on the course, we were now so off pace that we were with some people who were really struggling. We offered them beer because we had extra cups and a lot of beer. We filled this woman’s hydration bottles with beer. I sure hope she made it to the finish. She was running the full. We met a nice man named Donny who we also gave beer, too. He rushed past us after we gave him the beer so, clearly, we are responsible for his PR.


Hope this lady made it!

We crossed the finish line with an empty pitcher of beer and a head full of memories. This was my worst finishing time but the most fun I have ever had. There is very little chance that I will EVER do anything like this, again, so, although I didn’t take the running part very seriously, I am glad I had this experience. This isn’t my goal race this Spring. I’m not even sure I have a goal race. I’m just running for fun this Spring since training for the Marine Corps Marathon in the heat sucked all of the joy of running out of me. I need to find some joy in this, again, and New Orleans certainly helped. It also reminded me how much I love fellow runners and meeting new people.


This will probably be my favorite finisher picture of all time. 


YOLO! We kept that pitcher as our trophy.


We met up with our friends who took this seriously and did not drink on the course. Sissy, Jen and Heather’s mom, Sandy, thought we were insane (we probably are) but I think Lesley thought it was funny. Everyone had a good time and enjoyed the overall experience even if the course was a little more boring than one would expect from a city like New Orleans.


The whole crew – all the other runners were serious. 

After the race, we all went to rest and then Mike and I went out for more crawfish and beer! We headed home on Monday morning. I have the Not So Normal Half Marathon and the Tarheel 10 Miler in April so I got back to real running last night with speedwork on the treadmill. No drinks involved. It wasn’t nearly as much fun.





Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?A change of plans

“Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry
Do you really want to hurt me
Do you really want to make me cry

Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry
Cry, cry, cry”

Since a little while after the Marine Corps Marathon, I have been in pain. In a nutshell, my butt hurt. Deep, deep within my butt on the right side. At first it was my hip but Smurti adjusted my hip so the pain moved to my butt because I had jacked up my hip trying to protect my butt. I signed up for another marathon, anyway, because you know, training for a marathon always makes all your injuries feel better. I took a month off from training and scheduled running in December. My butt should have gotten better. It didn’t. I went back to see Smurti but she is so busy I couldn’t get in to see her until this week.

It turns out I have Piriformis Syndrome. I’m super proud of myself because I diagnosed myself with Dr. Google. The piriformis muscle deep under my glutes has been shortened and it doesn’t like running long distances. It also doesn’t like sitting at my desk in front of my computer 5 days per week. What caused it? I have sacral torsion. In regular people speak, it means my ass is out of joint (this is literally and not figuratively because I know you all already think I am always out of joint).

Here is what my pelvis looks like:

When you try to run with a pelvis that is shifted, the side that is “up” has to work harder ergo, your hip abductor strains, your piriformis pulls up, your IT band stretches too far and your plantar fascitis comes back because you are trying to elongate on that side. I had a knot in my QL in my lumbar spine and a big old knot in my piriformis. You could palpate the knots. Smurti did her Graston magic to work out the knots and my lower back and right butt cheek look like I went a few rounds with Rhonda Rousey. The knots are gone but the underlying problem is not. Smurti had to get a strap, tie it around her waist, tie the other end around my right leg, I had to hold onto the table for dear life and she had to yank to get my pelvis aligned. I could feel it move.

What causes sacral torsion? I broke my tailbone in 8th grade when Chan Wright pulled my chair out from underneath me while I was in the middle of sitting down in Language Arts. It hurt like a son of a bitch and he still wouldn’t acknowledge the crush I had on him. It also didn’t heal perfectly level. Throw in birthing two babies and training for a marathons and you have a bad combination.

So, what am I going to do? First, I am not going to run a Spring marathon. I’m not even sad about this decision. See, I signed up in the wake of my grief over my finishing time/medical tent adventure at the Marine Corps. I was living on Redemption Island when I signed up for that race. It was going to be my comeback. Yeah, not so much if my butt won’t propel me in a forward motion. Then, the marathon was canceled so the decision was reinforced for me. I could not possibly be ready for any of the other local marathons because they were sooner than my race and there is NO FRICKING way I would ever run the Raleigh Rock N Roll full marathon. I am going to run three half marathons and two 10 milers between now and the end of June. My butt is bound to enjoy this.

My marathon days are not over. I signed up for the Kiawah Island Marathon on December 10, 2016. Heather and I were strategic with our choice of this race. No long runs required until late September. That is going to be much better than 18 and 20 milers in July and August. It also means we don’t have to get up at 5 AM to run to beat the heat. We can get up at 6, which makes a big difference, for real. Also, if my butt doesn’t want to get back into joint or I cry at the thought of running the race, I can drop back to the half but still hang with my friends and take a trip. Winning.

Running Humor #22: I am never running again. Oh, look, a race! - Nemo:

Second, I am going to strengthen and stretch my piriformis. I’m going to teach Carly how to adjust my pelvis (the Teen is bound to love this but I’ll tell her it hurts me so she will probably do it). I am also supposed to get up every hour while at work to walk the halls of my building for 5 minutes to combat all the sitting I do. I’m also getting new custom orthotics to help with the PF.

Fleet Feet training is ramping up and I’m co-coaching the interval runners. This is both exciting and challenging. My first half marathon is February 28 in New Orleans. This is NOT a goal race and may be the first race I run with a hangover. I will take a PR in running while recovering from overindulgence.

Should you eat before a run? The short answer. It depends on what type of run it is. Nutritionist Emily Brown breaks down optimal fueling strategies for easy, long, and workout days and tips to keep your stomach feeling good no matter what time you hit the roads: http://ow.ly/d5qrH:

Cheeseburger in Paradise: The Angsting of a Fat Runner

“I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heniz 57 and french fried potatoes, big kosher pickle and a cold draft beer…”

So, true. I could write a similar song about tacos.

Hello, my favorite food.

I’m spending a lot of my time in the month of December assessing things running and health-related. I am on a self-imposed running “vacation” so I don’t have anything to fill my time (I’m still running but mostly running the dogs around the neighborhood or meeting a friend here or there for an easy run). This is the first time in three years I have set aside an entire month to rest from running – to reset my clock. I’m resting my body and getting lots of sleep. Something I know I need after a hard marathon training cycle and a new marathon training cycle starting on January 5 but something I am not sure is mentally good for me because I get all up inside my own head and can’t clear the space. I’m also eating some crap like pound cake and cookies because, holidays and breakrooms at work (of which there are 3 I can frequent).

I’ve reconnected with my Fleet Feet friends who I largely abandoned during MCM training because Heather and I had to make our own way through our training plan. I’ve recommitted to mentor at Fleet Feet, the place that taught me that, I too, could be a runner and it wasn’t just reserved for the super-fit or the really skinny women. I’ve gone so far as volunteering (along with my friend Melody) to co-coach a whole section of interval-only runners for the first time in Fleet Feet history on their journey to 13.1 or 26.2 for this Spring training season.

I wanted to coach because I feel very, very passionate about the safe space that is Fleet Feet. I have never felt more like a fish out of water than I did when I decided to start running on my own. Me, Running? Ha. I fell in love with it and I wanted to do it with other people but I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in but I never once felt uncomfortable in any Fleet Feet group. It is, truly, a space where anything and everything is OK. I need to help keep that vibe going. We have all different shapes, ages, sizes and I see them every Saturday and every Wednesday, out there getting it done.

I wasn’t feeling this way about my national Oiselle team. It was causing me a lot of angst. There are very few women in Oiselle who look like me and I am at the upper limit of their sizing (which happens to not be really generous to begin with but that is OK – not everyone has to make running clothes for larger runners but it makes me sad because their designs are awesome and comfortable). At times, at least on social media, there didn’t seem to be a place for all runners in this group (to corporate Oiselle’s credit, they are trying to dispel this perception). I was afraid it was re-enforcing my fear that I couldn’t do this and that I don’t belong. See, when you are a fat girl and have been your entire life (except for the 18 months you spent in undergrad with anorexia and bulimia) you just assume that you don’t belong or that people think you don’t belong. It is why Rebel Wilson introduces herself as Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, so she can put it out there before one of the skinny girls calls her fat. Unfortunately, I spend a lot of my time hanging out with super-fit women and a lot of time on social media looking at women who look nothing like me and run a lot faster than me. I am sure the national Oiselle team has some other average or larger size women on it. They don’t post on social media, though. The slower ones don’t say anything, either. All the pictures from corporate are women who look nothing like me. I felt like it was really getting to me this month. There was also a bit of insensitivity related to weight going on over on Twitter. It wasn’t from corporate so no blame there and it wasn’t on the official Oiselle team page, either, so I can’t really call it Oiselle-related. People can say whatever they want on Twitter. I can say whatever I want on my blog. I can also unfollow people, which is exactly what I did.


I can say, though, that larger size women want to see that you don’t have to be at an “ideal weight” to enjoy fitness. Larger size women want to be normalized because all we see are images of people who don’t look like us and we’re told we’re disgusting, or should cover up or stop eating. That is why it is such a big deal when magazines like Women’s Running put plus size runners on its cover or when the NBC Nightly News features stories like the one from blogger, Fat Running Girl. I don’t want to get into a whole “trolly” argument about how I’m promoting “unhealthy” lifestyles because I’m not (and would it even matter if I was because how people chose to live their lives is really no one else’s business and people who feel like they can say mean things to people  because of their size are just assholes, anyway). I want to show, “Hey, I am not thin by society’s standards but I am doing this and you can too, if you want to. We’re here for you. You don’t have to wait until you are an ‘ideal weight’ to live your life under your own terms”. Oiselle has a woman-strong message I love. We can work on inclusion a bit more. Our NC team leader, Allie, took to the team page to remind everyone that we have room here for everyone and it was very well-received and I love her. I think most people who want to be part of a team do so because they want to hold others up and be held up at the same time.


Obviously, I am the one who looks like I ate Kathryn and Tricia for lunch.




You can easily spot me and this was 10 pounds smaller


This is not to take away from the WONDERFUL women I have met in person from Oiselle. My local group is made up of some of the most supportive and non-judgmental women I know. I genuinely love them and don’t feel uncomfortable around them in the least. Same goes for the women I met in person at Bird Camp in Boone last summer. This is MY issue but looking at all these images on social media makes it worse (I don’t feel bad looking at my non-running friends photos so this is, clearly, a running-related issue. An “one of these things is not like the others” issue). I briefly considered dropping off from the national team and only insulating myself with these beautiful women. I ultimately decided that was foolish.


Slightly better in street clothes


So what is my point, you ask? Comparison is truly the thief of joy. I had a lightbulb moment at home last week when talking to Carly. Carly was complaining about how she has a lot of wealthy friends and that money doesn’t seem to be a barrier to anything her friends might want to do. I said to her that there were always going to be people who had more money, more things, were thinner, were prettier, were smarter, etc. I told her that this didn’t detract from her in the least (how about how good that child is at math and engineering?). I suggested she stop comparing herself to others and embrace her strengths. She is good enough in her own right and she is so much more than the brand of boots she wears. A lightbulb went off in my brain – take your own advice. Stop comparing yourself to other runners. Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop comparing yourself to other mothers. For someone who has spent her entire life convinced that she was not good enough at anything, it takes some convincing but I think I can make it work. If not for myself, I need to do it for my daughter. I really don’t want her to struggle with all of this. A person’s worth is truly not defined by a number on the scale but we live in a society that judges the books by their covers. If I’m fat, I must have failed in some way despite all of my other successes. I hope I’m ready to call bullshit on this. I just need to shut up about it (says the woman who wrote an entire blog post on angsting over being a fat runner). You do you and I’ll do me. You might be thin and run really fast. I might be fat and run pretty slow. It is all good.

I’m not going to lie. I love food. A lot. I don’t think women are supposed to say this out loud but I just did. I love cooking and eating the things I made, figuring out how to do it differently the next time. I love going out for a nice meal and lingering with friends over good food and wine. I love to try new foods. In my journey to be healthier (and my health was the main reason I decided to lose weight and exercise), I have fallen into the trap of equating my self worth to the number on the scale.  I could be “thin”, again, but is that going to solve all my problems – is there a magic number where all troubles melt away? Nah.  I don’t want to spend every minute of every day worrying and being cruel to myself about every piece of food I put in my mouth (believe me, I have). I don’t want to look like a fashion model. I just want to wear Oiselle and be able to walk into JCrew and find stuff that fits to wear to work. I have learned that healthy food can taste good and that I actually like it better than crap food.I eat good food, now. It might not be “healthy” all the time but it is quality. I’m no longer morbidly obese. I’m no longer “unhealthy” by my doctor’s measurements. Why isn’t this good enough?

Is it OK to love food and be a runner? Can I reconcile my love of good food and my love of good red wine with my love of long runs? Can I extoll the virtues of good tacos and still do my Iron Strength workout twice a week? Can I still call myself an “endurance athlete” if I think about porchetta while I run? I think the answer to this is “yes”. I can be a contradiction. I can be a fat runner.  No, I don’t look like a runner but I sure as hell run like one!

Happy holidays, friends. Eat, drink and be merry for marathon training starts in January!


IMG_0001This was a few years ago but I just love this picture! I made these little people in my fat body and I think they are pretty damn awesome!

You Can Fly: The Disney World Wine and Dine Quarter Marathon Race Report

“Think of the happiest things
It’s the same as having wings
Take the path that moonbeams make
If the moon is still awake
You’ll see him wink his eye
You can fly! You can fly! You can fly!” – You Can Fly, Peter Pan

86256C99-3CC9-4307-A62A-1D6114E55138Me and Michelle

So, I picked this song because I dressed like Tinkerbell for this race complete with a set of wings. It was a PR for racing in fairy wings! If you ever need any fairy wings, I recommend Sparkle Athletic’s Racing Wings and of course, you know, I am a big fan of their sparkle skits and own a rainbow of colors! The wings did not annoy me, at all.

Anyhoo, I was looking forward to this race. I generally love Disney races, I love dressing up and I love the atmosphere of these races. I did not run between the MCM and this race on Smruti’s very wise advice. I allowed my body to recover from the marathon training and the dehydration. I did walk all over the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios for three days before the race but I laid out by the pool all day Saturday in anticipation of the race so I think that makes up for it. : )

I planned to meet up with my Oiselle teammates for a team picture and little hanging out before we headed to our corrals for the race. From the minute we left our condo to drive to Epcot where I would take a shuttle bus to the ESPN Wide World of Sports for the start while Mike and the kids played at Epcot until I finished, I could tell there was not the usual Disney level of organization. It took us 30 minutes to get into the parking lot (we were only staying 5 minutes away) at Epcot. The signs were super-confusing, telling us at one point we had to merge left only to make us merge right, again. The people directing traffic were not directing, waving their red flashlights all around and not in any one direction. What was up Disney? Y’all are supposed to be uber-organized. We finally made it to the parking lot and I sprinted over to where the shuttle buses were, only to stand in a really, really, really long line of runners also waiting for shuttle buses (really, really, really long lines were the theme of this Disney trip). Then, it took the bus 30 minutes to get to ESPN WWS. The hold-up? Traffic jams full of other shuttle buses. Everyone on the bus was questioning why this was all taking so long. Disney just was not on its game last Saturday night.

I finally found my Oiselle teammates and we hung out for a bit. A wind picked up and there was a strike of lightening. Suddenly, an announcement was made saying we all had to be evacuated into the WWS complex. We shuffled in a pack into the buildings and sat on the floor, elbow-to-elbow.They said they would delay the race. Finding my teammates and hanging out with Joyce and Becca was the silver lining. If I had to wait alone, I would have been even more bored. All of the cellular data networks were jammed by so many people in such a small space trying to text, Tweet and FB post that I could not communicate with Mike and Carly back at Epcot. With no official announcement from RunDisney, other people started getting up and making their way to the corrals so we did, too. Once we got to the corral area there was another announcement that they had no idea when the race would start so we sat down. Eventually, some people near the front must have gotten word that those of us in the back did not and they started moving towards the corrals so we did, too.

5F42EFFD-65D7-42F6-906D-57851D8AFA83The view from Corral F

Once in the corrals, an announcement was made that the course had been modified. That was the only information we received. We had no idea what “modified” meant. Was it shorter? Were we going on a different route? Hello? Runners are typically Type A people and lack of information makes us upset. Finally, someone next to us found a volunteer who said the course had been shortened. Hmmm. People were terribly disappointed. Some people had on shirts that said it was their first half marathon. All of us had spent a significant amount of money to get to Disney to run this race. We found another volunteer who told us we were running “somewhere around 6 miles” and that we would completely by-pass the Animal Kingdom. I just wish Disney would have made an official announcement instead of allowing us to rely on rumor. No such luck.

We started but I lost Becca and Joyce in the crowd because it was crazy crowded and it never thinned out for the whole 6-7 miles of the race. Normally, half marathons thin out after the first few miles and you can make your own space. There were only a handful of character stops and I didn’t feel like any were worth stopping to stand in line. Also, I knew Mike and Carly had no idea what was going on and might worry so I just kept going. Running through the Osbourne Family Lights was fun. The rest just felt like running past a lot of dumpsters and metal buildings. It was nice of the volunteers and the cast members to be in the dull spots to cheer us on.

6F6DB9B5-ED0E-43F9-8634-CD2E5F881A6DHollywood Studios

I finished and found my family. They missed me at the finish because the runner tracking was all jacked up due to the shortened course. My watch said I ran 6.8 miles but they guy who finished next to me had 7.1 miles on his watch so who knows. To my knowledge, RunDisney has yet to clarify or provide any information. I crossed the 10K mat before I crossed the 3 mile mat. Apparently, Disney made no announcement at Epcot to let the people waiting on runners (the park was closed to everyone else at that point) know that the race had been delayed and shortened. The kids had ridden Test Track and Soaring a bunch of times but Colin was pretty much asleep by the time I got there. My plan had been to head to the countries to partake of food and drink from the Food and Wine Festival before heading home. The problem with this was that with the shortened course, so many people finished all at the same time that there was no trickle of finishers like there would be in a longer race. There was no way to cross the course to get to the food and wine festival so all the finishers were trapped in the front with no way to get back. There was absolutely NO food in the front of the park. They gave out boxes of food at the finish but the chute was so crowded I missed my box, figuring it was not that big of a deal because I could get food at the festival. Not so much. We ended up just leaving  and I ate chips and salsa back at the condo before going to bed.

All in all, I am pretty disappointed with Disney, in general. A lot of the magic has worn off. I’ve been to Disney at least a dozen times and this was the worst visit.  I think the new Fast Passes in advance have sucked a lot of the fun out of the parks. I think there are too many people in too little space. I think Disney has not been able to keep up with the demand in an effective manner and the cast members seemed overwhelmed and some were downright rude, a first for me at Disney. The race was really unorganized and the lack of communication was very frustrating. I get the safety issue but if the Marines can convince 7 different law enforcement agencies and three cities to keep a marathon course open 30 minutes later because some metal detectors went down in the rain, delaying runners, I feel like Disney, on Disney property with Disney employees could have found a way to make the full race work despite the weather delay. Even if they felt like they could not, they could have at least communicated this and told us how far we were going to run. I got my Coast to Coast medal (one of the main reasons I did this race) but I don’t feel like I really earned it.

88BE6026-5FC6-450B-9300-A7C17DF363ED13 year olds don’t take great pictures at 1:30 AM.

The Disney Princess in 2014 was so much more fun than this race. The Star Wars Rebel Challenge in Disneyland in January was amazing. I am done with the Wine and Dine. I am done with Disney races for awhile. I am also done with Disney World. I can think of a lot more places to spend my money and I have a lot more places I want to see while running.

So, this racing season has come to an end. It started with the Marine Corps 17.75K and ended with the Disney Wine and Dine Quarter Marathon. I still have two small races coming up but they are only 4 and 5 miles and I’m not racing them, just having fun. I have put a lot of miles on these legs since March and finished a second marathon so I’ll consider it a success but there is always room for improvement. I’ll keep running for fun in the off-season and my next training season starts at the end of January.

I will neither confirm nor deny if I have registered for another marathon in 2016. : )

The Wheels on the Bus: Marine Corps Marathon Race Report

“The Wheels on the Bus go round and round, round and round, until they don’t want to turn and the wheels come off the bus and the back of the bus is dragging on the ground.” 

Ok, Ok, that is not how the song really goes but it should go that way because kids need to be taught that things go wrong. Just kidding, sort of.

Below are 26.2 thoughts I had during and after the Marine Corps Marathon (I actually had about 26,200 thoughts like “You have no business running marathons”, “You suck. This sucks. Everything sucks”, “Wow, that guy is really cute”, “Why is that woman running in a jacket it is sooo hot?”, “There are a lot of SWAT team cops out here”, “Hey, those cops are on horses and that seems like a cool job”,  “I wonder if that is Obama flying over the race in Marine One”, “Wow! Georgetown has the best lululemon store – just look at all those gym bags in the window, I wonder if Heather will go shopping after the race”). For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook (and I think that might be about two of you reading this), I had a bad day and ended up in the medical tent getting IV fluids for dehydration. I finished in a horrible time (missed my goal by 24 minutes) but I finished. It took every ounce of grit I had to cross that finish line. 

  1. Marathons suck.
  2. Marines are really young and very polite. Female Marines amaze me.
  3. The infamous 14th Street Bridge between miles 20-22 is a dark mental place.

BF3DDD18-16A5-419E-BF81-55A42E75435FDoesn’t this bridge look fun?

4. Seeing me throw up into a trash can on the National Mall by the carousel in front of the main Smithsonian building is probably a deterrent to most of the people spectating to ever run a marathon. 

5. Quitting is, truly, not an option at mile 21, no matter how badly you feel.

6. Marines are really helpful in a medical situation. I might need to add some to my zombie apocalypse group.

7. The sports medicine doctors from Penn State are super nice. (One was a marathoner and said he suffered a similar fate during a race once. He said marathons make smart people do very stupid things. Truth but, if ever in doubt, go to the medical tent. They are there to help you and they’ll need you to go see them so they’ll have good stories to tell!)

8. When you’ve hit mile 25 of a marathon after 5 and a half hours of running with people whose personal bus also lost its wheels, it looks like a scene from The Walking Dead.

9. When you are dehydrated, it is really hard to get a blood sample and someone will have to stick you in the same vein more than once. It will leave a mark.

10. IVs in your hand hurt but IV fluids are a fabulous invention. This, too, will leave a mark.

11. The Oiselle Volèe is made up of wonderful, kind and compassionate women some of whom run very fast.

IMG_0065My running teammates as photographed by our non-running teammates at the Cowbell Corner at mile 22. They waited for me!

12. Two extremely ripped, tattooed Marines stripped down to their skivvies handing out high fives near mile 25 is a beautiful sight that will make you laugh even when you think you might be dying. They also had a chocolate Lab puppy. It will be the best high five you’ve gotten all day.

13. I don’t care who you are and what race you are running, if there is a Wear Blue, Run to Remember Blue Mile with pictures of servicemen and women killed in action lining the road, you will tear up. If that Blue Mile is at the Marine Corps Marathon and the canopy of American flags is the longest you’ve ever seen and those flags are held by family members of dead servicemen, you will sob and want to hug every flag holding person. Every Marine you see after that you will want to tell them to stay safe.


14. Having your medal hung around your neck by a newly minted Marine Lieutenant who salutes YOU will make you feel proud even if you have to lean on said Marine and ask for medical assistance.

15.Yellow Gatorade is really good when you feel like shit even though it reminds you of being a kid in the 70s when there were no other flavors and you were sick and also felt like shit.

16. If you are spectating a race, please for the love of all that is kind in this world, do NOT try to cross in front of the runners to get to the other side of the street! If you must, do NOT lollygag your way across. High knees, people. Runners are in a forward motion and cannot stop. Stopping means death (OK, not death but it feels like it when you move as slowly as I do). Do not get in the way!

17. Runners are really nice people. Suffering is universal. ‘Merica is great.


18. People make very creative signs, many about the sorry state of our government.

18F6A290-F84E-4A53-90F9-3315BAC00A19These people speak my language.

19. Some parts of DC are beautiful, like Georgetown and Rock Creek Park. Some places suck, like the parking lot of the Pentagon, the seemingly all uphill Rosslyn section of Arlington and that horrible, horrible bridge.

20. Always high five the kids and touch their “Touch here for power” signs. Also, I don’t care if it is not your kid holding the sign, “Go Mommy” signs inspire all mommies. 

21. I can make it through 26.2 miles without suffering permanent injury so Smruti is the World’s Best Physical therapist for helping to keep my parts fixed. Although I felt pain in muscles I didn’t even know one used to run, none of them are damaged.

22. Half marathons are the shizz.

23. I have a lot of wonderful friends who all supported me from afar through social media or texts. Thank you to every single one of you.

24. Oofahs are the ugliest flip flops ever invented but they feel amazing on your feet after a race. Putting them in my checked bag was a stroke of genius.

25. Heather is a badass and I’m so happy that we did this together. I’m also very proud of her for never stopping. I’m sorry we didn’t finish together but I didn’t want to drag her down for her first marathon.

5F103B2A-62D5-4609-8E18-569CABAEAE4FBefore I sent Heather on her way.

26. The song that was playing on my iPod when I finished was “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” by One Direction. So disappointing! I needed better inspiration.

26.1 Marathons are fun until they aren’t.


26.2 Am I ever going to do this, again? Maybe. Maybe not. I do have to run a half marathon in less than two weeks. 

Where the Flame Turns Blue: Marine Corps Marathon Training

“I’m in collision with every stone I ever threw
And blind ambition where the flame turns blue” – Flame Turns Blue, David Gray

So, we just finished our last long run on Saturday – 20 miles in the rain. Never fun. I don’t feel like a badass. I just feel like shit. In some ways, it was better than the first 20 miler back in August simply because it wasn’t so damn hot. In some ways it was worse because I could not catch my breath and I ended up walking more during the last two miles than I would like given, that at Mile 18 of the marathon, I will still have 8 miles to go. It kind of messes with your mind. I ended up in bed later on Saturday with a low grade fever, general achiness, slight cough and fatigue so, maybe, I was coming down with something and that is why I just had no gas in the tank. I didn’t feel well going into the run but I wasn’t going to not at least attempt it. I PR’d at the Marine Corps Trail run back in March after coughing up a lung all night and having an asthma attack out on the course so you never know (yes, I am very stubborn and tend to ignore common sense when it comes to running). In this case, I just did not feel well in the beginning, the middle or the end of the run. Heather looked great so I have high hopes for her. The jury is still out on me. No pictures to document this. We were soaking wet, muddy and kind of gross.

I now begin the taper and the part of marathon training I call “The Storm of Never Ending Doubt”. The second-guessing of every run. The “maybe, I should add 14 miles to my training run this Saturday just to make sure I am prepared” phase (or the “OMG, STFU” phase as Mike refers to it). I already made my packing list  for DC and revised it, twice (at this point, many of you are feeling sorry for Mike and my children but I assure you that my anxiety has its benefits like 400 nights of meals in the freezer and we’re fully prepared for the zombie apocalypse).

At this point, I’m 90% sure I am undertrained for this marathon. Last time, I was 90% sure I was overtrained (and injured) which made for a shitty race. I think toeing the start line undertrained will be painful but, hopefully, not the same kind of painful as toeing the line with a chronic injury and thinking it will “work itself out” over the course of 26.2 miles (spoiler alert: it doesn’t). I’ve told myself that I can do anything for 6 hours (hell, I was in labor for 12) so, really, it will all be just fine on race day and I’ll have Heather by my side, embracing the suck right along with me. It will be painful, no doubt, but painful in a different way than last time but still, just fine. My Volee teammate, Sarah, refers to this as “Survivalist Running” and I think that is a good name for it (her training for NYC has gone about like mine). I am not sure that is the “right” way to run a marathon but, then again, the “right” way is to probably weigh 30 pounds less than I do now, have lots more free time to train, be 20 years younger and to run significantly faster than I do. Since none of those things are possible for me at this point in my life, I just have to work with the cards I was dealt and it shouldn’t (and, very likely, won’t) stop me from reaching my goals, assuming that just finishing the marathon is a satisfactory goal for myself.

So what have I learned? Here are the things I recommend not doing:

  1. Don’t get promoted at work and suddenly become busier than you have ever been. I appreciate that my workplace of 10 years recognized my contributions to the organization but a promotion provides you with the opportunity to make more contributions. For me, those contributions involved lots of meetings, many in the early morning, during lunch or late in the day, greatly impacting my running and gym schedule. It also involved a lot of high profile projects that I could not mess up. No pressure there.
  2. Don’t start your training plan weeks before all your running friends because you are running a different race than they are! You will lose your motivation to do your weekday runs because you will have to do them alone on the treadmill, later in the evening than you wanted to, while you try to mediate arguments between your kids. You will begin to dread running, it will become a chore and, since running is supposed to be the fun part of your life, there will come a time when you will feel like all the joy was sucked out of your life (true story).
  3. Don’t get up so early on the weekends for so many consecutive weeks to run before it gets hotter than 10,000 hells that you end up with a huge sleep debt you can’t pay back because you have a job and a family who won’t let you nap. We said we’d rather be tired than hot but now, my sleep deprived self, would probably rather be hot. Sleep deprivation is impacting my memory.
  4. Don’t have a teenage daughter who wants to do a bunch of activities that require you to drive her around during your allotted training time. Don’t have a 4 year old, either, who wants you to watch Frozen with him “just one more time”.
  5. Don’t try to plan a trip to Disney and get sucked down the Disney blog/Pinterest/My Disney Experience/Etsy rabbit hole of trying to figure out what rides to ride on what day, which matching shirts you want and how to take your own turkey sandwiches into the park instead of running. Seriously, my iPad has been attached to my hand on a permanent basis. I’m a little OCD (you’re shocked, I know) so I love to plan, plan, plan. Everyone in  my family hates me now and I think I am the only one who still wants to go to Disney.

What did I do right this training season?

  1. I ate. So, most of you know I lost a lot of weight before I got into endurance running. I survived on few calories but it all worked out because I was only running 3-4 miles at a time. Last training season, I did not eat much because I did not want to gain weight and I paid a price (and still gained 5 pounds). I bonked at the end of almost every run. This time, I ate.  I ate pasta for the first time in 3 YEARS the night before my first 20 miler. I added more carbs back into my diet. I also gained weight. Not a ton but more than someone who worked her ass off to lose 70 pounds would like to see creep back on the scale. I’m a little freaked out about this one but I am still going to put it in the positive category.
 2. I nailed my fueling issues on the run. I found gels I can tolerate, I started making my own runner food (the rice cakes from The Feed cookbook are life changing) and I use Scratch in my hydration pack. I also drink more while running. I added Base electrolyte salt. I am really happy. Heather helped a ton in this department
3. I am not injured.  I still have my aches and pains but I am not facing an issue at this point in training that I think will prevent me from finishing my race without having to drag an unwilling body part through the last 10K of my race (yes, I’m talking to you, IT band). I stuck to the time goals my coach put on the training plan. I also stuck, strictly, with my intervals of 4 minutes running/1 minute walking. It was slow but it paid off by preventing injury. I also ran a reasonable amount of miles (which may have contributed to my feeling of being undertrained) but I would rather have undertrained and not be injured than be overtrained.
4. I switched to heart rate training rather than insisting on a certain pace. This was a big change. I am a rule follower. If you tell me I have to do a run at 10 minute miles, I will try my hardest to do this and, if I can’t for some reason, I will tell myself mean things in my head and feel like a failure. Heart rate training gives me permission to listen to my body during each run. Thank you, Tom Tom, for making a watch that makes this easy for me.
5. I did not feel as much pressure. I think it is because I was not part of a program like 26 Strong where I knew people were depending on me. The only person depending on me to show up was Heather. That meant something to me and got me out the door but I also knew she gives zero fucks about what I do (or what anyone else does for that matter and that is why I love her) so it was a judgment free zone. Heather sent me a version of this meme yesterday.
behold the field in which i grow my fucks
6. I hired a coach (who I met in person) to create an individual training plan. I was straight up with him about my training time limitations, my speed limitations, my meager goals, etc and he listened to me. It made a big difference.

So, I am at a crossroads with my running. I’m not sure survivalist running is the best way to run marathons. I’m also pretty sure that I don’t have the time in my life right now to train the “right” way. I could put off running marathons for a while. I can knock out a half marathon at just about any time. Is that enough for me? I don’t know. I also know that I am 44. I know there will come a time when I, literally, can’t run marathons, anymore. Is there really a right time to do hard things (go back to school to get a law degree, have a baby at 39)? I want to keep doing this but I wonder if it is realistic when I run so slow. I’m not saying that us slower folks can’t run marathons and I am really grateful that races keep the courses open for 5, 6, 7 hours but I think 26.2 was designed for people who can do it in under 5 hours. My PT told me that there are some recent studies showing people really shouldn’t run for more than 3 hours at a time. That’s great. I’ve run about 10 runs this training season over 3 hours.

Then, I think to myself, why am I making up all these rules? Who came up with this shit about the “right” way to do this (the answer is I did and I’m just “shoulding” on myself). I am reserving a final decision on another marathon, for now. I want to run another and I don’t want to run another. I love it. I hate it.

Between now and the MCM, I’ve got three short distance races,a 16 miler, a ton of work to do and some kids who need things from me. Eyes on the prize from here on out.

Material Girl: Gear Update – Marine Corps Marathon Training

“Living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl” – Material Girl, Madonna

So most of you who see me IRL know that I have a lot of running gear. Part of the reason is that I am super picky about stuff and I’ll try something for a bit and, then, find something better. I feel, at this point, I have truly found what works for me (until someone comes out with something new). Runners are always asking other runners about what gear they like best and I google reviews of any product I am going to buy before I buy it so I thought I would put this update out there. I can count on one hand the things I love because most things fall into the “stuff that doesn’t totally suck category” but not the “love” category.  Caveat: most of these products work really well for “not your average size” runner. I am not nearly as heavy as I used to be when the struggle was seriously real to find ANYTHING that worked, much less had the luxury of being picky.These are all the things I am currently using in training for the Marine Corps Marathon.

Things I Love:

Ultimate Direction – Ultra Vesta

Ultra Vesta

So, I am in love with this vest. I trained for the Philadelphia Marathon with a Nathan Intensity I got on clearance from REI. That sucker did not have enough pockets and slid all around. I could not adjust it enough but I used it, anyway, because I LOATHE waistpacks. The last thing a 43 year old woman with belly fat, big boobs and a short waist needs is a fricking pack cutting her off right in the middle. Forget the muffin top, I had a whole loaf of bread hanging over the edge after I put on the waistpack with the lovely constriction of the waistband of running shorts (if you want a running waist pack, see me. I have about 4 laying around and I hate every single one of them). When I knew I was going to be training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I went on the search for a new hydration pack. I started with the Orange Mud Hydraquiver. It looks like this:

HydraQuiver Single Barrel Gray

Pretty cool, huh? It has a nice bottle instead of a bladder and you don’t have to suck your liquid through a tube. (which does get gross, by the way). The problem, and I’m just going to say it, is probably because this product was designed for a size 2-6, it just doesn’t work with boobs. I had to put the straps off center, around the boobs, which created major upper arm chafing. Not cool. Plus, that pocket in the side? Not big enough to hold my iPhone 6 in its Otterbox. I wore this pack through several half marathon training runs and even to a half marathon race but I knew there had to be something out there that would not chafe me to the point of bleeding. I think the dual Hydraquiver may be better but I’m not buying another one so someone will just have to try it out and tell me. Enter the Vesta. I read every review of this thing I could find online. I also scoured the internet until I found it ON SALE with a coupon code at Backcountry.com. Winning.

Why do I love it? Adjustability. Adjustability. Adjustability. It was designed by women for women. The straps are already offset to account for boobs and the front and side straps are totally adjustable. I can lock it down and it won’t move for any of the miles. It also has a gazillion pockets. It holds my gels, my real food snacks, my Skratch in the hydration bladder, an extra bottle of plain water, my iPhone 6 in its Otterbox, my inhaler, my iPod Nano, my lip balm, I can hook my hat to it if I get tired of it and my Base electrolyte salts. When you are on your feet, running for as long as I am (read: I am slow) training for a marathon, you need all the things because you can’t convince people to stand out in the heat, creating aid stations for you. The reviews also said it worked for smaller women, too, because it comes in SIZES (how genius) so I bought the M/L and it is perfect. I am probably going to wear this to MCM because I won’t have Carly and Dimity on bikes, popping up all over the city to hand me my things like I did in Philly.

Oiselle Roga Shorts

Now, y’all know I am part of the Volee and promote Oiselle but I would not say I loved these shorts if I did not (see my posts about Saucony gear during 26Strong). I have these shorts in every color they made (even two pairs of black and blue). I wear these shorts, exclusively, for all of my runs. I still love my luluemon Pace Setter skirts (but they totally changed the style on the new skirts-jerks) and I wear them every once in a while (usually because all the Rogas are dirty or because I want to feel like a girl that day) and Oiselle does not currently make a running skirt. Why do I love these? First, the waistband – they have a yoga pant waistband that does not make the muffin top. Second, the fabric – I don’t know what it is but they are very wicking. Third, the colors – so many colors! Fourth, they are really comfortable. Now, they are short so, if you aren’t comfortable in shorter running shorts, try the longer Roga style. The Mac Rogas don’t cover my underwear so forget those. Fortunately, for me, my legs are the one part of my body I don’t completely detest so I don’t mind wearing shorts. I’m not a huge fan of compression shorts (have you ever tried to get those things back up after using the bathroom in a port-a-potte when you are super sweaty?) and I have Nike Tempo shorts to wear around the house but they ride up between my legs when I try to run in them so the Rogas are where it is at for summer running. I have plenty of running capris and I tights I love but I can’t even think about those right now because I am running during the hottest part of the year!

Tom Tom Cardio Runner Watch

 So, I have the Garmin 620 with the heart rate strap. I was all snobby and thought I HAD to have the gold standard of running watches so I got the one with all the bells and whistles. That is like giving a Ferrari to your grandma to drive herself up to Walgreens. A runner like me (read: slow) does not need to have all the Vo2 Max stats, etc, at her fingertips because none of it matters. All I need to know is, how far have I gone, am I staying on pace so I don’t drop dead at mile 10 of an 18 mile run and my heart rate to gauge the potential for dropping dead. The Garmin was not so good at the basics and I only ever ended up looking at the distance on one screen and ignoring all the other stuff. It was also hard to read (maybe, because I don’t have my reading glasses while I am running – getting old sucks) while I was running. I also hated the chest strap because it left a permanent scar on my back from a bad chafing episode last summer so I quit tracking heart rate. Heather has the Tom Tom Multisport because she swims, too, and I liked it. When they came out with the option of a watch that takes your heart rate on your wrist with no need for a strap in the Cardio Runner, I jumped on it. I love this watch. It is easy to use, it is easy to read and it tells me what all I want to know. The heart rate in my wrist seems to be right on with the ranges I used to get from my chest strap monitor. Oh, and you can change out the strap because you know I love color!
Brooks Glycerin 13
I’ve been wearing the Glycerins since version 11. Before that, I was in the GTS when Smurti figured out I did not need stability and switched me over to neutral. I love these shoes.  No other shoes meet my needs like these do. I do like the Saucony Triumphs but they fall into the “like” category and not the “love”. I rotate my Glycerins with the Triumphs every few runs. I love these shoes because they are cushiony but I can still feel the ground. The toe box is not overly narrow and there are no seams to create friction on my toes. I also think Brooks stepped up their design game and really outdid themselves with these Aurora colorways.
Skratch Hydration
Everyone knows I struggled last year with stomach issues in the heat with runner food. I’ve tried lots and lots of things but what I really love about Skratch is that I don’t get flavor overload. Gatorade and even Tailwind can be overpowering in their flavors. After a long time running in the heat, you don’t want to taste anything overly sweet, anymore. Skratch is made from real dried fruit that is ground into a powder with added electrolytes and a very mild, natural flavor. I prefer the Orange flavor while Heather likes the Pineapple. I have used these for the past 4 long runs and have not felt sick at all.
Honey Stinger Gels
These are the ONLY gels I can tolerate. They are made from real honey and don’t make my stomach rebel. The texture is also completely different (just like honey) so I can actually get them down (unlike GU, which makes me gag). I like the Gold (plain honey) flavor but the Acai Pomegranate are my favorite.
BASE Electrolyte Salt
I discovered this at Ironman 70.3 Expo. I am a salty sweater with an chronic electrolyte deficiency. I used to take salt tablets but I had to plan ahead and, once I felt sick, I did not want to swallow them. This stuff is great because you just put it on your tongue and it dissolves, immediately. I have not had a low electrolyte episode since using this while out on the run.

Hold on Tight: Marine Corps Marathon Training – Month 1

“So when you look at yourself Tell me who do you see Is it the person you been Or the person you’re gonna be Don’t take your life for granted Don’t take your life for granted Why don’t you hold on tight To what you’ve been handed” – Hold on Tight, Greg Holden

( :

I really feel like running is all about the potential. Potential to go further. Potential to go faster. Potential to travel to new places and see new things. As Heather and I train for the Marine Corps Marathon in the hot hell of this Southern summer, it has to be about potential because I don’t have much else to hold onto to. I have to hold on to the potential of my ability to cross the finish line on October 25. The runs in this miserable heat have got to pay off on race day.

I’m miserable. Almost every training run for this race has been miserable. All the glory I felt from my PRs this spring? Gone. I am humbled. I am sad. Some days my pace is so slow and may walk breaks so frequent that I wonder if I can even call myself a runner. I’m trying to limit my treadmill runs to one run per week and all the rest are outside so I’m suffering more than last summer. I’m also trying to teach our new puppy, Bacon, how to run with me so that requires dedicated running outside.

We start running at 6:15 on Saturdays to beat the heat as best we can. The only problem with this strategy is that it is so, so humid. We are dripping sweat by mile 3 of every run. We don’t dry. Imagine running for several hours in soaking wet running clothes. On Saturday the 18th, we tackled 11 miles and I seriously thought about quitting. I missed some weekday runs due to some hip pain and was wondering why I ever thought I could do this, again. As we approached Saturday’s long run this past Saturday, I decided I had to change my attitude. So what if I was slow? So what if I wasn’t exactly on schedule? I was still getting it done. I have to hold on tight to what I’ve got. I get to do this. I don’t have to do this.

I decided that each run is a clean slate and not at all dependent on the run before. Every Saturday has the potential to be great or to be bad but each Saturday is a new start. Whatever happens during the long run is limited to that run. Except for the lessons we’re learning, which are getting carried over to the next run.

FullSizeRender copyMe on an 11 mile run in 98 degree heat with a heat index of 105, trying to look like I am not dying.

The first lesson? Split the run up into legs instead of focusing on the distance. We’re up to 14 miles. We’ve got 16 miles on deck on Saturday and it only goes up from there until we peak at 22 miles in early October. Simply running away from the car for 7 miles in one direction and running 7 miles back was not cutting it. Last Saturday, Heather planned a route that brought us back to the car in-between. We wiped the sweat off our faces with clean towels, drank ice water and packed our sports bras with ice. We ate, standing by the car. When I knew I had to head out for another 7 miles, mentally, I knew I could do it because of the break and the ice water. We’re going to employ this strategy for the rest of training. We might even employ it for race day. We can think of the marathon as several short races and time it around our fueling needs. Tell yourself whatever you have to get through it.

The second lesson (which I already knew but was unpleasantly reminded of on the 18th)? My stomach rebels in the heat with traditional runner food. I had been using Honey Stinger gels, the only gels I can tolerate from a texture standpoint, and Tailwind in my hydration pack. On the 18th, I had horrible runner gut. Bathrooms out on the ATT are a godsend. The new solution? Skratch Labs. Heather and I each made a recipe out of the Feed Zone’s portables cookbook. Real food made with natural ingredients to take out on the run. I made the Skratch Labs chocolate chip cookies from their packaged mix. It is really finely ground oatmeal and very little sugar. Not a typical cookie but, still, very good.  Heather made blueberry and coconut rice cakes. These are not your typical dried out rice cakes. They are made from sticky sushi rice, mixed with coconut milk, layered with blueberries and chocolate chips in the middle. They were bland. They were good. Our stomachs were so much happier and no gut bombs for the remainder of the day. I’m switching from Tailwind to Skratch Hydration, as well. I like the Tailwind and won’t abandon it forever but I’m going to try something else for a bit.

I’ve cultivated forgiveness in my daily life. I don’t hold grudges and I’m not easily offended. I just let most things go. I don’t let things go from my runs and I am so hard on myself. I don’t know why I am this way about running and about my weight. The things I tell myself are so mean. I like the “clean slate” strategy for my runs. I like the idea of “potential’. I have the potential to be great and I am the one who defines my great. It may not be great by other’s people’s standards but finishing my second marathon after 18 weeks of hard training will be great enough for me. Finishing it with Heather by my side will be better than great. This is hard but I’m not going to take it for granted.

FullSizeRender Me and Heather at Four on the Fourth, the last time I ran a decent pace!

Ice, Ice, Baby: Ironman 70.3 Raleigh Race Report

“If there was a problem, yo, I’ll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Ice Ice Baby Vanilla, Ice Ice Baby Vanilla
Ice Ice Baby Vanilla, Ice Ice Baby Vanilla” – Ice, Ice, Baby – Vanilla Ice

If there was a problem, yo, I WILL solve it. The problem? It was as hot as 10,000 hells out on that out-and-back, crappy ass, horrible, run course on Sunday. Like running in a freaking frying pan! Aboslutey. No. Shade. At. All. The solution? Ice. Probably at least a pound of ice. You see, I have finally discovered a use for breasts and running. When you have larger-than-runners-are-supposed-to-have breasts and you have to wear the utilitarian Moving Comfort Juno bra, there is plenty of room to stuff that sucker, front and back, with ice on the run course. I made my own ice chest! The ice kept my body temperature down and it stayed in place so I could take pieces out and rub it all over my face and the back of my neck until I got to the next aid station. The ice on the course also kept the Gatorade cold. Cold Gatorade every 3 miles on a hot as hell run is one of the best things in the world. The Ironman people are geniuses. They had Budget rental trucks filled with ice chests  that kept churning out bags of ice to fill the baby pools so the volunteers could scoop it up with milk jugs cut into scoopers and pour it into hot, sweaty runners’ hands. I will forever love the Ironman people and the volunteers. I’m getting ahead of myself, though.

JunoJuno, I love you! Look at all the numbered places where you can stuff ice.

Sunday morning started early with a 4 AM alarm. Carly wanted to come and spectate but it was just so early and, she was so tired from getting up on Saturday to go the Running of of the Bulls, I just could not get her to wake up. Heather arrived at 5:15 AM and Mike, graciously, got out of bed and drove me and Heather out to White Oak Recreation Center at Jordan Lake to catch a shuttle to the swim start at Vista Point. We saw no point in getting up at 3 AM to drive all the way to downtown Raleigh to get bused back to Jordan Lake, which is 20 minutes from my house. We got in the shuttle bus line which was mostly full of other triathletes with the same idea. We immediately started chatting with people because that is what we do! We started to get antsy because the shuttle never showed up. We waited 50 minutes! Finally, a shuttle arrived but we were only about 15 minutes from transition closing so Heather and I bossed the poor little volunteer kid around and told him “athletes only on the bus, spectators wait”. Everyone was very gracious about it because the folks who had early swim waves had to get their things into T1.

We caught up with Freddie at the lake. Apparently, there had been some transportation issues in downtown Raleigh, too, where they had run out of buses to take athletes and spectators out to the lake. His wife, Paige, still had not made it out to the lake because they let athletes only on the buses there. Luckily, we were the last swim wave so she had plenty of time to get there. The atmosphere at an Ironman event is really exciting. There were a lot of first-timers and people looked really nervous. Loud music was playing, people were warming up in the lake, hot men were half dressed (did I say that out loud?). Pretty soon they were calling the relay wave down to get in line. Paige and I walked down with Heather to watch her take off. She looked relaxed and was chatting with other swimmers. Heather just does not freak out about stuff. She was much more aggressive in her start position this year and lined up right in the middle. Soon she was off and I hit my timer to track her. We were expecting her in around 40 minutes.

IMG_2983Pre-race selfie!

IMG_2980Heather, looking chill, waiting for the last wave to enter the lake.

Freddie, Paige and I headed over to T1 to watch the first few waves go into transition and get on their bikes. Freddie wanted to see how it all worked. We saw a couple of people come up to their bikes, only to find flat tires that must have happened while they were swimming. The Ironman people had bike mechanics to help out. Soon, my timer said 35 minutes so we headed to the relay tent to wait for Heather to come out of the lake. There were many more relay teams this year and it was really crowded. I saw Heather at 43 minutes, elapsed time, as soon as she came up out of the water because I would recognize her running gait, anywhere. We called out to her and she gave Freddie our timing chip and he was off. I did not even see him go because I was helping Heather with her towel. She was coughing and looked a bit like she was going to puke. She said the swim was much rougher than last year, she was much more aggressive and she sucked down a lot of lake water. She made a quick recovery and we headed over to the line to wait for the shuttle buses. The line was about 300 people deep, obviously, mostly spectators.

IMG_2984 copyWaiting for Heather (I have what I think is a great picture of Heather coming out of the lake but I won’t post wet running bathing suit pictures of her on my blog because I would kick her ass if she did that to me but, trust me, the pictures are good!).

I started to get concerned that I would not make it to downtown in time to stick to my carefully planned out eating schedule. . I was supposed to get to downtown and head to Jimmy John’s for a very plain turkey slim on white bread, no veggies or cheese, by 11:00, at the latest. I eat a turkey sandwich about 4 days per week so we knew my stomach could take it. I took one look at that bus line and knew my plan was in jeopardy. I left Heather in line and headed out to find a solution. I found a man in a yellow vest and asked if he was in charge of transportation. He said no but that he was driving a passenger van back to the finish line and he had three spots left. He offered them to me and Heather and we picked up another relay runner for the last spot. The van was the first vehicle out of Vista Point when the last swimmer headed out on her bike. I never ask for special treatment but, this time, taking charge paid off.

We had the coolest people in our van. One woman was the mother of the male elite in second place out of the lake. She was Australian and had no international data plan on her phone so we all tracked her son’s progress on our phones and gave her updates. The other relay runner we picked up was doing the swim AND the run for his team so he was, clearly, a badass. We chatted with all the people in the van for the entire ride and it passed quickly. Our awesome driver dropped us off right at T2 and only two blocks from Jimmy John’s!

We got our sandwiches and sat outside in the shade to wait for the elites to start coming in. The weather was beautiful so, I started to get a little cocky about the temperature. I said things like “Oh, it is so nice. The breeze feels great. I have a good feeling about this”. Hmmph. Should have kept my mouth shut. We saw the top elite males come in and the top three females. It was really impressive. The male winner came in at 3:49 and the female at 4:14. Truly, amazing! When the sun moved and there was no more shade in front of Jimmy John’s we moved to the lobby of the Sheraton. They were so nice letting people wait in their air conditioned lobby. I also used their very nice, not port-a-potty bathroom to change into my running gear. I pretty much treated the lobby like my house, rubbing Run Goo on my feet, so I appreciate their chill attitude. We went to the hotel bar where I filled my water bottle with water and Nuun while Heather made a Bloody Mary at their Bloody Mary bar. It is good to go first!

IMG_2990Must be nice.

When we thought there was about a 15 minute window of when to expect Freddie, we left the comforts of the Sheraton for the relay exchange corral in T2. My first thought when we got there was “Oh, shit. It got a lot hotter out here in the hour we were in the A/C”. Of course, there was no shade. Why would you provide shade for people who are about to run a half marathon in 88 degrees and full sun? I said to Heather “You know, this race always seems like a good idea until I get to this point, right here. Then, I think, I don’t want to run a half marathon, today”. Right about that time, I saw Freddie pushing his bike into T2 and I ran to meet him. I grabbed the bike, he removed the timing strap, I strapped it on and, high fived my team, and I was off!

finisherpix_1059_006604Freddie, out on the course, looking all serious.

Loop one of this course is not really fun because this course, basically, sucks. Loop two is hell. There is no music allowed at the Ironman. They claim it is for safety reasons but, really, I think they want to add to the suffering. By the time I hit the course at 1:00, there was plenty of suffering to go around. I sort of get outside my mind and take in all there is to see when there is no music and no Heather. The first thing I noticed were all the people standing in line at Beasley’s Chicken and Honey waiting to eat some chicken and waffles. It must be nice to spend your Sunday morning eating chicken and waffles. Next, I noticed several of the restaurants were out providing the runners with cold water and ice. I did not take any on the first loop but I was all over that cold water on the second loop! I ran past a Catholic church broadcasting their service in Spanish. A wise man was out selling Italian ice from a cart. I passed a running store called “Runologie” that had the most amazing stuff in the window and I wondered if they would mind if I came in after the race and tried on those awesome clothes in the disgusting shape I was sure to be in. At about mile 3, I thought “It is really fucking hot. I don’t know how I am going to make it through this race. I had better shorten my intervals”. I slowed to 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking.

finisherpix_1059_049887No air under my feet. No air anywhere. It sucked.

Any fun you might have had on that course comes to an abrupt end when you get to about mile 4 on your first loop. By the time you hit mile 8 on that course, your spirit is crushed and you think you might cry, puke or die. You see, the “out” on that out and back is all uphill in full sun. No one was running except me and I was really just “jogging”. It looked a lot like a scene out of The Walking Dead. Real triathletes, who had been in a forward motion since 7 AM, were shuffling down the road. Since my time was going to completely suck due to my slow speed, I decided to see if I could help people out. I asked people if they were OK; I offered what small comfort I had on my person, like electrolyte salt, chews and encouragement. Many people took me up on them. I got the paramedics for one man, who was so dazed, he did not seem to be able to talk. I chatted with folks but most of the people were too exhausted to talk. I made friends with a cool group of middle aged dads last year and we kept each other in good spirits until the wheels came off my personal bus when I had hyponatremia. No one wanted to be my friend this year. Oh, well. I just embraced the suck. When I came back up to the downtown area to start my second loop, my team was off to the side, calling my name, and my Fleet Feet friend, Janine, who was there to see her husband finish, called out my name. It was such a nice surprise.

The complete mind fuck that is a hot out and back with a loop past the finish line at the halfway mark just sucks. It was around 2:15 in the afternoon. When you turn the corner out of downtown Raleigh, you just know what you are in for because you just shuffled your way through the loop once, already. No crowd support (who would stand out in this heat?). No shade. Heat radiating off the asphalt. I passed the Catholic church, again. Service was over, the parishioners standing on the lawn eating Italian ices, while the priests blessed the runners. Thanks, dude, I think I’m going to need it. I passed the running store, again, but, this time I thought “No way, I’m going in there. I’m done with running. This shit sucks”. I made an executive decision to spare myself the misery I experienced at the Not So Normal race. No heat exhaustion for me, thank you. I decided to do the unthinkable – I would speed walk the hot, hilly, no shade “out” and run the slightly more shady, slightly more downhill “back”. My mile splits show this!

My fellow athletes, at this point, were not even moving as fast as the zombies from TWD. I just have to say that people who do this entire race are seriously badass. I don’t care if you were the last person to cross that finish line, you are amazing. I posted a barely respectable time and all I had to do was run. I can’t even imagine. The volunteers were also amazing. I am sure they were just as hot as me but they kept smiling, kept encouraging, kept handing out ice, Gatorade, oranges, cookies, Red Bull. They were so, so kind and so were the Raleigh police officers manning each corner. And the ice. The glorious, glorious ice.


While I posted a horrid time, I am happy with my nutrition and the way I listened to my body in this race. I had no nutrition issues. No low blood sugar. No nausea. No vomiting. No headache. No major swelling. No dizziness. No overheating. No chills. The main problem was that I was really, really hot but so was everyone else and there was nothing to be done about it except to put one foot in front of the other to get it over with faster. The other problem? I sweated off all my zinc oxide sunscreen by mile 3. At about mile 10, a woman shuffling along behind me said “Miss, your shoulders are really red.” I said it is probably just because I am so hot. Wrong. It was because my skin was frying like a piece of bacon with a lovely sunburn in the exact shape of my tank top. It has been a painful couple of days since the race.

I dug deep on the last back and I returned to run/walk intervals instead of just walking (I did receive compliments on the speed at which I can walk so I guess that is something). It was what I call Landmark Running  – run the next three stoplights and then you can walk until you get to the aid station. At mile 12, I just started to run/shuffle. As I rounded the corner and saw the finish line, still so far away, I picked up my pace. There were still plenty of spectators. I heard Heather calling my name off to the right. A man came out of the crowd and encouraged me to run faster. I high-fived all the little kids who were still waiting for their parents to cross the finish line. I finished and, physically, I felt pretty good. I injured nothing. I did not puke. I did not pass out. I consider it a success, even though I hate my finishing time. Through the chute to Freddie and Heather to give them their medals. The runner on a relay team gets ALL the glory!


I immediately told Freddie and Heather I was tapping out, never to run this, again. I’ve already changed my mind and agreed to run it, again, next year. I’m a slow learner. I conquered my nutrition issues. Now, I am going to conquer my heat issues. I already have a plan. I’m also trying to convince the two of them to sign up for the Beach 2 Battleship FULL Iron distance as a relay in 2016. How hot can it be in October in Wilmington (don’t really answer that)? Go big or go home.


The official Marine Corps Marathon training starts on June 21.

Drop It Like Its Hot: Running of the Bulls 8K Race Report

“Drop it like it’s hot…” Snoop Dog featuring Pharrel 

IMG_2959 Pre-race selfie!

Those are the only lyrics from that song that are remotely applicable to my race or my life, for that matter! I’m not pimpin’ and I don’t roll weed. I’m a middle-aged mom who likes to run but I like Snoop Dog – he seems like a cool dad! It was so hot and humid on Saturday. Like tropical hot. Like, “why in the hell are you running this race hot?”.

Heather ran this race last year and had so much fun (plus, the race shirt is really cute) that I decided I wanted to run it this year, too, even though we had Ironman 70.3 Raleigh the next day. After my nutrition/electrolyte issues and heat exhaustion after the Not So Normal Half Marathon, I was a little worried about running two hot races on consecutive days but I signed up against my better judgement. I also signed both kids up for the Kids Race around the infield of the old Durham Bulls park.

I deiced to consult with a sports nutritionist to see if I could get a handle on my issues. When I showed her my race schedule, she threw me some shade because I think she thought I was crazy to run two back-to-back, hotter than hell races but then, she committed to helping me figure this shit out. She, basically, told me I was doing everything wrong. I’m not taking in enough calories before, during or after my run or the right kind of calories. Y’all know I have no trouble taking in calories when I am not running but lots of long, pukey runs during marathon training turned me off of taking in calories before, during or after runs. Apparently, this is a dumb idea when you are an endurance athlete (typing the words “endurance” and “athlete” in reference to myself still makes me hesitate but, as Mike said, how many races and 100 mile plus months do I have to put in to call myself a “real” runner? I think I’ve earned it, even if I am still fat and slow).  I also have an electrolyte deficiency – hello, excessive sweat. She gave me a race week eating and hydration plan.

I followed her plan, like the compliant person I am. I’ll write more about it in my Ironman post but let’s just say the lady knows what she is talking about! Heather, by the way, also knows what she is talking about because I tried many of the products HJ swears by that I shunned in the past because I was afraid I was going to puke them up and HJ was right. Eating and drinking helps you run better. Who knew? : )

Saturday morning, I woke my poor children up at 5:45 AM and loaded them into the car. Let’s just say that Colin is not a morning person. We picked up my Oiselle teammate, Allie, at her house. Allie is a professional runner who is a member of the Oiselle Volee (that is French for “badass” – OK,OK it is French for “flight” or “flock of birds”) and is sponsored by Bull City Running Company. When I pulled up, Allie was running up and down her road, warming up. Allie is so fast she had a legitimate chance of placing in her age group at this race, which was serving as a USTAF NC 8K championship. She is also a super cool, super nice, generally awesome person whom I would not have met if not for Oiselle. Have I mentioned that not only do I love, love, love their clothes, I love their women-strong message and all of the fabulous people I have met through my Flock membership?

We parked and I hit the port-a-potty line, which seemed longer than my labor with Carly. Colin completely freaked out about all the poop in the port-a-potty and the smell but that is a topic for another blog and something he is just going to have to get used to if he wants to go to a concert or a music festival in his lifetime. I met up with my other Oiselle friend, Rose, who I feel like I have known forever. I think we are kindred spirits. Rose was a one woman cheering section for all us Oiselle girls. We also met up with Meghan, another Oiselle teammate. I was waiting for Heather, who was sitting in her car writing home health visit summaries, while I stood in the bathroom line. Multi-tasking, HJ and I are the champs. Heather made it right before the race started. We just lined up in the back since this was the 8K championship and we’re not that fast. I saw our Fleet Feet friend Melody, who was amazed we were doing two races in two days.

Heather and I decided that we would do run/walk intervals because I was supposed to be taking it easy with IM the next day. The race started downtown and we wound our way down towards Duke campus. All of the intersections were manned by Durham police officers who were all really friendly and cheered us on. The volunteers were amazing, pointing us in the right direction and sounding cow bells. There was not a ton of crowd support but there were lots of runners. We ran all through Trinity Park and back down towards the ball park. The last bit was a pretty massive uphill, back through the Downtown Loop but that just made the fast downhill finish, all that much more appreciated. The race ended in the ball park so we ran around the outfield, finishing up right before first base. It was so much fun! It was so hot but I actually felt really good when I finished. No heat or nutrition issues at all. I think you run a hot race slow and easy. I think you follow a good electrolyte loading plan.

IMG_2969Rose took this great shot of us with air under our feet! Every runner strives to have race photos of them actually running.

There was cold watermelon and cold beer at the finish! There is not much better than cold watermelon and local craft beer at the end of a hot race. We saw another Oiselle runner, Ellen, who also works at Bull City Running in the beer line. It was just a Oiselle kind of day (we planned it that way, btw)!

IMG_2965Cold beer at 8:30 AM? I think I will!

Next up was Colin’s race. He was racing around the infield with kids ages 1-5. He was so excited and had “trained” for a couple of weeks, which consisted of running around the house while Mike and I fashioned a finish line for him. He started in the back of the pack but slowly picked off some other kids to finish as a solid mid-pack runner, just like his mama! He high-fived Wool E. Bull at the finish. Carly’s race was next. Carly started in the back and pretty much stayed there! It was hot and she had watched her brother while I ran so I don’t think she was at her best. It was still fun. I tried to get a picture of both kids but they were not having it.



After the race, we walked over to the Durham Farmer’s Market and bought some veggies. We hit the food trucks right outside the market and I had the best biscuit with fried egg and tomato, which I ended up giving to Carly after she tried it and would not give it back. I absolutely loved this race and I will absolutely do it, again, next year. The atmosphere was mellow and the course was really fun. Even though it was the 8K championship, everyone was pretty chill and it was just a fun, easy morning run!