Confessions of a Reformed Marching Band Geek

And the Answer Is….


Mr Grumpy and I had talked about it during the week and he was all “if you want to run it, that will be fine”. When I talked to my friends they were all “it will be awesome! We could train together. It will be awesome”. When I talked to my chiropractor she was all “um, is that what you really want to do?” I was completely torn. Part of my brain was totally in. It would be great to run 26.2 in Chicago. It would be great to run with my friends. It would be great to have a cheering section larger than one person. It would be great.

Except for the training in the summer. I seem to have a very narrow temperature comfort zone. Ask Mr Grumpy. He’s pretty sure it’s only two degrees. I’m sure it has to be AT LEAST five. He’s so grumpy! Anyway, while the drinking fountains are available in the summer (they shut them off during the winter so they don’t freeze. This was a serious issue while training for Disney because I would spend every mile OBSESSED about where I was going to refill my water), it wasn’t enough to convince me that summer marathon training was something I wanted to do this year.

All of that being said, I may still train with my friends and either volunteer at the race like I usually do (I work the mile 3 water station with a local running group. We have to be there early, but it’s totally worth the loss of sleep) or be a part of the Whiskey Runners Cheering Squad (that’s the name of our little group. We don’t really drink whiskey. We drink coffee, but Coffee Runners just sounded wrong on so many levels).

So no Chicago Marathon for me this year. Unless I have non-registration regret and I decide to run for a charity. I’m sure someone would let me trudge through the marathon for a little fundraising if I really want to be there. As of right now, that’s not really settling in. Now to find some awesome half marathons to use that $175 (plus all of the marathon wear I would have purchased at the expo) I saved!

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To Run or Not To Run, That is THE Question

So today is the day. Opening registration for the Chicago Marathon. It will most likely sell out by the time I go to bed tonight so I need to decide in the next four-five hours if I am going to brave the distance again (when I adamantly said that I would NEVER be doing this again while gimping my way back to the car after Disney). My friends (who have never run a marathon) are going to do it and when it comes to races I am a sucker for peer pressure (see, not caving with drugs or alcohol or other crazy things in high school or college pays of by caving to peer pressure for crazy things like this when you’re an adult).

Part of me wants┬áto run Chicago. It’s flat. The weather is usually not optimal (which I already know so I can sort of be prepared). I know the landmarks and other quirky places along the route. Mr Grumpy knows the city so he could find more places to stop and cheer than last time. I have a new water resistant fuel belt so my phone won’t fitz out along the way. I could do this.

Part of me says it’s too soon. My leg is just starting to feel back to normal. Training during the summer is difficult (although the fountains are on so I don’t have to obsess about water quite so much). There is a shorter required finish time (I finished just over the limit for Disney and was barely ahead of where they were pulling people off the course). Granted, I have more time to train (if I start now) and could do some speed work to get that up, but it would have to be a significant change to meet the requirement.

I don’t know. I hate when I’m so wishy-washy about races. Maybe I’ll wait for Mr Grumpy to get up and let him decide. It’s my usual course of action when I don’t know what I want to do about something. Then again, he doesn’t have to run it. Sigh. I’ll get back to you later about the final decision!


Back in the Saddle…er…the Treadmill Again!

So it’s been a month since I finished the Walt Disney World Marathon. It is also one month until my next half marathon. It has been s…l…o…w…going getting myself back into a regular running routine. I had “tweaked” my hamstring during marathon training so I decided to take some time off to focus on strength work and let my leg heal. My goal yesterday was 4-5 miles. I made it 3 before I decided that I had other things to do. Seriously, this is why I shouldn’t run on the treadmill. It is WAY too easy to get off and do something else. Like grade papers. Or clean something. Or do ANYTHING other than run and go nowhere. I could have gone outside, but I didn’t feel like putting on all of those clothes for about an hour of work. It appears to be the problem with distance runners. If we’re going to put on all of those running clothes and tape up our knee (or any other body part that needs a little more support), it had better be worth it. Maybe next weekend will be more interested in running outside. Or I’ll just watch more Hot Fuzz with the trivia track and give my treadmill the workout it deserves!

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Marathon: or a Crazy Episode of Survivor!

Well I made it. I finished my first marathon. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was enough to earn an awesome medal and the right to wear all of the marathon wear I purchased at the expo. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1. Even Disney can’t control the weather. It was HOT. I mean steamy hot for the entire weekend. Sitting on my friend’s lanai, it was great. Running, not so much. All of my training in cool weather meant nothing there. I was warm before we even started. The fuel I brought with me only added to my distress as my body wasn’t ready for it in the same way it was on a chilly Chicago run. I’ve never been so happy to be handed a bag of ice at the finish!

2. My Garmin battery does not last more than 6 hours or so. I charged it up over night. It read 100% when I left. It stopped when I got to mile 22. Those were the longest four miles EVER to the finish.
3. My tunes don’t last that long either.
4. I need more songs on my running MP3. I thought I had PLENTY of music. When I run at home, it rarely repeats. This includes 5+ hours of running. I wasn’t as lucky during the marathon. It went into repeat fairly early and by mile 18 I was tired of the songs I brought and went with just the voices in my head. This is not usually a good plan, but I needed a break. Next time, more song options!
5. Ice and a cold pool can be my friend. I’d always heard of friends taking an ice bath after a long run or a race, but I never fully understood why until last week. We stayed with a friend who had a pool in her back yard. The last few miles it was all that I could think about. I was going to take off my evil shoes and walk straight into her pool. It was more like gimping and I needed help being able to lower myself to the water’s edge, but that icy water was the best thing I’d experienced all day!
6. Having a cheering squad (or person) can really help. When I ran my first half my training was similar to this round. I had an injury mid training which pretty much put me behind. It was really hot (but that one was in August, so it wasn’t surprising, but just as miserable). The difference was Mr Grumpy wasn’t there to cheer for me. I drove down with friends for the half, but they were faster than me so I told them to leave without me. I limped back to the train station (I was too cheep to get a cab), took the commuter home, and licked my running wounds alone. This round I told Mr Grumpy he was going to be there and he was going to cheer for me. It made a HUGE difference. I knew generally where he was going to be and had my phone with me (which was not always helpful as it over heated as well, but at least the battery didn’t die until I got to the car) so I could find where he was. I signed him up for runner tracking so he knew where I was. There were many miles where the only thought that kept me going was knowing that he was just ahead and I had to meet him there. I wish there were more people and more opportunities for him to cheer for me, but I was grateful for what I had!
7. Purchasing “I Did It” shirts at the expo before the race may or may not be a good plan. Disney was running out of marathon wear on only the second day of the expo. I really wanted a marathon jacket to commemorate my first time. It took a while to find one in the right size, but I finally found one. I also found a t-shirt proclaiming that I did it. I snatched it up quickly and happily paid for my purchases. For the entire race they haunted me. If I didn’t finish I couldn’t wear any of those jackets or shirts because I’d be a fraud. I HAD to finish so I could justify what I bought (see where the cheap thing continues?)! I guess it worked since I finished, but I’m not sure it was the best motivation!
8. Be happy with finished. I went in with the goal of finishing under my own power. I think I was only on fumes as I stumbled, zombie like, over the finish line, but I did it. I looked at my time and knew it wasn’t anywhere near where I was hoping. I didn’t even technically finish in the allotted time for the race (luckily that timer started after I crossed the start). I was not picked up by the “loser bus” and they gave me my medal so I’m taking it as good. I was completely bummed about my finish time. Until I talked with some nice ladies at the airport. They reminded me that we aren’t used to the heat and that we could probably take a good 30-45 minutes off our time in the next race. Then I remembered that when I moved from hot/injured races to cooler/healthy races I did take off that much time. It makes me feel better. A little.
9. The airport can be a place of unity. This was a destination race for us. The last time I did a destination race we drove so we didn’t see fellow runners along the way. Before that we went to Vegas for the Rock and Roll Half, but I don’t remember seeing anyone at the airport. This time the airport was FULL of runners! We all had on our jackets, sweatshirts, t-shirts, race shirts, and medals (OK, I only had on my “I did it” shirt. Well, and other clothes, but that was all of the marathon wear I had on. I thought about wearing my medal, but I decided against it at the last minute. I could have taken it out of my bag and put it on, but I didn’t really need any additional weight or unbalance for the day). It was great! We all talked about the heat, compared battle scars, and congratulated each other. I think I need that after every race!
10. Scheduling a half two weeks after your first marathon is not a good idea. I had kicked around the idea of a half this winter, but didn’t make a commitment because the one I usually run was the same weekend as the marathon. There was another scheduled and a friend and I decided that it could be fun. My training was going well at the time and I had an 8 mile recovery run on the schedule so I thought-why not! Bad choice. I’m still working on getting my legs loose enough for a recovery run, let alone a half marathon. We’ll see how this week goes, but I’m thinking no.
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Marathon Prep: Packing

OK. I have to admit. I swing wildly between super organized and complete chaos. For some races I have my clothes, bib, shoes, Garmin, tunes, inhaler, water, everything out the night before. It does makes the mornings easier. For far more, I am racing (no pun intended) to get everything together and hope I don’t forget anything.

Destination races are worse. My running friends jokingly call me a running clothes diva. I don’t consider it diva-ish. I just like to be comfortable. I like them to fit how I like it on that day (some days my bigger running shirts are my friend). I like to be comfortable temperature wise. I like when they don’t get in the way of what I need to do. When I’m at home, I can change my mind at the last minute, bring a bag of “extras” for in the car in case I change my mind, or if I’m running in the area, call Mr Grumpy to bring me more clothes (which he hates, but loves me and does it anyway).

When I need to be elsewhere this becomes more complicated. For example, I’m running the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday. It’s supposed to get up to 81 degrees during the race. It will probably be 50-60 when we start which is A LOT warmer than it has been in Chicago (it was 10 for my last long run). I pulled out my favorite summer running wear for the weekend, but still packed some short sleeved shirts and capris. You may think I’m crazy, but here’s where my destination psychosis comes in.

Last May I ran the Cleveland Half Marathon. Mr Grumpy and I grew up there so it was a nice “hometown” race for us. It happened to fall at the end of our little vacation trip to Tennessee. I checked the weather in both states and packed accordingly. Until a warm front came through. When we got to Cleveland it was HOT. I’d packed long sleeved shirts, long pants, jackets’ and gloves. I ended up breaking the Cardinal Rule of running (no, not new shoes on race day or wearing the shirt from the race). I bought a new shirt at the expo and wore it (with a pair of capris which I happened to pack) to the race. Luckily, a company I know was at the expo so I was sure that it would be fine (I’m wearing that same shirt this weekend).

So packing is quite a chellenge for me. As if finding everyday clothes isn’t difficult enough, I have to figure out the running stuff too. Arg!

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Crazy Vacation Post: Unsolicited Marathon Advice

For those of you who have read more than one of my posts, you know that I’m running my first marathon this week. Am I starting to freak out? Maybe a little. Do I need advice from EVERYONE as to what I need to do? Not really.

Unsolicited Advice #1: So I’m on the plane on our way to our vacation destination. The guy behind me mentions that he’s running the Disney Marathon next month. I mention that I’m running it as well and that it was my first. He asked how my training was going (so far, not too weird). I mentioned my tweaky hamstring and that I’d had to pull back on my training to let it heal some. He asked how my last 20 miler went. I had to admit that I didn’t get that far due to an injury. He then proceeded to tell me that I should have had at least one 20 miler (if not two) and really should have a 23 miler under my belt before a first marathon. I assured him that I was aware of that, but felt that it was better to be HEALED before I went than STILL INJURED with good miles. He went on to tell me that he trains marathoners and new runners and he would never let one of his runners start a race they weren’t ready for (good thing he’s not MY coach. I’d never run a race again). He then when on to drill me about my stretching and rehab (thanks. I have a DOCTOR I’m working with on this). Awesome. Luckily I have a twitterverse of cheerleaders who told me to ignore the running nutjob from the plane. Not easy, but done.

Unsolicited Advice #2: I thought I’d be safe while listening to a time share sales push. Not so lucky. If you missed the story of the time share debacle, be sure to read the vacation post on how bad 90 minutes can be. This woman was the picture of gloom and misery. She was overweight and complained throughout the session about how much her knees were bothering her (I’m no supermodel so don’t take my comments as a statement here other than to give you a picture of where this advice is coming from). She asked where our next trip would be and we mentioned going to Orlando for the marathon. She became animated and launched into a story about how she owns a yoga studio and that I should be adding Hot Yoga to my cross training routine. Without it, my training would be incomplete. I should really check it out while I was in town and get in as many sessions as possible between now and the marathon (OK. She didn’t say it exactly like that, but my pained head heard it about like that). I smiled and thanked her and got out of there ASAP.

Unsolicited Advice #3: My husband’s family joined us on our “vacation alone” for the week (see the first post of this series for more details on THAT). A family member has run one marathon (as far as I know) and a few other little races. I was telling her about how excited I was about the medal (I have a picture posted on my fridge for motivation). She told me that she doesn’t really care about the medals and either gives them to the kids to play with them or throws them away (mine are all displayed on an awesome rack in our stairwell. In chronological order). When I mentioned that the race gives us seven hours to finish so I wasn’t really worried about finishing, she told me how her sister finished her last marathon about and hour and a half later than she anticipated (implying that I wouldn’t finish in less than 8) and then stated that the worst thing that would happen would be that I wouldn’t finish. WHAT? Not finish?! Yeah, I’ll crawl across the finish line before THAT happens!

Unsolicited Advice #4: By Tuesday night I was less than willing to mention the marathon to anyone ever again. I had ordered some running things from a company in Arizona (see picture below. It explains so much) just before we left. She offered to ship it to the resort rather than our house so I could get it and enjoy it sooner. Awesome! When I went to pick up my package from the front desk I opened it to make sure that everything was there. The gentleman at the concierge desk noticed the shirt I ordered and asked if I was a runner. I admitted that I was and my marathon plans. He was actually really nice about it and invited me to come run the Arizona Marathon next year (it’s in February. It’s really hilly. I live in Chicago. We can’t even pretend to train for that). He also told me he knew the nutjob from #2 and that she lost her yoga studio (he said she wasn’t very good at it) along with several other businesses over the past few years. It made me feel a little better.

Marathon weekend will be here before we know it. If I don’t keel over from the stress…or the continual advice!

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Pre-Marathon Panic!

You may or may not know that I am running my first marathon next weekend. I decided over the summer that I was ready, convinced Mr Grumpy (which wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be), and forked over a good amount of money for the privilege of running 26.2 miles. I found a training program I liked, printed it out, figured out my shoe schedule (can’t have them too new or two old for the race), and got to work.

My first several long runs went great. OK. My first 17 was a little rough, but I was getting over a cold. It makes breathing difficult. I got to my 20 miler (the gold standard of marathon prep) and felt a twinge in my left hamstring. Dang! I stopped to stretch around mile 11 and things only felt worse. It was my coldest run to date and was freezing so Mr Grumpy was at the 11.5 mile mark with more clothes. I took a break, stretched some more, and decided to head for home to rest my leg rather than push on.

As someone with a history of injuries while running, I’ve learned to listen to my body. I took a few weeks “off” to focus on shorter runs, stretching, strength work, and resting. I tried some longer runs in between with little success. I finally got back out about a month ago and cranked out 14 decent miles. Hooray! The following week I got through 16 cold, wet miles before I decided to call it a day and head for home. I thought about pushing to the magic 20, but couldn’t feel my face and could wring water out of every piece of clothing I was wearing. My time was good and on pace for where I wanted to be. I felt good. I might be able to do this after all!

The following week we left for vacation. I had a run planned, but between travel, a monster headache, and an achy leg I decided to take the week to hike and participate in other exercise. I did some stretching and enjoyed letting my leg heal a little more.

My in-laws kindly gave me some kind of upper respiratory ick while I saw them on vacation so breathing without running has been a challenge this week. Breathing while running has been a whole different story. I put in 8 on New Year’s Day after taking some cough syrup. With codeine. Not the best plan (I didn’t realize it had codeine in it until it was too late). Let’s just say that has NOT been added to my marathon day strategy.

To make things more crazy I checked the weather for race day. Here I was thinking it would be a comfortable 40-50 degrees in January. In Florida. No such luck. 81! Yikes! Last week it was 10 when I was running. I can’t even imagine what 81 will feel like let alone how to adjust to it! Yikes!

Like I said. Mild first marathon panic going on here today. Luckily Mr Grumpy scheduled us for massages this afternoon and my leg was actually not achy this morning (this may be a first in several months). Stretching and strength work for me again today while I wait for the lungs to catch up. YEAHHH!!!!

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The Love and Hate of Race Photos

So over the past month I’ve run three races where they took pictures. I didn’t even look at the ones from the Run4Pie (mostly because I couldn’t find them on their site). The ones from the Turkey Trot and Santa Hustle made me shake my head in wonder.
Here’s the thing. Race pictures are either amazingly awesome or horrendously awful. For example, the pictures from the Turkey Trot make me look like I am the turkey. I look puffy and miserable. The Santa Hustle pictures make me look slim and athletic. They were only a week apart. I’d love to think I lost that much weight over that week, but it was really only about two pounds. I’d post them for you, but I’m too cheep to pay $40 for permission to share them with you. Sorry!
Here’s the psychology of runners like me. I joke that I have a runner’s mind and a couch potato’s thighs. I don’t have a running body (check out the Jump Around Turkeys post). My weight fluctuates like politician’s views of anything that can impact their chances for re-election. It’s hit or miss what I’m going to look like at any given race. I KNOW this, but while I’m running (on a good running day) I don’t FEEL like this.
On a great running day I feel like a super model. I am thin. I am amazing. I can conquer the world. I actually LOOK FORWARD to my race photos because I want to see what amazing looks like. Sadly, this is not what they capture. I usually look frumpy and like medics should be at least following me if not chasing me down with a stretcher. Sigh.
Honestly, you’d think that race photographers would keep this in mind while they are taking and sharing our pictures. A little photoshop to take out that little roll around the race bib-I’d probably pay for that. Some kind of digital trickery to make me look like I feel-I’d find a little extra money for that. Take a picture from an angle that doesn’t emphasize my weight and age-I’ll totally pay for that!

I have paid for some race pictures. I did from my first race (just for proof that I did it and survived. It’s on the fridge), from the first half marathon where I finished and didn’t think about ibuprofen, ice packs, and chopping my feet off at the ankles (I bought the entire package. The pictures were that good), and from another half where they did a great job of capturing the reason WHY I run (but I was too cheep for the digital prints. Someday I’ll get around to scanning and sharing them. Someday.) I’m not difficult (OK, maybe I’m asking for too much) I just want decent race photos. I’ll even share a good one to prove that I am not a complete race picture snob, but I WON’T be investing in Christmas ornaments with it on them. Just for the record. No matter how thin and awesome I look!

Chicago Half Marathon 9.11.11

Chicago Half Marathon 9.11.11

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Run, Run, Santa!

In what appears to be a tradition of holiday themed runs this year, I participated in the Santa Hustle 5K (or something like that) yesterday. Santa Hustle

If you look really closely, I’m way in the back. To the left. Near the Port-a-Potties. In a Santa suit. What? You can’t find me in the 8,450 Santas that participated? Ridiculous! Honestly, the only way I found the friend I was running with was by her super neon shoes. Without them I would have been walking home (she was my ride)!

It was FANTASTIC for people watching. There was a guy who ran with a cardboard sleigh and convinced eight of his friends to “pull” him as their reindeer! They were tethered together for the entire race. They were quick too. I didn’t even get a picture!

There were also several of these.


And even a few of these.


Mr Grumpy stayed home so I went with my chiropractor and her family. It’s always a good idea to run with someone who can “fix it” when you’re done doing something stupid! They had cookie and candy stations along the course as well as water. While I didn’t grab a cookie at mile one I did grab a cup of M&Ms at mile two. Of course I didn’t EAT them (see my previous post about sweets and running as to why. Yuck.), but I did run the final mile (or so) carrying a cup full of candy!

Santa Hustle or ZZ Top? You be the judge!

Santa Hustle or ZZ Top? You be the judge!

I totally forgot my jingle bells which I had planned on wearing to help get people in the holiday spirit, or get out of my way, which ever worked. Considering how sick I was all week, I’m taking it as a victory that I got there with clothes on!

Over all, other than it being a little short of an actual 5K (which my sickly lungs appreciated) it was a fun run. Oh, yeah, and being beaten be a 93 year old by almost 10 minutes. Other than that; good times!


Next stop? Disney! Stay tuned for crazy details on our first Disney running adventure (in one of Mr Grumpy’s least favorite places on Earth)!

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