Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ruby Slippers

Gina tore through the door on Friday after swim team practice and ripped open her backpack.  She then presented us with - and I quote - "her greatest academic achievement so far!"   She had the Ruby Slippers sticker from her 10th grade Honors Language Arts teacher.  Apparently, very few students hold this distinction.   It was awarded to her for her final research essay on Huckleberry Finn.  I did not read the essay before she turned it in.  I have now, and I have to say that it was really, really good.  She is super proud, and so am I.  That was a lot of hard work.

Abby has been going nuts with her knitting!  I have been doing a lot of reading on gifted kids, and I now understand the importance of her down time.  Academically school is easy for her, but socially it is draining.  This photo is how she has been chilling lately, and I just love it!  We have plans to visit a fancy schmancy knitting shop in Cleveland this week for yarn and cool project ideas.  I'm starting to think this could be an expensive habit, but lately we are getting blessed up one side and down the other so yarn shop here we come!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Quote

Sunday:  2.2 miles treadmill intervals, 30 minutes strength stuff
Monday:  45 minutes yoga, 4.6 miles treadmill intervals
Tuesday:  2.2 miles treadmill intervals
Wednesday:  2.2 miles treadmill intervals
Friday:  6.5 miles treadmill
Saturday:  4 miles outside

....And the snow just keeps piling up!  I am so thankful for my treadmill and my nice finished basement (thank you, Jerry!)  I know it will get old fast, but it sure beats slipping and sliding on the icy paths and climbing through snow drifts.

A couple of months ago I left a comment on the MamaSweat blog.  If you have never visited this blog you should check it out.  The particular blog post was regarding pelvic floor issues.  I know that might sound like a yucky topic for a blog post, but it seemed to light a fire in many a reader, including myself.  I like to think of myself as an incredibly healthy 44-year-old woman, but there are some things that all the healthy living in the world just can't seem to undo:  like what happened to my bladder after two pregnancies.  As each pregnancy drew to an end, my bladder felt like it had the capacity of a raisin.  We have been brainwashed as women to believe that kegel excercises would help.  That was what the blog post was about that I commented on - an anti-kegel sort of thing.

Then I received an email asking if my rather embarrassing comment could be used as a quote in an upcoming book called "Hot (Sweaty) Mamas:  Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom."  I think I laughed until I cried - that would be my luck to finally get something in print, and it is about something so embarrassing I never even told my husband about it.  The book will be out in the spring.  You will have to buy it if you want to know the details, but I am not sure I want you to unless you are a marathon running mommy who might understand what it's like to run for a couple of hours with a somewhat compromised system. 

 Men just have it so easy!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

White as Snow

Sunday:  6 mile run with Jerry
Tuesday:  4.4 mile treadmill intervals
Wednesday:  5 mile run
Friday:  4.4 mile treadmill intervals

Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow....

During a snowy week like we have been having, I have a hard time not thinking of a song we sing a lot at our awesome church.  A snippet of the lyrics are above.  The snow has really been piling up and making the world look fresh and clean.  Not good for outdoor running, but a beautiful reminder that with God's help we can wipe the slate clean and get a fresh start on life.

So it was time to turn to the treadmill.  I actually really like the interval training I can now focus on.  I have iFit workouts from Jillian Michaels that seriously make me huff and puff.  The mileage doesn't look so great on paper but walking along at 5 miles an hour on an 8% incline really gets things going.  I will get outside when I can, but until then I will make the most of the treadmill in the basement.

That's thinking positive, right?  And if you like that sort of thing, check out this list of 75 Ways to Stay Unhappy Forever.  I think I'm going to print it out and hang it in the kitchen.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Still Learning

Monday:  45 minutes yoga, 15 minutes stability ball
Tuesday:  5 mile run
Wednesday:  4 mile run
Friday:  5 mile with Jerry
Saturday:  30 minutes treadmill intervals

Thanksgiving weekend was awesome.  Our menu proved to be fantastic despite noticing at the last minute that it lacked something green.  All the vegetarian dishes were truly yummy and no one complained about not having turkey.  The statistic I heard was that 92% of the population would eat turkey on Thanksgiving. I'm fine being in the 8% that did not.  I'm sure I could find some horrific PETA video to post that would make my point but I will pass.

Gilbert says I want a hat too!

My first scarf - halfway done?
     I am very happy to report that my middle-aged brain can still learn new things!  For the past few weeks Abby has slowly and patiently taught me how to knit!  She took three lessons this summer and then bought a book and watched YouTube videos to perfect her skills.  I am convinced that she is very much an autodidact like her father.  I, on the other hand, often need much instruction to learn something new. My practice piece was a disaster!  Now I am working on a scarf.  She has recently finished her first hat and is now working on fingerless gloves for Gina.  Here are some photos!     Now we have something to do together when she is not in the mood to run with me.  It's not easy for me to sit still, but I'm learning that too.

Tonight is the first swim meet for Gina and her high school team.  The 4:45 am alarm is killing us.  You know its bad when a 5:30 alarm means you get to sleep in.  She is working hard and has adopted a healthy "I don't care" attitude this year.  That might sound bad, but actually it's a good thing.  As I have stated before, these kids put SO much pressure on themselves to perform to other people's expectations.  As a sophomore, she is putting 110% or more into her academics.  Swimming can be for fitness, social fun, and something to write in one of those 12 lines on the college application.  We are not going to the meet tonight.  I am learning to let go.

On Sunday we had a good old-fashioned walk-n-talk.  Just me, the girls and the dog.  We went to Liberty Park and did the loop.  Somehow we got talking about what we think about when we run or swim.  It was a great conversation.  I loved hearing them both describe the mental side of their sport.  I wanted to add my two cents but I wanted more to hear what they had to say.  I'm learning to listen.

I've been reading Traveling Mercies (Some Thoughts on Faith) by Anne Lamott.  She has been on my list of authors to check out for a very long time.  I am so glad I have finally read one of her books.  Here is a quote from the section I read last night before bed:   Courage is fear that has said its prayers.  I really liked that.  I guess I'm still learning a lot about faith, too.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving sans Turkey

Monday:  45 minutes yoga
Tuesday:  5 mile run
Wednesday:  4 mile run, 45 minutes yoga
Friday:  8 mile run
Saturday:  5 mile run, long walk with Abby and Mia

This will be our first Thanksgiving without a turkey on the table.  To be honest, I am kind of disappointed because roasting a turkey slathered in olive oil and smothered in herbs was one of my favorite cooking activities.  Jerry will miss the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven all morning for sure, but we are looking forward to the many other delicious dishes on our menu. Here is the official menu:

Sweet Potato Casserole with Gingersnap Streusel
Killer Cranberry Sauce
Warm Wheat Berry Salad with Dried Fruit
Aunt Raffy's Stuffing (from Giada's Everyday Italian) minus the sausage
Mashed Potatoes
Deviled Eggs
Italian Cream Cake

In the evening I am planning to make Hot and Sour Thai Tofu Soup to change it up a bit!

Thanksgiving has become a traditional day of rest for us.  There will be parade watching, followed by the dog show and maybe a movie or two.  If my memory serves me correctly there will most likely be a run for Jerry and I and/or a long walk with the girls.  At some point we will work in a good, long conversation about being thankful which is something I have been feeling a lot of lately.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fresh Air

Monday:  8 mile run
Wednesday:  5 mile run
Thursday:  4 mile run with Abby
Friday:  30 minutes yoga
Sunday:  5 mile run
Monday:  20 minutes stability ball
Tuesday:  4 mile run with Abby
Wednesday:  hike with Jerry, 30 minutes stability ball
Thursday:  5 mile run
Friday:  4 mile run
Saturday:  5 mile run

I've been trying to maintain some basic level of running while not letting too much fitness slip away.  Weekly totals for the past two weeks were 17 and 23.  Abby also got back to running and it was great to share a couple of runs with her.  We ventured over to the Buckeye Trail and were surprised to see some residual snow mixed in with some very sloppy mud.  The sun was shining that day, and all the yellow leaves on the trail lit up by the sun with Abby running out ahead of me made for a really spectacular memory.

Saturday brought the annual Twinsburg 5-mile Turkey Trot.  Abby and I did this race last year and she whooped me by a mere 30 seconds or so.  This year several of her cross country friends decided to run and  I graciously opted out of the fun.  Some one has to cheer, right?!  It was a beautiful day and they all did really well!  Abby finished in 40.03 and was most happy about passing a few of the high school girls along the way.  Here she is (in purple) with her peeps at the finish line.

Gina has officially started the high school swim season.  It is the typical grueling schedule but not too many 5:30 am workouts this year.  In lieu, the coach has added a few Saturday mornings and, of course, the 4-hour workouts through the holiday break.  There have already been some teary discussions about how to manage it all and whether or not it will be a good year.  Academics first.  Always.

Jerry was able to take Wednesday off work and we enjoyed a great day together - a sort of late celebration of our 19th anniversary in August.  Over the years we have perfected the ultimate cheap date and I would not have it any other way.  We packed a healthy mostly whole food picnic and a thermos of coffee and then headed to the Valley for a few hours of outdoor fun.  We hiked from Kendall Lake to Ledges and then drove over to beautiful Pine Hollow for our picnic.  It was really nice to spend some time together discussing the past, present and future.  Crazy years ahead of us, but we have made it this far, and I have no doubt we are going to go the distance! 

One more photo to share of Gina and Abby as they left for school the other morning.  I really thought it was a great everyday shot of them looking happy and ready for a day of school.  I can't believe how fast the years fly by.  The three of us took a really nice walk yesterday with Mia while Jerry finished up his run and some things around the house.  We seem to have some of our best talks when we are out in the fresh air and moving along the earth.  Ever since they were tiny babies I have tried for at least a few minutes of fresh air every single day to clear out the lungs and brain.  I really think it makes a difference.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Something Beautiful

I am loving this song lately and have finally figured out how to share videos!  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Sunday:  26.2 mile run
Friday:  5 mile walk/limp/run
Monday:  1 hour yoga, 5 mile run
Wednesday:  20 min exercise ball, 5 mile run
Friday:  1 hour yoga, 4 mile run

Recovery from Columbus Marathon has gone pretty well.  I have the usual twingy right ankle and sore toes.  There is still one questionable toe nail but it seems to be healing.  I also have some tightness in my left IT band that I am not so happy about. I really just want that to go away.  I'm going to have to work on that in order to avoid a serious issue brewing in the future.  Physically things are pretty normal.

Emotionally I am very content.  No beating myself up because I did not go under 4 hours or get a BQ time.  It's really just fine.  I am probably more psyched about running now than I have been in a long time.  Running just for the sake of running.  I've had to break out the cold weather running clothes.  This morning it was very cold with a heavy frost, BUT the sun was shining and I knew it would be a great run.  Thoughts were swirling in my brain; they bubbled up one by one and I just kept dealing with each thought the same way:  it's okay, God is in control, I am content right now right where I am with what I have. 

I've spent some time browsing at spring marathon choices.  There are some interesting options.  We'll see what winter brings.

In general, the family fitness seems to be in a little bit of a funk.  We eeked out a nice walk/hike locally on Sunday.  Some of us were a little grumpy so it was not the best, but as always the fresh air was helpful and I think everyone felt a little better when we returned home.  Any remaining grumpies were banished by the amazing time we had working together in the kitchen to make Chile Rellenos.  Gina had found the recipe in one of our vegetarian magazines.  Wow was that ever a project but so worth it! Muy delicioso!

 I don't think I mentioned in my blog that Abby was able to break 14 minutes in the middle school cross country 2-mile race.  It was sheer awesomeness.  The girls team went on to win the NOC division for the first time ever.  Amazing group of runners this year and so fun to watch. Here is a tiny clip I took during one of their meets.  It's not great but I love the sound of people cheering for these kids.  Something about it makes the joy pour right out of my eyes.   Abby is the sixth runner in blue and white!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Goodbye, Columbus

Goodbye, Columbus is the title of a great short story by Philip Roth.  I read it at some point during college and then again a few years ago.  I really loved the feel of the story - young love that grows and fades.  I think it popped into my mind again this weekend because everything about Columbus Marathon seemed a bit different to me.  I was not nearly as enthused as I have been in the past and my training was certainly not up to par. Although I originally set out saying that I would like to do 10 consecutive Columbus marathons I am now thinking that it might be time to say Goodbye.  Fifteen thousand runners : 10 in the half and 5 in the full. 

The BAD:  Crazy traffic getting into the expo, nothing spectacular (and no chocolate milk!) at the expo, poor sleep at the hotel, more crazy traffic getting to the start, and a humongous CROWD at the start.  We usually have had time to enjoy the band and hang out for awhile but this year I did not even use a port-a-pot.  Just jammed my way into the corral with about 15 minutes to spare. 

The GOOD:  Fireworks at the start, fabulous entertainment and spectators as always, superb weather,  I did not walk and I did not cry.

Here are the splits: 
10K @ 56.02
13.1 miles @ 1:58.54
20 miles @ 3:03.33
Finish Line @ 4:01.59
The old dog paw sign from San Diego!  Makes spotting my peeps real easy!

My finishing time was exactly where I expected it to be.  I have never been so worked up about a race before.  I know how hard I have worked for my 3 sub-four hour finishes and I knew that mentally I was not up for the beating this year.  I also put a lot of thought into the message I am sending to my daughters.  They really struggle with putting undue pressure on themselves to perform in school and sports.  I swear I do not know where they got that from!  Jerry?  I realized before the race that I was talking nonstop about whether I could go under 4 hours.  I was being negative and incredibly hard on myself.  This is not the pattern I want to set up for my girls.   They both sort of gave it to me on Saturday with a verbal scolding.  I took their words to heart and incredibly felt the four-hour monkey melt away during the race.  With every mile I became more determined to have a great day and stay positive.  I knew from the splits that I was a couple of minutes off pace and made a cognizant decision to not give a rat's behind (as my momma would say!) and just stay the course.  Instead I focused on not walking and not crying.  I don't care how many marathons a person does - it hurts like HECK and there is NOTHING easy about it.   I may never get to Boston but I am okay with that too.  Truth be told if I did qualify I would have to make the difficult decision of whether or not it would be worth the money to sign up and take the family there.  I can think of a lot of other places we would like to go.  Not to mention that this morning there are a lot of sad runner faces who got shut out of Boston registration.  Not me though, I'm still smiling!

The results summary is really great this year.  It indicates that during the last six miles I passed a total of 255 people and only 10 people passed me!  I really really love that!

Quick bottle exchange at mile 20!

Just after mile 26.  Happy moms make happy kids!

Marathon #10 complete!  They still love me!
I am really looking forward to choosing my next race.  Maybe I can stop obsessing over colleges for Gina and start researching race venues.  Or maybe I can combine a race with a college visit!  Hey kids now that would be fun!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ten Days Till Columbus

My tenth marathon is now ten days away!  This afternoon I headed out for a nice 4 miler down the bike path.  Apparently I was not the only one in need of some fresh air and sunshine.  I saw at least six snakes, a big old toad and a tiny turtle.  The past few days of cool, rainy weather seemed a cruel hint of what is to come.  It's hard to believe that winter could be just around the corner.

But first I have to make sure that marathon #10 goes down in the books.  To be honest, I don't really have any huge expectations for the day.  There are a few things I am really looking forward to:  the awesome excitement at the start of this marathon, the great entertainment during the first half of the course, the Ohio National Guard band on High Street, the super friendly faces (especially my 3 peeps) all along the course, and definitely the downhill to the FINISH LINE!  I am trying not to think about the things I am not looking forward to:  being super cold at the start, the constant mental battle of what lies ahead, the lonely feeling of the second half when more than half the crowd turns to finish the half marathon, my legs turning to mush, my feet feeling like they were run over by a truck, the lump in my stomach and throat for last 5K, the sound of the pace group coming up behind me, not being able to pee for four hours!

You would think by now I know the drill, but the element of the unknown can be overwhelming.  I know that I will get to the start with the plan to just let the day unfold.  I don't know what else I could possibly do.  I will take with me my mental arsenal of positive thoughts and inspiring images of family and friends.  I will think of Jerry and how amazing it is that he can run a 100 mile race.  I will think of Abby and how she plows and pukes her way through middle school cross country.  I will remember Gina and the thousands of miles she has put into swimming and how good it makes her feel.  I will think of my mom and my dad for reasons too numerous to count.  My sister and her victory over breast cancer.  My sister-in-law who was supposed to be running with me but was injured.  My friend Veronica who kicked Boston in the butt this year as her mom was fighting in a hospital for every breath.  My friends JP and Maria who will be running the half marathon and hopefully loving every minute of it.  And many many more faces will pop into my head throughout the day and I will cherish the thought of each one.  Who knows, with any luck I just might make some new friends along the way.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Taper Time!

Sunday:  5 miles
Monday:  20 miles
Wednesday:  4 miles
Friday:  8 miles
Saturday:  4 miles
Monday:  10 miles
Tuesday:  5 miles
Wednesday:  5 miles
Friday:  20 miles

Two Week Total:  76 miles

The second 20-miler was another Tour de Twinsburg on a very warm day.  I was out for 3:17 which is well over marathon pace but I am not going to freak out. Did you hear that?  Not. Freaking. Out.   It was super warm and I struggled with a very negative internal voice.  Thus, the run became more of a mental training session despite fried legs and sore feet.  No matter how you slice a marathon there will always be a rough patch.  Typically this will fall in the last 6 miles but I fell apart once at mile 11 (Charlottesville Marathon) and once at mile 15 (San Diego).  You better know how to silence your brain if you have to gut out 2 or 3 hours of agony in the second half of a marathon!

So now it's taper time.  I am not working much so it should be a productive couple of weeks.  At least, that's what I'm telling myself.  Time to bring back the yoga that has been sadly missing in my life.  I also want to revisit my 5-lb weights and get some strength back.

Abby has improved her 2-mile cross country time to 14:17!  This weekend is the big Woodridge Meet at Pine Hollow (also known locally as the Sound of Music hill).  It will not be a fast time but that place is truly magical and I hope she has a great day. 

Gina is swim, swim, swimming and realizing that high school swim season is just around the corner.  We are not looking forward to the oh-dark-thirty alarm for the 5:30am swim practice. 

Fall seems to have safely arrived after all that scorching heat of September.  I wish it would last until April!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Twenty Mile Tour de Twinsburg

Monday:  5 miles
Wednesday:  5 miles
Friday:  13 miles
Sunday:  3.5 miles with Abby
Monday:  8 miles
Wednesday:  4 miles
Thursday:  5 miles
Saturday:  8 miles

From the above record it does not appear that I am doing much training for the upcoming Columbus Marathon, but it is slowly filling in little by little.  The week before last was insane with lots of work, two school open houses, our 19th wedding anniversary and Abby's 13th birthday.  Oh yeah, we also went to NY and visited my family over Labor Day. 

The Friday night 13 miler was ridiculous and we can leave it at that.  This morning I did my first 20-miler and I am fairly pleased with how it went.  It's never easy.  That's why it's called a training run.  Today I toured my lovely little community for a bit over three hours.  Down the bike path, past the schools, uphill to the garden and then up, up, up the Old Hickory Trail until my turn around point at 5 miles where I turn around and head for home.  I don't mind stopping at home once but that's about the limit.  It gives me a chance to fill up bottles and use the bathroom before heading out for another 10-mile loop.  The weather was perfect this morning and I am so grateful for that.  Now I can check that off the training schedule.  I will do another 12 or 13 miler next weekend and then another 20 after that.  Then it's taper time!  WooHoo!  I am vacillating between wanting to do really well at Columbus (sub-4 hours) and just running to celebrate my 10th marathon.

Abby is doing really well with middle school cross country.  The first two dual meets were on days where the temperature was over 90 degrees.  She really struggled but who wouldn't.  Here is a photo of her at the meet in Cuyahoga Falls.  That day she finished at about 16 minutes. The tears were flowing in between her gagging episodes.  However, this Saturday she ran in Brecksville with much cooler temps and cruised her way to a 14.23 finish.  That's a PR for her so she was super happy.  Most of the other girls are soccer players and have lots of running and endurance under their belts.  Next year they will all most likely go back to soccer which is good for Abby but not for the team.  In typical Denise fashion, I guess I really don't get the big deal about soccer.  I was never good at ball games, so its no surprise that I have a swimmer and a runner!  I can't imagine anything worse than playing a game where I have to chase after a ball.  The other thing is that I always try to promote life long fitness. I may be guilty of somehow persuading the girls to try sports that they could continue as adults.  I see lots of adults running and swimming.  I don't see too many playing soccer - usually just sitting on the sidelines screaming at their kids.  But I digress....................

Jerry is in China.  My mommy is coming to hang with me this week.  I'm really looking forward to some down time!  I think I can turn her into a vegetarian yet!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Morning People

Sunday:  5 mile run
Monday:  4 mile run
Wednesday:  8 mile run
Saturday:  18 mile run

Total:  35 miles!

I have not been blogging much because I have been working more than usual, getting the girls adjusted to being back at school, dealing with a sick dog, and trying to keep up the training for Columbus Marathon.  Whew!  The running has been really erratic.  In lieu of the usual morning run, I have had to squeeze in running in the late afternoon or evening.  My body does not like that.  I feel sluggish and it is soooooooo hot then.  The biggest reason I don't like running in the afternoon/evening is that people are crabby.  Really crabby.  No eye contact, no friendly smiles, no cheerful banter.  Just crabby, crabby, crabby. 

Today was wonderful though!  I was able to get out and running by 8 am.  It was so nice and cool.  I even had some goosebumps going!  I did two 9-mile loops from our house.  All my old morning peeps were out on the path and it was like old homeday.  Gosh, I missed those smiling morning faces.  One of the morning regular walkers noticed I had my fuel-belt on and gave a cheer as I passed him for the second time.  I saw another couple that I have seen regularly since I started running marathons and we exchanged hellos and where-have-you-been's.  I chatted with a man who had his 6-month old golden retriever off leash on the trail section.  It was such fun that I hated to see the 18 miles pass by so quickly.  Truth be told I was terrified that I would not make it through today's run, but it was pure joy.  I was smiling all day.

In terms of family fitness it is pretty much status quo.  Abby is in cross country mode and has her first meet on Tuesday.  Go Tigers!  It is looking like a nice strong girls team this year and that is exciting.  She has a goal time of under 14 minutes for the 2 mile race.  I think she will reach that with no problem if it ever cools down.  Gina is on break from swim team and anxious to start up again.  Her exercise is mainly coming from marching band lately - sweating away in the mid-day sun for an hour or so every afternoon.  I think that's work.  Jerry is running a few times a week.  Nothing major.  His recovery from BR100 has gone well and he is also anxious to start up again although no races have been set.

Vegetarian diet status is also being maintained and quite well at that.  I recently read that only 3% of Americans claim to be vegetarians.  Wow!  We watched Food, Inc a couple of weeks ago and that just solidified the decision to not eat meat.  The girls pack their lunches everyday for school and we are learning a few more ways to expand our food plans.  The only downside I have discovered is not being able to fry eggs in bacon grease!  I really miss that.......

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Burning River 100 Support Report

Jerry had a great day and surpassed his main goal of running 100 miles in less than 24 hours.  His race report and several photos can be found here!

I wanted to take a few moments and write how the race went down from the perspective of his race crew which consisted of myself, Gina and Abby.  Together we are typically a hormonal mess of peri-menopause and teenage angst and I don't know how Jerry puts up with us most of the time; however, we held it together for race day and did our very best to support him.

The first thing we did was decide on Thursday to not actually go to the starting line with him on Saturday morning at 3 am.  This was a very rude thing to do, but he managed to secure a seat on the shuttle bus.  We made the decision so that we could be at our very best during the night when he would need us to be in good form.  The change in plan allowed us to sleep till 6am and then we loaded up the Subaru and headed towards South Chagrin Metropark.

We bought a few supplies at Walgreen and then landed at a little parking area we are familiar with on the road heading down into Sulphur Springs.  This is a Williamson Family favorite where we have spent a tremendous amount of time.  It was great to hang out in the cool morning air and watch the runners go by.  Gina and Abby did some balance work on the fence rail!  Jerry went by and asked us to bring him a bandana and "the Stick" from home.    The girls were really a great help.  One of their main jobs was to help me remember things like that.  They also recorded his times in and out of aid stations, controlled the ipod in the car, texted and checked voicemails from my phone when I could not, and most importantly they helped me navigate and stay focused.  They are really wonderful girls and I love being around them!

From there we meandered our way to Shadow Lake and then on to a surprise stop at Bridal Veil Falls.  Jerry did not know we would be there but this is also a favorite family spot. It was not an official aid station so we just wanted to pop in and say hi.  We stayed in the car a bit so Gina could read another chapter of The Scarlet Letter and Abby worked on a bracelet.  When we made our way down to the waterfall we were completely shocked to see Jerry immediately come down the trail!  Whew  - that was close....we almost missed him!  He was really trucking along and I was so glad we had reworked the pace chart to include the faster pace times.

It was now nearing lunch and I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to get from Bridal Veil Falls to Station Road via the Pulp Smoothie shop in Macedonia!  It is a traditional pit stop for the girls and I and it just wouldn't be BR100 without it.  We figured it out and it was awesome vegetarian goodness.  On to Station Road where we set up a chair and a blanket and hauled the shoe boxes full of Jerry's supplies into the open sunny space.  The place was pretty packed and we had a good chat with some of JPs crew.  We were barely finished with lunch when Jerry came running in.  He was right on a 21-hr pace and it was sort of freaking us all out.  It seemed way too fast and I was hoping he would not crash and burn.  As a family we have all been trying to step it up a bit this year - try running a bit faster, harder, push a bit more, go outside the comfort zone.  Jerry had clearly stated his goals but a 21 or 22 hour finish was NOT part of this plan!  Regardless, we fueled him up, changed his shoes and sent him over the train tracks to be on his way.  His attitude was completely different this year - I kept looking at the girls and saying, "Dad's got his game face on today, I don't know what's happening."  He was soooooooo serious.  We went home after Station Road for a quick refresh.

The car had become a mess so I spent a few moments reorganizing the shoe boxes of supplies for each aid station.  We made plans to pick up the first pacer, Andy, at 2:20pm at Pine Hollow so that left very little time to actually be at home.  Our golden retriever was acting sick and it took a fair amount of time to get her out to do her thing.  Before we knew it, it was time to get back in the car and head out again.

We picked up Andy and headed to Boston Store.  It was wall-to-wall with people and cars and I could only hope for a decent parking place.  We ended up along Stanford Rd which was great.  By now it was about 3:00 pm and the sun was out.  The heat in combination with the large amount of people was wearing me down quickly.  Jerry finally had slowed down a bit and did not arrive till about 3:40.  He made a quick pass through the aid station and set off for the loop.  We moved everything over by the car and continued waiting.  I was ready to order pizza and leave Boston Store!

I had planned ahead and brought the number for Winking Lizard.  All we had to do was find a parking place in Peninsula on a Saturday evening at 6pm. That didn't take terribly long and we made our way to Happy Days.  Happy Days parking lot was jam-packed.  The theme of finding a place to park was starting to become a familiar one. A spot opened up and that was all I needed to start a big sermon about how God cares for us and will help us through anything!  The girls are used to this sort of digression so they politely listened, prayed with me and then we ate our pizza in the quiet of the evening.

Jerry and Andy came cruising through the aid station and we met them with the shoe box of stuff.  Again, Jerry was in and out and still very serious.  We packed up our things and set off for BP where we needed some more water and ice to get us through the night.  I also picked up a much needed cup of coffee.

From there it was on to Pine Hollow - really one of the greatest places in Northeast Ohio.  We had plans to meet our neighbors there and also the second pacer, Mike and his family.  We were a big crew by then with lots of cute little kids, glow sticks, and marshmallows.  It was super fun.  It really helped break up the anxiety and exhaustion that was setting in.  One of the things I love the most is the thought of how natural this sort of thing is to our family.  Since Gina and Abby have grown up going to these sorts of race venues and long days, they really can kick it in and make a great day when other kids might be grumbling about being away from the computer, TV or their friends.  We always find some fun activity to do.  Nothing will ever beat the pinecone and stick baseball game at Mohican but pony rides may be a new close second.

After Jerry passed through and changed his shoes and refilled his bottles,  it was time to say good-bye to Andy and our friends and head off into the dark of night for Covered Bridge.  My navigation skills were spiraling downward and it was quite an adventure getting there!  We did, however, arrive only to find another parking lot completely full.  Argh!  It was nearing 11pm and I really wanted to snooze, but not while parked along Everett Rd in complete darkness.  Eventually a spot opened and we wheeled the Subaru in, reclined the seats, set an alarm for 1 hour and enjoyed the absolute stillness of the night.

Soon enough the alarm sounded and we gathered our chair and boxes and headed for the bridge.  It's quite a sight and I was excited for the girls to finally see it.  Abby first had to face her demons though:  she has had a rough time at Covered Bridge!  A bizarre rash last summer after we hiked there, a puke-fest during Jim Klett 10K, the memory of my accidental step into dog poop during the Run with Scissors last fall.  We barely made it past the port-a-pot and I heard her gagging.  Poor girl.  She said the smell of runners, port-a-pot, and all those memories was getting to her.

Jerry and Mike had slowed but they were doing just fine and set off for the Perkins Trail loop very quickly.  This was starting to bum me out a bit!  We were waiting and waiting all day and night and then whoosh....he would run in and leave so quickly!  But I kept telling myself, the faster he gets in and out of these aid stations, the faster we are headed to the finish line.  Upon returning from the loop, he announced he really had to use the bathroom.  The girls and I rolled our eyes.  The clock was ticking now and I made my infamous statement upon his return that he was eight minutes off the 24 hour pace time.

Getting to Merriman aid station was another navigational failure.  Thanks to G & A for getting me out of that mess too!  Same thing here:  we pulled in, reclined the seats, set the alarm for about 1 hour and proceeded to snooze.  By this point I barely wanted to leave the car, but I pried open my eyes to watch for Jerry and Mike.  I heard them before I saw them and jumped out of the car.  I ran with them to the aid station and once again, Jerry had one thing on his mind:  get in and out as fast as possible.  I returned to the car where Gina and Abby remained sleeping!  I felt bad waking them up but it was time to go to the finish line and they had to buckle up for safety!

We arrived in the parking garage about 3:30 and I set the alarm for 4:15.  It was not restful at all, but we could hear the announcer calling people in as they finished down below.  We gathered our things and set up chairs.  According to the current pace he was keeping he would finish very close to 5 am but something told me I better get down there "just in case."  Good thing we did because at 4:30 we caught our first glimpse and soon enough he came through the finish - still looking serious, game face on but with a hint of a smile!

We are all so very proud of him and happy to have been part of the whole thing.  The life lessons that can be learned by spending a weekend as part of an ultrarunning event are too numerous to count.  I wish I had time to speak to every runner and find out their story.  It's an amazing community.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Monastra 5K

I've stated many times how much I love the annual Monastra 5K Refuse to Lose race in Hudson, OH.  Saturday marked the 9th installment of that race.  I have run all nine.  Each year I love it more and more.  I love how the family gets up and tells the story of their Dad who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1992 and died 4 weeks later.  I love that 80% of the proceeds go directly to a lab at Johns Hopkins that is focused on finding out more about this disease.  The lead researcher actually speaks briefly at the race.  I think that's really great.  The course is nice and this year they even had crates of fresh fruit at the finish line.

With temps nearing 90 degrees by the 9am start, this was not to be a day for racing hard.  Not that I do much hardcore racing, but under the right conditions I am not afraid to give it my all.  Today I would focus on staying with Abby for as long as possible.  I was worried about her and the heat.

We always enjoy watching the 1-mile kids race that is before the 5K.  We stood along the side and cheered for all the little kiddoes as they neared the finish.  By far the sweetest thing we saw was a little girl about 4 years old running with her mom.  The little girl was clutching her stuffed cow under her arm and it just brought back so many memories of Gina and Abby and their love of stuffed animals.  Anyone who has known me for a long time knows that I also have a thing for stuffed animals and carted my beloved Norman with me for years.  Norman accompanied me on any trip I ever went on for a very, very long time!  I've never run a marathon with him tucked under my arm though, but seeing that little girl actually caused the tears to roll down my face. 

Anyways, the race was great.  Abby and I stuck together.  First mile at 9:30.  Second mile at 9:19.  I then gave her all control and told her if she wanted to go for it that now was the time.  We rolled on out and started passing people.  Up ahead we saw a girl that was presumably the same age as Abby.  Without saying a word we closed the gap and ran by single file.  I did my train whistle thingy in my head and just kept encouraging Abby.  We made the last corner and she pulled away and I let her go.  She finished about 8 seconds ahead of me and by the time I got there she was doubled over and dry heaving.  The last mile for me was 8:05 so we really negative split nicely.  According to Abby, it was the frying sausage from the Hudson Farmer's Market that did her in.

We sat for a long time in the grass with Jerry and Gina.  A long time passed and then there was an enormous eruption of cheering and applause as the last participant crossed the line.  We had seen him before the race and let's just say he was quite elderly. He was dressed in old school running gear complete with khaki shorts and a belt.  The back of his t-shirt said 2700 road races and I have no doubt that he actually completed them all.  The crowd gave him the equivalent of a standing ovation.  Another teary moment for me as I tried to grasp the beauty of the running community - from the little girl clutching her stuffed animal in the 1-mile race to the elderly man finishing the 5K at 52 minutes.  I love being part of that camaraderie.  As Linus would say, "That's what fitness is all about, Charlie Brown."

 Abby ended up first in her age group and I was third in mine.  Not bad for a Saturday morning.

Sunday rolled around and I managed my 14 mile run before church.  Jerry joined me for the first lap and it was great to run together and chat about Burning River 100 next weekend.  I even tried his chia seed gel and I must say it is quite good.  The second lap was lonely and I went completely and totally inside my head.  So much that at one point I could not remember if I had run the loop correctly.  But then I remembered that I had dropped my fuel belt by the highschool while trying to loop my visor through it.  I had definitely covered my course but I must have been really in the zone. 

Now the big week leading up to the racing highlight of the summer.  The girls and I have a pretty good plan for the day and Jerry is working through all the what ifs in his head.  If all goes well he will have a finish time of less than 24 hours.  We can't wait to get this thing going!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Too Darn Hot

Sunday:  10 mile run
Monday:  4 mile run
Tuesday:  5 mile run
Friday:  4 mile run
Saturday:  12 mile run

Total:  35 miles

Too Darn Hot!  Love that song from Kiss Me Kate and it really sums up the weather we have been having.  The only way to conquer the heat is to get up and run as early in the day as possible, but honestly lately it is hot and humid then too.  Take Friday morning:  dragged myself out before 6 am and was out the door within 15 minutes, the air felt hot and spongy.  First mile took over 10 minutes and to add insult to injury it started to sprinkle.  Then it started to pour.  Then I saw lightning.  By the time I returned home I was soaked but somehow still in a sleepy stupor! 

I am totally looking forward to the Joseph Monastra Refuse to Lose 5K this saturday in Hudson.  Abby and I have discussed our plan.  We probably will not run together for this race.  I think it will be a good pacing experience for her.  My mother's guilt may creep into the day.  I still feel bad about the Jim Klett 10K.  I kind of want to "keep an eye on her" in case her stomach talks back again, but I would be making the assumption that I could somehow keep her in sight.  It will be an interesting day for sure! 

I worked everyday this week so I had to really think through the meals.  Sunday was our picnic at Blossom.  We used a gift card from Giant Eagle and loaded up last minute on cheese, bread, fruit, pie, hummus, etc.  Monday we did a quick and easy pasta salad.  Tuesday was meatless chicken patty sandwiches and baked veggies.  Wednesday we had another quick and easy dinner of mexican casserole.  Thursday was potato skins and an after dinner trip to DQ!  Friday I redeemd myself with the labor-intensive Indonesian Pilaf.  Saturday we returned to Blossom but made our own food:  ciabatta rolls with avocado, sprouts, cheese, tomato and russian dressing; strawberries, chips, asian coleslaw and brownies for dessert.  Another awesome night under the stars with the Cleveland Orchestra!  My favorite summer activity in Cleveland!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hi Ho Hi Ho.....

My client had her baby so now it's back to work I go!  I really enjoyed having June to regroup, although it was extremely stressful being on call 24/7.  After returning home on Sunday, I did my 11-mile run sans cell phone.  That in and of itself was wonderful.  The extreme heat and sunshine also felt really good for some reason.  Maybe something to do with the birth of a new baby and the awesomeness of that beautiful event.  From there we headed to Blossom Music Center for a night outside listening to the Cleveland Orchestra.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

So now my schedule returns to being hectic for a few weeks.  Squeezing in runs will be tricky but I'm not afraid.  I have officially signed up for my 5th Columbus Marathon which will be held on October 17.  WooHoo!  Last week's long run of 11 miles will gradually build over the next couple of months.  I will try to follow Hal Higdon's Intermediate program which will include 5 days of running each week.

In the short-term, Abby and I are registered for the 9th Annual Refuse to Lose 5K race held in Hudson.  I have done the race every year since it's inception.  I absolutely love it.  Anyone interested in walking or running in this great event can find out more at www.hermescleveland.com .  

Jerry is in full taper mode for Burning River 100.  It's time to start all of our logistic conversations and planning.  The girls and I are really looking forward to helping him have a great day!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Monday:  4 mile run
Tuesday:  5 mile run
Wednesday:  3.5 "speed workout" with Abby
Thursday:   5 mile run
Friday:  1 hr yoga, 6 mile run with Abby and Jerry (who had already run 25 miles in the morning!)

Total Running Miles:  23.5

Seems like every year I arrive at the 4th of July in desperate need of a nap!  All day I have been thinking that I should go lie down, but I know that it will not happen.  Coffee is brewing as we speak and it is destined to be another late night with fireworks and good times.

My one hour of yoga this week was heavenly and left me super sore.  The class was called "Peaceful Living Through Breathing" from Yoga Today  and it was just perfect.  I have neglected my yoga but for good reason.  My church had a schedule for reading through the New Testament in May and June and I decided that I would once again attempt this challenge.  The only way for me to add something that is going to take a good half hour a day is to get rid of something else.  I took a break from yoga so I could start my day with some reading time.  If I could have done both at the same time I certainly would have, but I could not.  It was a good decision.  

The meal plan was somewhat interesting this week.  Sunday we were so excited to try some new vegetarian hot dogs and sausage that Abby and I located while shopping at the Mustard Seed.  We had high hopes but we were somewhat disappointed in the result.  While the hot dogs were somewhat edible, the sausage which was made from eggplant and other vegetables really did not go down so well.  Poor Jerry once again ended up with way too many lunches from this failed attempt.  Tuesday we picked it back up with a great pasta served with lots of fresh herbs and parmesan cheese.  Wednesday we made wraps with avocados, cream cheese and sundried tomatoes served with zucchini fries.  That meal was deeeelish!  Thursday was simply huevos rancheros (eggs with rice and hot sauce).  Friday we went to Blossom Music Center with a big bag of take out from Panera Bread and fresh cherries, Santa Cruz Lemonade and chianti.  Saturday we returned to the grill with soy burgers served with potato wedges and bean salad.  Much better!  Much much better!

Anyone going to be in Columbus on July 10?  I can't but I wish I could.  There will be an event called Run Fest at Frog Bear in the Arena District.  Its free and family-friendly.  Food, drinks, music, giveaways and the unveiling of the new Columbus Marathon logo.  I wish I could be there - I really love Columbus Marathon!  To see their facebook page go to:  http://bit.ly/9FwUUO. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Speed Workout with Sheila

Abby and I had a great little run planned for this afternoon.  She was somewhat sluggish from a sleepover last night and I only had a 3 or 4 mile run on the schedule.  We decided to head to Liberty Park and run a loop through the woods.

Upon starting our run, we noticed five or six older folks positioned at various locations along the outer loop of the park.  They had binoculars and were staring intently up at the very lovely blue sky.  This sort of thing makes me nervous though......what are they watching for?  Is a meteor about to tumble from the sky and bonk me on the head?  Abby thought maybe she remembered Jerry saying there is a bald eagle nest in the park.  I had no recollection of that, but I tend to believe whatever she says.  Her brain is 30 years younger and much sharper than mine.

As we passed one of the women standing watch at her position, I asked what she was looking for?  She lowered her binoculars and flatly said, "hawks."  OK. Fine. I'm cool with hawks.  Red-winged blackbirds not so much, but hawks are okay.

A little further ahead was yet another man standing at the entrance to the trail we wanted to run on.  This guy was serious about his hawk watching.  He even had a megaphone thingy that apparently was equipped to squawk like a hawk (cute, huh?) by pressing a button or something.  As Abby and I approached, he starting making it squawk like crazy and then he started walking really fast down the trail and holding the megaphone thingy towards the ground.  Abby and I stopped and tried to figure out what was going on.  Hawks are usually in the sky. He was looking in the wrong place.

Then we saw that he was chasing a 5 or 6 ft black rat snake down the trail.  His friends all started running towards us.  Abby started formulating alternate routes knowing that I really really really do not like snakes, especially big black ones like that! That thing was huge!

Then Abby said, "Hey I think that's Shelia!"  We remembered that the city naturalist who helped in her 5th and 6th grade classroom often spoke very highly about his snake friend, Sheila.  He even brought Sheila's shed skin into the classroom and stapled it onto the wall.  Sheila was not just a snake, she was his friend and would often visit his little office in the Old Stone House located at the other end of the park. 

At this point, the hawk observers asked if we would like to see the snake also.  I replied that I would prefer to NOT see the snake but we would head down the trail anyways.  Hence the title of this blog - I don't think I have ever run that fast!  We were laughing and squealing all the way down the trail just thinking about Sheila chasing us! I charged up those hills, through the stream and over the roots and rocks like never before.

So now I'm wondering if I can somehow turn this into a new type of workout.  Buy my new workout program for $19.95 and we'll include a real rubber snake at no extra charge.  That's right a REAL rubber snake.  You just need someone to hide in the trees and toss it out at you as you run by!

And by the way, if my husband or daughters try this I will make their lives miserable for a long, long time!  I would not appreciate that at all.....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Week in Review 6/20/10 - 6/26/10

 Monday:  6 mile run
Tuesday:  30 minutes yoga, 4 mile run with fartleks
Wednesday:  5 mile run
Friday:  9 mile run  (soooooo hot)
Saturday:  2 mile time trial with Abby

Total Running Miles:  26

Abby and I recovered from our 10K race and on Sunday I drove Gina and her friend to a swim camp at Kenyon College.  I drove back on Thursday to pick them up.  They learned a ton and made some great friends and connections.  As a nonswimmer, it is really interesting to listen to the terms and comments.  Gina talked a lot about the suggestions that were made to her to improve her strokes.  To be honest I hardly understood a word she said, but I could sincerely tell that the camp made an impact on her life.  She also really enjoyed the Kenyon campus so if anyone would like to contribute to her college education please send your checks my way! 

Training for Columbus Marathon officially commenced this week.  I will try to follow Hal Higdon's Intermediate Training Schedule with 5 days of running per week.  My plan is to make each run count!  I WILL try to incorporate some speed work, I promise!  On Saturday, Abby and I did a run we like to call the Army 2-miler with the goal being to push the pace as fast as possible.  The local army reserve post uses our local bike trail for their 2-mile run and we often have the pleasure of running in their company.  Unfortunately, I am usually going the opposite direction of them and experience the unusual sight of a a group of soldiers in army fatigues running full out towards me!  It is somewhat alarming to say the least.  They were not out on Saturday so Abby and I had the trail pretty much to ourselves.  She pulled ahead early and I could not catch her.  I was close though and she definitely heard me creeping up behind her!  So she finished under 16 minutes and I was just over.  Not horrible and we will take it from there.  So I had a long slower run on Friday in super hot conditions followed by a nice short lung burning two miler on Saturday.  It felt good.

Things went pretty well in the kitchen this week!  Monday we had a nice pasta salad.  Tuesday was a tofu and noodle stirfry.  I think we just did leftovers on Wednesday. Thursday I prepped stuffed shells before driving to get Gina and baked them when we got home in the afternoon.  Friday we tried a new recipe:  Indonesian Pilaf which was absolutely wonderfully delicious and I will share the recipe here later!  Saturday we had broccoli rice soup which was met with much dissatisfaction:  Soup on such a hot day, are you crazy Mom, i am not eating that, etc etc.  We ate it and it was good!  No one died of heat exhaustion......

It feels good to be in summer mode.  I am waiting on a client to give birth and then will work several hours a day for several weeks.  Burning River is now one month away so Jerry will needs lots of love and support as he winds down his training and begins to taper.  He is sooooooo much fun to be around during taper!  We will just keep him busy - there is a post it note on the kitchen cabinet with his list of things to do when not running!  That race is going to be here before we know it......

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Jim Klett 10K Race Report

 Abby post race!

I ran this local race about 8 years ago as my first ever 10K.  I really liked the course and at that time had never seen the covered bridge on Everett Rd before.  I finished that race in 50 minutes and ended up with a nice red plastic cup as a trophy.  I still love drinking out of that cup (even if it IS plastic).

I somehow managed to coerce Abby into running this race with me this year.  It would be her first 10K - that's 6.2 miles for the non-runners who happen upon my blog.  We have done quite a few one hour runs this summer and I felt really confident that she could cover the distance.  We discussed at length our plan for the day.  I didn't want to hold her back but she didn't really want to run on her own either.  We decided to start together and stay together for two miles, at which point we would re-evaluate.  If she felt the pace was too slow, she or we could pick it up.  She could leave me but I would not leave her.  I was not out to PR or anything.  I really just wanted to run the course again and introduce Abby to the 10K distance.

Well Saturday was an extremely hot and humid day.  We left the house at 7:30 and arrived at Howe Meadow around 8:10.  It is quite a trek to the registration table inside Old Trail School and we were sweating already!  Much to our disappointment, there were no more small t-shirts.  What an unbelievable disappointment that was.  We were just smiled at and sent on our way with two mediums.

We began the process of pinning our bib numbers on.  Abby was wearing a minimal amount of clothing and had to strategically pin her number to her shorts.  I had many more options!  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a table way in the back with more t-shirts.  I strolled over and inquired.  They were leftovers from the kid's race held earlier and there were lots of youth larges and two adult smalls!  Yeah!  We made an exchange and felt much better.  I doubt Abby will ever wear an adult medium. 

Then a trek to the port-a-potties and all the way back to the car to deposit our goodie bags and t-shirts.  Whew!  So darn hot.  Then more walking and a warm-up run to the starting area.  I felt bad for Abby - there were way too many older men with no shirts on.  It was stifling hot and we tried very hard to not bump into anyone. 

Finally we were under way.  We ran the first mile in 8.57.  I thought that was just perfect and Abby said it was fine.  Mile 2 was steady at 9.00.  We took some water from the first water stop and slowed to a walk to get it down.  We discussed the pace and Abby said it still felt fine.  Mile 3 at 9.22 which was fine considering the water stop.  I was starting to regret not carrying my fuel belt!  We turned onto Bolanz Rd and the sun was beating down.  Abby was quiet and I tried to talk just enough to keep her going.  Mile 4 was a 9.40.

Jerry was running with Andy and Mike and we had planned to look for each other along Everett Rd around the covered bridge.  Well we made the turn onto Everett, climbed up a rather small but steep hill and I heard Abby gag a couple of times.  Uh oh.......

It is common knowledge that she gagged at the end of every cross country race last fall.  It was sort of the indicator of effort.  She knew that if she started gagging at the end of a race it meant that she had run hard.  No gagging meant she could have gone harder.

A few more steps and she said, "I'm gonna puke."  We switched from running to walking.  She puked while walking.  The funny thing was that at that very moment I saw Jerry and his friends happily running down the trail beside the road.  Abby said, "Oh this is great..."  We kept walking and shouted a few things back and forth with the guys.  I tried to just say enough to indicate that we were not doing so well.

We actually only walked about one minute and then we started running again.  There was water at the covered bridge.  Mile 5 was a big fat 11.45.  There was another round of puking and many little hills to manage.  We had 12 minutes to get in under one hour and I sincerely was hoping we could do that.

About one-third of a mile from the end there was a policeman.  I thought I was going to get in trouble for abusing Abby this way.  We somehow managed to shuffle by.  Soon enough the entrance to the finish line appeared.  It was a nice finish.  Lots of cheering and kind words.  The clock read 1:01.40 and that was just fine for the day. 

What can you say about a 12-year-old girl who would endure that?!  I say she is stronger than she thinks!  She never said "I can't do this" or "Can we just stop."  She just kept moving forward and if you ask me that is what life is really all about.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ADK Adventure Part 2

We have been home from our vacation for a week now and I just about feel like I am caught up!  We had an amazing week, but we returned home very tired and very sore from our adventures.  Starting off with a 9.4 mile hike was probably not the best idea, but as stated before it just seemed to be the right thing to do.  To summarize the week it went down like this:

Wednesday:  9.4 mile hike of Algonquin and Wright Peaks

Thursday:  Rainy rest day

Friday:  6.2 mile hike of Cascade and Porter Mountains and kayaking on the Ausable

Saturday:  Rainy rest day walking around Lake Placid

Sunday:  8 mile run of Whiteface Mountain for Jerry, Pseudo Rainy rest day for the rest of us

Monday:  7.5 mile hike of Whiteface Landing

Tuesday:  Drive to my parents via Niagara Falls

Monday, June 7, 2010

ADK Adventures Part 1

We are having a fantastic time during our 9th visit to the Adirondack region of NY state. We have continued our quest to hike all 46 peaks that are greater than 4000 ft by climbing Algonquin and Wright Peak our first day here. It was our longest family hike yet - 9.4 miles of very rugged rocky steep terrain. It has taken the entire vacation to work out the sore muscles! We have also returned to Cascade Mountain which we hiked five years ago as our first 46er climb. This time we included the side trail to include Porter. I am thinking each hike might get a full blog report once we get home- considering the resulting aches and pains were definitely comparable to running a marathon.

Speaking of running, Jerry has been the only one to don his running shoes. Yesterday he participated in the 33rd annual Footrace up Whiteface Mountain. It was 45 degrees and torrential rain for his 8 mile climb at 8 percent grade. I was guilt ridden to say the least, but he conquered and survived while the girls and I sat in the car at the top of the mountain until the runners started to finish. Not one looked happy. Just standing out in the weather was brutal, but that's what we do!

The top photo is from the peak of Algonquin - NY's second highest peak at 5,115 ft. The second photo is during the climb up. This was one of a few places we needed a little help from Jerry to get up and over. The third photo is from the top of Wright Peak which we climbed on the way down from Algonquin. It was VERY windy!

Today we have planned an easier hike - we probably should have done our hikes in reverse order but we had to adjust for weather and get the big one out of the way early on. We do not do well with things hanging over our heads. After the hike we will take one final trip into Lake Placid and have dinner at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery which has quickly climbed to the top of our list for good food. They have several veggie options and great atmosphere, but most importantly we have become extremely fond of their "buffalo wing french fries!" Fries covered in hot sauce and blue cheese - need I say more!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, May 31, 2010

ADK or Bust!

Our vacation has finally arrived!  All we need to do is figure out how the humongous pile of stuff on the floor is going to fit into the back of the Subaru or in the pod on top!

The weather is looking so-so and there are forest fires in Quebec causing some smoke in the area.  Hmmmm.....could be an interesting week.  If the weather permits we will climb Algonquin Mountain and several lesser peaks/trails.  We hope to kayak a couple of times and at least wade knee-deep in Mirror Lake.  We will do the obligatory walk about town going in and out of all the cute little shops and scarf up some coffee and pastries.  There is the footrace up Whiteface Mountain for Jerry on Sunday.  If the weather fails us we have a brand new puzzle, some games (LCR and Pass the Pig), and lots and lots of books to pass the time.  Regardless of the weather, we will most certainly revel in our time up north and it will pass much too quickly.

Here is a photo of the cabin we are renting again this year:  Chickadee Lodge

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

They're Trying to Kill Me

Last night I went for a trail run with Jerry and Abby.  This shouldn't be much of a big deal since this whole blog is about family fitness and doing things together, but I swear they are trying to kill me!

Actually I have said that about Jerry for a very long time, but now I seriously think Abby is in on it too!  When it comes to Jerry I have fond memories of floating in Lake Erie while trying to overturn a capsized Hobie.  I remember the extremely narrow trail carved into the side of a mountain we hiked in Glacier National Park on our "honeymoon."  I remember being on the back of the tandem  with loaded panniers careening downhill into Fort Ticonderoga at about 50 mph.  Oh, I know he loves me but seriously, come on........

So even though it was over 80 degrees I agreed to go with them last night to Liberty Park.  Within 30 seconds of the run I already had a stomach cramp and my legs felt super heavy.  Ugh!   The two of them hung together running effortlessly while I choked and groaned behind them.  I could occasionally see them look over their shoulders to see just how far back I was.  I hung on though and it turned out to be a great run!  They moved through the mud and downhills much faster than I dared, but I am thinking if I can hang with them this summer maybe I will really be greatly improved by the fall marathon.

Later in the evening, Abby was getting things ready for her trip to Cedar Point today.  I heard her to say to no one in particular, "That run felt really good." 

In an effort to avenge myself, I did a little research and discovered that the annual footrace up Whiteface Mountain is going to be held while we are there next month.  I knew Jerry could not say no.  Unfortunately, they do not provide a ride back down so I guess I will just have to drive up instead of run along with him.  Maybe next year we could run it together since Gina will most likely have her license to drive!!??  Just kidding - I am not sure what would be scarier:  the thought of her driving up a mountain or the two of us running 8 miles uphill together.   I'm scared just thinking about both of those options!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Week in Review 5/16/10 - 5/22/10

Sunday:  13.1 mile run
Monday:  1 hour yoga
Thursday:  6 mile run
Friday:  4.2 mile run

I felt really happy all week about how things turned out in Cleveland on Sunday.  I thought I was ready to run on Thursday but I ended up feeling pretty tired halfway through.  I did see a turkey on the trail though!  Oh well, I knew the weekend would not be conducive to running so I headed back out on Friday.  This time I saw the owl!  By Saturday I was feeling pretty crappy - not sure if I ended up fighting off some bug but I feel a whole bunch better today.

So now we are looking down the barrel of the last week of school, followed by our much anticipated week in the Adirondacks.  To put it simply - I CAN"T WAIT! 

We celebrated the half marathon finish with some chinese takeout - all veggie dishes, of course.  Monday I made falafel wraps and baked sweet potato slices.  Tuesday was a new pea pesto which got mixed reviews.  It was the first time I ever used tarragon in anything.  Wednesday was simple baked potatoes and roasted asparagus.  Thursday I boiled rosetto ravioli - we have not had that in years and it was nice to revisit that simple meal - no complaints.  Friday we did the tofu stirfry with bagged coleslaw mix and noodles.  Saturday we grabbed some more falafel/hummus rolled pitas from Aladdins on our way home from teaching Sunday school.  All in all it was a good nutritious week - at least I thought so.

Jerry and Abby did some nice trail running together this week.  I'm a little jealous but I had lots and lots to do.  Gina is hanging onto swimming to release some of the end of the school year stress.  We are just so looking forward to getting up to the mountains and taking some long, deep breaths of that delicious air!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cleveland Half Marathon - A Little BIt Faster!

Last month I was really happy with the way things turned out at the Spring Classic.  My half marathon time was a little bit faster than the previous half I ran in 2008.  That was good.  I was not really sure how to approach Cleveland.  It's always nice to go a little bit faster with each and every race, but we all know that is not always possible.  I knew the crowd would factor in - there were 15,000 runners registered for Cleveland as opposed to the couple hundred at Spring Classic.  You add in the weather, the course, and all the other variables that are out of your control and the truth is you just never know how things will work out.  For that reason, I just didn't come up with a set of goals this time.

The weather was perfect!  Low 50s at the start so I was fairly comfortable waiting around in shorts and an extra long-sleeve T-shirt that I pitched before entering the starting area. 

One of the best parts of the day was that we brought one of Gina's friends who is a great HS cross-country runner.  She seems to have the desire to continue running and we wanted to share with her what the marathon venue feels like.  It's always great to see how someone reacts to the day.  That is the great part of running in general - all ages, all sizes - you either get it or you don't.  She gets it!

My brain is so used to 4-hr marathon splits that I had an extremely difficult time trying to calculate what sort of final time I might end up with.  I was clicking off lots of 8.30s and that was feeling really good.  My usual marathon goal pace is right around 9-minute miles so 8.30s are a good deal faster.  I hadn't studied the course very much since I assumed it was the same as last year, but it felt very different.  The distraction was kind of good, I guess.  I thought when I got to mile 9 or 10 I would pick it up if possible but I forgot how that section is a gradual climb with headwinds off the lake.  Not so nice and it did cause me to slow down over miles 11 and 12. 

Jerry and the three girls were on the shoreway just before mile 12.  Apparently they REALLY liked the idea that they could walk on the highway.  I was super happy to see them at the end of all that gradual climbing.  It wasn't until I got to mile 12 that I could calculate an approximate finish time.  My watch read 1:43 which left me a good 11 minutes to beat the time from Spring Classic.  I realized I was also close to beating the time from my very first half marathon in 2003.  The group of runners I had been around seemed to be collectively picking up the pace so I just went along with it.  I finished at 1:51.13!  Super happy but with lots of sore toes and feeling a bit beat up from all that concrete city street running.  The fact that I improved a time from 7 years ago tells me that I have been doing some things right and I hope to continue and make a good run at Columbus in October.

We then headed out to the 25th mile to await the finishers.  It was really great to watch the bell curve play out as the first finishers trickled in and then a few more until it was constant runners around that 3:45/4 hour mark.  Lots of amazing effort out there on the course - you just can't explain it unless you've been there.  We did our best to cheer and not say the things I know we runners don't like to hear:  You're Looking Good, You're ALMOST there.  The truth is you are NOT looking good and you are NOT almost there until you are within crawling distance of the timing mat!  We found that most runners just stared ahead as we cheered but if we said, "No more turns now, the finish is straight ahead!"  that almost always got a head turn and a smile. 

Now it's time to focus on getting ready for vacation!  School is over in 9 days.  I am working on getting Abby to agree to a 10K in June and Gina will focus on swimming and getting ready for swim camp.  Jerry is in full Burning River mode and planning a 50-mile training run at night during Memorial Day weekend.  Good times ahead without a doubt!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I Love Lentils!

My Grandma used to make the best lentil soup!  I always loved the earthy, comforting taste of it.  I could open a can of Progresso Lentil soup and eat the whole thing -warm or cold, doesn't matter.  I came across this recipe a few months ago in a vegetarian cook book and it has become one of our favorite dishes.  It's super easy comfort food at its finest.

Lentil and Rice Casserole
1 cup uncooked rice (brown or white - I mix it up)
1 cup dried lentils
1 cup chopped onion
32 oz vegetable/chicken broth
1 tbsp dried italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 8-oz pkg shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Coat casserole dish with cooking spray.  Combine all ingredients, mix well.  Pour into dish and bake, covered for 1.5 to 2 hours.

In the last post I wrote about our new hiking supplies.  Everything got tested out on Mother's Day during a short hike of Wetmore Trail leading to the goat farm that Jerry has been telling us about for years.  It was a wonderful way to spend the day - splashing through several stream crossings to make sure the waterproof Gortex boots kept the girls feet dry (they did!).  Gina spoke to the goats and we all enjoyed being close to farm animals again.  Jerry and the girls then treated me to an awesome homemade Thai stir-fry with so many veggies it was unbelievable!  It was so nice to watch someone else do all the washing and chopping and cooking and cleaning up!  Of course the Pièce de résistance had to be the chocolate lava cakes that ended the meal.  Heavenly, warm, gooey, delicious chocolate..........Thank you one and all for a great day!  Oh and the handmade cards with lots of writing inside were just what I wanted and that LUSH sandstone soap - you know it makes me happy!

So now we are looking forward to Sunday when I will run the half marathon in Cleveland.  I hate to say it's no biggie, but honestly I am just viewing it as a chance to run in a crowd and enjoy the day that God brings on.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I Ain't Goin' Nowhere!

We got busy last week and started gathering supplies for our vacation to the Adirondacks next month.  We decided it was time to change the way we hydrate on our hikes and purchased two new hydration packs for Gina and Abby.  We have been sharing two Camelbaks for a long time - one is a waistpack and the other is a backpack.  We noticed last year that it was getting kind of gross slurping water out of the same mouthpieces.  When the girls were little it seemed fine and dandy, but there was something strange about it last year.  I found some last week at REI-outlet and ordered two.  Stylish, built for a woman's frame - everyone will be much happier being boss of their own water from now on!  No more stopping on the trail to ask for a drink of water from somebody else's pack.

We then moved onto the task of buying new hiking boots for both girls.  I inherited the pair we bought in Lake Placid for Gina a couple years ago.  She has been wanting more ankle support and now her feet should be done growing so we are pretty comfortable spending the money on "good" boots.  I expect Abby to keep growing so she still had to shop on a budget!  We spent a fair amount of time looking online and then took a trip to Gander Mountain for sizing.  Abby found a pair of North Face there that we bought.  We ended up ordering a pair of Merrell boots for Gina and another pair of North Face shoes for Abby just to be sure.  They arrived and the fashion show soon followed.

Adirondack hiking trails can pretty much be described in one word:  ROCKS!  Little rocks, big rocks, mammoth giant scare-the-beejeezus out of me rocks.  If I think about it too much I get terrified because one small slip on a big giant hard rock could be devastating.  So when we shop for hiking shoes I am constantly flipping them over to look at the treads.  I want the "grippiest" shoes I can find!  Apparently the girls have caught on to this because as soon as Gina took her boots out of the box, she flipped them over and said "I ain't goin' nowhere in these!"   That's right, Gina, nowhere but up Algonquin Mountain - supposedly one of the hardest hikes in NY state.  Hopefully there will be no slipping and sliding (except on our butts when we are too scared to stand up going down some of the huge rocky sections!).

Abby made her selection for the shoes we ordered (the blue ones) so I will just need to return the other ones to Gander Mountain.  It's going to be a great vacation!  We're on the countdown - bring on the mountains!