Saturday, March 31, 2012

Memories. Or Not.

As we did a little more office clean out today, we came across some little photo albums. 

Daughter was looking through them and found a picture of her with two Sesame Street character dolls that belonged to me when I was a kid.

She said (Triple T clears throat, takes long, slow, slug of wine): “Oh, look. It’s me with Ernie and .... Kurt.”


Are you fucking kidding me? 

Ernie and Kurt. 
Is this a giant parenting fail or is Daughter slow?

I forget a lot of weird shit. Shit from my middle and high school days. Shit from two months ago. Shit that happened yesterday. 

I’m thirty-fucking-nine years old and I haven’t forgotten Bert and Ernie.

Maybe it’s time to lay off the “Lost” episodes and assault Daughter’s gray matter with two decades worth of pre-Elmo Sesame Street. 

I’m super tempted to ask Little Guy if he can name the surly green fucker that lived in the trash can. Or make both of them sing the theme song to me. If they fail the test, I’m getting knocked up again, and raising this one properly.

And if it's a boy, I will name him Bert.

Cat Turds and External Hard Drives (This post isn't terribly funny)

Not my cat. Not my toilet. But it's free and legal.
I think this new MacBook Pro we bought on Wednesday is cursed: I haven't been able to write a single blog post since we got it. 

I've tried to write something three or four times since the purchase -- I even have some drafts to prove it -- but nothing seemed to be worth posting. Just rambles about cat turds and external hard drives.

The new machine is nice. The experience of buying it at the Apple store was actually enjoyable. Husband's teacher discount is always appreciated. But still, financing this machine was humbling: yet another reminder that if I just threw in the towel on my own little business and paid someone to get my kids to and from school and paid someone else to mop my floors and scrub my toilets, I could go to a 'real' job downtown for 50 hours a week and take what is left of my 'real' paycheck after I've paid a bunch of other people to take care of my home and family and have a little savings account that we could drain when the next computer dies.

Fuck. I still don't want to do that. 

Beyond the inconvenience of the dead computer and the Universe's reminder that I'm not marketing myself hard enough, this week has offered some nice surprises.  

Would you like to know what they were?  Or is your cursor hovering above the "Next Blog" tab?

I got to watch Daughter in her first school musical, "Once Upon A Mattress."  She was in the chorus, but fulfilled her commitment of after school practice every day for the entire month of March. The kids did a fabulous job and it was nice to see her excitement at performing with her friends.

While en route to the musical, I learned that today's long run -- which was scheduled for 4 hours/10 minutes -- got cut to 2 hours. In fact, the remaining 5 weeks of my plan changed, based on the 3:50 run I did last Saturday. As it turns out, you aren't required to train beyond 20-22 miles for a marathon. I hit 21 on my last run, so now I'm cutting back, building and then tapering. Learning this on Thursday night felt comparable to winning the lottery! Not only is today's run 2 hours and 10 minutes less than I thought it would be, but I won't have to train longer than 3:50, which I've already done. I feel mentally ready for this race: and that makes me super happy.

I met with my client a few times this week and got some education on WordPress, HTML and SEO. Like training for a marathon, I can assure you that there has never been a time in my life when I thought I'd be learning (or excited to learn) HTML and/or SEO strategy.  And by learning HTML, what I mean is, I have like, two codes that I know how to drop into a blog post, but still...that's learning.  The SEO education was priceless: I can't wait to do more with it on my client's site. I might even want to try it out here. Or on the WordPress account I created yesterday. 

I also got some pointers on using free photos ... legally ... which will have an impact on how I move forward with this blog. And possibly, why I've included this image into this post.

And the biggie: I got paid to write a blog post for a client, and it's on their new web site (which, although 'live', is still getting some tweaks).  The post includes my 'bio' and a picture of me (well, the picture of me isn't there yet, but there is a box for a picture of me) which, in my mind, makes it so 'official'! 

It's probably time to start prepping for my run. Although only 2 hours, it could be tricky. I got my ass kicked a few weeks ago on what was 'only a 1.5 hour' run.  It is brisk today -- only 39F right now, and that usually works in my favor.  Tomorrow is supposed to hit 82F: another manic spring in the Windy City.

# #

Photo credit: Sappymoosetree via photopin cc

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

No Logic

This morning, we couldn't get the computer started. It kept making a sound like it was about to fire up, but then it just wouldn't 'catch'.  It wasn't at all unlike the sounds a gas stove top makes when the pilot light is out.

The fucking logic board is toast.  

It's $310 to fix the logic board and a possibility that in fixing the logic board, the hard drive will die.

Or then, there's the iPad.

Although I didn't go to the Genius Bar with Husband, I can give you a 99% guarantee that when he was given his options, he got an erection over the possibility of buying an iPad.

I just hear the garage door shut.  He should be upstairs any minute.

I'm twisting and turning at the thought of spending an unplanned/unbudgeted $400 on a computer.  He'll fake concern on my behalf, but I know he's doing the Happy Dance on the inside.

{Shakes fist angrily at the sky}

Monday, March 26, 2012

In The Long Run: A Matter of Time

Now that I'm many, many weeks into my training program, my long runs are getting, eh ... longer. Much, much longer. A lot of non-running folks (and even Husband, who runs, but isn't a distance runner*) are blown away at the idea of spending more than 3 hours running.

Saturday's scheduled run was set for 3 hours and 50 minutes. And I did it. I completed the entire run and happily logged 21.1 miles into my various digital record keepers. This run exceeded my longest run to date by 50 minutes and 5.35 miles.

Any coach or marathon training guide will tell you that the runs will get long and you have to budget the time and commit to them.  What they don't tell you is how much of a giant time suck surrounds both pre- and post-run.

When I used to run my whole mile (Yes. Four years ago, I'd run a mile and call it a workout), I'd roll out of bed, put my hair in a ponytail and go for a run.  It took me 4 minutes to get ready for what would be a 24-minute workout (I'd run one mile out and then walk back home).  After joining the triathlon group at my local Y a year later, we started talking about nutrition, and it occurred to me that I might do better (like running two whole miles) if I actually put some fuel in the tank before I hit the pavement.

Two years later, I'm pretty cautious about what I eat before I do any kind of exercise. And sometimes, what works well for a run workout, doesn't fare well for a swim workout. I've learned a lot, but I still make really dumb mistakes.  Saturday's pre-run breakfast of poached egg on wheat toast, Oikos Greek yogurt and a banana seemed to be just about perfect.

But it's not just eating that slows me from getting out the door. 

I have a shit ton** of vitamins and pills to take. It's a three-swallow process to get them all down, and I need to have most of the food in my stomach before I can start with the pills. But before I eat the food, I have to chew at least 1 billion CFU's of acidophilus, so that my reflux stays in check. Over the past 4 weeks, the vits and pills include a carefully-timed Zyrtec-D (allergies) and a few squirts of nasal steriods in my nostrils so I have a largely sniff-free run.

While I'm in the delicate process of taking in nutrition and meds, I start gearing up. It used to be that I grabbed my headphones and my iPhone and sunglasses. Not anymore.

I have to get the Garmin. I need to find the iPod sleeve. Grab the headphones and phone. Grab the aviator sunglasses because they don't bounce off my nose when I run. Find the Jack Daniels b-ball cap. Find the Asics arm sleeves.  Get the driver's license, YMCA membership card (it's my emergency gotta poo back-up if I'm in the area), my health insurance card and a few bucks, just in case).  Write mantra on my hand with a Sharpie. Keys. Snag some travel tissues to stick in the arm sleeve for the inevitable drips that will creep up by the end of the run.  Gels. Don't forget Gels. Possibly Shot Bloks and mini Snickers, too.

So, while I'm getting all this stuff in a pile on the living room coffee table, I'm still in PJs.  Yeah -- I'm not even dressed in my running clothes yet.  Getting dressed isn't that big of a deal - I pretty much have two favorite outfits for the long runs, depending on the weather. But as of this week, I added compression calf sleeves into the ensemble and those take a bit of time to get on.  And they have to go on before the socks, or I'll never get 'em over my feet.

A mini Snickers fits in that front pocket perfectly.
Before the calf sleeves and the socks though, I have to spend time rolling both feet on a frozen bottle of water which helps to keep the PF issues in check. Then I have to rub down both calves - fairly vigorously - with The Stick. There's another 10 minutes spent in prep.

Although I'm going out to get sweaty and red and salty, I do still brush my hair and gather it into a ponytail. I had to put allergy drops in my eyes, and then put my contacts in. Then some Oil of Olay moisturizer with sunscreen and a dab of mascara, just in case.

By this time, I'm feeling like I might actually get out the door within the year. But I still need to get my brand spankin' new Nathan Speed 4R Energy Belt ready.  It's got four, 8-oz, flasks attached to it and they all need to be filled (1 w/ Gatorade, three w/ water). Gel packets, ID's, cash, keys .... all those things get jammed into the one little pocket in the back. 

On Saturday, my first time using the new belt, I made the mistake of putting the bottles in the holsters before I put the belt on me. I was covered in splashes of Gatorade and water before I even left the condo.

I pooped. And quite honestly, I don't ever start my long run until I've done my dirty, dirty business. There are public restrooms on my route, but there is a pretty big stretch where no public restrooms exist. I'm comfortable with peeing myself (and given how much water I always spill, who would know the difference) on a long run, but I still don't run fast enough to justify shitting myself.  And yes, I have scoped out different gorgeously landscaped yards on Sheridan Road to determine which ones would provide the most privacy if indeed I ever had to pop a squat north of Plaza del Lago. 

Those bitches in Winnetka really like their tall, pointy, wrought iron fences. I may need to add a grappling hook to my gear in the future.

Once all of that is done, I give myself a pat-down to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. Husband tells me to not think about anything and just run. Kids wish me good luck. I reluctantly head out the door and run for three hours and fifty minutes.

On Saturday, this prep process, from start to finish, took an entire 60-minutes.  On many occasions, I've done some preparation the night before the long run. This Friday night, however, was not one of them. My allergies/sinuses have been destroying me all week and I spent all of Friday holding down the couch.

So, then I run for a little less than 4 hours and I return home.

But that doesn't mean I have my day ahead of me.  What it  means is a long, slow limp up 2.5 flights of stairs, crawling into the living room and collapsing on a chair. If I'm lucky, the family is home and they'll get me the things I need: the frozen bottle of ice to roll my feet, The Stick to rub my calves, the ibuprofin and an FRS energy drink, the computer so I can update my FB status and e-mail Midlife Rambler to let him know how the run went.

Then there is the stretching. And the shower.  And then, after a 21.1 mile run, I become the world's laziest piece of shit, ever. 

My Saturday run started earlier than normal, so I was back home at a decent time. I figured with a nap, I'd be good to go again by 4 pm. Except, the endorphins from that run wouldn't let me sleep. And my knees and ankles felt like someone had smashed them with a rubber mallet. Any kind of movement hurt. I spent the better part of the day in bed, trying to nap, and screaming out in pain every time I moved.

My big accomplishment was my slow migration from bedroom to living room to eat dinner and watch episodes of "Lost" with the family.  I folded three loads of laundry, too.

So, my Saturday was spent prepping to run, running, and then the painful recovery from running.

I have no idea how Midlife Rambler manages his long runs before he goes to work (you should check here to see how he does it).  I would call in sick every time I had a long run. Eventually, someone would catch on...

It's Sunday am as I'm drafting this post. I didn't sleep well last night -- the knees were squawking. They're still squawking, but I can't have a totally unproductive day today, so I will ignore them and do what I gotta do.  I see my chiro on Monday am, and I trust he'll fix me.

This post is not intended to discourage anyone from distance training. The past 10 weeks that I've spent preparing for this run have been amazing: it's hard to believe my brain allowed my legs and lungs to carry me for 21.1 miles.  But the truth is, I can hardly wait for May 12th, which will be the first Saturday after the marathon that I wake up ... and don't have to do a damn thing.

* Yet.  He says he has no interest in a 26.2, but I think he might change his mind.

** I am not certain how a shit ton compares to Rambler's metric fuck ton.   I'm guessing it's slightly less, but I really suck at conversions...

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What She Says/What I Hear

(Daughter passes me in the bedroom as she walks into the office, presumably to get something from the printer)

Me: "Hey, Poodle. Whatcha doin'?"
Daughter: "Making worksheets for {Little Guy} for tennis. We need to be at our game in two months."

What I heard:  "I'm going to waste copious amounts of printer paper and ink jet cartridges."

Friday, March 23, 2012

When It Rains...

My allergies have never, ever, ever been worse. 

I've been up since three am itching my eyes and blowing my nose. 

I am positively miserable. 

And tomorrow's forecast -- an important weather day for me since I'm going to spend 3 hours and 50 minutes running in it -- is illustrated by one of those dreadful dark gray clouds, with lightning bolts and rain and sharp, pelt-y particles dropping out of it: 

Which makes perfect, perfect sense.

I'm going back to bed. I will leave my bedroom when the allergy season is over. Or, when I need to go get the Nathan four bottle fuel/hydration belt for tomorrow's date with the rain.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why Twitter is the Fucking Bomb

I've been stewing in my own hateful misery all day.

I'm feeling majorly overworked and under-appreciated on the home front. Two people asked me why my lips were pursed so abnormally tightly today.

I've been ANGRY.

I've had nothing but 2 containers of Oikos Greek Yogurt and a handful of Goldfish since I got up at 7 am.

I'm also HANGRY.

I gave Husband the recipes I intended on making tonight and said, "You do it."  And against my don't drink during the week rule, opened a bottle of wine and started some vacant staring at Pinterest and Twitter Screens.

Some people are all ... aTwitter? ... about Leland's new t-shirts. So I checked it out. But they're all standard mannish, manly-cut t-shirts.

So I tweeted him. 

And two minutes later, he tweeted back.

If you can't see this, I suggested he offer some spaghetti tanks for the ladies and in return, I'd run my marathon in one of em.

He responded (two minutes later. did you catch that?): sweet will try thanks.

Day. Got. Better.

Marathon. Seems. Easier.

That's 26.2 fuckin' miles of Leland!

Let's run, bitches.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Doing What I Love

Rockin' the Geriatric Clown Chic.
I've been busy doing some writing and editing for a client over the past 6 or 7 days. We had a deadline to meet and a fair amount of work to get done. 

This client is unlike any other: they're interested in the process (and not in an awful micromanaging kind of way), they sometimes sign their e-mails, "Love," and above all, they're very verbal about telling me that I'm providing value to their overall business and marketing goals. 

The client 'gets it.'

And on Monday night, I got an e-mail that said, "I am pretty sure I would have lost my mind by now without you." I responded, "... being valued is better than crossing a finish line."

I'm writing and editing for a client that values my work. Does it get any better?

Today, I got to participate in the school fundraiser kick-off assembly for our annual Jog-A-Thon. This year, the committee in charge (and which I co-chair with two really wonderful women) really wanted to educate the kids about running and stretching and hydration and all the good stuff that most of the kids at our school aren't exposed to at home.

Four of our resource teachers led the assembly -- dressed in the race shirts from marathons and half-marathons that they earned on their own time. The enthusiasm of young teachers -- and of runners who want others to run with them -- was inspiring.

We were able to secure really generous gift certificates from a local running store for teacher prizes, Clif Products is sending us a poop-ton of Clif Kid Z-Bars, and we even scored some free movie tickets for the class that generates the most pledges/donations.

Energized by the assembly, I went to the local running store that donated the G.C.'s and bought my first pair of compression sleeves. 

Then I put 'em on and made the local hill my bitch. 

I love running. And I love writing and marketing. And my involvement in this Jog-A-Thon has given me the opportunity to combine both passions. Does it get any better?

Chicago had a typical spring at an atypical time. It (atypically) started last week and it (typically) lasted for less than 72 hours: It is now summer.  Today peaked at 84 or something insane. 

The warm weather triggered a desire for healthy, colorful salads. And I knocked it out of the park with these two salads:

Roasted Beet, Strawberry and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Drizzle

Like Nicoise, but not.

I love cooking. I love new recipes. I love plating green and red goodness on my favorite over-sized platter like I'm painting on a clean canvas.  Does it get any better?

New episode of Dog The Bounty Hunter airs tonight. Life is fucking awesome.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Now I Get It!

I just figured out Twitter.

I'm following all the Chapmans.

I just tweeted Leland.

"I renamed my cat Rick Crapster."

I love you, Leland.

And you too, Rick Crapster.


This looks like a stick person doing a sit-up.
I've tried Twitter about 10 times in the past 2 years. 

I just don't get it. 

On one of my attempts at Twitter, I followed a trending topic: #Itsuckswhen. That got me to: It sucks when you're dancing with a chick at a club and she smells like baby shit and hot dog water.

That fucked me up in at least 3 dozen ways, and I broke free from Twitter.

I came back when my friend was crossing the English Channel: that was how her husband was updating those of us at home who were eager to know how close she was to the shores of France.

In the past week, I've made a real effort at having another go at it, mostly because a client of mine suggested we send our 'light' messages and/or interesting business-related articles via Twitter. That's fine. If I'm going to help people with their social media campaigns, I should have some level of understanding about Twitter.

I follow a handful of people. And about the same number of people are following me.  I have one friend, who is not on Facebook, that is on Twitter, so that's nice, too.

I've been in a dark bedroom all day -- I woke up with a migraine at 4 am -- daylight hurts like hell.  So with a dimmed laptop screen, I hopped on Twitter.

Most of the trending topics meant nothing to me. But then I found one: #rightbymyside.

Now I'm in business! Rick Crapster has spent the better part of the day in bed with me -- that'll be my trending post. Or tweet. Whatever.

Rick Crapster is for most of this migraine day. Black shirt covered in orange fur proves it.

I'm an asshole. 

Evidently, Nicki Minaj just released a song or video called "Right By My Side."  I am one of two people out of 8 gillion that did not  know this. The other person, Andrew P., has God #rightbymyside.

Why are we fans of this Twitter thing, again? And who the fuck is Nicki Minaj? 

I think I'll visit  #thingsyoudon'tsaybeforesex. I don't know how anything could go wrong with a trending topic like that.  I think I"m gonna go with, "You smell like baby shit and hot dog water" @ #thingsyoudon'tsaybeforesex.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, March 19, 2012

In The Long Run: The Race Report

I didn't have a race on Saturday, like Midlife Rambler. Good thing too, because I blew my run. I still haven't forgiven myself for quitting with more than an hour to go, but I came home and wrote it out, race report style, because there are things to be learned from Saturday's catastrophe.  

I'm damn happy Midlife Rambler  had the race he worked so hard for though, so this week, you can read how running can elevate (Rambler) - or bury (Triple T) - a person!

I got schooled on Saturday.
Planned run:
3 hr/30 min

Actual run:
2 hr/16 min

Sunny, beautiful, 9 mph S/SE wind; unseasonably warm, mid-60s

Pre-Run Nutrition:
Oikos Greek Yogurt (vanilla), 1 banana; 1/2 FRS Energy Drink + Handful of vits/supps and one Zyrtec-D

Pre-Run Anxiety/General mood:
Normal level of anxiety; was happy to have such a pretty day for a run and equally happy to have started my run earlier than normal (9:30 am) to beat the heat and get back to my family for Saturday fun. Physically, I felt good.

What went well?

I did not get hit by a car. I did not shit myself.

What went wrong?

Heat. It was sunny and in the low 60s when I started my run.  If you were just standing outside, chatting with your neighbor, it was a perfect day -- possibly a little chilly if you weren't wearing long sleeves. 

If you were running, it was HOT.  I'm a good 10 - 12 lbs underweight. I always have a chill. And I was HOT. Before I was even running (I have to wait for the Garmin to locate me), I took my right arm sleeve off and tucked it into the front of my shorts. (I left the left one on, but rolled it up a bit, because without the arm sleeve, my iPod sleeve won't stay up!).

At some point, I'm guessing 7 or 8 miles into the run, I took my shirt off in the front yard of some house in Winnetka. It wasn't a proud moment, but I was wearing a running cami underneath, so it wasn't obscene. Sadly, the cami was white, so I'm sure to the throngs of pedestrians, cyclists and passersby on that stretch of Sheridan, I was the tall skinny boy running the streets of Winnetka in a bra.

At just under two hours, I paused my watch, bent down, put my hands on my knees and started to cry. The only relief I got from crying was that I was still making tears, so I knew I couldn't have been dehydrated. Maybe 20 seconds into my sobs, I looked up and saw Husband and the kids in the car. Husband told me I couldn't quit yet and based on where I was - and what he had to do - he told me he'd meet me at the lagoon in Evanston and then, if I wanted to quit, we could talk about it.  Little Guy asked if they could take the clothes I had taken off (the shirt and my right arm sleeve).  Getting rid of those felt good.

One year ago, I would have thought a run in the low 60s was ideal. Two miles into this run, I was praying for rain. Or a blizzard.  Am I a cold-weather runner now? I kept thinking back to my 3-hour run two weeks ago, and how much easier it was, even with the wind gusts and snow fall, than the 2 hours 16 minutes I eventually completed today.  .

Hydration. Because I was so damn hot, I drank more than I typically do. Normally, I carry  a 20oz water bottle.  When I ran two weeks ago, I came back from my 3 hour run with a little water (like, two swigs) left in the bottle. Today, I was 3 miles into a run and already out of a 10 oz bottle of water (I borrowed a hydration/fuel belt from my coach; it has two, 10 oz bottles on it. I filled one bottle with cold water and the other bottle with some FRS Energy Drink before leaving the house this morning.  I figured I could take small sips of each throughout the run.). 

Did I mention it was hot?

About 40 minutes into the run, I had to make a pit-stop at Northwestern to refill bottle number one. At Plaza Del Lago (about 6 miles), I had to stop in the Jewel to refill my water bottle (again) and pee.  I was surprised when I looked in the mirror and saw how red my face was: I looked like a lobster. I splashed water on my face, took a hit of water out of the fountain and then continued North  up to Cherry Street, where I turned around and continued back to the Jewel, but  this time to refill both bottles. Because I was out of water and FRS.

I consumed just a little less than 30 oz of water and a little less than 10 oz of FRS and I was only 1:50 into my run.  I felt bad.  I didn't have slosh stomach, but everything hurt from my knees down, on both sides. I don't know if I was drinking because it was so hot or if I was drinking because I'd heard nothing less than 1,000 times during endurance training that once you're dehydrated, you can't 'make it up'. But, I drank more than normal and I don't think that was helping me in any way.

3)  Stopping and Starting. I think the stopping and starting to get water was bad -- physically and mentally. Mentally because by my first stop at Northwestern, I kind of felt like the run was a failure (stopping at 40 minutes!). I spent the next 20 minutes after Stop 1 telling myself that I was going to need to readjust my expectations for this run: the conditions were way different than I've been running in over the past 2 months and I just needed to complete the run, even if it meant stopping to keep my water supply in check.

But beyond mental, I really hate starting up after I've stopped: It hurts physically, I think. It's why I don't stop at hydration stations during race. I grab the cup of water and drink it on the move.

So there was this constant battle of planning the next place to stop to keep my water bottles filled vs. the pain of starting the run again once I stopped.

4) Compression. My knees/legs/ankles all felt pretty bad for most of the entire run. This is the first run I did w/out my compression tights. I think I'm going to make friends with the $50 calf sleeves before next week.  I don't want to blame my lack of gear for a bad run, but it was a noticeable difference from when I've run with compression tights.

What I learned:

1)  Well, when I got back home, and realized I could have gotten just 6 or 7 more miles out of the run, I got super pissed off. I should have negotiated with myself more: "1 more mile and you can quit. Just try one more mile. One more mile. What? You only have three miles left -- keep going." 

I need to sharpen my negotiating skills.  Even if I dropped to a 14 min/mile, I should have kept going. I'm still pissed about this.

2)  I need a mantra again. I don't think it is a coincidence at all, but after the run, I had to edit some blog posts for a client. The blog I was editing was about mantra and vibration.  Here's the upshot:
  • Once your mind says "I can't" ... it won't.
  • When your mind says "I will" or "I can," it sometimes creates a restlessness that doesn't get the job done.
  • When the mind says "I am," you are brought to the present.
I should have just said, "I am running. I am running. I am running. IamrunningIamrunningIamrunningIamrunningIamrunningIamrunningIamrunning..." 

I will most definitely write "I am running." on my left hand for my long run next week.

3)  I've been home for 6 hours and I'm still beating my own ass for stopping. A running friend - who successfully completed her 3.5 hour run - popped up on chat and we ... chatted. Two things she said, and I really appreciated both:
  • It could be 60 in May. Or it could be 35. Yup. She's right. I'm getting experience right now on how to do this in both extremes. It didn't feel like one on Saturday, but that temperature spike could turn out to be a blessing for me on May 5th.
  • These are practice runs  - better to make the mistakes now than on race day. Yup. More points for her. I still have plenty of long(er) runs to push through. I guess I have to get my mind around the fact that just because I bombed the 3:30 hour run on Saturday, doesn't mean I'll bomb the 3:50 minute run next week. 
4)  Mental Toughness needs some work.  Husband won't let me give up.  He wanted to make sure I was okay, but he wouldn't let me give up when I wanted to. Not when he saw me crying on the sidewalk. And not 20 minutes before that when I sat down in someone's yard (Did I mention that?) and called him so I could start my psychotic break (where Good Triple T handed over the reigns to Bad Triple T).  When he got my final call and came to pick me up, he was supportive, but he didn't sugar coat anything.

"Hon. I have no doubt you can physically run 26.2 miles. But your mental toughness just isn't consistent."

I sort of wanted to kick him in his heart when he said that, but he was right. I mean, I've made some good improvements in my mental toughness since training for this race. I just seemed to forget to pack it in the fuel belt with the Power Gel and the ID and my Chapstick.

I haven't talked to my coach about all this yet. She's probably going to nod about the mental toughness thing and remind me that I get next week to do it over. And to do it better.

If mental toughness is what will carry me through 26.2 miles, I wish I would have trained for a marathon when I was in my 20s!

Okay. You need an uplifting story about running? Go here ... Midlife Rambler got exactly what he worked for!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

New Rule!

This End of the World Bunker is sweet.
So, since 'reinvesting' in this blog in late '11, I've had a few visitors read my posts and a handful of people comment.

Of the 247 comments I've had thus far, I've received two comments from the courageous and venomous Anonymous.

My Stilettos post really pissed her/him off. 

That's right... Anonymous disagrees with my opinions on stilettos. 

There is great unrest in the world, people.  Head for your bunker with your family: the shit is coming down.

I shared (that is, I elected to post) the first Anonymous comment (you can see it, if you want, by clicking here and then scrolling down), and even responded in the most playful way I could muster. Based on the grammar of Anonymous and her/his so-called role as a "Stiletto Professional," I decided to keep it light: you can't engage in a game of wits with the unarmed.

Three months later, Anonymous strikes back. Now, I can't tell if this is the same Anonymous or a different Anonymous, but this Anonymous broke down my Stiletto post as if she/he were a literary critic. It was most impressive considering the post was a fluff rant about the different shoe styles I've noticed on Pinterest.

Okay, I'll admit it:  it was the kind of post that begged to be analyzed by stiletto professionals, fashion editors and  literary critics of the blogging world alike.

Let me share a few lines of the rich critique by Anonymous:  

Just wondering..... Do you by chance have self esteem issues? Degrading people for their choice in fashion would indicate that you do.

Then, Anonymous went on to tell me I should "...take penicillin for my 'clap' and  that I should stick to my crusty Uggs, which fit my personality and sense of style perfectly!"

Anyone else see that glitch? Or could anyone support my argument that Anonymous, perhaps, is the one with the self-esteem issues?

So, two things:

1)   When I'm not ranting about important things like shoes and QR codes, I'm writing about issues in my life quite openly. I talk about as many - if not more - of my failures as my successes.

2)  The picture in the upper right corner? That's me. Reason I have a screen name? So whack jobs don't hunt me down and drive a stiletto heel into my neck. I'm not Anonymous.   And when I respond to other blogs, I do so as Triple T, with that photo.  Triple T doesn't hide.

For the Anonymous comments of the future: save your breath, your cells, your finger tips: I'm not printing your comments. If what you have to say can only be said in anonymity, I'm not interested. 

Oh, but thanks for coming back. You know, it drives my numbers up every time you click on that post.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm Not Giving Up Coffee

It's my mug of choice.
I'm not a huge coffee drinker. That is to say, I'm not like Midlife Rambler, who can drink it all day and all night long. I'm guessing that's why he runs so damn fast: he's got a 24/7 caffeine buzz.

When I was about 30 years old, I went to my family doctor and told him I was having heart palpitations. Clearly, I was on the verge of having some kind of major cardiac incident. I remember getting some kind of test done in his office that day ... would that have been an EKG? I don't know: the results of the test were insignificant, but the conversation we had shed some light on things.

Doc: "So, what's your diet like?"
Me: "I don't know, I don't really pay attention."
Doc: "Well, what did you eat yesterday?"
Me: "I worked from home yesterday. Let me think... Oh. Well, I had about a pot of coffee."
Doc: "You had an entire pot of coffee?"
Me: "Yes. And a piece of cheese."
Doc: "Hmmm... maybe you should just cut down on the coffee and actually eat something."
Me: "Is it cancer?"

The fact is, I get the nervous jitters when I have too much caffeine. I sometimes get dizzy and nauseous.  So, I'm a one-cup a day, first thing in the morning kind of gal.

And out of the blue, I'm told I have reflux. And what are the four biggest triggers of reflux? Caffeine, alcohol, chocolate and citrus.

How about air? Does air give people reflux? Because asking me to give up on any of those triggers is comparable to asking me to stop breathing. 

Alcohol: I find this to be the richest of ironies, having cut my boozin' down significantly in the past three months. Could it be that the daily wine was keeping things in check?

Chocolate: I'm not chocolate whore. I sometimes crave it and I did indulge myself with the secret stash of mini Snickers in my knitting bag (I ate the last two yesterday). But I don't eat chocolate every day. I will make no changes in my chocolate intake.

Citrus: This pisses me off. There are a bunch of easy grab-and-go kinds of foods I keep around the house so that I'm eating something, and clementines have been one of those foods.  Not to mention that husband came home from the store with a pineapple.  I've been looking at that still-uncut pineapple daily and wondering if I'll ever get to enjoy it again. 

Coffee: I won't give it up.  I absolutely, positively, will not give up my morning cuppa joe. There are two things I enjoy in me first thing in the morning and one of them is coffee. I only have one 12 oz cup a day. I am not a Coke drinker (or at least, I don't keep it at the house). Coffee is my only source of caffeine (other than the Power Gel I eat during my long runs).  

I don't drink it to wake up -- it's not the caffeine that I need: it's the ritual. It's holding the hot mug in my hand and nursing it while I watch the news or check email before the kids are out of bed. If Husband is home, it's sitting the cup on my chest while propped up in bed and talking to him about the plan for the day.  It's about putting my favorite coffee mug in the dishwasher and hoping I can fill it / wash it by the end of the night so I can use that mug again the next morning.

I'm not giving up coffee.

I guess the good news is that with the acidophilus capsules I'm taking 4x a day, I'm finding that if I take the capsules about 20 minutes before the coffee, I'm experiencing less throat irritation.  I was going to try to go without the coffee this morning and see if I could be without ANY irritation, but that just seemed stupid. I don't overindulge in coffee, there is no reason why I should have to give it up.

I'm not giving up coffee.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Quick Story About Pooping

I just realized that my poop schedule was off since we turned our clocks forward on Saturday night.

I'm on track, as of 8:30 am, today.

The End.

Monday, March 12, 2012

In The Long Run: The Taper

Unlike Midlife Rambler, I've still got a bunch of weeks to go until my race. However, after a three-hour long run last week, this week’s long run dropped to 1 hr/30 minutes. While not a true taper, it's taper-like.

My intentions were good. I figured I'd run harder, since I was running for significantly less time. I even wrote a plan on my hand so that I'd complete a minimum of 9 miles.

I had two false starts to my run on Saturday. One due to a crazy Garmin (I had to go home and get online to remember how to reset the satellite). The second due to a combination of overdressing (I’ve forgotten how to dress for a run in 60 degree weather) and being severely under-medicated (it was a bad day to give up Zyrtec-D; the volume of muck my sinuses were producing was so high that my ears started to throb). I cut my losses, returned home after running an entire mile, and planned on doing better on Sunday.

My taper-like run on Sunday was a bitch.

I felt tired and heavy. I couldn’t turn off my mind and just enjoy the run.  I was working.

And it’s not like I was busting ass, working. I was just working to get one foot in front of the other.

2.5 hours into last week’s run, and I was soaring with confidence. 35 minutes into this run, and I was suffering, both physically and mentally.

But mostly mentally.

My brain could not accept that I was working so hard at what the rest of me thought should have been an easy 90-minute run. And when it didn’t get any easier … and when I actually felt like stopping to puke, my brain went into the darkest place it could go on the sunniest day Chicago has seen in months: it went to next week’s planned 3.5 hour run and told me I’d fail.

Fuck. I wasn’t supposed to let me go there.

I kept looking at my watch. 40 minutes (almost ½ way), 50 minutes (only 40 min to go!), an hour+ 1 minute (that's about a 5k...push!)., etc., etc. I had to have looked at my watch at least twice every minute for those final 28 minutes. I had surges of pushing to a 9’30” and then falling to a sluggy 11’30”. 

I needed water, but the energy it took to reach behind my back to get my water bottle out of my glorified fanny pack was just too much. I managed to wipe the corners of my mouth, thinking that would satisfy my thirst in some way. Instead, it left me a weird string of white goo – partially congealed saliva, I guess, on my fingers.

After I freed my hand of the goo, I looked at my watch. I had about 6 minutes left.  Too late to quit now. Just keep running, asshole.

And 6 agonizing minutes later, I finished my taper-like run. I managed 8.44 miles in all, that's a pace of about 10’40” – not exactly what I was shooting for, but a good 35 seconds/mile faster than last week.

I texted my coach to let her know I finished the run: I had gotten a text from her earlier in the day and I think she was concerned I wasn’t going to do it or finish it. I told her it was hard, even harder than the previous week. She told me, “some weeks are like that.”

It took me awhile to get there, but I realized that even though I was in ‘the dark place,’ I didn’t stop running. The taper might be designed to allow your body to rest and recover, but I personally think it is also designed to fuck with your mind.If you can survive the mind fuck that is the taper, 26.2 miles of running won't kill you.

Once I got home, I opened up my running calendar that leads up to the race on May 5th. The last run I have -- just one week before the race -- is only one hour long.

My money says I’m going to totally lose my shit on that one. 

See how The Rambler did on his actual taper run this weekend.  And then next weekend ... showtime!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Things Fall Apart

This is mine -- all mine -- baby.
For someone who thinks she's made some really positive changes towards a healthier lifestyle, I feel like I'm fucking falling apart.

The Forties*: When You Fucking Fall Apart.

In Q1 of 2012, I've dealt with Plantar Fasciitis, reflux and the worst allergy/sinus symptoms ever. All this while I've cut my drinking back significantly and have  committed to training for a Spring marathon.

I will accept the plantar fasciitis: I wasn't as diligent about my stretching and cool downs as I should have been, and I'm putting some serious repetitive strain on my legs.  Luckily, I went to my chiropractor right when the pain started and within 9 days of diagnosis, I completed a pain-free, 3 hour run. I can handle  PF.

The reflux, on the other hand, is a fucking nightmare. I've been dealing with the sensation of having food stuck in my throat since the beginning of February. One trip to a specialist and my first scope yielded a diagnosis of 'reflux'** and a direction to take Prilosec for three weeks. I took Prilosec with my standard allergy meds because I was feeling a lot of ... the back of my throat (and post-nasal drip can cause the same 'throaty' sensation as stomach acid backwash), and after two weeks, I felt better. 

Less than one week after I stopped with the Prilosec, it all started again. The doctor suggested Pepcid and a stronger allergy med (I actually had to present my ID at the counter and sign for it. Evidently if I buy enough, I can start cooking meth at home), and wrote me an Rx for a steroid nasal spray.  One week later...the 'stuck' feeling remains.

As much as Husband, friends and medical professionals have begged me to stop Googling all my ailments, I searched out "natural remedies for reflux" and learned that acidophilus not only helps the symptoms of reflux, but it can also tighten the little muscle-flap that has loosened up and is letting my stomach acid burn my throat.

After two days of about 2 billion CFUs of acidophilus, my weird throat sensation is gone.  It's a good thing too, because I was ready to find the 1-800 number of an oropharyngeal cancer specialist.

Another friend advised me of stinging nettle, which she claims is better than any conventional OTC pill she's used for allergies/sinus problems. I can't wait to try it so I can get off the Zyrtec-D, which I was advised to take in the morning, because some people get jittery when they take it. No shit. I can make ice with it. Tweakers aren't exactly calm. 

Stinging nettle. It sounds so archaic, doesn't it? Eye of newt, toe of frog...

What does this all mean? It means that I'm falling apart. I'm almost 40 and I have the same pill box that my then 86-year old (and now deceased) father-in-law used in the final months of his life.  I think mine is better, though: the package claimed its handy, easy-open tabs were designed for arthritic fingers, so...I've got that goin' for me when the arthritis sets in (which should be, what? July?).

Husband thinks I'm fucking nuts: he's too good for vitamins and supplements. He's also too good for aspirin or ibuprofin. It's why he's been bitching and moaning for the past 24 hours after straining his back while hurling a garbage bag into the dumpster. He spent about 40 minutes on a heating pad this afternoon, with his left knee wrapped in ice.

We are a picture of good health this week.

I need to schedule my yearly exam with our family doctor so I can have the regular check up and a blood draw for a full panel of tests (cholesterol, thyroid, etc).  If any tests come out higher or lower than they should, I might just beg her to shoot me in the head and end this misery.

Despite my falling-apart-ness, I'm about to go on an 8 or 9-mile run.  I guess the ship hasn't totally sunk yet -- I may as well try to enjoy the ride, right? And if I died right now, who would eat all those supplements?

* I am not yet forty. I have ... exactly 3 months from tomorrow ... until I am forty. Typical me, I'm early for the party and am getting my dose of 40 prematurely.

** I don't get the chest-grabbing burn that is often associated with reflux. My throat gets inflammed and I spend two weeks to trying to hork up a piece of food that doesn't exist - much like a cat trying to expel a hairball (but with less success).