Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pollywog Progress

I hadn't been in the pool for more than 2 weeks because of the busy holiday season, but jumped in today for a swim. My last entry on 12/8 I had reduced my 200m swim from 6:10 to 5:34. I am happy to report that I swam the 200m in 5:09 today - whoop whoop! Still slow, but I am showing improvement and, of course, really enjoying swimming. Next week I will begin focusing on swim drills and I fully expect to report another 30 second drop by late January!

Pulled out the yak trax yesterday and can't wait to use them for a new year's eve run. May you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy New Year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Week in Review

The best way to sum it up is that today all I wanted was some broccoli, or red peppers, even carrots, cauliflower and brussel sprouts would be fantastic. What I didn't want was another cookie, candy or sweet. I definitely didn't want any sodium-rich ham or anything that had potatoes as an ingredient. I just wanted vegetables. I don't know about you, but my body (and my brain) crave the good stuff and I just feel better. Even though I enjoy family gatherings and love the holiday season, I am also excited to get back to my normal routine, including putting together my weekly menu - which will feature (drum roll, please) vegetables!

On the running front, I actually had an enjoyable, albeit cold and windy, 15-mile run on Saturday as well as getting in my traditional Christmas morning run. I even hit the gym Tuesday and reintroduced myself to the rowing machine and started back with squats, situps, tricep dips and pushups. I loved how my body screamed at me the next morning!

Hope your holiday celebrations included good food and wonderful memories with family and friends.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Got In

It's official. I moved from the wait list to the confirmed entrants list for the Run for Regis trail run on January 18, 2010. I'm excited about this no-pressure run. I have the option of completing the half marathon, full marathon, or the 50k. I will let my body determine the distance and just enjoy the camaraderie of trail runners. Who am I kidding...I do have a goal and hope to accomplish it!

The best part will be the yumminess of an IPA draft at Winking Lizard post race! and popcorn...can't forget the popcorn!

Now back to wrapping.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Longest Run...Yet

Today's accomplishment was a cold, slippery, snowy and slushy 15-mile run. It was the longest run I've done since the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon. Puppy entertained me during the first loop of 10 miles before being deposited back in the warm and cozy house, where he almost immediately began what would become a marathon napping session for him! I ran back in the house for a quick bathroom break, using the kitchen to refill my water bottles and refuel with two Einstein bagel bites. Then out the door in the cold wind to knock out the last 5 miles. I kind of like the loop concept because it breaks a mundane task into doable parts. So just when I thought I had accomplished something big, I was topped by Greg who had spent the afternoon with a 2 1/2 year old with two successful potty trips! I love when life puts everything into the right perspective.

Bring on Santa because this house is ready and excited!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Race Day: Dallas White Rock Half Marathon

The race hotel provided a shuttle for the runners beginning at 6:30 am for the 8:00 am race. This was so convenient and allowed Greg to sleep in. Let's face it - this wasn't my first race (it was actually my 10th half marathon) so the excitement had clearly worn off for him to rush to the start line. I met a really nice girl who lived about an hour outside of Dallas on the bus. She was running the full marathon and had some wonderful race stories to share. This was the first race that I used the shuttle service and I'm glad I did. You can meet some very nice people along the way. We were dropped off outside the massive American Airlines arena and it was strange trying to figure out the mess when surrounded by 20,000 people plus their friends and families.

The problem with massive events is that you can't hear the announcements, have no real idea what's going on, and have to wait up to 15 minutes just to cross the start line (12 mins this time). The upside is that, as a slower runner, you're always part of a crowd and there's generally a good spectator crowd to keep you motivated. It was kind of tough to take in the downtown scenery due to the combination of fog, dew and humidity, which made the asphalt slippery. It's hard to describe this course. There were so many turns that you were constantly having to slow down within your small running crowd that it was difficult at times to build up any momentum. I found miles 7-9 to be absolutely amazing because of the breathtaking mansions we passed. I can honestly say that I have never seen such displays of wealth (old money). Dallas makes Beverly Hills homes look like cheap imitations. Even the Christmas lawn displays caused me to be in awe. Miles 10-13 were along the Katy Trail, which was 3 miles of concrete beating of the joints. The Katy Trail didn't hold a candle to the all-purpose trails at the Metroparks. I definitely wasn't a fan of the final 3 miles on unforgiving concrete. The final stretch was back at the American Airlines parking lot and I found the finish line chaotic and unorganized. As soon as I crossed, I received my medal (pretty nice medal at least) and space blanket. But then it got really congested. Apparently, the finisher t-shirt boxes were just dropped in the middle and it was a free-for-all. All I wanted was water and I had a hard time finding some. I was pointed toward the runner's village, which was yet another disappointment. There was a HUGE line that snaked around. I looked to see what people were carrying out to determine if it was worth my while. Would you believe that thus race of 20,000+ people had bagels and bananas. Really? Really? Not worth waiting 20-30 minutes for unless Javier Bardem was serving them! Instead we trekked back to the hotel and I had a hot cup of Starbucks Christmas Blend and a cranberry orange muffin that Greg brought back to the room while I warmed up with a steaming hot shower.

My race performance was 2:37. Not bad since I ran 9 minutes slower the previous month. I am looking forward to no immediate race plans and just running the trails with my dog. I'm pretty sure he's looking forward to that as well!

Completing this race reminded me why I enjoy smaller, more intimate races. A big name race is nice once a year or so, but I definitely prefer that smaller, more laid back vibe so much more!

Happy holidays and I hope you find yourself outside enjoying this wonderful time of the year!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Race Weekend: Dallas White Rock Half Marathon

Cliff and Greg picked me up, checked into the Hyatt (race hotel), met up with Martha, then cabbed over to pepi and ito's for some Mexican. They all got a good laugh about how excited I was when I got not only my own salsa bowl but unlimited refills (I can eat my own weight in salsa, seriously). A few bottle of Tecate and I was set!  Before settling in for the night, Martha told us the Hyatt had a pretty good mojito. Being Greg's favorite drink, we decided one more couldn't hurt!  This is where the night quickly got weird. We noticed a group of people near us with matching shirts - "dream weekend." So Greg and Martha let their curiosity get the best of them. It was as if Greg and Martha were holding a piece of bread and 20 birds swooped over saying, mine mine mine. Before we knew it, we were listening to their spiel like a bad test audience and sipping their juice. The company, whose name I will leave out of this post so that the search engine gods do not tap into this blog! But needless to say, I will never drink this stuff again. I woke up at 4am with the same wide awake feeling I had the night I had a Spanish cafe con leche in Madrid. The stupidest part of this is that I told Greg the next morning that if Megan ever told us she had met some nice people at a hotel bar, tried what they were selling, and found herself wide awake at 4am with a weirdest indigestion, then I would be furious and think she had lost her mind! So Friday was the night that Greg and I lost our minds!

Saturday was the expo. Now, I consider the expo an integral part of the race experience and this expo didn't disappoint. It was like a fitness Christmas (say that 3 times real fast!). I bought a running hat with a ponytail opening for $5, a bondi band for $7 and a long sleeve running shirt for $36 that I was stalking back in New Hampshire (went to the store 2 times and decided $68 was too much). Perhaps best of all, I snagged 3 sample sizes of the new dark chocolate larabar. I wanted to be greedy and empty a whole tub of larabars in my purse, but decided I would just take a respectable 3. Greg would have made a great front man had I decided to carry out that plan! All in all, I had a good expo experience and it was a nice walk.

Getting nervous for the race. After my inadequate performance in Maine four weeks prior, I'm hoping I've improved!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Either a Pollywog or a Minnow

Dara Torres I am not. There's no getting around that. But I'm at least improving. Last week, I completed a 200m set in (gasp!) 6:10. Today, I completed two 200m freestyle sets in 5:34 and 5:36. During my lunch hour, which equates to a half hour for swim (minus drive time, dressing, hair almost drying time), I squeeze in a minimum of 500 yards mixing up freestyle, breast and backstroke. Tomorrow I will begin trying out different swimming drills (as recommended by Greg used in TNT) and I look forward to improving my form, which should ultimately improve my speed! Surprisingly, swimming has helped my running not to mention melting away some of my work stress.

Anchors away!

Monday, December 7, 2009

This Thing Called Trail Running

It's hard. Its really really hard when you're the slowest runner in the group. But in spite of that, some of the nicest, kindest people are trail runners. A week ago Saturday, I jumped back in to trails (after a brief spell in July & August). I showed up at the Boston Store and in the strangest game of Red Rover, a handful of girls and guys warmly welcomed me into their Saturday morning group. I'm sure it was because they felt sorry for me in my mismatched running clothes and that lost-oh-my-gosh-am-I-really-doing-this look. I gave full disclosure upfront that I'm slow. No one was deterred and instead told me no problem, that there would be someone to run with me. And there was. John. An ultrarunner who basically gave up his morning to be my escort on a 9-10 mile run. I couldn't thank him enough. He not only kept me company, but he never once made me feel like I was holding him back. The ladies in the group were so welcoming making sure to check in with me when I finished and everyone even asked me back and offered to include me on their email/run list. I loved it. So I went back for more.

More was two days ago on the Run for Regis familiarization run. I'm on the waiting list, but on the off-chance I actually make the cut, then I should know the trail AND know what I'm getting into. The morning was cold as crap - 29F and a crisp chill. I was really cursing myself for not bringing my gator. We started off getting directions from Tanya. As a relative newcomer, to me every turn by turn direction sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher. But no worries. I had a guardian trail runner or two who would run back and make sure I was still propelling forward. We ran Happy Days, went through a tunnel, across a field, completed Boston Run Trail, them traced our steps back to Ledges Shelter to complete a 5-mile loop. From the shelter we headed left to the Pine Grove Connector, down a hill that I feared I would have to climb on the way back (yep, I did), around Kendall Lake, and then Salt Run. This 8-mile loop nearly turned me into a whiny baby. However, everyone was so nice to me, offering oodles of motivating phrases, that I had to pull my act together! This loop was tough...and I remembered parts of Salt Run from the Muddy Paws race. Hell, Salt Run even had my lab's legs shaking! My "Salt Run tour guide" was such a wonderful female runner that I simply cannot thank her enough!

I hope I make the race list because this is a really great group of people to spend a Saturday or Sunday with. Fingers crossed!

Friday, December 4, 2009

May the Force Be With You

Meg at the CAVS game - gotta love her two leading men!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Book Review: Born Round

Now that the little one is a little bigger, I find that I can start reading items that are longer than US Weekly articles. I'm currently reading Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater by Frank Bruni and I'm loving it. I had read a brief review in the Plain Dealer and thought I would give it a try. Bruni can make a bologna sandwich sound delectable. He writes in one chapter,

I wasn't merely fond of candy bars. I was fascinated by them and determined to catalog them in my head, where I kept an ever-shifting, continually updated list of the best of them, ranked in order of preference. Snickers always beat out 3 Musketeers, which didn't have the benefit of nuts. Baby Ruth beat out Snickers, because it had even more nuts. But nuts weren't crucial; one of my greatest joys was the KitKat bar, and I couldn't imagine any geometry more perfect than the parallel lines of it's chocolate-covered sections. I couldn't imagine any color more beautiful than the iridescent orange of the wrapping for a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. And the sweetest sound in the world? The most gorgeous music? The bells of a Good Humor truck.

I'm about a hundred pages in and I've laughed about how beautifully he portrays his mother's and grandmother's cooking. I've never thought of quiche Loraine in the way Bruni does (but I will now). His background is interesting since he just kind of happened by chance into being a restaurant critic for the New York Times, but he definitely found his calling in the food world. I'm looking forward to diving into the next 200 pages!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Day Out in the Wild

This past Friday, Greg and the girls went to the Museum of Natural History. Growing up, one of my best skills was being able to impersonate farm animals. Obviously, this skill transferred to my oldest. While there, Megan, my very own Dr. Dolittle, talked to the turkey...and best of all, the turkey talked back! Watch this little video captured by Greg!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The 7th turkey trot was a smashing success for this family. Best of all, we all crossed the finish line together! We saw some creative costumes - our favorites were the gorilla chasing the banana, the two ODOT orange barrels, someone dressed like Will Ferrell in Elf, lots of pilgrims and indians, bumble bee, a chicken, someone dressed like a cranberry sauce with even the nutritional information on the costume, and Bridget loved the sparkle turkey! Afterwards, we stopped at Erie Island Coffee Company on East 4th. Great coffee with breakfast paninis. Wonderful morning - now it's time to put the turkey in the oven and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Turkey Trot Time: Are You Registered?

It's that time of the year again! Time to eat turkey, enjoy the carbs and load up on desserts. What better way to mitigate the damage than to sign up for a Thanksgiving Day run. Our tradition in this household is to run the Hermes Cleveland Turkey Trot. Since moving here in 2003, I have not missed a T-Day race. Thursday's race will mark my 7th year of running! Some years I've tackled the 5-miler, and while pregnant with Bridget in 2006, I ran the 1-mile family fun run. Last year all four of us participated and Megan even got her picture taken with the Couch Potatoes Running Group. It was great fun! Now, we all know that a one mile run is NOT going to offset having two different potatoes and a dessert being served, but it's quality (and healthy) time with my family. So this year, I will be thankful that Greg, Meg and B indulge their mom with a morning run. So what are you waiting for? Get registered!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Bodega Bay: Russian River Valley and Sonoma

What a wonderful way to start the morning. Long run completed and now I could relax, sit back, enjoy the drive to wine country.

Headed out to Bodega Bay. Scenic drive. Great place. Our room was incredible. My expectations were more than exceeded as soon as I saw the view from our room (cathedral ceiling, fireplace, small deck). First thing Greg did, of course, was read all the maps. We laid there together watching the sun set from our great view of the bay, took a short nap, then went to the wine and cheese reception where we enjoyed a Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir from Salmon Creek. Surprisingly good.

Decided to go into Occidental to Barley & Hops for dinner and drinks. The ride had me laughing the whole way! Pitch dark with little road markings as we navigated our boat - the grand marquis! What we did see were the following signs: curvy road ahead, trucks entering road, deer crossing, falling rocks, rough road ahead, and "bump". People passed us and Greg kept me laughing with, "Well, they probably think they're passing grandma and grandpa in this car!" The place was well worth it. The draft beer list was rock solid. Greg had the Death and Taxes and I had a Liberty Ale. We tried their special hot fries which were sooooo hot that we had ranch sauce and ketchup and they still hurt! I ordered spicy navy beans over polenta, which I will try to replicate as soon as I get home! Mmmmmmm! Some girl named Jen-something was playing the guitar ala Lillith Fair - one of her songs called "Vineyard Blues" can be found on you-tube. She was actually pretty good. The drive back was fortunately uneventful - no deer or elk! Great two days so far!

Saturday morning was a nice lazy morning, taking our time, then heading out for coffee. Found a little nook called Roadhouse Coffee for bagels and coffee. This little dive had the Talking Heads blaring when we walked in. I turned to Greg and said this must be the place (get it?). To me this was kismet because I was reading Bicycle Diaries by David Byrne (and I just love Talking Heads). Great vibe and even better coffee. Finding the unusual when you're just winging the day is simply the best!

The drive along Highway 116 was beautiful. The coastal skyline was incredible. We pulled over at several locations just to take in the beautiful scenery. As we got closer to Korbel we passed through little areas surrounded by redwoods. We were truly enveloped by these massive trees and greenery. An amazing beauty to be a part of.

First stop was Korbel on our little day trip adventure. Two bottles of Brut Rose later and we were on our way to the next stop. Next up was Joseph Swan. We bought a bottle of their 2005 Zinfandel, but wasn't terribly impressed overall. The best was next. We visited Harvest Moon. I chose this one because I love the Neil Young song and almost chose it as our wedding dance song (it was in the running with This Must be the Place/Naive Melody by Talking Heads and Come Away with Me by Norah Jones. Norah won.). This winery was a delightful surprise. We bought 6 bottles of wine as well as a bottle of their dragonfly olive oil and joined their wine club. The girl who took care of us was knowledgeable, had a wonderful disposition and voice and their wine was sooooo smooth. We loved them instantly. And they had a chocolate lab. I tell you...the day was full of amazing moments like this.

On to Hook & Ladder. Merlot and 2 Zinfandels are being shipped. Neat little boutique winery. Wine was average, but the day was anything but average.

Lunch at Corks restaurant at Russian River Valley. French onion soup and salad. Impressed and it was nice to sit down and relax (translation: kick our buzz with some water and food!).

On to Iron Horse. Greg and I both giggled through our first sample because we were so not into this place and we could read it on each other's faces! They had a big tour going on and we just were like cattle bellying up to the bar. We purchased a bottle to make up for our sample "fee" and headed out as quickly as possible.

Next was Cahill Winery to sample their port. This was a little mom and pop kind of winery with two german short-haired pointers named Daisy and Duke (I grew up with these as a kid). Greg was reluctant to go in as we pulled into their gravel parking lot, but Eddie Vedder came on and I said this had to be fate (he loves loves loves Pearl Jam). We sampled a really good tawny port and, you guessed it, we're having 6 bottles shipped. Plus, we tried a surprisingly good vinegar that they said would go well on ice cream or fresh fruit. Huh? Are you kidding me? We sampled it. And we bought a bottle. Damn, it was that good.

At this point, we hit Mom's Apple Pies to try the much-raved about place in all the Bodega Bay literature. Yep, it really is that good! Super soft apples drenched in cinnamon and nutmeg gooeyness and a crust that screamed watch your cholesterol! Wow!

On our drive back in the good ole grand marquis, we decided to stop at this little dump of a house that we saw last night outside of Occidental that had a Casino sign hanging prominently outside. We walked in, saw 2 pool tables, and a long bar. Decided to grab a pint (no more wine!) while there and started chatting up the bartender Greg, who also was the owner. Turns out Greg bought the place from the Casino family (pronounced Kass-i-no). Ahhh yes, that explains the Casino sign outside! We met Matt the chef and decided this would be our dinner spot. It was just too funny to go anywhere else.

Back to the Lodge to relax, which was such a luxury to do. Up bright and early to pack and get on the road. We made one last stop Sunday morning before heading out to Doran Beach to gather sand dollars to bring back to the girls (which was highlighted in our book), but all we got was incredibly wet. We didn't find sand dollars, but we did see some very strange marine life. Pretty sure the stuff was dead, but we sure did keep our eye on it as we ran back to the car!

Great trip - with plenty of memories!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

San Francisco: Shopping, Eating, Running

Thursday in SF-where do I begin?  I know. I begin with Greg picking me up at the airport in the Grand Marquis, because it was the only rental car available with GPS. It looked like a white cop car. I greeted him with "be nice to me. I'm weepy" because I was already missing Megan and Bridget.  We caught a quick lunch at the Thirsty Bear - organic beer and spanish tapas. Wow! Awesome (and unusual) place. We soon departed so he could go back to the conference and I did a little shopping a union square. As luck would have it, I found the Coach purse I've been stalking for $100 off at Macy's. Cool beans!  After that, I went in and out of some high end shops like Nieman Marcus, Barneys and Saks, but just wasn't feeling the whole commercial atmosphere so I grabbed a coffee, bought the December Martha Stewart, headed back to the hotel, threw off my shoes, snuggled under the amazingly soft comforter and watched a re-run of Bones. Great afternoon if you ask me!

Later we headed to a hospitality suite sponsored by at E&O Trading Company. Perhaps the best apps I've had at a party. Afterwards, we ventured into Chinatown for some pretty darn good Chinese. 

Friday - got up and had a fantastic breakfast at Dottie's, a little gem a few blocks around the corner from our hotel. Greg had the Open Road special which included 2 ginger & cinnamon pancakes, 4 pieces of bacon, home fries and 2 overeasy eggs and juice.  I had an omellete with spinach, their special dill bread, and home fries and kick ass coffee. Great service, small intimate restaurant with like 10 tables. Would highly recommend. Did I emphasize highly recommend? Seriously go there. 

Greg went to his Salesforce conference and then I went on a run which turned out to be 11 miles, give or take. I started out at Union Square down Post Street on to Market until I reached the Embarcadero.  Headed toward Fisherman's Wharf then turned onto Taylor, Stockton and back to Post. What a run! About 7.5 miles for this "lap" and since I felt so good I ended up going back to the Embarcadero until I reached the famed Lombard Street.

Fisherman's Wharf - as you can see they were decorating it for Christmas!

Great view along the Embarcadero - wonderful day in the 50s with a nice wind!

Finishing up where Chinatown and Union Square meet - AND it was right outside of Lululemon. So that's my slideshow of "Where in the World is Robin" :)

Tackled a bunch of hills which caused me to pause then headed back to Union Square for a little side trip to Lululemon, my absolute favorite women's athletic store. I bought the most adorable ski hat, which couldn't have been a more perfect purchase considering the DOWNPOUR that greeted me outside the store. Thank goodness the hotel was just 3 blocks away...and I would soon be taking a hot, relaxing shower. I no sooner got the hotel room when I heard the door open and it was a sopping wet husband! Turns out his route back to the hotel was in the same (drenching) conditions as mine. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Today Just Felt Right

Today was a scheduled long run. On the agenda was a 10-miler and the ENTIRE run felt like it should. I ran with puppy the entire distance (he's still in bed recovering as I write this) and it was great spending time in the metroparks. Husband met me on his mountain bike around 7 miles into the run which was so nice to have someone to chat with during the final stretch. Puppy is great and all, but he is a bit silent, if you know what I mean. Nothing hurt. My quads weren't screaming. My calf was fine. I can't describe it, but the run felt right.

On another note, I am keeping my promise to myself. I've enjoyed my lunchtime swims. Bridget and I have been doing mini yoga sessions. Food choices have improved dramatically this week, plus I've enjoyed prepping the meals ahead of time. I look forward to keeping on track. I so love structure.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A New Reason to Check Off Another State

Husband just shared with me that I am "this" close to reaching silver elite status on our preferred airline. "This" close equates to about 2,000 miles. I have no choice - I gotta sign up for another state. Plus, it could provide me with redemption from my lousy Maine half performance. It's amazing how excited I am about squeezing in another race. I mean, come on, who doesn't like standing in the short, preferred line through security and getting to select seats near the front of the plane versus the next to the johns? The choice is easy-a December race it is!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Post Race Musings

So I was pretty bummed about how my body didn't make it through 13.1 miles and I realized it was a culmination of things. One, I had gotten injured sidelining my running. However, I could have found alternative ways to maintain my conditioning such as swimming or cycling and strength training but I didn't. Two, I worked too many hours at the office due to a major new project as well as worked through my lunch hour. When I trained for portland, I did it during lunch and loved it. Third, I wasn't eating properly. I had let the October halloween/all-you-can-eat candy and junk month get the best of me.

So I took the first steps to address this. I'm not working through lunch anymore. It doesn't score me any points and I'm the only one who suffers. I signed up to start noontime swimming and I already swam during my Tuesday lunch. It really was as good as I remembered it to be.

I brought soup for lunch and felt full all afternoon. For snacks, I brought almonds and a banana. I also bought apples, oranges and bananas at the grocery store and will cook more in the crockpot so that I have healthy leftovers.

I will run at least twice each week and will just alternate during lunch with the swimming. I will not neglect my long run. I will ice as prevention instead of waiting till I'm hobbling. Lastly, I will do at least 2-20 minute yoga sessions to keep my mind sharp and body limber.

I'm on the waiting list for a January trail run here in Cleveland. If I don't make the cut, then at least I'll be ready for the Cowtown race in Dallas in February with my husband. Might be a good excuse for another adults-only trip!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Race Report: 2009 Harvard Pilgrim Maine Coast Half Marathon

First, this was by far the most beautiful, scenic course I have had the pleasure of running. York, Maine is a quintessential New England town filled with a rugged coastline, breathtaking views of the ocean, and even a lighthouse. I'm very happy with my choice to select this race to check off Maine from my 50 states list. For anyone who is counting, Maine is our 20th state!

The course began at the unassuming York High School. We quickly exited out of the parking lot, after a short speech by Kathrine Switzer, ran a short street before making our way onto Long Sands. The road opens up to this majestic scenery along the ocean that is awe-inspiring. I felt like I could run forever surrounded by this beauty. Around mile 9 my legs would send my brain an entirely different message! Our first loop circled around Long Beach, Weber, Ridge, then depositing us back onto Long Beach Avenue.

From Long Beach (mile 3) , we had a clear view of Nubble Lighthouse. It looked so far away, but was only a couple miles. We ran along the shoreline, past beautiful cedar shake homes. When we reached Ocean Avenue Extension, we were high above the shore but the views continued amazing me. When we finished the second "loop" we had completed nearly 8 miles. At around mile 7ish I actually (and foolishly might I add) thought that I might PR because I was a few minutes faster than I normally am at that point in a race.

The third and final stretch continued along Long Beach Avenue while going in and out of a few neighborhood streets. It was at this point that I really felt the inadequacy of my training. At mile 9 I coated my left calf with biofreeze. At mile 10 I coated both my lower quads right above the knee (damn throbbing pain). At mile 11 I reapplied the left calf, although at this point my sample packet of biofreeze was severely dwindled. I walked most of the last mile to mile and a half, and was grateful to have made it across the finish line. When I saw Megan about 100 yards before the finish I was almost in tears telling her I needed rubbed down stat! She's definitely my kid because she snapped at me saying, "get your ass across that finish line because you only have 100 yards. We can talk later!". That's what I needed so I trotted across the finish and heard Kathrine Switzer announce my name.

My only real criticism of the race is that they had too few water stops and had Gatorade offered only at mile 11. Unfortunately, one water stop rampur of water and the mile 11 stop ran put of Gatorade. I liked the family atmosphere because Bridgetgot her face painted and a clown made her a balloon in the shape of a dog. However, damn, if I didn't miss my post-race beer!

Final pathetic stats:
finish time 2:45:24 or 12:37/mile
yep, even the turtle passed me!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Night Before the Maine Half Marathon

Saturday morning began with a wonderful breakfast spot called Popovers where we had great coffee and even better breakfast sandwiches. Afterwards, we checked out the local Farmer's Market at the City Hall in Portsmouth, NH. Bridget got her apple, Meg got fresh baked cinnamon donuts, and I picked out (what I hope to be) a good batch of granola. When we left the Farmer's Market, Bridget spied a neat little playground so we gave her some swing/slide time. Turned out Meg and I enjoyed a little teeter-totter time as well!

The expo for the Maine Harvard Pilgrim Half Marathon will go down as one of the bests. The expo was held in the gymnasium of the York High School and my husband and I both commented on how the smell of a high school gym is like no other and sure brings you back! But best of all, I got to meet Kathrine Switzer!!!! She signed my copy of Marathon Woman, chatted with both Greg and I as if we were the only people around, asked us questions about our racing, and was overall just a fantastic person. Even better, she agreed to a photo with me! Oh yeah, this will be hanging in my office!

Am I ready for this? I dunno. I know I can finish this distance, I've done it about a dozen times now, but timewise I'm not sure what to shoot for. McMillan calculator has predicted a 2:39 finish, but McMillan doesn't know about my calf strain that sidelined me from training. McMillan also doesn't know that 8 miles (last week as a matter of fact) was my LONGEST run. In a way, I hope that calculation is correct; but a part of me sure as hell hopes it is wrong! Fingers crossed...

Happy 16th Birthday, Pumpkin!

We spent Meg's sweet 16 with a great breakfast, little side trip to Harvard which included a Harvard crimson sweatshirt and a chocolate decadence cake at Finale, then a wonderful hotel room in New Hampshire.

Birthday dinner had to be special and it sure was! We dined at Warren's Lobster House in Kittery, Maine so Meg could have real Maine lobster. This place rocks! I'm not even sure I could do it justice by describing our dining experience because we all had a great meal, the service was spot on, and they even sang happy birthday to Meg when they delivered her "ice scream bomb" to her! The sweetest moment was when Bridget softly sang happy birthday to Meg privately while Meg was eating the dessert. Warren's also gives each patron a little key to see if they can open up the treasure chest. Nope, none of us had the lucky key! Back to the hotel to watch Bolt on DVD. A great day for my little pumpkin!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Boston - And So the Trip Begins

Early morning flight to Boston. Stayed at the Nine Zero, a Kimpton hotel. Ever since we stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar in Westwood on Wilshire Blvd. earlier this year, we've become loyal customers. We have stayed at a Kimpton in LA, Portland OR, Chicagoand now Boston and each location has not disappointed. The Boston location was perfect. Husband quickly departed for a print conference while us girlies spent a wonderful afternoon at the New England Aquarium. The penguin exhibit was fantastic and The IMAX movie Under the Sea 3D was incredible. We girls enjoyed lunch at the Aquarium's cafe before spending a little quality time on Newbury Street.

Too many shops on Newbury Street, but I can always count on Zara's to lighten my wallet. I wish I could remember the coffee shop, but Megan and I will definitely always remember the great scent and flavor of our coffee! For dinner we hit up the North End for the BEST lobster roll at Neptune's Oyster. No trip to the North End is complete with a visit to Mike's Pastries...mmm!

After a good night's rest, we woke up to wish Meg a happy 16th birthday! Greg found this great little breakfast spot on Charles Street where we had some kick ass coffee. A short detour through the cemetary then off to Cambridge for a little Harvard diversion. Cambridge is a quaint town, but after seeing the campus I can now understand why some people refer to Ohio University as the Harvard on the Hocking. Now off to Portsmouth, NH.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Song List Project

I gave my daughter the challenging project of putting together a running playlist of songs to motivate me for my weekend race. I figured it would be neat to hear what she thinks I like as well as what she considers motivational for a 2+ hour race. And yes, I already vetoed anything by Miley Cyrus - not a fan. But this new assignment got me thinking about stupid things like how many song have "run" or "running" in the song title. Below are a few of my favorites from my short web search:

Tom Petty - Running Down a Dream
Bon Jovi - Runaway
Flock of Seagulls - I Ran (So Far Away)
Run to You - Bryan Adams
Run - New Order
Running with the Night - Lionel Richie

It's ridiculous how much time I could waste perusing songs. So what's your favorite "running" song?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Two Wonderful Autumn Weekends in a Row

What amazing weather in Northern Ohio! Friday, we walked to pick up our pasta dinner and it was pure bliss to be able to squeeze in a to-go dinnertime walk. Saturday was my long run where for 8 miles I was fortunate enough to enjoy the beautiful fall foliage that the Metroparks offered. I've said it before but rustling leaves is simply a wonderful sound! Sunday was an early morning trail hike with husband and puppy. I don't know who was happier - me or puppy! One week till race day. Due to an injury sidelining my training there probably won't be a PR. But who knows...I can still hope and keep my fingers crossed! Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall in Love with Autumn

Love love love autumn. Saturday, we all worked in the yard raking leaves and cleaning up the flower beds. What a mess! Afterwards, we all loaded up in the car and went to Pettiti's to get harvest decorations and mums. They had this wonderful "front porch special" which consisted of 2 pumpkins, 2 medium size mums, 1 large mum, a bale of hay and a nice gathering of cornstalks for $30. How great to take the guesswork out of decorating. Our house now has fantastic fall curb appeal.

Today puppy and I went for a marvelous 7 mile trail run. I don't know who was happier - him or me! I'm not 100% back to my old fitness self, but I'm getting darn close. Seriously, is there any better sound to hear while running than crunching or rustling through leaves? Love this season!

Happy Autumn to all!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

As Ice Cube Said, "Today Was a Good Day"

I rested my calf for two very long weeks with no running and no high heels. This morning was my first test run to see if my injury was too bad and would require me to cancel my November 8 race. But as one of the greatest rappers so wonderfully said, today was a good day. The 5-mile run was at Munroe Falls Metro Parks at 8am as part of the Ohio Outside Trail series consisting of two scenic loops of "rolling hills". I took it very easy on the first loop so as not to reinjure myself and to just see how my body responded after being dormant. I kicked it up a notch on the second loop, still not too hard, and actually felt like a little kid letting it loose running down a couple short hills! The race schwag was pretty cool - everyone received a pint glass instead of a boring white race shirt, a water bottle and a sample packet of the new Gu chomps. Post race they had hot mulled cider, cookies (my favorite gingernsnaps!), bananas and bagels. With the temps hovering between 38-40 the cider was fantastic. I enjoyed this course and small crowd so much, I will probably sign up for the rest of the series. Finished in a conservative 57:13. I would like to shave 4 minutes off that for the November race.

On another note, good luck to Elizabeth today at the Columbus marathon!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vanity and Other Sins

Four weeks until I get to cross off the 20th state. One full week with absolutely no running...nada, zilch, zero. You see, two weeks ago I attended a wedding and reception where I debuted 6" stilletto heels...gorgeous works of art in which I received numerous compliments AND a calf strain which "popped" on my run a couple days after the wedding. I didn't take the strain seriously and tried running again and, this time, I was forced to take the pain seriously. So it's cross training for me on the cycle ops in the basement for the next two weeks, a swim here and there and NO MORE STILLETTOS - at least not for 7 hour stretches. devil.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All Work and No Running Makes Robin Grumpy

It's been a hectic week in which I have been working 12-14 hour days. This, along with the monsoon, has resulted in no running since a fabulous 4-mile Friday afternoon run last week. I'm feeling so out of sorts and I'm pretty sure "bitchiness" is right around the corner. If all goes well, Thursday may be a lucky day for me and result in a much-needed 3 or 4 mile run. A girl can dream....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Good Cause and a Great Adventure

One of Husband's friends sent us a link of two crazy guys, their bikes, and a good cause. You may have even heard of them - Dan and Paul. Or as they're known in my house - "Bill & Ted's Adventures". If you get a chance hop on over to their blog and read about ride of a lifetime and how they are raising money for the United Way of Greater Cleveland.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

First Spin

The bike arrived today and I was more excited than I thought I would be (is that even possible?). Husband assembled everything like a pro. We then took my shiny used bike up to Century Cycles for new pedals and a quick "review" of brakes, etc. and then it was time to ride it back to the ranch. I love it and I can't wait for my morning ride with Husband. Of course, I'm now wishing I had knocked out my long run today rather than turning my Sunday into a brick-gone-bad! Who cares, the new bike adrenaline should carry me through my 10-miler.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Shiny New Bicycle and It's Not Even Christmas

I finally broke down and bought a road bike. So I guess that means it's official...I will definitely tackle another tri and a century ride is in my future as well. It's not even Christmas but I'm just as excited and I can't wait till it's delivered to my door step. "It" is a Fuji Finest 2.0 - the same bike I rented and rode during the Portland Freshwater Trust Triathlon. You see, Madame Fuji and I have some unfinished business and I'm determined to "own" her - figuratively and financially! So if she gets here in time, then you will see me with husband taking my new ride for a spin in the metroparks!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Speed Workout Tonight

Okay, so it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I did a short interval workout of a warm up, 4x400 with 400 recovery, and cool down. My goal was sub 2:15 and I surprised myself with 1:57, 1:59, 1:56 and 1:54. Total distance tonight was 3 miles. Not bad. By mid-October I would like to be in the 1:40-1:45 range. Tonight was also fun because I got to watch my two girls playing on the football field playing kickball, laughing and running back and forth. It was a great way to spend an evening!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

New England in the Fall

I'm officially registered for what will become the 20th state in our 50 state quest. The Maine Harvard Pilgrim's Half Marathon features a beautiful course through York, Maine along the seacoast. Best of all, the featured speaker is Kathrine Switzer. What an exciting and inspirational speaker for me and my girls (and Greg will enjoy her, too). Argh, that also means more quality time at the track doing 400s and those monster 800s!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Husband Rocks!

Last night he surprised me with the complete first season of Thirtysomething on DVD. I have watched the first 4 episodes and I have missed Hope, Michael, Elliott, Nancy, Gary, Melissa and Ellyn. It's the little things...there's nothing bigger!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pictures from Portland Triathlon

The view of the Portland bridges before sunrise was really quite beautiful. You can see a large number of swimmers working their way through the water. I'm sure I'm there somewhere! Who am I kidding, I was still backstroking/floating at that point!

I had just walked uphill from the dock and ran into Greg and Bridget. I am sure I was telling him something like, "OMG I was so not prepared for a 1/2 mile open water swim and I'm freezing! I found the swim portion hard (as evidenced by my exhausted look while trotting from the water to the transition area). Dripping wet clothes just don't accentuate a girl's body style.

The bike portion was beautiful, but I was not prepared for the challenging hills.

The run segment I loved. We ran across two bridges along the Williamette River and enjoyed the scenery of the downtown Portland area.

Anyone who has either been a supporter (family or friend) knows the waiting around part is hard. My two girls (and husband!) had to wait around for 2-1/2 hours for me to finish. Bridget didn't make it for the run portion and decided it was naptime. Another picture of Meg with crazy sunglasses (her 50th pair I'm sure).

Ahhh...the reward of a wonderful draft beer at McMenamins. Notice Bridget in her "Go Mommy Go" shirt. She and Megan yelled that while I was on the bike portion and the beginning of the run (before she passed out for a nap).

All in all, I loved this race. Even more, I loved that I was able to finish a triathlon with less than 4 weeks training time. But...I think I'll stick to running for now!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Wish I Were Salmon

The rules for the Race for 50 States challenge were two-fold: 1) it had to include family either as one or all of us participating in a race or at least traveling together and 2) had to include different types of races from 5k to 50k, trail races, a century bike ride or two, and triathlon to further challenge our physical selves and to step out of our racing comfort zones while learning (and maybe enjoying) a new sport. So far, we have collectively acomplished a 5k, 10k, 10 mile trail run, half marathon, marathon, sprint triathlon, Olympic triathlon, and a half ironman. We're moving right along in reaching our goal. And with this past weekend's sprint triathlon in Portland, Oregon, we managed to check off our19th state! Now, on to the race report.

Swim. I wish I were salmon because then I could naturally swim upstream in a river. As you know, a triathlon race begins with the swim portion. Not only is this not my strength, but I started practicing 4 weeks ago on my lunch hour, with the pool facility being closed one of those weeks. Not surprisingly, I was not speedy in the water. It's hard to even begin describing all that went wrong during
my swim portion, but I will try as this also serves as a learning tool for improvement. We had to jump in the river from the marina dock and then tread water till our start time. The outside temps were 60-61. The water was 67. Can I just day brrrrrr. No wetsuit because I thought the water couldn't be much cooler than Lake Erie (mistake#1). I think I might have panicked at that point because I was so cold before getting into the water, then was shocked at how really cold I could still become. When the gun went off, you would have thought this was my first time in open water. I had to back stroke it until I could relax myself enough to attempt the freestyle stroke. Thank goodness I am no sissy and was able to pull myself together, although I swear I saw "things" swming alongside me! I managed to finish in 30:51, about 5 minutes off my goal time. Based upon the little training I had for the swim portion (9 pool sessions and 1open water practice), I didn't fare too badly for swimming 750 meters. The Transition is another story (can you say train wreck?).

T1 - I got out of the water by placing my foot onto a 2x4 and climbing out of the water using a net like a Navy Seal, only clumsier. Ran up the hill to the Transition area where I couldn't quite figure out how to put my helmet on. I could see Meg & Greg watching my confused motions wondering how long does it really take to strap on a helmet. According to my T1 time, it takes 3:59 to slip on socks, shoes, strap a helmet onto wet hair and ride off into the sunset (or Naito Pkwy).

Bike. It was hilly and challenging, yet a beautiful ride overall. I had set my goal at 1:04 and ended up with a very acceptable 1:19 for the 16.4 mile bike ride. The first 3.5 miles were uphill with an additional 1/2 mile up a very steep hill before cresting atop Terwilliger. The big learning lesson here is that I should have practiced climbing hills on my rented Fuji road bike to get a better sense of shifting gears. Learning how to ride a bike DURING a race is not the time to master your gears. Terwilliger was quite scenic with lush foliage and breath-taking views of Portland. The crowds and volunteers were wonderful. And I loved hearing my two girls yell "go mommy go" while I was rounding the corner on my bike. Not only do I judge a race by their pre- and post-race activities, but also by how family friendly it is. So even though my quads and calves were cursing me, I totally enjoyed the race and gave it my best. I also loved the ride, fit and feel of my rented Fuji Finest 2.0 road bike.

T2 - I racked my bike, took a giant gulp of HEED, ponytailed my hair, added a hat (partly for sun protection, partly to hide the poor ponytail job!) and off I went on the run. Time in T2 was 2:17.

Run. Thank goodness something my body understood. Believe it or not, I actually ran one of my faster times and probably would have broke 30 minutes if my quads hadn't locked up twice on me. I still managed to run 32:36, and was quite pleased. We ran along the banks of both sides of the Williamette River and across 2 bridges. Once again, great views of the city and a fairly enjoyable run with only a few short climbs.

Post-race. Hell yeah this will go down as one of my favorite races! I got a fantastic bamboo long-sleeve race shirt with 3 chickens - each one reading flail (swim), flap (bike) and flee (run) - triathlons are not for chickens. Loved it! At the finish line, every finisher received a stainless steel water bottle with Portland Triathlon Finisher on it. Each race participant also got gelatto from Staccato Gelatto and a delicious microbrew ale from Deschutes. The line was too long, but there was also BBQ as well. There was also a kids painting activity area and great open green spaces for families and supporters to relax and wait on their athlete.

Final Thoughts. Overall, I finished in 2:29:14 and was happy considering the training effort put forth. I would like to do another sprint triathlon sometime, but I'm not committing to one anytime soon. I was very happy that I tackled a sport that was definitely outside my comfort zone (open water swimming) and, best of all, had my favorite cheering section with me through the whole race!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Transition Dress Rehearsal

Tonight was a last minute practice of T1 and T2 for the upcoming Portland Freshwater Trust Sprint Triathlon. Learned a few keys things to change and realized that when you're trying to be fast in transition, you can often miss things. I can't exactly write crib notes on my arm for this! I have packed all the key items - goggles, extra swim cap, tri shorts, tri top for the swim; helmet, extra shirt for race number, socks/shoes, and sunglasses for bike portion; and my favorite (worn-out) running hat to finish with. I have all the little extras just in case - gu packets (lemon sublime, my favorite), bodyglide, water bottle for HEED and one for water, sunscreen, my good friend Biofreeze, bandaids, baby powder, and a Christmas Red towel so I can easily spot my corner of the woods in the triathlon pit.

I had a good swim today. At this point, I am challenging myself to finish in 2 hours...give or take a minute or two. My goal is to finish the 750m swim in 25 minutes, the 16.4 mile bike ride in 64 minutes, and the 5k run in 30 minutes.

Portland, here I come!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Good Week of Training

I'm happy with this week's training. Sunday I logged in a 10 mile trail run. Took a break Monday (mostly so I could learn to walk again!). Tuesday was a good day for swimming logging in 1000m during lunch. Wednesday was an 8 mile bike ride for 22:30 and a 1/2 mile run at 4:20. Thursday evening was a wonderful evening of swimming with my friend Karen, who is an amazing swimmer and specializes in the phrase, "how do you feel? Ok, then give me 50 more." Friday was a much needed rest day. Today was a brick with husband - 14 mile bike ride and 2.5 mile run. Another open water swim practice is on the agenda for Sunday, then definitely a cold Corona! Exactly one week till the tri and I am nervous and excited!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Can Now Say I Am A Trail Runner

I just finished my first 10-mile trail run and it was exhausting AND exciting at the same time. I will definitely do this again (and again and again)! The Ultra Trail Run at Holiday Valley was a very technical and challenging course. Last night it poured buckets of rain so the course was so muddy that it was difficult to truly get any good footing on the trails. This was also the first time that I ran a course so rocky that it was tough to maintain balance and not slip on the wet, uneven rocks. With that said, I still rocked it and finished!

Before the race began, the race director made an announcement that this race was not for new trail runners (uh oh). He said that he wanted to be very clear that the course was intended for intermediate to advanced trail runners and that if you had any doubts whether you belonged to this group, then it would be best to not start the race. I looked at Megan and really wondered if I made the right decision to enter this race...or maybe I should take the race director's advice and run back to my car. Well, I'm two things - a redhead and stubborn. I started the course. And I finished the course.

The first 1.5 miles was a brutal hill. I actually had a brief hesitation that maybe a DQ might not be so bad afterall. Forget that...bring on the pain. We entered the Allegheny State Forest from Holiday Valley Ski Resort and spent most of the mileage in the State Forest. The trail was mostly single track with a lot of "rolling hills" (whoever coined that term should be shot!). Many sections were no wider than my hips and I'll be surprised if the poison ivy fairy doesn't visit me. One of the difficulties about my running level is that I am a back of the pack trail runner and spend a lot of time by myself. On the other hand, it was wonderful just listening to the trees swaying, birds moving, rain drops falling and basically just listening to nature. Even though the course was rough, I found myself enjoying each minute.

I may not have tipped the PR meter, but I didn't come in last in my first long distance trail run. I will keep at this and work on improving my time, balance and general consistency with mileage. I loved the comraderie of trail runners. Wow! Even though I finished a half hour or hour after many, I was surprised how many people I heard applauding as I finished. The loudest was Megan, who I always look for! Afterwards, when I realized my calves were not going to disown me afterall, I sat down and had the tastiest Coors Light from a can. I was surprised how many runners had brought coolers and lawn chairs and were just making an afternoon of their run...pretty cool vibe, to say the least.

The promoters of this race also had a great sense of humor, as evidenced by the sign I'm standing next to.

Me and Meg before the race.

The thrill of the finish line.

It was a good Sunday.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Burning River 100 Mile Race

What a fun day! Of course, it was probably only fun for Megan and me since we didn't have to run 100 miles in 30 hours or less. We worked the Boston Store Aid Station at miles 56 and 60.6 for our friend E and couldn't believe how much we enjoyed our shift. I had the opportunity to meet and mingle with so many interesting people...and dedicated families. The families have an even tougher day waiting for their athlete and moving from aid station to aid station during the Burning River 100 mile race. Meg worked the bag check and food stations while I checked in runners then finished up at the food station. I learned that boiled potatoes with salt and soggy ramen noodles were hot items for ultra runners. Makes sense with the salt content, easy to eat, and easy to digest on a runner's stomach. I have such admiration for people who run at night on trails with a headlight. Think about it, the runners checked in with the aid station at 60.6 miles. They still had 40 miles to go. If they ran at a 15-minute/mile pace, which would be enough to finish under the time limit, it would still take 10 more hours - the majority of which would be in the dark. Amazing!

Before going to the race, I squeezed in an 8 mile run with the final 2 miles as trail work. Puppy ran with me and he even seemed tired. I'm getting nervous about my 10 mile trail race next weekend, but also getting excited about pushing myself to do something more challenging than just road running. Tomorrow is a short run plus another swim day. Tuesday evening I'll be trying an open water swim - I'm crossing my fingers on that one!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Week One and I'm Exhausted

A full week of training for a sprint triathlon and I'm beat! This week since Monday I have swam 3 days, ran 10 miles and biked 16 miles. The bike ride was fantastic actually since I rode from my office to Merry Arts for dollar taco night and $2 Coors Light. Pretty cool way to join my family for dinner and no guilt for beer/taco combo. The swimming is improving and I have surprised myself with how much I'm enjoying it. I would bike more to work if the weather would allow it. And the running I simply love -always have and if I'm lucky I always will. I have my long run Saturday morning, then volunteering Saturday night at the Burning River 100 Miler Race. Sunday will be a 4-6 mile trail run in preparation for next week's 10-mile trail race in New York.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

First Day in the Pool

Today was my first swim practice...and I'm exhausted. I could barely stay awake during a meeting I was facilitating. I went to this fantastic swim facility near where I work during my lunch hour. Funny part was that I REALLY brought down the average age while I was there! I got into a lane and immediately complained to myself that the pool was much colder than I remembered (man, I am such a wimp). The pool was 25m in length and I managed to complete 350 meters. I compared my 50m swim time to my 15-year-old daughter's swim time. Now keep in mind, she is on the swim team (please note the disclaimer). I managed to eak out a very pathetic time of 1m12sec and she just shook her head. I guarantee that next Tuesday I will be able to shed at least 15 seconds on my 50m swim time. I plan to swim a T/W/Fri schedule during my lunch hour until the Portland Triathlon the end of August. I should be able to handle a 750m sprint distance (I know...longshot...but bet on me on this one). Biking is going well and I'm splitting my running between trail work and long runs on the road. I'm finding it incredibly challenging to train for a triathlon while also training for a 10-mile trail run. Each race should sufficiently kick my arse during the month of August. It's doubtful that I will relax in September...especially since I hear there's a pretty cool half marathon trail run mid-September. Ahhhh, fall racing :)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Brick Sunday

What a way to begin a Sunday morning! If I'm going to do the sprint triathlon in Portland, then I have to respect the sport of triathlon...bricks and all. This morning husband and I biked a nice 11-mile loop from our house down into the metroparks with one wicked bad hill to climb (lots of little ones, too). We actually managed to shave about 10 minutes off the last time we tackled the same loop! I also did a little better with this very fast downhill stretch that normally scares me. As Gavin Rossdale says, speed kills (or so I worry). Got off our bikes at the house for husband to change out of his clip shoes and into running shoes, leashed up the dog, and off we went for a run from our house to the trails. Wow, I had forgotten that "dead leg" feeling that you have between the bike/run transition. I think I enjoyed the trail run as much as puppy! It's funny how much you can love the way your body feels even when you're exhausted and sweaty. Overall, it was a pretty good week. Got some good runs in (including a couple 5 & 6 milers), had some great evenings with my girls, snagged date night tickets for the husband and me to see a very talented Dan Auerbach (touring solo at the moment from the Black Keys), and got to see Hincapie's amazing performance yesterday. Can't wait to see Lance tear up the Alps today!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Muddy Paws

This morning was awesome - just me and my dog running the Muddy Paws 5-mile trail run with my daughter Kid A and friend E cheering us on! I have such respect for trail distance runners after this morning - wow, what a challenging course! I knew going in that this wasn't like an all-purpose trail or a bridle trail, but I didn't expect the hills to wreck my hamstrings like they did! Did I mention I would definitely do this again?! Plus, I figured a challenging 5-miler would be a good tune-up for my 10-mile trail run in August. Puppy was a rock star navigating the terrain with excitement. Below I've posted a picture of my biggest cheerleader Kid A before the race began and a pic of Me & Puppy coming into the finishing chute. The course was technical for most of it, but had a nice grassy finish. Afterwards, we hit the farmer's market for fresh strawberries, watermelon, crisp celery, carrots, juicy tomatoes and cherries, and corn which will be tasty on the grill later! Great morning!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Summer of Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Husband offered to take me to Portland, Oregon for a weekend trip with Kid A and Pablo Honey, of course. Most people would begin their google searches with key places to sight-see, maybe a hotel search or two, a Citysearch visit for hot restaurants or clubs, but not me. I googled 10k, half marathon and trail races. Nothing. Triathlons, yes. A sprint triathlon, yes again. I can run and I occasionally bike to/from work (25 mi r/t), but swimming requires effort (translation: practice, training). I've done a sprint triathlon before and I'm not a fan of not seeing the bottom. I kind of like seeing what's swimming next to me, no matter the mammal/amphibian form *shiver*. Regardless, I have until 7/31 to register in order to get my long-sleeve bamboo shirt - hmmm, the shirt...the things we do for the right shirt.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Postman Always Rains Twice

Since Kid A had a swim meet this evening, I had to get my run in during my lunch hour. I love lunchtime runs because it breaks up the boredom and provides me with a laugh drying my sweaty clothes on my office door knob! Today I needed a clothes dryer from my clothes being so wet. What started out as an "iffy" run dodging sprinkles turned into a torrential downpour. On the upside, I had a blast splashing around like a duck and giggling like a 4-year-old! It felt like recess and I definitely didn't want to go back to class/job. By the time I'm completely dry it's time to go home. Being the meteorologist that I am (NOT) I decide around 7ish to take puppy for a walk. Five minutes into Jameson's walk and the monsoon hit - the postman always rains twice.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Race Detoxing

It's been 2 weeks since my last race and I am getting the shakes...I need my fix. By no means am I good at this stuff (racing) but damn, I do enjoy looking forward to the race, the pre-activities (from layout out my clothes, attaching my chip and eating pasta), to the lining up, and post-race beer ( I raced 5/2, 5/10, 5/23, 5/31 and 6/13. I have nothing nada zilch till 8/9. I'm afraid my daughters will find me "practice tying" my IPICO chip to my shoes - which will then require "husband intervention" (gasp!). Thank goodness my other obsession - the Tour de France - begins in a few days (T minus 5 to be exact). Lance will have to serve as my "racing patch" - GO LANCE!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Trail Running Newbie

To spice things up a bit, I have signed up for a 10 mile trail run in New York at the Holiday Valley Ski Resort. I've tackled a 5k Xterra trail run before, but there's a big difference between 3 miles and 10 miles. The good news is that I'm physically able to do a 13.1 mile road race. Obviously, I will want to add a lot more hill work, lots of squats and switch my weekly long run to trail running. I'd like to get some feedback or advice from runners who switch it up every now and then with trail work. Definitely looking to this new challenge!

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Official - I got a 10k PR!

The 17th state was checked off on Saturday with a wonderful trip with my 2 daughters. I ran the Lombardi Classic 10k in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1:03:05. Two weeks earlier I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis 10k in 1:05:03. A new 10k PR!!!! The course was through the Milwaukee Zoo - so what better way to start off a morning than to run past elk, caribou, grizzly bears, giraffes and emu! I loved every minute of it. Afterwards, my daughters and I enjoyed a morning filled with more animals. Before heading to Chicago (for a little Magnificent Mile time), we made a spontaneous trip to the Jelly Belly factory. The tour was so-so (a bit boring) but the samples were great and the jelly belly hat totally made the trip worthwhile! We made it to Chicago in time to do sufficient damage to the Visa card before enjoying a Giordano deep dish pizza (I hope I burned off enough calories to make this splurge not as damaging!)...mmmmmmm! On the drive back Sunday we hit the University of Notre Dame to enjoy the bookstore and grounds. Overall, wonderful race - wonderful trip! Below are some pictures of the weekend -

Pinning on my number

Finish line!

Bridget and I with a Milwaukee Buck :)

Me, Bridget and Megan at the Jelly Belly Factory

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Morning Runs

I've now completed my first week of morning runs. This is a big deal for me because I'm a ginger daywalker (see South Park if you really have to ask) and we are rarely seen in the sun. Most of my runs are in the evening...and quite honestly I've never understood happy sunshine morning people anyway - it was one group I never wanted to be a member. However, I'm really digging the 5 and 6 am runs. My running partner gave me the best compliment this morning - he looked back at me almost saying, "seriously, are we really keeping this pace?" Well, if my 5 year old black lab could have talked this morning I am sure he would have said exactly that! My next morning run will be Saturday as I check off my 17th state. My daughters (Kid A & Pablo Honey) will be cheering me on and I'm confident I will get closer to my goal of running a one hour 10k!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Wait Is Over

On the plus side, I don't have to check my email daily now waiting for the announcement. On the downside, Greg and I didn't make the cut for the NYC Marathon. The good news is that if you get denied 3 years in a row, then you get admission. So 2012 here we come! Instead of NYC, I will now be searching out another fall destination marathon. The Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa might be my fall choice...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

16th State Was One of My Favorite Races!

I missed a 10k PR by 40 seconds but I was more than happy with my time of 1:05:02. I ran the ZOOMA 10k in Annapolis this past Sunday. The morning was iffy since it was raining buckets and lightning at 6:00 am. Megan was a course marshal volunteer working at the 10k turnaround. I have to say it was pretty cool hearing her voice as I approached the turn/half marathon split. Rating the course, organization, town and post race food and festivities, I would have to give high marks. Packet pick up on Saturday was simple and I did enjoy walking around the Naval Academy stadium and seeing GO NAVY in the bleachers. We strolled around the town and had lunch at this great little gem called Chick and Ruth's "delly" - I highly recommend this place. Race morning was not initially ideal, but what can you do when Mother Nature deals you a bad hand! Surprisingly, the temps stayed in the high 50s to low 60s which was nice regardless of the rain. Wouldn't you know it stopped raining about a mile before the finish. The course was scenic and challenging - a great combination. The finish line was spacious and food was spot on. All finishers received a special necklace made by women in Guatemala - a nice touch. I had the option of riding the shuttle back to the Naval stadium or walking a mile back. The walk back was an ideal choice. The After Party was exactly as promised. I was greeted by a volunteer handing out chocolates, next I had a yummy sample size cupcake from Nostalgia Cupcakes, a box lunch with hummus, carrot/celery sticks & apple, and a cold complimentary glass of Pinot Grigio from Barefoot Wines. Although I didn't sign up for a free massage, I was impressed with how organized the service was. I even treated myself to a new pink shirt that read, "one tasty cupcake = 3.1 miles" - love it! Best of all, I got to share this race experience with my daughter, who was a great volunteer. I would recommend this as a destination race since the town is a must-see and the race is challenging, well run and truly enjoyable.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

North Carolina Makes 15

Another state checked off my list. This past weekend I had the pleasure and the pain of completing the Skirtchaser 5k in Raleigh, North Carolina. My traveling partner-in-crime was Karen. She had the good (mis)fortune of experiencing the kind of heat and humidity that people from our neck of the woods rarely, if ever, feel. While waiting for the race to begin we sweated enough fluids to require another hydration attempt! We lunched at the Hibernian Pub before checking into our hotel. Arrived at the race with enough time to check in, change into the little racing skirts, ditch our stuff and line up in the corral. It was hotter than Hades! I had read somewhere that the body feels it's 10-15 degrees warmer than temps reflect once you're running. It was 85-87 at the start - you do the sweltering math! The first 2 miles were uphill (I was soooo wrong when I thought Raleigh was flat). There was no water stops on the course - just Gatorade at the 1.5 mark and only 2 volunteers so we waited for a drink. And wait I did! I had this horrible sinus infection/head cold and couldn't breathe through my nose, which left my mouth as dry as the sahara. We both finished with what we felt were respectable times, grabbed our free beer, a slice of watermelon, a 2" jimmy john sample size sub, then made our way to grab a quick dinner somewhere that didn't have a dress code. The best part of the evening was coming across Helios Cafe which had fantastic caps and lattes and dreamy red velvet cupcakes! Early to bed because I felt like crap from the head cold from hell, then back to Cleveland the next morning. Thanks, Karen, I look forward to our next adventure!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Good Week of Running

A simple post - I've had a good week of running. It started with a 2-mile run to CrossFit class on Monday. Two 4-mile lunchtime runs on Wednesday and Friday, then a nice, even-paced 10-miler on Sunday. Today's run was even more enjoyable than most of my regular 10 mile runs because I had the great pleasure of watching the Cleveland Marathon/Half Marathon racers at my halfway point. I can't help but become a little emotional when watching a race...something that's hard to explain unless you run, in which case you will totally understand. So here's to hoping for another good week of running with a great ending at the North Carolina race and possibly a new PR!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Race Photos

It's as if school pictures weren't enough to stress about growing up, but now I've entered a new dimension of hell...race photos. I got that dreaded link announcing that my recent half marathon race photos were available for viewing. You know, I secretly hope that this batch will be different. I realize race photogs can't make my photo 20 pounds lighter, but seriously is sitting on a curb really the most flattering angle for anyone???!!! I seem to have this bizarre stride that requires one side of my shorts to hike up high enough to be saying hello to my hip. And because I'm chronicling my races in all the states, I end up buying the least bad photo each time...for the bargain basement price of $15.95 for a 4x6. I almost think that those little black combs they used to pass out in the school pictures line should be included in the racer's goody bags...and maybe disposable (and biodegradable) lipstick. A girl can dream!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

This morning was my 3rd Mother's Day Run! The first run was 2007 when Bridget was 2 months old (and my body did NOT bounce back like Halle Berry!). When I registered my family for the 2nd race in 2008, they begged me to let them buy me something from Target or anywhere else. Nope, I love to run and I wanted to do a run with my family on mother's day. You can't buy "family time" from Target as you know. Each year we ask someone random person to take a picture of all of us. Meg and Bridget don't appreciate it yet, but they will as they get older and see how much they've grown and how beautiful they are! Oh yeah, we DEFINITELY don't run for a PR - just for the Caribou Coffee, bagels and "jo-jo's" (as Bridget calls them). Happy Mother's Day to everyone!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Flying Pig Half Marathon Report

The Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio was yet another wonderful running experience. For this post, I will break my race experience into 3 parts: the expo, the race itself, and the post race experience. First, the expo - very well run and organized, not to mention one of the best goodie bags! I loved all the Pig photo ops as well as the Bob Ronker "modeling" of running apparel. The race was well marked, challenging yet interesting, and the town had more crowd support than the PF Chang's Marathon in Phoenix, which I didn't think was possible. My quads and hamstrings definitely knew I had been doing hill work! The finish "swine" was perfectly spaced. One of my biggest complaints about the Waddell & Reed half marathon is that runners were bunched up at the finish line and couldn't breathe let alone access post race water and food. Not the case with the Flying Pig. There was plenty of room to walk to get the mylar blanket, the cute medal (which my 2-year-old loved), water and snacks. You had the usual cast of suspects-apples, oranges & bananas-but this race also had the 'ito' family represented -- you know, doritos, cheetos & fritos! Plus, as a bonus to my younger daughter, they had Dora the Explorer animal crackers! This might be a race I do again! Race time: finished in 2:34. Not a personal best, but a 2009 PR.

Best of all, the Flying Pig serves as the kick off to a fun racing season. This weekend my family and I will all participate in the annual mother's day run. May 23 I will race in the Skirtchaser 5k in Raleigh, NC and hopefully break 30 minutes. Then the end of the month is the Zooma 10k in Annapolis. And let the sweating begin.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Flying Pig Here I Come!

After another exhausting, but wonderfully challenging, week of CrossFit, I am excited about my upcoming race. Cincinnati is known for its hills, but my quads are ready! Can't help but get excited about the expo - pretty pathetic, but it's my idea of awesome shopping! Flying Pig, you *will* be my next PR!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

CrossFit Update

Back from Vacation and quickly moved into our second week of CrossFit...should be our 3rd week, but we were on vacation during week 2 and will make it up the lost time later in the program. The class was for 1 hour on Saturday morning and, as of this afternoon, neither Greg or I can move. My thighs ache as if I had just finished a marathon (you know, can't go down a set of stairs without saying "Oowh"). My arms are useless and I just want to sit for long periods! Thank goodness I got my long run out of the way on Friday. My tempo run is not looking promising for Sunday afternoon.

We did a "circuit" which consisted of rowing, squats, box jumps, push ups, and situps. We were timed and had to complete as many of each of these activities for 20 seconds, with a 10 second rest, 8 times for each, then shout out our numbers. I was lucky I didn't fall off the box when jumping on and off with my amazing agility! I really can't believe how exhausted this made me...and Greg is in the same boat! Best of all (or worst of all), we get to do all of this AGAIN to see if we've improved any as we progress through the program. I still can't believe I VOLUNTARILY signed up for this??!!

Back from Vacation!

Los Angeles and Las Vegas were absolutely wonderful! First, we flew into Vegas and stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel before beginning our 4-hour trek to LA. Loved the Hard Rock...even considered the whole tattoo thing (still considering it, husband leaning toward it as well). Car ride with a 2-year-old not so bad - thank goodness for the iTouch. Became a huge fan of Kimpton hotels. Stayed at the Kimpton Palomar near UCLA campus. Not only was it affordable (way less than a Chicago hotel), but it was wonderfully stocked with kid stuff and loaned us a fantastic stroller that Pablo Honey actually rode in! Just that small fact made the hotel amazing. Best of all, there was all you could drink organic coffee each morning - forget buffets, just give me a coffee bar and I'm golden. Checked out Beverly Hills - Kid A found out that Rodeo Drive was really not a big deal (especially compared to Vegas) and did some of the cheesy touristy kind of stuff. Checked out Grauman's Chinese Theatre, the star walk and Kodak Theatre. A little gem ended up being the Griffith Observatory. Got some great pics with the Hollywood sign in the background. Pictures will be posted within the next couple of days. Checked out the Farmer's Market on West 3rd and it no where near compared to our wonderful Westside Market on 25th.

Spent Easter Sunday in Santa Monica. I have to admit it was pretty cool looking over during communion and seeing Conan O'Brien. Breakfast at Jack-n-Jills did not disappoint. Greg had PBC pancakes which had Reece diced on top - Wow! Back to the hotel for nap time, while I attempted a 10-miler from our hotel to Santa Monica along Wilshire and around the pier and beach area. I'm a pretty well-traveled person, but I have never before been verbally abused by a homeless person like I was in Santa Monica. The guy called me a "fat ass, piece of sh*t, white trash." The only part that really offended me was the fat part! He certainly helped increase my speed that I was running - damn! We did, however, stumble across a neat little place to eat an early dinner. We originally tried to eat at Your Father's Office due to the great burger review we read. As the 2-year-old sprinted inside to scout out a seat, we quickly were informed "No one under 21." No worries, Greg found a back-up at the Library Ale House. I quickly became a fan of Bear Republic Racer 5 IPAs.

The best day of all was Monday - Meg and I were audience members on Ellen. I could not believe how amazing this would really be. We had front row seats and were literally 10 feet away from Ellen. She's just as great in person as on TV. Jenny McCarthy, Mary McCormick and Natasha Bedingfield were guests. I just can't say enough about how great of an experience this was. Meg and I were exhausted from all the clapping, whooping, yelling, standing, dancing and smiling. Meg said she smiled so much that her cheeks hurt. What a hard life! We topped the evening off with a trip to Pink's. I had the Rosie O'Donnell which had sauerkraut, onions, brown mustard and sauce. Meg had the Lord of the Rings which had onion rings and BBQ sauce drizzled on it. Greg went standard with sauce and onions. Wow - not the healthiest thing to eat...but Wow! That's when you know you're an adult - when you can eat a monster 10" hot dog and call it dinner.

Back in Vegas (after another quick stop to Del Taco), we celebrated Greg's birthday at Kerry Simon's place in the Palms hotel. Better than birthday cake, we had the "junk food platter" for dessert. It had (drum roll, please)...ho ho's, sno ball, cotton candy, cookies, rice crispie treats, fruity pebbles treat, brownies, and caramel corn (in a chinese take out box). They lit a candle in the ho ho for Greg to blow out. Food, drink, music, atmosphere...great place!

Although we did not come back winners from the Blackjack table, we still had another fantastic family vacation. Can't wait to plan another one!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CrossFit Cross Training Program: Week One

Two sessions down! CrossFit has been so tough but yet so wonderful! Day 1 was spent introducing us to equipment and the general layout of the CrossFit program. I've never done so many squats! We used the rowing machine, performed at least 50 squats (which is a lot for a first date!), did step ups and overhead presses. Then we were timed for how long we could stay in plank position. Day 2 consisted of more squats (of course...because who doesn't want to walk like John Wayne!) with an increased focus on arm strength. I can't wait till next week's class. I really want to improve my half marathon time and I'm confident this is the right program. Stay tuned for more information on CrossFit!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Another Wonderful Yoga Session

Today I attended a yoga session with Robert at Westside Yoga...for two hours, I worked on poses that help strengthen the spine and core. Absolutely exhausting but it left me with this incredible warmth. I was lucky enough to learn some valuable poses which should help improve my overall running by creating a stronger core and helping to reduce injury. Flying Pig look out - you might be my PR!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My New Guilty Pleasure

I'm hooked. I was referred to a new website which is most addicting! If you haven't checked it out yet, you must. Go to You can search your name (or someone else's) and find out nearly every race, including triathlons, that you finished. Ahhh...I just love adding to my cool website list! Enjoy...I am :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Interval Training is not for Sissies!

It hurts..can be devastating to look at your watch and see your splits...while at the same time feeling so worthwhile. I have never been a fan of interval training and, consequently, was never consistent (translation: did it one time, it hurt, I quit). That might explain my mediocre half marathon finish times. But this race training is different. I have made a date with myself (it's in my calendar!) and I'm not breaking my Tuesday "date" time. I can't wait to shed seconds from my 400s! I'll keep you posted...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

25 Random Things About Me (Does this stuff ever stop surfacing?!)

So I've been tagged a few times for this and decided to give it a try. So here goes...hopefully there is something interesting in one of these numbers!

1. I love broccoli - always have, always will. I get excited in restaurants when it's the veggie of the day. My daughter calls me a "flexitarian" because I would eat broccoli before eating meat.
2. I am the oldest of 5 kids - three of us have red hair, my father has red hair.
3. I am a terrible rummy player, but that doesn't stop me from telling people I bring my "A game" when I challenge them.
4. I love puzzles and once came in first place in a puzzle competition. I found out recently that my family considers this an "embarassing fact" about me.
5. I keep a dictionary at my desk and try to learn a new word each day.
6. I love rap and hip hop music and my dream job used to be to work for Puff Daddy/P.Diddy/Sean John.
7. I am afraid of heights and even thought Alladin's Carpet at DisneyWorld was a bit risky!
8. I am a pisces and love to swim, but open water swimming freaked me out when I trained for a sprint triathlon.
9. Growing up, I wanted to be a lawyer for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Thank goodness that didn't work out!
10. I love cold weather vacations, yet I am lousy at cold weather sports (except snowshoeing).
11. My favorite vacation was a trip to Madrid and Seville Spain...amazing beauty of architechture, language and food.
12. I read trash magazines, but I like to think I read the "good/legitimate" ones - People and US Weekly lol
13. I like to see an author's picture before I read the book - fiction and nonfiction. I have to have a "connection" with the author introduction, if you will.
14. I am rarely, if ever, on time. I can't explain this aspect of me. My husband considers this a serious genetic flaw (my father has the same problem, so it has to be genetic).
15. I own more running shoes than dress shoes.
16. I am still waiting for Thirtysomething to come out on DVD. I still follow Michael, Hope, Elliott, Nancy, and Ellen when they're in new shows.
17. I'm not a morning person and I hate being rushed in the mornings. This might explain #14...probably not.
18. I heart Lance Armstrong. I watch ALL the stages of the Tour de France (and TiVO each stage so I don't miss a single thing) and can hardly wait for 2009 Tour because LANCE WILL BE BACK!
19. I was at Stage 17 in 2006 - amazing experience and would do it again.
20. Halloween is my favorite holiday. While pregnant with Bridget, October represented by biggest weight gain month...might have been the overload of white chocolate reece's cups...yummy!
21. My dog is one of my running partners. He ALWAYS thinks I look wonderful in my running long as I "accessorize" with his leash.
22. My oldest daughter and I are the original Gilmore Girls and we call my husband Luke.
23. I love yoga and consider this one of life's most wonderful, yet necessary, indulgence.
24. I can't walk past a Ms PacMan game without asking my husband for a junkie trying to get a fix. He is my "enabler" since he always has (or will find for me) a miraculous stack of quarters.
25. I consider myself the luckiest girl...I have two wonderful daughters, a husband that not only loves me, but thinks I look good in my running clothes, and a dog that greets me each day as if I am a doggie size treat!