Friday, December 31, 2010

Awesome Read

While on our trip, I finished Complications by Atul Gawande. Amazing read. Quick, witty, intelligent, and very easy to follow. I became interested in Gawande while teaching at Ohio University. When we left Athens for Cleveland in mid 2003, he had just published Complications. His parents teach at the College of Medicine at Ohio University. I came across the book while browsing at Half Price Books and grabbed it up. I jumped into this book and simply couldn't put it down. Completely made me appreciate and fear the medical profession at the same time. I'm now reading his second book, Better, and will immediately move into his newest non-fiction book, The Checklist Manifesto.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Sedona and the Grand Canyon

The United States really has some spectacular natural beauty. Sunday and Monday we visited Sedona and the Grand Canyon. The red rock formations and the amazing panaramic views just took our breath away.

I simply could not believe the vastness of the Grand Canyon and we must have taken several dozen pictures. Each direction you looked, the view just kept getting more and more impressive.

Highlights included staying overnight in Flagstaff. We were so tired, that we ordered a pizza, sat in the lobby and enjoyed Toy Story 2 on Disney. We practically had the lobby to ourselves, with a roaring fire and reminiscent of a ski lodge (but was actually Embassy Suites!). It was like our little traveling pizza and a movie family night. I absolutely loved this. Oh yeah, and I was still in my shorts and flip flops while watching the snow falling in Flagstaff. How freaking cool is that?!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas in the Desert

Phew - what a whirlwind of a trip! We landed in Vegas in the middle of the night...and would you believe, we got a room upgrade! Of course, when we're completely exhausted. But we rallied! Come on, it's Vegas, Baby! We stayed at Paris with a view of the Eiffel Tower and Bellagio fountain. Vegas lit up at night really is quite spectacular.

Rise and shine so we could belly up to the buffet. Megan can't pass up a Vegas buffet. After tackling a buffet, what else would make sense than to head out for our long 5-hour drive to Phoenix. Hoover Dam and Lake Mead were pretty cool and must-sees. Stopped for the obligatory Del Tacos. I wouldn't step foot in a Taco Bell (sober), but Del Taco takes cheap taco making to a whole new level. Love the fish tacos - they could be made up of Mrs. Paul's fishsticks for all I know, but I love them.

Christmas Eve morning began with a Zumba class with Sharon and Megan while the kids went to one of those bouncy places. I couldn't believe how awesome and energetic this class was. I had been putting off getting on the Zumba bandwagon, but how can you pass up latin dance music with hot instructors. One of the Zumba instructors was dressed in a white running skirt with knee-hi red/white stripe socks with fur at the top of the socks. I will be stealing this outfit idea for Christmas 2011 races.

Christmas Eve also included a mondo gift wrapping session while visiting with the family. Santa came Christmas morning with Bridget getting "just what she wanted" and Megan loving her new Ugg boots.

Enjoying the newest addition, Quinn.

Breakfast strata, too many cookies, and a Shiner Bock every time I turned around resulted in a definite need for a Christmas Day run (an annual gift to myself). In 68 degree weather and a sleeveless tank, I tackled an exhausting 4.5 miles. How did I get so out of shape? And how did 4.5 miles become a long run?! Whatevs, it was the best present ever :)

Christmas Night we enjoyed a nice evening walk around the Phoenix Zoo for Zoo lights. The kids loved it and the adults enjoyed the peace and quiet. And a nice walk helped burn off the additional Shiner Bock (hello, my new favorite friend, Shiner Bock).

Next morning the girls went for a little light shopping at Nordstrom Rack while the guys took the kids to a bar to watch the Browns game. Progressive parenting, eh? Win-win situation for everyone.

Next up, Sedona, Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas from PHX

It's been a wonderful Christmas in the land of sunshine and 70 degree weather. I thought I would be whiny because I wasn't spending the holidays at home with snow and freezing temps. That lasted for 10 minutes...until I changed into a pair of shorts and my flip flops! More on this wonderful trip as well as an equally fantastic Christmas morning run in 60+ degree temps tomorrow. But for now, I am glad to be home and back in my crumpled bed!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Run and a Ride

I felt my "old self" this weekend. Saturday I worked in a 30 minute ride on the trainer. Sunday, I ran. Yep, a short one - 3 miles. Snow and ice be damned, but I managed to enjoy myself. Even with the 20 degree weather, I still love to run this time of the year. There's a section of my run where I get to look down and see the frozen river that leads into Lake Erie. Only a northern girl could find that such a great sight to see. I also ran past my favorite running store and saw their store window. Santa, I've been a very good girl and I would like the gray zip-up jacket on the right :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Movie Magic

Tonight our family will change into our pajamas, gather around the TV, enjoy Greg's special popcorn (made only on the stovetop), and watch a wonderful Christmas classic - Elf. My family knows I love the shower scene where Zoey Deschanel and Will Ferrell are singing Baby, It's Cold Outside. Elf has become our family's favorite modern Christmas classic with Greg and Megan repeating lines throughout December - "you're so pretty, you should be on a Christmas Card" and "Santa, I know him!"

Other must-see classics for us are Christmas Story (hey, we are from Cleveland!), Christmas Vacation (thank you, Nitmos, for the month of quotes), and It's a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart makes me swoon).

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season enjoying your own traditions or making new ones.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Old Man Winter

These wonderful boots just came in the mail yesterday and I love them. I previously owned a pair of Ugg boots, but they seem to go to High School every morning during winter ( does that happen). Months ago when the "shape-ups" fad started, I thought it ws silly. But, I recently fell victim to this new craze. I wore them last night while making dinner and then washing dishes. After an hour, I felt like I was walking on a bosu ball. Crazy. I felt like I had been working out on an elliptical machine. Best of all, I can brave all the snow that Old Man Winter throws my way and I'll be firming my tush in the process! Bonus!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When Does a Running Break Turn into a Hiatus?

It's been 4 weeks since my last race. Granted, that race was a marathon. But since that race, I have ran twice. What?! Two times? I've changed my bed sheets more than I've run?! So my question: when does a break from running/racing turn into a hiatus? And more importantly, why is it so hard to start back up again? I know I can't be alone on this.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Short, But Wonderful Weekend

Just returned from a wonderful weekend with my brother, sister-in-law and their family. It was a spur-of-the-moment trip compliments of a Continental last minute specials (Yippee for the $119 round trip fares). Way too short, but full of fun, great conversation and complete excitement filled with family activities. We had a leisurely breakfast and morning, then spent Sunday afternoon at the aquarium, where I think Megan had the most fun petting the sting rays. Enjoyed a great dinner on the grill (a treat in December..especially being from Cleveland). And best of all, I came back with some wonderful decorating ideas (thanks, Char!). Bridget even came back with ideas for her room and toys (thanks, Zoe!).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My View from High Atop the Terminal Tower

If you haven't done it already, I highly recommend going to the top of the Terminal Tower. As a Cleveland transplant, I have learned to appreciate and enjoy so many wonderful aspects of Cleveland - it's history, the museums, the culinary scene, the top notch microbreweries, and the metropark system (to burn off this IPAs and great dinners). But the view from the top of Terminal Tower is just incredible. We could see the Snow Days at the old Jake (now Progressive Field), the Browns stadium and even as far as the gold coast. Here's a neat article of the terminal tower tours. Great experience!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Violet's Back on the Rollers

You know it's winter when the bike goes back on the rollers. Greg set Violet (my lavender Fuji road bike) up and she's ready to ride in the morning. Yippee yi yah!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Polar Express

As Cuyahoga Valley National Forest members, we have the first shot at Polar Express train tickets. So I've had these tickets for the four of us since September. I was not a fan of the movie (sorry, Tom Hanks), but I figured we would make it magical anyway.

The train left the tracks for it's 2-hour ride to the North Pole. The elves entertained us by playing games with each child, singing Christmas Carols, filling our tummies with hot chocolate and fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

After an hour ride, we arrived at our designation - the North Pole. We were greeted by dancing elves outsid the train, the Grinch (hello, scare the small kids), gingerbread men, geese in a small red wagon, dancing Christmas trees, and other assorted characters. I was disappointed that we didn't get to deboard. But it was cold and snowy, and I had lost my head and wore ballet flats sans socks, so I guess it was ok to stay in our seats.

In the end, the train ride last almost 2.5 hours, which is tough for a 3-year-old, and even tougher for her 17-year-old sister, and downright punitive for the dad (no beer or wine to be found!). It's kind of like a 3-hour movie, where you walk out saying "that would have been better if they cut an hour from it!"

Happy holidays!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Dear Santa: I've Been a Very Good Girl

An amazing thing happened. Bridget actually sat on Santa's lap, told him what she wanted for Christmas, then hugged him before handing him her Christmas wish list. The wish list was so cute. She cut out a picture of herself, glued it to a piece of scrapbook paper, scribbled a few notes (not readable, of course). She's also been telling everyone they need to be nice and not be on the naughty list. How long can this good behavior last?!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Holiday Project: Pine Cone Wreath

In an effort to spend less time in front of the TV, and more time having fun together, the girls and I decided to tackle a couple holiday projects each week. I'll blog about them, highlighting age appropriateness, ease of project, cost factor, and fun factor.

First, Bridget and I gathered pine cones from various nearby locations. Lots of fun and she enjoyed picking out the "perfect" pinecones. Cost: free.

Next, we bought the supplies - a wire wreath circle form, light wire and wire clipper. Cost: about $5.

Then Megan assembled the project. Megan, at first, wasn't really interested, but then could not push the project away.

SO the cost for this project was very minimal - roughly $5 for a beautiful wreath. Bridget started out attaching the pine cones, but it was too difficult (and boring) for her. Megan loved it and gave it as a gift. Fun evening with my girls.

Next project: stamped holiday greeting cards.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Little Things

The little things...there's nothing bigger. Tonight, I loved watching my youngest daughter putting on her gloves and pressing on each finger to make sure they were in the right spot. So cute. And I couldn't tear myself away.

Hope you're finding those little magical moments this month, too!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Trail Running with My Dog

Nice easy 3-mile trail run on Sunday with my dog. I have a moderate difficulty trail near me (moderately technical for me, super duper easy for the lab). I felt like such a kid. Climbing a steep hill. Running over rocks and roots like little hurdles. And enjoying seeing how happy my dog is to just be in the woods. Awesome afternoon and made me realize just how cool running can be when you're not training for anything!

Now if I could just have a break from all this rain...I'm not a duck...!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Turkey Trot 2010

Fun morning in spite of the downpour. The game plan was to take B in the jogging stroller, while Meg snapped action shots, but Mother Nature caused our plans to change at the last minute. With the rain not letting up, I went solo for the mile run. If I knew I was going to be solo, I would have gladly run the 5 miles in the rain - seriously! Nonetheless, I was given the thumbs up/good luck by my girls and off I went to get wet for a whole mile. Cue dramatic music! I finished in a blazing 8:05 (blazing for me). I didn't even feel like I was pushing, but I must have subconsciously wanted to get out of the rain! 8th consecutive turkey trot and the coffee with B and Meg was just a wonderful bonus afterwards (as was the polar bear sugar cookie!).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Feeling Centered

It's only Wednesday and I am feeling relaxed and all body parts are feeling recovered. Yesterday I attended an Ashtanga yoga class. I left class feeling so centered and balanced (translation: too tired to lift my arms or get out of my chair) that I didn't even feel the slight bit stressed or frustrated sitting through a day long union contract negotiations session. Amazing. This morning I contemplated canceling my pre-paid hot powerful yoga session due to the early morning time of 6am. Glad I didn't (and glad i pre-paid!). It was challenging and exhausting, but damn if the coffee didn't taste better after a nice hard session (t.w.s.s.). Another added benefit of this morning's class is I found another instructor I really enjoy.

Even better, my Achilles is no longer feeling sore and stressed. It's been difficult not running. I've been like that dog in "Up", but instead of saying "squirrel", my family just has to say "runner" and I stop dead in my tracks and stare!

Tomorrow is my 8th consecutive Cleveland Turkey Trot. I'm only running the mile with B in the jogging stroller (she's too young to resist my co-opting skills), so I'll get a sense of how well the healing (or heeling lol) is going.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Holy Toledo, Batman! Thanksgiving's Upon Us!

Tonight as I assembled my youngest daughter's contribution to her preschool's Thanksgiving Celebration, I was dumbfounded that Thanksgiving is almost here. Seriously, where did 2010 go? We all know Thanksgiving is just that slippery slope we slide into Christmas and New Years. And here in the north, it also signals the beginning of snow, wearing yak trax, and making up excuses of why it's too cold to run!

So what did we assemble? I always sign up for dishes that ALL ingredients can be purchased at Target. We made a Thanksgiving Blessings Mix - think Chex Mix with Bugles (little horns of plenty, you know). Can't get much easier than that!

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels to everyone!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

My Eco-Friendly Morning

With B in the jogging stroller, we ventured on our trip to do our weekly grocery shopping. So we walked (versus driving) the 2-miles round trip and had them stuff to the rim our reusable grocery bags. I was quite a sight to see on the way back chugging two overweight bags on each shoulder, but I got in a nice morning of exercise, enjoyed some quality time with my daughter, and was kind to the environment. Good start to my day!

How have you been Eco-friendly this week?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Beauty of Doing Something Different

Today I swam. Not far. But I just let my body get reacquainted with the smoothness of water and it felt good. I have been running and racing practically nonstop since January, trying to check off as many states. While I gained multiple states...I began losing my love for running. It started to become work. I also wasn't able to fit in swimming, biking or weekly yoga sessions...causing me to lose balance. So I'm stepping back...and over this holiday season I'll be swimming, biking and doing sun salutations in small doses...and running, but because I want to, not because I have to.

See you out there!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Race Report: Rhode Island 6-Hour Ultra

Well, I did it...I tackled my longest race mileage to date. I did not complete a full 50k, but I did complete 27.012 miles. And I have the shirt to prove it.

The course: a 2.7 mile loop, run multiple times. To complete a marathon, you had to run 9-3/4 loops. The 50k required 11-1/2 loops. The catch, you had to complete a full loop in order for the marathon and/or 50k time to count.

The schwag: just a shirt and a medal. But that’s ok, I don’t really want to drag a bunch of stuff back in my suitcase anyway. Oh and hammer gel sample.

The story: There was a slight delay in the race start due to repositioning one of the markers. The location was Warwick City Park near the airport. And even though I was minutes from the airport, I felt completed secluded in a beautiful setting with the waterfront as my backdrop. The course was “rolling” and had a wicked bad series of three hills on the back side of the loop. The downside was that I had to tackle the hills at least 10 times! Ouch! The front of the course had many ups and downs, but also had long, steady inclines, which were tough on the quads and glutes. The course was very winding, and I learned a new body part could hurt. From all the pivoting around the curves, my hips really took a beating.

I have had the opportunity, through all these races, to run a variety of courses: point-to-point, out-and-back, figure eights, and now a loop. Each has its pros and cons, but I have to say I liked how running a marathon or beyond, broken down into manageable sections, really made the course must easier to run….at least until the 8th loop when I was done with the SAME course!

Meg sat in the car between laps, which generally lasted a half hour/loop. She would hop out of the car, see what I needed, act interested, then hop back into the car to warm up. My first two “laps” I waved and smiled at Megan, calling her “pumpkin” and telling her it was a nice day out. I shall call this my “happy mom/runner” stage. Everyone goes through this at the beginning of a race - that euphoric feeling. My third lap was a request for half of my ginger Larabar, followed by the other half at the end of the 4th loop. The end of the fifth lap was a shout out for Tylenol (13 miles were completed at this point and time to load up on the “performance-enhancing” drug called Acetaminophen). I was keeping a nice easy pace until the 7th mile when I lost 2 minutes on the loop. This is where I turned into “tired, just-give-me-what-I-need” mom. The 8th loop I only slightly waved at Meg, but she said it was more like, “Don’t talk to the hand” kind of motion…not really a wave. When I started my 9th loop, I grunted, “I’ll be finished soon.” When I hit the 10the lap, the poor girl only got a nod with, “See you in a few minutes.” Oddly enough, I PR’d in this race finishing the marathon in 5:06:21. Nine minutes better than my June 2010 Grandma’s Marathon finish and nearly an hour better than my 2007 Marine Corps Marathon time. Yet, sadly, I didn’t really care. I was tired of the whole running thing and, quite honestly, I just wanted to hang out with my daughter at Nordstrom’s, checking out the new Ella Moss tops, and drinking coffee drinks (which we did post-race).

When the race was over, Megan took me over to the beach area and we sat on the bench listening to the shore, the waves, the birds and it was beautiful. Best of all, I had changed into my uber-comfortable hot pink crocs. So even though the race was not terribly exciting, the weekend with my daughter was amazing and unforgettable. I love running, but my body and mind needs a little downtime. This will only last a couple of days...then you'll find me running on the bike paths in no time.

Oh, I hit the 1,000 mile mark at the end of the race!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Turns 17!

This past Saturday, November 6, my pumpkin turned 17 years old! I can't believe it. Her presents included tickets to the April 2011 Lady Gaga concert, some much-needed gift certificates, and a little Marc Jacobs necklace from her sister. She picked Players for dinner so she could have her favorite pizza - bacon with feta cheese. I thought in honor of her birthday, I would spotlight the last 8 birthdays since we've been in Cleveland - that, and I can't seem to get the scanner to work to scan the birthday photos pre-2003. Technology...a curse and a blessing. Enjoy watching Pumpkin grow up - I sure have!

Birthday 2003 at the Japanese Steakhouse

Birthday 2004 in New York City

Birthday 2005 with new skis and ski boots

13th Birthday 2006 at the Drake in Chicago, which included a trip to Tiffany's

Birthday 2007

Birthday 2008 in her Brady Quinn Jersey (before the "trade")

Birthday 2009 eating Lobster in Maine

Birthday 2010

Happy Birthday, Pumpkin! Love you :)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

What a Week

While in taper mode, I've had time to catch up on important news announcements. Yes, there was an election. But did you also know that:

1. Little Wayne got out of jail. Michael Phelps will have new tunes to swim to...and or me to run to as well.

2. New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys have announced a new tour. Really? Sad. Just. Sad.

3. Kim Kardashian is not seeing Lebron. Good for her.

4. Charlie Sheen has filed for divorce. I'm sure Denise Richards is feeling vindicated now.

Other news: pumpkin had a birthday (separate post with memory lane pics to come) and a rock-on 10-miler accomplished. And snow. We had our first snow today. I loved it, but that will change by January!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quick, Delish Weeknight Dinner

This is one of Megan's favorite meals and takes about 20 minutes to make!

1. Boil one bag of frozen cheese ravioli

2. While ravioli is boiling, sauté diced chicken in garlic and olive oil.

3. Combine ravioli and chicken breasts with 3/4 container of reduced fat Buttoni pesto (or your favorite pesto).

Serve with salad and/or garlic bread. Delish!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rhode Island Fun Facts

The excitement of the 29th state is mounting. So in honor of checking off this family’s 29th state, below are some “fun facts” about Rhode Island. After all, this is a family blog – so it’s got to be educational, too!

• It was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state.

• Rhode Island never ratified the 19th Amendment regarding prohibition.

• Judge Darius Baker imposed the first jail sentence for speeding in an automobile on August 28, 1904 in Newport.

• St. Mary’s, Rhode Island’s oldest Roman Catholic parish, was founded in 1828. The church is best known as the site of the wedding of Jacqueline Bouvier and John Fitzgerald Kennedy in 1953. Wedding details can be found here .

• Rhode Island has no county government. It is divided into 39 municipalities each having its own form of local government.

• Rhode Island’s official state name is Rhode Island and Providence Plantation. For those of you following today’s news, go here to learn more about why Rhode Islanders are voting this election for a name change.

• The era known as The Industrial Revolution started in Rhode Island with the development and construction in 1790 of Samuel Slater’s water-powered cotton mill in Pawtucket.

• The White Horse Tavern was built in 1673 and is the oldest operating tavern in the United States. What a beautiful and historic place!

• Lastly, in honor of election season: Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, established the first practical working model of Democracy after he was banished from Plymouth, Massachusetts because of his “extreme views” concerning freedom of speech and religion. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams publicly acknowledged Roger Williams, as the originator of the concepts and principles reflected in The First Amendment. Among those principles were freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of public assembly.

While in Rhode Island, we'll be visiting a couple college campuses since pumpkin is exploring colleges during her junior year. Looking forward to visiting Providence and nearby Newport. Exciting stuff! Now I just have to make sure my super comfy Brooks Adrenalines can carry me to the finish line so I can enjoy this lovely area!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Morning View

Saturday morning I had a wonderful 20-miler where the body felt just right. I had on new shoes (I don't even know how many pairs of Brooks I've bought), a fresh attitude and some good tunes on my iPhone. After my run, I was treated to coffee at Erie Island with my two daughters and even had a surprise "Karen sighting" as well. Great morning and afternoon.

Happy Autumn, everyone!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day of the Tread: Race Report

Running with my daughter was just simply a wonderful experience. The whole week before this race, she would ask people what they were wearing for THEIR Halloween race. She thinks it's perfectly normal that every family runs. And I love that about her.

I think you already know about "stroller-gate" as I'm beginning to call it. Long story short, the stroller that had gone through training for 3 marathons and a half dozen half marathons would eventually get delivered 2 hours after the race. I'm still not happy about Continental's lack of concern, but I'm not about to let this get the better of me. So I'm not going to harp about it in this blog. We had a great time and the "rental" held up pretty well. Besides, B got to relax in the rented jogging stroller like it was a barcolounger. It was really quite funny. She looked at me at one point...I think around mile 2 and said she was just going to take a rest period while I ran. Really?

I gotta say this was the first race where even the cops monitoring traffic commented that they couldn't believe I was doing the 10k portion with a stroller. One guy asked if I had been pushing the stroller the entire time. Are you serious? I can just picture races that test your endurance with challenges like having you run one mile of a course pushing a stroller - yeah, that must be it! People commented on how hard it looked pushing B up the hill. And it was a doozy of a hill, I tell you. The last half mile was quite a challenging climb, especially pushing 40+ pounds. And knowing I had to climb the hill twice, since the 10k course was two loops of the 5k course, was tough. The course was a typical urban course, but we got the opportunity to spend most of the first loop with an increible 8-year-old. He's been running 5k races since he was 7 and this was his third. He was hoping to PR. He has 2 dogs and his mom is speedy, as she was a couple minutes ahead of us. After the race, he came up to me with his mom and said, "There's the bumblebee lady I ran with!" It's such a small world, but his mother is originally from Mentor. Small, local races are good for that.

After the race, a quick shower, and a light snack, we headed off to find the Golden Crown Panaderia for some Green Chili Bread and biscochitos, then to Explora! science museum for Bridget to have some fun. This place was amazing and we explored for over 3 hours. We could have made a second day at this place and still not see everything.

This was my second trip to Albuquerque and I look forward to another visit in the coming years to explore more of New Mexico, especially Santa Fe. Lots of costumes, the Devil as an announcer, meeting a girl dressed as a runaway bride, seeing a family dressed as a hotdog (dad) with mom as ketchup and kid as mustard were just some of the highlights. Running with an 8-year-old hoping to PR reminds me of what a great community runners are. Seeing Bridget play and learn at Explora! and sampling some delicious bakery items really made this trip grand, Overall, a fun day finishing with 10:41 mile average, great weather, and a wonderful trip with my daughter as we checked off our 28th state!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Airline Failed to Load the Jogging Stroller

Tomorrow is the 10k race with my daughter wherein I will be pushing her in the jogging stroller. I've made our costumes and we've been anticipating this race for weeks. I "gate checked" the jogging stroller before getting on our flight. I even told the flight attendant to please make sure the stroller gets onboard because we have a race in the morning. I get to Houston. No f'ing stroller. The fine people in Houston told me I couldn't file a claim till my final destination. I explained on deaf ears that I had gate checked the stroller with a generic blue gate check tag and was pretty sure the stroller couldn't communicate it's final destination. Long story short, the business card I left in the stroller at least revealed my name and it should arrive by 3am. Swell. Great. Great day of travel. The only shining moment is that my travel expert husband was able to secure me a backup jogging stroller rental. So this race is going to happen!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mental Challenge of Long Runs

Training for an endurance event means logging in multiple log runs. I'm sure there are definitions galore out there for what constitutes a "long run." For me, the long run is generally any distance longer than a half marathon's distance. Lately, all of my long runs have been knocked out by myself as the family just can't understand why anyone would want to run for 3+ hours. Yesterday's run was probably my breaking point mentally. I didn't enjoy being alone. Not really sure I've would have been good company anyway. I was quite the whiner. I finished 3 miles and that's when I knew I was in trouble. I started whining that I still had 19 more miles to go. At mile 7, I whined I still had 15 more miles! Quite honestly, when you're knocking out a 20+ miler, all of your math will result in a "long run." Yuck! Even as I write this, I'm still amazed I finished. I'll be glad that in 4 more weeks, my runs can go back to 10 miles or less per run. Now that's something I can wrap my head around!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I'm Loving Now

I just bought this. As Martha would say, "it's a good thing."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy (Uhm Girl)

Bridget got to "pick" our team costumes. She decided we'd be Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy, except she said I'm Bumblebee Girl. Bridget has a ladybug costume - I just had to order her ladybug girl boots (should be delivered by in a couple days). Monday was a holiday so Bridget, Megan and I ventured to JoAnn Fabrics to pick up some tulle and Dick's to find a yellow running shirt. I'll wear my tri shorts under the tulle. Karen was kind enough to loan me bumblebee arm sleeves and antennae. And poof - just like that, we have our costumes!

We're getting excited for the Day of the Tread Halloween-themed race!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Race Report: Raid the Rock

Several months ago Greg and I signed up for Raid the Rock, an adventure race. For those who read this little blog know that we're trying to complete a variety of racing events in all 50 states. So far, we've tackled everything from a 5k to a marathon, a sprint triathlon to a half ironman. The adventure race was greg's choice because this man embraces risk and adventure. So this weekend, we completed our first Adventure Race!

Morning Instructions
We were told to arrive at Lake Sylvia by 7:45am for a pre-race meeting prior to the 8am race start. During the pre-race meeting, we would be given important information like the order of the events. We had no problems finding Lake Sylvia, a gem of a place about 30 miles outside Little Rock, Arkansas. During our briefing, we were told that the mountain biking event would be first, followed by trekking, then canoeing and one mystery event. We were given our control cards, shown what to look for at each checkpoint, then told to line up in a few minutes at the "start". And we were off!

First Discipline: Mountain Biking
We had rented our mountain bikes at River Trail Rentals. We highly recommend Dave's place and can't say enough good things about him. First off, this was my FIRST time to go mountain biking. On the plus side, I was riding a red Specialized bike and Greg has a yellow/green Canondale, so we had a great set of wheels. We even nicknamed our bikes Dr. Pepper and Mountain Dew because of the colors. On the down side, my ass hurt because I did not know how to lift up as I went over "obstacles", something I learned the hard way. The bike portion was 8-ish miles long and was so technical and had so much climbing that it took us nearly 1-1/2 hours to complete. I learned a lot while riding, which caused us to lose time since I was a newbie. First, gear shifting is key. For example, going into an easier gear for a hard climb in a road bike makes sense. On a mountain bike, the easiest gear makes it difficult to get traction when climbing, especially over gravel and dirt roads. And the rocks - damn, if that wasn't hard and technical. After the race, we hung around talking to several racers who all commented on how hard and technical the rocky, single track course was. And Greg was a saint. He listened to my grousing and took it in stride. I did not know how to ride over rocks and downed trees and he was patient during my learning curve. I spent the majority of the bike portion yelling "Ow Ow Ow" and "don't get too far ahead of me!" At one point, I heard hissing and naturally thought it was a snake. Then I realized it was air in my suspension. I felt stupid, but I still felt I could not lower my snake terrorism alert level below ORANGE! We got all our checkpoints and after I survived the mountain biking portion, I actually realized it was fun and pretty darn cool.

T1: dropped off our bikes, gulped down some warm gatorade, went to the table to check in, then headed out for the trekking portion. Five checkpoints completed and we weren't the last to check in. Oh, and Greg wrecked his bike. I think he got back up so quickly, in spite of being hurt, so he could ride far enough ahead of me so as not to hear my constant whining!

Second Discipline: Trekking
Trekking, not running. Simply not feasible to speed through this because trekking and trail running are not synonymous. We were spoiled by the mountain biking portion because the checkpoints were reasonably on the course and could easily be seen from the trails. This was not the case with the trekking portion. At check-in, we were not told which direction to head out, which was obviously why we had a compass. But seriously, a little pointing or head nodding...even eye rolling would be appreciated. We headed in the SW direction per Greg. Greg learned his navigation skills from You Tube. Robin had no NAV skills. THIS was going to be an adventure, for sure! We crossed over to an old Jeep trail, saw some campers who confirmed "others" had gone through in the same direction. Within 15 minutes we had our 6th checkpoint, then in another 15-20 minutes we had our 7th checkpoint. Our confidence was building. Can you guess what happened next? Yep, we could NOT find the 8th checkpoint, which meant we weren't going to be able to find the 9th checkpoint either. No matter how hard we tried, it was not going to happen. After nearly an hour of searching aimlessly, I freaked. No, really, I freaked out. I could not stand the crunching, the constant worry of how copperheads blend in and are everywhere, and the absolute loss of control when feeling lost. Everywhere we looked, it looked the same. Brown grass, brown leaves, brown trees and no trail or path to find or follow. Greg sensing my hopelessness (yes, crying will send that signal), agreed to abandon our search for 8 and 9. As we were heading to find checkpoint 10, we ran into this super nice older couple. We thought they might be able to shed some light on checkpoints 8 and 9, and maybe help us a bit with the topographical map. Well, you gotta love locals. The "mister" had just finished loading up his squirrels from today's squirrel hunting and he and his wife had spent part of the morning scouting out their deer hunting spot, since next week is the start of deer hunting season. The mister knew exactly where we were, but could only identify places on the map with phrases like "that's where I got my biggest wild turkey" and "that's where I saw the gray fox". I seriously could have stayed and had drinks with them. They offered us water and sunscreen, were so hospitable, and helped us laugh and relax after my meltdown. It was about a 2 mile walk to checkpoint 10, which we thankfully found. Because we had been out on the course for nearly 4 hours total at this point, and knowing that checkpoints 11 and 12 were DEEP in the woods, we decided to head to checkpoint 13, which was also the transition area.

Mystery Event
Oh no, what could this entail?! A big sigh of relief when we learned that it was a spiderweb network of ropes. We had to each go through one web without causing the ropes to move and jingle the bells which were tied at the top of the rope network. Greg's P90x yoga training allowed him to go through the web jingle-free. I climbed through as well. So on our first attempt, we tackled our mystery event. Now onto canoeing!

Third Discipline: Canoeing
Fortunately, we had a kind volunteer who showed us how to get in and out of a canoe without tipping by holding the oar across the canoe to use as balance. The last time I went canoeing, I was 16 and it was a church youth group outing at Mohican...and we tipped the canoe. The volunteer's tip wss much appreciated since I was the one having to get in and out of the canoe to get the checkpoints. The 14th checkpoint required me to get out in thick, sinking mud. I got our checkpoint and as I was getting back in the canoe, I heard Greg Hsay, "oh gosh!" He then says, "Get back in the canoe and I'll tell you in a minute" when I asked him what was wrong. Of course, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that he saw a water moccasin and he didn't want me to go back into snake panic mode. Turned out that he saw the 8-12 hour adventure racing group zip lining over Lake Sylvia and he wanted to turn the canoe around so I could see it, too. Phew - big big big sigh of relief. We paddled over to checkpoint 15 and it was pretty awesome seeing the zip liners land in the water right by the checkpoint. This place really was a spectacular sight of beauty. Paddle paddle paddle to our last checkpoint - 16. I climbed out of the canoe, got our number, and off we went to end our canoe portion which, believe it or not, I really enjoyed.

We went back to check-in, showed our control card, and were told that we had to "decode" the special message. Each checkpoint had a number that we wrote down, which was then assigned a letter to reveal a phrase. I LOVE RAID THE ROCK. And yes,we did! They gave us our hats, which I'm wearing with pride in the picture above because it was one of the hardest things I've ever done! And I especially loved that we tackled this race as a team. So off we climbed back into our Ford F-150 king cab - oh yeah, when in Arkansas...and headed back for some much-needed showers. Check out Greg's legs below - you can see his sock line and how dirty we got!

Before we returned our bikes, we drove past the World Cheese Dip Championship. Oh yeah, baby! All the queso you could eat for $5 sponsored by Velveeta! And yes, we partook in all this cheesy goodness!

Post-Race Celebration: Flying Saucer
Loved this place and would definitely go back there if we ever visit Little Rock again. We had a blast! I had another Diamond Bear Pale Ale and Greg had a flight sample of Bartender's Choice. We parked our tired butts in front of the Arkansas Razorbacks game, ate some tater tots (gotta have our carbs), and enjoyed the remaining part of our weekend sans kids!