Sunday, January 29, 2012

Funny Stuff Worth Watching

Haven't had much to post lately, but came across this funny clip. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Slam, 'Bama, Thank You M'am!

The night before the race was the Go Daddy Bowl parade. My room was on the 5th floor so I had an awesome view of the parade. I grabbed a nice glass of Pinot noir from the downstairs bar and I was set for an evening of entertainment. It was so cool to watch floats go by, listen and see bands performing, and people watch from above. It was like a mini-Macy's Thanksgiving day parade.

I went to bed Saturday night feeling like the ice bath was the magic elixir for making a hilly run more tolerable. And I was sure that red wine had even more magical powers (don't all good reds have a little magic?!). But then I woke up Sunday morning to the uh-oh feeling of thrashed quads. Ooohh, this could be a long 2-1/2 hours. And it was.

Ran into Cheryl on my way to the start and so glad I did. Because of her, I got to hang out with a wonderful group of about 30 Marathon maniacs. The cult-like following of this group is so intoxicating. But before long, it was time to get this show on the run.

There was no championchip timing, no D tag or Bib tag. It was old school. Everyone started at the same time and you tore off the bottom of your bib and handed it over to the volunteers. And that was that. Sometimes it's nice to just run - no technology, just you and your shoes.

The course was not terribly scenic. It's kind of hard to describe Mobile. I had these great expectations that it would be full of beauty and azaleas. Well, since the azaleas are not in bloom, it just anyplace else. Not good, not bad, just another town.

The course snaked in and out of various neighborhoods, some beautiful, some not so much. It was flat, which didn't add to any level of excitement. There weren't too many people on the course cheering either. The one thing the race had going for it was the charity/cause. The people served by L'Arche made plaques for those of us that did the back-to-back races as well as handmade the medals. It was a very nice touch and I actually felt my money went to something good and decent, unlike the Rock n Roll Vegas race, where the money wasn't used wisely or for a kind cause. That's an interesting point, come to think about it. Should races always be of the fundraising sort? Or is it acceptable for race to be a big business? Hmm...haven't really thought about that.

The first 5 miles I ran with a 70-ish year old marathoner from Georgia. He shared fun stories about when his dad first took him to the Marriott Battle House (where I was staying and, historically, was the battle command center for General Andrew Jackson) when he was a little boy. He had brought his grandaughter with him on this trip to make it special. He shared with me that he almost always has a podium finish in his age group because it's not as competitive when you're in you're 70s, but that the 60s age group was terribly competitive! Around mile 8 I ran with a nice lady whose husband had left her 6 months ago with two young kids so she took up running. She was delightful actually and I enjoyed her company for a mile or two. Around mile 11, I ran alongside a 12-year-old who had an old Garmin - I think the 101! He told me this was not his first half, but he did ask me how much longer did he have to go. I swear, I think kids are programmed to ask that question!

I finished the race in a relatively decent time considering it was my second race in two days, and enjoyed a yummy small cup of ice cream with chocolate syrup. I sat briefly on a bench by one of park fountains next to lady from Mobile. She told me that the humidity about did her in (87%). I told her I was from Cleveland and was not ready for these conditions - mid 60s with awful humidity, but the ice cream sure did make everything better!

All in all, a great weekend. I knocked out two states, visited two interesting towns, racked up some mileage, chiseled my quads (a girl can dream), met some wonderful runners, and had a fun experience.

Finish time: 2:41:27 (and Garmin clocked this race at 13.41 miles).

Now please pardon me while I whine going up and down the stairs!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Southern Hospitality in Mississippi

Although this race will stand out as the hardest half Marathon that I've completed, I had such a great experience.

The course, the volunteers, the runners and the hotel all made this one of my best race experiences.

Packet pick-up was a short walk from the hotel with only a few vendors. I much prefer smaller expos so I can get in and out and off my feet. The schwag included an awesome shirt with the loudest design (but still neat), a blues CD, and a harmonica. A harmonica! How awesome! Well, it was awesome until 2 hours of listening to my 4-year-old learning how to make sounds with it (but it's still awesome no matter how loud and shrill).

Previous to this event, I had been a loyal Hilton member, increasing my status with each stay. However, after this weekend and staying at two different Marriotts, I think I'll be switching my loyalty. They simply did everything right. But more on that later.

The night before the race, I joined two other runners for dinner at our hotel. Really enjoyed the conversation, learning about different races, the good and the bad. After dinner, I had a relaxing night changing into my pjs, slipping into bed, reading SELF magazine while HGTV was on in the background. Pure bliss!

Up and early for the 7am start. I was meeting the girls in the lobby so we could walk up together. Found our various paces in the appropriate corrals and listened to the Star Spangled Banner - blues style. Then we're off!

The first mile was already giving me a good taste of Jackson, Mississippi hills. Yikes! Right before mile 3, I saw the coolest sight - a house with over 100 birdhouses! I thought about taking a picture, but I feared that if I slowed down, then there was a chance I'd never start back up!

Between miles 3-6, i was treated to some of the most beautiful homes I've ever seen. Kept wondering if John Grisham lived nearby. It just felt like scenes from his novels.

I cannot say enough good things about the amazing hospitality and the kind and friendly volunteers. This town seriously tries make you feel their love!

The hills were challenging-ascents and descents equally difficult. In spite of that, I had no knee or hip pain. I even gave away my biofreeze packet to someone having a bad bout of knee pain. It was funny actually. The guy I gave my biofreeze to asked if he should take it with water. I quickly said, "oh no, it's a topical ointment. You rub it in." A near crisis averted!

Finish line was a wicked uphill for the last half mile. That kicked my ass! Finishing at the capitol was cool. Seeing Trent Lott at the finish line would have made it even cooler. His family name is everywhere in Mississippi! The post-race food had all sorts of yumminess, but my stomach was not giving me the green light to adventurous eating-red beans and rice just didn't seem like the right move! I think it might have been the heat and humidity, and I had not experienced these weather conditions since August! I did grab a couple cookies, sat on the lawn and enjoyed being treated to some fantastic sounding blues music. Oh the medal, it a large record with a blue guitar. Heavy and awesome!

Returning to the hotel, Marriott showed me they really know how to treat its customers! They handed out towels at the lobby entrance for returning runners and had gatorade and ice water displayed in large glass containers (the ones that usually have water with cucumber or lemon slices). Such a great touch!

As soon as I entered my room, i hopped into an Ice bath before I could talk myself out of it. Such a smart move considering I had another half marathon race in the morning!

Finish time: 2:36:33 (a little slow, but it was challenging and I had so much fun!)

While I was sweating in the heat and humidity, my little princesses were enjoying ice skating at Snow Days at Progressive Field. Love this picture they sent me post-race!

And now I'm off to Mobile, Alabama!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do You Read Fitness Ads, Too?

This article was posted by Lava magazine on Twitter a few days ago appealing to me both visually and good writing. I also enjoy advertisements in triathlon, cycling and running magazines, so it was nice to see a focus on their messages and cleverness. Enjoy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Right Start to the New Year

I'm trying to do at least 15 minutes of some form of exercise or fitness each day during January to get myself back on track. To commit to more than 15 minutes would just be settig myself up for failure due to a heavy workload and kid-related commitments. I had gotten lax in eating right and had started heading down that slippery slope of making excuses. A pulled hamstring should not have prevented me from ab crunches or arm work, but it did. And I have a bowl fully of jello to prove it. This morning I got on the scales and, while it wasn't as bad as I was feeling, it was still 4 pounds over my "normal" weight. It's time to pull my shit together, quit making excuses, clean up my eating (good bye Halloween and Christmas candy), and start incorporating more movement into my day. And as lame as it sounds I will blog my results so that I'm forced to write it down and, hopefully, that will serve as encouragement and motivation (or shame, which works well, too!).

Sunday: 6-mile run and polar plunge!
Monday: 3-miles on elliptical with resistance, 1000m rowing, 20 squats & 20 lunges with weights.

I tried 30 minutes of P90X last week and it wasn't as soul-crushing as I thought it was going to be. So I'll keep giving it a try and maybe work on my weak core. I've noticed that I've had twinges of knee pain and I know it's because I've done zero core work and have been neglectful of hip strengthening exercises. Working on the core really makes a difference, but putting it into action is a lot harder to do. So baby steps and maybe I can banish those twinges and get stronger, leaner legs in the process.

Here's to hoping your exercise regimen - whatever it might be - stays consistent during 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Run and a Plunge for the New Year

What a great way to start the new year! I started my morning off with a nice, easy 6-mile run through the Metroparks with the temps in the high 40s followed by the Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by the Cleveland Triathlon Club with my daughter, Megan. While I enjoyed running in 40 degree temps, let me tell you that swimming in that kind of weather is a whole other kind of torture. It was so cold that the shock just made you laugh out loud. In true polar bear style, both my daughter and I made sure our whole body was submerged and then we ran back to our warm clothes with incredible speed.

Happy New Year and may you have a happy and healthy 2012!