Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Long time gone...

Things have been busy here what with the holidays and all so I've let my blogging slide. I shall endeavor to do better in 2009 so I can keep track of training once again and also to keep track of my quilting. I've had my old domain name renewed for another few years so now I need to redo the site and see about adding my blog there.

I've been playing around with quilting over the past month or two, trying to teach myself different techniques. My mom's neighbor Connie is a quilter and she was nice enough to show me her quilts and a better technique for binding quilt edges when we were there over Thanksgiving. Her quilts are simply lovely and perfect! And I love her sewing loft. The family bought my parent's log home and Connie set up her workspace in the upstairs loft that overlooks the living room with the giant windows facing the lake. It's the area I'd have chosen so now I am jealous. *laugh* I have no such view in my workroom or in the dining room where I used to sew. It makes me want to take over the entire room I am in and get rid of the futon bed in order to make room for another table and shelves.

My goal for this week is to organize. Yesterday I went through my fabric and ironed fabric that had been balled up and then organized everything by color. I still need to go through the fabric in the basement and see what I have available. And today I will be taking apart my machine and cleaning out the years of fiber dust from the workings. I haven't done that in 5 years. I wish I'd kept the photos from the last cleaning because it was frightening the amount of gunk clotting the innards. It took a week to clean and put back together in working order. I could take it out to be cleaned but there is something very satisfactory about doing it myself. Now if I could only do that for my car!

Later I shall have to post photos of some of the pieces I've been working on. Both are on hold until the new sewing feet are delivered. I need to start using the right tools for the job!

Friday, November 07, 2008

So taunt me and hurt me, Deceive me, desert me...

I'm yours ‘til I die,
So in love,
So in love
So in love with you, my love, am I.


I'd heard the name Cole Porter before today and I'd even heard his songs, although I would have never been able to name even one. I decided to watch De-Lovely at lunch. I'd thought it looked interesting when it first came out in the theater but I never went to see it. The draw for me was Kevin Kline who amuses me. I didn't really know what or who the movie was about.

So many songs! So many songs I knew! And then that one song. "So In Love". I'd first heard it back in the early 1990's Back in the day I was a HUGE fan of k.d. lang. I'd heard "Constant Craving" on the radio and rushed out to get the cd. I loved that cd. Then I had to get everything else she had released. I went to see Even Cowgirls Get the Blues because of her music (and barring Keanu Reeves "acting", I love the movie).

I forget how I first came across the video now (I believe it was on one of the k.d. lang VHS tapes I had). I didn't know "So In Love" was a Cole Porter song. I only knew it was heartbreaking. The video... so much more so. The song/video was for an AIDS benefit back in 1990. I was never able to watch the video without breaking down and crying. Over the years I'd forgotten about the song as my musical tastes swung from 1980's music to chic music to punk and now to anything depending on my mood.

While watching De-Lovely and seeing the scene where Cole sings "So In Love" to Linda, I sat there trying to remember why I knew the song and why hearing it made me cry. It wasn't just that Linda was dying at that point in the movie. I knew there was something more to it than just a scene in a movie. And then I remembered the k.d. lang video.

I've lost loved ones due to illness. I saw what cancer did to my grandma. But I've never had to take care of someone while they were dying. And the video shows glimpses of how difficult it is without ever showing the person who is dying. And I think that is what gets me. It's not just a video, it's a glimpse into the reality of caring for someone who isn't dying a tidy little death.

I wish I could write better. But since my typed words never sound as good on screen as they do in my head... here is the video.




Strange, dear, but true, dear,
When I'm Close to you dear,
The stars fill the sky,
So in love with you am I.

Even Without you
My arms fold about you.
You know, darling, why,
So in love with you am I.

In love with the night mysterious
The night when you first were there
In love with my joy delirious
When I knew that you could care.

So taunt me and hurt me,
Deceive me, desert me,
I'm yours ‘til I die,
So in love,
So in love
So in love with you, my love, am I.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Presidential Election Musings...

I cannot begin to explain how thrilled I am about the outcome of the presidential election. And while I am thrilled, I can't let myself be carried away just yet. Obama is president-elect, not president. There is still too many days until he is sworn in. Too many days for something to happen to him. Too many days for Bush to blow us all to Kingdom Come.

At most times I am very positive. I'm a "cup half full" kinda person. But even though I watched the numbers roll in after the first polling places closed I couldn't let myself believe it. When CNN called the election I couldn't let myself believe it. When McCain gave his concession speech I couldn't let myself believe it. Even Obama's acceptance speech wouldn't do it for me. I was afraid to go to bed before ALL the votes were counted. Even today I'm still a bit wary.

I'm not a doom and gloom person. I'm really not. I try not to worry and stress about things I have no control over. And yet I can't let myself be comfortable with the election. I feel such hope when I hear Obama speak. I can't quite explain it. There is just something about him that makes me feel positive for the country. And I am afraid to be too hopeful because, after all, he is a politician. I want him to be honest and do right for America. But looking at the fucking mess Bush has left of the nation, Obama will have a difficult time of it. And it will take YEARS for him to make a dent in the mess. And for that alone he will be derided.

I want to believe so badly that this country can rise up and be good. I am sick and tired of all the "best country in the world" crap that was spouted throughout the campaign. It isn't true. We aren't the best. We do the same shitty things other countries do while we ride the coattails of the past. We quote Kennedy's "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country" but the majority of us don't live it. I'm no better. I may donate money to causes but I don't go out and do anything physical for the causes I believe in. I don't go out and try to help make this country better. Which isn't entirely true but I could do more. We all could do more.

And maybe that is it. Maybe we all need to do more in order to rise up from the shithole we find ourselves in. The next president can only do so much. The election is over but the overhaul needs more than just electing a new president.

I think, for me, this gets back to the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. Those teachings really stuck with me after the class I took a year ago. It's about bettering yourself. Bettering yourself will lead to a better community and towards a better nation. It's like the quote from Mahatma Gandhi... "You must be the change you want to see in the world." That is where we need to start. We, as a country, need to better ourselves before we can be a better country. An election can't solve all the problems we have. We as individuals making up this country need to be the change. We can't just say we are the best country. We need to act like the best country. Obama can't do it alone.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

It's all about the shirts...

This morning was the Trick or Treat Trot 5k. Seems almost silly after finishing a marathon but I like the races. And I LOVE the shirts! It was chilly down by the lakefront and my fingers didn't get the feeling back until after mile 1. But the sun was shining and many runners were in costume so it was a great day overall. I was doing well until I saw the mile 3 sign and then suddenly I felt like I had to toss my cookies. It was bizarre! I couldn't run across the finish line because I was too worried about throwing up. That's never happened before. To be honest, I didn't eat breakfast but I did drink some Gatorade. And at the finish were the usual... water, Gatorade, bagels and bananas. And in honor of it being a Halloween run, CANDY! Huge plastic cauldrons of candy!

Today I am going to sloth around and watch some horror movies until the boy is done with work. And then we are off on a long walk with the dogs. Which is good because I wanted to do that. I'm getting the hang of walking two dogs at once but it is slow going. Handling two leashes is awkward for me. I used to walk them one at a time but since the boy purchased those prongy collars the pups stopped pulling and I don't have to worry about being jerked around. Boxers are STRONG! I am not fond of the idea of pronged collars but they sure do make walks easier. Our oldest pup is 3 years old and we never could break her of the habit of pulling at the leash. We've tried Gentle Leaders and chest harnesses and wrapping the leash around her waist like the dog trainer showed us but nothing worked. Nothing until the pronged collar.

I keep forgetting to mention how cool my neighbors and relatives are! After the marathon two weeks ago, we got home and our neighbors had tied balloons to our railing along the steps. It was such a wonderful thing to see when I got home. My neighbors on both sides are incredible. We really got lucky. And also, the boy's cousin J sent me a Team in Training 26.2 sticker. He, his sister A and their dad B (too many year online, I don't like to use a whole lot of personal info which is fucking hilarious since I'll blog for HOURS about my GI problems when running) are all marathoners. It means a lot to get support from them since they know exactly what's involved. Now I only hope I can get as fast as they are!

But I rambled on, and what I was getting at was cousin J who has sent me letters of encouragement ever since I started this nonsense. Same with the boy's brother S. He would send emails of support and encouragement and none of them ever laughed when I failed. I know I am not athletic, I never have been athletic, so this is a big deal for me. And I know my family will support me because they are my family. But it's something a bit more when your in-law relations do it. And I got lucky with my in-laws.

So anyway... George is whinging and my green tea latte is gone. I need to brew some more tea and go cuddle on the couch with the pups while some spooky goodness plays on my television. October is going by too fast. I haven't had my fill of horror flicks!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wordle!




Something about this intrigues me. I found the application while browsing through a quilting blog. It is begging me to become an art quilt. I've been edgy lately because the Chicago marathon is over and there are six months until the Cleveland marathon. Yep, I selected the Cleveland marathon in May 2009 as my next challenge. Mostly because it is in Ohio and then I can go visit my family and co-workers. I miss the people in my office!

So I really want to be sewing right now. I am tempted to drop my class. The subject matter is interesting but the actual class is dull. Last week was 3 hours of looking at graphs. Now, the graphs gave me a great quilting theme idea but looking at them for 3 hours? Dull. I really want to like this class but I can't get into it. I have a week to decide but I'll make my decision by the weekend. It's sad because there are only 5 students in the class, including me.

I just want to sew. Can it be time to sew now?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Planning... planning... planning...

I've decided to do the Chicago marathon again next year. It really was a great race, no matter how slow I was. And I am trying to decide on another race in the spring. So far I am considering the Flying Pig in Cincinnati on May 3rd, the Madison Marathon* on May 25th, the Cleveland marathon on May 17th and the Illinois marathon on April 11th. The Flying Pig has a great medal and a 3 mile, almost 400 foot elevation. That just looks scary! The Illinois marathon will be the inaugural run which could be scary. Madison is beautiful and Cleveland, well Cleveland would be near my family. So it's all a toss-up. But Chicago is a definite.

Yesterday the boy, the pups and I went hiking in Palos/Sag Valley Forest Preserve. It was so pretty out there with the bright sunlight and the trees in their fall colors. I love the fall. I love the chill in the air and the smell of the leaves and apples and apple cider! Fall is an excuse to shuffle my feet through all the leaves on the sidewalk. Unfortunately the fall also signals the constant pain I will feel in my fingers and toes due to that damned Raynaud's (I have primary Raynaud's). And yes, my fingers do look like the photos on that page. Even air conditioning in the summer can trigger an attack. Anyway... the hike was amazing and very hilly which I am so not used to. Months of running but on totally flat terrain. One hill was so steep and soooo high that I had to stop mid-way. I wish the park were closer (it's about an hour drive with traffic) because it would be a great training path. I may still go there although the snow may make it too slippery to run on.

I cannot believe the year is almost over. I've already done some holiday shopping so I don't have much more to go. And I need to send out an email with my holiday gift idea since there is only one thing I want. Only I hate doing that because gifts are not a requirement for the holidays, they are special. Only I am trying to whittle down my belongings because I don't need so many things in my life tying me down. Except books. And while I get embarassed receiving gifts, I hate getting things I do not need. If I need something I purchase it for myself. And I've become VERY finicky about things lately. I remember moving from my first apartment and everything I own fit into my Chevy Cavalier. I can't do that now and that is kind of sad. So anyway, I am trying to tell myself it is okay to say "hey, this is what I want" in order to not have to deal with things I do not want or need.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now what?

Well, it's been days now and all I keep thinking about is "now what?" I don't have Saturday group runs to get up for and no long races to train for. I have two small races, a 5k and an 8k but those do not need weeks of training. I feel sort of lost.

I found out last night in class that two of my classmates also ran and finished the marathon. There are only 5 people, including myself, in the class. So for there to be 3 finishers is amusing. Two of the students were talking about the race but I did not join in and announce that I was there also. I still feel intimidated. Especially since I am so slow and do mostly walking. I hope to be faster one day. Maybe by the next Chicago marathon. Can I get to a 10 minute mile in a year, or at least a 12 minute mile? Can I get my GI problem under control?

My environmental literacy class should be more interesting than it is. The professor seems to only focus on the math... converting from metric to the more inelegant U.S. measuring system. We do have a field trip planned for the Chicago Center for Green Technology since the professor will not be able to attend one class due to a work trip. I think that should be interesting.

My final project is running shoes from cradle to grave. Runner's World had a fabulous article about just that in this month's issue. I want to find some video about the making of running shoes and also about some 6000 Nike shoes floating around in the ocean. Lots of video so I do not have to speak in class! *shudder* Even with 4 other students in class, public speaking frightens me. I have 5 more weeks to prepare.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

To my surprise and amazement, I finished 26.2!!

I am now the proud owner of a Chicago Marathon medal. There were many times during the marathon I believed right down to my core I would not make it. Hell, many times I wished they'd sweep me out and have done with it!

I got to Grant Park around 6:30am and went to hang out with Team in Training in the Charity Village. I did not know there were so many charities running! Charity Village was perfect since each charity tent had like 15-20+ port-o-lets behind their tent so there were no long lines of people waiting to use them. Such a relief!

At 7:20am the TNT members all walked over to the starting line. So many people! I was getting pushed around while I stood in my pace group but I managed to stand my ground and not get shoved to the back. I needed to start out ahead to give me some extra time away from the back of the pack. There was a Mexican woman who started out with me. Her two sons were running also but they were in one of the starting corrals and not in the open corral with her. She stuck with me for quite a while and asked me questions. I only lost her at mile 4 when I stopped for the dreaded port-o-lets.

I didn't even hear the gun go off, I only knew the race started because the crowds of runners began pushing me towards the start line. I did my 1 run/4walk and the Mexican woman stuck right with me. She had her iPod and was singing and waving her arms to some salsa music. She was pretty happy to be out and waved and cheered to everyone on the sidelines. I was just focusing on my pace and trying to listen for my watch beeping my for running and walking. It was difficult because the crowds were so loud! It was amazing!

Now, Disney had lots of cheering crowds and all but I gotta tell ya, I really believe Chicago was the better of the two. There were cheering groups along EVERY section of the course, not just designated areas. I'm usually not one for the cheering because in the beginning it kind of annoys me. Especially when I am constantly thinking I do not deserve the cheering. But once I reached mile 8 in Boystown... DAMN! Running through Boystown is like running through the Magic Kingdom in Disney. Only better! Those residents know how to have a good time. Festivals are always more fun there. I cheered for the rifle guard because they were splendid and the folks in the hula girl gear with the silver platform go-go boots were lovely. My favorite sign of the entire race was the one with Mr. Slave that said "Run like a Bear is chasing you!" I wish I could have just stopped running and hung out there.

Before and after Boystown I kept wondering why I was running. I was doing a very poor job of things since my pills for my GI problems were not working. I wanted to cry. I'd tried everything I could to fix the problem and nothing had helped. I could only run a minute at a time before I had the "urge". Many times I just wanted to be swept off the course because I didn't think I could keep it up for the whole race. My legs were fine, my breathing was fine but I kept having the "urge". But being pulled off meant that I would have failed again and I'd have to tell everyone who donated that I failed. That became a worse feeling for me. Having to admit I could not finish was worse than having to use a port-o-let every couple miles. So I kept moving. I don't even remember much before mile 13 other than Boystown. I hated what I was doing and kept thinking to myself that this is rediculous. I should NOT be trying to run marathons.

Around mile 14 I met up with my folks and the boy who was walking with our boxers. They stuck with me until mile 18. At mile 17 I'd hit what John "The Penguin" Bingham called "The Bite Me" mile. My mom had a cowbell with her and had been ringing it constantly. And even when she wasn't ringing it intentionally, it rang. I love my mom and I knew I could not say nicely "please quit ringing the bell". So I kept my mouth shut. It wasn't her fault and she didn't even know it was annoying me. It's really funny now though but at the time I wanted to scream!

I kind of took off after mile 18 and lost everyone. One of the coaches for the AIDS team did ride up to me to tell me he liked my dogs though which made me smile. It wasn't until mile 18 that I believed I really could finish the damned race. I kept telling myself that I only had 8 more miles to go. 8 miles wasn't a long time, only two hours. I could do two more hours.

Mile 19 was in Pilsen which was my other favorite section of the race. Just before I hit the party section of Pilsen I went through a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood street. A very nice man offered me a little powdered sugar donut but I declined. I didn't think I could swallow it. *laugh* But it was really nice to offer! A little further down the road I hit the stores and restaurants of Pilsen. Salsa music was being blared out of windows and on the streets and soooooo many families were out cheering on the runners. It wasn't flashy like Boystown but it was energetic and emotional. It seemed like everyone in the neighborhood was out cheering us on. And the food! I could smell the food from the restaurants and homes and I was so hungry. I passed a man with a huge bowl of pretzels who offered some to me. Those I took with a grateful thanks. I didn't think I could swallow those either but the salt sounded wonderful. And they were!

Mile 21 went through Chinatown but by the time I and my circle of runners reached there the party was over. I got to run near my favorite candy store and run past my favorite bakery (Maxim's) and Chinese restaurant (Won Kow). The police along the course from here on out were wonderful about letting us know what mile we were on.

Mile 23 took me down towards IIT and Comiskey Park which is where the White Sox play. I forgot to look for the stadium since I was more focused on finding a Gatoraid station. A swift bit on 35th Street and then we headed north on Michigan Avenue for the final stretch!

Around mile 24 there was a group of Elijah charity team cheerers who cheered me on and gave me an orange. It was the best tasting orange I'd ever had. Those Elijah team cheerers were amazing! They had cheer zones just about every mile and they really cheered EVERYONE on, not just those who were running for their charity.

Mile 25 had me running alongside a charity runner from Paws who told me this was his 8th marathon and he was running with Paws because he'd had to put down two of his pups this year, a Dalmatian and a rotty mix. We talked as we headed up the final stretch. One of the Team in Training coaches that was keeping pace on his bike and checking on all of us slow teammates kept checking in with me. I wish I knew what city team he was a coach for because he really helped me out and was very supportive. He would give me water and tell me my form was good and I was walking strong. Even when I felt like I was doing poorly, hearing that helped.

Just past mile 25 two of my coaches from my city team appeared. I probably surprised the one coach by not being swept off. I was the slowest person on our team so he regularly ended up running with me in order to speed me up. He and his wife run together and coach together. There were two other Team in Training members behind me so I wasn't the last purple runner out on the course. This did make me feel better. A third coach from another TNT team met up with us also. He had been running with me around mile 6 and he recognized me once my watch started beeping. That's when he told me I had to run the last bit of the race. And the last bit went up the largest incline on the course (on Roosevelt Road).

That last 0.2 miles... 4 coaches and 3 teammates, all of us heading towards the finish line. I ran the last 100 yards with the coaches and teammates. I won't even post my time but I did finish. I saw my folks and my husband and our cousin and my two pups cheering as I ran to the finish. I didn't believe I could do it, even with training. It was hot and I was slow and had to fight my own internal problems (physically and mentally). I wanted to drop out for most of the race and the only thing stopping me was letting down everyone who believed in me and donated to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. I knew that would hurt worse than any pain I felt after finishing.

So here it is, 2 days later. I finished my first marathon. Would I do it again? I am planning on Disney when I turn 40. I am hoping that I can run a 10 mile minute within those next two years. I have to get the damned "urges" under control. That is what slows me down, still.

I'm not an athlete. I've never wanted to be an athlete. I started this because my sister wanted to run the Disney marathon when she was 35. I signed up without really thinking about the consequences. And my failure hurt. So while I didn't make some great time for Chicago, I did finish. And finishing was my goal. My only goal. At the end of it all I did enjoy it. I loved how the crowd just cheered everyone on. I wish Chicago had a race that just ran up and down Halsted in Boystown because that was my favorite neighborhood by far. I don't know if I would run next year (unless I can do that 10 minute mile by then) but I will be cheering in Boystown!

Thank you to friends and family who supported me! And thank you to everyone on the streets of Chicago who cheered and offered food and water and misting stations. And to the volunteers and police and medical teams! I am in awe of how many people were out there to support the runners! And who smiled and cheered the entire time. It was a hot day, maybe not as hot as last year but it was still toasty and there were so many people out for the race. And to the Team in Training coaches and other TNT individuals who helped me out with fundraising. TNT is a great charity to run with and the coaches are incredible! I know when I started and when I finished and that was many hours from beginning to end. So to everyone who stayed out and cheered us on from start to finish, THANK YOU!!!

Next up, Trick or Treat Trot 5k and the Turkey Trot 8k!


I am a marathoner!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just a short update...

Tomorrow is the big day! In 24 hours and 30 minutes the starting gun will go off!

Yesterday my folks and I headed down to McCormick Center to go to the expo so I could pick up my race packet. And OMG... BEST GOODY BAG EVER!!! And VW was there with the old Beetle from the commercials and they were screenprinting free tees and they had goody bags also. And if you showed your VW key you got another free tee that the workers were wearing. I'll have to post a photo of the swag inside but it was so worth giving away my info to them. I have a 2000 New Beetle and I just love my car. There are some design flaws but the car is so freaking fun to drive that I mostly forget about the flaws.

We had to drive past Grant Park to get to the expo and I admit, seeing all those tents and Port-O-Lets made me queasy. I was starting to feel okay about things until I saw the start/finish area. Now I have nerves.

I want to blog more about the expo and my race thoughts but I don't think I can really get those down right now. I'm trying not to freak myself out. I am excited and VERY nervous. Incredibly nervous.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Weather and race ramblings...

I have been checking the weather report every day, many times a day, since Saturday. Sunday's report has gone from cool and sunny, to cool and rainy, to warm and now to sunny and moderately humid with a high of 76. I was hoping for the low 70's but at least the rain has disappeared.

I am flipping between confidence to downright fear. There are piles of gear all over the house. There are clothes on the dining room table and after-race food on the sideboard and my packed fuel belt and running hat on the entertainment center. And every once in a while, many times a day, I wander over to the different piles and arrange things. I pick up my fuel belt and try it on. I grab both running hats and try those on. My Disney marathon hat is a heavier weight fabric than the other and I can't decide which to wear. I want Disney to focus but if the weather is too hot then the lightweight hat would be better. Then I make sure I have lip balm and $20 in my wristpack.

Next is the clothing. Weather determines capris or shorts. No question on the shirt, I wear my purple Team in Training tee. Two pair of socks are sitting out on top of two sports bras. Do I wear a headband thingy to keep stray hair and sweat out of my eyes? I check the clothing, folding and refolding to make the pile look neater.

I'm lucky that the boy agrees to carry my backpack full of items instead of me having to check gear. And I'm lucky he goes with me and drives so I never have to worry about parking. He drops me off and finds a place and that way I am never late.

This week I've been trying to be mindful about hydration and food. I'm reading and rereading all my TNT emails and websites about race prep. I'm trying to to get down on myself over speed and just focusing on what I've trained to do. I know where my weaknesses lie. I know the problems I've had during my training and I'm aware of what I need to do to get past them.

I still need to find a running song since there are no MP3 players allowed. So far my mind won't let go of the Cure's "Fire in Cairo". Maybe I should pick something a little speedier like the White Stripe's "Icky Thump". I wonder what the BPM is for those songs... maybe an intense NIN song is what I need. For the half marathon I had the Dresden Dolls' "Girl Anachronism" but I think I need a new song for this race.

In case anyone other than me is keeping count, I've participated in the following races this year:
  1. Disney Marathon - January 13
  2. St. Patty's Day5k - March 16
  3. Race to Wrigley 5k - April 13
  4. United Run for the Zoo 10k - June 1
  5. Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon - August 10
  6. Nike+ Human Race - August 31
Coming up next are the following:
  1. Chicago Marathon in 3 days and 20-some hours
  2. Trick or Treat Trot 5k - October 26
  3. Turkey Trot 8k - November 27
That all adds up to 8 wonderful technical tees (the St. Patty's Day tee was just a long-sleeve cotton tee)! I have quite the collection!

I have to keep signing up for races so I have a reason to continue running. I'm a pretty lazy person so I need those incentives. Especially when I am going to go back to Disney and finish that damned marathon!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Second quilt winner!!

I almost forgot to do the drawing yesterday because we partook of my favorite Sunday activity, Pancakes, Puppies and Parks! This means the boy and I go out somewhere I can get pancakes and then we take the pups and go hiking. Yesterday it started raining right before we arrived at the park but the boy stopped to buy a cheap raincoat from Walgreen's so he could loan me his jacket. It was pretty rainy the entire time but it was nice to be outside and hiking (even though I am so not fond of being in the rain).

Anyway, when we got home I printed out the names of those who donated to my Team in training fundraising (btw, I was $600 short of the TNT goal) and got to work cutting and folding everyone's names to put into the grab bowl. The boy got to be my name picker and the name he picked from the bowl is...

Tony and Jane Cugino!

Yep! My dad and his wife won the second quilt drawing. Congrats to the lucky couple and THANK YOU to everyone who donated money to my Team in Training fundraising. I am very grateful to everyone who sponsored me, especially during these crazy economic times.

Team in Training has been a great organization to train with and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society does such wonderful work towards finding a cure for blood cancers. I've read some harsh comments online about how TNT is dumbing down running by "elite runners" but those complaints don't add up for my team and what I've experienced. TNT runners are supportive of all runners, not just fellow runners in purple shirts and we were always reminded about proper course etiquette. I've seen just as much inconsiderate runners out on the path that were not TNT members so quite honestly, we're not always the guilty party. I've learned a lot about myself and running these past 5-6 months and that is all thanks to Team in Training. I may not be fast or able to run over a long period of time but that doesn't make me a bad runner. It just means I have a lot more training I need to do to become one of the fast people.

Not meaning to rant or anything... I went off on a tangent. *laugh* I did want to thank everyone for their support and congratulate my dad and Jane on winning the second quilt! Of course now I need to call them and let them know.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Doubting myself...

I went to my last Team in Training run today. It's the first time I've run in a while. My back felt fine while I ran but it's a little sore now. Nothing to terribly bad.

With a week to go, I am already starting to worry about finishing. I worry I won't be fast enough. I don't worry that I can't finish the 26.2 miles, only that I can't finish it within the time allowed. This has really been bothering me because I keep thinking I've had all these setbacks and I'm not trying to whine but GI problems have really slowed me down. I really wish I'd have seen my doctor sooner about the problem but everyone kept telling me the problem would eventually go away. It didn't. If I'd have gone sooner I could have gotten the help I needed. I could have been able to train faster.

Coulda. Woulda. Shoulda.

Will I be fast enough to finish the marathon? I hope but I don't know. The only thing I am certain of is I will not be quitting. If I get swept it won't be for lack of effort. But you don't get a finishers medal unless you cross the finish line. And not crossing frightens me. So many people sponsored me through Team in Training. I hate the thought of letting anyone down. I don't want to disappoint anyone. Will that get me the speed I need? I have no idea.

I am working on my strategy. I am shortening my walk interval again. I'll make myself a splits chart so I know where I need to be at what time. I'll be preparing all next week so the GI problems won't be an issue, I know what I can eat and what to avoid at all costs. I'll be stretching even more so my back won't be an issue. I will be on top of hydration throughout the entire week and I'll make certain to get enough salt so cramping doesn't occur (I don't need another experience like I had with my 16 miler). I have clothing that doesn't chaff and shoes that are new enough to give me support and worn enough to not need to be broken in. I have gel with the electrolytes I need (and salt packets in case I need more). So the only thing I need to worry about on race day is my speed.

Please let me be fast enough to finish! Please let me finish and be excited about signing up for another marathon!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

R.E.A.D. in America Day (or why I love books)

As posted in Livejournal... In celebration of R.E.A.D. in America Day, tell us about what you're reading. How is reading important to you? What would you recommend to others?

It's funny... I didn't know this was today and yet that is what I've been doing all day (besides some internet forays). Right now I am reading the Sookie Stackhouse books and I've just finished Dead to the World and am reading Dead as a Doornail. They're good, light reading. And I've been wondering why vamp/were novels always have the heroine going for the vamp more often than the were. Vamps always seem to come first. *shut up ya pervs*

Reading is the number one thing I love. You can take away my movies and television, music and internet. Just leave me my books. When I was little I remember trying to teach myself to read with the Little House books. I remember always getting confused with "now" and "know". I'd sit in my closet with my books and pick out words that I knew and try to make sense of the books based on those words. I was in 3rd grade when I read my first book through in one afternoon. That was Little Sioux Girl. I think I woke up early and picked it up to read since everyone else was still sleeping. After that there was no stopping me. I'd read cereal boxes if I couldn't find a book to read.

My grandma babysat my sister and I a lot and she loved to read (my mom is also a great reader and my niece reminds me much of myself at that age, always carrying around a book... this makes me very happy). Grandma had this basket of books in her living room and I'd always grab one to read while everyone else watched television. My favorite was Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Girl of the Limberlost. She also had a book about Jack the Ripper that intrigued me. The photos were gruesome and sometimes gave me nightmares but I couldn't stop myself from reading bits of it when I was over at her house. I must have been in first grade at the time so it was a bizarre choice of reading material.

When I was in fifth grade I found a copy of Roots and was determined to finish it one summer. It took me until seventh grade to actually read it through. That was probably the first huge novel I'd read. And after that no novel was safe, no matter how thick. I would read any fiction I could get my hands on. Somehow many of those were Harlequin romances although for the life of me I cannot remember where I'd first got them but I had two large trash bags of them by the time I graduated high school. I read Stephen King and V.C. Andrews and many classics also but I loved the trashiness of romance novels, particularly the historical romance novels (I still do but I can't remember the last time I spent money on one)

When I was sixteen I saw David Lynch's "Dune"and was fascinated by the sandworms. I remember seeing the trailers for the movie but I couldn't talk any of my family into taking me to see it. Even my friends didn't want to see it. One weekend my folks rented it so I finally got to sit down and see what those sandworms were all about. When I discovered it was a novel by Frank Herbert I immediately went to my school library and tracked it down. I fell in love with science fiction right then and there. One of my schoolmates saw me in the sci-fi section and he recommended Robert Heinlein to me (it was either Tim or Thom Holbrook, I wish I could remember which!). The first Heinlein book I read was I Will Fear No Evil and after that I had to read everything I could find that he'd written. And no, I don't find him sexist and I don't believe my love of his books makes me a bad feminist. He is what he is/He was what he was. He didn't write women very well but then he isn't the first male writer to write poorly developed female characters.

To this day sci-fi is still my favorite genre. I love how open and adventurous it is. Anything can happen in sci-fi. Fantasy is interesting but space travel, that's where it's at. I do get upset sometimes that there aren't enough women writing sci-fi. I often wonder if there are but maybe there's a glass ceiling for female sci-fi writers. I want more writers like Sheri S. Tepper and Marge Piercy.

But right now I am off to read more Sookie Stackhouse adventures and wonder why she just doesn't jump all over Alcide.

Arnica! And ramblings about school, public speaking and art...

My doctor is great! When I was seeing the two specialists for my Raynaud's I never felt they really listened to me. But my gp listens, really listens. And she isn't quick to write scripts for meds, she'd much rather go with fixing things without meds first. So Friday she talked to me about stretching in order to loosen my back and told me to take arnica pellets and use arnica gel on my back. Yes, the pills are technically meds but they're homeopathic which seems better to me than big company pharmaceuticals. She also have me the card of a chiropractor and said she'd fax over a referral if I needed one.

Tomorrow I am going to try and run and see how my back feels. I need to test things out so I know how I feel. I have two weeks before the Chicago marathon. I need to know my back won't kill me because 26.2 miles at my pace is a long time. Hours and hours. I have enough to worry about with my GI problems. I don't need to add my back to the mix.

In other news... I am reading my way through the Sookie Stackhouse books. I love that they're just interesting and light reading. And I think HBO has done a great job so far with the "True Blood" television series.

Also, my environmental literacy class proves to be very interesting. There are only four other students in the class (4 women and one man) and I'm the only one without any degree whatsoever. I do worry about the 15 minute presentation I have to give in front of the class. Public speaking makes me ill. I am hoping to put together a slideshow with some video so I don't have to talk so much. In high school I did duet acting on the speech team with my wonderful friend Kimberlie and I'd really love to know how that happened. How on earth did I manage to do that? I wasn't good at all but I was able to talk with her in front of a classroom without throwing up. It boggles the mind. It couldn't have been my idea. *laugh*

Today I think I will paint. Hopefully my acrylics aren't all dried out. I want to sew but that means dragging a lot upstairs to the dining room and I don't want to have to clean it all up again in two weeks when my folks come out. I'll wait until after their visit. But the painting mess will be easier to clean up. I'm a horrible painter but every so often I try again. I'm much better at textiles.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The dreaded doctor's visit...

...is tomorrow.

My doctor is wonderful but I still dread going. After the whole blood clot emergency hospital visit of 2003 I've feared going in when something hurts. I was only able to go to the emergency room in 2003 because my Bosswoman talked me into it and then talked to me while I walked across the street to the hospital (our apartment at the time was across the street from the hospital). That trip got me an immediate hospital stay for 4 days and an angiogram. And I got snarked at by the nurse who was checking me in because I did not have a general practitioner. I also got on the patient list of 2 specialists, got put on blood thinners and had to get my blood tested once a month for the next three years.

So when I need to go see my doctor for a problem, I worry that something bad will happen and I'll get bad news. I don't know what news I'll get tomorrow. I don't want to have to go see a specialist for my back. It feels fairly good now but long walks and any running makes it ache and that isn't normal. I have 16 more days until the Chicago marathon and I need to be better. I haven't been able to run in almost 2 weeks and that can't be good. I was unable to do my 20 miles and that freaks me out (although I did the 18 miles so it's not like I missed a huge jump in mileage). I still have to get up and stretch regularly while I sit at my desk and work or I hurt otherwise.

This is just so frustrating. What if my doctor says I cannot run? Months of training and so many donations only to be told no? But then I don't want to totally ruin my back. I can train for another marathon when I heal but it would be worse to run and do permanent damage. So tomorrow's doctor visit scares me. I want to cry.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Delayed 20 miles and other ramblings...

Due to hurting my back in the great backyard flood of 2008 I was unable to do my 20 mile run yesterday. This annoys me. My back is getting better but standing too long and walking too much causes some achiness in the small of my back. Aleve helps but it doesn't get rid of that last spot. I found some Biofreeze and another muscle salve I had so I'm going to give that a shot today and see if it helps. And if it does then Tuesday will be my 20 mile run!

School also starts for me on Wednesday. I'm taking an environmental literacy class. What I am really wondering is whether or not I should continue school or just focus on art. I really enjoy school but I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up and Northwestern is too expensive to just take classes willy nilly. I need to get a job at NU so 80% of my tuition would be covered. That's one thing I miss about not living in Ohio, I had free tuition because of my job.

Today I am going to break out my paints and fabrics. I want to work on an art quilt I started about 3-4 years ago and didn't finish. It's really too large for my tiny machine to handle but I am thinking about chopping it down and creating something for my office. I have two empty walls and they need something badly. I should take a photo because I painted over the orange and now the room is a nice shade of green (one wall is a darker green than the other three but still bright and cheery). The boy also built me a shelving unit over the radiator so now I have functional storage above the radiator that had been limiting the room.

Plus I've been trying to get rid of all the cluttery nonsense that seems to breed like rabbits. We donated 11 bags of clothes and shoes and 4 boxes of kitchen items. I went through all my shoes and only kept the ones I currently wear. Lots of Converse that I rarely wore. I kept a silver pair and a green and pink pair and the rest were donated. I kept my pink Fluevog cowgirl boots even though they're too small for comfort. And I kept my old leather biker jacket for my niece. I wish I had remembered to give the jacket to the boy to give to my step-dad so he could give it to my niece when he saw her. Maybe she can wear the Fluevogs. They are pretty kick-ass.

I wish my back would get better! I think I'll go stretch again because I want to start running again! *arghhh*

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ouchies!

Flood 2008

Friday night we got hit by some terrible rainstorms. By Saturday morning our back yard was a foot deep in water. To get to our garage we would have to wade through all that water. The boy went out to the hardware stores trying to track down a pump so we could drain our yard but every store he went to was sold out. I saw him filling up a bucket to dump in the alley so I went out to help. Our wonderful neighbors to the east saw him also and J came out and loaned us their pump. I had the bright idea that I would continue to bucket out the water while the pump was working because there was a LOT of water. The boy and I formed a bucket brigade which lasted maybe 15 minutes before my back started to ache. It didn't seem like the water was going down at all and it just kept raining and raining hard! Since there wasn't much else to do besides watch the pump work and the rain fall, we went back into the house.

Sunday was pretty much more of the same. I think George's bladder stretched to dynamic proportions because peeing in the rain was the last thing he wanted to do. poor pup! I really wanted to go see a movie but instead I vacuumed the house and it is then that I twisted somehow and really wrenched my already sore back.

The last time I hurt my back had been a couple years back when I was exercising with a friend. I was getting off one of the machines and twisted wrong. Even bbreathing deeply caused severe pain. I was in Ohio at the time and it got so bad that I couldn't even get up off the floor without help. My step-dad had to lift me up a couple times. I almost couldn't make it up off the toilet but the thought of having my step-dad come in and help me up scared me even more. *laugh* Luckily I didn't hurt my back that badly this time (especially since my step-dad and mom are in Colorado on vacation and not here to help) but it does hurt to sit upright for too long.

Right now I have one of those activated charcoal heat packs stuck on my back. The heat seems to help (and helps me stay warm since it is chilly inside the house and my Raynaud's is aggravated by the weather). I'm trying to take it very very easy because I am scheduled for 20 miles on Saturday and I NEED to be pain-free before then. I cannot afford to miss this run. I HAVE to be able to run on Saturday.

This Friday is a big deal for my step-dad. He is getting inducted into the football hall of fame for our high school. He gets to be introduced at Friday night's football game at halftime and then there is a ceremony afterward at the high school. I am disappointed that I will miss it but between work and the time it would take driving out there and fitting in my 20 mile run I just can't be there. I am a lousy daughter! :(

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Insomnia...

Only, not quite. I woke up with a headache so I stayed up until the aspirin I took kicked in. And now I am watching some edited for television horror movie and craving a cupcake. It's 3:45am and I am seriously considering baking a cake. And I want to either paint or sew. I have an idea that would work for either medium.

Which is something I've been thinking about lately. Art. I keep changing my mind about school. I really enjoy school but I feel like it will be forever before I finish my degree and what do I really want to do when I grow up anyway. But I always want to make things. Maybe I should just get a job that will keep me in money to pay the bills and with enough left over to make art. Make art quilts. Maybe I need to focus on that instead of getting a degree in something. Or maybe get my degree in graphic design because I know that and I could work in publishing layout. I don't want to do web design forever, besides my skills aren't up to industry standard. It would be difficult to quit my current job because I love the people there and I really miss physically working in the office.

I believe today I will break out my paints and play around one one of the canvases I have in the basement. I bought a couple when we were living in the apartment 3 years ago. Painting may be a good way to work on art quilt ideas. I can "see" my ideas but I never put them down on paper. I prefer to work serendipitously. I like to lay out my fabrics and see what looks best rather than plan things out ahead and then work on the fabric. Especially since I prefer hand-dyed/batiked fabrics and not factory prints. Hand-dyed/batiked fabrics are unique and take more work to use because of the randomness of the batik (at least the ones I choose are random).

Maybe I should go to bed. Or maybe I should go dig out my paints and get things set up. Except I am a bit sleepy. And I need more aspirin.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

31 days and counting!

Last Saturday's run was a beautiful 18 miles. The weather was PERFECT! Even the death strip along the lakefront from North to the beginning of Michigan Avenue was nice. The sun was very bright but the temperature was only in the mid to upper 70's. After the run there was a picnic but I really didn't partake because eating is usually the last thing I want after so many miles. I did drink a lot of Gatoraid and water and a few pretzels but nothing else sounded good. I really wanted a chocolate milkshake but I just settled for a big glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast Drink when I got home. Honestly, chocolate milk is the PERFECT after-run drink.

Nothing horrible happened during the run. My magic pills are not so magic so I had to stop for a couple port-o-lets along the way. That is disappointing. I need to remember to call my doc and see if I can take two pills. I can manage a 1 minute run before the urge strikes and then I need to walk it off.

I also need to speed things up more. Sometimes my mental wanderings lead me offtrack. Laziness rather than "OMG I can't do it". I'll have to blog more about it once I figure it all out in my head. I know the answer is there somewhere! I do know this isn't something I'm going to quit after October 12th.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Nike+ Human Race - Chicago

When I went to pick up my packet for the Chicago Distance Classic there was a booth for the Nike+ 10k Human Race. For $35 I got a tee and got to choose a charity to donate my fee to, and I would be signed up for this amazing race.

Amazing.

Sunday was the big event. The start line was outside of Soldier Field and the race was scheduled to begin at 6:30pm. At 6:20pm I headed to my pace group area. At 6:30pm... no starting gun. At 6:40pm someone sang the national anthem and right after the race began.

Let me describe this to you... The start area was on a street that was two cars wide. The actual starting line that you had to cross in order for your chip to start the timing was 3-4 people across. They funneled 14,000 runners through this tiny start area. I did not actually cross the start line until a few minutes after 7pm. While I was in the back of the pack, there were plenty of people behind me. Loads! But anyway, after the runners crossed that narrow start line the path widened back to an area 2 cars wide.

The course headed south on a side street parallel with Lake Shore Drive for 3 miles and then swung over to land us on the bike path heading north for the last half of the race. I hit the first mile marker at 36 minutes from the time the first runner crossed the start. So that gave me about a 15'ish minute pace.

The next marker I saw was for the 2.5k point. I have no idea why the markers went from miles to kilometers and this was pretty annoying. Somewhere between the 1 mile marker and the 2.5k marker there was a water station and a live band. I have no idea who the band was because there was no sign but they sounded pretty decent. I wish I knew!

A bit past the band the course swung east towards the lake. I knew I couldn't have hit mile 3 already, it seemed to soon even though I thought I was making good time. I'd been passing a number of runners and the cop cars at the back were far back (I'd passed them near the start of the race). I followed the course people at the first turn but when I got to the other side of the cross street there were only police directing traffic. There were orange cones leading the way so the bunch I was with followed the cones which led us right into the northbound path of the race runners. This was not a good sign as where we had a "merge" area, there were MANY runners south of us.

Somehow we were detoured 2.5 miles to a shorter course.

There were NO signs or course people directing us. The group of runners I was with all looked at each other and kept asking "are we supposed to just merge?" It couldn't be right but there was so course area blocked off for us to run south. In fact the whole bike/running path was filled with runners running north. There was no way we could head south to get our miles. So we merged.

There are no words for how I felt. I was using this race to determine my pace after training setbacks. I was finally able to add more running to my training and suddenly my 10k turned into a 5k. There was no course officials around to tell me what the hell was up. And as a slow runner I stick to the right side of paths to keep out of the way of those serious runners who manage a -9 minute pace. It took almost a mile for me to get to the right side of the path and out of the way of those faster than myself.

I ran back the rest of the race being furious. I got to the finish line in about an hour from when I started and there in front of me was another poor planning decision.

After we crossed the finish line we were stuck in this mass of runners. To the far right there were volunteers handing out the awards. The finish area was corralled in so thousands of runners were fenced in and funneled through another 2-3 person-wide exit area. We were told to remove our chip timers but they had been attached to our shoes with plastic dealies which really needed to be cut off. And at most races there are people right at the finish helping cut those timers off. Not so at this race. We didn't see those people until AFTER were managed to squeak through that tiny exit in the fencing. And it should be pointed out that at this time it was dark and these chip collectors were working in the dark. And I believe they were only on one side of that exit area. I saw about 4 people working as collectors for the 14,000 runners.

As for water which is usually RIGHT at the finish line, we had to be able to make it through that tiny exit area, squeeze past the runners getting their chips removed and walk a bit of a ways just for a bottle of water. No gatoraid, just water. And Powerbar smoothie bars. There were little cups of yogurt and Bare Naked granola across from the water area but I don't believe I saw bananas or anything salty like I've seen at other races.

The whole race seemed horribly planned, as though Nike did no research on how to run a race. My race was cut short by 2'ish miles and the only reason I can come up with is that Fall Out Boy was supposed to start at a certain time so they wanted all runners to be finished on time even though the race started late. I didn't stay for the concert and was I was leaving I saw many other red-shirted runners leaving also.

The race was a great idea and the award bracelets finishers received were cool but the race itself was so poorly organized. I cannot find ANYTHING online to tell me why I was detoured from 2+ miles. I was not even close to being in the very back of the pack this time and my crossing the finish line was not acceptable to me. It wasn't a real finish and I have no information as to why things were handled the way they were.

Would I run this again if Nike organized another Human Race? I don't know for certain. The idea is exciting but after Sunday's experience, I am not pleased. I paid for a race and didn't get what I paid for. Just because Nike donated my fee makes little difference as far as my expectations are concerned. Badly done, Nike.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mid-week mumblings...

I can't believe September is almost here! I am scheduled for one class this fall quarter and I am really looking forward to it. Environmental Literacy! The course description is "Basic concepts of environmental sciences and how they are applied to public decisions. Risks, regulations, and basic engineering concepts concerning air and water resources, pollution control, solid and hazardous waste, and energy sources. Environmental problems viewed from an integrated, multidisciplinary analysis/decision/solution standpoint." The book was selling for $140 on Amazon. And no, that is not a typo. $140 for a freakin' book! I'm not certain one Heinlein first edition cost that much. But lucky for me there was an Amazon seller who had it for $58 shipped. *whew*

Saturday there is a 12 mile run scheduled but I haven't decided what to do about it. One of my coaches said it was okay to miss it and do the 10k on Sunday since 12 miles is a cutback. But I'm thinking I may still go out and just do a shorter run.

And if anyone is curious about the amount of fundraising the Illinois chapter of Team in Training raises for individual races... check this out!

Fundraising Update:
Steelhead: $29,903.91
CDC: $114,259.13
Chicago Triathlon: $208,872.58
Apple Cider: $46,943.92
Chicago Marathon: $412,685.31
Nike: $89,222.23
Combo: $112,202.84 (this is just for people who signed up to do the CDC and the Chicago Marathon... the totals for those races listed above are from participants running that race only)

Isn't that amazing! That is almost a half a million dollars for the Chicago marathon this year. And just from the Illinois chapter!

I am still $635 short of the TNT goal so if you can help, please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the next quilt raffle! The second drawing is October 5, 2008!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Let me tell you about Saturday...

The horror!

Saturday I was really, really excited about the 16 miles that was scheduled. I had magic pills from the doctor and I was looking forward to seeing if they would work. The first 4-5 miles were nice and cool. I managed to not get on the wrong path (or to make a detour through the Lincoln Park Zoo) and was able to run! Run without needing to track down a port-o-let!

And then... and then... I had to run over a walkway crossing Lake Shore Drive. On the other side was a 5 mile stretch of shadeless path. The temperature was in the mid-80's and it was muggy! I got slower and slower. The heat began making me dizzy and when I drank, I became nauseous. I was drinking and taking in Gu but what I found out later was the Gu did not have enough electrolytes or sodium. My poor coach, I feel bad that he ran the last 1/3 of the course with me. I kept getting dizzy and sick. I was fortunate enough to be on a trail where there were plenty of water stops. And I'd put a $20 in my fuel belt in case of emergencies. We stopped to find some salt and I bought a Gatoraid. Nothing so bad as having to lick salt out of your hand just to make it to the finish (there could be but I don't go on backpacking trips to find out).

The salt helped a bit. My coach talked to me about dehydration and its opposite, hyponatremia. I'd been drinking enough water while running but I did not have enough salt in me. And I just wanted to cry. I was so excited about not enduring my usual dreaded running problem and here I had another problem. I just wanted to quicken my pace!

My coach and I made it back to our finish point without calling for a car pickup but it took a long time. I had to keep stopping due to dizziness and nausea. And my calves were cramping enough that I was limping the last 4 miles.

So Saturday's lesson is: take salt packets along for the run! I also picked up some Powerbar gels with 8% sodium (my Gu had 2%) and a Kool Tie to take along for those pesky long runs. And even after all the problems from the run (I also had a HUGE blister on my foot from my new running shoes) I wasn't terribly out of sorts on Sunday. That I feel good the day after a long run makes me happy. I remember when 4 miles would kill me. I may not be fast but I am healthier and more fit (although I still have a ways to go). I may never even get to the point where I love running but I do love having race shirts! They're proof for me that I can participate.

This coming Saturday is 12 miles and I have also signed up for the Nike+ 10k Human Race on Sunday. I was told I could skip Saturday's run (it's a cutback week) and do the race on Sunday. The race concept intrigues me. 25 cities are participating with an organized run and anyone can participate on their own by doing the 10k while wearing their Nike+ gear and submitting the results online. And not to be a gung-ho supporter of Nike+ but it is really nice to see those miles add up with the gear.

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the next quilt raffle! The second drawing is October 5, 2008!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Woohoo!

Now, I really dislike taking medication but I will forget about that and be thrilled that I have pills! I had an appointment with my doctor yesterday to take care of some medical stuff for school and I remembered to speak with my doc about the dreaded running issue. She prescribed Dicyclomine which is prescribed for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She said if this does not help during my long runs she will send me to a gastroenterologist. I hope the pills work. I only need to take one about 1-2 hours before a run so if this works I'll be set! I admit, I am excited about Saturday's run now because I really want to run more and if this little blue pill will allow me to run without interruption, I will be so happy! I know I can speed up if I didn't have the dreaded "urge" all the time.

Plus, I get to test my new running shoes on a long run! And the thought of being excited for a 16 mile/5 hour run is so bizarre to me that I start giggling. This excitement coming from a girl who had to be forcefully removed from her bedroom and made to play outside by her step-dad. *laugh* I would go outside but I always brought a book with me to read. I haven't changed much in that regard.

Yesterday I also had a hair appointment. It had been about a year since my last haircut so I was overdue. I am in love with Red 7 in Evanston and Matt there is simply wonderful. I just let him do his thing and I am never disappointed. Yesterday he chopped off about 6 inches so now my hair is chin-length and no longer looks all schlumpy. The shampoo woman also does a scalp massage and hand massage and everyone is there offering beverages and snacks in the morning. Out of all the salons in the Chicagoland area, Red 7 is the only salon I've returned to regularly. The salon is totally hip without being in yer face trendy (like Art + Science) and the stylists are friendly and the owners are wonderful. Honestly, 7 years of living here and I never found anyplace I liked until Red 7 opened in Evanston.

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the next quilt raffle! The second drawing is October 5, 2008!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Back to the training...

Saturday's run was only 90 minutes. And it was a very cold morning. I hadn't gotten much sleep and was woken up around 4am by George. I also did not feel very well. It took everything in me to get ready and leave the house for the run.

Our team had shrunk by over half by the looks of it. The fall team is training for a number of runs but most of the team must have been made up by CDC participants. We also had the small winter team joining us. I won't envy them their winter runs! But seeing as how I will most likely be joining Team in Training again to prepare for my return to Disney World marathon, I'll have to start preparing now for those snowy runs.

Saturday I also got fitted for a new pair of running shoes. I had to run outside on the city sidewalk while the shoe guy watched how I ran. It was hot and I was not dressed for running so I was a bit embarrassed. He said my new shoes should last me until a month or so after the full marathon, about 300 miles. I laughed because really, 300 miles between now and November? Sounds awfully high. But then I did the math and yes, I will have covered about 300 miles by then. That is so freaky to think about! I don't even DRIVE that many miles in that many months.

Saturday was also the Team in Training 20th birthday celebration in Oakbrook Terrace. I had a quilt entered for the silent auction. It was won for $150 by... the boy! He said it was worth more than the $100 bid and I'd joked that I really wanted to keep it for myself so he bid and won. Now I need to sew straps on the back so it can be hung on a wall per the boy's request. It really did turn out well.

Wednesday I have an appointment to get a general physical and get some paperwork done for school. I'm going to ask my doc about some help with my running problem. Imodium just doesn't work well and Pepto only works a little bit better. I've changed my eating habits but nothing really seems to have made the dreaded trots better. I can't let this slow me down anymore! I know I can speed up my time if I didn't have the cursed urge to search out every port-o-let on the course.

I also have an appointment with my stylist for a haircut. I love the guy. I haven't been since last September so I'm overdue. I'm thinking of going very short but I'm a bit scared. I haven't had super short hair for about 5 years now. Hopefully Matt will have some good ideas on what to do because I need a change badly.

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the next quilt raffle! The second drawing is October 5, 2008!

Thank you so much Susie and Margaret for your donations. You've helped me get closer to my fundraising goal and helped the LLS get closer to their goal of finding a cure for blood cancers!

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm a CDC finisher!!

I may be slow but I did it! I finished the Chicago Distance Classic in under the 4 hour time limit (3 hours, 44 minutes and 32 seconds). I was not the slowest person on the course, nor was I the slowest person in my division. And I have my first medal!

Sunday I woke up at 3:45am so I would have plenty of time to eat breakfast and let it digest. I made a bagel with a bit of cream cheese but it made me want to gag. So I switched to oatmeal and my usual pre-run grape Gatoraid. I showered, dressed, applied the glorious goo that is Body Glide, laced up my shoes, grabbed my fuel belt and was ready to go! The boy and my mom took bikes so they could meet up with me along the route while my step-dad took a folding chair so he could sit near the finish line (he has a bad back).

I got dropped off and went to find the Team in Training tent to sign in (only we didn't need to sign in) and find an empty Port-o-Let. TNT had 3 right near their tent and the line only had a few people. MUCH nicer than the long lines at Disney. I ran into one of my team's mentors who I'd first met at the kick-off party. She had been so helpful about answering questions and she comes up and says hi at our runs (which is nice because I don't know many people there). And then I saw a woman I've run with once before. We chatted and went to get in line.

The CDC had a wave start so we had to know our pace and get to where that time was listed. There were 4 waves with about 2,500 people in each. Fastest pace groups first and then after 2+ minutes another wave would be sent out. This was so there would be no bottlenecks once the route narrowed around mile 5.

I should point out that I wasn't nervous. I kept telling myself that I'd already done 12 miles at a recent TNT Saturday run (before the taper) so I knew I could complete 13.1. And we were running along the south section of the same trailway I run each Saturday. The weather was in the low 70's and sunny, couldn't have been a nicer day. I'd eaten what I needed to and I'd gotten enough sleep. So other than the "dreaded trots" there was absolutely nothing to worry about.

When my wave started out I took off running at my normal speed. I didn't try to keep up with anyone near me because I knew I had to keep with how I trained. And I trained to finish, not to make a personal best time. The only personal best I cared about was finishing.

Anyway, other than my usual intestinal discomfort I was feeling great! I ran until my cardio or my intestines complained and then I walked fast. I took some Gu about every 45+ minutes when I spotted a water station. I swallowed a Gu (Espresso Love wins over Chocolate Outrage) before the station and then grabbed a water. A couple sips to wash the Gu down and I was off! And I have mastered the drink and walk!

I saw my folks and the boy about a half-mile into the run and then I saw my mom and the boy about 3 miles later as they biked alongside me for a few minutes. It was just me and Dresden Dolls after that. The rule was no musical electronics so I followed the rule. I was one of the few who did, many people on the course were wearing headphones. I decided I still needed music so I mentally sand along to Girl Anachronism by the Dresden Dolls.

The path twisted and turned near the 6.5 mile area before shooting us out onto the lakefront running and biking path. I'd never been on the path south of the loop before and it is really lovely there. The bad thing was the headwind. It was really blowing and slowing me down. Not sure why but I haven't had that problem north of the loop before. The boy, my mom and the boy's cousin Ali met up with me again around the 8-9 mile mark. It was nice to chat with them as I made my way along the course. I was feeling so good outside of the intestinal problems. I'd had no unusual aches or pains. I was just happy to be out there. It's funny how happy I am after we get past mile 8 in the trainings. Before 8 miles I hate running but after hitting the 8 mile mark in training I stop thinking about how I hate running. *laugh*

I met up with a TNT teammate from Columbus, Ohio around mile 11. She was ahead of me at the beginning of the race but I'd caught up with her near the end. I stopped and asked where she was from and we talked about Ohio State and Kent State and various sports teams. She was having some cramping so I decided to run alongside her just in case she needed help. My timing would be slower but I didn't want to run off and leave her alone with her pain. She laughed when I told her I'd carry her across if she needed me to.

When we weaved our way through the twisty bits of the course right before the 13 mile marker we could hear The Penguin announcing the runners. My step-dad and Ali were on either side of the course cheering me on and as I got closer to the finish I heard The Penguin saying my name and telling me my mom was looking for me. *laugh*

My teammate and I were met by two TNT coaches. The woman high-fived us and ran with us closer to the finish line. Then one of my coaches for the Chicago team joined us as we made our way to the final 100 meters. I asked my teammate if she could run and she said she'd give it a try. We started up and ran the final distance and crossed the finish line together.

CDC Finisher!

So I finished the CDC in 3:44:32. Not fast at all. But since speed wasn't my goal and finishing was, I am happy. I have a medal for completing a half marathon. And I know what I need to do to raise my speed. I knew starting the race that I would finish but now I have the proof.

CDC Finisher!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

3 days and counting!!!

Well, 3 days if you do not count today and Sunday. I am already nervous. Which is crazy since I've already covered 12 miles so far for our long runs. A half marathon is 13.1 miles. I know I can do 13.1 miles. But I still get nervous because this time it includes my chip timer.

I should take a photo of my marathon items. I have the usual... sports bra, race shirt, compression shorts, running socks and running shoes. Then there is my Amphipod fuel belt which carries a 20 oz. water bottle and has two zippered pockets for my Gu energy gel (I love the Espresso Love and Chocolate Outrage). There are also two little pockets that house my Burt's Bees lip balm and some Imodium tablets. I have an ankle strap that holds my timer chip and a tag with my emergency contact info. I wear my Disney 2008 marathon running hat as a goal reminder. I also have a pink Timex Ironman watch that can be set for interval run times.

I am set for wearable items. I know I am nervous but it's a different sort of nervousness. I know I'm prepared. I know I can finish in the allotted time (4 hours for the half marathon) but sometimes I feel like I am a fool for trying because I am not an athlete. I'm not sure that I will ever get to that point mentally because I have almost 38 years under my belt of being a non-athlete. It's silly, I know. I keep telling myself that at least I am out there trying. I could still be sitting on the couch but instead I am out there running on the same paths that "real" runners are on. I may not look like the ideal runner but at least I am out there trying.

And hell! I have a collection of bib numbers now! I have a bib number from a 35 mile bike ride, 2 5k bibs, a 10k bib and even the dreaded Disney marathon bib.

Maybe I'm an athlete after all!

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the next quilt raffle! The second drawing is October 5, 2008!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Silent auction quilt...

I wish I'd taken photos from the start but here's a few from the early stages to the final product.

Sideboard mess
The mess of sewing supplies littering my sideboard.



Photobucket
Sewing the beginning blocks...



TNT 20th Anniversary Silent Auction Quilt
Trying to figure out what to do about that middle piece.



TNT 20th Anniversary Silent Auction Quilt
Getting ready to sew the final 3 top pieces together



TNT 20th Anniversary Silent Auction Quilt
The layers all ready to be pinned together.



TNT 20th Anniversary Silent Auction Quilt
The finished product! The quilt is 54"x54" and pretty! I am hoping it goes for more than the $100 starting bid price because the cost for materials was about $90.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Can I go back to bed now?

I spent the weekend sewing a new quilt for the silent auction at the Team in Training 20th anniversary party this month. My back and feet hurt worse after that then they have on any of the long runs so far. I was even up until midnight last night pinning the binding to the edges. I'll post photos later when I get a chance to download them from my camera and upload them to my photobucket account.

My neighbor came over yesterday and I was so excited because I had the names of those who have donated to TNT all cut out and folded up and ready for the first quilt drawing. Seriously! I really wanted to find out who won the first quilt! And I was hoping it wasn't my mom and step-dad (they donated a lot and I wanted to make them a quilt because I am enjoying sewing again and because I was hoping someone else would have a better shot at winning). And even with my folks' name in the drawing, someone else won! And it just so happened that the someone else was the first to return my letter with their donation!

Congrats to Gene and Cathy for winning the first drawing! Thank you so much for your donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training!!! Yours was the first donation I received so it seems only fitting that you won the drawing!


As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the next quilt raffle! The second drawing is October 5, 2008!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Too hot!

I went on a little run around the neighborhood and it is just too hot! I know I should get up early in the morning but the dogs make me sleep in. Bad dogs!

It is also too hot to sew. The light above the dining room table puts out a lot of heat and that with the iron makes sewing uncomfortable. Unfortunately I don't have time to give up a day of sewing so I'll have to bear with it. Luckily for me I have a large pitcher of iced green tea in the fridge to sip on while I sew.

The pups are sleeping and probably won't move until the evening. Such a life!Maybe they will sleep quietly while I do some yoga. It is crazy to have drooly boxer lips in your face while yer trying to get into a pose! *laugh*

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Busy weekend...

My folks came out over the weekend and they brought my niece with them. There was so much going on! And too much food was consumed as is usually the case when we have visitors. The great thing about living in the Chicagoland area is all the restaurants. Saturday's run was only 90 minutes as those training for the CDC are in a taper before the half marathon. That's not enough running to counteract all those meals!

And there are only 11 more days until the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon! We received our race shirts but I need to exchange mine. I ordered a size too large in the singlet so I am just going to exchange it for a regular t-shirt style race shirt. I am hoping my ankles heal by the day of the race because I still have a gravel and grit rash where my heels rub against my shoes. The top of my right foot is no longer bruised but my ankles are still scabby. *ick* So not attractive!

This afternoon I've been working on another quilt for the Team in Training's 20th Anniversary dinner's silent auction. I'm actually working with a traditional block pattern of half block strings in purple and green (Team in Training colors). I was unsure when I started sewing a couple blocks together but I am liking the look of them so far, for being traditional block patterns which I typically steer clear of. The fabric consists of mostly batiked/tie-dye with a solid purple, solid green and solid black. I need to get it finished by August 4th so I can photograph it and write up a description to send to TNT. This means I will be sewing all weekend. Saturday's run is only 60 minutes so I should be home by 9am easily.

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Donate $25 and get your name entered into the quilt raffles! The first drawing is this Sunday!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Volunteering...

Yesterday I volunteered at the Harbor Lights Triathlon. On the drive up to Waukegan there were all sorts of cars loaded down with bicycles so I knew I was heading the correst way. I parked in the furthest lot from the event and had to hike about 2 miles to get to the volunteer check-in. 2 miles in shoes that did nothing but make the bruising on the top of my right foot hurt even worse. And the heel rubbing against the raw spots on my ankles weren't pleasant either. I tried on different shoes but everything hurt, I just couldn't win.

Anyway, I think I was supposed to mention I was volunteering with Team in Training but when the woman asked if I was with a team, I said no. My first thought was "I'm here alone so no team". Wrong answer. But I got to hang out in the transition pit where the athletes would go from the swimming to the biking and finally the running parts. I pointed them to the bike out areas and the run out areas and checked bike numbers to bib numbers at the end of the event as they left the transition pit. I didn't get to see much of the event other than the running start and when they doubled back to pass the pit and head to the finish line just down the road from me.

It was interesting to see how even if the first swimmers returned and left on the biking portion first, they weren't always the first back for the rest of the events. First wave didn't always mean first finishers. And body type did not determine first finishers. There were so many shapes and sizes and ages of athletes! And the most fit people weren't necessarily first finishers.

There was this one man, somewhere between 60-70 yeas old, who did the entire triathlon in black swimming briefs. I heard people laughing at him as he ran out, even I smiled but for different reasons. Here was this older man wearing black briefs and more naked than any other triathlete and yet he pulled it off. And he was doing well. And doing something that the crowd, many of which laughed, were not doing. I knew I couldn't do what he was doing (oh, maybe I could but I wasn't and probably wouldn't ever). It strikes me as bad form to make fun of someone, for whatever reason, if they are doing something you are not. (Of course, it is rude to make fun of people anyway because everyone is different in one way or another. But never mind my rambling...) I was impressed by this man because of his attire and for doing something that I was only volunteering to help at.

So anyway, the volunteering was interesting and next time I will remember to mention that I am there with Team in Training.

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

12 miles...

Actually, I only made it 11 miles but that was due to a foot injury, alas.

I learned something today, it isn't too terrible to run in the rain. And boy howdy did it rain! It never stopped raining. It rained hard and it rained gently. It rained straight down and it rained at an angle. It rained, rained and rained some more.

Unfortunately this rain caused huge, deep rivers all over the crushed limestone path. My shoes were filled with limey water and the grit got all over my legs and ankles. This grit rubbed up against my ankle where my shoe and ankle met up and how I have major gravel rash on my right foot.

This wet shoe problem had me slipping and sliding inside my shoes and I ended up bruising the top of my right foot pretty bad. It's not a visible bruise as though I whacked it into a wall but more of a muscle and tendon bruise and every time my shoe met the top of my foot I was in pain. I'm not sure if it was due to wet shoes or dodging massive puddles or a combination of both but now my foot is in agony. Any pressure on the top of my foot makes me wince (not to mention the grit rubbing on my ankle *eep*). I noticed it around mile 7 and tried pushing through. By mile 10 I was crying and trying to figure out how to step without antagonizing my foot. I had to turn around and head back.

I spoke with one of the coaches and he said to ice it and see what happens. I did remember to ice it when I got home so hopefully that helped. I'll keep icing this week because I am rearranging my long run and doing that on Thursday since my folks and niece are coming out to visit. Yay!!

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

And big thanks to my Aunt Lisa for her donation! Thank you my aunt!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Two weeks later...

Wow! Okay... we were out of town over 4th of July weekend since there was no Team in Training run scheduled for the 5th. So the boy and I took advantage of that fact and drove out to Ohio to see the family and to go zip lining with my folks. For anyone in the area, check out the Hocking Hills Canopy Tours! And make reservations with Chris and Neil because they were teh best tour guides ever! I have a fear of heights but since my step-dad was able to zip line I decided I would give it a shot. It took about three lines before I was somewhat comfortable. I still screamed like a banshee every time but it did get enjoyable after a while.

Last Saturday's run was canceled due to thunderstorms so I had to make up my run yesterday. 10 miles! The lakefront path was more crowded than I had thought it would be. I figured it being a weekday morning that no one would be out. But there were more people than I'd expected. My ankle hurts again because I forgot to wrap it before I left and I had another headache (although not as bad as the first couple runs) and the usual "urge". It felt strange to be running alone out there. I'd gotten used to running with the team on Saturday's.

This Saturday is 12 miles and then Sunday I've volunteered to work at a triathlon with Team in Training. I've yet to hear back from the woman I emailed. I hope I hear back from her because I'd love to volunteer and I've never witnessed a triathlon before. I've also volunteered for one in August. I want to keep with TNT in some manner because they do good things. And even helping at these events will keep me motivated.

25 days until my half marathon!!! It's really creeping up on me! I don't feel like I've been training long enough for the half to almost be here. *laugh* And almost three months until the full marathon. That one scares me. I don't want to have another Disney experience. I know my legs can carry me to the finish, I just hope my intestines give me a break!

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

And ginormous thanks to Gina, Kimberlie and Julie for their donations! Thanks so much for your kind words and your support! *big hugs*

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Achey breaky ankle...

No, I didn't break my ankle. Back a couple weeks ago I hurt my ankle while chasing George. Yesterday evening I noticed it was hurting again. I know where it hurts (along the inside and top of my foot and up my ankle) but I'm still trying to figure out how I am walking when it starts to hurt. When running, the same foot hurts along the outside as if my shoes are tied too tight. I think I need to make a trip to Athletico and have them check me out.

I was also experiencing calf cramps again which means I need to stretch them more often. I do stretch more often and can now bend over and touch the ground comfortably. The boy says at least my aches are coming from being active and not from slothing. That doesn't make the hurt go away but it's an interesting way of looking at things. I am happy I am more active but I fear aches because I don't want them to put me out of commission.

Now it is time to start with the housework. We need to clean and I need to get the guest room ready so I can start painting. So much to do and so little time in which to do them!

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!

And huge thanks to Penny for her donation! It really means a lot to me, the support I've received for this adventure.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

8 miles...

For some reason, 8 miles is the number of miles that I don't feel that "I hate running" thought with every step. 6 miles I hate but 8 miles makes me feel strong. Go figure! It was like that for the Disney training also. And today we had an all Chicagoland team meetup at Busse Woods. It is really beautiful there!

Today's run was hot and muggy but I had my fuel belt with me that felt so light even though my water bottle was full and I had a couple Sport Beans and Gu packets in the pockets. And an Amphipod clip with my Nano. I know I shouldn't run and listen to music but I only put one earbud in so I can hear what's going on around me. Which is good since we run where people bike very fast. And they rarely shout a word of warning.

So I'm still not eating veggies the night before my long runs but I still get the "urge". I've tried Pepto and Imodium and neither work well. I need to see my doctor anyway for some school immunization things so I'll ask her if there is something she can prescribe for me to take before a long run. I could hardly walk fast at mile 7 because the urge was so bad. And it isn't like I need to go so much as there just being an urge. TMI? Well, here's some more... I solved my chaffing problem. And not with Bodyglide! I run commando! It's fairly common from what I've read. It was a difficult choice but honestly, I don't notice any difference other than no chaffing. Yay!

I am so stinky and in need of a shower but I had to blog about how good I felt. I didn't curse my running experience even once. (I cursed the "urge" but that is expected.) I felt so good! And happy! I felt like I could take on the world! Go me! Go Team!

As always, there is still time to donate to The Leukemia & Lymphoma's Team in Training!! Please consider sponsoring me as I run the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and the Bank of America Chicago marathon with Team in Training!