Run Commuting

Working 4 10 hour days means that yes, I get an awesome three day weekend, but it makes getting a run in a bit challenging.  Especially since it’s awful here in the summer, running during the day isn’t always the best choice.  But, for a majority of the summer, I ran into work in order to avoid the horrible heat and humidity that I would have confronted during the day.

One of the things that I learned by being obsessed with the people who have climbed Everest, is understanding when to be opportunistic.  To make choices about when you do things.  Even if it means getting up at 4:30 in the morning so you can hit the road (hopefully not literally) by 5:20 so you can shower before your shift.  And, sometimes, you have to face the music and just deal with the discomfort.

Now that we are on the other side of the time change, I’ve been finding myself running during my lunch break, which is nice, and sort of reminiscent about how I handled things while at Children’s.  The difference is, of course, that I am running 5 miles instead of 3, so it’s a bit more time consuming.  Luckily, I’ve landed a job that doesn’t mind if I do such things.

5:22! (Or, 29.3)

I did everything I could to prepare.  I had laid out my clothes, packed my Gear check — EVERYTHING except one important bit — I didn’t check the buses to see if they were being diverted.  I didn’t figure they’d be diverted onto the 40th Street Bridge – but sure enough, they were.  Which meant, ‘getting to the starting line’ really was a large part of my challenge!  So I jogged / walked to the starting line, obviously concerned that I’d get there too late.

I got to the starting ‘area’ (blocks of downtown were flooded with thousands of runners and spectators), and fought my way towards where I thought gear check was.  I bumped into another runner looking for the same, and we fought our way up to the corral — I stopped short of forcing my way through.  Instead, I found a Course Marshall (thank you, whoever you are), who got me to Gear Check, where I bumped into Allie!  She was running the marathon relay with her family, and it was awesome to collect a hug when I was in such a nervous state.

Hug collected, I checked my gear, and made my way back towards corral E, but I couldn’t get through the crowd of corral D.  Then I spied the port-a-johns, and ran off for a quick pee (whew!).  When I exited, Viola!  There was Corral E!  YAY!  So I ended up crossing the start around 7:17.  Okay, exactly at 7:17.

One of my favorite signs was right at the beginning.  “You’ve trained longer than Kim Kardashian was married!” it declared.  More than one person chuckled.  As we ran through the tunnel, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE started hooping and hollering — the echoes were insane, and awesome.  It was a crowd full of people just pumped up to be there.   It was around here that I saw the sign that said “Pain is Temporary, Finishing is Forever” and that stuck with me.  Because it’s true.

I was definitely worried about food.  I was used to having some bananas and a Kind Bar during my training runs, and I had a sinking (and correct) feeling that I simply wasn’t going to end up eating enough.  I was pretty much forced to use Gu (tastes nasty, but I can get over it,) and it wreaked havoc on my stomach.  The Orange slices, however, were awesome.  Funny how quickly I went from worrying about the water at the marathon to taking orange slices from strangers!

Around mile 10, I saw Alex from work (I saw him first when he took this picture:

It’s when he took that picture that I recognized him.  The way I’m holding my hands tells me I was trying to figure out how I was going to get orange goop off of me 🙂  I was squinting because I was thinking “HEY I KNOW THAT GUY!”  After I got his attention,  he took another picture

and he went on to go to the left, since this is where the marathon split the runners of the half from the runners of the full.  
The 11th mile, which was a concern for every single person running the full ,was as nasty as the elevation chart had promised.  THAT HILL.
Once we got through that hill, running Oakland through Pitt was practically cake.  The drum line there was awesome, and really helped get the feet moving.  That’s when I first met Buff Woman (another woman who was wearing a buff). 
It was ungodly hot by the time we rounded into Homewood.  I walked with one girl for a while, just to perk up her spirits.  She seemed winded.  She was another Pittsburgh runner, and we commiserated that the weather had been so brutally cold for so long, that we had never really had a long run in the ridiculous heat like we found ourselves in that day.  Homewood had to be one of my favorite neighborhoods.  Between all the people out there yelling for us, and the oranges, and the churches, it was really awesome. 
Near East Liberty / Highland Park (it was nice to run part of my old running route in my first marathon!) I was asked by a kid if I’d please want to get wet?  I said “Sure!” and every person holding a cup doused me in water.  It felt AWESOME and really helped cool me down.  My cooler head, the one that should have tried to protect my phone, just simply wasn’t thinking (the phone is fine, so I have to get some props to that Level Flip Belt for that). 
Coming through Bloomfield, Heather and Kira were waiting (A googly eye sign and a ‘Run Like a Llama’ sign greeted me).  I spent a couple of minutes with them, swallowing down a banana and then another.  They were a sight for sore eyes, and it’s what got me through some of the more dismal moments. 
The longest, hardest part of the race was the 24 – 26 miles.  I was thinking I would see Darren at 24, but I didn’t — he had run off to see me at the finish line (even better).  Even with as hard as it was, I didn’t stop believing I could do it and I was going to make it.  Even though at this point I knew I had already gone through the marathon distance thanks to the bus debacle, I just still moved through.  But that dismal stretch of Liberty Avenue was one of the worst moments of the whole thing — it’s you, your pain, and your desire fighting against each other.  I just knew that I’d prevail, because there was NO CHANCE I was stopping unless a medical official dragged me off the course (I did see a few Ambulances pass by).
Downtown, there were lots of flags set up and I thought maybe the finish line was close – it was hard to deal with hoping that we were there and then know that we weren’t — but then I caught a glimpse of it, just briefly.  And that’s why I tried to kick, but I couldn’t, there just wasn’t anything else in my legs.  I coasted in right behind two guys, got my photo, ran into Buff Woman (and gave a post marathon hug to her), took a pic of my medal and posted it to facebook, and then practically ran right into Darren.  Getting a kiss and hug from him felt SO AMAZING.  We celebrated at Sharp Edge, where Darren snapped this shot of me (I think it’s my favorite from the day, but I haven’t seen any of the official photographs).
But, I learned a lot, so let me go through it all.
1.  I am definitely addicted and am thinking about my second.
2.  I’m going to have to train with Gu.  It would eliminate a lot of the stomach issues.
3.  I need to hug the corners tighter — it would take over a mile off my watch and would give me back about 12 minutes.
4.  I definitely want to get faster.  I used to not care.  Now I really do.  Plus, it was encouraging to see how strong my miles were.
5.  Going to need to figure a way to avoid Gatorade (and the resulting headache from HFCS or the placebo).

Breathing down the neck of the marathon.

So here I am, having left you all without my delightful musings, and we’ve fast forwarded . . . to a mere 6 days to the marathon.

So, thanks to my delightful friends, I have successfully met my fundraising goal for the ARL!  YAY for woofs and meowsers!  In more do-gooding news,  Darren volunteered for the marathon today.  I’m so proud of him.  That’s where the hard work is — as a runner, my biggest goal for the marathon is to ENJOY THE RUN.

I’ve been nursing a sprained ankle, and after some sage advice from running coach Super Steve, I took off some time to let it heal.  I also grabbed some KT Tape, which is absolutely wonderful – it has all of the support of a brace, but none of the bulk, and it seems to stay on quite well.  I’ll put that to the test today.

I figure I might jot how I’m feeling down here, because it really is extarordinary — the amount of nervousness I’m feeling.  Even though I know I’m ready.  Even though I did the work.

Right now, it’s 90% mental, and the rest is mental.

Feels Good, Man.

There’s a lot of talk in our household about improving the world.  I am subscribed to a site that pushes deals, etc. to my inbox, and gives me redeemable points that I can either use for deep discounts on fitness stuff, or give to charity (  This is what I redeemed today (from about three months of running):

200 people in Haiti get water for 5 years
4 care packages sent to the troops
1 child’s triathlon entry fee to encourage fitness
100 families in Guatemala a month of health care
20 blankets and pillows and toiletry kits for a homeless shelter
2000 kids in India immunized against polio

First run of the New Year

New seems to be the theme.  New job, new shoes, new year.  New start.  OH YEAH.

5 miles in my brand new Vibrams.  I am not sure if I will need to get the winterized Lontras — my feet weren’t too horribly cold and it was about (exactly) 32 degrees out there.  I seemed to be well bundled — some tech fleece pants, a technical sleeveless shirt under my fleece shirt and a jacket. 
It wasn’t my fastest, but it wasn’t too shabby of a start to the new year.

I know. It’s been ages.


We moved.  That was huge.  While I was recovering from god knows what reason I swelled up, Darren found a great house for us in Lawrenceville.  It is a fixer upper, so I spent quite some time tearing up clover/dandelion/crabgrass in the yard and painting.  Endless painting.

My job blew up, my second job got busier … and some things happened personally that I just don’t talk about on the internet.

But, I assure you, I’m back to logging miles.  OH YEAH.  So, after the knee injury and plan upsets, I decided the best thing for my running would be if I were to switch to minimalist shoes.  I’m now 116 miles into my experiment.  I’ve worn NOTHING but minimalist shoes (or unshod) since February.  Sure enough, my joints feel better.

This isn’t to say I didn’t do stupid things.  This one time, I was so focused on this one thing I read about form, I ran an entire 5 mile run on the balls of my feet.  INCORRECT.  I paid for a few days for that one.  One week, I ran way too much.  INCORRECT.  I paid for that one, too.  Running with so little between me and the road, and the off chance I could snag my toe on something has really changed my relationship with running.

I also got yet another neato little gadget, as a gift from my friend, Rachel.  It’s a neat little app called “Zombies, Run!” and when it’s not raining or I’m not running on roads in traffic, I plug in and listen to a neat story – and every once in a while, the zombies try to chase me down.

That’s where I’ve been.

Such a Lazy Girl

Let me start by apologizing for how lazy of a blogger I’ve been!  I have so much to catch you up on, dear readers.  But, I suppose that was a part of the pressure – I don’t know that me describing the minutiae of my training and daily life is all that interesting, but, yet, here I am. 

I’ve been running, though I took a bit of time off on the holidays — call it my normal yearly funk (though I defeated it on my birthday to run over 14 miles!  Happy 36th, beeyotch!), or whatever — most people pig out on holidays, I just didn’t get miles in.  The weather changed, I got sick, and then to ring in the New Year I’ve had a fantastically awful case of insomnia.  Seriously, folks, it’s nothing to mess with, not sleeping!

The first, biggest news to me is that Darren has started running with me. 

Second to that is I finally admitted I will be doing this for a while, and bought a Garmin Forerunner.  I’d link you up to a run, but the site is down, and really runkeeper doesn’t too it too much justice.  It makes me feel a little more competitive than normal, which I think is good — I’ve been pretty laid back, and maybe a teeny tiny notch up won’t hurt.   I tried using several android apps, and I just couldn’t deal with the absolute shit GPS.  A device built to do just that actually is far, far superior, and it’s an awesome ‘toy’.

Third is the latest upgrade to my cube at work, which is a magnetic zombie poetry kit from my friend, Brandon.  It’s awesome, and I love seeing what poems my coworkers come up with.  I just have to learn to take better pictures of it, because MAN my phone’s camera can really suck.

I’ll try to be more constant.

Bad Blogger! No Donut!

I know, I’ve been absolutely terrible at updating the blog — I even had a race I didn’t totally pick apart and talk about yet!  Some times, I can get the miles in, but waxing philosophic more than I already have in the process of running just may not happen. I’ll do my best.

First things first, the Turkey Trot.  I’m sure you’ve already seen the pictures from it on Facebook, but if not, here they are.

You’ll notice my awesome sweatshirt (Darren’s awesome sweatshirt, actually), which I shed (along with the scarf, my coat, and assorted other layers) before actually running.   We started at Hyde Park.  One of the weird parts about the race was the fact that 5kers and the 5 milers started at the same time, which means THOUSANDS of people were crammed at the start. 

The course itself was convoluted, to say the least.  Luckily for everyone, the 1 Milers started earlier than everyone else — but everyone was running essentially the same course, but as I said, the folks for the 5k and 5miles began at the same time.  So, it was absolutely packed, and completely terrifying for me as we crossed shoulder to shoulder on the bridge.  We basically ran down to AIP, and turned right back around at Blvd. of the Allies (this was the first of the water stops).  When we got back to the park (second water stop), that’s where the 5kers left off.  The 5 mile folks ran on – towards Heinz Field, around it, down near the Science Museum and finally turned around.  For some reason, this part of it really felt like it dragged.  I wasn’t the only one to think that.

So, a few notes.  I threw my cups away.  In the garbage.  Like a self-respecting and city-loving human.  I get it — they will sweep up thousands of cups, but still.  The thing that really got me, the first thing I saw someone do is throw a cup of water in one of the volunteers’ face.  Fucking really, people?  I vowed from that second I was at least going to ‘beat that guy.’  Even though I don’t do this to compete.  I decided that guy was a jerk off.  The part that made it worse is that he had on an Amphipod belt — which means he didn’t even NEED the water (I slurped a bunch before the race, but left the water situation to the running gods).  I saw a few more people be rude to the volunteers.  As I was running, I was thanking them, wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving . . .you know, the race was at 9 and they had an early start — they chose to get out of bed and help out so I could run on Thanksgiving day, and I was going to thank them, dammit.  I also noticed ‘that guy’ stayed on the 5 mile course (taking more water at the 5k start, and I did as well).  Then comes in the 2 miles to finish.   Right as we were coming up on the finish, the jackass took the last cup of water!  I needed that water!  And that’s when all he saw of me was my back as I ran across the mats to finish.  The course time said 1:01:20 – real, chip time was 58:37.  I was hoping for my normal 12 minute per mile — and I got 11:43.  GO ME.

It was the coldest run I’ve done to date — the day started out at 31, and I packed like a diva, unable to figure out what I’d need.  The verdict is, 2 long sleeved shirts, one pair of running / compression tights, one running skirt (dignity, people, dignity), and my headband (shed at mile 3.5 and held in my hand for the rest of the time) along with gloves.

This morning, I knew I hadn’t eaten as well as I should have the night before a long run, so I figured I was going to have to carry stuff.  I didn’t feel like running endless loops around Highland Park, but wanted to listen to music, so I chose endless loops around Morningside instead.  Well, they end, but sometimes, they really really feel like they won’t.  The nice thing about the Morningside loop is that it’s about 1mile in, 1 mile back.  Hills at the beginning and the end.  But, I figured I’d need stuff. . . And I thought of my Yoda backpack.

This exact one, except I wasn’t at work (this picture was taken at Cedars-Sinai from when I first took Yoda to work with me).  He’s perfect, and he makes you look just like that moment in Empire Strikes Back . . . Anyway…

It was chilly, but not as cold as the race was — about 37 degrees when I started.  I figured this time I would go with a very light track jacket, long sleeved shirt, running tights, skirt, headband, and gloves.  In Yoda, I packed a couple of Larbars, a baggie of raisins, a good waterbottle, my wallet and some toilet paper.  I really don’t want go into why the toilet paper, but I’ll say I’ll blame the bad chafing on my last long run to my lack of toilet paper.  And poor short design.  So, if I was taking supplies, I might as well be thorough.

So, all packed, I was off.  The first thing I immediately noticed was Yoda’s arms were way too floppy.  I took a hair band, broke it in half, and used it to tie his arms tight around my neck — and it was perfect.   One mile in, I shed the jacket.  I was pouring sweat – toting a Jedi Master on one’s back is some amount of more work (but better than trying to carry all that stuff any other way).  Yoda was extremely warm on my back, so I really just needed the long sleeved shirt.  I popped in Podrunner, and even with two long stops (one to eat, and one to pick up stuff at Rite Aid – specifically, more water and some Gatorade because I was feeling a little funny), I still made 12:21 pace.  The Gatorade did what I suspect I needed — it gave me the elecrolytes that plants crave (ha).  Seriously, I needed some salt — I started the whole journey this AM by downing a liter of fluid.  But it was a great run, and I see Yoda becoming a running companion in the winter months (sorry, in the summer, it’s just not going to happen!).

And by the way – I do this he gave me some kind of kick of confidence.  The hills I went up, I tried to “bound” up them.  And, I’ll say, he got a lot of looks.  Or maybe they were looking at me, leaping up hills with a stuffed animal on my back looking all intense-like (or possibly very, very goofy).

This deserves some consideration. . .

Catch Up

Some days, I don’t feel like writing.  Last week was a low point — migraine headaches, muscle aches and pains — oh my.  But I got my 10.5 mile long run done (and a fiver and a three in there as well) — and today I face my 3 miles.  On a treadmill.  Because I forgot to bring a jacket or even a hat to help with the downpour that’s just about to happen.

Tomorrow, I’ll log another 3 miles (maybe also on a treadmill, depending on what sort of runwear I can put together) — but on Thursday I’ll run a 5 mile Turkey Trot!