Monday, December 29, 2008

18 weeks to marathon day.

What? Marathon? The Happy Runner? Huh?!?

That's right, folks! I'm running a marathon. No, not now. It's in 18 weeks. Ha!

Readers of this blog may recall that for a while I've said I plan to run another marathon in 2010. For several reasons, I felt that a 2009 marathon was out of the question. But, best laid schemes o' mice an' men and all that and, well, here I am with an open schedule. Perfect for a spring marathon.

My sights are set on the New Jersey Marathon on May 3rd. That's 18 weeks away, which should give me plenty of time to pick up the pace and train wisely and well. And I hope I do because I would like to post a good time. I ran my first -- and only -- marathon in 4 hours and 12 minutes. I would love to break 4 hours for this marathon. I put several of my recent race times into the McMillan Running Calculator and based on the results, I think sub-4 is doable for me (the calculator says I should be able to run 3:47 but -- ha, ha, ha -- I think the calculator has me confused with someone faster and younger!).

So, there you have it. My big plans! I hope to run a few other races this spring, including the Running of the Green (Island) 4-miler on March 7th and the Freihofer's Run for Women on May 30th. Other than that, I'm going to take it as it comes and not try to plan too much. Training for a marathon will be a lot for me. I know I have the drive and dedication to train, I just hope my creaky body and young toddler cooperate!

Anyone else planning to run the NJ Marathon? Let me know!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


A lot on my to-do list today:

  1. Last minute shopping . . . check!
  2. Wrap gifts . . . check!
  3. Consume multiple (bite size) Heath bars while scrambling to meet a deadline as screaming, teething toddler refuses to play independently . . . check!
  4. Consider crying when toddler drops and breaks some fine china but decide that, since you are on the phone with a client, that would be utterly unprofessional . . . check!
  5. Drink twice the normal amount of coffee because being over-sugared just isn't enough . . . check!
  6. Go online and realize that there are many crazy people out there . . . check!
  7. Fear that you are probably one of them . . . check!
  8. Decide that #7 (above) is not necessarily true but simply a result of being off-the-wall due to #5 (above) . . . check!
  9. Shake head and note that the repetitive use of (above) in to-do list more than likely confirms that #7 (above) is indeed true, regardless of feeble attempt in #8 (above) to justify actions . . . check!
  10. Make dinner that toddler, described in #3 (above), refuses to eat . . . check!
  11. Determine that a big dish of Peanut Butter Pandemonium premium (i.e., full-on full-fat) ice cream is the answer to whatever the question was . . . check!
Yup, I checked it all off my list! I'm really getting things done around here.

And, if you were wondering, the PBP was the right answer. As ice cream often is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy winter!

So here I am in upstate New York on the shortest day of the year. Also the snowiest. Or what I hope will be proven to have been the snowiest because I doubt I can handle any days snowier than today.

That's not really fair; it was really the snowiest weekend. The snow in question actually started on Friday around noon and continued more or less non-stop (maybe it stopped while I was sleeping but how can I know for sure?) until this evening. I felt like I was living in a snow globe that some monster person was continuously shaking to keep the snow from ever settling. Really. This snow was out of hand. Out of hand enough to make me think of monster people, in fact.

Anyway, out of hand snow aside, I have such a great feeling today. It's the shortest day of the year! That means every day from today until that far off day in June will get progressively longer. Sure, we're buried in a foot of snow but the days are getting longer!

It's the simple things around here, the simple things.

Happy winter!

Friday, December 19, 2008

TGIF Photo Friday!

I finally got around to participating in Photo Friday over at Adventure Seeker.

I could have taken a photo of the snow that is falling so quickly all around. But it's just such a gray, blah snowy day. So, instead of snow, I bring you a photo of my little guy.

Enjoy, stay warm and be careful out there on the roads.

I want YOU to have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 in 52*.

It was the year of the wiser runner.

I made running a priority: Ran longer, ran consistently, achieved some goals.

I started this blog, connected with super RBFs, learned from other runners.

I struggled with some injuries, but patiently let them heal.

I cross-trained, I stretched.

I ran happy.

Bring on 2009!

*The theme of this week's Take it and Run Thursday is A year in review in 52 words or less. I've summed up my year in exactly 52.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Well, hey!

So, it's been one of those days. But! As I was wallowing in my wallow-worthy whateverness, I remembered that I received an award last week and I haven't yet shared the news.

Yes. Diana, of Diana's Body Journey, gave me this award:

Thank you, Diana! Not sure I'm all that fab but, you know, I did have a thing for Eddy and Pats back in the day.

Now, as part of the award I'm supposed to list five of my fabulous addictions. Luckily, and unlike the aforementioned Eddy and Pats, my addictions aren't all high-end fashion and ciggies and booze. I'm a bit tamer than that. So, here they are, my fab 5 addictions:

1. Running (really?)
2. Jellybeans (not even kidding)
3. Magazines (I wish I could quit them, I do!)
4. The Office (and random HGTV shows that I get sucked into)
5. Hanging out with my two guys, Owen & Conal (yup, I do it all the time)

Tame, I know.

Anyway, remembering the award and writing my addictions totally cheered me up. Thanks for reading! Some days, that really makes all the difference.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Running nowhere.

I hit the treadmill yesterday and today. Just running along in my basement. The scenery is marvelous.

Or not.

It doesn't matter. It just feels good to run. My schedule and situation (and, honestly, wimpiness about the cold) is such that I need the treadmill in order to run during these winter days. Although, huh, today was in the 50s and I still didn't run outside. I did take my toddler for a nice long walk, though!

So, yeah, I'm glad I have the treadmill. I'm feeling pretty good, especially since my toe hasn't hurt much during my last two runs. My self-prescribed regime seems to be working well . . . so far. (If I was a superstitious person, I'd be knocking on wood right now.) I do still have twinges of pain but it is not nearly as bad as last week. I give a lot of credit to Yoga Toes. If you've never stretched your toes, I highly recommend doing so -- it's a real treat.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


It's ice everywhere. That and downed trees causing power outages all around.

It's pretty, though:

And my little guy enjoys playing in the icy, sunny great outdoors:

No pics of him actually outside. But he was on his way, take my word for it. And, yes, that is his mitten falling to the floor. He can't keep them on. I've given up.

I feel extremely lucky that we didn't lose power at all. Many people lost power late Thursday night or early Friday morning and are still out. My parents were told their power won't be back on until Wednesday. No fun.

Since we haven't lost power, I was able to workout with Jillian Michaels and shred it up. Yep, still shredding. I also got in 5 miles last night and my foot felt relatively OK. I followed up with the toe exercises that I prescribed for myself after surfing many bunion and foot related web sites. Today, my toe feels naggingly painful now and then but nothing terrible. In other words, status quo.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Birthday sack races.

I was going through some old pictures when I came across one from my 8th or 9th birthday. I think we had a different definition of fun back then:

Yes, those are actual burlap sacks.

Do people still do this? Do they do things like step into sacks and then race across the driveway?

It was a different time, for sure. But, man, we were into it. I mean, look at those girls in the back, jumping up and down and cheering away. They're not even in sacks! This was fun stuff. Sure, it was an inefficient way to race, but that was the point. You were hampered by the sack. And yet you still tried to win.

Today, I am hampered by my toe. I'm not entirely sure it is a bunion because my toe does not angle in toward the others at all; it lies straight. I don't have a bump on the outside of the joint nor is the pain there; the pain is on the top and my up and down mobility is limited. Bunion or not, it gave me more pain on yesterday's run so I'm completely off today.

Hampered though I may be, I'm going to keep on trying to win (in a manner of speaking. I'm not entered in any races right now and even if I was I know it's unlikely I would come in first. So winning, it seems, means running. Just being able to run. Heavy, no? No? OK, you're probably right.). I'll rest the toe, wear my Birkenstocks and perform the toe exercises that I found online.

I may even bring back the sack races. In the spring, perhaps. Not now. I think this icy weather would make the game a little too dangerous.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Le Ab Rocket est arrivé!

Maybe I'm just in the mood for some Beaujolais Nouveau because, really, the Ab Rocket doesn't seem all that French. But somehow that's all I could think of since Mr. UPS stopped by my house: Le Ab Rocket est arrivé!

It's on repeat in my head and if there was anyone to talk to around here, I'd be saying it -- or maybe even singing it, which would be horrible since I can't hold a tune -- over and over. Le Ab Rocket est arrivé! Le Ab Rocket est arrivé!

Now that it has arrived, I kinda want to check it out. Just sneak in a few sit ups. Do you do sit ups with the thing? Or are they crunches? Or something else -- maybe rocket ups? Ab blasters? Dunno. I think I'll leave it be and allow my mom to use it first since it is her gift, after all.

I plan to ask her for a full review, however, which I will post here. So stay tuned!

On a more serious note -- yes, there is something more serious than the Ab Rocket -- I had a crap run last night. Crap because of my crap bunion. I'm bummed. Things have been going so well since my silly ankle injury and now my bunion is acting up. I feel elderly.

It's my fault and I shouldn't be surprised because I did wear high heels to my party on Monday and they always aggravate my bunion (right foot, big toe). But I didn't expect to be quite so sore during my run yesterday. I found that the pain wasn't as bad when I sped up, so I kept my pace fairly quick and was able to go for a few miles. Once I slowed down, though, I was in serious pain. And walking afterward was really tough. Today, I'm more or less pain-free so I hope to be able to run again this evening. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Really rocking now!

Thanks for the advice. I went for it and bought the Ab Rocket. The thing is, my mom wants it, she specifically asked for it and that should be good enough. I double-checked with her, to make sure she wasn't kidding at all. And, no. It's what she wants. So, it's done: I ordered it online, picked up some free shipping, and should have it by the end of the week. Mom should have abs of steel by the summer.

Speaking of summer, when does it start? Oh, right. Not for many, many months. Until then, we deal with the flippin' cold. As I write, my thermometer reads 17 degrees. It was 8 -- single digit! -- degrees when I left the house this morning at 7:30. Brrr . . .

Needless to say, I won't be running outside anytime soon. I did, however, get in a moderately paced 4.75 miles on the treadmill yesterday. Today, I'm off. Conal had a check up today and I have a holiday party this evening so no running for me.

No running today, but I am feeling a little envious of all of the marathoners. I keep reading these race reports and I am so tempted to run another one right now! I wish I could fit in a marathon in 2009. But, it's on my list for 2010, so I'll be satisfied with that. Ah . . . well. Congratulations to all of you who ran this weekend. There were some terrific times posted!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Rocket mom.

So my mother would like an Ab Rocket Abdominal Trainerfor Christmas. She saw an infomercial for it and looked good to her and that's what she's asked for.

The problem: I don't go for infomercials. Nor do I go for ab trainers and the like. But, it's the one thing that she has explicitly said that she wants.

What do I do?

I checked out the thing on Amazon and it has received decent reviews. Have any of you tried it? Do you know anyone who has? What do you -- or they -- think of it? What do you think of these ab training devices anyway?

I'm in a quandary!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Saturday mishmash.

Is anyone else having problems with the blogs they're following? I access mine through my Google Reader and this morning about a dozen posts showed up as new, but they were all from earlier in the week (mostly Thursday and Friday). Very odd. Maybe it's me? I don't know -- the new layout seemed to make sense but maybe I missed something. Or maybe there was just a technical glitch and I should just accept it and move on.

Probably a good idea: Move on. So. I'm going to try to catch up on my reading today. I should be able to because I finished a big project yesterday (phew!) and I have little on the agenda today other than a run, laundry and then dinner at my parents' house to celebrate my dad's birthday tonight.

Oh! I was motivated last night and I ran quarter mile repeats at 5k pace and then I did a few at 30 seconds faster than 5k pace. My legs feel a little tired today, but not bad at all.

And one last thing. Ever since I linked to Supertramp on Thursday, that song was stuck in my head. I swear -- it was starting to drive me mad and I had no one to blame but myself. I woke up with it in my head again this morning! And then I turned on the radio, listened for a while, and this song took over:

My hope is that posting it will set it free. After all, what song wants to be stuck in my head, of all heads?

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A thought to take you into the weekend.

I picked up the November issue of Runners World from the library the other day (I'm always way behind, it's really just the story of my life.) and Ho! Ho! Ho! what a jam-packed issue. There's the whole green section, some tasty sounding recipes, the Newbie Chronicles (which I'm really enjoying) and one simple sentence about running that practically jumped off the page. I've been thinking about it ever since I read it. Well, since I read it and re-read it and re-read it again.

"If movement is a sign of life and stillness is death, running is an example of life most fully lived. It's beautiful." -- British artist, Martin Creed*.
Right on, Marty!

I think that's true. I think running really is "an example of life most full lived." After all, when you run you are doing something -- you aren't watching life pass by, you are being active. You are living. Your entire body is engaged when you run, including your mind.

I could go on but you've heard me praising running enough lately. What do you think?

Have a great weekend, everyone. I hope you have plenty of opportunity to fully live.

Oh! And to those of you who are running this weekend, I wish you ideal conditions, fresh legs and a strong will.

*Creed's exhibit at the Tate museum in London features sprinters running in a gallery for eight hours a day. Pretty cool, huh?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dreamer, you're nothing but a dreamer.

Yes, now I will have that song in my head all day, too. You're welcome.

Dreamer. I am one. And thanks to the theme at Runners' Lounge Take it and Run Thursday today, I will unveil some of my running dreams. You already know I like to daydream while I run and I have to admit that many of those dreams involve running. Running while daydreaming about running . . . almost as geeky as doing long division.

My running dreams are not lofty: I don't think I'll be competing in London in 2012 or heading to Kona any time soon. But they are my dreams. I sometimes picture myself with all the free time in the world, training for a big marathon that I will finish in a time that gets me in to Boston. With minutes to spare. And then running Boston and finishing in an even better time. (That would be huge for me. I ran my first and only marathon in 4:12.) Or I'll imagine myself completing a triathlon. (Again, huge for me. I neither swim nor bike.) Some days, when I'm feeling particularly dreamy, I'll see a fitter (and, as it would happen, older) me running across the finish line of 5ks, 10ks, marathons setting PR after PR.

OK, I guess those dreams are pretty lofty. But I have a few others that are a bit more realistic, too.

So here they are, my running dreams:

  • Running, injury-free, well into my healthy 80s (or, if I am lucky, 90s).
  • Inspiring my son to enjoy running as much as I do.
  • Emerging as an awesome masters runner (when the time comes).
  • Running a marathon in under 4 hours.
  • Coaching a running group for women who've been released from incarceration and are living in transition.
  • Running a 5K in under 23 minutes.
  • Continuing to fall in love with running, year after year.
Those are my dreams. Some may soon become goals. And then, I hope, reality.

Happy dreaming, everyone!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The recap.

Yes, it is true. I attended my high school reunion over the weekend. I hinted at it in my last post and some of you have asked how it was. Well. Let me rewind and I'll get to that.

First, Thanksgiving. We headed to Long Island at 5pm on Wednesday. Worried about the potential traffic -- there is always traffic in the New York metropolitan area -- Owen checked all routes and determined that we would be best served by taking the Taconic Parkway, since I-87 was already backed up. Lo! He is a smart guy. We didn't have any traffic at all the entire trip. Lucky us!

On Thursday, I ventured out for a 4.5 mile run around the neighborhood in shorts. Sure, it was windy and my legs turned all red and blotchy but I am tough. Ha! So, the run was good and dinner that evening was yummy. I followed up on Friday with a 4 mile run, again in shorts, again ending up with red, blotchy legs.

We had a big family party to go to Friday evening (and I mean big -- Owen has 9 siblings and a few dozen first cousins), where we caught up with some extended family members. Lots of eating and chatting. Conal, however, spent the evening playing in the gym and generally having a great time. If you are interested in pictures, you can check them out here.

We left Long Island late Friday night and sailed home, making it back in less than 3 hours. Lucky us, again!

And that brings me to Saturday. The reunion. It was a significant one and for the longest time, I wasn't sure if I was going to go. I didn't go to the last one because, well, I was so over that whole high school thing. And I felt that way this time, too. Until I didn't. Until I decided I might like to see some of those people who were with me through the teen years. Plus, I had reconnected with a few people on Facebook. I know! Facebook! Sheesh.

So, I went. I had fun. Really! No kidding. I hung around with my former classmates and friends and we looked at old pictures -- Big hair! Big sweaters! Big socks! -- and recounted embarrassing stories. We laughed a lot. And I stayed out late, as in after midnight. You read that right, Internet. I didn't get home until 12:30. Crazy stuff for this happy runner!

All of that meant that, yes, I was in rough shape on Sunday and did little more than nap and go for my run. But it was worth it.

That was the weekend. I had a short run yesterday and I'm not sure what today will bring: I have a meeting with a potential new client so I'm a little nervous and preoccupied with that. Hmm . . . sounds like a run would do me well right about now. We'll see!

Enjoy the day!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The prescription.

Let's say you went to your high school reunion and had one (or a half dozen) too many drinks. You'd probably wake up the next morning feeling like you spent the night with your head in a vise; you might have legs that feel like lead.

No worries. I have the perfect prescription for you. A short slow run.

Some will say that a long slow run is the way to go and I will disagree. Others will tell you to spend the day lounging on the couch, only moving to order up some won ton soup and fried dumplings from the Palace of Wong. Again, I will disagree.

A nice and easy 4 miler is what you need after a long night spent over-indulging in memories and cocktails. Don't try to go for speed -- your head may still be pounding and will not appreciate your desire to prove to the world that you can bang out fast miles with a hangover. And don't try to go long -- your feet may still be a little sore from those heels you decided you had to wear for your night out. Certainly, you shouldn't just go for the couch, no matter how tempting that may seem.

Just go for a comfortable pace. Sweat it out. Let the relaxing few miles re-energize you. It will work, I promise. A short slow run is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Oh, and while you're at it . . . if you want some hard push ups to work your arms into jelly, check out level 3 of Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred. My arms could barely handle the walking push ups. They are really tough.

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yesterday, I finished reading "Strides: Running Through History with an Unlikely Athlete" by Benjamin Cheever. The part memoir, part running history has been out for over a year, so I'm late to the party but I wanted to share some thoughts because I enjoyed this book. It was an easy-breezy read, full of some interesting facts along with Cheever's personal running story.

This guy loves to run and "Strides" is certainly a paean to running. That's probably why I enjoyed it. That and Cheever's peppy writing style. And it is peppy. I didn't expect peppy from a 60 (or so) year old guy. But, that's what he is. And it worked for me: I plan to pick up some of his other (fiction) books and check him out.

Anyway, there was one passage in the book that stood out. Cheever writes about the transformational power of running -- how it can help you lose weight, kick bad habits, etc., etc. And he says that what runners know is that running can change you in deeper ways, in essence, making your life better.

What I want is to be a better person, and running seems to be one clear way to move toward this goal. Moral advances are hard to measure. Without measurement, they're hard to believe in. But you can get faster. Or maybe just try. I hate it when people say, "All we want is for you to do your best." I never do my best. Maybe the last 100 yards of a 10-K, but I have no kick, and so my best is nothing to write home about. But sometimes I do try. I try hard enough so that I'm gasping for air. And having tried that hard, then other qualities may fall into place.
I get that. I understand that from my own running and it is something that is often a little hard to communicate to others: That by getting out there and trying, really pushing yourself in your running, you're improving the rest of your life. I don't know if it makes sense to people who don't run -- maybe it does, I can't say -- but it makes sense to me.

If you haven't read the book, I recommend heading to your local library and checking it out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Just for fun.

Me, 1962:

Nice, right? I like how my chin goes in all different directions. It adds to my glamour. Not that I need more glamour, what with all the curls upon my head.

Check it out:

Sunday, November 23, 2008


I may have misrepresented myself on Thursday. I don't always do math in my head when I run. I often think great thoughts about the meaning of life, compose the plots of can't-put-them-down novels, recite Eliot or, more frequently, free my mind to daydream.

And that's a treat. Because, really, when else can I daydream without worry of being called out? Sure, I could daydream at the grocery store, but then I'd end up with a cart full of several boxes of Cap'n Crunch and a couple pounds of bacon. And a toddler eating the Cap'n Crunch straight from the box. It just wouldn't work.

I guess I could daydream in the shower but I'm usually rushing because my toddler is either napping or sitting next to the shower in the exersaucer and it is only a matter of time before he decides he wants out NOW.

So that leaves my runs. They are the perfect opportunity to daydream. With no responsibilities to anyone but me, my thoughts can go where they please. Even if that sometimes means they wander over to the times tables.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanks, running.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm grateful that I can run. I've been sidelined before and I don't like it. Running is the best. I just lurve it.

But when I think about why I am thankful for running, as this week's Take it and Run Thursday asks us to do, I have to say more. I can't just say, "Oh, I'm thankful for running because I love to do it," and then smile and try to wow you with some extra-flashy jazz hands so you won't notice that my statement was so lame.

Nope. I have to think of some legitimate reasons for being thankful. Luckily, I have a few. I wouldn't be posting if I didn't.

So, yet again another long intro. And now, on with the thankfulness!

I'm thankful for running because . . .

  • It keeps the Chex Muddy Buddies (have you ever had these? Peanut butter, chocolate, crunchy Chex chexiness! I just made a batch for the first time and -- hoo ha! -- they are good! ) that I am eating right now from ending up on my hips. Running burns off all that junk food.
  • It gives me some much-needed alone time.
  • And that means I have a chance to clear out my mind, mull things over, or just run through the multiplication tables or perform some simple long division.
  • It's not that weird. Really. Lots of people do math in their heads when they run. I'm sure of it! Well, I'm fairly sure of it.
  • Feel free to speak up if you do math, too.
  • I shouldn't bullet all of these non-gratitude sentences.
  • But, since I already did, I'm just going to stick with it. Back to being thankful . . .
  • Running provides me with a excuse to buy gear.
  • Not something to be thankful for? You want me to be serious?
  • OK.
  • Running makes me dig deep to accomplish my goals, and that carries over into other areas of my life. When you can tough it out on a run, you can tough it out anywhere.
  • It can lift me out of a bad mood. I can be in a total funk and just stepping out the door for a quick run is enough to shake me out of it.
  • Running keeps me fit, helps me feel healthy and it makes me happy.
That is all.

9 times 8 is 72. 9 times 9 is 81. Try it. You'll love it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

In fact, this might be a little bwah, bwah, bwah.

Well, hey! Sometimes you come here and you get a little story about running. Other times you might get a bwah, bwah, bwah account of my latest (and clumsiest) injury. And then there are the days -- like today -- when you get a follow up. Can you stand it? An actual follow up.

Why, Happy Runner, you say, on which poignant post could you possibly follow up? Your writing is so thorough. So descriptive, so rich with detail.

You're too kind, readers. Too kind.

OK, too kind in my mind. In reality, I'm sure you're rolling your eyes and wishing I would just get on with it. Enough with these intros already!

I do have a thing for them, don't I? Yes. Yes, I do.

So. The follow up. It's not quite as big as I've built it up to be, but here goes. The ankle is feeling great! It's taken a while to get to this point but your suggestions helped. As you know, I rested for a full week and then eased back into running. For the past 10 days, I've been running with Ace bandage, as recommended, and that has proven to be the right thing to do.

My recent Aha! moment was not a fluke. I've continued to run at a faster pace on the treadmill than I normally do and that is making all the difference. It makes perfect sense: I was running around a 9:30/mile pace on the treadmill, but I run much faster outside on my hilly routes. By speeding up a bit, I've been able to find a better rhythm to my runs.

Remember back when I was participating in the Hundred Push-up Challenge? Those dozen or so weeks when I was struggling to complete the six week program? It's a little embarrassing to say but, I gave up. No judgments, please. I just couldn't keep it up. I wanted to. Really. I had visions of myself dropping and giving an imaginary drill sergeant a cool, easy hundred.

Only, it didn't work. I kept repeating week 5 and it was getting discouraging. So, I was done. Just done. Maybe I'll pick it up again sometime but not now. I will say, however, that I still do push-ups now and then and they are much easier for me than they were when I first started the program. Success! Sorta.

That's it. I feel bad that the build up was a bit out of proportion. Except that I think you're getting used to that kind of thing from me.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Guilt and a gift.

There's a giveaway over at Runners' Lounge and to be entered you have to leave a comment with your ideal holiday gifts for runners. Or something like that. My memory isn't always the best.

Not the point. The point is that I entered. I left my comment this morning and then I received what I said I wanted! For real! Or, well, for sorta.

I said that I wanted babysitting coupons from family and friends who would want to watch my son so I could run during the day. Because, people, you guilted me*. Guilted? Made me feel guilty? That's probably more like it.

Again, not the point.

The point is, I wrote my comment and submitted it. Later this morning, I went to a friend's house and she suggested that we watch each other's kids one morning a week to give us each some free time. Holy cannoli, Batman!

Wow, yes. OK. So, we set it up. I'll watch her daughter for 3 hours, she'll watch my son for 3 hours once a week. The two kids are about the same age, so it should work out perfectly. THREE HOURS! Gah! It looks like I've received an early Christmas present. I'll be running during the day. Woo hoo!

Just like that. I said what I wanted. I got it. Thank you, Runners' Lounge**!

* See the comments here, where I learned what I already knew: You guys are some kind of Dean Karnazes tough with all of your running outside in the minus 38 degree weather that feels like minus 62, in the dark, with 40mph winds and freezing rain, on icy trails guarded by killer wolves (are they around in the winter?).

** Can't wait for the next "ask" because I'm thinking I could really use a little more speed . . . or endurance . . .

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Groove, lost and found.

Before I get to the groove, which I know is the reason you're all here, let me talk about some weirdness.

Yesterday, I ran outside in shorts. It was 68 degrees, the sky was full of gray clouds and the wind, at least here in Windyville, was whipping. My run kinda rocked. Sure, I was hot. Sure, I was running with the wind in my face the entire way even though I ran a loop. But it felt great. I normally don't expect to be able to run in shorts in mid-November. So, yeah, the run was good.

Today, though, the temperature barely climbed to 40 and it felt like 34. With whippier winds than we had yesterday. (Hey -- if you were here, out in the wind, you'd use whippier, too.)

That's the weirdness! Hot yesterday, cold today. Hoo hah!

Now, please don't think that I shared this temperature weirdness for no reason other than to fill up space in this post. Because if you thought that, I would have to prove you wrong: I had a reason. Consider it background.

On to the groove!

I lost it. Could not find it anywhere. If you recall from the background, it was cold and windy today and I, being a Supreme Princess of Wimpiness, decided that I could not run outside. So I ran on the treadmill. Um, yeah. That would be when I started looking for my groove and determined that it was MIA. Nowhere to be found.

Not on my first warm-up mile. Not on mile 2. Certainly not on the half mile that I walked because, without my groove, my run felt a bit crappy and I had little interest in continuing it.

I started to think about what the winter would be like, running on the 'mill, if I no longer had my groove. How would get through it? Would I have to force myself out of my comfort zone and run outside in cold? Through wind, rain, sleet and snow?

Short answer? No. This First Lady of Weaksylvania can continue to run in the temperature-controlled environs of her basement because her groove was found.

It was simple, really. I was walking. Had pretty much given up on the run when I decided to give it another shot, this time with feeling! Or at least a little speed.

And that is where I found my groove: hanging out in the speedy last few miles. Once I sped up, I felt better. I got into a rhythm that just worked and the rest of my run was as good as a run on the treadmill can be.

With my groove found, I will be facing the winter with a little more pep. Or at least with 8-something minute miles.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Going green.

It's Thursday and today's Take it and Run Thursday topic at Runners' Lounge is Running Green.

While running is a physically high-impact activity, environmentally, it's probably one of the lower ones. You don't need a lot of equipment to run. No maple bats, titanium drivers, or head-to-toe padding. No stadiums or arenas that must be cooled or heated. No fields that need complex irrigation systems or rinks that need constant freezing.

We runners need a pair of good shoes, a few cold and hot weather outfits and maybe a watch. And we need the great outdoors.

OK, sometimes we need the treadmill. You got me there. And some runners need a track. Oh, and when we run in races, we need many paper cups at our water stops and mountains of refreshments afterward, a lot of which is most likely wasted.

But in general running has a fairly low impact on the environment. We can make it lower.

And we can do things outside of our running lives, like bring our own reusable bags to the grocery store, pack lunches and store leftovers in reusable containers instead of plastic bags or plastic wrap, and buy local and organic foods when possible.

How else can we run green? Feel free to share your ideas. I'd love to read them!

And green can be cool and friendly-like. And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree. ~ It's Not Easy Being Green

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A cheer, some work, a little about running and an interview.

A few things --

First, cheers to all the veterans on this Veterans Day!

Now, let's talk about me. I'm swamped. When it rains, it pours. Be careful what you wish for. All good things come to those who wait. I know there are more cliches that apply, I just can't think of them now because my brain is worn out.

As you know, I don't work full time. Ahem. Oh, right. I take care of my son, which is a full-time job. So, I should more accurately say that I don't work for pay full time. I freelance. This summer I had very few projects. I ran. I vacationed. I kept up with this and everyone else's blogs.

And I worried. "What if this is the end? What if I'm done? Washed up?" I was nervous that no new jobs would come my way.

What was I thinking?

I have more projects right now than I've had since I started freelancing. I'm a little over-loaded but pretty sure I can handle it. I'll probably have to ask for help (in the childcare area) in order to get through, and that is something I always struggle with. I just need to do it. I'll also need to be diligent about finding time to run because I will need that stress relief!

And here's the other thing (It's pretty cool. To me, at least!): Lori from Fake Food Free and Charity Mile interviewed me for the Charity Mile blog. The interview is up now so check it out!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back in (running) action.

After a week of cross-training, I'm back in running form. My ankle felt fine throughout my 4.3 mile run this morning and I am relieved. I took the advice of my wise commenters (commentors? comment makers?) and ran with the Ace bandage/wrap and it seemed to help. I'll probably continue to use it for my next few runs and then see how it feels after that.

Unfortunately, I didn't feel confident enough to run the 15k that I had planned on running today. It was a tough decision but I just didn't want to risk really damaging my ankle and being sidelined for months. So, I sat it out and I'm OK with that. Next year . . . watch out!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, November 7, 2008


First, thanks for all of the ankle advice. I've continued to follow RICE and my ankle is responding well. However, I haven't run on it since Sunday.

No worries, though. There is an upside to being sidelined by a (with apologies to Vava) wonky ankle: Cross-training! This week I've gone for long walks around the neighborhood, pushing my 17-month-old in his stroller, and I've shredded.

Remember when I became a huge Jackie fan? Well, that love is now directed to Jillian because her 30 Day Shred workouts are awesome! (Do I use that word too often? Am I a total product of my '80s youth?) Have you tried these workouts? Do they kick your butt like they do mine? Could I follow more questions with questions?

Yes, they kick my butt in that It's Working! kind of way. I could get used to this cross-training, which bodes well for the winter when I'll want to shake it up a bit because I won't be outside as much.

I'm back to running starting tomorrow. A week is long enough.

Have a great weekend, everyone!!!

EDITED: People have asked what this shred business is so here is info on the Jillian Michaels - 30 Day Shred.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Transition time.

This week's topic for Take it and Run Thursday at Runners' Lounge is running through transitions. It's that time of the year, I suppose, with the time change and the season progressing from early fall to mid.

I've had my share of transitions, as we all have. I evolved from a petulant teen to a self-righteous college student, from a carefree single young woman in the Big Apple to a married, work-at-home mom in the suburbs. I've been fortunate to have running to carry my through my more monumental transitions for the past 15 or so years. (The teen me really could have benefited from the habit . . . but there's no going back now!)

When my husband and I moved from NYC to upstate NY, I wasn't sure we had made the right decision. We were suddenly friendless. My job wasn't all it was cracked up to be. So I ran. I logged my runs. I entered races -- lots of them. I ran and ran. Running helped me settle in to my new life. I learned about the area. I began to feel connected. I credit running with helping me to see that the decision to move was the right one. There were other factors, of course, but running helped.

Running also helped me settle in to my new life as a mom. After Conal was born I didn't really know what end was up. Not only was I now a mom but I was no longer working full time. For 13 years, I had -- at least partially -- been defined by my career. Now I was trying to navigate the world as a new mom and a fledgling freelance writer and editor. These things combined to make 2007 the biggest period of transition in my life and running carried me through. I needed that time alone and would look forward to the evenings and weekends when I would head out for what began as run/walks and improved to long runs, hill workouts and races.

When I would run, I would plan. I would think about what was working and what wasn't. I would recall the special moments I had witnessed during the day. I would zone out. Whatever I needed at the time.

It's been a constant, this running thing. A constant that has helped make my transitions smoother, and that I hope will continue to do so for years to come.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ankle advice.

I could use some advice.

My ankle is feeling much, much better. It is still a little bit swollen and a little bit bruised but it feels pretty good. So good that I went out for a run yesterday. Not as good as I thought so I was only able to manage a mile on the roads because of the pain when running up and down the hills. I did the rest of my run on the flat treadmill and it was fine.

Now, I rested for three days and iced, compressed and elevated. Is there anything else I should do? Should I wear my little ace bandage thingy while running? (I've been wearing it mostly for the compression, but it does stabilize the ankle a bit.) Or is that overkill?

** For the record: I did not hurt my ankle on a run. I hurt it while barely moving. I was picking out cheese and I tripped over a wrinkled floor mat.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekend check-in.

The ankle: Still swollen. Slightly bruised. Not too sore.
The weather: Mockingly perfect.
The agenda: Halloween and birthday parties. Cleaning. Volunteering. Working.
The highlight (possible): Sunday morning run.
The highlight (definite): DVR programmed for the NYC Marathon.

It's the simple things in these busy times.

(Good luck to everyone who is racing tomorrow! I hope everyone who raced today ran well!)

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Choose your superpower.
That's the theme of today's Take it and Run Thursday at Runners' Lounge.

Clearly, I need a superpower. Preferably one that will guard me from those errant steps that I regularly take. For example, let's look at today. If I had a superpower perhaps I would not have tripped over the mat in front of the cheese stand at the store. If I had not tripped, my ankle would not be sore and swollen. If my ankle was not sore and swollen, I would not be contemplating my ankle icing schedule. Instead, I would be contemplating this evening's run.

Alas, I am clumsy. And not clumsy in that, "Woo hoo, look at the cute girl with her stilettos all a-tangle, bravely keeping her cell phone to her ear and her latte to her lips," kind of way.

Nope, I'm clumsy in that, "Ooh, that must have hurt," kind of way.

You know that saying, "Have a nice trip. See you next fall," that kids say when a pal (or arch enemy, whatever) trips on the playground? No? You never tripped over your very own feet while do nothing more strenuous than lolling about on the playground? You never sprained your ankle going up the stairs? You never repeatedly stumbled while trying to make it to first base during a game of kickball?

Oh. It was just me, huh?

In that case, no one else will be clamoring for the anti-clumsy superpower. So I will take it and make it my own.

My superpower? I'll take the invisible Clumsaguard, thus shielding my fragile joints from further pain and suffering, allowing me to run on, those voices shouting, "Have a nice trip . . . See you next fall . . ." fading quickly behind me.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008



I would like to notify whomever happens to be in charge that it is October. Not yet November and certainly not December. October. The month in which we upstate New Yorkers gloat about the exuberantly colorful foliage that our deciduous trees display each year. The month in which we put our flower beds to rest for the season, pick pumpkins and apples, enjoy brisk afternoons raking the fallen leaves.

When did it also become the month in which we have to shovel our walkways?

The view from my front door, 4:30 pm.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Back from the midwest.

Right. So, instead of running I spent the last few days participating in the extreme sport known as Competitive Conference Eating. A fringe sport, for sure. But one in which the competition truly is fierce. Fierce, I tell you.

For those of you not familiar with this sport, here's a rundown:

First and foremost, it involves eating 3 full meals and 2 hearty snack meals a day. Meals -- both full and snack -- must be eaten regardless of hunger. Breakfast will include fresh fruit, yogurt, scones, coffee and juice, whether or not one actually likes juice. All breakfasts must include juice!

The first snack will include a banana smoothie, coffee, granola bars and fruit-n-cheese kabobs. This snack will be followed by lunch. On day 1 of the competition, lunch will consist of a turkey croissant, pasta salad, apple, angle food cake and a soda. On day 2, things heat up a bit. Lunch will consist of a dinner-like entree of chicken, rice and some sort of shredded vegetable, rolls and butter balls, all finished by a tangerine mousse topped with whipped cream and chocolate flakes.

The afternoon snack is where the competition starts to separate. Be warned: This is also where the competition begins to get a little mean. Sharp elbows are everywhere. Your fellow competitors would just as soon scald you with coffee than allow you to grab the last brownie. Hold your position, maintain your focus. The true competitors will pile their plates high with veggies and hummus, snickerdoodles, brownies and chunks of cheese and bread. They will eat it all.

Those with the strongest desire to win, however, will make their mark at dinner. Dinner must be a full meal. It must be hearty. It must involve more food than the competitors can possibly eat. It must look overwhelming when set in front of the competitors -- and yet the competitors must eat it. And they will. Picture: A large plate of BBQ brisket, with fries, coleslaw, veggie kabobs, pickles and bread. And wine. Yes, definitely wine. And picture: A starter salad, filet mignon, roasted vegetables and seared potatoes, rolls and butter balls, chocolate mousse and wine. Yes, definitely wine.

Many competitors will find themselves with a DNF at this point. It will just be too much for them. Those who have paced themselves and who have the strength of character to carry on, however, will move into the final leg of the competition, also known as Travel Day. There is only one rule for Travel Day: Consume junk food.

That's about it. Crossing the finish line feeling flaccid and engorged, listless and exhausted from your efforts means you probably made a pretty good showing. You finished, at the very least.

Yes, if you are wondering, I finished. No embarrassing DNF here. I can wear the Competitive Conference Eating t-shirt with pride. Unfortunately, I don't know where I placed, although I'm sure I was right up there and probably tops in my age group.

Will I compete again? I can't answer that right now. I'm just glad to home, without too many injuries.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The heavy topic.

Today's Runners' Lounge Take it and Run Thursday topic is Running and Weight.

Weight is such a heavy topic. People have issues with it.

She's resorted to stating the obvious. Times must really be tough.

No, not tough, exactly. A little stressful, sure. I'm getting ready to head out of town for four days --sans toddler and husband. So I'm beyond busy and my nerves are a little frayed. But you've found time to play countless rounds of Word Challenge, haven't you? OK, yeah. I have. I consider it a distraction. A little stress relief. But my stress is not the point, here. We're talking weight. Well, then, get to it. And please say something worth reading. No one wants to be bored . . .

I'll do my best.

As I was saying, weight is a heavy topic. I've tried mightily to ignore the scale, to pretend that my weight just doesn't matter to me. Only, it does. I watched the scale inch up while I was pregnant and, after giving birth, I wanted those 34 pounds gone. Immediately.

For the most part, they are and it didn't take all that long for them to go. When I first started running after Conal was born, though, I was still carrying some extra weight and I didn't like that at all. But, running helped me to lose it and soon enough it was gone.

I am not what society or the running world would consider to be the perfect weight. But, it works for me. The weight I am now is where my body wants to be. My body works. It carried a baby for 9+ months. It gets me where I need to go. It runs fairly well. Sure, if I lost a few pounds I would undoubtedly be as fast as Deena Kastor. And now she's resorted to lies and exaggerations, people! But, I can't obsess about a few pounds. I have to live my life and I firmly believe that if you obsess about everything you put in your mouth (not that I don't believe in healthy eating, because I do) and every calorie that you are burning, you are not going to live a full, enjoyable life.

Since I have so little creativity today -- Really? -- let me resort to reprinting something that Diana wrote on her site. She recently posted about body issues and ended with this:

A wise woman (ok, my mom, but she was very wise!) always told me that no matter what your are at someone's goal weight. Appreciate that and let that motivate and guide you. You are already at a goal weight, the rest is gravy :)
That is so true.

Appreciate your body, it's full weight and all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mo-ti-vate, good times, c'mon!

Groan. OK, I know. I should just stop trying to be clever.

I'll do my best but I can't make any promises: I've been known to repeat bad jokes/bad puns/bad rhymes ad nauseum.

Anyway -- here's my thing. I'm participating in MizFit's Motivational Match-up and, as such, I have a match by the name of Diana, who has a very interesting blog. Check her out! We'll be motivating each other to reach our individual goals. Pretty cool, huh? I think so!

And, now, I will leave you with this:

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Reading, relegation and a long run.

First, thanks for your comments -- I needed and appreciated them. More than the comments, though, thanks for filling up my Reader! I feel much better -- less frumpy, more runner-like -- today.

That's what a little blog reading, going for a long run and relegating those jeans to the only-for-work-around-the-house-when-there's-no-chance-I'll-be-seen drawer can do for a gal. Yep, I got rid of the jeans, which meant I had to get a replacement pair and, I must admit, they are pretty dang cool. Thank you, Ann Taylor Loft.

The best thing about today? My long run. I mapped out an entirely new route for my 7.6 mile run. My goal was to run it at an easy 9:15-9:30 pace but I'm not only a terrible quoter, I'm also a rotten pacer when I don't have mile markers. And I had no mile markers on this new route. So, I ran it at an 8:47 pace. Faster than I had planned but I just felt great. I never felt like I was pushing, nor did I feel like my pace fell off at any point. It just felt comfortable.

The long run was a relief: I'm planning to run a 15k in 3 weeks and I needed to feel strong today to feel confident with my plan. I'm going to be out of town for a conference Thursday-Sunday so my running will be a little light and I doubt I will get in a long run next weekend. No problem. Today's run assures me that I'll be fine for the race (it's one I've run several times so I'm very familiar with the course. It's hilly but you know I love those hills!).

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have so little to read. There are no unread posts in my Google Reader. I finished the March '08 issue of Runner's World -- again. Oh, c'mon, like you haven't re-read a magazine in your life! I've read all the Internet articles about hamstrings that I can handle, thankyouverymuch. I'm waiting to be notified that the two books -- Strides by Benjamin Cheever and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami -- I put on reserve at the library are available.

Yup. No running today so I'd love to read about some running. And yet I have nothing to read.

Big whoop, you say?

Well. Let me tell you what happened. I took Conal shoe shopping today for his first pair of big boy shoes. Walking to the store, I caught a glimpse of myself reflected in a store window. I looked quite momified: Wearing those unflattering jeans that I am going to get rid of right now; carrying the purse overflowing with toddler paraphernalia (sippy cup, Cheerios, board book, wipes) and wrinkled receipts that have been shoved randomly here and there, just waiting for a gust of wind to help them break free of the confines of a messy handbag; and wearing the too-big, inappropriate-for-the-weather coat that did absolutely nothing to counter the unflattering fit of the jeans. (Truth be told, the coat is probably as unflattering as the jeans but I love it so and will not part with it. Ever.)

So, I caught a glimpse of myself, felt a little dowdy, and then it happened. They strolled right in front of me. The runners. The Vassar men's cross country team -- some of them limping, some of them walking with the chin-up stride of someone who only an hour earlier set a PR -- walked off their bus and into the bagel shop. Right in front of me. Practically mocking* my momified non-running state.

I drove home and thought about going for a run just to show them and then I remembered that a) I promised myself a day off after two of running and b) Owen is away all day and so there is no one to watch Conal while I run. OK, so I wasn't going to run. I could at least read about it.

I read the few posts that showed up in Google this afternoon and now here I am.

I have not shown them. Not that going running would have shown them. Nor would reading about running, really. And, honestly, there wasn't anything to show them.

Just me. Sometimes I need to show me.

Show me that I can look all of my 38 years and still be a decent, dedicated runner.

Since I can't read my way out of momification, I'll have to do the only other thing that seems to make sense in this situation: Go to my closet and get rid of those unflattering jeans. And that pair of corduroys. And that awful-length skirt that I've been hanging on to for far too long.

And then I'll put my feet up in anticipation of tomorrow's long run.

* * * *

*Yes, I do know they weren't mocking me. I know it was all in my head. I know I should run my own race. And yet, their presence made it oh-so-obvious that I am old and cannot handle running every single day and they are young, their best days probably still ahead of them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Yummies: Let's Give It Up for Eggplant.

First, let me say that this dish was a hit with the toddler. Total hit. He ate everything that was on his plate and a lot that was on mine. In other words, he couldn't get enough eggplant, which is great because eggplant has lots of fiber and is a good source of potassium, manganese, copper and vitamins B1 and C.

Sauteed Eggplant and Pasta

2 tbsps olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. chopped basil
4 medium carrots
1/2 c. sundried tomatoes, julienned
1/2 c. roasted red peppers, sliced
1 can chopped tomatoes (don't drain)

Warm oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring, until the eggplant starts to brown and soften, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat and add basil, carrots, red peppers, both tomatoes. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Adjust seasoning, as needed.

Meanwhile, boil pasta. I use Barilla Plus rotini, but use whatever kind you like. When the pasta is cooked to your liking, drain it and add to the eggplant. Mix together and cook over low heat for a few minutes to let the sauce combine well with the pasta. Serve hot, sprinkled with freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.


Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Quotation Marks.

Running quotes and sayings . . . the theme today for Take it and Run Thursday at Runners' Lounge.

They are looking for our favorites; the ones that inspire us, the ones, I guess, that get us running.

I have two. But before I get to them, let me offer this preface:

I am a terrible quoter. Sayings often morph in my mind and end up a little different than when they started. And I fail at giving credit. I have no idea who the Big, Creative Brains behind my two favorite sayings are. But they rock, I know that.

And, so. On with the post!

"Run your own race."

You've heard it here before, you've seen it in comments I've left on other sites, but it bears repeating: Run your own race. If I had a mantra, that would be it. I repeat it when I am literally running a race and even when I am not. When I am simply -- or maybe not so simply -- trying to push aside those negative thoughts that creep into my mind during a run. Or when I start to compare other things in my life with those of the people around me. Run your own race. Those are the words. They are so right-on.

"I run because I freaking love it."

Or something like that. This is a new one for me. I read it recently in Runner's World but because I borrow the magazine from the library, I can't say for sure whether it was an old issue or a newer one (I've been known to check out old issues and re-read them just for fun!). And, unfortunately, I don't remember who said it -- a young woman, ultra-marathoner. But her name? Escapes me. I loved what she said, though, and when I read it I immediately responded, "Me, too!" I run because I freaking love it. Those words can turn a crappy run into one that makes sense. Those words help me to remember why I'll push hard on a particular run, or why I'll take time off to baby an aching leg. I run because I freaking love it. And I want to continue to do it for years to come. So, I try to do it smartly. And I'm grateful that I can do it at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No running.

I had planned to take yesterday off because of the leg pain and I did. I had also planned to run today, thinking the pain would be gone, but I did not. The pain was gone, until I went out for a walk around the neighborhood, pushing Conal in his stroller. The pain wasn't bad, but I definitely felt a little twinge in the hamstring/back-of-knee area when I walked up the hills. So, no running today.

Lest you fear that I led a day sans accomplishments, know this: I activated my new cell phone this morning. Yes! I am now connected for the first time in over a month -- since Conal did who-knows-what to the old cell phone. Perhaps he threw it in the trash? Flushed it down the toilet? Buried it in the bed of sad and brittle-because-they-are-really-really-dead-now Blacked Eyed Susans? I just don't know. And after the whole remote-melting-in-the-fireplace episode I have learned to put nothing past that tricky little 16-month-old dude.

The Case of the Disappearing Phone actually ended well for me because I was able to upgrade (free!) to a camera phone. I know. I am quite a few generations behind in this whole technology thing. But, to me, this is good stuff!

For as long as I'm able to keep the phone away from those sticky fingers, that is.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some fun, some pain.

I've been so busy enjoying this awesome October long weekend (among other things, I took my own advice and made a yummy apple pie) that I haven't had a chance to post a thing.

But now it's dark, the Giants are losing and I'm back on the computer.

I ended the week with a fast 4-mile run on Friday and then took Saturday completely off. What a smart thing to do! We had a fun day. I took Conal to the Apple Festival where I bought a peck of apples (thus, the apple pie) and some cider donuts. On Sunday, I went for a leisurely 6-mile run and it was partly great, partly not so. My hamstring, or some ligament in the hamstring area, was acting up. It was weird: I only felt it when I was running uphill. On the flat parts, downhills and even the slight inclines, I didn't feel a thing. On the real uphills, though? Eek! I had pain.

I stopped to stretch, twice, but it didn't really help. After the run, I iced my leg, rolled it out and took some Advil. We spent the evening at my parents' house and I didn't feel any pain at all while I was there, nor did I feel any when we got home.

This morning I woke up feeling fine so I decided to test my leg on an easy 3.6-mile run. Same thing as on yesterday's run: Pain on the uphills. So, tomorrow will be a complete off day. I'm not bummed because I have a meeting tomorrow night that I need to prepare for, and I have a new book project that I should start working on. I'm going to look at any forced layoff as a good thing for other areas in my life. Although, I do hope that my leg feels good enough to run on Wednesday! I don't want to waste this great October weather.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday Yummies: The "Let's bake!" edition.

Fall is apple season and there is no better use for apples than to make apple pie. Other than dipping them in caramel sauce, that is. Or peanut butter. Or just biting into a crisp one for a mid-afternoon snack. Or baking them with maple syrup, cinnamon and chopped pecans. Or . . .

Enough! My point is that now is a perfect time to bake an apple pie. And so, this week, I give you my taste-tested, family-approved recipe for apple pie. It's a combination of many different recipes and a lot of trial and error. Yes, that's right, I've lived through the errors so you don't have to!

Apple Pie


2-1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsps. sugar
2 sticks of unsalted butter, cold and cut into smallish pieces
6 tbsps. water
1 egg yolk

Put flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter. Process for about 10-15 seconds. Pour mixture into a bowl and sprinkle half of the water over it and add egg yolk. Start to mix it together and add more of the water as you need to. I like to use a big wooden spoon to mix the dough. Don't over mix -- once it starts to come together, gather it up with your hands and press it into a ball. Wrap it in plastic and put it in the refrigerator as you prepare the apples.

The apples

1/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
7-8 apples: Use two kinds, one that holds its shape while baking and one that will break down and turn to applesauce. I typically like to mix 2-3 McIntosh apples with 5-6 Cortland, Empire or Braeburn apples.
2 tbsps. corn starch

Peel, core and slice apples to desired thickness. Put in a bowl and sprinkle sugars, spices and corn starch over them. Mix well so all the apples are covered.

**When I am feeling adventurous, I'll add about a half cup of dried cranberries and some chopped nuts (almonds or pecans) to the apples. Both give the pie a little extra oomph!

Putting it all together

Now that you have the apple mixture ready, preheat the oven to 450.

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into two equal balls. Roll one out for the bottom of the pie and place it in a pie dish. Pile the apples on the bottom crust, heaping them in the center.

Roll the other dough ball out for the top of the crust. Carefully place it over the apples, letting some of it hang over the edge of the dish. Cut off any big chunks of extra dough and then go around the dish and pinch the bottom and top crusts together. I like to roll the two together and then crimp the edges.

Cut four slits in the center of the top crust, and then sprinkle a little bit of sugar over the whole pie. Put the pie on a cookie sheet and place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then, turn the oven down to 350 and bake for another 4o minutes. If the crust is not yet golden brown, bake for 10 minutes longer. The exact time will depend on your oven. And, if you add extras, like the cranberries or nuts, you will need a little more time

Cool and serve the pie with a dollop of freshly whipped cream. What could be better?

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I've been tagged. Am I now "It?" I guess so.

Yes, *aron*, in all her warm-weather running glory, tagged me so I'm tagging a few lovely running bloggers:

  1. Kara
  2. Jessica
  3. J
  4. Betsy
  5. American Girl
  6. Sarah
  7. Merathon
  8. Jeanne
  9. Robin
  10. Roisin
(Sorry if you've already been tagged! Just consider yourself well loved!)

Now you all can tag 10 people and write 6 random facts about yourself! Here are my 6:
  1. I played softball -- Classie Lassies -- in 7th grade. During that season of great athletic embarrassment, I had my front tooth knocked out by a fly ball. Fly softball, mind you.
  2. My parents were going to name me Pilar until my dad said that kids would call me "PeePee" because my initials would be P.P. They decided on Felice and, in elementary school, the kids called me "Fleas." Yeah, that was so much better than being called "PeePee."
  3. I didn't learn to drive a car until I was 30 and I moved back upstate from NYC. My husband taught me. Those days will never make the highlight reel of my life.
  4. If I didn't fear that my teeth would fall out I would eat jellybeans all day long.
  5. I acted in "Bye, Bye, Birdie" in both high school and college.
  6. Twice, I quit a job without having another one lined up. Twice, it was the best thing for my sanity. Twice, it worked out very well for me.
That's it. Those are my random randoms.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I know better.

Oh, this cool weather running. I should know how to handle it by now. After all, I've lived in upstate New York for the greater portion of my life: College in Massachusetts, seven years in the Big Apple but, otherwise, I've been here. Right here, living through the seasons, understanding how they work. Knowing that the October weather can as easily call for a tank top as it can a down coat.

And yet --

Even with this knowledge ingrained in me, I cannot dress for cool weather runs.

I know this: You should dress for temperatures that are 15-20 degrees warmer than it is.

And this: Cotton t-shirts should be banned from a runner's wardrobe.

However, I do this: I pull on cotton yoga pants and a cotton long-sleeved t-shirt before heading out for a run in 59 degree weather.

I know better. I do it anyway. And I can explain.

Today was a glorious (and I don't use that word lightly) fall day. The leaves here are slowly changing and the sun seemed to catch every one of them at the perfect angle, reflecting glistening reds, oranges, yellows and greens. It was color and sun all around. The temperature hovered in the mid-to-high 60s, until the sun started to go down and took the warm temps with it.

It was then that I got a chill. When I got home from a full day of being out, the house was cold. In the two hours between getting home and getting ready for my run, I couldn't warm up. So, when I dressed for my run, I did so foolishly. I put on the low-tech, weather-inappropriate gear.

The first five minutes of the run were great. And then I started to sweat. And sweat some more. And feel really warm. Too bad I hadn't thought to layer. Too bad my t-shirt was water-absorbing cotton. Too bad my yoga pants were so wrong for a run that I don't even have words to describe them.

Lesson learned yet again. For my next run, I will be smarter. I will put my experience to good use.

At least, I hope I will.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sister, sister.

Thanks to everyone who has wished my sister well after she was injured last week. Her shoulder has been immobilized and will stay that way for 2-3 weeks. She's going to a shoulder specialist at the end of this week to have things checked out again. Apparently, her shoulder was dislocated, which strained her ligaments. So, she's out for the rest of her volleyball season, can't drive, can't work and couldn't take her SATs this past Saturday.

But, she's feeling OK so that is good!

What else? Do you want a glimpse of the destruction a seemingly sweet and innocent toddler can cause? Pop over here. That's all I've got. This destruction thing takes a lot out of me.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Race Report: Albany Race for the Cure 2008

When my alarm went off Saturday morning, all I wanted to do was stay in bed. My brother-in-law and his wife had come up from Long Island the night before and we had hung out eating pizza and chocolate chip cookies, having some drinks, and enjoying each other's company until after midnight. So, I went to bed late and had a fitful night's sleep. Saturday morning, I was tired.

But I got up. I ate a slice of bread with peanut butter on it and drank water and coffee. I took a hot shower, dressed, ran The Stick over my legs and we hit the road only about 7 minutes later than I wanted to. Not bad.

There was no day-before packet pick-up so I had to get my bib and chip that morning. I left my husband and son at the parking garage and planned to meet them before I warmed up. That would have been such a nice plan.

Instead, I made my way to the registration table, which was bedlam. There was so little organization and the line for pre-registered runners was out of hand. Out. Of. Hand. It was not the way I wanted to start my race experience. I walked and walked and walked and walked and finally found the end of the line and stood. And seethed. This is insane. You will never have a good race at this rate. Nothing is going right. I tried to stop seething. I chatted with fellow runners. I stretched. I did whatever I could not to feel annoyed at the situation. But that was tough.

After almost 30 minutes in line, I got my bib and chip and I was off. I didn't even wait for the t-shirt. Bummer! At that point, the scheduled start time was about 10 minutes away, but there were so many people in line that I doubted the race would start on time.

I met up with my husband and son, gave him the brief story as I pinned on my bib and clipped on my chip. Then I took off to find the porta-potty and as soon as I was done I had to dash to the starting line. I never had a chance to warm up, which I always do before my races.

Standing at the starting line, I told myself to focus on my goal, not on what seemed to be going wrong. 24 minutes. You can do it.

The whistle was blown (what? where was the gun?) and off we went, only a few minutes late.

It was a slow uphill start, with lots of super-slow runners causing traffic jams. Yes, that was annoying but it also kept me from going out too fast, which is what I did in my last race. After the hill we ran through a straight-away and then into Washington Park. There was decent crowd support as we ran through the twists and turns of the park. I went through the first mile in 7:46. Right where I wanted to be. I felt great. Some people passed me and I fought the urge to go with them. Run your own race. I cruised up some of the inclines and navigated the turns with no problem. Mile 2: 15:16. Excellent!

One mile left. I was still feeling good, running strong. Hold your pace. As I exited the park, I knew that there was only about half a mile to go. I was so close. I looked at my watch and thought, "You can trip and fall and you would still finish in under 24 minutes!"

Luckily, I did not trip and I did not fall. But I did finish in under 24 minutes. I crossed the finish line in 23:27!

Happy, happy, happy, happy! I beat my goal by a lot and that was so exciting! The best part, though, was how good I felt doing it. I felt like I was running a strong race. Sure, I felt like I was going to puke at the end. But, that's a 5k for you! My legs were fine after the race and fine today. I went for a nice long, leisurely walk this afternoon to stretch them out and they just feel like they are ready to race again.

So, I will have to start looking for another goal race. I may even have to set a new goal . . .

Enjoy what's left of the weekend!

* * * * *

My stats!
Finish time: 23:27
Pace: 7:33
Age-graded %: 63.41
Gender place: 40/1450
Age-group place (35-39F): 2 (!!!)/139

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday Yummies: Simple soup

I rarely use recipes for soups. This is one that I made last weekend when we had company and since it received good reviews I wrote down what I had done so I could replicate it in the future.

Simple Autumn Soup

1 tbsp olive oil
4 links Italian sweet sausage, casings removed -- or about half a pound of bulk sausage
1 Vidalia onion, chunked
8 white mushrooms, chopped
3 large carrots, sliced in chunks
2 cans diced tomatoes (I use no salt added)
1c. frozen corn
3c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
(NOTE: all amounts are approximate)

Heat olive oil in a dutch oven (use medium heat). Add onion and stir for about two minutes. Add mushrooms and stir for another two minutes. Add sausage and, as it browns, break it up into small pieces. Continue to stir and cook until the sausage is lightly browned and cooked through.

Add the carrots, diced tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat and add the corn. Cover and let the soup simmer over LOW heat for about an hour. Longer is fine, just make sure that the heat is on low. After the soup has been simmering for a little while, maybe 20 minutes, give it a taste and see if it needs salt or pepper. Mine needed a little of both, but little else.

This recipe makes 4-5 hearty entree-sized servings.

** You could also use turkey sausage or vegetarian sausage in this recipe. I'm very interested in trying it with the veggie sausage so if anyone has any recommendations on veggie sausage, please share!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 2, 2008


This week's Take it and Run Thursday topic is Life Lessons Learned from Running.

There have been so many!

But, for me, the biggest lesson that I have learned from running is that I am tougher than I think I am. I can push it when I need to. I can withstand some pain. I can run even when my lungs start to burn, my feet start to ache, and my mind is telling me to just stop already.

Don't get me wrong: I am not tough.

I am simply tougher than I think I am. Those runs when I haven't given up even though I've had the blahs, when I've gritted my way to the finish line even though my ITB was on fire, when I've powered my way up that hill that always seemed too daunting, or when I've run mile after mile over that rocky trail as the sun beat down making me worry that I would, truly, melt like the Wicked Witch of the West, have all proven that I can take it.

And there have been plenty of times when I've needed to take it, and I thank my running for teaching me that I can. Surgery? I can take it. Pregnancy? I can take it. Labor and delivery? Bring it on, I can take it! Terrible sucky job? I can take it. No job? I can take it.

You get the picture.

I believe that running makes the rest of life easier, because it helps you see how tough you really are. A good life lesson.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And then, somedays, everything just seems to suck.

Like, for example, today.

I woke up with a headache (Hey, crappy weather, I blame YOU). I couldn't shake it. Baby Bookworms didn't help (Did I really think that singing "Wheels on the Bus" would ease my pain?). Coffee (Why must you fail me?) didn't help. The worst: My afternoon run, the run I had been looking forward to since I ended my run yesterday, didn't help. Nope, not at all.

In fact, my run sucked. Just sucked. I barely made it through 3.75 miles. When I finished, I was drenched. My legs were tired. My head was still pounding. And I was hungry, even though I had eaten plenty.

UGH. That's about all I have to say to that.

Except . . . something else happened. My sister is on her high school volleyball team. She was sidelined a little earlier in the season with a hamstring injury. She's been back for a bit and tonight Owen, Conal and I went to see her play for the first time since she's been back.

She was playing well. And then it was over. She dove for a ball and landed wrong on her outstretched arms. The next thing we knew she was out of the game, back in the trainer's room, being evaluated. The game ended and we met up with her, now with an immobilized arm all wrapped in ice. She was on her way to the ER.

I'm hoping that her arm is OK and it is nothing majorly bad. But, whatever it is, it won't erase the disappointment I saw on her face. She'll miss tomorrow's game, for sure. And possibly the rest of the season. I'm bummed for her.

It makes my crappy run seem like nothing!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lifting up as you go down.

I've been thinking about downhill running lately. Probably because I do so much of it. Also, Kara had a post recently about foot strike and mentioned how landing heel first effectively means that you're putting on the breaks. I so agree.

Downhill running is tricky. It is easy to just pound down the hill, not worrying about form, just letting gravity pull you along. But, as I said, it is tricky and I learned this the hard way.

Let me go back in time to my glory days. 2004. The marathon. My (I hope this won't always be the case) one and only. The flat and fast course in the race description was code for enough downhill to shred your shins and macerate your toes if you are not careful and you enter the race without ample downhill training. Only, I apparently didn't have the appropriate decoder ring so I couldn't read the message. The downhills kicked my butt. Or, I should say, they kicked my legs and feet.

There was one downhill stretch where I thought for sure I would end the race with broken foot bones. The pain, in a word, sucked.

But the last miles of the race were actually flat and after I finished I was so happy that I forgot about those pesky downhills. Sure, my feet were tired and sore but, hey! I just ran 26.2 miles so they had every right to be tired and sore. It wasn't until I started adding hills and downhills back into my running that I realized that running down a hill involves some skill.

Now, I'm used to running downhill and I do it, mostly, injury-free. I was thinking about how I've been able to do this when I was out for my run on Saturday. The one thing that occurred to me and the tip that I wanted to share with you is this: I feel my body anticipating (does that seem weird?) lifting my foot up well before I land. It is tough to explain but I was listening to my body as I ran down one particularly long hill and I felt a lifting sensation in my legs as I was preparing to land each step. Each time I would land, it was as if I was already lifting my foot, so my landing was as light as possible.

For me, that's the key to running downhills effectively. I hope it works for you, too. If you have other ideas, please share. I'm always looking for good tips!

I might have to change my name.

Not my name name. My blog name. I'm thinking The Happy Cross-trainer.

OK, not really.

Running is still my #1. But, I'm getting into this cross-training thing. I worked out with Jackie Warner on Thursday and did one of the Biggest Loser workouts on Friday. Saturday, I felt the effects in my core, my butt, my arms, my whole body! I'm hoping that this renewed enthusiasm for cross-training will have a positive effect on my running. I think it will. It certainly can't hurt. I had a decent run on Saturday and an enjoyable, although fairly slow, run on Sunday.

In other news . . . I made my September to Remember goal! If you recall, I set out to run more than 60 miles this month. As of yesterday, I had run 71.1 miles -- well past 60 and I will probably sneak in another run before the month comes to a close! I'm so happy with how I did and grateful to JKRunning for setting up the challenge.

Friday, September 26, 2008


And now, for your Friday, I present . . . food!

I've been mixing it up around here, trying new foods and new recipes, all in an effort to eat a wider, more healthy variety of foods. Weekends are a great time to try out new recipes, since most of us have a little more time then. So, here's the first of what I'd like to make a weekly habit: Friday Yummies!

Couscous Salad*

1-1/2 c. couscous
1-1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. fat-free plain yogurt
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsps. white vinegar
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 c. grated carrots
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. slivered almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Pour couscous in a bowl and pour water over it. Cover and allow couscous to soak for about 5 minutes.

Whisk (important! Use a whisk!) together the yogurt, olive oil, curry, salt and pepper until slightly emulsified. Fluff couscous with a fork. Pour yogurt sauce over couscous and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix again. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve cool or at room temperature -- I prefer it at room temp.


*Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa.

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