Friday, October 28, 2011

Favorite Things: Cold-ass weather edition

From my last post, you may have gathered that the weather is making me a bit cranky.  Time for some favorite things to make me feel better!

1.  Apple cider.  While I usually go for tea or coffee, I've been on a cider kick lately and can't seem to go a day without at least one cup of the stuff.  I like it spiced, hot, and preferably imbibed under a quilt reading something dark and amazing like...

2. ... The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.  While Silas and Bod and the Owenses etc. are wonderful, my very favorite character is probably Liza Hempstock.  I always cry at the end.  If you haven't read it, I don't even know why I'm talking to you.

 3.  "Night-time walks."  Otto and I have been doing this thing lately where we bundle up after dinner and put our headlamps on and walk around the dark neighborhood.  We imagine that we see caves, bats, tunnels, and other spoooooky stuff just outside our lights' reach.  Instead of holing up inside, its like we're venturing out into the dark and cold and saying "we're not afraid of you!!!" 

4.  Smartwool socks.  I love any sort of wool socks, really, but these are soft cushiony tubes of "everything's-gonna-be-ok."  Folks that know me have learned that Smartwools are ALWAYS a good gift for me.  I love them and wear a pair nearly every day.

5.  Downton Abbey.  What's not to love?  British accents, class-ism, sexism, stuff and nonsense, and Dame Maggie Smith!  Love.

6.  Soup, soup, soup.  Tomato, Chicken Noodle, Minestrone...I don't really care, just give me soup!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Under the weather.

The kiddo on snowshoes last winter...we'll soon be digging those out of the closet.

First real big snow of the season today.  In years past, I remember loving the first snow; being all excited to pull out my cute snow boots and hats and scarves and hot chocolate and etc., etc.   But today, I woke up ambivalent, wanting to stay snuggled in bed with my cute husband and deeply sleeping little boy with my eyes closed pretending it was still late summer with gentle temps and dry running trails.

I did haul myself out of bed, however.  I worked out, (core work, ugh) showered, then stood in front of my closet looking at my sweaters with a sad resignation.   I didn't want to wear any of them...and I LOVE sweaters, usually.  LOVE them.  But today?  No.  I still want my skirts and tights and t-shirts with clogs and maybe a cardigan for chilly nights.  Not long pants and sweaters and snow boots and winter coats and scraping of ice off cars.   I settled on a light sweater, corduroy pants and, you guessed it, snow boots.  Sigh.

And then it took me 8 minutes to scrape off my car.

I just don't feel ready for winter this year.  It was such a great summer...packed with runs and picnics and vacations and backyard parties.  And the fall has been short, too short.  And now I'm scared we won't see the ground again until April.

I love this town for a lot of reasons but today I'm daydreaming of warmer climes.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Give me an excuse.

Source:  Wikipedia
Statement:  This time of year is made for reading Victorian Gothic fictionFrankensteinDracula, Jane Eyre, The Picture of Dorian Gray.  These books just fit the shorter, colder days, the haunting clickety clack of leaves tripping down the sidewalk, wind that howls through the crack under the door while we're warm inside eating soup, bare branches providing a start contrast against a cloudless, moonlit sky. 

At this time of year, I tend to revisit one or more of these old favorites and delight in their deliciously creepy prose and not-really-all-that-antiquated warnings of the corruption of technology and scientific innovation.  I especially love the intensity of the emotions the characters in these novels tend to have...all-consuming passions and fears, loves and hates.  My husband would scoff and call it "emo" but I love it.  I love the complete and utter despair suffered by Frankenstein when his creature is lost to him.  I love how intensely Jane feels for Mr. Rochester, how delightfully hateful Dracula truly is.  Just love it!

And not all the great stuff from this era came out of Great Britain...there are amazing short stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne that will enchant you (for realz!), specifically Rappaccini's Daughter.  (Seriously, read it.)  And of course, Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow...CLASSIC.

What this all points to is me wanting some serious quality time with a book, my couch, and a cup of tea.  Can one call into work with a serious case of Need to Read?

Get back to me on that, will you?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Because 26.3 would be crazy.

I'm alive!  I did it!  And what's better, I did it in under my goal time*.  Squee!!

The whole experience started on Saturday, the day before the race.  We woke up to snow, icy roads, and general weather shittiness.  Thankfully the snow turned to rain around the state line, and my two running friends and I eventually made it to Denver and to the expo to pick up our packets.

At the convention center, we stood in one line to pick up packets, in another line to pick up our t-shirts, and yet another to get our swag bags.   And then we were turned loose into the madness...There were SO MANY people!  And free stuff!  and...people!  It was a nuthouse.  We got free energy bars, drinks, pictures taken, and I even met Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea, authors of Run Like a Mother and the website another mother runner.  (Dimity is so tall! Wow!)  We saw crazy compression suits, minimalist shoes, tried gross electrolyte drinks, and laughed at weird outfits.  It was fun.  I'm kicking myself that I didn't actually take any expo pictures.  I was too distracted!

After the expo, we checked into the hotel and walked out to grab some dinner.  The hotel recommended a nice Italian restaurant that was nearby but they couldn't seat us for another 2 hours.  We made do with a brewery around the corner.  It was weird eating at a brewery but not ordering beer.  A couple hours and some nervous giggling later, we were in bed and counting down the hours until the start.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

5am.  Woke up, ate, freshened and then bundled up...the temp was in the 30's but expected to warm to the mid-50's.  Hard to dress for.  I threw some long pants and a sweatshirt (to be checked at the last minute) over my shirt and shorts, and cut up some little girl knee socks to make disposable arm warmers and mittens. 

The long pants and sweatshirt got checked right before the start.

The start line was a PARTY.  At 6:30 in the morning!  Music! Lights! People!  SO MANY PEOPLE.  (You can tell I come from a relatively unpopulated place, huh?)  Fortunately, they did a lot of things right, including tons of porta-potties and clear signs directing us to our starting corrals.  I was in corral 7 (determined by your estimated running time) so I said bye to my buddies and slowly jostled my way through the crowds to a spot near my pacing team.

Yes!  I signed up for a pace team on a whim at the expo and I'm so glad I did!  I latched onto the cute redheaded guy holding the 4:20 sign (and yes, people yelled stuff at him about getting stoned pretty much along the whole course.  He responded with good humor.)  After the gun went off for our corral (they staggered the starts, letting each corral go for a couple minutes before starting the next one) I made sure to keep him in sight and that really helped me to reign myself in and not rabbit out of the gate.

I had to stop and pee (naturally...sigh.) around the 5K mark, so I lost sight of the pacers for a while.  About a mile later, I caught up, passed them, and then settled into my own groove.  Around mile 6, things were warming up and I tossed my "mittens" aka the feet from the little girl socks.

The capitol and race crazyness.
The course was gorgeous, weaving through downtown Denver, into parks, pretty neighborhoods.  There were live bands and spectators holding signs all along the course.   The temperature rose into the mid 50's and the sun shone brightly.  The aid stations were well run and the folks holding traffic did a great job.  All we, as runners had to do was keep running!

I used the aid stations but also carried a few things with me:  I had my little handheld water bottle, a couple gels (I like Hammer gels) and some sport beans.  One gel went down at mile 6, and then I ate the sport beans at the half marathon mark.  After that, once I got into the higher mileage, I couldn't talk myself into eating that second gel, so I started drinking the energy drink offered at the aid stations in addition to some water.

Around mile 20, my right leg started to hurt and cramp hip hurt, my thigh, my butt...the whole thing.  I felt myself slowing down.  The pace team was catching up to me.  This was a moment when I had to do some serious self talk and just hunker down and get through it.  I remember repeating to myself "you're fine, you can do this, you're fine, you can do this" over and over.  I didn't want to stop because I knew it would be really hard to start again.  I took energy drink whenever they offered it and dug deep.

Soon, I passed the 21 mile marker, the 22, 23, 24...25.  I knew we were close.  I shut everything out and just concentrated on moving my feet and how good the finish was going to feel.  Right before the end there was maybe the steepest hill in the entire race.  Mean!  It was hard.  But I was going to be damned if I started walking at that part!  I just ran 25 miles!  I can run up a stupid hill!

When I saw the finish line and all the people and the was an awesome moment.  Under my breath, I told myself "You just ran a marathon."  Holy Shit!!


Headed towards the finish!
The mister and the kiddo were snowed in and couldn't make it down but my friends were there, yelling my name.  When I crossed the finish line, they gave me my medal, a shiny blanket thingy, a bottle of water and took my picture.  I grabbed a bagel from a box and shakily made my way out of the finishers area and to the predetermined meeting place to wait for my friends. 

I spread the shiny blanket thingy on the ground and sat in the sun, breathing, drinking water and just taking everything in.  At that moment, I felt so damn proud.  Proud of the months of training.  The lost toenails, getting up at the buttcrack of dawn, weekend mornings spent away from my family, this moment it was all worth it.**

* Official finishing time 4:17:40...way under my goal of 4:30:00.  !!!
**When I got up to walk the mile back to the hotel, however, it was another story.  Ouch! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Getting PUMPED

3 days until the marathon! Eeeeek!

Ran my last pre-race run this morning, a mere 2 miles. I've got my clothes picked out, including some Hello Kitty little girl knee socks cut at the ankles to make disposable arm warmers and mittens to keep warm before the start (6:55am!). Sometimes I'm so smart I surprise even myself. Heh. They were $2, so I plan on just chucking them when I get warm enough. The race has indicated that any clothing thrown off will be donated, but I seriously doubt anyone will want knee socks that have essentially been cut in half...

I've got my fueling/hydration plan down (2 gels, some sport beans, handheld water + aid stations) and even what I'll have for breakfast that morning (a powerbar + banana + starbucks double shot seems to be my magic combo.)

I've decided to run without my ipod, as there will be live music all along the course, and I like to be able to hear in races. Am I forgetting anything? If its sunny, I'll do sunglasses but right now, they're predicting a nice cloudy, 56 degree day with a 20% chance of showers so I might do a running hat instead. I've found that I don't really mind running in rain as long as its not going straight in my face.

Now. It's time to GET PUMPED UP and try not to go stir crazy while waiting for Sunday. My favorite way to do that is to listen to a ridiculous playlist full of songs that get my juices flowin'. The funny part is that music I listen to while running or getting ready to run in NO WAY resembles music that I listen to for pleasure, to relax, or at any other time really. Anyone else have this sickness?

For your viewing/listening pleasure, I've listed some of my choice picks below. *EXTREME CHEESE ALERT* You've been warned. Also, recommendations for more will be accepted. I love a good cheeseball-getting-pumped-song.

and, of course, my favorite running song of all time...