Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Umm, i'm a total celebrity

Where do i start? I've started this post so many times! OK, so i'm surfing blogs and came across Shoreturtle, my neighbor runner (jersey) who picked up our extra Vegas shirt! Cool! Then, I get an email from Jeff re: Vegas festivities. Here's some excerpts:

"If you have any specific dietary requirements, please let me know and we WILL accommodate you, after all this is all about YOU!" (ps menu is spagetti with a billion other things)

"What I need to know from each of the runners is the following information: What miles do you need external support?What fluids/fuels do you need at those support points?Where would you like additional cheering? What do you want at the finish line? Food? Fluids? Clothing? Transportation?" (Um, hi. I'm not an elite athlete. BUT I SURE F'IN FEEL LIKE ONE RIGHT NOW.)

"Basically, name your need and we'll see to it that you're supported. Have a family member that needs to be dropped at mile 12? Done. NeedGU at mile 18? Done. Want to hand off your iPod at mile 20? Done. Need a ride back to your hotel after the race? Done. What's themotto? "After all, this is all about YOU".


i am in absolute love with our blogging organizers. it's like i'm an elite athlete but running hours slower.

wow, and to think i've been dreading vegas, even a little bit...

the big bad strip

Riona has generously agreed to blogcast Vegas, realtime. I explained to her it was a 6 a.m. start and did she know that?

But miraculously, she has agreed to do just that. Riona was gonna join us, then got quite injured. Then she was gonna get married in Vegas, since she just got engaged, but apparently has opted for a more traditional wedding. Why? Who knows.

So this Sunday, join all the fun, the drama, the pain, the laughs, the tears and the relief as several new and repeat marathoners take to the mean streets of the Las Vegas strip.

Details to come.

Soft, and tough, love

I’m dedicating this post to my two most loyal readers – sis and Kim. You may have noticed sis, who posts as ljisaak. Mostly, she just reads me and Scott’s blogs. Kim has never posted. She just reads it and emails me at work. I’m always quite flattered by their loyalty. Like, Kim usually emails within hours of a new post.

And therein lies a tale of this blog’s two loyalists.

There is Kim, as supportive a runner friend as you could have. She and my boy and I are doing dinner Wed night. She wants a final ‘good luck’ dinner en prep for my early Friday departure to Vegas. She has emailed every day asking how I’m feeling, am I nervous, I’ll be great, next year she’ll be there. And I believe she will. At Thanksgiving, her mom and her were discussing their December 2006 family trip to Vegas (her mom gave me a cool New Las Vegas marathon magnet!). I nodded like I’m going along too and I will….but not as a runner!

Then there is sis. One of sis’s best qualities is her loyalty. She can never be counted on to be subjective if, for instance, I send her a rough draft of a story. It’s always great or she loves this and she loves that. It can’t all be great sis! She is also my coach, has been for years. Through softball games, water polo games, swimming matches, sis has been there cheering right along. And she’s ready to put down whoever stands in her sister’s way. But as we head to Vegas, well, I grow uneasy...

During my first ever race, Carlsbad tri 2004, sis and mom were on hand to cheer me along. As mom fretted Id make it out of the ocean, sis no doubt fretted about not whether, but WHEN, Id make it out the water. A slow transition from the swim to the bike followed.

“Pick up the pace!” my sister yelled as I nodded in agreement, clenched my teeth and bystanders looked at horror at this supportive ‘fan.’

Sis called Sunday. Should she buy this matching track suit that reminds her of the ones Bela Karolyi used to wear during gymnastics competitions? And I better break 4 hours, she tells me.

So today I email her this: “Alright coach, if I don’t’ hit four hours or less it’s all on you!”

She responds: “Oh don't you worry sis, I know. No bear hug either if you don't do good. I'll pretend like I don't know you at the finish line.”

In life there is the necessary tough love and the times when you just need to be told everything’s going to be Ok.

Wednesday night, I will get the comfort of being told everything’s going to be OK.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

I love the Chargers

Vegas beckons…

I had decided earlier to post my planned marathon weekend itinerary in an effort to motivate myself. The marathon keeps getting pushed to the back of everything in my actions/thoughts, etc. Why, on Saturday, a planned 50 minute run got pushed after I decided instead to go bowling with a pal, thus beginning beer drinking on an early Saturday afternoon.

So, on an early Sunday evening, feeling unmotivated but on a high cause the CHARGERS BEAT THE REDSKINS SORRY A$# and LaDanian Tomlinson is the BEST THING EVER, I headed for the 50 minute run.

It felt awesome. My body has appreciated that I logged a total of 9 miles or so this week. Hmm, now that I write it out I’m not sure that’s a good mileage for the week. However, today’s run was the first that my body hasn’t felt fatigued. It was pretty tired heading into my final hard workouts.

Cool. So to stay in the mood, here’s my Vegas itin. Scott send me his and Brit’s earlier this week. He’s claimed he’s not going out Sunday evening. I plan to do my best to convince the two to go out.

Friday: depart 6 a.m. arrive 10:13 a.m. My pal Bookie (who scoped out the course with me during an August trip) is hopefully gonna get into town shortly after. If he picks me up we head to Luxor’s sports book to bet a couple horsie races as I wait for the fam to arrive. They’re leaving Fri am but plan to hit the shopping outlets. Ill drink non-alkie beverages and look for other runners to whine with, about having to be so very gosh darn good.

Evening: dinner with my dear friend, her hubby and a mutual friend I think highly of. They’re taking us to their fave restaurant. I can’t wait. I will drink up to two beers. Seriously.

Late evening: I’m in bed early, like a good girl would be. Sis and Bookie are painting the town red. I will try not to pout.

Saturday: Spend the day at expo and then checking out the town with mom, grandm and sis. Vegas has changed since my grandma visited in the 1970s, having become as of late rather upscale. The Venetian and Caesar’s are my faves, I’ll let the family check them out.

Evening: Get increasingly nervous. Pasta party with fellow Vegas bloggers (hurrah!).

Late evening: Into my room very, very early, attempt to sleep.

Sunday: 6 a.m. race. Ack.

Later Sunday: rest.

Even later Sunday: continue resting.

Even later: Get ready to go out.
I hope.

11 p.m: send grandma and mom to bed and go out with the grown ups.
I hope.

Monday: Leave at 11:30 a.m. Wear my medal.

So that’s what Vegas is looking like. Phew. I can’t wait, and I’m dreading it too.

Thanksgiving postscript: Thought I’d share another thing I forgot to thank, courtesy of my dad. My dad does the holiday pre-dinner prayer. His prayer is the same every holiday, for as far as I can remember. It’s generally rushed – ‘Blessed are these gifts we are about to receive..’ is usually all we can hear before he kind of mumbles the rest (it's roughly a 25-second prayer). Generally, we’ve yelled at him to stop because not everyone’s served or because he begins sampling early. This year, according to my sister, he waited patiently while everyone was served and seated. In fact, this time it was my grandma who people had to tell to stop eating. My dad then proceeded to read an editorial, I think from that day’s LA Times, about the true meaning of Thanksgiving. It was focused almost exclusively on the troops abroad, and their sacrifices during the war. My dad is an ardent opponent of the Iraq war, but as a former war veteran, understands the sacrifices those guys are making. I forgot to thank em in my previous post.

And on a lighter note, I found a hilarious blog. It’s called askthepope.blogspot.com The author writes like as if the pope had a blog. It’s hysterical. From cardinals who chew too slowly, to another time where he recommends waiting to ask for forgiveness because his back hurts...well, i'm telling you, i couldn't quit laughing.

And there goes another week. Off we go.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Trophies and Turkeys

And so today, the day before my favorite holiday, I offer the requisite Thanksgiving blog. My paper’s competition does a weekly trophies and turkeys column, recognizing the good and bad local people or organizations have done.

Here’s mine:

a loving mother
a doting father
a strong grandma
a best friend that is also my sister
my brother (i guess)
my darling friends
my health and ability to run, bike, swim, dance, snowboard, twirl in the rain
that happiness and laughter fill my life
my job which also includes a boss i greatly respect and admire
the fortunate circumstances of my birth, that i never had to worry about the next meal, where i’d sleep or whether our lights or heat would be turned off
beer (i’m reminded of a polka song ‘in heaven there is no beer...that’s why we drink it here...’)
the mob, for creating Las Vegas as we know it
brooks 5

my temper
my impatience
the way i procrastinate
the way i sometimes let the little things get me all (unnecessarily) riled up
crashing into a guardrail earlier this week because i’m so distracted
breaking up
having to get up at 4 a.m. to be outside a large chain store at 4:30 a.m. because you’re covering Black Friday
male colleagues who do not flush the unisex bathroom
the mob, for bullying and killing people
Brooks 6

I’m headed to Kim’s for Thanksgiving with she and her family. There promises to be much food (my first fried turkey!), much booze (bloody mary, anyone?) much football (bring it!) and best of all, a house loaded with people!

May you all have a blessed holiday full of laughter, family and friends. And if you’re unable to be with family or friends, know that someone’s thinking of you and wishing you well...

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Hola, Abuelita!

Abuelita (grandma) arrived Friday. Grandma's coming to Vegas. It's been two decades or so since she visited the Strip. She's quite excited but as she explained to my sister, she's not exactly sure why we're going. I've translated the conversation between sis & grandma).

"Vas a ir a Las Vegas?" (you going to vegas -my grandma asks)
"Si, vamos a ver Bombi correr." (ya, we're gonna see arlene run -sis says)
"Oh que lejos?"(how far)
"26 mias" (26 miles)
"Va manejar?" (will she drive?)
"No, va correr." (no, she's running)
"Esta loca" (she's crazy)

And that sums it up for grandma. My grandma no doubt thinks running 26 miles is too bizarre for words. This is a woman who worked her a-- off for years and years, doing physically demanding jobs for little/no pay as she sought to secure citizenship.

I'm curious to see what it will be like at the marathon. My grandma will probably get swept up in the excitement even while she's like, these crazy fools, running 26 miles. Grandma, you see, rose before sunrise to clean people's homes, to work in greenhouses, to do whatever work she could find. And i'm her spoiled American granddaughter, who grew up not realizing what she had, not realizing how many opportunities were offered her.

I do now. It took awhile, but I do now. I realize how lucky I am to be able to run because I have the time and ability to do so, and the money to enter races. My job is not physically demanding so i have the energy to run. I can have one job rather than work the 16-hour days she used to work.

So on Dec. 4, day of the Las Vegas marathon, grandma will be there at the start. She'll wish me well while not really understanding what we're all doing there. Cause in her world and day, you worked too damn hard to train to run 26.2 miles.

I'll run. And grandma will be proud. She will be, even though it's like, run so long for what.

And I'll understand. I think about her sacrifices, her long days, her long hours...and how it's because of her discipline that I'm where I'm at in life.

Gracias, Abuelita. Because of you, I'm running a marathon. I'm healthy, can afford it and have the time to train.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

A little running tale...

Sit down, boys and girls, it’s time for a tale. The story is titled, “The Runner that Could.”
Could push off her runs that is.

She woke up and was too cozy in her bed? Perhaps tomorrow would be a better day.

Use her long mornings off to get in her workout? No, she’d simply decide to cram it in after she got off at 11 p.m. and her gym closes at midnight.

Those runs, one may guess, never happened.

Go out late at night, or until early in the morning? Running might not even be healthy being so underslept, she’d think, lounging on the couch watching football with a beer.

But as the event she’d been training for – all 26.2 miles of it – grew closer and closer she could no longer put off her longest run, that of 18 miles. A late start in her training meant she’d never hit the suggested 20.

The girl thought.

Perhaps she could call in sick on Tuesday to get the run done. The earlier the better, as the beloved taper loomed, and there was a 3 week suggested taper. A Tuesday run meant she’d fall just short of the 3 weeks.

Work was too busy. She could not call in.

Wednesday morning, then, since her shift began at 3 p.m. But Wednesday came and went and inexplicably, there would be no run.

Thursday arrived. It was now or never.

She made a half bagel with veggie cream cheese and tomatoes on top, ate a banana, a cup of coffee, drank water. Waited 2 hours.

She went through her usual race day prep feeling quite nervous, for some reason, even getting sick as she does on race days.

Yet when the run began she was mentally ready as if it were marathon day. That is, if the marathon started at 1:30 p.m.

But oh it was a bitter day! The girl’s first real winter run of the season. The wind nearly drew tears of cold as it struck her face. A strong headwind meant the girl fought harder and harder to move. And strong rains Wednesday meant the path was even rockier than normal, causing the girl to concentrate more than usual so as not to trip and fall.

It grew colder as the sun prepared to set. The girl, thankfully, had brought a thicker top, which she changed into. The coughing began. The girl could see her breath into the cold air as she pushed herself faster and faster.

Then, as dusk nearly fell, she began to tighten up. She was now having to stretch every half mile or her right knee began to cramp. Yes, her right knee, despite the girl’s stern lecture to her body that it’s her left knee that’s troubled.

She could not help thinking that none of this would happen had she done her run on Wednesday.
Wednesday, you see, was unseasonably warm, a record high in fact. At the time her run would have occurred the temps would have been in the low 70s, late 60s.

In a day, a 30 degree temperature drop.

The run ended. The girl went home.

The moral of the story, dear boys and girls, is not that one should do their runs on the scheduled/prescribed days.

No, the moral is this: Pushing off your runs may make for more challenging runs later, but adverse conditions test our bodies and make us better in the end. So put off that run. Cause tomorrow, it’ll be harder. And hard is good.

THE MO’ FO’ TAPER’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let’s do this thing.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The finale...and Vegas - never again

Tomorrow’s my final long distance run, an 18 miler. But instead of blogging about that, and about how jealous I am that Scott and Drew completed their final long runs of 20 miles over the weekend, I want to blog about how, if friends and family hadn’t booked their flights and hotel rooms and requested the days off of work, I’d like to cancel the marathon.

Oh I know, I don’t really want to cancel the marathon. But life would be exceedingly simpler if I could. And if it were like Vermont, where just me and my boy were headed there and I didn’t have my family, friends and bloggers to meet, I’d do just that. Oh ok, I probably wouldn’t. But it sure feels good coming home and loudly proclaiming to my boy I’d do just that.

What I thought were settled moving plans have been thrown out the window like cheap garbage. The gal I was to move in with said it wasn’t going to work out; her friend will now be moving in after an unexpected breakup. It’s just as well I suppose. She has a cat which for some reason id forgotten about until this past weekend when all of a sudden I stopped in my tracks and said, “Wait. She has a cat.” I’m allergic to cats. So now I’m supposed to move only I don’t know to where or when. Obviously, marathon weekend is not an option. So it’s off to get an extension from my landlord. I have a completely easygoing wonderful landlord so thank heavens for small favors.

And I’m not going to think about how, if I didn’t have to spend money on flight, hotel, food that I would not have to lose even a wink of sleep fretting over deposits, first months rents, bills that would no longer be shared. OK, I would still think those things, but they would be less of an issue if this marathon weren’t coming up.


Had a rough last few days.

Two things have been constant the last few months. One, work. I love my job, am happy going into work each day. Then yesterday it’s announced our publisher has stepped down. This likely means layoffs. We’ve been immune thus far despite seeing layoffs up and down our chain. Now I must fret about my job.

The other constant has been my running. And despite me not exactly looking forward to my 18 miler tomorrow, running continues to be the stable force in my life. Oh I know I missed a couple workouts over the weekend but that’s hardly new. And despite some strange creaks in new place (right hip? Right thigh?) that remains my one true blue. Thanks running. Thanks.

You know how life is cyclical? Life has been rich for a great period of time, full of friends, health, parties, good times, laughs. No, the breakup wasn’t rich but since we’re not separate just yet, the impact hasn’t hit. Now, I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for it to come crashing down. Signs have already appeared. I’m not particularly superstitious. I know everything happens for a reason, the one up there’s got a plan for me, and we must experience bad to feel the good.

Still, I think im near a downward cycle. But maybe, like when you write about something good you jinx it, I’m jinxing the bad by writing about it. Ya.

I have decided, however, through all this, I’m never again in my entire life doing a marathon in Las Vegas. I received great news my dear, darling friend and her hubbie are coming in for the race but I can’t go out with them. We will do dinner Friday night but I CAN’T GO OUT WITH THEM AND MY FRIEND IS ONE OF MY GREATEST BEER DRINKING PARTNERS AND I HAVEN’T SEEN HER FOR A YEAR.

So like I said, never again Vegas. Im choosing someplace boring, like, uh, Arizona. No offense, Az. Folks. I mean, my dad’s family’s from there.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

What else? Vegas!

First things first. Look to the right. I just found another Vegas-bound blogger. His name is Brooks, just like my favorite shoe! He’s got a sidebar that lists several handicaps. Among them:

I am a bad runner
I smoke
i drink
i weigh 220 lbs
my 30th birthday is nov. 1

Welcome Brooks to the Vegas coalition! Always thrilled to find fellow Vegas-ites and drinkers.

Guess how long little miss thing followed Perfect 10’s final cycle? Um, ya. I didn’t.

Confessional: I did not folo a single cycle perfectly my entire training program. End Confessional.

Start excuse: Bart Yasso never sent me Cycle 10! He musta forgot. But I’ve got a good thing going. I mean, I’m really just following his program, just unofficially.

I’m a guinea pig for the program, which Yasso has said will be featured in a soon-to-be Runner’s World. When I first heard I was selected to train, I had visions of magazine covers (what would I wear?) and more importantly, I thought i was getting my own, practically private, running coach! Alas, it was not to be. All he did was email me my cycles and alone I ran. No glamour, no personal visits, no magazine covers.

I had an excellent hard hill run on Tuesday. I hope I don’t mess things up by writing this, but I feel so confident and strong right now. I ran hard but even with tough hills I think I averaged 9 minute pace for the almost 9-mile run. Two more hard workouts, coupla easies and a coupla XT and viola! Taper!

OK so if you’ve missed (and you probably haven’t) check out Danny's NYC report. Danny’s been the unofficial RBF (running blog family) doctor. Anytime you’ve got an ailment -- too much sweat, under/over hydrated, the pros/cons of PT -- he’s usually got a helpful post. His grandma was there to watch him. Ah...

Seems a lot of RBF’s have done the big races, at least some of them. Yvonne's currently in the lead... I started to wonder, though, would I even enjoy a big race? I guess I’ll find out. Im running a Philly 8k Nov. 20. The marathon’s also that day so it will be heavily attended. First populated race.

Running partner Kim wants to match her 5k pace of 9:18 at the Philly race, a very quick time for someone in the sport all of two months. I’ve offered to pace her. I know, sounds like a generous offer but my motives are selfish. Knowing me, I’ll try something crazy like attempt a sub 7-minute mile (or die trying). Two weeks before my marathon, not smart. But I do non smart things like that. That’s just me.

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Final Cycle

Today, Monday, Nov. 7 is the start of el fin, Cycle 10, the final cycle before my taper for dec. 4 vegas marathon. I've mentioned before I've been following a plan called 'Perfect 10,' developed by Bart Yasso of Runner's World. It's based on a 10 day, rather than a 7 day training guide. The thought behind it is that one long run every 7 days is hard on your body and rest must be a crucial component of training.

This'll put my final long run, around 18 miles somewhere mid next week.

It’s funny I should say ‘following’ because yours truly hasn’t really been following it very well at all. Loyal readers of this site may have noticed I have not updated my sidebar that lists planned vs actual training for some time now. The reason is because sometime in mid October I went outta town for a mere two days which nonetheless served to throw me completely out of whack. So for two+ weeks I’ve been following something I call ‘arlene’s guide to running’ which sort of mixes and matches my speed workouts, my hills workouts, my easies, my cross training depending on how I feel for the day. It’s a variation of bart’s schedule. Only, well, not as rigid really.

But today Ive decided to folo the last 10 days of my cycle to the T. This challenge, should I choose to accept it, means this cycle would be the first time I’ve done so since I began in earnest training in August. I’ll give it a whirl.

Anyone catch the NYC marathon coverage yesterday? Ive decided I must do the big 5: Boston, NYC, Chicago, Berlin and London. That’s another new goal. Id like to finish all 5 by somewhere in 2009. who’s with me (Elizabeth who recently decided to tackle a half IM next year, probably is.)!?!?

in my non running life, things are plugging along. I’m moving in with a friend, I think, in December, right after the marathon. She’s my running coach LM’s old roomie. The timing worked out well. She’s got a darling little cozy house, which means I wont have come home to empty apartment around the holidays. My boy heads to Minnesota when I move.

And last but not least, I love week 9 (heard in the background on ESPN). The Chargers are ready to make their move, despite giving me a little bit of a scare in yesterday’s win over the hapless Jets. I love Sundays, I love football, I love the Chargers. I can’t stand TO.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

brooks, brooks everywhere and not a drop to...uh, never mind

Thankfully, my "wall" was less Berlin-esque than say, your average garden wall. Yesterday 15-mile run, at about a 9 minute mile clip, felt quite good. There's minor creaks, but they feel more related to shoes needing replacement than a signal of a larger problem.

I've got my new Brooks 5 on. They are not coming off. Ever.

if you share my fascination with Brooks, you'll enjoy this, courtesy of Goldenboy

My thoughts are in parantheses.

"Runners, retailers and the shoe’s designers all point to the signature comfort and glove-like fit as a key element of what makes the shoe special (many shoes companies would LOVE to make such a POPULAR selling shoe. SO WHY DO YOU WANT TO GO AND CHANGE SOMETIHNG WHEN IT WORKS. let me explain something folks, in business, if it works, you stick with it), and the Adrenaline GTS 6 has raised the bar even higher (NO IT HASN'T).

Zartman explained, “We added an Internal Support Saddle for better midfoot support on the medial side (So if you enjoy blisters on your midfoot, these are your shoes), so the upper doesn’t cave when the runner pronates.” With the saddle handling support duties, Zartman and the footwear team were able to remove the more structured materials in the forefoot area and add more mesh. “People want shoes to feel like socks (no sock-like feel in these stiffies!), so the more mesh the better.”

And thus, hopefully, concludes my Brooks saga. (why must you be such a finickied-feet runner?)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

letters to the editor

Have hit…training…wall. No longer want to run. Hate spin…
After weeks of successful training, I’m over it. There may be reasons for this. But at least my Brooks 5 have shipped, got confirmation email today. Hurrah! Mostly. I mean, now I have to break them in and get them ready to run 26.2 miles in like 2 weeks.

Hey, wait, what’s this. It looks to be a letter…

Dear Partyrunner:
It has been brought to my attention you have been partying like it’s 1999. There’s one thing a distance runner is taught early on – Respect the Distance.

Just curious, Partyrunner, is Respecting the Distance dancing and hanging out until 4 a.m. the night before a 15-mile planned run? Is respecting the distance going out as often as you did 8 years ago, before you began running and before you were practically 30?

No. it’s not. With just over two weeks left to taper, now is not the time to break down. You haven’t exactly followed your training schedule to the T but since you’re new to training programs and schedules and something called “discipline” I can’t be mad. But I can point out that you’ve come so far, gained speed, confidence and felt just overall good about your training that now is NOT the time to throw that all away.

From now on there’s a few things you must obey, Partyrunner, and I say this not to lecture or preach, but if I don’t call you out, who will? I’m sure you’ll agree there is wriggle room in the following commandments.

You may not go out both Friday and Saturday nights. You may pick one.

You may not yet begin giving out your phone number at costume parties and then when he calls you confuse him, the 70s disco guy, with the boy witch, thereby ensuring a rapid end to the conversation (though this turns out to be a good thing).

You may not skip any more long weekend runs or even push them from Saturday to Sunday to Monday to Wednesday. You may not do this.

You may not ever again spend a fortune in excitement on training clothes for the 2006 triathlon season when doing so leaves you too broke to buy a new pair or running shoes that you desperately need for a 2005 marathon. For then you may run into obstacles including
a. store is out of shoes and
b. stores order you the wrong pair of damn shoes.

You may not eat at 1 a.m. quesadillas, taquitos or bags of Doritos.

I say these things to you, Partyrunner, because I care. Because I want you to hit Vegas running (literally) and by golly if you can’t hit a 3:40 you sure better clear 4.

Because you’ve trained to do so.

Because you can.

So happy running, Partyrunner. Remember you are blessed to be healthy and able enough, and have the time enough, to run for pleasure. You don’t have to work 2 jobs to make it. You may run for happiness and health. So take advantage of that. Do it wisely.

Oh, and Rock Vegas.