Thursday, December 29, 2005

tax returns can be fun. and Happy New Year, of course!

A mere two days before my 2002 tax returns were to become rendered ineligible and timed out, I headed to H&R Block. Since I'd filled everything out two years ago, I simply had to sign and mail. Viola! Money arriving approx. 6 weeks. Life can be so easy when you just do things instead of put them off three years, you know? 2003, and 2004, well, they'll just have wait. Next year is another year...

And speaking of, headed to San Diego today, and Id like to wish everyone a new year. Thank you for letting me share your ups and downs, your struggles and accomplishments. I've met bloggers, read the lives of bloggers, and thought of how Id like to be friends with and live closer to some bloggers. You've inspired, held me accountable and best of all, had me laughing completely nondiscreetly at work and all alone in a quiet apartment. I hope this new year brings health, happiness, new friends and many, many, sprint tris, olympic tris, half and full ironmans, 5ks, 10ks, trail runs and marathons. See you along the way.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Running a marathon...or did you?

In response to a certain poster of this and Scott’s web site, i’m sharing a little tale that was begged of me not to share. But since said poster (who shall remain nameless...ljisaak) has threatened to take her comments elsewhere because of a lack of posts, all confidentiality agreements are off.

The following is a true story.

Girl wakes on a fine So Cal weekend morning and decides to go for a run. What to wear, what to wear, she thinks. Then, her eyes spy an orange top. Why, it’s her beloved RBF orange running shirt that says on the back "Fabulous Las Vegas Marathon 2005" (or something like that). Yes, that will work.

Two miles later and it’s time to stop for a Starbucks.

Man at Starbucks (in excited voice): "Did you run the Las Vegas marathon?!"
Girl: "Uh, ya."
Man at Starbucks: "My friend did that! Man, and youre already running?!"
Girl: "Why, yes, yes, I am."

Then, grabbing her hazelnut latte, off the girl runs, feeling an imposter and praying no one but she knows she has just told a half-truth truth: the girl did run the marathon. She just missed the first 25 miles.

Question for readers: Have you ever said you’ve ran a marathon when you haven’t? Why or why not?


1. Landlord gave me extension. Phew!
2. Have appt to do 2002,2003,2004 tax returns. Hope I am not taken to white collar prison. for not bothering to file the past three years.
3. Jeff's marathon is approximately 11 days away!

Jeff was the man behind the support crew in Vegas. Now it's his turn, as he heads to Orange County Jan. 8. He's breaking 3 and sis and I are gonna be there to watch it firsthand.

Ran Monday and Tuesday. I am never having another week in my life where I run only once. Ever. I now realize my sanity is directly related to whether I run or not. Since I'm borderline anyway you can see how I can't miss another run. Ever.

During the offseason I'm plannig to condition my body into thinking it's a natural 8-minute mile runner. I need to really pump up the volume (dance, dance) if I'm ever going to qualify for Boston.

I'm headed to San Diego Thursday for a nice, long winter break. Sis and I are gonna run every day along the shore. Oh beautiful West Coast, see you soon.

Monday, December 26, 2005

the post-partum holiday post

I believe my winter blues has to do with the fact that I only ran once last week and haven’t stopped eating in three weeks. Either that or the fact that my boy left on Monday. Or that it’s the day after Christmas and I’m working while my sis is with her boyfriend and his friends at the racetrack and my boy is in Minn. snowboarding. Or maybe it’s because it’s been dark and dreary for two days. Or maybe it’s because I had to work Christmas too, and because I work in a bureau, was the only one in the office all day long. Or that my family is 3,000 miles away and they didn’t bother doing anything because Christmas is on hold until the final member of the family is home. Or because I’m supopsed to move Jan. 1 and I don’t know where to, and I’m going to be out of town. Or that lately I’ve been so confused with the direction of my life, and have begun to feel strange in my skin.

In any event, I canceled tentative plans tonight to go see a famous little winter stop, full of lights and festivities because I feel I’ll go mad if one more day goes by without a hard run.

I read a post today, from boiled peanut, about how difficult her holiday was. That she was lonely and wouldn’t it be nice if all the lonely people come all come together and realize there are others like you and we all could enjoy each other and get comraderie? Yes. That would be nice.

I had two invites for Christmas dinner but decided early in the day I just wanted to go home and clean my apartment, which is as chaotic as my life. I was also planning in drowning my sorrow in hot cocoa. No booze, since stores were closed.

But Kim called and she sounded so cheery so I figured the company would be nice. I fought with her 12-year-old son over playing Ms PacMan and then we all played Family Feud, the DVD version. I kept yelling out misleading answers because I wanted to win. I lost.

Then we played Trivial Pursuit. It took about 3 hours. My dad brought home Trivial Pursuit one year. It was the genius edition. My poor dad, thinking his kids are geniuses. We’d get like 1 in 20 right.

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays. I have told my boss I am simply NOT working a third straight Christmas next year. That i'm prepared to WALK if he even thinks it. That I will CALL IN SICK i'm telling you now. OK, so I didn't say all that but I have told anyone else that would listen.

And Im going to stop comparing myself to anyone else in the world, count my blessings and pray my landlord gives me an extension.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Holiday lists

Welcome to this holiday's lovable email copy and paste lists! I've added some running features and narrowed it to a mere 15 questions. I tag Mouse, Brit, Scott, Keith and Mia. Person most likely to do this: Mouse. Person least likely to do this: everyone.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Hot cocoa, for shizzle my nizzle.
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? He puts them in plastic grocery bags (oh wait, is that me?)
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? Colored!
4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but i hope to be kissed by several suitors this year under others'
5. When do you put your decorations up? Depends. Last year, weekend after Thanksgiving. This year, I didn't cause i have to work, my boyfriend just left and i ain't sitting at home enjoying my holiday decorations alone and depressed
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Football.
7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? Playing house under the steps with sissie, eating cheese, flying kites with sissie and watching Twilight Zone marathons.
8. What is your favorite 2005 run? There were so many, hard to choose. Maybe the first one with Kim, my running partner. It was just over one mile on a hot & sticky day, but Kim was instantly converted. Either that or the 5 a.m. run, my only early run of the year, with LM in the dead of February winter. So that's what early morning looks like.
9. What is your favorite 2005 race? Vegas. Because it was such a great, fun all-around experience. And come on, it's Vegas.
10. Snow! Love it or Dread it? Love it to snowboard, HATE It to drive!
11. What was your most favorite running purchase this year? My darling Brooks 5. I love you, dear Brooks.
12. What is your favorite piece of running apparel purchased in 2005? My black running shorts i wore in Vermont and Vegas.
13. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Not a big fan of dessert. So beer I guess.
14. What are you big traiining plans for 2006? Qualify for Boston, do a half ironman (or at least a few olympic tris)
15. Name one thing you like about blogging: Why, all the new friends i've made, of course!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Instant Street Cred.

When you live on the East Coast, driving a truck with California plates when weather strikes is like putting a sign up that says “Inexperienced Weather Driver.”

And frankly, that’s true of me.

But today, with difficult weather conditions predicted for PA – freezing rain, sleet, snow – my boy told me I should drive his Ford Explorer. His dad just gave it to him. It’s got Minnesota plates.

Instantly, I felt like drivers gave me props. I’m from Minnesota, mutha fukas! Two feet of snow? In my sleep.

Then reality set in. The driver of that Minn. vehicle is, alas, a Southern California native.

As soon as I got off the highways and onto back roads, I began slipping and sliding. I screamed. I promptly returned to the highways and back to the office.

No meeting coverage is worth my life. Thank heavens my editor is so understanding.

The small parking lot behind my office could have doubled as an ice skating rink.
I don’t know about this weather thing.

If it weren’t for snowboarding, I’d have to give this weather thing a thumbs down.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

French fries are like s--. um, ya.

You know when you’re getting a lot of really good s--? And it's so good and you're getting it a lot so that just makes you want it more and more often?

That's so me and french fries right now.

I tend to eat relatively healthy (cheese, chips and beer addiction aside). Fast food is a treat, a once a month/every six weeks thing. But oh how I love french fries! In particular, McDonalds french fries! And I had fries three times last week! And they were fresh and delicious and salty.

Then yesterday, like a dog in the woods having detected a squirrel, I smelt french fries someone else was eating. My stomach, having been fine moments early, suddenly perked up. It would have been fine had I not given it so many tasty treats last week. It started calling, asking...Please can you walk down the block to Mickey D's?

No, stomach, I can't.

P.S. Soon, very soon, you shall see a completely original design of a blog created by a completely original gal. Susan is in the process of giving me a Christmas gift (yes, Flatman, good will to mankind all over) of a new header. The first take looked amazing!

P.P.S. Oh, I've been tagged by Scott. I'll respond to tag, as soon as i think of five things no one knows about me, along with tagging five of you lucky folks, in a bit... (unless i ignore it)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Back to the gym

The week after, what I ate and drank. Note: This list is not all-inclusive:
Double cheeseburger meal
French fries (twice)
Pizza Hut (twice)
Egg McMuffin (twice)
Beer (too much)
Red wine

What I did when I walked past the mirror Sunday night: gasped in horror at how quickly a week of eating all I want and exercising not all catches up to me.

Monday night, it was back to the gym. I ran 1.5 miles and did 20 mins on elliptical. Feels good to be back.

Susan has volunteered to help me create a unique banner. I'm sure most of you have seen her site but she's extremely creative and i've seen at least one other lovely banner she's created for someone else. Finally! A non generic blog. I'm quite excited.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

A Vegas Primer

Some of you have expressed interest in running the Las Vegas marathon. So I’ve decided to offer a few recommendations. Some are Vegas-specific; others are applicable to any marathon.

1. Pay extra and stay in the host hotel where the race will start from. The Strip is designed for you to pass every possible slot machine, shop, bar, sports book and gift shop possible. So even though I was in the Excalibur, very near the Mandalay, I did tons of walking. Sometimes I felt like tearing a wall open to let me outside. I don’t want to walk 2 miles to get to the tram because I have to walk through the ENTIRE MGM floorplan!

2. Wear sunscreen, expect heavy winds. The wind was so biting and cold you could end up with a painfully red face.

3. If you plan on doing anything less than 4:30, line up near the front. It is there that you’ll find yourself elbow to elbow with those planning to run 5 and 6ers.

4. Spend the night before the race with runners or those who understand what it’s like to run a marathon. After returning to my hotel room around 9 p.m., I talked to my mom and grandma who assured me they were coming in soon. At midnight, I was lying awake worrying about them (oh, they were fiiine, just enjoying a little ol’ music downstairs!). It’s hard enough to sleep race nights before having to worry about where your MOTHER AND GRANDMOTHER ARE.

5. When you’re in a fun city like Vegas, your friends and family are probably anxious for you to run the darn thing so you can begin partying. Set up some ground rules for what you will and will not do after the race. (i.e. “I will hang out with you guys but I am watching the Chargers/Raiders game from 5-8 p.m. That is my time. You may watch the game with me or I can meet you after.”) Otherwise, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position of being nearly 30 and throwing a brief temper tantrum because you want to be watching the game (sorry sis and Patrick).

6. If your mother/husband/friend asks if an hour is enough recovery time for you after the marathon and then can you guys all go out, assure them that it is. Suck it up.

7. Send an e-mail before you leave to all your friends letting them know you’ll be in bed by 6 p.m. I received highly appreciated text messages and phone calls. One text came in around 8, which was OK, cutting it close, but OK. But a phone call at 10 p.m. when you’re on the verge of dozing off, well, let’s just say it’s difficult to go back to sleep because you’re too busy stewing. And then you may realize your mother and grandmother aren’t back.

8. Don’t wear 4-inch heels two nights before the race for your big night on the town. Or else you may wake up race day, notice a blister that came from the heels and wonder what the hell is wrong with you.

9. If you go out two nights before the race late, make sure you’re not sharing a room with your mother/friend. Because they may wake up at 9 a.m. and announce everyone has slept long enough and that it’s time to hit the streets.

10. Be creative if you're looking for a place to run. Tops of parking garages work well.

11. If the race falls on the same weekend as a big fight, walk with your head down and eyes averted. This helps avoid the men/women dressed in their finest and looking almost edible as they head for a big night on the town and you head to your room to sleep.

In conclusion, have fun! Vegas, for its flaws and distractions, is a city people want to go to. Susan said it’s one of the few places her mom and sis might actually go to. I had the pleasure of my family and friends joining me. I can’t think of anywhere else they would have gone.

Oh, one more thing. Didn’t wear the slinky dress. I was a bit delusional thinking I’d be able to hit the streets for a wild night out after the race. That’s a looooong way to run.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Longest 2.6 miles.

In my best fantasies in the weeks leading up to the Las Vegas marathon, I’d report back that the run went by in a flash. That it was over almost as soon as it started, that I experienced no wall, no major problems, and it was just a sweet, sweet run. Thankfully, except for a blip at mile 15 when I had to pull over to stretch an increasingly painful right knee, this seemed to be the case early on. Especially when half a mile later the pain was gone, never to return. So ya, that’s how it went until mile 24, when began the longest, most difficult final miles I’ve ever experienced in any race. But let’s start at the very beginning (a very good place to start…)

Race day dawned freezing and windy. The start was a mess of spectators and runners. There were no pace signs. So runners just lined up. Scott, Keith and I would complain after the race this meant the first miles were spent navigating through slow runners, and those who apparently intended to speedwalk the race. Props to those who intend to walk a race but LINE UP NEAR THE BACK OF THE PACK SO THOSE INTENDING NOT TO WALK DON’T HAVE TO WASTE ENERGY WEAVING AROUND YOU.

Still, fireworks lit up the still dark sky. And as Elvis sang “Viva, Las Vegas” we all set off.

5K: I see my first friendly face, Noel. She stood shivering on the sidelines in a bright green jacket. I gave her a quick hug and she ran alongside me for a bit, shouting encouragement. I smiled and thought of how much I just love her.

Mile 7: Brit, Natalia, Jeff and Scott’s cousin provide another welcome sight. I take two Advil, drink some water, proceed. Strong, biting headwinds mark most of this part of the race. After the race, my face is to be windburned, red and as painful as a sunburn. My pace is a little off because of the wind. At least, I think it is. The clocks throughout the race are all off. At one I’m on pace for a 4 hour marathon; at the next, I see there’s no way I can hit it.

Mile 15: Stop to stretch. Knee is flaring up.

Mile 18: Support crew once again. I get more Advil.

Mile 20: Jeff! I hand him two Gu’s I’ve picked up on the course. They’re slowing me down. I imagine each ounce is costing me seconds per mile.

Mile 23: Man, I’m feeling good. Ya, I’m feeling pretty good.

Mile 23.5: What’s going on. I’m not feeling as good. What’s going on

Mile 23.65: What the hell. I can’t breathe really. My thighs are filled with lead. What the hell is that popping in my left thigh.

Mile 23.75: More popping. What the hell is that?! Why is catching my breath so hard? I begin to panic a little. My time goal of four hours is within reach but I can’t slow down. Panicking makes my breathing harder. My throat tightens, I just can’t make my breathing normal. I had a pep talk planned in the event this should happen. I begin to think of those less fortunate, as planned. I need to put this race in perspective – there are more important things going on in the world.

Mile 23.85: Not too much longer now till I meet my sis, who is coming to meet me and take me to the finish! I can make it, I can make it. Im going to need her. I’m going to need something

Mile 24: Where is my sister. Can’t breathe. The less fortunate thing isn’t working, so I steady my breathing thinking of the beer I’m going to drink later, how I intend to have a shot of tequila, hopefully with the bloggers. This seems to work.

Mile 24.15: Where is my sister


Mile 24.5: I hear a man say according to his watch, he can break 4 if he maintains a 10 minute mile. This is extremely reassuring and helps to once again calm me down. If my sister doesn’t show, she’s going to be sorry, I think. I am getting angry. This causes my breathing to become even more labored. Tears threaten to fall. This also makes my breathing more labored.

24.6: I live for water stops. I live for water stops. I haven’t walked except through water stops. I begin to see mirages of water stops.


25: Well, lookie who we have here. Is that my sister? Why, yes I believe it is.

25.05: I use what little oxygen I have to yell at my sister. This has the effect of a. making sis feel really terrible and b. using up more of my air.

25.15: I’m still yelling.

25.25: I tell my sister to run ahead of me, not slightly behind. That she’s supposed to guide me vs. the other way around. I decide I’ll have to give her coaching101 for the next race.

25.5: We get into rhythm. My breathing is still not normal. I just can’t get it normal. I’m panting and I’m breathing quite loud. I give up trying to regulate it. The finish line at the Mandalay Bay beckons.

25.75: Ya, umm, still having problems breathing.

26: We see sis’s boyfriend. “Looking good Arlene!” I try to wave. This is the part of the race that now becomes the corral, meaning you can’t exit the course without climbing the gates locking us in. Sis asks if she can exit the course. No, I tell her, I need you. We are both wearing our orange blogger shirts. “Go orange girls!” people are yelling.

The finish line: There is nothing sis can do, no place sis can go but through the finish line. So together, we cross! Mortified, my sis hangs her head and tries to make sure she doesn’t get photographed. I finally slow to a walk and struggle to get my breath together. I take my medal. Sis is offered one, which she politely declines.

My time is 4:02:16.
I meet mom and grandma, who has tears in her eyes. Reese, my son (cabbage patch kid) is wearing his white mink coat. And the shirt his mother bought him two nights before. It says Vegas, little stinker and has a skunk on it.

I hook up with the bloggers. I discover Monday my final time is 3:58. I’ve taken 18 minutes off my Vermont marathon time. What’s that mean? It means 18 minutes more and I’ve qualified for Boston.

Going into the race, I knew a weakness would be my lack of long runs. I focused on increasing speed at the expense of endurance. That sounds quite smart for training for a marathon. So it’s no shocker the end of the race turned out as it did. Another 2 or 3 long runs would have been good.

Still, I’m quite happy with the result. I ran a very consistent race. I had a support crew anyone would envy. Post race, it continued. Brit handed me a nutra grain bar and Gatorade. I felt quite special.

And I loved seeing Scott and Keith after the race. I feel a special bond with all the bloggers and their families, making this race, more than any other, feel like a group achievement. Hard to believe I’d just met them, something even sis’s boyfriend remarked upon.

If you’ve made it through that, cool. If you skipped to the end, cool too. Thanks a million times for the support, fellow bloggers and friends.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, still never doing another marathon in Vegas.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

It’s not everyday…

One gets mistaken as the winner of the marathon. But such was the case Monday when it happened to me…twice.

The first time I didn’t get it. Bellhop, mom and I, along with grandma, are loading up the car when a valet guy comes over to me. He looks beside himself and has a huge smile on his face.

“Did you run the marathon?” he asks.
“I sure did,” I say.
“And did you win?” he says.
“Of course!” I say and laugh.

I’m running terribly late for my 11:30 a.m. flight. It’s past 10:30 and I don’t even know where the airport is. So I’m distracted, rushing to organize my mom and grandma’s 467 bags from their shopping.

Valet guy begins pointing to the other valet guys, who begin waving. I wave back, thinking, well, I guess it’s cool I ran the marathon.

We’re trapped because cars in front and next to us are loading up their cars. The valet guys quickly move several carts with luggage, creating a path for us to exit.

I still don’t get it until I take my seat on the plane. Cowboy next to me sort of takes a few quick glances at me, I note through my peripheral vision.

“Did you run the marathon?”
"Yes,” I say.
“For just a split second, I thought you were the girl that won. She’s from Mexico and her hair is like yours,” he says.
It all clicks. I begin laughing.

I’m 90 minutes slower and 30 pounds heavier than Adriana Fernandez, of Mexico, who won with a 2:31:54 time. But now I know how it feels to win the marathon. You’re like a celeb. People rush to move mountains (or luggage carts) out the way.

That $4 tip I left the bell hop now seems a bit paltry for someone who just won thousands.

OK, so Vegas happened, Vegas was awesome and Vegas was unforgettable. What will not be staying in Vegas is just about everything that happened all weekend – tons and tons of memories and good times.

I crossed the line at 4:02:16. Did I break my goal of 4? It took awhile to reach the start but I don’t own a watch and didn’t look at the clock when I started. And the darn web site which you could access at the race kept insisting my CHIP time was 4:02 and I knew that was impossible.

After insisting I’d take it STRAIGHT TO THE TOP if those times weren’t adjusted, I finally got my answer Monday night.

Final time: 3:58:26. Hurrah!

Right after I crossed the finish line, as I’m telling my sister it’s possible I broke four, this older gentleman says “It’s going to be close. I saw you at the beginning of the race and I tried my darndest to keep up with you the whole time.”

I am flattered.
I am so going to be a pace person in future races.

Just a warning, there will be several posts coming from Vegas. You don’t have to read them all, but I’d like to record em for my own use.

But in a nutshell: I am the luckiest girl ever. Brit, Natalia, Jeff and sis were the most amazing support crew anyone could ever have. It’s impossible to describe (but maybe not for fellow runners) how much seeing someone you know at mile 3, 7, 20 and 25 means during the marathon. Jeff came into town just to cheer us on.

Fellow runners Scott and Keith offered both comfort and inspiration, as I knew that as I finished mile after mile, they were too.

When we hooked up after the race, I was saying out loud that I thought I broke four.
Keith, despite not knowing where in the wide, wide, world of sports I had lined up, confidently announces: “I think you did too.” That was endlessly reassuring.

And Scott, who looked both proud and accomplished after the race, said this: “I came in to this thinking it would be my first, and only, marathon. But around the 10K I started thinking, I could do this again.”

Yes, Scott, you sure as hell can. And if you choose to, let me know which one so I can sign up too.

And we can begin discussing the design of the new shirt.
Brit will love to hear about it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

it's off to the races

literally. bookie's picking me at the airport, 10:13ish a.m. Friday and we're headed to the Luxor. you can find me at the sports book from then on until the family arrives sometime later in the day. after watching some horses race, my race becomes just hours away.

i had planned several weeks ago to do a reflection-type post on my life, running and blogging. but here it is 10:45 p.m. the night before my 6 a.m. flight. i'm just getting off work and still have to pack. but first, meeting colleagues at our fave thurs night haunt.

terrible week, layoffs, people moving. an entire news division at my work shut down, including where my dear friend and running partner kim works. she's doing ok, considering. it's a been a difficult week. but it's over.

guess reflections will have to wait. i'm going to vegas. i'm going to enjoy being around my friends and family. i'm going to enjoy meeting fellow vegas bloggers, wearing my new orange vegas shirt. i'm going to try and run a sub 4 hour marathon.

thanks for all the support, advice and much laughter from your blogs and posts. not sure if i'll be able to post from vegas but if not, see you on the flip side. of the marathon of course.