Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year In Running 2012

4 PRs

Nine races

Over 600 miles

My first half marathon

3 pairs of shoes

My first running injury

Countless new running friends

3 months on the figurative bench

My first 30 mile week

One new lease on running life

Best race experience.

Running down the 2 hour pacing group

and beating them to the finish line

at my first half marathon.

Best run.

A perfect-weather 5 miler in June with

Siri and Greg that introduced me

to one of my favorite new routes

and a gorgeous side of this city

that I hadn't known before.

Best new piece of gear.

My Brooks PureCadence

Best piece of running advice.

Make friends, join a group, make it social.

Not from anyone in particular, but

something I've picked up and taken to heart.

The difference it makes is staggering.

Most inspirational runner.

I was inspired by all of the ladies of the

Run Like a Girl running group,

who went to Boston

and brought it, even in the hot weather.

And the 80 year old man who I had the

honor of giving a medal to

at the end of the Richmond Marathon.

Sum up your year in a couple of words.

Wonderful, heart-breaking, elevating 

Final Resolution Check In of 2012!

Running - Goal: Run at least 500 miles this year; run at least 1 half marathon
[Seeing as how I broke my foot and all, I'm going to include miles biked in brackets.]

Through December 31
January: 47 miles
February: 72 miles
March: 80 miles
April: 69.5 miles
May: 76 miles
June: 81 miles
July: 67 miles
August: 108 miles
September: 14 miles [44 miles]
October: [112 miles]
November: 13 miles [44 miles]
December: 25 miles [51 miles]

Total for the year: 652.5 miles [865.5 miles]

Reading - Goal: Read at least one book per month

January Books
Riggs, Ransom - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Bray, Libba - A Great and Terrible Beauty

February Books
Moran, Michelle - Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

March Books
Massie, Robert K. - Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Sussman, Ellen - French Lessons
Gilbert, Elizabeth - Committed: A Love Story

April Books
Clark, Colin - My Week with Marilyn
Morgenstern, Erin - The Night Circus

May Books
Raybourn, Deanna - Dark Road to Darjeeling
James, P. D. - Death Comes to Pemberley

June Books
Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Ice and Fire Book 3: A Storm of Swords
James, E.L. - 50 Shades of Gray (for the record, I hated this book)

July Books
Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Ice and Fire Book 4: A Feast for Crows
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Mantel, Hillary - Wolf Hall

August Books
Dunant, Sarah - The Birth of Venus

September Books
Worked on Anna Karenina... didn't finish it.

October Books
Gabaldon, Diana - Outlander
Flynn, Gillian - Gone Girl
Irving, Washington - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (short story)

November Books
Davis, Kathryn - Versailles: A Novel
December Books
Gabaldon, Diana - Dragonfly in Amber
Moran, Michelle - The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon's Court
Weir, Alison - Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey

Movies (no resolution; just to keep track)
The Artist
Underworld: Awakening
The Hunger Games
Wrath of the Titans
The Avengers
Mirror Mirror
Men in Black 3 
Magic Mike
The Dark Knight Rises
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit
Les Miserables

Friday, December 28, 2012

Things I Believe Thursday VII

BFF is going to love this one...

I believe that counting calories during the holidays should be outlawed.

And to clarify, I believe that this applies to Christmas Eve through New Year's.

(Also, apologize for the tardiness of this entry. Yesterday was my first day back to work after the holiday and it felt like a Monday... in fact I thought it was a Monday until I got home and Husband reminded me at dinner that it was a Thursday.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Things I Believe Thursday VI

Despite my own recent apocalyptic dreams and months of irrational thoughts revolving around Doomsday, I believe that we will all still be here tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Visions of Shamrocks

While everyone else is dreaming of sugar plums and presents under the tree, my mind is filled with visions of half marathon training since this week is officially my first week of training for the Shamrock Half Marathon.

But first, I suppose I should report on what is making this training possible: last Tuesday I officially "graduated" from physical therapy! When Steve walked up to my therapy table with my file in hand and said, "So is today graduation day?" I didn't get what he was saying at first. I suppose that PT has become such a regular part of my life that I hadn't considered the fact that one day I would no longer need it.

Once I realized what "graduation day" meant, I was ecstatic and immediately whipped out the training plan that I had had folded up in the pocket of my Lulu jacket for a month. I shoved it under his nose like a kid showing off their straight "A" report card to Dad and said, "Awesome! So can I do this training plan and the Shamrock Half??"

Steve approved the plan that I had chosen, with a few minor adjustments. This plan is the most conservative little baby beginner half marathon plan ever. Don't laugh when you see it:

Compared with last year, this thing is a breeze. And a good thing too, because I'm afraid that I may have lost more of my cardiovascular endurance than I thought.

My rules for this training cycle are:
  • No back to back days of running. No matter what. I'm already having trouble with this one. It is really hard to not just put on my shoes and go out when I feel like it.
  • No more than 3 days of running per week accompanied by...
  • 2-3 days of cross training.
  • No more than a 10% increase week over week, as much as possible. There are two spots where the increase is slightly more, but they are Steve-approved.
  • As many miles as possible on soft surfaces like the vita course or the median of Monument Avenue, at least through January.
  • Ice foot after each and every run.
With these in mind, I've sketched out a schedule that looks something like this:
  • Monday - Run
  • Tuesday - Cross training: yoga or bike
  • Wednesday - Swim or Rest
  • Thursday - Run
  • Friday - Swim or Rest
  • Saturday - Run
  • Sunday - Swim
Of course I doubt that's how things will actually work out as the training progresses. I might play with the run days and attempt M-W-F instead of a weekend long run. This is what I did last year, and it worked out well. The only problem with that plan is that M-W-F are the best days for swimming at the Y so we'll have to see.

And I've officially just bored you to death. Sorry, I'm just happy I get to use the word "training" again and actually have a plan to plot. Yippee!

So, to my first run this past Monday. Things didn't start out so well. As I changed from work clothes to workout gear, I realized that I had forgotten a sports bra. The thought of sweating into my nice bra was not appealing, but I was scheduled to meet Greg, the weather was nice, and it was only 3 miles.

"Suck it up," I said to myself.

So I did. And boy was I going to regret it.

The run itself was good. Earlier in the day, I had told Greg that he needed to "make sure I don't go too fast" because I was (and am) fighting off a cold and wasn't feeling so hot. By the afternoon I had gotten DayQuil-fueled second wind and the whole not-going-fast thing went out the window. Instead Greg pushed the pace and we ended up running negative splits with Mile 3 being an 8:10.

I felt tired - dog tired - at the end of the 3 miles. I'm still not sure if this is because I've lost THAT much endurance or because of this pesky cold that just refuses to go.

I had also earned myself a first time visit to Chafe City. Wearing my underwire bra to run 3 miles had not been such a good idea. At all. The results are too gruesome to describe in a public blog, but let's just say that it was a very painful post-run shower that evening and Neosporin and Band Aids have replaced Steve in the New Best Friend department.

In positive news, nothing else hurt when we were finished. In fact, these days I've almost forgotten that my foot was broken.


Friday, December 14, 2012

Zen Running

Last night I hit the vita course for my first real no-walking run.

Boy did I need it. It was a rough day at work for me. I'm in the midst of trying to write a grant for funding for new windows in a historic house.

Making new windows sound sexy is difficult. By the time I left, I had a very big headache.

 I got to the course and was taking a moment to stretch when it dawned on me that I didn't have my tunes with me. For a minute I was unsure of how to proceed and considered going back to my car to dig through my gym bag, hoping that the iPod and earphones were in there somewhere. But to be honest, I can't even remember the last time I ran with tunes, so I figured that instead of blasting music directly into my skull for the next 30 minutes, I'd instead take some quiet time.

I'm so glad I did. I spent my first three pure running miles in months tuning into the run, soaking in all those things I had missed.

I listened to my foot falls on the soft gravelly surface. A steady, even, wonderful "thwomp thwomp thwomp."

I concentrated on trying to keep my steps as light as possible.

I heard the swish of my hair as my pony tail swept from side to side on my back and realized that my hair has grown a lot since the last time I ran. I don't remember hearing that sound before.

I paid attention to my breathing, noticing that maybe I'm not quite as out of shape as I thought.

I noticed when I hit that point when I wasn't cold anymore and the wind actually felt good. I forgot how much I love that feeling - when you start out and it's so cold that all you want to do is go back inside, but before you know it you've warmed yourself up and welcome that breeze that you dreaded a mile ago.

I also realized that I have a lot of work to do between now and the half marathon. Even though I felt good, the three miles was still not as easy as I remember.

When my Garmin beeped marking the end of mile 3, I checked in on my pace and was shocked to see that I had completed the 3 miles with an average pace of 8:50. I was even more impressed with myself when I downloaded the full data at home and saw that I somehow managed to run the exact same pace for miles 2 and 3.

Crazy, right? This out of the girl who cannot pace to save her life.

Aside from discovering an ability to maintain speed, the run also solved my headache problem, reminding me just how much better my life is when I'm running.

Feels good to be back.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Things I Believe Thursday V

I believe that it just doesn't feel like Christmas unless it's nice and cold.

...and that snow makes it perfect, though that rarely happens in Richmond, VA.

With that knowledge, you won't be surprised that one of my favorite Christmas movies is White Christmas. Bing and Rosemary are on my side, I can't be wrong.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The New Routine

I think that I have officially gotten used to my new fitness routine... and I think  I'm happy about that.

These days, I'm "running" a 5k once or twice a week, swimming once or twice, and stationary biking once. A far cry from my run, maybe yoga, run, run, run schedule of yore.

Swimming has been the toughest to improve at. After initially taking a week or two to remember how to swim effectively, I found myself at a plateau of around 25 minutes and 1000 yards or meters (depending on whether I was at the Downtown Y or Chester Y). For whatever reason, I just couldn't get past this point.

Back when I was a baby runner, I had the same kind of problem. For me, my wall was the 3 mile mark. For months and months I ran 3 miles on the dot and just couldn't bring myself to go beyond it. Don't ask me why... I guess I was afraid of what would happen if I did. Would I collapse in a heap, too exhausted to move? Would my calf muscles pop off like rubber bands stretched too far? Would I pass out from the exertion? Die of boredom?

I can't remember when I finally broke down the 3 mile barrier, but I obviously managed to do it (I believe with the help of lots of distractions including TV, trashy magazines, and music) and of course, nothing bad happened.

On Wednesday night I hit the pool, expecting to do my usual 25 minutes or 1000 yards, whichever came first. There was only one other person at the pool, which was strange. Usually people are sharing lanes and there is at least a kid's swim class going on. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of people and was able to choose my favorite lane and have it all to myself. I made note of the giant pace clock (36:30) and set off on my laps.

After my first 200 yards, I checked pace and wow... I had finished in 4:30. For me, that's pretty speedy. The next 200 yards of breast stroke were about the same, and I was feeling great, so kept up pace. Before I knew it, I had finished my 1000 yards in 23:30 and I was still feeling good. Usually when I hit the 1000 yard/meter point I'm pretty exhausted and just want to get out, but not that night.

So, I decided to take the plunge (punny!) and let this be the night I go for 1200. I finished the additional 200 yards easily and jumped out feeling like I could have kept going. Finally, I've broken my swimming wall.

My bike wall.... not so much. I loathe the stationary bike. LOATHE. It might get ditched when I can start running for real again.

Not in the mix is my beloved yoga. I can tell that I'm losing the small amount of limberness (Is that a word? Apparently yes... good to know.) and excellent balance that 3 years of practice had given me. I miss the familiar faces and flow of class. I miss Penny, my teacher. I miss feeling both powerful and completely calm at the same time - a feeling I only get from yoga.

The thing that really stinks about it is that I am afraid to go back. When I intially broke my foot my theory was that the fracture had initially taken place in my yoga class when I went too far in a pose. Who knows if that is what really happened... it could just be me looking for a reason for the break. But it has been planted into my brain as a possibility and now I am terrified that if I go back, it will happen again.

Of all the bad things that came out of my injury, the fear is the worst thing. I'm still afraid to truly run again, and now that fear is taking yoga from me too. I'm also afraid to wear high heels (probably a good thing), to jump up and down, to hop over something leading with my left foot, to kick a door shut with my foot, to stomp. It really stinks.

I can only hope that the fear starts to fade. I remember that at my first physical therapy appointment, Steve told me to stand with my weight evenly distributed on my two feet and I was terrified to do it. But I did it and my foot didn't break. At one point I thought I'd never walk normally again (dramatic and silly, but it really did feel like that) and here I am 99% normal.

Someday the confidence will come back, right?

Until then, it's run, bike, swim, run, swim.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Resolution Check In

Running - Goal: Run at least 500 miles this year; run at least 1 half marathon
[Seeing as how I broke my foot and all, I'm going to include miles biked in brackets.]

Through November 30
January: 47 miles
February: 72 miles
March: 80 miles
April: 69.5 miles
May: 76 miles
June: 81 miles
July: 67 miles
August: 108 miles
September: 14 miles [44 miles]
October: [112 miles]
November: 13 miles [44 miles]

Total for the year: 627.5 miles [814.5 miles]

Reading - Goal: Read at least one book per month

January Books
Riggs, Ransom - Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Bray, Libba - A Great and Terrible Beauty

February Books
Moran, Michelle - Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

March Books
Massie, Robert K. - Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman
Sussman, Ellen - French Lessons
Gilbert, Elizabeth - Committed: A Love Story

April Books
Clark, Colin - My Week with Marilyn
Morgenstern, Erin - The Night Circus

May Books
Raybourn, Deanna - Dark Road to Darjeeling
James, P. D. - Death Comes to Pemberley

June Books
Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Ice and Fire Book 3: A Storm of Swords
James, E.L. - 50 Shades of Gray (for the record, I hated this book)

July Books
Martin, George R.R. - A Song of Ice and Fire Book 4: A Feast for Crows
Bronte, Charlotte - Jane Eyre
Mantel, Hillary - Wolf Hall

August Books
Dunant, Sarah - The Birth of Venus

September Books
Worked on Anna Karenina... didn't finish it.

October Books
Gabaldon, Diana - Outlander
Flynn, Gillian - Gone Girl
Irving, Washington - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (short story)

November Books
Davis, Kathryn - Versailles: A Novel

Currently reading:  
Tolstoy, Leo - Anna Karenina (I'm about to throw in the towel on this one)
Gabaldon, Diana - Dragonfly in Amber

Movies (no resolution; just to keep track)
The Artist
Underworld: Awakening
The Hunger Games
Wrath of the Titans
The Avengers
Mirror Mirror
Men in Black 3 
Magic Mike
The Dark Knight Rises
Anna Karenina

Things I Believe Thursday IV

I believe that travel makes you a better person.

It helps you not only learn about what makes us different, but reminds you that really we are all the same.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Better Late Than Never: Jingle Bell Run 5k Recap

You'd think that now that I can finally run again, I'd be writing up a storm. Guess not! I'm terribly delinquent on this race recap.

On Saturday morning, I woke up bright and early at 5:30 am to drive allllllll the way to the Jingle Bell 5k at Stony Point Fashion Park. Last year, I did this race by myself and it was a pretty sad experience. Not wanting a repeat, I set about getting Marcey to do this with me. Luckily, she wasn't very difficult to convince.

We met up 30 minutes before the start of the race so that we could each don our "festive" gear. Last year I did not wear anything festive and felt very left out. Generally, I'm not a big fan of wearing costumes or decoration while running, so I went minimal.

Jingle Bell run indeed.
After tearing ourselves away from the heated seats in Marcey's van, we wandered to the start line about 5 minutes before we were set to begin. Marcey had gamely volunteered to run/walk with me (despite my protests), so we lined up in the middle of the pack of about 300 runners (who knows how many there really were... I'm terrible at estimating this kind of thing).

I hadn't shared this, but my foot hurt all week long last week. I made a very stupid footwear decision on Sunday the 25th and for the rest of the week it felt like I had gone back in time to the beginning of November. My foot hurt again... a lot. I did not run at all leading up to the Jingle Bell, instead opting to swim and bike. I confessed my sins to Steve at PT on Thursday, who was baffled as to why 30 minutes in a pair of high heeled boots would cause my foot to freak out as much as it did. He was also mystified by my decision to wear said boots to the grocery store. (What can I say... my flats looked ridiculous with this particular pair of jeans, ok??)

Despite my nerves about my foot crapping out on me, I wasn't exactly keeping an eagle eye on my Garmin to ensure that we were running exactly one minute and walking one minute. The course for the Jingle Bell 5k starts at the shopping mall then involves some pretty steep hills in two office-complex cul-de-sacs before coming back around to the mall. Sometimes we walked longer if the walking leg was going uphill and then ran longer as we went downhill.

Anyhow, I was extremely nervous about running this 5k, so did not push it as far as pace goes. The race was not officially timed, but the almighty Garmin says we ran it in 34:17 (10:42 min pace), which isn't too shabby considering the run/wak and hills.

In fact, we did so well that we literally jingled our bells off.

I don't have much to report as far the actual race goes because really it was just a vehicle (read: excuse) for getting together with Marcey for a run. It's a pretty casual affair that includes dogs, walkers, strollers, reindeer antlers, and elf costumes. ID's are even required for packet pick up. It's small and generally well-organized and a nice opportunity to raise awareness and money for arthritis.

So "Road to Recovery" race 2 is now complete. The best thing about it was that I got to start AND end with my beloved HMR. Thanks for being there for me, Marcey. You're the best.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Things I Believe Thursday III

I believe that it's a good thing to do something that you don't think you like or aren't good at.

Refusing to participate in things because of these reasons will probably result in the loss of a learning experience. Learning experiences are always good things, whether they are positive or negative.

In the past week, I have been pushed into participating in some hands-on, crafty-type of activities. I am the first person to tell you that I suck at crafting and do not like it, therefore I am loathe to participate.

Though I would never voluntarily seek out a craft myself, I am lucky to have an extremely crafty BFF who forces me to partake in such activities from time to time. On Black Friday I spent the day with her. Our craft project was creating tags for Christmas gifts using old holiday cards and a die cutter.

Here's me as we began the project, demonstrating my typical "I-can't-believe-you're-making-me-craft-again" death stare:

In the end, it turns out that I really enjoyed using the die cutter and could've done so all day long. I was quite disappointed when we ran out of ribbon and had to stop. Our tags turned out quite beautifully too.

AND extra bonus points because we were engaging in some recycling (hippies like me love repurposing!).

But that's not where the do-it-yourself stopped! This morning, I participated in one of Maymont's Wreath  Making Workshops. My very generous boss paid for myself and the three other girls in my department to attend as our holiday gift. I had considered doing a workshop last year, but decided against it because I figured I would just end up annoyed at my lack of skills.

I'm really thankful that Mr. Boss gave me the opportunity to try it out this year. Even though I got very sappy (I hate getting dirty) and had a bit of a slow start, I ended up with a gorgeous wreath that I'm going to be very proud to have on my front door.

And the best part is that I made it with my own 2 hands!

So, even though you may "hate" something (or think you hate it), it might be a good idea to give it a try any anyway. You never know what you might discover in yourself.

By doing this, I've discovered that I'm a runner (the best discovery ever) and that sometimes I kind of like crafts.

But only sometimes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Powerball Dreams

When I worked at the Symphony, I could walk to a convenience store one block away and easily obtain a lottery ticket. I got in the habit of buying a ticket whenever the Mega Millions or Powerball went over $300,000,000.

Now I can no longer walk to a convenience store, so I have stopped my lottery habit. Probabaly just as well, since the most I've ever won was $2.

BUT when the jackpot is as big as the current one, I can't resist. I obtained my ticket this morning on my drive to work and have been dreaming of how to spend my millions ever since.

This handy page on the lottery website has informed me that, should I win, the cash payout will be $232,454,000 after taxes. The annuity payout ends up being more over 30 years, but I'd just take the lump sum. Since I used 4 of my own quarters and 4 quarters pilfered from Husband's change jar to purchase the ticket, I'd have to give half to him, leaving me $116,227,000.

So, when I win the lottery, first things first: invest $50,000,000 to create my own personal endowment with an annual interest pay out of about 7%. Here, I'll do the math for you: this will give me $3.5 million a year to live off of (before taxes).

After that investment and paying off the bills and debts that I currently have, let's just say I'll be left with $66,000,000 to blow. Here's how I'll do it.

1) Fix our housing situation. Our house has been on the market on and off for 2 years with no luck. When I'm a millionaire, I'll be able to purchase a house (houses) where ever I want. We'll start with just 3. And of course Jason would chip in for some of these from his pot o'gold.

Home base will be in Richmond - preferably a Fan or Museum District Rowhouse

Then of course I will have to obtain a loft in Paris...

... preferably on Ille St. Louis

And a row house in London.
2. Take about $30 million to set up a Foundation. It will support general operating for the arts in Maryland and Virginia because God knows it is desperately needed.

3. I'd finally purchase the red Volvo C70 that I have coveted for years.

4) Pay off my parents' house and my brother's house, then give my parents enough money to invest so that they can quit their jobs and retire to the beach. Sorry to my bro, but he needs to work a few years more, then we'll talk.

5) Quit my job and become a Richmond lady-who-lunches inbetween my springs in Paris and summers in London and falls spent globe trotting.

6) Give BFF enough money to invest so that she can quit her job and be her own nanny. Also bring her to Paris for a least 2 weeks a year (or however long she wants to stay).

7) Buy as much Lululemon as I want.

8) Hire a personal stylist, hair dresser, and make up artist to fix me up every day.

9) Build a tricked out home gym ... in every one of my houses.

10) Use my free time to pursue all of my favorite things: running, playing music, traveling, cooking. When I get bored with those, maybe start a music studio and teach flute again. Or, better yet, become a running coach because I really like helping people get into running.

11) I've always wanted a Burberry purse and trenchcoat.

12) Season tickets to the Boston Symphony. And Tanglewood. Hm. Come to think of it, I might need to spend a month during the summer in Boston every year.

Hm. I'm running out of ideas. $66,000,000 is a lot of cash!

So, what would you do with your lottery winnings?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Race Report: HCC Turkey Trot 5k

Well lookie there! A race report!  I can hardly believe I'm writing one.

At the beginning of the month my physical therapist Steve gave me the ok to run/walk the annual Hagerstown Community College Turkey Trot 5k. I did the race last year with BFF - after sticking with her for one mile I set out on my own for the final 2 and ended up with a time of 27:47. It was a nice way to start Thanksgiving, and since I was again in Hagerstown this year, I was anxious to do it again.

But I was also pretty nervous about doing this race. Even though one of the things I want to do most in the world is just go out and run like I used to, part of me is still afraid to do it. I think that's what I hate the most about this broken foot - a nagging voice in my brain will forever be there wondering if what I'm doing will cause the bone to break again. Every time I run it is in the back of my mind, and I'm afraid it will never go away. This being my first "race" since the break, I couldn't stop wondering if I was pushing it, if I was going to re-break myself somehow, or if it was really going to hurt.

Anyhow, Thanksgiving morning in Hagerstown was cold and cloudy. I stalled at my parents' house for as long as possible because standing outside in the cold was not appealing to me. After scraping off my frosted windshield, Husband and I headed to the community college.

Once again, I was meeting BFF, her husband, and her mother. BFF was running late, so I went into the gymnasium to pick up our packets. I then sat on the floor for at least 20 minutes trying to figure out how to attach my timing chip to my shoe.

Seriously... I hate these things.
  Once I finally figured out how to attach the timing chip (duh, plastic cables that I didn't realize were in the baggie), I talked Husband into taking a pre race photo for me.

 We hung out in the gymnasium waiting for BFF and her husband (BFFH)) to arrive. Finally I spotted BFFH and BFF wasn't far behind. They were much quicker about getting their bibs and timing chips on, so we had enough time to take a pre-race photo.

Yep, that's BFF. She's cooking herself a turkey, so she wasn't going to run.

After photos, announcements asked us all to move outside so we did (begrudgingly). Husband went to get a seat on the bleachers next to the finish line, which was inside of the gymnasium. We lined up at the back of the pack of about 1400 runners and accidentally talked through 3/4 of the national anthem.

My plan was to do my run 1 minute-walk 1 minute routine for the entire 5k, barring any pain or unforseen circumstances. After the test run with Greg on the vita course, I figured it would take me around 40 minutes to complete the course, so that was my goal.

Somehow I managed to convince BFFH that he should come along on the run/walk with me. Mind you, he has not run like... ever. But he was a good sport and said he'd try to stay with me. After the starting gun, it took us a while to actually cross the line and when we did, BFFH and I started off with a running minute. Because we had started way in the back we were not able to move very quickly - the course was extremely crowded with lots of walkers, people with dogs, and people with children and strollers. I tested my foot big time, dodging in and out and running on the grass alongside the road to pass people.

Once we got past the main group of walkers we were able to maintain a pretty decent average pace of ~11:00 minute miles. When we were running I'd estimate we were moving along at about a 9 minute pace, and when we walked we were booking it.

BFFH held up very well during the first mile and a half and then I could tell he was getting tired. I tried to keep him talking during the running minute and had some fun playing personal running coach to him (come on, just 10 more seconds then we can walk!). When more room started to free up around us we started doing games during the running minute. BFFH really was a good sport - I know it was hard for him but having someone doing the run/walk routine with me was immensely helpful.

As we came within sight of the gymnasium, I decided I was going to go all out and haul a$$ to the finish no matter what. I was feeling great. There was no pain and I wasn't even breathing hard (at all). So I opened the throttle and took off. I wish that I had a fancy Garmin that could tell me exactly how fast I ran during the last .25 mile because it felt like the speed of light to me.

I flew past people left and right and sped over the finish line. It felt awesome. My Garmin moving time was 33:09 (total time, 33:38... I'm guessing the discrepency happened when I stopped to tie my shoe). This is a PR for SLOWEST 5K TIME EVER. Yay?!

Even though I hate run/walk, I do love the crazy pace chart it creates.

Husband's main purpose in coming was to provide moral support and also to take photos and/or video of my finish. Unfortunately, he failed on that count. Instead we took some post race photos while we waiting for BFF and her momma to finish.

Personally, I couldn't have been happier with my performance. Despite the run/walk routine, it only took me 6 more minutes to complete the race over last year. I had no pain whatsoever throughout the course. Even though it made me nervous to do so, changing directions, darting in between other runners, and going "off road" felt fine. My breathing remained calm and steady throughout the race too... giving me hope that I didn't lose as much cardio during my time off as I feared.

Now I'm looking forward to this Saturday's Jingle Bell Run 5k , the second race in my "Back in the Saddle Series." Marcey (aka HMR) and I are going to run it together and I picked up some fun surprise accessories for us.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Things I Believe Thursday II

I believe that Thanksgiving dinner always tastes the best when your parents make it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Richmond Rave: Chihuly at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Here in little old Richmond, we are lucky enough to have a world-class fine arts museum - the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

I can hear your groan right now - geesh, first this girl tries to convince me to go the Symphony, now she wants me to go look at paintings?

Just give me a minute, ok?

Ever since the VMFA reopened in May 2010 after years of major renovation and building, they have been trotting out one fabulous exhibit after another. I went to Picasso, Elvis at 21, Xu Bing's Tobacco Project, Farbrege Revealed, Mocha Dick, and Tiffany: Color and Light and loved every single one.

Don't tell the others... but Fabrege was my favorite... until now.

Chihuly, the current exhibition, has unseated them all. Teka and I hit it up on the Friday before the marathon.

If you've never heard of Chihuly - ok let's be real... you probably haven't - he is a completely awe-inspiring, phenomenally-talented, eye-patch wearing American glass artist whose work is nothing short of amazing.

What makes the eye patch even more bad-ass?
He got it when a car accident threw him through a windshield
and the glass cut his face.
The GLASS... which he continues to use to create amazing art!
His work is everywhere from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

The current exhibition at VMFA features 6 rooms of Chihuly's works plus an outdoor sculpture that was completed over the summer and a large (and by large, I mean GIGANTIC) chandelier installation in the main lobby of the Museum.

There are many many reasons why I love this exhibit. First, and most simply, the art is both breath-takingly impressive and  accessible. I can guarantee that everyone who goes to see this will enjoy it. A lot of people don't like to go to fine art museums because they think they won't "get it" and will therefore look less-than-intelligent (or some other silly thing).

It's impossible to not "get" Chihuly. I mean, look  at this stuff:

(all photos taken by me legally  at the VMFA exhibit)

Second, I just kind of love Dale Chihuly. The guy is a no-nonsense bad-ass artist. For $5, I got the audio guide for the exhibit, which featured Chihuly himself. I hadn't yet experienced the artist telling me about his art (since most of the art I go see is by long-dead artists...), so it was a treat. It was even more fun because his explanations were very frank and to the point. Usually they were something like, "I like the way it looked, so I just went with it." Or, "I wanted to use every color of this material that is possible to create, so I did."

No pretending like he is some inspired gift from God - he just does his thing, and if it turns out cool, well, cool.

Love it.

I also think it is awesome that Chihuly allows photography in his exhibitions. Nine times out of ten, photos inside of ticketed exhibits are a no no, for understandable reasons - if I go in an photograph every thing in the exhibit then post it on my blog, why would anyone then go pay to see it?

Chihuly's works are different though. They are so complex that there is no way that photos can do them justice. Every person will notice something different about each installtion - each person will make Chihuly their own when they see it for themselves. What you see in my pictures are what I got out of the exhibit - which will be completely different from what you get from it.

Plus he has an eye-patch. Which just makes him that much more awesome.

Third, the exhibition is large enough to feel fulfilling but small enough to not feel like you just want to be finished. I loved the Fabrege exhibition, for instance, but it felt like they just threw every piece of (non-interesting) Fabrege that they could find into it along with the real draw, the Imperial Easter Eggs. Yes, some of it was also very interesting, beautiful, and cool... but it was a bit of overkill. It took forever to get through that exhibit... even longer  than forever if you were with a group of people who wanted to look at every.single.blessed.piece.

You can go see and appreciate the Chihuly in 30 minutes. Of course you can linger if you want to (I revisited my favorite room, which I'm going to share in a minute), or you can go through faster than that, though I don't know why you'd want to. I think that Teka and I took about 40 minutes.

The final, and biggest reason, I love this exhibit: the Persian Ceiling installation. I could have sat under that ceiling for hours and never have been bored. Actually, I might go back just so I can sit in that room for a while.

Teka taking it all in.
So this weekend, after you've gorged yourself on Thursday and shopped like a fool on Friday, perhaps a visit to Chihuly is in order.

In fact, I insist. You won't be sorry, and everyone will enjoy it.

The lowdown:
  • The exhibit runs through Feb 10, 2013 but take it from me - you do NOT want to go in the last month of its run. I did that with Picasso and the place was a complete zoo. Go now, before everyone panics because it's going to be gone soon and they haven't gone to see it yet. Crowds are not conducive to art viewing. Go now when it's quiet and you have plenty of time to enjoy and dawdle.
  • Cost is $20 per adult, $16 for seniors 65+, students with ID, adult groups of 10+, and youth ages
    7 – 17, FREE for VMFA Members. I highly advise getting a membership. Mine has paid for itself many times over... plus it gives you free parking. Speaking of which...
  • Parking can be found in the VMFA parking deck (accessible from Boulevard or Sheppard Street), $5 for non-members, FREE for members (get a membership!). There's plenty of free street parking around, but sometimes finding a spot is harder than it should be.
  • You are allowed to take photos in the exhibit, which is unusual (no flash).
  • If you haven't already done so, take some time to explore the rest of the VMFA. The permanent collections are free and they are wonderful. I especially love the East Asian Collection.
  • Museum hours vary, so check out their website.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Last night I engaged in another highly stimulating "run" around the vita course.

(can you sense the sarcasm?)

Truth be told, running 1 minute and then walking 1 minute is not exactly the most enjoyable experience. It goes something like this:

[Running minute] This feels so awesome. I'm running again. I can't believe it. I'm faster than the wind, light as a feather, graceful as a gazelle. I never want to stop!

[Garmin interrupts feelings of happiness] Beep! Beep! Beep! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

[Walking minute] Ugh dammit. Time to walk already? Blah. Just remember... be thankful that you are at least able to run for a minute. Remember crutches? Remember how much that sucked? God this minute is taking f...o..r...e...v...e...r.

[Garmin] Beep! Beep! Beep! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

[Running minute] Oh THANK GOD. Man, running is so much faster and enjoyable than walking. Look at all the ground I'm covering! And nothing hurts! Seriously, I could forev...

[Garmin] Beep! Beep! Beep! Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

[Walking minute] DAMMIT!


Essentially this.
Credit: Fredrik Broden for Newsweek

This whole thing is only made tolerable by the presence of a running buddy (in this case, poor Greg, who seriously has the patience of a saint), whose presence distracts during the walking minutes.

I wanted to push last night's work out a bit and complete a 5k so I could get an idea of how long it's going to take me to complete the Turkey Trot that I've signed up for on Thanksgiving. Last year I ran the same race in 27:47.

Anyhow, we ran/walked for 2 miles (22 minutes) and then walked the final mile (18 minutes... uuuuuuuuuugh). Based on last night's test, I'll be thrilled if I break 40:00 this year.

Despite the bi-polar nature of my emotions while completing this "run", when I got into my car afterwards I was cheerful and high on life.

How I miss those running endorphins! I bet my husband does too, because I'm much more pleasant to be around when I'm high on running 80% of the time.

The good news is that this morning my foot isn't as sore as it was after last Monday's "run". Yay for progress.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Hey look! I made one of the slideshows from Saturday.

Image Source

Things I Believe Thursday I

While driving to my physical therapy appointment this morning, I heard a segment on my local public radio station called "This I Believe." Here's what it is all about:

"This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives. Some 100,000 of these essays, written by people from all walks of life, are archived here on our website, heard on public radio, chronicled through our books, and featured in weekly podcasts. The project is based on the popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow." (from

What a cool project, right?

I've been trying to come up with some kind of weekly feature for the blog and struggling a bit. There are the standbys of the blogging world ("Thankful" day, "Worldless" day, "What I Ate" day, etc) but I wanted to do something a little different.

So, I'm going to do a take off on This I Believe (mainly because This I Believe is copyrighted!) and call my little series Things I Believe Thursday. Like most people, lots of weird and random thoughts covering a huge variety of subjects cross my mind every day. I'm hoping the series will be an illuminating look at the crazy mish mash of things that drive me and make me who I am. 

So without further ado, may I present Things I Believe Thursday #1.

I believe that Christmas/holiday music should not be allowed until December 1.

The fact that our local light radio station is already playing Christmas music 24/7 makes me feel very hostile. November is for fall and Thanksgiving. NOT FOR CHRISTMAS.

On a lighter note, I also believe that an awesome paisely pencil skirt automatically makes any day better.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This Happened Last Night

A lovely fall evening, as the sun set over Byrd Park...

It took the Garmin a long time to wake up after 2 months of rest...

...but I could barely contain my excitement as I set out on my first outdoor "run" since Labor Day weekend!

Two laps around the Physical-Therapist approved Vita Course (flat, soft surface)

This is what 1 minute run/walk intervals look like.
The dip after minute 16 is when I stopped to tie my shoe. Love it.
The running minutes flew by.
The walking minutes dragged on forever.
But it was great.

My worst 1.8 mile time ever but it feels so good!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Race Report: Richmond Marathon Part 2

Now to the big day - race day!

I woke up bright and early with no problem - just like a kid on Christmas morning. The truth is, I'd been looking forward to this day with great anticipation for one reason and one reason only: I had plotted a wonderful surprise for my dear friend Marcey, a.k.a Hot Mother Runner, a.k.a. HMR.

A few weeks ago we were having a happy hour together and I told her about my plan to hand out medals from 11 am - 3 pm. This time frame was well after her race would be finished - she was signed up for the 8k, which started at 7 am. She said, "That's awesome but geesh - I really am  doing this all alone, aren't I??"

She was totally joking with me, but I couldn't stop thinking about what she had said. You see, HMR and I are often each other's "person" at races. We meet up before hand, we stretch, we get to the start, we psych each other up, we run together for the first mile or so, and at the end we are there for each other. Earlier this year when she accidentally locked her keys in her car and had to miss the Monument Avenue 10k, we met up a few weeks later to do our own personal Monument Avenue 10k together. On my first day back to work after I broke my foot, Marcey brought me a Starbucks Latte and commiserated with me.

We are just there for each other. It's what we do. So the thought of Marcey running the 8k by herself and having no one waiting for her at the finish line was breaking my heart.

As I drove home from our happy hour, I was already plotting my surprise. I laid the groundwork very carefully. We had another "date" two weeks before the race (at which I helped Marcey lose her Lululemon V-card). We talked about her race day plans (mainly her outfit). The night before the race I called her for a pep talk and to go through the next day: What time are you waking up? What time are you leaving? Where are you parking? Do you have your stuff laid out? Including your knee brace? How about gloves? Tissues?

I told her that if she needed a final pep talk in the morning to call me. She protested that it would be too early. "Don't worry about it!" I reassured her. "I'll answer the phone, give you your pep talk, and then roll over and go back to sleep in my warm bed while you go run 5 miles in the cold!"

The morning of the race, Marcey texted me a photo of her standing outside of her car with her key in her hand (she is now terrified that she'll lock herself out of the car again on a race morning). I texted back, "Excellent." Little did she know I was on my way to the finish line to meet her.

Because I was volunteering, I was able to park for free in a deck relatively close to the finish festival. I got there at 7:00 and hussled over to the finish line area, which was still very deserted. As I approached, the first 8k finishers were coming across the line. I was able to get a prime spot to along the barrier fencing to watch for Marcey. I was terrified that I would miss her, so I didn't take my eyes off the course for a minute. My grand plan included getting some great action shots or video of her as she came down the hill and across the finish line, so I had my iPhone in my hands, set to camera, waiting patiently for 25 minutes.

Keeping my camera awake and scanning the 8k runners for HMR

Then there she was! I was so frantic to get her attention that I ditched the idea of trying to get a picture and threw my phone in my pocket, taking an accidental photo of the ground and my foot in the process:

I leaned over the barrier and started flailing my arms and screaming "MARCEY!!!! MARCEY!!!!" at the top of my lungs. She looked my way but didn't seem to figure out that the crazy person nearly falling over the barrier was me and then the recognition swept over her face and she yelled "KBP!!!!" I took off running (yes, running!) along the chute so I could catch her.

She was so surprised. She really had no idea I was going to be there. It was the best feeling EVER.

We engaged in a quick photo session because the finish festival was in just a beautiful location and I wanted to indulge Marcey with some gorgeous photos.

My favorite of the bunch.
After we left the finisher area we went directly to Starbucks and had coffee and sweets (very berry cake for me, banana nut bread for Marcey). We chilled out for a while before parting, but not before a giant hug.

Mission 1: Give Marcey the surprise of her life - check.

So, having accomplished my first goal of the day, I headed back to the finisher area to start my volunteer shift. I had been looking forward to handing out medals almost  as much as I had been looking forward to surprising HMR.

It turned out to be as rewarding and wonderful as I imagined. I think that handing out medals is by far the best job when it comes to volunteering at a race.

Marathon Hardware, ready for distribution
I probably "medaled" 200 people, and every one of them was inspiring. I tried to imagine how I would feel as a runner and made a real effort to take a moment to give each person a heart felt congratulations. If their name was on their bib or shirt, I said "Congratulations, Jane. Great job!" as I put their medal over their head. Or as they came toward me, I greeted them. "How ya doing, Jane? Looking great! Let's get you some hardware!"

It was interesting to see all of the different emotions and reactions in the marathoners.

Some cried (though from exhaustion or emotions, I couldn't tell).

Some wanted to stage photos of the "medal ceremony" (who knows how many Facebook walls I showed up on that day).

Some were shocked that I was willing to put the medal over their head and touch their sweaty necks and hair.

Some smiled so big that it looked like their faces were going to crack.

I gave a medal to a man celebrating his 70th birthday by completing his 4th marathon.

I gave a medal to a 12 year old girl who had just completed the course with her mom.

And best of all, I got to give a medal to my running buddy Greg, who PR'd that day.

Greg, rocking his medal and a new marathon PR!

At the end of my shift, I felt uplifted and excited, if not a bit exhausted. I had been standing on my feet (namely, a certain just-healed-formerly-broken-foot) for 6 hours. The medals were surprisingly heavy and when my arms were full of them, it proved quite a workout to loop them around the runners' necks. And I had forgotten to put extra sunscreen on that morning, so I had some sunburn.

But I was happy.

It was a powerful and humbling experience. If you've never volunteered at a race, I would encourage you to do so... runner or not.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race Report: Richmond Marathon Part 1

I can hardly believe that it's over - a day I had been dreading and looking forward to for more than 2 months.

And what a wonderful experience it was!

Race weekend started for me at the expo on Friday afternoon. I had signed up to hand out bib numbers, and with memories of the Ukrop's Monument Ave 10k expo (which is held in the same building) still in my head, I was expecting it to be a complete zoo in there. What I neglected to remember was that 40,000 people run the 10k and only about 19,000 participate in the marathon, half-marathon, or 8k (only... as if 19,000 runners aren't a lot). Anyhow, it wasn't too terribly busy at all, though there was a steady stream of people.

Bibs with a smile at the expo.
Handing out bibs turned out to be interesting study in people watching. The first thing I noticed was the amazing diversity of the runners: I handed out bibs to 15 year olds and a 75 year old, women, men, girls, boys, Virginias, Marylanders, North and South Carolinians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, Illinoisans (I had to look that one up!), skinny people, not-so-skinny people, women with babies strapped to their chests or in strollers, seasoned runners, and first timers.

It was easy to pick out the first timers - they were either super excited and told me so, or they were visibly nervous and not sure what to do. I loved it when people came up and said, "I'm just so excited to be here!"

Two gentlemen stand out most in my mind: one was the 75 year old man who came to pick up his half-marathon bib. 75 and still running. Wow. I just wanted to hug him and then ask his secret. The other was a middle aged man who came up and seemed stressed. I asked, "How are you doing?" and he just shook his head and said, "Ya know, terrible. Just terrible."

And before I knew it he was telling me his story - he had blown his knee a few weeks ago and was just picking up his bib even though he knew he wouldn't be able to run. I could tell he was extremely upset - I swear he almost cried while standing talking to me. I told him my own story and I told him that he will run again and that I know exactly how he feels. He seemed so grateful but it really broke my heart.

My four hour shift was finished in a flash and it was off to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to meet Teka and check out the Chihuly exhibit. If you haven't been, get thyself there - it's truly fabulous.

After being wowed by Chihuly, we walked to nearby Caliente for dinner and then I haded home to bed to get some shut eye - even though I wasn't running, I still needed to be up at 5:15 a.m.

(to be continued)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Marathon Eve

It's finally here- marathon eve.

When I first got injured, I thought that I would want to be as far away as possible from Richmond this weekend. But I changed my mind. I decided that instead of hiding from this weekend, I would embrace it.

Today, I'm focusing on what I CAN do this weekend instead of what I CAN'T do.

I can go help my buddy Greg with his carb loading by meeting him for lunch at Noodles & Co.

I can be a good ambassador for Richmond and a smiling face at the race expo this afternoon, where I'll be handing out bib numbers.

I can go see the Chihuly exhibit and get dinner with Teka tonight.

I can hand out medals (or possibly blankets, but I hope medals) at the finish line tomorrow while wearing this ridiculous hat:

Bad self portraits FTW.

I can wish all of my running buddies (both in real life and in blog life) who are running Richmond the best of luck: Marcey, Caitlin, Greg, Jessica, Katie (Marathon Winer), Christine (These Happy Miles), Allison (Runner In Progress), and anyone that I forgot. You will all rock it and I am so proud of all of you!

I can take my bad mojo away and provide gorgeous weather. If I was running tomorrow, I can guarantee the forecast would not be as perfect as it is.

I can look forward to next year, when I'm determined to rock this marathon myself.

If you are running tomorrow, look for me at the finish. I would honored to give you your medal (or in worst case scenario... your blanket that you won't need because it will be warm).

Also look for me at the Expo today, somewhere in the race bib distribution area.

I'll be tweeting what I'm up to all weekend, follow me @firedancerk8