Sunday, August 29, 2010


My life is basically one big schedule. We schedule pretty much everything around here. From meals to naps to grocery store trips to playdates with friends. Bedtime, bathtime, dinner-time, wake up times are all all scheduled. And when we're marathon training, all runs are scheduled.

Case and point: yesterday we were scheduled to run 16 miles. The plan was simple... I'd get up early and get out the door before 7am. This would get me home by 10 and D could run in the later afternoon. This schedule has worked for us in the past.

K woke up 11 minutes before my alarm went off. To some this might sound upsetting, but she slept from 8:30-5:45. This is a HUGE success for us. I woke up feeling rested. She joined me for some breakfast and several glasses of water. We then went upstairs together. I passed her off to D and headed out for my run.


My run took me through Rock Creek Park and down towards The Mall. As I approached mile 5 the path along RCP got really crowded. It was full of college students. At 7:30 IN THE MORNING.

What the heck?

As I passed them and asked each group to walk single-file (they were monopolizing the path and really making me and the other runners/bikers mad), I remember thinking to myself wow Georgetown is serious about orientation events. They have their freshman out here with box lunches before 8am on their first Saturday of college.

What a crazy thought!

As I passed the Watergate Hotel, traffic along the sidewalks really increased. There were individuals walking around with crazy big cameras and press passes.

What the heck?

That's when I realized that there was a protest/rally going on. There was no orientation event. It was the big event on The Mall.

Freaking Glenn Beck.

I proudly ran AGAINST the flow of participants across the Memorial Bridge. And I kindly gave directions to a father and son hopelessly lost along the Mt Vernon Trial. I then had to detour my run because running along The Mall was out of the question. I back-tracked near the site of the MLK Jr Museum and the FDR Memorial. And then I headed home.

As I was running home, I realized that not only do I need to create and adhere to my own schedules, but in DC I need to be aware of what is going on when because these types of big events can mess with my scheduled running routes.

AH... one more thing to consider each week while scheduling everything.

I'm freaking exhausted. Time to schedule a nap.

Friday, August 27, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This week has been full of highs and lows. Nothing has been ordinary or part of the status-quo.

The week's lows include:

1. K face planting on the sidewalk in front of our house on Sunday afternoon. She has a scratched up nose to show for the fall.

2. three nights of terrible sleeping. K was up most of Sunday night - crying, whining, sweating, screaming, being all around grumpy. Turns out three of her molars (2 year) are coming in.

3. rushing to school Monday morning after a night of very little sleep only to find out my 9am class was canceled.

4. a failed attempt to make chick-pea mushroom burgers last night. The recipe (which I couldn't find online and therefore tried to remember) ended up producing a chick-pea mushroom cake. I tried to make burgers, but they burned terribly and I burned my finger. D ended up baking all of the batter in the oven. It looked terrible. It was a dense, protein-filled bake. D said it is our own version of Lembas bread.

5. two failed running attempts - Monday evening and Tuesday morning. I have really slacked on my marathon training this week.

On the flip-side, this week has had some GREAT moments:

1. my new camera (new-to-me) arrived. I am so excited to start using it - if only I could find my SD card (K has hidden it).

2. I made homemade gnocchi this week and it was great. Definitely makes up for the burgers disaster.

3. K and I secured passports for ourselves and they will arrive before our trip abroad.

4. I submitted my general research plan for my dissertation. Here's hoping it is approved on September 9th.

5. ran a stellar 4 mile race yesterday. Finished running up a huge hill. Final time: 33:06 (8:15 per mile) and it felt SO GOOD!

6. K slept until 6 this morning and I forgot to set my alarm. I slept for 7.5 glorious hours with little interruption!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Anyone who has run the Marine Corps Marathon knows a thing or two about the 14th Street Bridge.

First and foremost, this is the bridge that runners have to be across before the six hour mark or else they will not be allowed to finish the race. That's right, the bridge is re-opened to traffic six hours after the start of the race. If you don't "beat the bridge", they taxi you across the bridge by car and allow you to finish. But in fact you do not actually finish the marathon - you come up about 1.5 miles short.

I was worried we might not beat the bridge the first time I ran the MCM; however, we crossed it with time to spare.

Other important things to know about the 14th Street Bridge:

1. usually there is a great food stop around mile 22 right after you cross the bridge. In 2005 there were Subway cookies and in 2006 there were Sport Beans. I have always looked forward to the mile 22 food during the MCM. It, along with fresh oranges at mile 6, is my favorite part of the race.

2. shortly after exiting the bridge, runners enter Crystal City. The fans in CC are great. And there is free beer for all runners. That's right a group (mostly guys) sits on the side of the course with a keg and they offer dixie cups of beer to all runners. During my first MCM, I started to hear rumors of beer at mile 22 around mile 19. Really? Beer for runners? It was crazy entering CC only to see that there was beer and that runners were drinking it - with 4.2 miles to go.

For me, personally, the 14th Street Bridge has some running significance. During my first MCM I tripped running up the on-ramp and really hurt my toe. I was so tired and had never run more than 20 miles. Running up the on-ramp I simply lost focus and fell. It hurt. I hate that bridge! A nice, slightly drunk spectator sitting on the bridge offered me Advil and gatorade after falling. I was surprised by his kindness, but passed. I'm not one to take drugs from a stranger. In 2006, I had a great run until I reached the bridge. With less than five miles to go, I considered not finishing the marathon while running across the bridge. I had no motivation left inside of me. D was thankfully running with me. He encouraged me across the bridge and once we were in CC I was spurred on by the crowd. Truth be told, that bridge was nearly the end of my 2006 race.

My reason for talking about the 14th Street Bridge is because the bridge played a major part in my 15 mile run today. I set out from home this morning about an hour later than planned. I totally forgot to set my alarm. I hit the road around 7:15am. My first 8.25 miles were raced as part of the Mama Goes Masters virtual race (yes, I ran two of the three distances in a 72 hour period). First 8.25 miles was at a 9:52 pace - not as fast as I'd hoped, but not bad. I'll take it.

I finished my 8.25 miles at the on-ramp to the 14th Street Bridge in Virginia. I was ready to head back into the District and home. My plan was to walk the on-ramp to the bridge. I had fears of falling again and I also needed some slower speeds to break open my power bar. I was chomping away on my mid-run snack and gearing up to run again when I stumbled upon a pile of puke.

And when I see puke it makes me want to puke.

Fighting the need to puke I kept walking. Several minutes later I thought I was ready to run again; stomach was settling. That's when the smell hit me; the smell of crap (literally I'm talking about poop). DC has an old sewage system and when it rains too hard the sewage system overflows into the stormwater drainage system (the two systems are in fact combined). We had crazy hard rains earlier this week. The rains caused the sewage to drain into the Potomac. And the big barges underneath the 14th Street Bridge served as a dam for all the poop. So running over the bridge one smelled several days old raw sewage. The smell made me want to throw up AGAIN.

So I continued to walk.

I ended up walking the entire length of the bridge.

I went back to running at the off-ramp. I refilled my water bottle at the Jefferson Memorial and ran home from there. It was a long, uphill run home.

I did walk one steep incline knowing I wouldn't finish the rest of the run if I ran that specific hill.

I wanted to quit about 1000 times between the Jefferson Memorial and home, but I kept plugging along. When I was about three miles from the end of my run I started to feel really good. I stopped for a water refill and chugged along until my desired end.

I walked about a mile home from there.

Post-run I snacked on granola bars and scrambled eggs. I've had two bottles of gatorade and too many glasses to count of water. For lunch we had carmelized onions and sauteed cabbage with fresh lemon squeezed on top. It was wonderful.

I have a headache from dehydration, which I typically get after any run longer than 10 miles.

All in all, it was a good run except for the 14th Street Bridge.

Friday, August 20, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


And today I am getting stuff done.

  • Got to school early this morning - no traffic complications - and got a parking spot on the ground floor of the garage. Score.
  • Finished a statistical analysis for my advisor that has been hanging over my head for a couple of days. Made some nice looking tables to summarize my results.
  • Completed my General Research Plan for my dissertation and sent it to my committee members. Assuming no major problems, the plan will be submitted for approval in September.
  • Registered for my last class EVER. Yes, I posted in the spring that I was ABD, but I was NER (not exactly right). Turns out I am a class short. So I am taking a cancer epidemiology class this semester. Nothing beats a class at 9am EVERY Monday morning for the next 15 weeks.
  • Several weeks ago I registered for a virtual race - Mama Goes Masters. A local marathon-running mama is getting ready to celebrate her 40th birthday. In honor of this big event, she's hosting a virtual race of varying distances - 4.0 miles, 8.25 miles (her b-day is 8/25), or 40K (which can be broken into two runs). Technically, the race should take place between August 20-25, but I have a free afternoon ahead of me and all of my running gear in my backpack. I'm going to head home and run two loops of my 4.13 mile course. That will be 8.26 miles for me (I'm going to cut it short by 0.01 miles and make it EXACTLY 8.25 - promise). Looking forward to racing this afternoon.

Yesterday I left school a few minutes early anticipating a long drive home (it was still raining). To my surprise, I made it home in record time. K and I went to pick up our CSA share - she wore her new rain boots (pictured here). We rushed home and had dinner at our house with friends. D made three pizzas: 1) roasted bell pepper; 2) shrimp; and 3) corn. Each was also topped with roasted tomatoes and onions and fresh cheese. The pizzas were paired nicely with a Rose' wine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I woke up this morning to a crying TODDLER at 3am. She needed a diaper change and some milk.

As I climbed back into bed (less than an hour before my alarm was to go off) it was pouring outside. When my alarm did go off it was still pouring outside, and there was thunder and lightening. I'm pretty hard-core when it comes to running in not-so-good weather, but this was out of the question. So I skipped my morning run. Instead I grabbed an extra half hour of sleep, got up and dressed and headed off to school a full 10 minutes earlier than I normally do.

Each morning when I head out I have a cup of tea or coffee in tow. This morning was no different.

I rushed out of the house umbrella and coffee in-hand. I manged to stay relatively dry despite the crazy rain. I headed off on my normal route to school. About 15 minutes into the drive traffic started to back up. Ten minutes later things were so bad I found myself in some suburban neighborhood navigating myself north/northeast; hoping to find the beltway or 95 North. I managed to do so only to discover that I haven't avoided the cause of the delay. I was STILL stuck in traffic. Half an hour later I arrived at the scene of the accident only to be detoured through yet another suburban neighborhood. Thankfully I was closer to 95 now. I had dreams of being at school in half an hour; 45 minutes tops (with the rain and all).

I realized as I merged onto the highway that I had finished my morning coffee already.

I was bored in traffic so I drank.

One travel mug of coffee with skim milk in the car plus two glasses of water with breakfast.

Combine this with more than an hour sitting in traffic and you have the PERFECT STORM...

I had to go to the bathroom. HARD.

I passed the only rest stop along the highway thinking it would be smooth sailing into Baltimore. I could not have been more wrong. Traffic was backed up onto the highway entering the city. And once I got into the city I believe I hit EVERY.SINGLE.REDLIGHT.KNOWN.TO.HUMANKIND.

I thought my bladder was going to burst.

I got out of the car and felt like I was pregnant again. My center of gravity was all off.

Things were so bad I couldn't walk the three or so blocks to school. I ducked into a local eatery and used one NASTY public restroom. And I couldn't have been happier.

In short, my trip to school was about an hour and 20 minutes longer than normal. I do believe there was a fatality at the accident that caused the traffic delay. I nearly wet myself coming into work.

And when I finally arrive at my desk, I find out my advisor could not make it in today. I totally could have worked from home as we've communicated all day via email.

I did get a free lunch from the grad school this afternoon - it's orientation for the new students - and the lemon bars they had for dessert were delightful.

On top of all of this, I forgot my running shoes at home. So I cannot run at the gym today. Cross-training is even out because my Danskos will not cut it at the gym.

And it is still raining outside.

Is it Thursday yet?!?!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


In high school and college, DOUBLES were a way of life.

And by doubles I mean two swim practices a day. During high school I would arrive at school before the sun was up several mornings a week and not leave until after sunset. I had a severe vitamin D deficiency. In college on days where we had double practices, my hair would not dry. I'd throw it into a ponytail after morning practice and it would still be wet when I went to put on my cap for afternoon practice.

Doubles are hard. Getting up at 5am to practice only to return to the pool six or seven hours later to practice AGAIN is crazy. And I think I was crazy because I did doubles for eight years.

When I finished swimming in college, I swore off double practices.

I was fine with getting up early to exercise before work or school OR working out at the end of the day. BUT NOT BOTH.

This all changed when I trained for my first triathlon. I trained with Team In Training and the workout schedule was intense. In order to get into triathlon shape, I did doubles a couple of times a week. I'd scoot off to the gym at 5:30am and then go out for a run with a co-worker at the end of the day. It was intense, but I was single, lived 15 minutes from work, didn't have homework or a dissertation, didn't have a baby, and had nice salary (so I could join the gym close to work).

Now-a-days double workouts seem out of the question. I feel like I'm juggling too many things as it is. I've said "no" to several people recently who wanted me to do this or help out with that. How on earth could I fit in a double?

Well, yesterday I did just that. My father asked if I wanted to do a morning bike ride. It sounded like a good idea. And I knew we'd have a good time together. I also knew that I had an 8 mile training run to fit in. And I want to stick to my training schedule as much as possible.

So I did the 10 miles on the bike with my dad in the morning. Then before dinner time I went out for a 4+ mile run. The second practice on a double day is always hard. My muscles were sore; I was tired; and it would have been easy enough to sit at home and do nothing. But I knew I needed to run.

So I downed 15 ounces of water, strapped on my new iPod armband (thank you, Dad) and hit the road. Four miles later I was done with my first double in nearly six years. Today I am sore. I skipped my recovery run and instead went for a walk with K and then walked to the grocery store.

Tomorrow I run hills.

Saturday I have a 14 miler planned.

After a successful double yesterday, I feel confident about both.

I'm also feeling confident about my sub-4 hour marathon goal.


Friday, August 13, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual started by SouleMama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Dear Service Staff at Sendell Motors,

On Sunday we were driving along the PA Turnpike when all of a sudden our car's temperature gauge went off the charts and the alarm sounded. We pulled over only to find a coolant leak; it sounded like a sprinkler inside our engine. A very nice mechanic in Donegal PA took a look at our car and towed us to your garage.

On Monday at noon you had fixed what we thought was the problem - a cracked housing and faulty sensor. A simple test drive later, you diagnosed a broken water pump and recommended that we replace the timing belt and some other parts while repairing the pump. You also told us that the technician who test-drove our car thought our transmission might shot, too, as the car seemed to have trouble going into third gear. We agreed to all of your repairs and replacements and then waited. We hoped fixing the cooling system would fix all of our problems and that there was no a problem with the transmission.

We waited one day; and then a second.

This morning you called to let me know everything was fixed and replaced. A test-drive was driven and there was NOT a problem with our transmision. The technician recommended cleaning the engine that was coated in coolant (as a result of the leak). We agreed to the cleaning.

$1100, four days, and a little bit of stress later, our car is drivable.

Thank you. Thank you for your hard, FAST work. Thank you for caring for our old car. Thank you for answering all of my questions and understanding when I changed my mind about what I wanted to do and when.

Thank you.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Since marathon training began, I have had few days of true rest. And by true rest I mean no mile long walks to the fountains with K in the jogging stroller; no back-and-forth to the stray park, library, and grocery store with my 21 pound toddler in a stroller; no walks back-and-forth to the grocery store with several bags of groceries. My rest day (Friday) has turned into a 2-3 mile day. Add those miles to the 30+ I'm running each week as part of my training and you get...

One tired, sore marathon training mama.

That's right folks. I'm sore and tired.

After last Thursdays 5am five-miler, I realized that something needed to change. I need to mix things up and add some rest into my routine or I wouldn't survive marathon training.

That day I received an email from a woman at church who teaches yoga and pilates. I responded to her email and asked her for suggestions on ways to improve flexibility and core strength. On Sunday after church, we had a wonderful conversation about stretching. Since then I've done some research into stretching and am putting together a 5 days a week 10 minutes per day stretching plan for myself. Once implemented I am going to add a 5 days a week 10 minutes per day core strengthening plan.

Now, one might think:

Hey stupid, you're adding more training/exercising to your plan. How is this going to help you combat your soreness and tiredness?

Yes, it is more time exercising, BUT from everything I'm reading I think it will be worthwhile. I know I need to stretch more. My hamstrings and achilles tendons tell me this each time I run. And core strength should help my posture to improve; not to mention make my tummy a little tighter. I'm also hoping it will help me release all of the stress that I carry around in the middle of my back.

Stretching 101 kicks off tonight around 8pm in the basement of my house. I'm planning to follow some of the stretching exercises highlighted by the folks at Yoga Body Naturals. I'm also skipping my cross training workout today to allow my body to rest a bit before running 6 miles at race pace tomorrow and a 15 miler on Saturday.

In addition to starting my new stretching and strengthening routines, I'm thinking about cutting two things I love out of my diet: 1) caffeine - yes, that means both coffee and coke zero; and 2) starchy snack foods. I might have to ease into giving up both - no need to induce a week of caffeine withdrawl headaches. And I'm definitely not planning to give up coffee days before I hang out with my father, who loves his coffee!

Plans and milestones related to stretching, core strengthening, and cutting back/giving up will be forthcoming...