Monthly Archives: June 2012

Brazil or Bust!

My sister-in-law Claudia has a special talent – she wins stuff! You name it, she has entered a contest for it and been declared a winner. But she outdid even her own track record when she won an all expenses paid trip to Brazil!! For 2!! After checking with her immediate family and (unbelievably) getting no’s from them (ok, they all had good reasons, but still!!), she asked me to join her. Would I (a travel fiend) like to go on a free trip to Brazil, a place I have never been before, and have some bonding time with my sis-in-law? Hmm, let me think. No, actually, let me expend zero brain cells and give an emphatic YES while jumping up and down wildly to quite possibly the easiest question of all time! We have our updated passports (this was a very good reason to get a new one in my married name), our VISAs, and our Mentos (Kisiel family superstition dictates that any and all trips must be accompanied by an unopened roll of Mentos to ensure safe travel. All flavors have been tested – including when sky diving- and perform equally well so you are free to pick your preference).  

I’m a fruit gal, myself

The trip is sponsored by a coffee company, Peet’s, and will last a week. We depart for an overnight flight today and will return in the dawn hours of July 8th. The next week will be filled with coffee, sightseeing, running (of course!), more coffee, plantation tours, café tours, some more running and then capped off with a little more coffee for good measure! Between the running high and coffee buzz, I expect to be in rare form.

Thank you Peet’s!

Lil sis and I have an ongoing competition to see who can run in more continents, countries and states, so finding a place to run is an absolute must! I found a running tour company that I want to run with in Sao Paulo but also hope to get out on my own a bit (it’s the best way to see somewhere new!). The rules for our competition are that you must run at least 3 miles (or 30 minutes if you do not have a way to determine distance – this contest began before Garmy and Prince Michael Garmy came into our lives) and the run must take place outside – so no treadmills allowed. Unless they are outside, in which case you might be able to plead you case to the judge, who would then say, “Really? A treadmill outside? Demerits for even attempting something so ludicrous when there is a whole big beautiful earth to trod upon!”

 Here is a map of all the states I have run in so far. I have 21 states, plus 1 capital district (DC) and 1 unincorporated territory (Puerto Rico) 🙂

Please don’t mind the missing chunk on the bottom. The map was apparently irresistible to my ‘ol bunny, Miss Amelia, RIP. She had a thing for paper!

My country list is Costa Rica, Ireland, Ecuador and New Zealand. My continent list is North America, South America, Europe, Oceania (NZ) and Island Chain (HI).

We will have access to the internet, so I will be blogging my coffee and running adventures, stay tuned! See ya on the flip side (of the world, that is, as we’ll be south of the equator)!

 Do you drink coffee? Have you tried Peets?

Do you like to drink coffee in conjunction with running?

What continents, countries and states have you run in?


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Mug Run!

I will be in Brazil on vacation next week (and posting about running south of the equator, so be sure to check in!) but that does not mean the social runs in Cape May grind to a halt! I recently “met” (through email) a woman named Beth (hi Beth!) who is organizing a super fun sounding event Thursday night, July 5th at 6pm. Combine running, beer and poker and you get The Mug Run! Here’s the scoop:

Everyone meets at The Ugly Mug (26 Washington Street, Cape May, NJ) between 5:15pm and 5:30pm. There you will meet Beth, sign a liability release and get to know your fellow Muggers. At 6pm, the group (with a bicycle chaperone) will leave the Mug and start a 4 mile course, stopping at the C-View Inn, Sea Salt, Carney’s and the Rusty Nail along the way and finishing up back at the Ugly Mug. At each stop, you can choose to have a beer (or not) and will be given a card for your poker hand. At the end of the run, the winning hand gets a prize! Here is the course:

Click on map to open image in Google Maps

This event costs nothing save for whatever beer/drinks you choose to imbibe and it gives you a chance to meet more runners around the area. You can also make a shirt to really get in the spirit – make sure it says “Mug Run” somewhere on it but otherwise let your imagination run wild!

T o RSVP or for more information, please email Beth: beth1446 at gmail dot com or leave a comment below!

I wish cloning was a little further along so I could be there too! Happy running, drinking and pokering!


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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

Tonight was the second group run of Cape Island Runners and it also doubled as a beachnester reunion! Melissa is moving cross-country with her hubby later this week, so it was a last hurrah of sorts (I say “of sorts” because I know I will run with her again, hopefully when I visit her out west in the not too distant future!). We also had Amanda and her adorable boss baby as well as Emily and Christy, who are fellow plover lovers with Melissa and I. Rounding out the group was running husband Scott and real husband GD! Awesome run, loved, loved, loved seeing everyone and chatting it up! It definitely reminded me how very much I am going to miss my running bud, Melis.

CMP is so chill you can run all over the road, even in the height of summer 🙂

Sunset is so late this time of year – love!

When boss baby got a little fussy, Scott continued his streak of being the visual distractor and fashioned his shoes into a mobile.

Happy baby!!

Seriously, nothing makes me happier than group runs!

Good-bye Melissa, we will miss youuuuuuu!!!!!

What did you see on your run today?

If you did not run, what did you see while being active?


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My First Time

It was the summer of 1995. I was deliriously in love with my high school boyfriend… oh, wait, not that first time. My other first time – my first race!

I started thinking about that day because my friend Kat just started her first marathon training cycle (go Kat!!) and it took me back to the day that started me down my own path. I was a freshman in high school, toeing the line at my first competitive event (nevermind the ill-fated season of club soccer in the third grade where it became startlingly clear that I should never be involved in any sport where balls, coordination, catching and kicking are basic requirements. It was not pretty, folks). How did I get to that line to begin with? For that answer, we have to go back one more year, to Mr. Pierangeli’s (Mr. P’s) 8th grade class. By this age, most kids had gravitated towards a sport and were likely already playing it – soccer, football, softball, etc. But for those of us who had no direction when it came to high school athletics, Mr. P represented a hail mary. He was like one of those guys that you see on the documentaries that go sorting through the rubbish piles and pulls out stuff that no one else wants. We were his treasure.

He successfully recruited me and gave the team instructions to start running and building a base that summer, but I did not. I did use a stationary bike one time on a vacation at my grandparents and figured I was sufficiently prepared. I mean, it was just running. How hard could it be? I soon found out. My first day of practice involved me gasping, turning bright red and doing very little actual running. I was far behind the main pack but had the company of a few others who had also not heeded Coach P’s instructions and got my first introduction on how great it is to commiserate with fellow runners.

So, back to that starting line…

September 14, 1991 Schalick vs Audubon, scrimmage ( Sidebar: Audubon HS is the alma mater of a guy I dated in college, who was also the first of many things, and a friend who I consider like a sister-in-law. Combine those with the bird artist and my first race and you’ll agree the word Audubon has loomed large in my own personal history!).

Prior to the race, the opposing team’s coach showed us a map with the route drawn on it. I was too nervous to pay much attention and figured I would be all right (in those days, I did a lot of figuring that was wrong!). The gun went off and I was sprinting the main pack thinking “ok, this is not so bad, I can totally do this!”. About 10 seconds later I thought “ok, of course I cannot hang with them, they are the fastest boys on the team! But I will definitely not finish too far behind “. Cut to a mile or so into the race, and I was walking and cursing my poor attention at the pre-race meeting. It was a wooded area and there were turns we were supposed to know about that I did not. I was half walking/half jogging and trying to makes sense of the course through tears. I was so far behind everyone that there was no one to follow and I just did not know what to do. So I did what would later become second nature – I just kept putting on foot in front of the other. Eventually, the fast boys who had finished almost 20 minutes before came to find me. They showed me the way, and I ran to the finish line, mortified, as parents and students cheered me in. 34 minutes and 44 seconds had elapsed and even though I was a heaving mess who came in dead last (long, long after everyone else), I was now a competitive runner.

Sophomore Year and it still looks like I am about to die 🙂

I am nothing if not sentimental (there is no escaping it, really, I come from a long line of nostalgia hounds and am a direct descendent of one of the biggest in the Kisiel clan, my dad) as evidenced by this picture of the tag off the first pair of running shoes I ever bought:

So it should not be a surprise that I have quite a collection of running “souvenirs” from the years. It brings me great comfort to have these physical reminders of my past. For me, it is like having a portkey of sorts (Harry Potter reference there the Muggles among you). I just touch one and am instantly transported to another place on the timeline of my life. One of my most cherished portkeys is a popsicle stick. Gather round, youngsters, let me tell you a little about how it used to be done. Back in the old days (being able to say this without irony is kind of a fun thing about getting older!), we did not have electronic chip tags or any other sort of technological tracking system to log runner’s times.  What we did have were mom’s with popsicle sticks. In 1991, the way a cross-country race’s order of finishers was determined was to station a volunteer (usually someone’s mom, occasionally a dad) at the finish line. As you crossed it, she would hand you a popsicle stick with a number (your place in the race) on it. After catching your breath, you would bring it to whoever was roaming around with a clipboard so they could record your name and order you finished.  A few calculations later and they would declare which school won.

Over the years, I amassed quite a few popsicle sticks. Here are the ones from my freshman year:

And the most cherished of them all, my first one:

Mr. P is responsible for an awful lot about me. Simply, he is the reason I run. There is no other conceivable route that I can picture that would have led me to find this true love of my life. But as with all unsung heroes of the coaching world,  he is responsible for so much more.  He helped shape the person I became –  the discipline, the self-worth,  the mindset that running is fun, and all the cheering I do for other athletes? Those seeds were planted and tended to by him, many years ago. When I PR in any race, I still half expect to see him at the finish line, arms open for a hug and cheering for me like I just won a spot in the Olympics as he did at the finish of every race I ran under his coaching.

Mr. P is on the right, in the suspenders 🙂 This was my last year running with him.

I don’t regret a lot in life, but one of my biggies is that I did not run my senior year of high school. The anxiety of racing simply became too much for me because my teenage runner self  had not yet learned the adage “the race is long, but it is only with yourself”. Instead I fretted too much over how my performance would affect the team and had not yet learned to funnel that nervous energy and direct it into a reserve to siphon strength from. I have since learned that skill and now count on race day nerves to propel me towards PRs. I wish I had figured it out sooner and had just one more season with Coach P. No matter though, he is always with me in my mind’s eye, wearing Schalick green and cheering me on. I hope he knows just how important he is to me, even now, 21 years later. Thank you, Mr. P. for seeing the runner inside me that was just begging to come out. You are the only one that noticed she was in there.

What was your first race like?

Who saw the runner (or triathlete or biker or dancer or Zumba fanatic) in you?


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Eek, it’s Western States!

Today we are in Horseheads, NY to celebrate my cousin’s high school graduation. Lil sis’ June Running Goal was to run a new 10k but her grad school schedule got in the way of finding a sanctioned race, so we will be running the inaugural “Serena’s HS Graduation 10k”! No entrance fee, no shirts and no course (TBD). The hotel has free breakfast, however, so the post-race provisions should be a step above orange slices.

While we toil in what feels like mountains to our flatlander sensibilities, 369 men and women will be gearing up for one of ultra marathons’ premier events, the Western States.

The run originated in the 1970s during what was then a horse race, the Western States Trail Ride, where competitors would race their horses 100 miles in 24 hours or less. In 1974, a runner named Gordy Ainsleigh decided to see if it was possible for a human to complete the distance – 23 hours and 42 minutes later, he found out the answer was yes! Since then, the race has grown into one of the most “popular” ultras in the US and has a lottery system to regulate entrants. With growth, of course, comes criticism of the way the race is directed, but in general this is a highly regarded, well- respected ultra. It attracts a deep field and the race times have gotten downright unbelievable – the current men’s record is 15 hrs 7 mins 4 secs (9:04/mi average pace) while the women’s is 17 hrs 37 mins 51 secs (10:31/mi average pace) (sidebar:  I love, love, love how the gulf between men’s and women’s times shrink the further you run). Remember, this is 100 miles and here is the (brutal) course description:

“Beginning in Squaw Valley, site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, the trail ascends from the valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn, a small town in the heart of California’s historic gold country. Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory. People who are unfamiliar with the area should use caution when planning training runs, especially in the high country. Before leaving, let someone know where you will be running and when you will return. REMEMBER THAT MUCH OF THIS TERRITORY IS ACCESSIBLE ONLY BY FOOT, HORSE OR HELICOPTER.”

What??!!! Insane!!

A fantastic documentary was released awhile back called “Unbreakable” which followed the nail-biting 2010 race (I know, hard to imagine that a 15 hr race could be described as nail-biting, but it was!!). This is the type of doc where you don’t even need an interest in the topic to be sucked into the story and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for an “I need a story to give me a kickstart and motivate me to take on the world!” kind of  movie.

The race starts at 5am PST today, June 23rd. The men’s race will be missing one of it’s principal players as of late, Kilian Jornet (this guy is seriously poetry in motion. GD is sick of me mooning over him, but his glutes, oh his glutes! To die for! See for yourself how beautiful the trail running human form can be) since his friend’s life was tragically lost on a quest they were both on so that race is up for grabs. The women’s race promises to be as action packed as 100 milers can get! I’m hoping Ellie Greenwood takes the day.

Read more about the race here and here

So whatever you may do today or wherever you may roam, keep a thought for the 369 runners who are out there, all day and all night. They’ll need every positive vibe they can get!

Update: The race was one for the books! Timothy Olsen and Ellie Greenwood both smashed the men’s and women’s record!! An unbelievable race and triumph for them both! Congrats to all the finishers!!

Do you have a “bucket list” race that you would one day love to do?

 Why do you think people run these seemingly impossible distances?

 Is the junk in Kilian’s trunk not the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?

Leave a comment

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Kashi Classic 50-Miler, Part 3

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here

Get comfortable, it’s a doozy!

Miles 40-45

So there I was, falling apart at the Mile 40 pit stop. The crew lept into action and within minutes had me on the mental mend.  Liz gave me a huge hug as I said to her, through tears, “just tell me it will be ok. I always believe you when you say it will be ok”.  In her most reassuring “everything will be ok” speech to date, she rallied my spirit and topped it off with an interpretive dance that had me in giggles. I sat down to roll out the glutes and was laughing through tears as everyone took turns making me smile/telling me how close I was and that I was definitely going to make it. Laur was at her most serious and told me in no uncertain terms that I was going to have to eat something.  I was starting my battle with nausea (which was ameliorated through the occasional ginger candy, worked wonders!), which would last the remainder of the run and is not uncommon in ultras, and did not want anything. I had prepared Laur for this and she rose to the occasion beautifully, gently but firmly letting me know that I had to keep eating. Instead of saying “do you want something?”, she would say “do you want a GU or animal crackers?”, etc. We bargained for the rest of the run – she would let me put off eating or drinking, but not for long. Anyway, I was rolling out my hammies at this stop and looking longingly at this beautiful stand of spruce trees. All I could think was that I wanted to take a nap under them. But the nap would have to wait, because this was the Kashi Classic 50-miler, not 40 miler! I summoned my strength and stood up. The crew sensed that I really needed them and a whole pack of us started running, save for Liz and GD, who had to man the two support cars. We started running and everyone was chatting away. I was definitely too tired to really participate, but I remember listening to Carrie and Scott talk about tris and Laur and Melis making idle chit-chat. At this point, I decided to employ a game Laur and I always play on roadtrips where one person asks a question and the rest answer. So I asked and they answered: what was your favorite race? when was your first kiss? We learned that Melissa was the early bloomer of the group but that we all had pretty rough first kisses, lol. Carrie also spent these miles using props for my entertainment; including a shopping cart and a traffic cone that doubled as a megaphone (Laur was jealous) as well as carrying a handful of Twizzlers just in case I wanted one.

Carrie with a random shopping cart she found on the route. Ahh, South Jersey at its finest!

It was also at this point that I started feeling pains that I have never experienced before while running – there was the normal long run muscle aches and sore feet, but I also started to notice that I was getting some tingling in various body parts and my skin hurt to the touch. We made our way through Rio Grande and got onto Seashore Road, which was really exciting because I was now on very familiar ground. I had been running these roads over (and over) the last 6 months thinking about this day and it was one of those trippy “whoa, this is actually happening” moments. I started mentally checking off the cross streets as we passed them – Breakwater, Tabernacle, Academy, Townbank. I pointed out a few favorite trees and concentrated on the next big check – crossing the canal and getting on Cape Island.

Miles 45-50

I decided to skip the Mile 45 pit stop because it was getting to the point that I knew if I stopped, even for a few minutes, it would not be easy to start again. The runners out there can surely identify with that feeling of just wanting to get to a finish line and not let anything delay that! It was here that GD joined us – this was such a welcome addition because I absolutely adore running with my husband. It does not happen often, but when it does, it’s like the two loves of my life are in sync and it feels… well, it feels like if I died right then, there would not be a happier way for me to go. The boost of him joining us gave me the energy to run up the West Cape May bridge. I had originally planned to walk it, but I hate walking and especially hate walking bridges! At the base, Laur forced some Nuun in me. With 4 miles to go, I knew I had enough in the bank to refuse food and be ok and she knew that too. But she wanted to keep me hydrated, so Nuun it was! We came into West Cape May and our friends Sam and Tom drove past us and blasted “Eye of the Tiger”. I wanted to thank them, but the time for words had passed.

We turned on Fourth and were heading west to home! This was a long straightaway on a quiet road where we could all spread out. Carrie yelled to everyone we passed (ie strangers enjoying an evening BBQ) that I was at the tail end of a 50 miler and I appreciated their confused cheers, lol (“Wow, that’s great? Way to go?”). We crossed over to Stevens Street and were getting close enough to taste it, less than 2 miles. We passed Michael and Louise’s house, and they cheered their cute little tails off too. I was in a lot of pain (I had to take Garmy off because it hurt to have anything on my skin and he also seemed to be making my fingers tingle) but it was starting to hit me that I was actually going to make it. This was a welcome thought, but did not do much to erase the pain.

I think my face sums it up

Crossed over to Seagrove and made that last left onto Lighthouse Ave. Words cannot describe the feelings washing over me, but this is a blog and words are the point, so I will try 🙂 Setting and reaching a goal is something that is written into my DNA. I find it immensely satisfying and it is a defining characteristic of my personality. Things like checking off chores on a to-do list bring me the warm fuzzies, so you can imagine how good it felt to reach this one. I loved having that last mile to really soak it all up – the fact that GD was still running by my side (he had run longer than he thought he would too!), and having people I love so much around me just meant the absolute world to me. Is there really anything better in life than loving people? No, there is not, unless you are running while loving them. I thought I was going to explode from happiness, pain, or both. I have never felt anything like it.

This is it!

The lighthouse came into view, beckoning me home, and I obliged. Gave one last push and we all ran it in! In a beautiful topper to her amazing day of signs, Laur had also made a finish line for me to run through. Most of us were running so there was no one to take pics, but here is what it looked like later:

Front side…

…back side. “Jubilee!” is what Laur, Carrie and I use as a go-to catchall phrase for anything remotely celebratory!

The crew let me run through it alone and then I touched the SP sign as the official end (I always need to touch something to signify a turnaround point or ending point, weird runner thing), immediately bent over and cried. 10 hours and 38 minutes had elapsed since I had taken my first step and it was hard to comprehend that it was over and had gone so well.

Post Race

The crew gave me a moment alone to process it, which I deeply appreciated. When my eyes reopened to a world where I had run 50 miles, I just wanted hugs:

I was high on the victory of completing the run and we all agreed a walk to the ocean was in order. This went smashingly well until the pain set in:

High on life and numb from pain until…

…cold water and cramps hit!

Crawling was the chosen mode of locomotion for awhile!

We went back to our house and I began the slow recovery from this longest of long runs. My legs were screaming and would not be soothed for hours. No matter, though, I was so enjoying relaxing with everyone. People slowly started heading home but Laur, Scott, GD, Lizzy, Sam and I all ordered Chinese (well, Sam tried to order Chinese, but we forgot to place his! He scavenged off everyone else’s orders and filled his belly just the same). Usually after a long run, my appetite is nil, but I was ravenous and would remain that way for the next 48 hours. I laid in bed that night with pulsing legs and sleep did not come easy. I woke early the next day, relieved that the worse pain had passed and proceeded to eat more food than I think I ever have in one day without feeling full or sick. I rode the wave of contentment for days after.

A Month Later

I took a full week off after the run and my body recovered well (I was a little more tired than usual for that week, but my muscles quickly felt like themselves, within 2 or so days). This was the longest break I’d had since 2011. Amazingly, I had not missed a single run in 6 months (I have to be near death to skip a run when I am training for something and I had made this a priority so there were no dealbreaker conflicts) so rest was in order! The laidback approach to running has stayed with me since the break. I have gained a few pounds, stayed up later than usual, and have run anywhere from 16-25 miles/week since I have been back at it. I expect this relaxed version of Kashi to last until the end of next month, when I start gearing up for the Philly Marathon, where I hope to cozy up to a new PR.

The question I get asked most often (after “why would you do such a thing??”) is “what’s next?”. Well, part of the motivation for this race was to push my body and find its upper limit. Though it did hurt, I did not hit the ceiling just yet and so I will likely try for a 100-miler one day. Not any day soon, but one day. And when I do, I will take with me the memories and joy that this ran brought me and crash right through the next wall with them as my lance.

Thank you to everyone who supported me on this run. My amazing in-person crew: GD, Laur, Scott, Lizzy, Mom, Dad, Melissa, Kat, Carrie and Lisa. And to all the wonderful friends who emailed, called and facebooked words of encouragement, especially Becks and Meg.

The creative people who did things like send me pics of their babies dressed like this:

Melissa and Brandon’s sweet baby girl, Bailey, the youngest cheerleader.

Or had their kindergarten class do a before/after of the run:

Carrie’s kindergartner’s “before” at Mile 1

And “after” at Mile 50

You are all the kind of people that we think only exist in movies and in books and I really, truly could not have done it without every single one of you. Thank you.

Run on, friends!


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What I Saw When I Ran Wednesdays

For those of you who read food blogs, you will often see a “What I Ate Wednesday” post. Same idea here, except it will be what I saw when I ran on Wednesdays.  So take a peek at what my orbs observed and then add your own experience!

First day of summer deserves “two a days”, ie two runs in one day. Especially considering how hot it will be later, I thought it would be fun to run once in the AM by myself in the cooler weather and once in the PM with friends in the heat. 3 miles for each run, same route.

AM Run:

Rosa rugosa, or Beach Rose, my favorite plant. Its rose hips were used by sailors to help prevent scurvy while at sea since it is high in Vitamin C. I like to eat them just in case!

I always thought this was a woman holding a baby but today I started to think it is a dude. More runs are needed to investigate!

Sprinklers were a very common sight today – people are preparing their plants for the heat ahead!

This was the Cape May Point Country Club, opened in 1899 when the town was trying to build a sense of social status for its inhabitants. Those days are over, but the building remains.

PM Route:

I remembered my camera for CIR’s first group run, but not the memory card, doh! Nor did I have a cord, so at the end of this day I opted to take an iPhone pic of the camera screen. Very classy, I know! But we had a great run, come out next week and join us!

Sprinklers were a welcome addition to the run!

Lil sis and Scott, my running husband, are two of my favorite running buds!

High five for the finish, followed by an awesome swim in the ocean. Summer is the best, end of story.

What did you see today?


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