Monthly Archives: September 2012

Runner’s World Review – Olympic Tragedy: Munich 1972

I’m an avid Runner’s World reader and have been for many years. Each month  I will pick one article from the magazine (suggestions welcome!) to discuss and we can kick around thoughts, opinions and reflections. We’ll stay one issue behind the most current so that non-subscriber’s can read along on the RW website.  It’ll be like a book club, except less Jane Austen and more sweat.  So grab a cup of Joe or tea (see, it is just like a book club!) and jump into the fray!

September 2012 – Olympic Tragedy: Munich 1972

Since the issues come out a month before their stamped date (does anyone know why magazines do that??), this one was dedicated to the Olympics. Chock full of fun, light fare (did you know Shalane and Ryan are Glee fans while Kara favors the Bachelor?? fascinating!) there was one article that set a decidedly different tone – the account of the fatal attacks on Israelis by Palestinians at the 1972 Munich Olympics. I’m sure you are all familiar with the broad stroke details – on September 5, 1972,  Palestinian terrorists jumped the fence to the Olympic athlete village and spent the next 21 hours in a hostage situation, the end result being the massacre of 11 Israelis and complete shock as the world watched the terrible events (including a failed ambush attempt) take place on the stage of what is normally a peaceful time for nations.

The article is written from the standpoint of Kenny Moore, the American who placed 4th that year. He writes it by juxtaposing his memories of the events of 1972 with his first trip back to Munich in 2009. It’s a fascinating and horrifying article that I highly recommend. Unless, of course, you are in the sort of mood that is feeling high on humanity (this’ll smash it to bits) or if you are feeling particularly emotional because maybe you just watched The Time Traveler’s Wife again and are already primed for a serious crying jag over senseless deaths. Ahem.

There are endless threads of the storyline we can follow here (and I encourage you to read it for yourselves and share your thoughts back in the comments section) including the further tragedy that struck the bronze medalist Wolde after the Games, the detailed race report of the marathon, the mismanagement of the ambush attack by the German government, how freaking unfair it is that 11 people lost their lives for no reason (is there ever one?) or the “man, how mind boggling frustrating?!?!” aspect of the Germans hosting the Games as a (very) small step to help repair the damage done to their nation’s reputation by the Holocaust only to have 11 Jewish people murdered in cold blood (or how this attention to appearances may have shaped the failed ambush and the continuation of the Games).

But what I really want to talk about today is the part after the gunfire and grenades and the body count and the arrests. I want to talk about the part just as the dust settles, as it makes its first faltering contact with the ground. The part where the IOC had to decide what to do next – should they cancel the Games, postpone them or carry-on as usual? We come up against this question on a fairly regular basis – in the face of tragedy, what is the right choice?

In our post 9/11 landscape, how many times have we all heard “we can’t let the terrorists win!” as a reason to go on? Or, in the case of a personal loss, “so-and-so would have wanted us to continue”? And heard of tales where people are able to channel their shock, anger and grief into palpable energy, performing at or above their potential?

Even with all that said though, it still sometimes distresses me that we have this mindset of immediately soldiering on.  Is it a reaction to being in shock? Of wanting things back to some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible? Is it ever ok to just climb into bed, pull the blankets over our heads and let the terrorists win, even if just temporarily?

In cases involving time sensitive events, like the Olympics, the decision becomes even more pressing. In 1972, they decided to not let the terrorists win (I wonder how the families of the slain felt about that win) and just postponed the Games for 24 hours. They had a memorial service and 5 days later the marathon gun went off, with the American men (as you know, the ladies weren’t running yet due to concerns of their uteruses falling out) posting 1st (giddy-up Frank Shorter, one of my favs), 4th  and 9th place finishes, the best the US had done since the 1908 Olympics.

Frank Shorter and Kenny Moore, shortly after the race.

In the end, I guess we all just fumble through these dark periods and do what feels like the “right thing”, whatever that is. The article ends with a quote from one of the American athletes, Tom Dooley, who said, “The Games should go on, who wins or loses now is ridiculously unimportant, considered against these men’s deaths. But we have to stay together.”

What are your thoughts? Carry-on or standstill?

Have you ever had to make a decision like this?

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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!

Dear Bosses,

I tried really, really hard not to be late for work today. I figured I’d bang out a quick 4-miler then get myself to work on time, no problemo.  The plan was going swimmingly until about 2 steps into the run when it was clear that all the monarchs that have been around for the past few days still had not migrated outta here (thank you south winds!). What’s that? You never heard of monarch migration? Well, that just will not do! Ok, here is the short story – in September and October of each year, Cape May is lousy with monarchs – literally dripping off the trees and filling the sky with their orange glow. They are coming from as far as Canada and are on their way to the oyamel fir forests of Mexico, where they will overwinter. What’s that?…yup, without any help! No airplane, no hitchhiking, just a very clever exploitation of weather fronts and north winds.  They have never been to the wintering grounds they are traveling to and so have no memory of how to get there. In fact,they are 4-5 generations removed from the relatives who went the year before.  Millions of monarchs from all over the continent wind up in the very same fir forests, every.single.year. How? Some amazing combination of celestial cues, the earth’s magnetic force and magic, I reckon.

There are certain days in Cape May when this magic, in the form of an unassuming flying insect, is in the air. Everywhere you go, there are monarchs – flying above, nectaring at eye level, resting below. So my good intentions of a quickie 4-miler flew out the window and instead I forced myself home after an hour, having zero interest in going back. Here, let me show you what it was like (and I recommend clicking on them for full effect):

Monarchs were enjoying sipping on gin and juice, er, nectar, at the state park this AM!

After roosting in clusters the night before (they are “cold-blooded” and can’t function well in temps below 55dF) many spent the morning basking in the warm light of day.

The color of the newly emerged adults is just out of this world! The most striking orange you can imagine.

Look close and see them all hanging off the branch!

Yup, you guessed it from my stellar photography skills – those black dots are all monarchs, swirling and delighting in the September day (or more likely, cursing the south wind. Then again, what’s so bad about another day in Cape May?)

And now that you know, I bet you will be late for work too 🙂

Want to learn more? Come to the Cape May Point State park every Wed, Fri, Sat and Sun at 2pm between now and October 14th for a free tagging  demo and to learn more about the research project down here!

Or click here:

Cape May Monitoring Project

Monarch Watch

Journey North

What did you see on your run today?

Have you ever witnessed the monarch migration?

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Taharhumara, Running Momma and Me!

Before you read this post, do yourself a huge favor and go read “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. Go ahead, I’ll wait. *whistles to herself*

Back? Oh-my-god-so-good-you-want-it-to-go-on-forever-but-first-you-must-run-bc-that-is-all-you-want-to-do-when-reading-it, right?? Love this tome, hands down my favorite running book. You really should read it. If you already have, you know that one of the key story lines in the book is about the Tarahumara people of the northwestern state of Chihuahua state of Mexico. Theirs is a culture where long distance running is as natural as yelling “you are so cuuuute!!” when you spot a Chihuahua puppy.

I heard about an exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology on the Tarahumara wayyy back in April, but never got around to going. When I heard that this past Saturday there were also speakers on tap (Sterling Noren who is working on a doc featuring Micah True and the Tarahumara as well as Diane Molina who did the photos) I knew my procrastination had paid off! I tapped Running Momma to be my museum buddy, since I knew she would enjoy it as much as I would, and we planned a Mom-Daughter day (Lil Sis is busy on Saturdays becoming a mistress of Social Work, so just the two of us today). Here’s what we saw:

The museum was beautiful! I thought for sure it was a building that had been re-purposed but Mr. Wiki informed me that it has always been a museum. It was built between 1899-1929 – way to slide it in under the depression wire guys! It was also located right across the street from the stadium where the Penn Relays are held, so that was also super cool to check out.

The afternoon started off with presentations by Sterling and Diane. Sterling’s featured movie footage while Diane used photographs. Both were great, but I especially enjoyed Sterling’s narrative approach to his talk.

Running Momma with her Tarahumara counterpart! One thing I especially love about these people is their flair for color. The bright, swishy  fabrics they are partial to really underscore the fun aspect of running.

The Tarahumara have relay races, sometimes days long known as rarajipari, where they split into teams and keep a balling rolling by kicking it or hitting with a stick. Say what?? I could barely squeak out 50, nevermind keeping track of and kicking something while chugging along! The high school, gym-hating version of myself shudders at the thought.

We both really enjoyed daydreaming about running with these awesome folks… and of course, we spent a ton of time talking about our real running plans – since we were in Philly, the marathon was the obvious topic du jour. Running Momma is planning to tackle it next year, yeah baby!

After all that talk about running, it was imperative that Running Momma properly refuel – with fancy chocolate, natch! I especially like the ones that were designed to look like the Queen’s crown. Adorbs!

Our last stop of the day was the Philadelphia Runner store in University City. Good thing I don’t live closer to this place or I’d be broke. But, boy, my wardrobe would put Lululemon models to shame and I’d be in no danger of ever bonking. A bag full of GUs , Chomps and Nuun = happy Kashi.

Absolutely awesome day with my ma. It has been so rewarding to watch her morph from our biggest cheerleader on the sidelines to getting in on the action herself! I can’t wait for the many days I have ahead (and treasure all the ones gone by) of running talks, racing and cheering each other on with this amazing, adorable, fantastic woman that I am lucky enough to call my Running Momma.

What was the last museum you went to?

When was the last time you were in Philly?

Isn’t Running Momma the cutest?

PS The exhibit runs until September 30th, so get your booty over there stat if you want to check it out! It’s relatively small, but the rest of the museum is also great, so totally worth a trip.
!

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Anxiety Comes A Knockin’

Source: Asics postcard

Something I have struggled with during my training cycles (minus the ultra) has been the anxiety I feel before a tempo or speed workout. My inner monologue goes a little something like this:

A few hours before – “Ugh, intervals. You know you are never going to hit your goal pace, right? And if you do, it will be  SO PAINFUL. It’s gonna get ugly.” *shakes head and murmurs* “mmm-mmm”

An hour before – “Seriously, why do I do this to myself?? Why don’t I just go out and run and not worry about the time? Enjoy the fresh air and the trees and feel one with the earth and all that crap! Who cares if I run my best marathon? Isn’t it more about just getting out there and finishing? And who invited the butterflies? This is so dumb! Get a grip!”

A few minutes before, as I am tying my laces – “This is the worst plan ever. Let’s just sit on the couch. Why am I so nervous?? No one cares how this goes! There is not one single soul that gives a shit!”

A few minutes in – “Ok, this is not so bad. Look, you are already halfway through your warm-up. No matter what happens, it will be over soon. Just give it what you got and we won’t be disappointed”

A few intervals in – “Wow, these are better than I thought they would be! Why was I worried, this is fuuuuuunnn!” *smiling and air drumming along to songs*

Final interval – “Last one!!!!Crank it lady, leave it all out here!” *turns up iPod, sings along in head “YOU GOT MY LOVE TO LEAN ON DARLING, THAT’S WHAT’S UP!”

A few minutes after, ecstatically checking off the day’s workout on the fridge calendar – “Man, I love this! I feel amazing, I will totally kick ass! Where are the bad guys, I am like freakin’ Wonder Woman over here! Nothing’s gonna stop this machine!!Yahhhhooooo!!!”

I repeat this roughly two times a week for the.whole.training.cycle. It never gets easier, it’s as if the knowledge that once I get out there I will be totally fine has to be relearned every time. I never feel less nervous -if anything, it gets worse over the course of the cycle because the workouts get more challenging and I worry even more about hitting my splits. I am like some sort of amnesiac runner. The only progress I have made on this front is that I actually still go for the run. It was feelings exactly like these that prevented me from running my senior year in high school. My older, wiser self now knows that if I ignore them and press on I will be rewarded with the double bliss whammy of a runner’s high and the relief that it is over. But I would still like to avoid the whole drama beforehand, it’s exhausting!

So asking for some help here –

Do you experience running anxiety?

How do you banish the demons?

Full Moon Run on the OC Boards next Saturday, September 29th!! Meet at 730p at 18th Street!

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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!

A late night at work tonight meant a morning run for me today. Yesterday’s crazy wind and stormy skies were still working their way out of Cape May when I ran, offering a cool breezy run that seemed to be yelling,  “Fall is coming, ain’t no way to stop this train! Chugga, chugga, woo-hoo-hoo!” ‘Twas a lovely run and here is what I saw:

New kicks! Sticking with the Brooks Glycerin. Loving the color of the 10s and the stretchy shoelaces are super fun. Fluffy ride on Day 1!

Hey buddy, cover up, your anthocyanins are showing! How scandalous.

Pumpkins on the brain! GD made these awesome pumpkin black bean enchiladas last night and I was looking longingly at this patch, wishing we could eat them again tonight! Yum!!!

Ohhhh, Lucy! The grapes are almost ready for you to stomp!

A mini-grove of persimmon trees by Lake Lily. Persimmon’s scientific name is Diospyros virginiana and now you have a way to impress your friends today!

Persimmon bark is super distinctive and easy to spot when you are out and about. The wood is hard and somewhat difficult to work with. This species can be used to make billiard cues, drumsticks, wooden flutes and longbows. Sidebar: I would like to meet someone that could utilize all those items, I bet that person would be a character!

Our native persimmon fruit is smaller than the cultivated Asian one you might see at a supermarket – but holy cow, just as delicious! You have to wait until it is ripe to eat, otherwise your mouth is in for a world of hurt, blech! It has crazy astringent properties when unripe… but when it is ready? Oh, man, watch out! The flavor is like nothing else I have tasted and has a tropical bent. This particular fruit was not long for this world and I enjoyed it immensely as I trotted around the lake!

What did you see on your run today?

Do you welcome fall with open arms or love it conditionally, knowing winter is just behind (notice that the only two options are loving fall – because let’s be honest, there can’t be anyone who lives in the northeast who does not dig this weather!)?

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Running Rituals

Garmy’s and visors and ponytails, oh my!

Runners come in all different stripes – some are fiercely competitive, some are “soul runners” (a la Kat), some do it for fitness, some for the social aspect, some for the time with themselves. But one thing almost all runners have in common are our running rituals. We have a tendency to get pretty specific in what we have figured out works for us and that hard-earned knowledge is not bandied about lightly. Over time, these actions become our own running rituals and many of us are anal enough that we get out of sorts if our habits are messed with.  Like most things, there is a spectrum on which we fall, with some of us taking our rituals, ahem, more seriously that others. Sure, some people (read: Lil Sis) would say we have jumped straight from the ritual spectrum to the OCD one, but I say “mere semantics!”, lol.  As a platinum member of the ritual set, I am always fascinated with other runner’s (and really, any athlete’s) collection of behaviors that make them feel at ease. So today I will share some of mine and then open up the discussion to hear about yours!

1. Food – I always eat bowl of pasta with red sauce, broccoli and a protein (chx, soy or turkey) the night before a race, a cinnamon-raisin bagel with honey the morning of a long race (10 miles or longer) and a giant bowl of cereal after a long run. I never eat a GU all at once (and in a race, I will only eat GU brand. Other gels are fine for training, but for races, it has to be GU).  Before a long training run I will always eat, in addition to a piece of toast or english muffin, exactly 3 teeny bowls of dry cereal, no more, no less.

2. Clothing – I always double knot my laces. If I am running and have to carry my car key, I always tie it to my left shoe, never my right. I always fold down the waistband of my running shorts. I always lay my outfit out the night before a race. And if you see a runner wearing a visor in December, that would be me. Unless I need a knit hat, it is visor central in these parts – never a bare head (this only happens if I forget it, never by choice), never a ball cap.

3. Gear – Though I have tried, I have never enjoyed running with hydration packs, handhelds, etc. , so I always stash bottles on my course the night before.  I hate running without Garmy and hardly ever do it, even for runs I don’t care about distance or pace and he only lives on my right wrist. I always tie my hairband three time for my ponytail.

4. Odds and Ends – I always take a shower before a big race, even though this is arguably the most pointless time to cleanse body parts that will be sweating profusely in a matter of an hour or so. I always have some sort of good luck charm with me on a big day and it changes by race (for my first marathon I pinned a monarch picture to my shorts since I had seen so many while training). I have to be half dead before I will skip a run, I just hate that feeling, even when it is the smart decision (my track record – I’ve run with pneumonia, mono and appendicitis before each was diagnosed – feeling horrible was not enough to stop me. Yup, dumb). I will never run less than I set out to do – even it is just .1 mile under, I cannot do less than I said I would. Lil Sis, Scott, Carrie, Melissa T. and countless others have run an extra loop, an extra block, an extra anything just to satisfy this need.

I am fully aware that I am little wacky, but I honestly don’t care. I embrace the quirks that make me the runner I am and know from talking to others I am not alone. Many of these things sound silly when reading, but lots of them have come from experience (I tie my hair 3x because 2x is too loose, 4x gives me a headache). So while it may sound like a laundry list of kookiness, to me it is actually the result of 20+ miles of running experience and what works for me. At least, that is what the voices in my head tell me.

So ‘fess up and make me feel less crazy – what are your running rituals?

PS I know technically a lot of these things don’t fit the traditional definition of “ritual” and that you might be reading the list with the same reaction that I listened to the Alanis Morissette song “Ironic” in that you are yelling at your computer “but those aren’t rituals!” much as I used to yell at the radio “but all those spoons are not ironic!”. But just go with me on this one – isn’t the image that a “ritual” conjures up much more compelling than, say,  “things I have to do when I run or I get grouchy”? Yeah, that’s what I thought too.

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Full Moon Run on the OC Boards!

As I have noted before, Lil Sis is working through her “12 Running Goals for 2012” where on the first day of each month she pulls a goal out of a hat and has to accomplish what is on that piece of paper by the last day of the month.  This has led to some great adventures for her, some of which I have joined, like our trip to Rhode Island.  September came along and she fished out this goal:

I drew this picture, so I should remember what the heck I was trying to portray in the water – is it the sunrise? an open water swimmer with crazy hair who eschews swim caps? Who knows? In my last post, I did refer to my lack of artistic skills… that wasn’t false modesty, folks!

Lil Sis will be weaving her way through the state, hitting as many boards as she can, and I will be tagging along on as many as I can.  If you live near one, let us know ’cause we’d love to meet up with you – to run with or just catch up! We already have one planned with the wonderful Jenn, can’t wait to see her!

Anywho,  a thought occurred to me – CIR is planning a full-moon run on Saturday,  September 29 and what could be a more beautiful place to run under the glow of a full moon than a boardwalk in early fall (yes, I have finally come to terms with the fact that summer is indeed ending in, gulp, 1 week)? The open sky, the way the moonlight dances on the water, the lack of cars to dodge – you can’t beat it! Ocean City is Lil Sis’ stomping ground and home to the best boardwalk in the state (totally unbiased opinion, has nothing to do with the fact I lived there for 10 years), so it’s a great fit for this run.

The next morning is the Ocean City Half-Marathon, at which Lil Sis and I will be volunteering at (love me some spectating!) so if anyone is looking for a gentle shake-out run the night before, this run is for you! But if you just want to help Lil Sis meet her goal, chat it up with friends, hold on to the feeling of summer a little while longer (nothing says summer like a run on the boards!), howl like a werewolf, or want to say you have run under the brilliance of a full moon, this run is also for you!

Meet us in Ocean City at the boardwalk at 18th Street at 7:30pm on September 29th . We will run no more than 3 miles (and possibly less, depending on who comes and if they have a race they should be resting up for!). Bikes are welcome. Moon pies served after and maybe we’ll grab some more grub or a drink later. Hope to see you there!!

Happy Friday, everyone, and most especially to my cousin Alec and his almost-and-officially-will-be-the-case-in-5-hours wife Mackenzie on their wedding day! Can’t wait to celebrate with you both!

Good luck to everyone doing RnR and other races this weekend!!! I will be thinking speedy, strong thoughts for you all!!

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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!

After a loooong staff meeting, I was quite happy to enjoy at least a little of this insanely gorgeous day on a run! I decided to stop in the Cape May County Zoo area because I was afraid if I waited til I got all the way home, my motivation would wilt in the favor of hanging out with GD (who I knew had run earlier). As I was getting out of my car, I got a text from Tiff saying she was meeting up with Diane. This made me very happy, since I helped forge their running buddyship! It also made me wonder if they were going to run at the Zoo as well, since it would make geographic sense for them, given where they live and work. I decided to go on a running stalking mission and see if I could hunt them down. Was I successful? Find out below!

Took a minute to say a silent “thank you” to all the firefighters, police and EMT staff that this memorial honors – for everything you do now, everything you have done before, and everything you will do after. You are braver than I will ever be and I truly appreciate the people you are.

This painting depicts about my level of artistic talent but captures this week perfectly! Happily tucked away in our cottage on the Point with the sun shining 🙂

My first clue that I was on the right path! There is only one runner I know with that car and those adorable bird stickers. Now, where was she…

I have very mixed feelings about zoos, but this one does it right. Worth a trip if you have never been.

Bingo!! There they are! They let me crash their running party and we shared a delightful few miles, chatting away the gorgeous day. Way to go ladies, you are kicking butt! They are both training for the Philly Half and I could not be more excited for them. Yahoo!!!

Wrapped it up with some quick stretching and hoofed it home to see this lil guy…

That’s Poppy on the left and Keebler on the right, giving him some love. Not pictured is Poppy’s tumor, because it was removed today!! Hurray! You can see there on his side the shaved area and stitches, but no tumor. He’s not out of the fire swamp for good, but he has at least beaten the rodents of unusual size. Yes!

What did you see on your run today?

If no run, what did you see outside that made you happy today?

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Race Report – 2010 Philly Half-Marathon

In honor of the friends I have doing the Philly RnR half-marathon this weekend, I thought I’d post my half mary race report from 2 years ago. This was the half that is run with the marathon in November, so it is not the RnR September one. But the distance, pain and jubilation is the same! One of my go-to ways of dealing with taper madness is to read others race reports in the days leading up to my own, so thought this might be helpful for all you out there that are gearing up for your own big day. So read on, rest up and hydrate – then go kick some ass! Good luck, everyone!!

Time – 1:45.43 (Garmy registered 13.3mi and I hit 13.1 at 1:44.xx)

Weather – Sunny, clear, low wind (<8 mph), temps in upper 30s

Nutrition – cinnamon raisin bagel 1.5 hrs before, GU chomp at 1 hr before, half GU at 2 mins before start, half GU at 45 mins, half GU at 1 hr 5 mins, half GU at 1 hr 20 mins

What a day!! I love this race and at my 4th appearance it is starting to feel like an old friend. Hit the expo on Sat with mom, Laur and GD. It was great, though I preferred the expo for the Distance Run in Sept.  Mom was totally energized by the atmosphere, the running bug has bitten her big time! She wants to do the half now, and I think that would be amazing (Note from the future: She did do the half, in 2011, and has plans for the full in 2013! GD was so impressed with her half last year that he is doing his first this year! Love the running domino effect!) .

Due to a mistake on my part, our hotel wound up being about 11 miles away from the start. Whoops! But it worked out just fine. We headed back to the hotel by 3-ish (Four Points Sheraton in NE Philly) and went to dinner at the Italian Bistro where we met up with our friends Rochelle and Shannon. Great meal – filled up on bread and pasta with basil sauce but did not go overboard. Back at the hotel I had some dry cereal and a Clif Z-bar and off to bed. Except sleep did not come.  I usually have no problem the night before a race but I tossed and turned until 5am when the alarm went off. Felt sleepy when I got up, so I decided to take a long, hot shower to wake up. It worked! Got everything on, including my good luck charms of a rabbit silly band from my cousin and a temporary tattoo of a plover on my calf. Ate a Yanni’s cinnamon raisin bagel (more superstition – ate one of these before my great training run in AC last month and had to do it again) about 5:30.

Laying out gear the night before a race is a tradition I never skip.

Headed out about 5:45am, drove to start line with no problems. The exit lane off 95 to 676 was busy though, so Laur and I just hopped out of the car and walked to the start. Put toe warmers in my shoes and gloves, this was clutch!!! Weather was clear, cold (upper 30s) and no/little wind. I was really nervous about the temps, but it turned out to be very do able, esp with the toe/hand warmers. I wore capris, a tank, a long sleeved shirt, hat and gloves and felt great. First race in my new Brooks and it’s official, I love them!! We hit the porta pots and made our way to the corrals – at 6:57am! Race started at 7am, so cutting it close (but that’s just the way I like it, I hate waiting around to start). The one complaint I had about the race was that the color corrals were not well marked. Laur and I split up and each tried to find our corrals – not even sure we were successful, but got to the start line pretty quickly and we were off! Love the beginning of a race, everyone is so psyched. Mayor Nutter and Bart Yasso were giving out high fives – I missed them, but Laur said she grabbed Bart’s hand and yelled “You are awesome!!”. She said he looked slightly scared, lol. I started my race, telling myself it would be a great day and that I had already put in the hard work. Now I just had to put into play what I had practiced.

Look close, it’s Mayor Nutter and Bart Yasso!!!

The course was crowded, but thanks to the corral system, everyone was running the same pace so I did not feel hemmed in, which was a relief. The next big boost was at the first water stop. Unlike Chicago, the water stations were only on one side so you could scoot through with very little time lost. Yes! Two of my biggest concerns (crowds and bottle necking at the water stops) were being swept away and that was great for confidence. I know some people prefer water stops on both sides since it helps cut down on people swerving madly for Gatorade, but not me. I’m down with the one-sided version.  I was chugging along quite happily, soaking in the atmosphere. The spectators were especially awesome this year. Lots of great cheer zones, tons of bands – loved the Mummer’s as always, but also lots of other great music. My favorite sign – “It does not have to be fun to be fun”- was during these early miles.  Chestnut Street was on fire with spectators! There were also hilarious drunk frat dudes and a group of people dressed in 80s garb doing aerobics to “Let’s Get Physical”. My plan was to hang around 8:20’s til mile 6.5, then slowly increase in speed until mile 10 and then just haul some ass for the last 5k. I tried to keep the pace easy, but my legs were excited and kept trying to go faster. I told them we did not have enough experience with this distance to get nuts and promised them if today went well that we could go harder next time. They sorta obliged and the plan worked, though I never ran 8:20 after the first 2 miles. But I went by perceived effort and kept it comfortable.

I don’t have any pics of me while running this race but lil Sis and I look so much alike that you can just pretend it is me 🙂

I took half a GU and some water around Mile 5, 2nd half at 8-ish and some water and another half GU 11-ish (closer together than normal, but just felt I needed it). Nutrition was great, I was nervous just before I started that I had not eaten enough (ghosts of Chicago haunting me) with the bagel and one GU chomp I had, so I took a half of a GU just before the start and that made my stomach cranky for first few miles. Mistake! But it settled down and went away – I did not feel hungry the whole time, not dehydrated and did not collapse at the finish. Hurray! Elsewhere in my body, I had a side stitch around miles 3-5 and my arch yowled a bit in the middle miles. I ignored them both and they went away.

By 6.5 I was getting antsy, because it was time to GO! But also because I knew this was where I might see GD & Co. As in Chicago, my first look at him was him running down the road on my right and it felt so good!! I love seeing that man!

Nothing better than seeing our cheerleaders on the course, sporting their “Team Lauren” and “Team Christina” shirts! You may recognize GD’s from our wedding pics – this was where it originated!

Starting working harder after mile 6.5, which was tricky because it is also the hilliest portion of the course. I just pretended I was on the Longport Bridge for any of the inclines, grinded my way up them and enjoyed the downhills. After the big hill at mile 9, I knew most of the rest of the course was downhill and checked off another worry! The long downhill around mile 10 was also a little emotional – I just had one of those “god damn, I love my life!!!” moments. Teared up a bit but told myself I could  have the warm fuzzies later – now was the time to work! I had been monitoring my pace the whole time and it was increasingly clear that I was having a really good day. 1:50 (my goal time)  seemed a foregone conclusion and I started wondering just how much better I could do. Was super happy when I hit Mile 10 at 1:21:xx, which is faster than I ran Broad St a few yrs ago (although I knew I could have done that faster but this confirmed it!). The longer tempo runs really came in handy mentally at this point, because I had a 5k to go and that felt like nothing after 8 mile tempo runs! I told myself to leave it all on the course and kept going. By 11, the miles were catching up to me and I was feeling tired. But I was happy with my pace and just busted out my mantra, “Just keep swimming”  from Nemo, and got through Mile 11.

Plover Power got me through the late miles.

The flag at Mile 12 was a welcome sight indeed and I told myself to just hang on, not be afraid to push and that it would be over soon. I was having nice flashbacks of running with Sherry from the previous year, and I really felt her support at that point – I knew she believed in a sub-1:50, and now I did too! Climbed up that last hill towards the art museum and felt so good, so many people were cheering. Turned the bend and left the marathoners behind (they ran under an arch that said “Welcome to the halfway point, the best is yet to come!”) . Garmy said I was at 13.1 at 1:44:xx so I was psyched. Saw our cheerleaders a little before the end and that gave me the last burst  I needed to push through. The way Garmy was set was such that I could not see the seconds on the overall time. So I saw I was at 1:45 but could not tell how far into that minute I was. I really wanted to make it there before 1:46 so just hauled some ass into the finish. Raised my hands and YES!! It was still 1:45!!! I immediately started bawling. You know how every so often you just surprise yourself? That is what happened to me today. I know this isn’t a particularly speedy time, but it is truly faster than I thought I was capable of at this point in my running. Garmy said avg pace was 7:57 and that just blew me away. I did that?? For 13.1 miles?? Holy! Good job engines (GD’s nickname for my legs, I’ve adopted it too).  I really took a minute to just be grateful for everything running gifts me and was so happy to be alive and in love with GD and have my family there and being in that place at that time. When I came out of my reverie, I noticed that the song on my iPod was crazy appropriate. The lyrics were “time means nothing”  and it just drove home the feeling that as good as it was to push myself and get this new PR, what really mattered was the way it made me feel and sharing it with the people I love. The next verse provided this gem: “we’re all right where we’re supposed to be” and it just felt so perfect – and brought on another round of tears. Popped over to where my family was and watched Laur come in (producing round 3 of tears!) . We reunited, hit the massage tent (hurts so good!) and headed back to the hotel for a shower and more perma-grinning.

Could not have done it without these guys – plus my momma and poppa, not pictured here.

Me and the ever adorable lil Sis. The medal is great and all, but doesn’t hold a candle to the feeling of running races with this one!

I highly highly recommend the massage tent after a race! I laugh like a hysterical mad scientist the whole time. One masseuse (not this one, who clearly was not amused) told me that your body can feel ticklish instead of feeling pain and that apparently is what happens to me at these things. But I say “thanks, body, I’d rather not feel the pain!”

Me and my baby. We were engaged a month and 4 days after this picture was taken ❤

An amazingly incredible day, and a race I won’t soon forget.

Have you run a half-marathon? Tell us about it!

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Ear Candy – Podcasts on the Run

The debate rages on about whether it is better to run with or without music, but I don’t often hear the two sides squabble because I have my ear buds in. Yep, I’m a diehard iPodder on my runs – be they fast, slow or somewhere in between, it is the rare occasion that I am without my trusty Shuffle.  I will generally even race with mine, being mindful of no headphones rules, of course (read: I take them off for the start/finish but otherwise risk a DQ. What, am I worried about losing my top 3 women spot? Ha!).

For those of us training for fall races (and who isn’t? fall races are the BEST!), September can often signal the beginning of the long run season. I prefer music for my shorter runs, but long runs are a different animal, and for them I like podcasts. This is for two reasons – one, I enjoy listening to stories as the miles tick by and two, I find it easier to run the correct long run pace when listening to people talking, and not rocking out, enticing me to join their dance party by upping my speed. So today I thought I would share a few of my favorite episodes of podcasts I listen to and then open the discussion to hear what some of yours are!

For me, this is the granddaddy of all podcasts. I have been a faithful TAL listener for over 10 years and have listened to most of the episodes I missed from before I was a listener. I have many favorites, but here are three that you can’t go wrong with:

1. Switched At Birth The story of two babies that were accidentally switched at birth told from 4 perspectives – both babies (don’t worry, they were adults when the story was recorded, so you don’t have to interpret baby babble) and both moms. So, so good!

2. The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar The story of a 4 year old boy who disappeared in a Louisiana marsh… a short time later he was found, presumed to be kidnapped. But the plot thickens with the claim of another woman that the child who was found was her boy, not the Dunbar’s. Fascinating story ensues…

3. Prom For anyone whoever went to a prom, will go to a prom, skipped the prom or prefers to keep all their prom experiences confined to watching 80s movies about proms, you will like this. It has something for everyone, including a tornado that hits one!

I’ve mentioned RadioLab in previous posts and I continue to love the way they present science stories with a soft touch.

1. Limits This is an episode I have linked to before – but it is perfect for long runs! One of the segments talks about the limits of the human body, a very timely subject for us all. After listening, I dare you not to start saying “ok, Governor, let’s get moving” as you cajole yourself through tough miles. Although I have now shortened it to “Guv”, cause me and my brain are BFFs.

2. Finding Emilie I seriously cannot get enough of this one. Be prepared for some erratic breathing as you cry and run at the same time. The depth of one man’s love for his lady and the faith he has that he can help her is the stuff of real-life fairy tales. Awesome.

3. Guts Here is something on the lighter side, but not for the faint of heart. My thoughts:  I love Mary Roach and scientists of days gone by were bat-shit crazy! Why oh why would you think it would be a good idea to stick things in a living man’s stomach, then pull them back out (via a hole in his abdomen) to see how digestion works? Ewww! And yet, I still am thankful that someone figured this out.

Seriously love this one, especially since I have forgotten about 90% of the history I learned in school! These two ladies pick a topic for each episode and explore it in a way that makes you want to go back to college and get a history degree.

1. What Happened to the Lost Colony at Roanoke? Scroll down to July 11, 2012 link I cannot listen to any story about settlers of any kind going anywhere new and not think “how were these people so fricking brave??” The mystery of this colony makes the story all that more appealing.

2. The Booth Conspiracy Scroll down to February 8, 2012 I have forgotten so much about the Lincoln assassination (or never knew) that almost this entire story was news to me! Did you know that there were three murders planned that night? Or the standoff that eventually spelled the end of the road for Booth? We sure don’t treat suspects like they did in the old days!

3. Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning in Love Scroll down to February 15, 2012 – Just an old-fashioned love story from a time when father’s ruled the roost. Oh, except these were two of the most eloquent people ever.

I also listen on a regular basis to The Moth, The Adam Carolla Show, Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend, For Cryin’ Out Loud, The Nerdist, Ultrarunner Podcast, All Songs Considered and Making it with Riki Lindhome (one half of the amazing Garfunkel and Oates).

Has anyone tried listening to “books on tape” (how anachronistic!) while running? That is next on my list of things to try.

What about you…

Do you listen to music while running?

Podcasts?

What are your favorites? Share ’em below!

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