Friday, October 31, 2008

Holy Cow, work cuts into my leisure time.

I have a new appreciation for Pirate, who works a 40-hour work week, like I'm doing, and then goes home to the twin munchkins. Honestly, I don't know how you folks have done this all this time.

Here's how my week fleshes out:

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I do master swim from 5:30 to 6:30 and then in 30 minutes I shower, blow my hair dry, put on makeup, and hit the car with Sweet Baboo, so that we can do our 45 minute commute to the VA. Tuesday and Wednesday nights after work I'm still seeing clients for 2-3 hours. Thursdays, I have a 3-hour class in Social Policy.

Tuesdays, and Thursday mornings, instead of a swim, I am going to run. I tried running this week but because my injury is worse, I can't run on anything but trails, and so the obvious choice seems to be to go down to the trails near my gym and run in the dark, then do the shower/hair/makeup thing and hop in the car and commute with Baboo.

The week wraps up with a nice easy trail run in the foothills with Baboo. Saturday mornings, I'm doing two spin classes back to back. Sunday is long slow run day. Whew.

So at work, I've spent the week getting trained for various things and refreshing my understanding of cells, and neurons, neurotransmitters, and other such things. I'm moving onto brain-related syndromes and disorder. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, for instance, is interesting to learn about. And sad. I'm beginning training next week in several mental disorders and in using symptom rating scales. I also set up my new office, and ordered a couple of things to decorate it.

They gave me a pager this week. I was all excited when it went off - I felt all important, but it was a wrong number. When I was a teacher, they'd just shout out my name over a campus-wide PA system. This is way cooler. Plus, It's exciting to know that I'm important enough for them to want to get hold of me somehow.

I'm told that the excitement wears off pretty quickly.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Master's Swim Class

So I've had two of these classes so far - they meet at 5:30 am for an hour on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Friday. This in a pool that, in my opinion, could be a BIT warmer. But it wakes me up.

Today we did a 600 warmup: 200 free (freestyle) 200 kick (kickboard, no fins) and 200 pull (paddles and a pull buoy)

Then, we did 10 x 100 meters, with 10 second rest, and our best sustainable pace. The point of this was to establish a baseline of what we could average over 1000 meters. The first day of Master's Swim I was pretty happy to find that I could sprint 100 meters in 1:51. I've never been that fast before. You increase that distance at all, though, and I slow down pretty dramatically! Over 1000 meters, I averaged around 2:15 to 2:20 per 100. Actually this isn't bad for me, considering that I have barely been in the pool since August, but I'd like to go sub 2:00

After that, I finished off with 200 kick, 200 free, and 100 free, for a grand total of 2100 meters. I'm ashamed to admit to you that is pretty much the most I've done in a pool since, um, like, sometime in the spring. The master's swim class keeps me. on task; generally when swimming by myself I get bored and then climb up out of the pool.

I will step right up and say that I am always, I mean ALWAYS, the last one finished with whatever drill we're doing at the moment. But no worries. As long as I improve, that's all I care about.

So then at 6:30 I grabbed my stuff and headed into the locker room and in a half hour YES THIRTY MINUTES I shower, blow-dry my hair, put on my clothes and makeup, and sprint for the car, where Sweet Baboo chauffeurs me us to my our job. Whilst in the car, I use my curling iron to finish my hair. I'm MINUTE-WOMAN. Sometimes we stop for a latte. I'm in my office (I love saying, "MY OFFICE") at 8 am.

That's it, I guess. Just swim stuff. Now I need to figure out how to get my running in during the week, being as I'm still seeing a couple clients on Tuesday and Wednesday nights and I have a class on Thursdays.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Top Ten Things I Like About My New Job.

10. I have an office, with a door that locks. It has a desk, a computer, a bookcase, a window, and a couple of chairs. I have never had an office before. The closest I had was a classroom, and 90 people trooped through there every day, throwing trash on the floor, occasionally spitting, and writing on my stuff.

9. I'm going to have my own laser printer soon. They actually apologized for not having it ready the first day.

8. There's a mariachi band every Wednesday in the lobby, next to the coffee shop.

7. Did I mention the coffee shop? They have lattes, mochas, smoothies, and pastries. It's run by vets and benefits veterans industries, so I am contributing to the greater good while indulging my coffee habit.

6. There is a medical library. Today they, like, printed stuff for me. FOR ME. Just because I asked. They didn't charge me, or take it out of my photocopy "limit," either. I don't have a photocopy limit. When I asked someone about that, she looked like me as if I'd asked about Sasquatch.

5. Any and all employee training takes place during the day, while I'm at work. They don't expect me to stay after work to do it.

4. There is a 1/4 mile track through a park in front of my building. It is shaded by very old cottonwood trees and includes some bars and benches to stretch on. It's just part of this really beautiful old campus that is mostly a collection of century old pueblo-style buildings. There is a new, modern facility for the medical center, but all old building are still in use. Behavioral health, where I work, is in the original veteran's hospital building.

3. I have my very own panic button! It's mounted under my desk and apparently if I push it, armed guards will instantly rush to my aid. Should be pretty fast, given that the VA Police are 3 doors away from my office.

2. Everyone smiles all the time and seems very happy to be there.

1. Except for the occasionally disgruntled patient being escorted down the hall by the VA Police who are 3 doors down.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Things that are a big deal, probably only to me.

Sunday Miscellanea, with a juxtaposition of girlie/athletic girl stuff.

1) I just found out that there is a master's swim class in the new aquatic center that is 2.5 miles from my house. It meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 5:30 am. If I can't be speedy on land, maybe I can be speedy in the water. We begin tomorrow, me and Baboo, and then commute together to my new job, which is also where he works.

2) I always promised myself I'd get super cute shoes some day when I didn't have to stand up all day long on a hard tiled slab. Well, that day has come. I went shoe shopping with DreadPirate, looking for some versatile but pretty pairs of winter shoes. Part of my new job involves pitching to doctors and counselor and patients, so I'm going for the eye candy/scholarly librarian look.
I've never actually been to a woman's shoe store before; it was quite an experience. Without a doubt SweetBaboo would have abhorred every bit of the 2 hours we spent there. That's neither good nor bad; just the way things are, and in the absence of a spouse with a serious foot fetish, some things are just better done with other women.
So here's what I know now that I didn't know before: there is a huge, I mean huge, difference in how you feel standing for a while in nice shoes and how you feel standing in, say, cheap shoes. Huge, in terms of comfort. I took a pair of shoes that had my favorite heel height with me for reference, and made sure not to go over that height.

3) I did the first spin class I've done since April. They do "lifts" where you go up out of the saddle for a few beats, and then sit back down for a couple beats, and up, and back down, and repeat for what seems an eternity. I've never been able to do these all the way through. Today, it was easy. I couldn't believe it. Somehow, I've built my quads up pretty well this year.

4) I've now learned how to backcomb my hair so that it's poofy in the back. Even though I'm from the south, I was never properly schooled in backcombing. Now I am. Okay, so that's probably not terribly relevant to you right now. But to me, it's a big deal. I'm one of the "it" girls now. Rowr.

5) I have another black toenail from last week's trail run. Once again, this pleases me for some reason that I can't quite explain, while simultaneously freaking out the lady that did my pedicure.

6) I have not run since last week's ultra. I wanted to spend some time recovering, so I did a little spin, a little swim, and some elliptical. Most worrisome is a new pain on my right foot. It's on the outside underneath the midfoot, and it's actually gotten worse over the week. Eek.

7) I'm starting my new job tomorrow, finally. The counseling center where I signed a contract in July had a shiny promise that gave way to 2 months in which 4 weeks I'll never be paid for, no office, tyrannical office managers, dogs wandering around unaccompanied, doubled-bookings, and frequent chaos. And did I mention that there is a 40% no-show rate? And that if the client doesn't show I don't get paid?
Instead, I'll begin tomorrow at a secure installation with my own space and I'll still be able to work with behavioral health. Plus, I won't be on my feet all day. It's carpeted and I can wear wildly impractical shoes, just like I've always wanted, and best of all, I'll be paid as salary with benefits and stuff. Just like a grown-up.

I always imagined I could someday have a job where I could dress like a grownup and be treated like a professional. Now let's see if it's everything I thought it could be!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On waiting.

It's here, finally. My new job. The first new job I've had since getting my new teacher's job about 9 years ago, and I start on Monday.

I've waited a long time to really do the things that I've been trained to do, in a place where I'm not forced to compete for resources with other professionals, or treated like a k12 student.

I waited for this: waited until my children were grown and (mostly) gone. Then I waited some more to get cleared, and the waiting about drove me crazy, even though I filled that time, I think, well. because, in the end, I always knew this day would come.

Which reminds me of ultra-running. But I'll get to that.

I asked one of the Interns who was waiting in line to use the computer at the counseling center if he had checked with DVR about getting a laptop. Department of Vocational Rehab(DVR) helps provide people with certain disabilities the means to continue working or get to work. They provided me with a hearing aid. Matt the Intern has Cerebral Palsy and can't write, and on this particular day he was waiting his turn to use the one computer in the counseling center for all of the dozen or so counselors have to share.

So I asked Matt the Intern and he mumbled something like, oh, yeah, I'll get around to that one of these days and wheeled slowly out of the room. One of the other counselors, meanwhile, found the need to explain to me how DVR works despite the fact that I've been one of their customers and am working on my MSW. This counselor needs canes, but she goes without, and here's why:

So she said, "It's just that it takes so long."

I was puzzled. Takes so long? Of course it does. My hearing aid took 6 months. It's government, and it's underfunded, so it's slow. But in the end, I got my hearing aid. So?

So that's what I said. "So?"

"Wel, I mean, Gosh, Misty. It might take 6 months to get that request through. What's the point?"

I tried to say this as carefully as possible. "But wouldn't you agree, Audrey, that the six months will go by whether you are waiting for a laptop or not?"

"Yes," she replied, "but it takes so long. Waiting is such a pain."

How is waiting for something a 'pain'? it's not like you have to actually hang out in the DVR waiting room for 6 months while someone whips you and throws feces at you.
No, instead, your life stays exactly the same, and then one day they call you or write and say, "yes" or "no." Meanwhile, all you've done is spent maybe one or two sessions in their office filling out some paperwork.
True, a lottery ticket is less trouble. But this is more of a sure thing.

I guess maybe it's the endurance athlete in me now. To me, most things with a payoff are worth waiting for, and time isn't as big a deal to me as it used to be. The finish line will get here, eventually. I'll work my way to it. Eight or ten or sixteen hours is going to go by whether I'm moving or sitting still, so I might as well move.

Huh. I remember when I was 26 and filling out the paperwork to go to college my former husband snickered, "you're gonna be in your thirties when you finish" which prompted his sister to smack him in the head and say, "she's gonna be in her thirties whether she goes to college or not" At the time, I thought that was plenty profound. But now it's much more meaningful. Losing weight is like that, too. You're going to be whatever age you become regardless of how long it takes to lose the weight. So why not spend the time in between doing something that makes you healthy.

Which brings me back to ultra-running.

"It's just that it takes so long"

Hell, the finish line is there whether you cross it or not, so why not work your way towards it. But make sure that the finish line is where you want to be, for you. All for you. It shouldn't be for anything other than the knowledge of what you did.

I mean, when you finish an Ironman, particularly an MDOT race, there is an enormous amount of fanfare. You hear your name boom on a loudspeaker, there are screaming spectators who want to slap hands with you. At the end, there is usually a heavy, solid finisher's medal, maybe a finisher's shirt, pizza, lights (if, like me, you finish at night), loud rocking music, cowbells, action, and for a day, you are a celebrity of sorts in whatever strange town you find yourself in. People in the town ask you all that day, and the next, if you're "one of those Ironman athletes".
Then, well, then all that fades, and what you're left with is making some meaning of what you've done. Some people become a bit depressed but don't know why.

Trail runs are different. When you finish a trail run, well, there may be a small smattering of applause. The finish line, if there is one, might just be a chalk line drawn on the the path, and you cross it, and you're done, and then you wonder over to see if there's some food.
In fact, it's entirely possible that someone might look away for a moment not notice when you finish, and then you walk up to the person with the clipboard and say something like, "I'm number 38, and I'm done."

There are frequently no finisher's awards. One race I've done states on their website that the finisher's award is that you get to stop running. Sometimes you get something to eat, if there happens to be an aid station at the finish/start line. There might be a clock there ticking off to tell you your time. Trail runs are often in public recreation areas and most of the people around may not even know there's a race going on and stare at you as you come into the finish, not thinking to move out of your way, because they are still trying to figure out what's going on.

What I'm saying is, that in any race, or endeavor, you really have to finish for yourself, because other than your name in a list of finishers there may never be any proof that you ever did it.

And actually, anything worth waiting for should be for you, after all, because you believe that you're worth it.

Now, I realize that waiting for a letter or phone call is only tangentally related to running a trail marathon. I'm just saying, well, I guess I don't know what I'm saying. Except that maybe time has a different meaning for me than it used to. Maybe one time I would have said something like "Oh my gosh, that takes so long, so why bother?"

I now measure time in the distance between aid stations and training time between races and the stuff I get to do some day that's cool, like getting age 55-discounts.

All the other stuff is a pleasant journey in between.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I was notified today that my background/security clearance is complete. It only took six week for Homeland Security to determine that I'm safe.

I get to start work on Monday.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Palo Duro 50K - race report.

Okay. Well, first off I was not trained up for this race. Not at all. My feet hurt. My legs hurt. My back hurts. My core hurts. I'm chaffed. Chaffed, I tell you. And let's not talk about the fact that I've gained nearly 10 pounds since my last marathon. Yes. Let's just not talk about that.

Seriously. No talking about it.

About the race itself: I liked the course. The heat caught me off guard; it started in the 40s (F) as I expected, but then got up into the mid 80s. If I'd known that it was going to get up that high I would have brought my "Cool Off Bandana" that I've raved about. Oh, well, live and learn.

So the course, well, I said I liked it. It was challenging and scenic and I never got bored. I'm a huge rock hound, and there was lots of cool mineral outcroppings in various colors that I stopped and looked at and picked at them. Parts of the course were a very narrow, cupped single track which was problematic for some, but they were short lengths so they didn't bother me too much. There were a couple places that diverged and weren't marked very well, I had to stop and really look to try to guess which one had been traveled the most. Other than that, it was pretty well marked.

For the first 12 or so miles, I drank the 64 ounces of Nuun and my gels, but then at the aid station at my 12th mmile, I tried the boiled potatoes with salt sprinkled on them. I'd never tried them before. From then on I drank the 1/2 strength Gatorade (always ice cold) and potatoes with salt. That was a nice change from the sticky-sweet gels.

I carried my hydro pack. After the first 18 miles, I stopped and changed into a different pair of shoes that had a wider toe box. Problem is, I was so set on getting in and out of that aid station quickly that I forgot to fill up the reservoir, and I ran out of water. It was heating up, too, and slogged it to the next aid station (they were 3 to 3.5 miles apart) with a couple of fellow runners stopping and offering me swallows from their water bottle. At the aid station I filled up, and then sat down in the shade for a bit to drink 2 cups of ice cold coke. Mmmmm. From then on, at every aid station I had 3 or 4 hunks of boiled potatoes with salt, and about 4 ounces of ice-cold coke.

The first 6 miles was a loop that went out to the first aid station and then back to start; it was a mixture of scrubby desert followed by shady/woodsy, as you doubled back to the start line. After that you did the whole 12.5 mile loop twice. The top 6 miles, between 3 miles aid station and the 9 mile aid station, were brutal: fully exposed to the hot sun but again, very doable if I'd had my "Cool Off Bandana".

The bees were pretty intense at the aid stations; at one point the volunteer accidentally sloshed Coke onto my leg, and the bees were like, "YAY! COKE!" and I had to rinse off with water to get them to leave me alone.

Added later: There was this one guy, and I don't know who he was, and maybe he didn't mean to sound this way, but I swear that he sounded dubious and someone condescending as he came up behind me. He must have seen my tattoo, because all of the sudden over my shoulder I heard him:
"Now, did you really do an Ironman?"

Oh, no he di'n't! He did not just speak to me like I was a little girl playing make believe and ask me if I really did it!
I responded calmly by saying, "yes, I've done two now."
"Which ones?" He still sounded skeptical. I wonder if he knew that he sounded that way.
So, I told him which ones. I described them. As the look his face became more incredulous and disbelieving, it all became clear to me:

I did. I took off and left him behind and never saw him again. Then, when I came into the finish a woman suddenly ran across the grassy part we were supposed to go around, cutting the course, and they let her finish! What was up with that? She did it right in front of the timers, too.

Now, about halfway through the race I was feeling bad because I'd wanted to beat my first 50K time, and I remembered that being 7 twenty-something, and since my first 16 miles took me about 4 hours I knew I wasn't going to beat that. But then, after I got back to my hotel, I looked online and found out that my first 50K was 8:23, and I finished this one in just over 8 hours, so I was pretty happy! Baboo didn't have such a good time, but I'll let him tell you about that.

So but also there was a girl with a pink shirt on that was asking me about my gaiters. I was suffering when she was trying to be chatty and I feel bad now that I wasn't being chatty back. I hope I get the chance to answer your questions some time, whoever you are. I know I was probably just cranky because I was thirsty and bonking and I was mad at the heat. Seriously. Mad at the heat. I was shuffling along muttering under my breath, "stupid heat."

The finisher's prize was a hat. It doesn't say finisher on it. But now I have some "cred" wear to wear to my next Ultra, which will be in February (The Ghost Town 38.5)

Another nice thing about this race: unlike many of the current road marathons, nobody bitches or even suggests you shouldn't wear your headphones.

Lastly: The entire city of Amarillo smells like a giant toilet. What is UP with that?!?


Friday, October 17, 2008

A non political post.

There are several reasons to be nervous about tomorrow's 50K in Palo Duro Canyon:

1) I haven't done a long run since the New Mexico Marathon on August 31st.
2) I have the mysterious, now-you-feel-it-now-you-don't injury that isn't there, on my left shin. But is. Right now, I don't feel it. I did this morning. Now I don't. No, wait--there it is.
3) The last "extended" kind of event that I did was over a month ago.
4) I've gained 12 pounds total in the last couple of months. So I'm feeling very fat and needy. And kinda whiney.

Ook. Okay, some reasons to feel good about tomorrow:
1) I'm still stubborn; that hasn't changed.
2) I have 11.5 hours to finish.
3) I'm Iron Misty, the GeekGirl, dammit.
4) It's PRACtically SEA level.
5) When you are this far west in your time zone, sunrise is later than if you are on the eastern edge of your tone zone. Accordingly, sunrise tomorrow is about 8 am. Oops. The race starts at 7 am. Did I bring a headlamp? No. Did Baboo the magnificent? Yes.

So here's what I packed. I tend to pack lots of sports nutriton because as a back of the packer, I don't yet trust that most aid stations WON'T run out of food...I packed Honey Nut PowerBars, Power Gels (chocolate and orange tangerine), and Orange Nuun, which I'll carry in my hydration vest.

Race start will be about 45 degrees F, and the expected high is 72, although at the pre-race meeting they say that it could get as high as the low 80s. I'll be wearing my RaceRead Fitness shorts, my pink New Balance 768s, pink Injinji socks, DirtyGurl pink leopard gaiters, pink moeben sleeves, gloves, Patagonia bra/top, L/s running top, Garmin 305, and fleece headband. At race start, I'll be wearing my brooks hoodie, which I hope to leave in my drop bag.
Also in my drop bag: extra gels and power bars, extra top, shorts, socks, and shoes.

carrying: Tylenol (small bottle), ipod, SportsSlick, tp.

Breakfast: 2 "Breakfast to go" bars at 4 or 5 am, with a carmel machiato to wash it down. Then a power bar at 6 am.

So that's it, I guess. Race time is 7 am Texas time. Wootywoot!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Misty is....twiddling her thumbs, on her soapbox.

I was going to post my comments about the debate and a funny picture about candidates and elections but, ah, screw it. Enough already. I changed my post and I apologize for anyone who already commented. It basically said that I don't feel that either of the candidates are in touch with their constituants who are most in need. Capital gains tax? I bet I have one client who knows what that is. Many of my friends know what it is, but I don't think "cutting" the capital gains tax is going to change their standard of living. And please, how can a person NOT KNOW HOW MANY HOUSES THEY HAVE???

But anyway. Here's something way scarier than elections and debates: GINORMOUS SPIDERS!! GAA!

It has now been ONE MONTH since I provided all my information to my new employer so that they could conduct a background investigation on me. Seriously, how long does it take to investigate an ex-school teacher who has lived and worked in the same small suburb since 2000s? The investigation is supposed to go back 5 years.

Your tax dollars at work. Now you know that you've been well protected from the likes of me. Don't you feel safer now?

I'm just not good at not working. My parents were older than all my friend's parents--I was definitely an afterthought--and my father lived through the depression. I've been well-installed with his work ethic. Even being in college made me feelt guilty. Other than when I was in college, or a year I took to be a stay-at-home mom for my 3 kids, I've worked full time my entire adult life. As a senior in high school, I went to school in the morning, tool a couple college classes at night, and worked 30 hours a week.

I feel like big fat useless dead weight right now and meanwhile, the combination of not working and being injured and the onset of the colder season has been disastrous. I'm built to save up energy stores for winter, and I've stored about, oh, 10 pounds of energy in the past 2 months.

I know you might have trouble mustering up some sympathy for me not working, but it's not like I'm being paid to sit here while this background investigation is going on. None of the local people I listed as references have even been contacted.

I'm getting pretty pisssed off, and closer to saying, Screw this, screw your job, this is bullshit.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I passed.

I passed my exam.

Now I'm officially licensed to ask you how you feel about that. :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Is there an Athena division for kitties?

This is Lily. She is now the official Athena Kitty of the household as her doc has decreed that she is overweight. I used to think that, as she was bred for colder climates, she was just mostly fur, even though she nearly squeezes my innards out whenever she walked on me. Denial. Then, the vet visit.

"Oh, you mean she's too heavy?"

"Oh, my goodness, yes!" was the reply.

I never really knew how much to feed our three cats, so I just put down a couple or so cups of catfood each morning in a single bowl, and filled it up when it was empty. Just imagine my surprise when I found out that they're only supposed to get 1/4 cup per cat of food a day. Thereby enabling her overeating and food addiction. Oops.

I don't know why I thought that the cats could be self-monitoring in their eating and/or generous enough to make sure there was enough for everyone. If they were that social, they'd be owning us, and besides, I, who am so much more intelligent than a cat, can't even monitor my own eating much of the time.
I've caught Lily zealously guarding the food dish and hissing at the other, "normal weight" kitties.

So, They are all on a diet. Each night I mix up 3/4 cup of dry cat food mixed with a couple tablespoons of tuna in a covered bowl, and each morning I divide about half that among three bowls and its--MEOW--breakfast time.

Lily, as you might understand, is cranky these days. I've caught her twice batting the other cats away from their bowls so that she can cheat on her diet.

Poor Lily. If only she could have some pumpkin spice kisses. As it is, I'll have to eat them for both of us.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Next Iron Distance Race (I'm pretty sure).

Beach 2 Battleship Triathlon, Wilmington, NC, 2009.

  • They have a half iron distance at the same time, which is spouse/friend/beginner friendly for those not ready to do a full.
  • It's FLAT. The bike starts at an atitude of 7 feet above sea level, and tops out around 38 feet, I think.
  • The swim is in salt water, in a protected inlet. It's a downhill swim, too: the tide will be pushing the swimmers on the point-to-point. Beach start.
  • Did I say it was flat? It is. Not perfectly, but I don't be climbing any big-assed hills like I did at Kentucky and Idaho.
  • Cheaper than an MDOT race.
  • Water temperature will be 68-72 degrees. Wetsuit legal, but not f-f-f-f-freezing.
  • Did I say it was flat?
  • I've never been to North Carolina, and this counts as another marathon for the 50 states club. Woohoo!
  • No passport required.
  • Might get to meet some of my peeps from the EAST COAST SAY-EEEEED!

CONS: Help me out here, cause I can't think of any.


I ran today. Trail run, about 6 miles. Lots of huffing and puffing from 7000 to 7800 feet and it was glorious and fabulous and I'm going to take it easy and only do trail running but I'M BACK, BABY, AND I'M LOVIN' EVERY MINUTE OF IT!!!

1 week to the Palo Duro 50K...


Saturday, October 11, 2008

For Becca.

Ahhh. That crispness in the air. The blueness of the sky!
Can you see it? Can you feel it??

So, my friend Becca asked me for tips for her first marathon. I was trying to come up with some things you wouldn't find in most guides, and here they are. Feel to comment and leave your own. Remember, I'm no kind of fitness professional or trainer; these are just things that have worked for me: a heavy, middle-aged runner.

You can find training plans online; you'll find no training plan here.

Some of these may seem nitpicky, but trust me: A small, minor irritation over 26 miles is a very big deal!

1. IT'S OKAY TO WALK SOMETIMES. I do a one-minute on, one-minute off routine when doing a road marathon. Some people do 2:1, or 5:1. I'll switch to more running in the last 3 miles/5k if I'm feeling okay. By taking scheduled walk breaks, I'm fresher at the end of the marathon, and my overall pace is much faster than if I tried to run the whole thing. Galloway writes about this in his book, "marathon, you can do it". I have my garmin set to chime every minute.

2. The hardest part is being on your feet and upright for so long. It requires a different endurance. No matter how active you are, if you aren't used to being upright and moving for 4 or 5 (or 6 or 7) hours, your back will ache and your feet will hate you. Your shoulders will weary of moving your arms. Your training should include one time every week where you are hiking or jogging for several hours. Don't worry about speed. Go for however long you think you are going to take to finish your marathon. Work up to it. Ideally, your "long run" is this time, and if you can get it up to 20 or 22 miles, you'll be ready.

3. Your weekly training should include at least 3 runs: 2 moderate short runs, and 1 long run. Give yourself 2 days off from running after your long run. Don't worry about speed during this time, unless you're trying to win the thing, and if you are, why on earth would you take advice from me? I'm still usually in the back 1/3 of the pack. If you can fit in a 4th day, do a nice hike with some hills for a couple hours.

4. Your weekly total miles, and your long run, should increase by no more than about 10% each week. So maybe the first week you you do a 3 mile run, a 5 mile run, and 10 mile run. That's 18 miles total. The next week, you should only increase by no more than 2 miles. (You can round, a bit). So, you might do a 4 mile, a 5 mile, and then an 11 mile run the following week.

5. Every 4th week, don't increase anything. Maybe even decrease just a tiny bit (but don't stop. This isn't a taper). Your body needs this week to recover, and it's during this time that it heals and strengthens itself.

6. If you're a triathlete, switch your training schedule so that you do your long bike the day after your long run. A long, slow bike is a great recovery activity. Then the next day, swim.

7. Train like you race. Find out what they are going to have on the race course. Most city marathons have aid stations every 1 mile, find out if this is true. If they are offering gatorade, learn to use gatorade. Start by sipping it. Most races don't provide gels at every aid station.
Find out what additional carbs you need. Count on taking in everything in liquid form. Don't eat during the race unless you are only walking. Gels: count on one or two every hour, if you're drinking sports drink. Every half hour, if you're drinking plain water or nuun.

8. Carry a bottle. It's easier to stop every 2 or 3 miles and fill it up, if necessary, than it is to drink from paper cups. I use a handheld, some carry a small backpack, and some use waist pack. Whatever you use, try it out in training first on your long runs.

9. On race day, get up early enough to eat a high-complex-carb meal at least 3 hours before the race. Oats are great, and some fruit. If you insist on eggs or meat, better make it 4 hours. Your stomach needs time to empty all that out. Make sure you have plenty of electrolytes in some form.

10. To wear: consider RaceReady fitness shorts or nickers if your thighs rub. They have a bunch of little pockets across the back. Consider Moeben sleeves instead of a long sleeved shirt. Get Injinji socks. Get some $1 gloves at wal-mart if the start is chilly. If you must wear a long-sleeved anything, wear long-sleeved shirtss in layers instead of a jacket: it's easier to tie them around your waist and they're more comfortable to move in. Some people like compression socks. Experiment.

11. At the start line, if you're comfortable, then you're probably overdressed. That's all I have to say about that. And if you're comfortable, then you better be dressed in layers that are easy to remove.

12. Before running, lube up. I like SportSlick; i get it on Amazon. It's easier to carry than BodyGuilde and doesn't melt out of its container. I lube up my inner thighs, my special purpose and my toes before the race, and also where my bra band goes and where my upper arm rubs against my body. In one of the many pockets of your race-ready shorts, have a small tube of SportsSlick. use it a lot.

13. In one of your other pockets, toilet paper. Don't ask why. Just do it.

14. If you're an iPod runner, Nike makes a hat (hatphones) with a pocket that holds a music player and has built-in speakers. This is a safe alternative for runners that helps you hear outside noises, but also get some background music. For me, hats get a bit warm; so you can also get earmuffs with built-in speakers, as well as a fleece headband with built-in speakers. Search for LOBZ or TOOKS on ebay. My favorite is the fleece headband.

15. Find the flattest spot on the road that you can safely run. If they let you run along the yellow line, do that; roads are usually curved on the sides to allow rain to run off. If at all possible, if you can run off the pavement on a soft, flat, dirt shoulder, do that.

16. Practice walking fast in your training. Maybe this could be your 4th workout each week. For most, there will be times that you have to walk. Practice and learn how to do a brisk, purposeful walk. Head up, eyes down, shoulders squared.

Now my disclaimer: I'm not a trainer nor do I play one on TV. These are some thing that have worked for me, a middle-aged, heavier, slower athlete. You do not get to complain bitterly to me if something doesn't work, as I do not promise that it will and I'm not certified or licensed to say that it does. Experiment, read, and try them out and read, read, read: especially books by Salazar, Galloway, and Ultrarunner magazine. Make sure you check with your doctor. (Our doctor is a runner, and so is our podiatrist.)

Cheers, and Happy Marathon Season!


Behavioral Science Saturday.

So, I've been studying for the NCE. Today I thought it would be fun to talk a bit today about social psychology. Sweet Baboo would agree with me, that good old SC is fun stuff.
So my question to you today is, how sure are you, how really sure are you, about who you're going to vote for come November? How certain are you that your reasons are based on facts?

Are you really so decisive?

You know, you might just actually be trying to minimize cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the incomfortable feeling you have when you have two facts in mind, but they contradict one another.

Such as: I crave a De Sota 2-piece wetsuit. They are pretty expensive, and it makes more sense to just stick to swims that I can do sleeveless. I'm switching jobs. We should economize.

But I really, really want a De Sota 2-piece wetsuit. So, I could minimize cognitive dissonance by saying something, like, this one will be much more comfortable, so I'll use it more often, so in the end, it will be cheaper per use. Eventually, the longer I own it, the more I will justify my decision, and ignore ANY evidence that contradicts my decision.

You might call this "justifying". (We do this with athletic gear. You know we do)

Read more here:
Interesting note from this page: People who are involuntarily exposed to information that increases dissonance are likely to discount that information, either by ignoring it, misinterpreting it, or denying it.

Well, okay, maybe not. Maybe you're just a conformist.
Read about the Asche conformity experiments here:
Interesting note from this page: Even if only 1 confederate voices a different opinion, participants are less likely to conform...This finding illuminates the power that even a small dissenting minority can have.

No? Well, then, maybe you just do what you're told, such as in the Milgram Experiments:

Intersting note from the reading: ...65 percent (26 of 40)[1] of experiment participants administered the experiment's final [lethal] 450-volt shock to the other person...Only one participant steadfastly refused to administer shocks before the 300-volt level.
(Note also that in replications since then in different settings and even countries, results were pretty consistant. Scary, huh?)

So Again, I return to my original question:

are you really sure you know and believe what you think you know and believe?

You're welcome for any ensuing cognitive dissonance. No need to thank me, I'm just here to help.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Swimsuits for "Every Body"

Found an interested online storefront today: H2O wear. They swim sell suits that are chlorine resistant and come in large sizes. The woman who told me about it today was testimony to how diverse a body can wear swimsuits from this store. Just through I'd throw that out there for folks that are looking. Cheers!

Monday, October 06, 2008


The x-ray was negative. So, we're back to a strained tendon, or shin splints. Maybe. The doc said that I must be built for this, if this is the first injury that I've had. I told him about the IT Band issues back in April, and he blinked and said, well, still, if you've done all that in one year (5 marathons, an Ironman, a 50K, a relay, and several sprint distance events, but who's counting?) and all you've had is a couple of overuse injuries, that's pretty good.

I'm going to do a lot of water "running" and elliptical trainer "running" this week. This Sunday, we'll go out to a trail somewhere, wherever Baboo picks. Someplace mostly flat, I hope. We'll see how I feel. Our plan was to do a lot of high altitude running, and I was hoping to do the crest trail again, but Baboo's thinking is not so rocky.

Now, the Palo Duro 50K also has a 20K. I can switch to that if I run into trouble, and walk it.

So that's my thinking, for right now. My leg hasn't hurt since Saturday, and even then, it just a twinge. I'm seeing what might be a bruise finally showing. Not sure what that means.

Now all I need to do is find my keys and get my ipod out of my car so I have some tunes.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

11th day of no running.

Okay. So yesterday I tried AQUA-JOGGING. When I put on the Aqua-Jogger Pro I had flashbacks of my childhood in Jacksonville, Florida. My mom would strap me into an orange safety vest and my father and my sister would swim way out past the breakers and never, ever, let me come with them. I was devastated.

Now of course, my father was an adult and my sister was on the high school swim team, and I was eight and could swim just well enough not to drown....
Nevertheless. DEVASTATED.

So anyway.

The Aqua-Jogger Pro is a styrofoam thing with an elastic strap. It is about $60. Styrofoam. Elastic. $60.

That's 12 medium pumpkin spice lattes (with soy and an extra shot).

So, I strapped it around my waist, and jumped into the water with DreadPirate, my aqua-jogging tutor. It holds you up so that your feet don't touch the bottom of the pool. I have to use the pro instead of the classic because of my bootyliciousness. The Aqua-Jogger Pro is, "50% more buoyant than the Aquajogger Classic. Preferred by male athletes and "sinkers"."

The trick, in aqua-jogging, is to stay upright and resist the temptation to use your hands to move through the water faster. You sorta bicycle your legs as fast as you can. As my fastest, I was able to move 25 yards down the pool in about 1:45. It is painfully, painfully slow. Aqua-jogging is kind of like that nightmare where you're trying to get away from the monster but can't seem to run fast. I used to have nightmares like that when I was little (now they're mostly me not being able to yell, no matter how hard I try).

Once I got into my rhythm, I really liked it. I wish I had music to listen to, but there is NO WAY I'm wearing my iPod in the pool. Even if I could get it out of my locked car, which I can't. Because I've lost my keys again. But anyway. I found my stride, and I liked it. After that we did some lifting, and then, this morning, I did about an hour on the elliptical trainer, which felt great, and according to the machine, did about 4 miles on it. I was sweaty and tired and felt GRRRRREAT!

Then DP and her people and I went to brunch and I had huevos rancheros which, when made properly, are awesome. Most restaurants in New Mexico put their own spin on it; in this one I had green AND red chili, eggs over easy, black beans and potatoes, on corn tortillas, not flour.

Plus, today is also the first day I haven't had any pain in my leg at all. AT. ALL.
All in all, a great weekend.

So that's my workout routine for the next two weeks: Spin class and a short (1000 meter) swim Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Elliptical trainer followed by aqua-jogging on Tuesday and Thursday.
Tomorrow, I'll find out whether this is a stress fracture (shudder) or shin splints. I've been rubbing it over before and after my workouts with Arnica Montana and taking Arnica Montana pellets as directed. I don't actually believe in homeopathy, but what the hell. I've heard people I respect swear by it.

The worst that can happen is that I'm out about $14, right?

I will do almost anything not to miss the Palo Duro 50K on October 18th.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Ahem. If you have a moment...

Sweet Baboo is running a hundred miles today.


You can't stop a tornado, or a train, or any of the other analogies that a 200+ pound man running represents. I told him he'd have to tell his parents, though. At least one parent responded with a stony silence, and then eye rolls. Who could blame a parent for feeling that way?

He says that the experience is very spiritual for him. very important. I can't argue with that. I know what I get from running. There's enough joy for everyone, and I want Baboo to have more than his share, whenever he can. He wants to do it better this time.

So, he called me this morning from Arkansas, where he's doing this, before he started. He has lots of drop bags, and this time he put index cards in a baggie in each drop bag, to remind of what to do, like check his feet.

I couldn't be there this time because I had prior obligations. I"ll be aqua jogging today until Mini-baboo comes home from his cros-country meet in Gallup, then I'll be chauferring him and his date to and from Homecoming. I'm not an ultra-runner today. I'm an ultra-mom, and my boys are running.

So, if you have a moment and some extra good thoughts and wishes, send them towards Little Rock.


Friday, October 03, 2008

Putty face.

I have a particular problem that used to be bad all the time but now, it only affects me at certain times of the month or when I can't run. It has a name. Every flaw. Every asymmetry, that is normal for a person to have, is magnified, far and beyond the usual issues people have with their appearance.

I look at myself and a recent picture and just before I can express my horror of how awful I look in the picture, Sweet Baboo says, "Hey, that's a good picture of you!" My closest best friend, when I lived in South Dakota, thought that I was vain because I checked the mirror so much. She just didn't get i that I was checking, the same way someone with an eating disorder might check their weight.

I blame my mom. And maybe, some chemical stuff that I probably inherited from my father's side. LOTS of depression and self loathing runs deep in both sides of my family. But anyway, Mom was a professional artist and so I have more than a healthy knowledge of "proper" proportion and symmetry and am acutely aware that I have neither of those things and frankly neither does anyone else but remember, a good neurosis is all about me Me, and my inability to stop fixating on how much I often wish I looked like something other than how I looked.

In bad times, I see the chicken pock scar from when I was ten, and the mole that I've tried to freeze off 3 times despite most people not even noticing that it's there, and the groove that's deepening between my eyebrows, and the nose that I've had altered, and lines that are just starting on my forehead. I feel the insecurity rising in me, the desperation, as I look at a face that looks like I've had a stroke. My face misshapen. I look like a face made of putty that's been stretched unevenly.

But then.
But then I say, Screw it. And I go out for a run. And then it fades away. I come back all sassy and sweaty and don't care how I look. I see myself, and I see strong and healthy. I'm a strong healthy slightly assymetrical nearsighted forty-something woman and I don't notice the lines after the run. I just notice the glow, and the smile.

Except that right now, I can't run. Erg. I've gotten better about this problem that I have with my appearance, but I want to stay ahead of it. I used to take meds that helped with various things, but nothing ever helped with this, until I started running.

So. But. I'm not writing this for validation of how non-ugly I am. I know, intellectually, that I'm not ugly. But when putty face strikes, it's not intellectual. It's emotional, and it's chemical. I'm telling you because maybe you know what it's like. I'm telling you that it's not you. It's emotional, and it's chemical. You just have to keep searching to find the solution, which for me, was running. Sometimes, for some people, it's meds, or therapy. For me, it was running.

Running, for me, is magical. I stop picking at my skin. I stop staring in the mirror. Sometimes I go by reflective surfaces and I even forget to check. I run, and I'm fabulous, and beautiful, and strong.

So I run. ALOT. Except that right now I can't. Soooo, I guess this afternoon I'll try aqua-jogging. Running is my new drug, my new addiction that makes the ugly putty face go away.

I'll do anything to keep it from coming back.


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Meh. My week.

<--Bought one of these. Gonna try it out tomorrow. Maybe. Right now it's locked in my car and I can't find my keys.

Skeptical. We'll see. Upon the suggestion of a friend, when I was kvetching about how the mint was taking over my back yard, I tried my first mojito. I'm unimpressed. I think it would better without the lime, and maybe with some coconut. Maybe I'll invent my own drink: The "Nutty Athena". or something like that.

Got an ex-ray. No word on that yet.

Can't run.

PS: You may be sick of reading this from me, but it's one of my pet peeves:



 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...