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Friday, April 30, 2010

Giveaway: Signed Copy of The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life

I'm so incredibly excited to post my very first giveaway! It's like my blog has finally come of age!

When I was at the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon Expo, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Runner's World editor Amby Burfoot. He won the 1968 Boston Marathon (is time was 2:22:17), and has been working at Runner's World since 1978.

The giveaway is for a signed copy of Amby's book, The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life that I picked up at the Expo and had Amby sign for one of my readers! This book contains Amby Burfoot's lessons from his lifetime of running. It is meant to be inspirational and spiritual.
How to enter the contest. Please leave a comment for each one of these that you do, and do as many of them as you like!:
  1. (mandatory) Leave me a comment to let me know what inspires you to run.
  2. (optional) Become a follower of my blog by clicking the "Follow" link on the right hand column, or let me know that you are already a follower.
  3. (optional) Become a fan of mine (or I guess it's "Like" now) on Facebook by going here or clicking on the button on the left column, or let me know you're already a fan.
  4. (optional) Add my blog to your blogroll on your blog, and leave me a comment to let me know you did (provide a link if you want).
  5. (optional) Tell others about this giveaway on Twitter, Facebook, or on your blog, and let me know that you did by leaving a comment to tell me about it! (provide a link if you'd like)

I will choose a winner on Friday, May 14. So, be sure to participate before then!

Stats as of 30 April 2010

April 2009
46.7 miles
10 hours, 19 minutes
Avg Pace: 13:17/mile
Frederick Half Marathon (actually May 3, but close enough): 2:41:17 (12:19 per mile)

April 2010
54.8 miles -- 8.1 miles more than in 2009
11 hours, 15 minutes -- 1:04 longer than in 2009
Avg Pace: 12:20/mile -- 57 seconds faster than in 2009
Lehigh Valley Half Marathon: 2:33:38 (11:44 per mile)

It actually surprised me that I ran more miles this month than last April. It seemed like I missed run after run from being hurt, but I guess since I did a mile here and a mile there, I made up some of it. Plus, last year I was on vacation for the first week in April. I took this week off from running - I think I deserve it, and it gave me a chance to get back into my weight training schedule and to get out on the bike. This coming four weeks is going to be so busy with everything I have to do for work and for scuba, so I needed the break.

What can I say about my running? I am doing very well, and I continue to exceed my expectations -- to my absolute amazement... The races where I show up at the starting line with a true goal are the exception, not the rule, so when I PR, I usually am very surprised. After having some minor setbacks this month, all I can say is that I am truly happy to be running at all, and so lucky to have something that I love.

Next weekend, the Galloway program starts. This will be my fifth year. I've spent the winter running "rogue," meaning not running with my running store. My group has had an excellent off season, and I'm looking forward to running with them again this summer.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Three Things Thursday

  1. My scuba class on Tuesday went well. My role as an Assistant Instructor is basically to hang in the pool with the instructor and work with some of the students with him. We covered some basic skills, like purging your regulator (getting the water out of it so you can breathe) and what to do when you lose your regulator (regulator retrieval). It was so much information to pack into one night. It was fun, though, and I'm looking forward to next Tuesday. Also, check out this week's Sea Things!! It's a repeat if you're a long time reader, but it's one of my favorite fishies!
  2. I'm so looking forward to a weekend with decent weather. I'm planning to get some gardening done this weekend. I have some new plants that were shipped in that I'm hoping haven't died since I haven't been able to get out and plant them. They came on Friday.
  3. This is my last weekend running with my group before the new Galloway program starts! I can't believe how fast this winter flew by!!! I'm excited to meet my new round of people, though. In the meantime, I'm going to run a test mile run on Saturday during our long run to see how I am doing with my one mile time. I haven't run a miracle mile since last May, so I'm curious to see how I'm doing. I don't really want to be surprised when I run one with my group on the track. I've never been able to break the 10 minute mark (not on a track anyway, I've done it in a 5k). So, we'll see how I do.
I hope everyone is having a great day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Running Challenge Question: My Other Hobby

Christina, at Lazy Bones Running, asks "Besides running, what is your next favorite sport/activity?" This is a great question because it gives me the opportunity to talk about my other favorite thing. If you are a regular reader, you already know what it is, but here it goes - scuba diving. So, what have I been up to with scuba?

Well, I am pleased to say that I passed my Dive Control Specialist Exam with a score of 96%! It was tough, and Todd and I studied and studied and studied. I can tell you all sorts of things about diving physics, diving maladies and diseases, and more!

Tonight, I start my first Open Water Class. We do one open water class for observation, so I will go and observe the class, and help the instructor in the same way that I will when I'm a fully certified Divecon. I guess it's like a "dry run" of being with students. It should be good, but I'm a little worried because both the classroom and pool sessions are on the same night, which means I'm going to be out pretty late (Todd got home around 12:30am for his class in March). I think I'm going to prefer the classes where the pool and classroom sessions are on different nights.

We'll be going into the quarry in a few weeks, and that same weekend is our open water portion of our Divecon course. The other divecons will be doing a pool session for stress and rescue training in May, and it's on the same night as my class, so I have to make that up in June. We also have to take CPR and First Aid. So, there is still a lot left to the class.

We do also have some diving coming up in other places, for fun. I'll update you on those as they come along. I can't wait to get away again, especially after how busy the next month is going to be.

MBE: Family, Friends and My Blog

Monday Brain Exchange is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at Finishing Is Winning.

Topic: Your blog

Question: Do your family and friends know about your blog? If so, what do they think of it? If not, why haven’t you told them?

When I first started blogging over five years ago, I really didn't think anyone was reading. And compared to now, they weren't. I started watching my stats and discovered that I had about 5 or 6 dedicated readers, and I knew all of them. Shout out to Mary, Erika, Chris, Abby, Sandra and Nick as being my longest and most faithful readers - they've been around since the beginning.

Todd, of course, reads, and he makes me happy that he gives me freedom to write whatever I want. He's very supportive.

The take off of the blog has been very slow, but I'm starting to get a lot more people and a lot more strangers reading. As for my other friends and family - well, I have some that drop in occasionally, and I've picked up some new people since my humble days in 2004. I have a few cousins that read, although my siblings and parents do not, unless I send them a link to something to read. I have a few friends and co-workers who read regularly, and I have also developed a strange following of friends of friends - people I've never met, but we have someone in common.

I'd love to see who else is out there, so if you would like to leave me a comment just to say hello and introduce yourself, I'd love it!!!

And here's another fun thing - I'm going to be doing my very first giveaway soon. Keep watching the blog, I'm hoping to post it this week!!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Lehigh Valley HM Video

No, I don't see me or Todd in there anywhere.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon

To be honest, I was just happy to be running this race, after all of the weird setbacks I'd had over the last few weeks. I wasn't sure what to expect and I knew that the weather was going to be less than perfect, so I figured I would just get out there and see how I felt. I apologize for the lack of photos, but since it rained today, I didn't want to bring the camera along.

So, yesterday, we drove the 2 1/2 hours up to Allentown, Pennsylvania and went straight to the expo. I was trying to get there in time to see Born to Run author Chris McDougall, who was signing books until 2:30. We slid in the door at 2:25, and I got my copy signed. I talked to him a moment about barefoot running and the book (including being very honest in telling him that I'm not quite done yet). I'm super-shy, so I felt funny talking to him. It was good, though.

The expo was good, a lot of the usual players, but some that you don't usually see at a race of this size. The Stick, etc were there, and Runner's World's Amby Burfoot was signing books there, too. I got myself a copy of The Runner's Guide to the Meaning of Life. I'm excited to read that one after I finish Born to Run. We got our goody bag, including a sweet fleece vest and a little stuffed kangaroo that was wearing a Lehigh Valley Half Marathon shirt. That's a new toy for my desk at work.

After the expo, we were hungry and just happened to stop at the first place we found, which was Nino's Pizzeria. Good stuff! We headed to the hotel after that. We were staying at the Hilton Garden just outside of town, which was inexpensive, but not the best choice. I chose it based on cost, and the fact that we'd have a microwave and a fridge, as well as free wifi. However, it wasn't one of the hotels on the race's shuttle route, so few runners were staying there, and others staying in the hotel came in very late making a LOT of noise. Next time, I'll stay at one of the main race recommended hotels.

We spent some time goofing around in Target, getting some supplies (garbage bags, mostly, and I forgot to bring a spoon for my oatmeal), and then headed to the pasta dinner.

The pasta party was at Allentown Brew Works, which served us a delicious dinner. We also tasted some yummy beers. Probably shouldn't have the night before a race, but oh well. Chris McDougall was speaking at the pasta dinner, too. He was the main reason I was there, but he really didn't speak very long at all, which was sort of a disappointment. After that, we headed back to the hotel for a good nights sleep (except for the lots of noise that I mentioned above).

This morning, we were up at 6am, and I had my oatmeal, got dressed and headed out. The weather was calling for 47 degrees at the start, with rain. I debated and debated and ended up wearing capri pants, my Annapolis Ten Miler long sleeve shirt, and my Annapolis Ten Miler jacket with the sleeves taken off. I was excited to match! We headed to the starting line, parked at the nearby fairgrounds, and walked the couple of blocks to the start. They had opened up the high school gym there, so we had a warm and dry place to hang out while we waited for the start.

At the start, it was not too bad. There was a drizzle going on, and that would continue all the way until maybe mile 7 or 8, but there were only a couple of instances where it was really and truly raining. The drizzle does add up, though, when you're running through it, and I was constantly wet. I did manage to keep my feet relatively dry through most of the race, finally deciding to slosh through a puddle instead of going around it during mile 11 or 12 or so, and getting soaked that way.

Todd stayed with me, and I followed Jeff Galloway's instructions and stuck with a 1:1 (one minute run + 1 minute walk) interval. I was supposed to switch to 1:30 and 1 if I wanted to at mile 8, but I didn't. I was keeping a good pace without switching intervals.

The course started out through city blocks, and at the mile 1 marker, I looked down at my watch to see 11:24. My PR is 2:37, or a 12 minute pace, so I was very pleased. I decided to go with it and see how I could do with that pace.

I had started ahead of the 2:30 pace group, and managed to stay ahead of them for about a mile, but unfortunately they caught up with me. This totally stunk. We ended up sticking right with them, which is good from a pace perspective, but HORRIBLE considering that Todd and I were leapfrogging with them. I'd run ahead of them, then when I would walk, they would catch me and pass me again. I could not shake them, and they were hogging the whole width of the course. With puddles to dodge, this was not a good scenario.

Still, there were lots of bands on the course, and they were awesome, and then the course took us through a nice wooded park, where we stayed for several miles. I was keeping up with a sub-12 minute pace and very pleased with how it was going. After a while of 11:20-11:30s, I was eventually passing up into the 11:40 range, and with that, I lost the pace group. I was sad that if I was losing them, I was behind them, but I was happy to have them out of my way.

As far as the course went, it was a series of small hills. Overall, there were no large hills, but lots of little bumps. Todd kept my spirits up as I started to get tired towards the end. The little hills did add up. There was this guy that we saw along the course wearing a jacket that said "Vertical Assault." I was like, Hey! Vertical Assault! I need some of that. I'm going to start using the phrase "Vertical Assault" when my group is running hills. I've since googled it and discovered that it's a pole vaulting club in Bethlehem, PA.

I was tired by the end of the race, and I can definitely say that I gave this race my all. Those last 2-3 miles were tough, and it was only really because I was just running out of gas. My stomach was starting to hurt, but I was afraid to eat. The rain had stopped, but there were lots of puddles. Todd kept me going, he is awesome to have along for a tough run.

Finally, there was a pretty steep uphill and then we were in the stadium for the finish. This race finishes on a track, but unlike the Maryland or Frederick halfs, it's not a horse track, it's a running track, which is really nice. We crossed the line in 2:33, a new PR by about 4 minutes.

Medal, and then food. They had a very nice selection of food after the race, including bananas, oranges, chocolate chip muffin tops, a vegetarian sausage sandwich (made with black beans), and a vegetarian pirogies vegetable soup. We ate in the stadium, but it was chilly and windy once we'd stopped running, so we high tailed it up to catch the shuttle bus to the parking lot (another great benefit of this race).

We headed to the hotel to take a quick shower and wash all of the grime and mud off of our legs from running in the rain, and then headed home. Tonight, we went out for a delicious celebration feast at our local hibachi restaurant. Good times. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Q&A with a Galloway Boston Qualifier

I can't run Boston myself, but I know several people that have. I wanted to share the experience of one such person. Her name is Lori and she is a friend of mine from the Baltimore Galloway Program. Lori has qualified for and run Boston twice, following the Galloway method (taking walk breaks) all the way. Lori ran the Boston marathon in 2009 with a time of 3:52 and again in 2010 with a time of 3:53. When using the Galloway Method, she does a 4:1 interval (4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking). Here is a Q&A with Lori to talk about her experience.

Kim: What is your running history? How long have you been running and have you always followed the Galloway Method?

Lori: I have been running for about 15 years, but seriously focusing on it for about the last 10 years. My first couple marathons I followed Hal Higdon's programs (which consisted of running 6 days/week and no walk breaks). Training back then seemed more like a job and eventually it became a chore to actually run.

Kim: What made you decide to try using the Galloway Method?

Lori: I started Galloway about 5 years ago with Fleet Feet Baltimore. I noticed the Galloway program on Fleet Feet's website so I emailed Karen (our program leader) with tons of questions. At that point I had run about 5 or 6 marathons, but I couldn't break 4 hours. She felt confident that this program was right up my alley and I have been hooked ever since!

Kim: Tell me about qualifying. You've run the race twice, where did you qualify and how did that go?

Lori: My first qualifier was the Richmond marathon. Richmond is a flat, fast course with a downhill finish. I didn't go into Richmond with the goal of qualifying, I just wanted to break 4 hours (qualifiying for Boston was an added bonus). I realized around mile 23 that I would be under 4 hours. It wasn't until mile 25 that I figured out that I had potential to qualify for Boston so I went for it.

This year I qualified for Boston running the Columbus Marathon, having a PR of 3:43. This marathon is great for anyone who wants to try and qualify. The first 13 miles are mostly downhill and it is a fast course.

Kim: How has the Galloway Method helped you with your Boston Qualification?

Lori: I honestly don't think I could ever qualify or even ever break 4 hours if I didn't use Galloway. I love that I only have to run 3 days/week (gives me time to either go to the gym or bike) and I love the fact that I can put in a long distance run and still feel great afterwards (both energy wise and soreness wise). I know a lot of runners use Galloway up until mile 20 or so, but I actually use it up until the very end (even this year at Boston I took my walk break that was due around mile 25). I am so used to this method and my times have been ok that I never feel the need to skip walk breaks even at the end (I would like to start running straight through once I hit mile 23 or 24, but I just haven't brought myself to do this yet).

Kim: Can you talk a little about the race itself? How was your Boston Marathon experience?

Lori: Boston was great. It was nice knowing what to expect this year, especially with the long wait period in Athlete's Village before the actual start. The crowd support is amazing; it truly is a party for the towns we run through (in fact, I think some of the spectators were feeling much worse the day after the marathon than the runners were!). It amazes me how many people come out to support runners that they don't even know. Anytime you thought about getting tired, the crowd was right there to motivate you. My favorite part this year was seeing Team Hoyt at the expo and then on the course. I actually was able to run a bit with Team Hoyt (father who races with his son in the wheel chair). It was so emotional and the tears were streaming down my face; they truly were an inspiration to me. I hope to run it again in 2012. (note from Kim: Lori qualified for Boston again for 2012 with her time at the 2010 Boston Marathon)

Kim: Do you have any advice for runners who would like to qualify for Boston?

Lori: My advice for anyone who wants to qualify for Boston is to first find a great running group to join (I would never have been so successful in my marathons without the support of my group) and then to give the Galloway method a really does work.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Things Thursday

  1. I am running the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon this weekend. As of right now, all of my problems with my toe seem to be resolved (I haven't worn high heels since that day), and my ribs also are much, much better. They're still tender now and again, but I'm not getting pain for the most part. I quit all of my weight training for the time being, and I think that helped. I will pick up with weight training again on Monday, after my half marathon. Right now they're calling for almost the exact same weather this year as I had last year for the Frederick Half Marathon - 60's and rain. No big deal, the Frederick Half was a great race. I'm going into Lehigh Valley with no expectations at all. If I were to match my PR, I'd be more than pleased.

  2. I haven't been out cycling in over a week. Yesterday it was raining, and this past weekend I was busy with a number of things. I feel like my training the past couple of weeks has been disjointed and strange, but the Galloway program starts in just 2 1/2 more weeks, and I'll have a new crop of victims runners to torture train. This year, I'm leading a group of full marathoners, despite the fact that I'm not running a fall marathon. (or am I?)

  3. My new Sea Things post is posted at Above and Below Photo! This week's topic is the Spotted Scorpionfish - and it is entirely new, not imported from this blog. Check it out!

Earth Day

So, it's Earth Day, and I wanted to talk a little bit about my role and what I'm doing to try and conserve and be more eco-friendly to the world. While I wish I was doing more, I was reading this article from Cheap, Healthy, Good yesterday and it reminded me that sometimes we can only do some things and not everything, so every little bit counts. From the article:
Is a cheap banana better for us when it exploits workers in a different hemisphere? If we didn’t buy that banana, would they have jobs at all? Can you realistically expect someone to buy a $17 chicken twenty miles away, when a $3 one exists right around the corner?
Sometimes, you just can't do it all. Here's what I am doing to try and save the world:
  • Continuing to drive my car. For now, it gets about 27 mpg, which is pretty good for a non-hybrid. In not buying a new car, I'm not producing a new car and plastics, etc that have to be made in producing a new one. I keep my emissions in check, and try and do everything I can to use less gasoline.
  • I buy as much local food as I can. I live in farm country, so it's easy for me to stop at a produce stand on my way home from work during the summer. I eat as much local produce as I can, and I LOVE it! YUM! My eggs and milk also come from local dairies. I'm trying to get into buying grass-fed beef and free range chicken from local farms, but I have yet to make the leap. One step that must be done first is that I must clean out my freezer, which is currently over flowing with a lot of I don't know what.
  • I use reusable grocery bags. I love them, and the single best thing about them is that they've freed us from the mountain of disposable plastic bags that we were drowning under for years and years.
  • I use less chemical cleaning products than I used to. I try to clean as much as I can with water, plus baking soda and vinegar. It's actually going very well.
  • I care about oceans and reefs and fish, so I do not eat foods that are not on the eco-seafood list as a good choice. (or Environmental Defense Fund) At the top of my list of fish I don't eat are Grouper, Chilean Sea Bass, Shark, and Orange Roughy.
  • I watch what plastic I throw away, since much of it will go into the ocean and be eaten by sea animals. In addition, Todd and I started recycling in 2008 and continue to do so.
There is so much more that I can do. My hobbies, for example, are not that great for the environment. I take a lot of flights every year. I drive sometimes long distances in order to go run. I need to switch to the eco-friendly light bulbs, but we have yet to do so. My treadmill uses a lot of energy. I love hot showers.

So, in many ways, shame on me, but I'm doing what I can and doing my best, so I'll continue to try and do better.

Image Credit: woodleywonderworks

Monday, April 19, 2010

Who's Faster? A Celebrity Marathon Quiz

I should have done better, but it was hard!!

MBE: Boston

Monday Brain Exchange is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at Finishing Is Winning.

Topic: BOSTON!

Question: Do you get excited about the Boston Marathon? Have you ever ran or do you hope to one day run in the race? Will you watch today and if so will it be watching in person, on TV, on the computer? Do you have anyone special running this year? Any great Boston stories to tell?

I do get excited about the Boston Marathon, since I have been lucky enough to know several people who have run it. This year, I am cheering on my good friend Davida as she runs her first Boston Marathon. Davida is my hero!!

I have never run Boston, and I don't expect to ever run Boston. It isn't a goal of mine, and I'm not anywhere near fast enough to qualify. Plus, at least for Boston, I don't think I'd ever want to run it if I didn't qualify for it. I know there are charity runners, I don't want to be one (at least not for that race).

I am keeping track of Davida's progress on the computer, cheering her on! I wish I could be there, but since Boston always takes place on a weekday, well...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Gardening 2010: The Beginning

This year, I am again taking on some new challenges in the yard for my 2010 gardening. I have an empty flowerbed to fill, and I have an ongoing desire to add more color to our back flower beds. I'm also trying to make some major moves from annuals to perennials all over the place, just to keep myself sane and my pocketbook full.

So, here's how things have been so far.

Let's start with the Irises. If you recall, in the fall, I divided the irises. Here is the photo of the irises last summer:

As you can see, they were taking over!! Only 2 or 3 of them even bloomed, since they were crowding each other out too much. I divided them following some awesome internet instructions, and then sat back and decided that I'd likely killed them.

Guess what??

I didn't kill them! The picture above shows the irises, as they have started to come up this spring. They are in MUCH smaller amounts than they were before, just to control my sanity. They were in the way because of their proximity to the hose. I also want to put stepping stones in the flowerbed there, so I left space for that. If it ever happens.
Next discussion point? Vinca vines! Last year, I was impressed that the vinca vines showed up in my flowerbed after they apparently seeded there from a rogue vine in a flowerpot the year before. This year:

They're showing up all over the place, taking over!! I'm impressed with their hardiness (aren't they an annual??), but I'm going to be digging up their little bits and putting them into containers with boxwoods. I bought new containers for the boxwoods that are self-watering, and they arrived yesterday.
Also in the fall, I planted some hyacinths. I planted them specifically because I remember them blooming in very early March last year on a nearby street during a run. They smelled so good and made me think of spring. I vowed that I would plant them in my own yard so that I could see early spring flowers, too. Well, guess what happened? In early March, there was still 2 feet of snow sitting on top of where I'd planted them. I was so upset!! I thought they'd never come up! Alas, they did, just later than expected:
They're too sparse, though, and I'll have to plant more of them this fall to allow for more spring blooms in 2011! In March, I also divided some Purple Rain Salvia that grows in that same bed, and took two of the divisions and moved them to my butterfly garden in the back yard. Just like the Irises, I was certain I'd killed them, but I'm happy to report that they're greening up and coming up nicely!

Here is a shot of the ongoing front "around the tree" flowerbed that I started in the fall of 2008. The pansies that I'd planted in the fall are blooming again, some of the hyacinths were planted here as well, and the tulips were just starting to come up.

And I took this one Thursday morning. Tulips are in full bloom, things are looking good. I only wish that the tree would get leaves a little earlier in the season:

Back to the front again, last weekend I planted some Gerbera Daisies as this year's sunny mailbox annual. Last year was Zinnias, but I am angry with Zinnias.

Finally, the big new project for the year, I am growing some plants from seed. I'm using the Ultimate Growing System from Burpee, and I am happy with it so far:

You can see my cool little tags, and how the seedlings have sprouted. Some of the dirt levels are lower than others because I poured the water in too fast and the little dirt pellets they gave me expanded out too quickly in the wrong direction. Live and learn. Many of these messed up dirt pellet seedlings are sprouting anyway.

My seedlings are: Black Eyed Susan Vine, Basil, Sage, Marigolds, Strawberries, and Peppers. Some are sprouting, some are not.

I intended to grow most of those in containers. The marigolds will go in under the tree where the pansies currently are in the photos above. All of my seedlings are starting a little late, but I think they'll be fine. I'm looking forward to seeing how things go. And, I think I'll have far more basil than I need. Pesto, anyone?

And what is next? Well, obviously I'm waiting for the seedlings to grow. I received an order this week from Bluestone Perennials, whom I'm very pleased with. They sent me a catalog that I'm drooling over. Last year, I mentioned the Sedums that we have in our back flower beds that I hate and think look like weeds. Well, I intended to rip them out, but then I saw how much the bees liked them and I felt bad about wanting to rip them out. So, instead, I ripped only a few out and I'm going to add in some other perennials that I think will help make the flowerbed look less like a random smattering of flowers and more like something awesome. I'm adding Black Eyed Susans and Twilight Echinacias. (No, not that Twilight). They arrived on Thursday and I'll post some more photos of them.

I'm really preferring purchasing my perennials online. I feel like the return policies are good, I can really sit down and decide what I want, and I can order from many different places with consistent stock without wondering if Lowe's or Local Nursery happens to have what I'm looking for right now. I'm feeling good about where things are going, and while the yard is far from what I want it to be, it's getting there.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Check Out Sea Things!

So, after a lot of debate, I finally decided that my blog has moved in a different direction from my "Sea Things" feature that I've been working on for many months. The old Sea Things posts will remain here on this blog, but any new posts going forward will be found on Still written by me, though. So, if you are a follower of this blog and enjoyed Sea Things, think about subscribing to or following that blog as well! I'll point you over there now and again. I'll slowly be moving the old posts over, so some of the weekly Sea Things may be things you've seen before (if you're a regular follower of this blog), but I'll also be posting new ones, so keep your eyes out!

I'll still be writing about my adventures scuba diving, and the trips that I take here, so it's only Sea Things that is moving. Everything else will be staying the same.

Also, if you haven't already, think about following this blog on Facebook!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Three Things Thursday

This post was originally only one thing, but I've changed it. I don't know how that affects my RSS feeds, so sorry if you get a partial repost or no post at all...

I'm starting to get better with the three things Thursdays! Also, checkout the giveaway at Racing with Babes!

  1. I went for another ride on the bike last night. It's not bothering my rib injury to ride the bike, which is excellent. I was feeling a lot more confident after my ride with Misty on Sunday. I wasn't worried at all about passing people or being passed, even when the 6 year old on the bike went right in front of me. I even went through a couple of gates (although not all of them).
  2. My doctor's PA just called to let me know that my thyroid is normal, and that I have been medically cleared to be a Divecon! This is great news! Because it was the PA and not the actual doc, I didn't mention my ribs, so now I need to decide if I am going to make an appointment to go in for the rib bruise. Half marathon is in 9 days.
  3. According to Jill, today is blogger adoption day. This is news to me, but I thought I'd talk about my own adoption stories! I'm not adopted, and neither is my husband, Todd. However, both of us have ONLY adopted siblings. BOTH of us! It's very strange.

    On my family's side, my parents tried to have children and were unsuccessful, so they adopted my brother. My mom had always wanted twin girls and a boy, and Bo was part of that. She did get pregnant after that, and carried the baby to full term, but it was stillborn baby girl. This was devastating to her. Within a couple of years, though, she was able to adopt my two sisters, who are twins and she had her twin girls and a boy! Can you imagine, though, two infants and a three year old at the same time? Yikes! So, they assumed that was it. And then, ten years later, I came along as a surprise! Surprise!!!

    It was much the same on Todd's side, he has an older brother and an older sister, although the difference in age is much smaller than it is between my siblings and me. We keep saying that if we have a child, it will be a miracle child (or, as Todd says, "it will have horns."). Could be.

    Me and my sisters:

Recipe: Cheddar Burgers with Red Onion Jam

I've been making a bunch of delicious recipes lately. This one, I actually made a while back (I remember the Olympics were on) because I was seriously craving a cheeseburger. The first time I made it, I paired it with baked garlic fries, which were good but took forever. This time, I just made a salad and steamed some carrots. A lot less time consuming on the side dishes.

The red onion jam goes perfectly with the burgers. So, so, delicious. Highly recommended. I'm happy to be back on the grill again. I love these warm days!

Image Credit:

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

MBE: Training

Monday Brain Exchange is sponsored by Jill, who blogs at Finishing Is Winning.

Question: How do you train? Do you use a schedule, have a coach or go with the flow? Do you train alone or with group?

It sort of depends on the time of year, but for the most part, my training year goes sort of like this:

May through October: Galloway Training Season. This usually starts the first or second weekend in May, and includes organized group runs. I'm a group leader, and we meet each Saturday to run a structured number of miles, or a structured amount of speed work, etc. This is a large group (over 100) in total, although my own group usually runs between 6 and 15 people. This Galloway Program is run by Fleet Feet Baltimore, my home running store. Fleet Feet also has organized runs on Tuesday and Thursday nights, which I frequently participate in, weather permitting (and my definition of "good" weather is a lot different than most).

October through January: In the past, these few months are the ones between when the Galloway training season technically ends and when I run the Walt Disney World Marathon or Half Marathon. I've kept up with a schedule, ramping up miles as necessary, and training with people from my group who are also running Disney or a winter marathon or half. This year will be a little different since I will not be running Disney or any race in January 2011, so we'll see how that will go when we get there.

January through May: Hey, it's where we are now!! This is my time between major races. I focus on other things (weight training, cycling, step aerobics) and just keep up my base mileage. I still run a spring half marathon and train for it, but I don't train quite as hard as I do for a fall or winter race. This is my fun time, and I run with whomever from my group or even not in my group shows up on the trail to run with us.

My group and me at the Baltimore Half Marathon 2008:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More on My Poor, Sad, Ribs

I was more optimistic about my painful ribs before I left work and went out to run. Every step hurt. Breathing hurt. Breathing harder because of running stressed be out, I tensed my whole upper body. Important discussions were going on about what type of Galloway group I'll have this year and all I could focus on was how much pain I was in.

I made it just over a mile or so, and had to turn back and walk back to the store. Every time I tried to run, it hurt. Bending over hurts. Rolling over in bed hurts. Sitting up hurts. Coughing hurts. Sneezing hurts. Opening or closing a heavy door hurts. Everything I'm trying to do hurts.

I so don't want to go to the doctor. On top of everything else, I'm trying to get cleared to be a Divecon, and haven't been able to because of my thyroid. I am currently awaiting thyroid test results.

I'm so bummed. I really, really, really, don't want to go to the doctor. My race is coming. :(

Edited to add: If I went to a doctor, what kind of doc would I even see? Orthopedist? Or do I have to go to my regular doc?

If I Were to Try Racing on a Bike

That came courtesy of Kona Bikes, who I now follow on Facebook. I mean, I would fall, not that I would actually potentially win. But, that's what I am going to say next time I fall off the bike. Did I win? Ha!

Anyway, in my post last night I forgot to mention my bike-crash related injuries. For the most part, I have some black and blue skin still, but nothing really hurts... except my ribs. The point where my heart rate monitor dug into my ribs is still really sore. It hurt through most of my run on Saturday - my water belt would occasionally hit it. It hurts to do some basic things, like pick things up off of the floor and roll over in bed. Todd once had bruised ribs from lacrosse and tells me that it could be weeks before it's finally better. Hopefully it will at least be manageable by the time I'm running the half marathon, now 11 days away.

Monday, April 12, 2010


The toe is doing better. At this point, it doesn't hurt anymore at all, but I'm still nervous about it and I make up pain in my head, I think. I'm terrified of wearing anything with even a little heel, and I'm just trying to keep myself together.

On Saturday, I ran my last long run before my half marathon. I can't believe I am already back to having a major race to run. I did 14 miles, and my calf on the leg where my toe was hurting was sore, but it did ok. I felt sluggish and not that great for the majority of the run, but at least we had beautiful weather and the leaves are really starting to be out on the trees.

Todd preferred to do his run on Sunday, so while he was on the trail, I met Misty for a bike ride. Misty's husband is an avid cyclist, so Misty was giving me a bunch of pointers on riding. More than anything, she took my mind off of the ride, so that I was thinking about talking and relaxing rather than freaking out because someone was walking a dog near me. I was a lot more confident, and I wasn't really all that nervous. I was even better at getting on and off. I was not, however, brave enough to ride through the gates on the trail and therefore made Misty stop and wait while I walked through each of the intersections.

I'm still weight training as well, although I'm behind in my STS Rotation from our trip to Florida. I must admit, it is more difficult to get down into the basement when the weather is pretty. I'm trying to loosen up about it and just go with the flow, doing what I can and getting it done when it works for me. I've had a lot of other things going on, too, so you know.

I'm coming up on the last bit of our DiveCon course as well, and I'm expecting that we'll be totally done by Memorial Day! It will be a relief when it's finally finished, although I'm not looking forward to my cold May quarry days. Pray for hot weather that weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Three Things Thursday

I don't usually participate in this, but today for once I actually have three things!

  1. Todd and I just sat and counted bruises. The worst one is apparently on the back of my leg... I can't see it though. The ribs are hurting quite a bit, but it's all good.
  2. I ran tonight, one mile. It was about as far as I could make it. The toe is actually doing great, but that leg is hurting on the outside of my calf, which I think is caused by the limp I've had for three days. It needs some ice and maybe some rest. I did manage to do lower body weights, including lunges (which I was worried about), but I skipped the calf raises because of the toe issue and the leg pain.
  3. I never really talked about my trip to Florida over the weekend, and I guess there's not a lot to add. Going down, I left my cell phone on the plane (it fell out of my pocket and I guess between the seats) and never got it back. I finally re-activated my old phone today, after having over a week with no cell phone (I didn't miss it that much, actually). I needed one for my long run, though. Disney also lost our luggage. They put it in the wrong room after the Magical Express, but they found it within an hour and got it to us. Thank goodness, my one and only running skirt was in there! WDW was great, as usual, and then we spent Saturday and Sunday with Todd's family for Easter. Todd's parents live in the Ocala area and his brother lives in St. Cloud. I introduced them to Geocaching and they all really liked it (well, his parents have done it before, thanks to me).
Here's a photo from Disney. We were at Ohana in the Polynesian resort, having dinner with my family. It was tons of fun and we were not exactly sober...

Ride #3: Wipeout

So embarrassing.

I'm still unable to run. After the ride that I did on Tuesday evening, my toe joint "popped," and actually felt a lot better. Today, I am actually wearing normal shoes again and walking almost normally. My right leg is sore from walking differently or perhaps from yesterday's bike ride.

So, because of my inability to run, I decided to hit the NCR trail yesterday for a ride. I went at the same time as two of my co-workers, but I didn't ride with them. I can't keep up with them, and I'm still lacking confidence in my abilities. I started from Monkton and went south, they started from Ashland and went north. That way, since I'm still without a cell phone (more on that later), I would have help if something happened.

So, things went along well at first. I am feeling better about getting off and on, so I don't have the fear of that quite as much anymore. I passed co-workers Amer and Jared quickly, almost as soon as I started out from Monkton, since it had taken me a while to drive from work up to Monkton in the first place.

Then, I came to the first cross road.

Now, this isn't the crossroad that I speak of. This is actually Ashland (Mile Marker 0), and that is not my bike. I was at Corbett Road, which is just south Monkton. However, this photo really shows the size of the little gaps in the gates that are all up and down the NCR trail and must be navigated through when crossing streets, whether on bike or foot. Naturally, this has never caused an issue for me on foot.

The problem that I have is that when I focus on something, I steer towards it. When I get to the gates, I get nervous that I will hit them. My nerves cause me to focus on them. So, I steer towards them. And what happened going south yesterday was that I hyper-focused and then froze - unable to stop the bike because I when I stop I have to think about it so that I leave the seat properly. I did slow significantly, I was really not going fast, but then CRASH, into the gate.

I crumpled down, one leg through the bike frame, I don't know what happened to anything else, except that I got up right away and made sure that Amer and Jared weren't coming back down the trail to witness this catastrophe. Then, I inspected the bike. It seemed ok, but it had some scratches on the shifter/brake and a gash in the handle bar protective rubber. I meekly walked the bike across the street, but I kept going south.

I didn't have any more trouble all the way to sparks (just over 3 miles from my starting point). I made it through the gates fine, although I was scared about it and white-knuckling the handlebars. I was afraid when I had to pass walkers/runners, and when bikers would pass me. I focused on staring at the path in front of me, making sure that I stayed straight when I would pass or be passed. Nervous.

I headed north again. I was feeling better, but still upset that I'd scratched up my bike. Amer and Jared passed me again, and I didn't have much farther to go to get to Monkton. I came upon Corbett Road, the place where the crash had happened. I knew it was my last set of gates to cross through, and I knew it was where I'd crashed earlier. I nervously approached the first gate (across the street from the one I'd crashed into). Happily, I made it through, but my stomach was still full of butterflies.

I don't know what happened exactly and how I fell. I was nervous. I lost control. I thought I should have jumped off, but I was too late. Maybe I turned the handlebars. Maybe I just rocked off of the bike. I really don't know, except that after I cleared the gate, I fell to the left, this time making every attempt to NOT hurt the bike. I landed on my hip and then back onto my ribs, and the bike slid out in front of me (like a movie or something, to be honest). I was wearing my heart rate monitor and the plastic clip on the chest strap dug in between my ribs when I hit the ground. Ouch. I think I hurt myself worse on the second crash than the first.

Still, I got back up. A guy who was mowing his lawn nearby saw me get up, and then went about his business since I was ok. I walked across the street, walked through the gate I'd hit earlier, and then got back on the bike and headed north.

Humiliating. Why is this so hard? Other people don't have these problems. I have never heard of anybody riding on the NCR and just randomly crashing without other people or bikes being involved. I made it back to my car, put the bike away (after taking an agonizing 20 minutes to get the brake detached so I could get the wheel off), and went home.

I thought about keeping it all quiet, but decided to be open about the incident. Jared and Amer have been surprisingly supportive. Jared made some suggestions about things I could practice. Todd suggested that I walk through the gates on the NCR for now.

I've been invited on a group ride on Sunday. We'll see about that.

Image Credit: Sign - Drewish, Ashland Gate - jon13009

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Ride

I went out on my bike again last evening. I had brought it to work so that I could hit the NCR Trail after work, but I left my helmet at home. So, I went ahead home after work to do the ride. It went well. Todd had raised the seat an inch and a half, which worried me, but I decided to try it. I had a little trouble at first, especially since I was starting on an uphill, but I managed it and it went ok.

My front gear is stuck on the biggest cog. I talked to friend Dannielle, and she says it needs an adjustment. We'll see. Anyway, since the gear was stuck, I couldn't shift into the gears I needed to shift into for the horrible Manchester hills. So, I actually had to get off and rest a couple of times. I was embarrassed.

What I've learned is that riding around my house is BORING and HILLY. I've also learned that I forget to stay on the right side of the road - since I have run these roads so many times, I kept forgetting I was on a bike and turned a corner to end up on the left side of the road into traffic. I never thought that would be difficult, but it is. I just keep forgetting.

Anyway, the bike didn't seem to aggravate my toe issue. The toe is somewhat better (at least less swollen), but I also took pain killers this morning (just tylenol). I'm holding off on the podiatrist appointment for now, for no other reason than I'm just not in the mood to go to the podiatrist.

Also, meet Micki - she's an online friend and she just reposted my very favorite blog post that she's ever written. I wanted to link to it when I bought the bike, but couldn't find it. Here it is!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

MBE: Favorite Races

Since TIART seems to have gone away, there's a new one: Monday Brain Exchange, sponsored by Jill, who blogs at Finishing Is Winning. I am a day late, but better late than never (Jill, maybe announce the question in advance so we can queue up the posts?)

Question: Name your top 3 favorite events to date. When were they and why are they your favorite?

This is tough because I have loved so many races. Let's see:

Philadelphia Distance Run 2009: Everything was perfect about this race. The weather was awesome (sunny, but cool, not cold). The course was flat and pretty - it went through some of downtown Philly, past some historical sites, and then all along the riverfront. There was even something appealing about the bright orange ING race shirt. Of course, it helped that I set a PR. Good race, good times.

Frederick Half Marathon 2008 and 2009: I couldn't decide which year was better, so I chose them both. 2008 was actually my first half marathon ever (despite the fact that I'd run 4 full marathons at that point). The weather was cool and sunny. I ran it alone, but felt great and met my goal. 2009 was rainy, but I ran with Dannielle and had a great time. I PR'd at both races, and really loved the course and the race. It was slightly hilly - rolling hills. It first past through Frederick Downtown, then through residential streets packed with homes full of blooming spring flowers (azaleas and lilacs), and then through a bit of industrial into cow pastures for the final few miles. A great race, which I highly recommend.

Walt Disney World Marathon 2007 and 2010: Yeah, yeah, I realize I ran this one in 2008 as well, but I can't very well say anything that great about the 2008 race. I love the Disney marathon, and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Disney races in general. 2007 was hot and sunny, but it was my first Disney race, and I was so happy to have my sister and her family out with signs supporting us. I was also thrilled to be running with Todd. Being out for 6+ hours in 85 degree heat is not laughing matter, and just finishing was terrific, but I also finished only one minute slower than my previous time at Marine Corps.

As for 2010, well, it's my marathon PR. It was finally a cool race (ok, a cold one) for the marathon. It was so freaking awesome to have run the whole way, never stopping to walk it in. The Galloway method works, I tell ya!

Runners Up:

Hallux Ridigus

I've mentioned before that I have a deformity in my foot that has created some arthritis in at least one of my joints. Both feet. I know this, and it's why I wear custom orthotics in my shoes. It's why I don't feel comfortable running barefoot. For the past couple of years, I really haven't had a problem with it. But, of course, I'm having an issue now.

First, let's discuss the issue. Basically, my first metatarsal joint, or "big toe joint" as I like to call it, is higher than it should be on either foot. Worse on the right. Because of this, over time, more pressure was placed on the ball of my foot and particularly on the ball of my foot towards the big toe. This created stress, and over time the metatarso-phalangeal joint (aka big toe joint) has become arthritic. This means that I have a fraction of the range of motion in that joint that other people have. Try running without bending that joint very far... What happens is that I turn my feet out when I walk or run, most of the time.

The side effect of this different gait is that I end up with a lot of callouses and sometimes blisters on my feet on the big toe side of the ball of my foot. Feet weren't meant to go that way.

The short term solution is that I have custom orthotics that raise that joint up so that less stress is placed on the joint. However, I only wear them in my running shoes. The blisters have stopped over time, and sometimes I even run almost normal these days. I have to be careful about what other shoes I wear. I can't wear high heels that are very high, and I can't wear high heels very long or walk in them long term. I have a pair of ballet flats that I can't wear often because the edge of the shoe rests right on top of that joint, which causes a lot of pain. I end up with one or two pairs of shoes that I wear all the time to work, once I realize that they are comfortable.

The only time I have truly had a problem has been on some weeks when I have a long-long run (over 17/19 miles). I'll get some soreness, not only in that joint, but frankly over my entire foot. But, for the most part, this whole situation has become very manageable.

Long term, the podiatrist says that I may not be able to run anymore. She thinks I may have to have a surgery at some point to clean out the joint and to break it and put it back in place where it's supposed to go. That sounds horrible. I'd like to avoid it, if possible.

So, why are we talking about this today? Well, yesterday, it was nice and warm out. After a weekend of walking around mostly wearing sandals, I decided to wear high heels to work. Nice, open toed, spring-like high heels. I walked some, things were ok all day. I really didn't even think about it. We went to pick up The Bug in Pennsylvania last night and still no problem. However, after I got home, I noticed that joint was sore.

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and almost fell down, the joint hurt so bad when I took the first step. It stiffened overnight, and now I've got myself a limp and a sore toe that hurts so bad I can hardly walk. The right joint is inflamed, you can see that's bigger than the left.

So, I'm icing. I'm supposed to run tonight, but it's looking more and more unlikely that I'll be able to. I brought my bike into work to see if I can ride a bike without pain, but I forgot my helmet so I guess that's out, too. (co-worker told me to ride without a helmet, I think that's a bad plan).

I am miserable, mostly because I can't even walk. I'm limping around, and trying not to walk at all. It hurts. Ouch. :(

Monday, April 5, 2010


My family spends every Easter in Walt Disney World, and Todd and I try to be down there with them every other year. This was an "on" year, so we were flew down to Florida on Wednesday evening. Since Todd's family lives in Florida, it allowed us to also spend a couple days with them, too. So, we had a busy weekend between Walt Disney World and my family, and Easter with his family.

The sad and sucky part is that I left my cell phone on the plane on the way down. It was irritating being in Disney unable to call my family to meet up with them, and now that I'm back at work, I feel lost without it. I'm still in limbo, trying to figure out if Southwest will find it, and then if not, what we should do (should I get a new phone? Should I just reactivate my old one that I liked better anyway?). I've got some photos to post and some more interesting things to talk about, and some of it will go up on the private blog, so look for another post later on with some more details.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Jeff Galloway's Running School

This was my second year attending Jeff Galloway's running school in Baltimore. I'm glad that this year there were no bizarre run-ins with people at Starbuck's. This year, we did a full run with Jeff, for a couple miles (under three, I forget how many exactly). Jeff stopped and talked along the way about how to do certain speed drills, specifically Cadence Drills and Acceleration Gliders. You can see me watching Jeff in the photo above, looking slightly skeptical, perhaps. He also went over proper form on running hills, and we got an opportunity to talk to him about certain things. One person asked him how many marathons he'd run. His response was 152. I have a lot of catching up to do!

After the run, we had running school. This was really a three hour lecture where Jeff talked a lot about his program and his philosophy on running. I recommend it if you want to give the Galloway method a try. No, Galloway is not just for slow runners (although I do happen to be slow). We do have some Boston Qualifiers in our Galloway group, and they are better and faster runners because of using this method.

The biggest thing about Jeff's program and philosophy is that he stresses not getting injured. Indeed, in the 5 years that I've been running using the Galloway method, I've never had an overuse injury. I have had blisters, but that was caused mostly by the wrong shoes and poor form. My stress fracture happened before I was using Galloway's program, and was aggravated by tripping over a laundry basket. But, I digress.

Here is my write up of last year's running school, if you are interested.

The biggest thing that I learned this year was about speed work - repeats, mostly. I want to shoot for a PR at the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon this year, and in order to do so I want to be incorporating some speed work into my workout program. I'm pretty excited about this, and about helping my group achieve their own goals this year. I asked Jeff a lot of questions about how he goes about doing speed work, and I plan to use this. Look for more posts about my track work later this year.

Of course, that's if I can find a track to even use. Last week, inspired by Lacey, I went to attempt to do some track work. It was a giant FAIL, though, as there was both a lacrosse game and some other thing going on at the track at my local high school. Oh well, maybe once school is out.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools?

I was trying to think of something rather foolish to put into an April Fools Day post this year. However, I wasn't really able to think of anything. I got engaged and married last year. The pregnancy thing has been done (and besides, who knows if it will happen for real sometime soon anyway. Yeah, you read that right). I thought about a good old fashioned Rick Roll, but I guess that is very 2006. What in the world is there to be foolish about?

Sigh. What a crappy April Fools Day Post.
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