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Monday, October 31, 2011

Stats as of 31 October 2011 (and Happy Halloween!!)

October 2010
58.5 miles
12 hours, 12 minutes
Avg Pace: 12:31/mile
Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Relay 2010: 58:48 (4.8 miles)
St. George's Dragon Run 5K 2010: 32:42 (10:33/mile)

October 2011
82.2 miles -- 23.7 miles more than in 2010
18 hours, 16 minutes -- 6 hours, 4 minutes longer than in 2010
Avg Pace: 13:20/mile -- 49 seconds slower than in 2010
St. George's Dragon Run 5K 2011: 32:44 (10:34/mile)

Year Totals:
594 miles at 13:06 per mile

Watching the Marine Corps Marathon on Sunday has made me SO SO excited for New York. Although, I must admit, it is a bizarre excited-scared-nervous kind of excited. I keep pondering my PR and thinking about what is possible and what is not.

Side Note: I never mentioned Lori. You may remember Lori from when I interviewed her in 2010 about qualifying for Boston while using the Galloway method. Well, she did it again. Lori qualified for Boston again at the Baltimore Marathon this month, while doing 4:1 intervals through the entire race straight up to the finish line. Lori is my hero, and is the reason why I never "run it in." If you run correctly, you shouldn't have to!!

As for this month, I ran my longest run of the year (25 miles) on October 1, and it seems like it's been a lifetime since that day. I mean, it has been FOREVER. I had already checked with Jeff Galloway about this extra-long taper back in May, so I know that I'm fine. Still, I am getting impatient to actually run this race!! I'm ready, I have a plan, I'm READY! Let's GO ALREADY!!!

Plans for this week:

  1. Stay healthy
  2. Make a list of what I'm taking to NYC
  3. Get a little extra sleep every night
  4. Join pool #2
  5. Obsessively watch <-- can't help it
Speaking of, race day forecast is currently a high of 61, a low of 48 and sunny. This is PERFECT race day weather. Don't change, forecast!! Please, please, please!

And about Halloween - I'm not a big fan of Halloween (it is probably my least favorite holiday. That's right, it is worse than Arbor day). I've talked about it before. Anyway, I was going to dress up like keyboard cat and then I changed to nyan cat. Then, I decided to be what I am every year - chick wearing old glow in the dark skeleton earrings to work. The skeleton earrings are a hit EVERY YEAR. Why change?

 Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win 25 Free Holiday Cards!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Spectating the Marine Corps Marathon

First of all, I should mention that it snowed yesterday here in Maryland. At our house, we got 6 inches of snow, yet down near my office (20 miles south), they only had  a trace. It's the first time that I ever remember it snowing more than a dusting before November 1. The last time I remember it snowing quite this early was on Veterans Day 1987, where about 6 or 8 inches of snow fell out of the blue on the day that my fourth grade class was supposed to go next door the the cemetery and place American Flags on the graves of veterans (we still did, which is why it stands out in my head). The weird part about the snow yesterday was that we really hadn't even had a hard frost yet.  The leaves are still on the trees, and it was a wet, sticky snow that stuck and caused the branches to bend over all crazy-like.
Our deck on Saturday
I had cleaned off my car last night around 9pm as the snow tapered off, but the snow was so wet that when the light dusting fell later in the night and the temperature dropped, it created a nasty bit of ice. So, when I was out there at 5:45am this morning trying to go meet my friends for the Marine Corps Marathon, I ended up breaking my ice scraper off trying to get my windshield wipers to even work. In October, I'm clearly not practiced in clearing snow.

As I headed down, it was clear that we received more snow that other parts of Maryland. The snow was totally gone by the time I was getting close to my running store. Weird. Anyway, I met my friend Beth at the store, and then we picked up Ann & Misty on our way down. Beth works in DC, so we parked at her building and took the Metro to about mile 10. The course was different this year than it was in 2006 and 2007 when I ran the race, and I think the changes were for the better. The dreaded Haines Point is now miles 12-14 instead of 17-20, and it comes before the National Mall. I think this is a terrific change.
My group member Patti at Mile 10

We saw plenty of runners. From mile 10, we headed to 15/16 on Independence Avenue, and then to mile 20 where the cutoff is for runners to pass the 14th Street Bridge. We saw many runners from our groups, but the ones we saw the most (at every place) were fellow group leader Lynn and two runners from her group, as well as my two runners from my group.

Oh, I am so proud of my two group members, Ming and Pat. They. were. awesome. They looked great every time I saw them. They did AMAZING, and I'm just so, so happy for them. They finished strong!!! :)
Ming at Mile 16 showing that course who is boss.

It was crazy being at Mile 20, because we were able to see the buses arrive to close down the course and sweep the runners. This year, they also pulled runners from the course at mile 17, so there were not as many trying to beat the bridge at that point as in previous years. Still, it was emotional to see the runners who just barely made the cut, and those who didn't make it.

It was an amazing day. I loved watching this race. To be honest, I loved it so much more than when I ran it  myself. One more week until MY marathon. Tonight, I am one happy group leader.
Cheering on the runners at Mile 20
All of these photos are courtesy of Misty Jones-Long...

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win 25 Free Holiday Cards!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Taper Hypochondria

Courtesy of Savage Chickens
I know it's normal to worry about getting sick or injured before a marathon, but this one seems to take the cake for me...

  • Last week, I thought I had the flu. I was just tired.
  • Last week, I thought I had a cold. It didn't materialize.
  • I feel as though I'm coming down with a UTI. I've been drinking 100% cranberry juice (unsweetened). It's so sour.
  • I fear that every meal will give me some sort of food poisoning. I've sworn off of sushi for the time being.
  • I continue to be nervous that my 5K over the weekend somehow injured me in some way that I can't yet explain or feel.
  • Last night on my run, I started getting the "weepy eyeball" problem that I had for the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2008. It's a clogged tear duct and doesn't affect my running, but makes my eye water while running and makes the skin around my eye chapped and painful. I've been doing warm compresses on it.
  • Today, I feel like I have a sore throat, but I also ate something really hot earlier that might have just burned my mouth.
10 days remain!  Here's hoping that I stay healthy!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win 25 Free Holiday Cards!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saint George's Dragon Run 5K 2011

This is such a cute little race. I ran this one last year simply because it was so close to my house. This year, Todd joined me. The starting line is at a church about a mile from my house, so in order to get in 5 miles I ran from my house to the starting line. This year, I registered in advance, so I actually got a shirt with a dragon on it.

I was planning to run this race slowly, as it's two weeks before the New York City Marathon and while this race is fun, it is certainly not worth jeopardizing my marathon. Then, we started running and I just decided to run a little bit fast, just to see how it felt. I ended up finishing in 32:44, just two seconds slower than last year and 30 seconds from PR. So... probably too fast.

That being said, it was fine and I didn't get injured. Still, this is why I can't run races "for fun." I'll be taking it easy for the rest of my taper.

As for the race, it was much the same as last year. 5K around the streets very close to my house (although not where I typically run). The last mile of the course was through a nearby park, and the race finished in the park. After the race, there were apples and bagels, and the top finishers each got a pie. Todd ended up winning a free spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-a.

Nice race, nice time. Only 41 finishers, and no official results (The results page is missing times, and there was a rumor that the course wasn't the correct length). Quite a different experience than I'll have in 12 days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giveaway: 25 Free Holiday Cards!

Do you want to win 25 Free Holiday Cards courtesy of  If so, hop on over to my giveaway blog for a chance to win!

Every year, I use Shutterfly to show off Todd's awesome photography skills and to share a little bit of what we've been up to for the past 365 days. Express yourself this holiday season!

Enter This Giveaway!!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Countdown to NYC: 2 Weeks

I think it is just nuts that I'm this close to the race.  I'm doing ok with it, I think. This has been a rough time, since taper time is always somehow emotionally draining and difficult. Worse this year is that Todd is working on a huge project for work that is taking up most of his spare time. I just came off of a big project, only to be put on another equally big project. The new project isn't due until the end of the year, so at least I can breathe easy and just work steadily between now and November 6, and then really hunker down after the race.

There isn't a lot to report, to be honest. I went out to cheer on the runners at the Baltimore Marathon last weekend, and ended up on camera as the helicopter hovered above us cheering. Pretty cool! One of my group members was doing the half and one was supposed to do the full, but he ended up injured and unable to run, which makes me sad beyond words. Otherwise, I'm just going out and doing my runs and enjoying the lovely fall weather that we are having in Baltimore.

I have my whole marathon weekend all planned out, beginning with the Expo on Friday and possibly a Broadway show on Saturday. I can't wait!! I mean it, I'm really actually pretty excited about this race.

People familiar with New York: Can anyone recommend a casual place to pick up lunch in the vicinity of the Port Authority Bus Terminal or the Javits Center? 

As a side note, and I'm not kidding: I also have pretty big plans to make it to Ladurée sometime during the weekend to get macarons. When we were in Indonesia, the Canadian couple on the boat had stopped over in London on their way to Indonesia and picked up macarons from the Ladurée in Harrod's. They are the best things on earth, and NYC is the location of the only Ladurée shop in the US. I'm so going. I plan to buy a box and then dream of them as motivation during the race.

Since I've been ending all of these with a video, here are some last minute tips, both for NYC and for Marine Corps Marathon runners next weekend (and any marathon!!)...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pool Dilemma: Which Would you Choose?

After I've run my marathon on November 6, I'm going to be doing some cross training. I initially considered doing CrossFit, but cost, location and my general desire to not work quite as hard on my non-running days as CrossFit would require turned me off.

So, I have decided to go with swimming. The question is, where? There are a number of pools in the Baltimore area, but I live about 40 minutes from the city. I work just outside of the city, though. There is no "perfect" pool - they all have some flaws.  Plus, I live in the middle of nowhere. What do you think?

Is an indoor pool located at a gym that is about 30 minutes from my house, and about 30 minutes from my office. It's not too far (maybe 10-15 minutes) from where I typically do my weekday runs. I know a bunch of people who go to this gym, and who swim there. It is a four lane, 25 yard lap pool, and membership gets me in to any of the gyms in the area owned by the same company (although none of the other ones are any more convenient than this one). It has a masters program, but it costs extra. It is $50 per month.

Another indoor pool also located in a gym. This gym is right next door to the shopping center where my running store is (and where I go one or two times per week). It's 35-40 minutes from my house and 15-20 minutes from my office. I know a few members, and this is also where I took swimming lessons back in 2006. I love this pool and this gym. The gym also has a self-belay rock climbing wall and an indoor track and is just the best gym in Baltimore. The pool is 25 yards and has 5 lanes and it is a salt water pool. That's a HUGE selling point for me, since I have colored hair and have not yet figured out how to properly put on a swim cap. There is a masters program, but it is really early in the morning (starts at 6:15am). It is $89 per month.

Is an outdoor pool located only 3 miles (10 minutes, tops) from my house. It is next to a gym, but the membership is for the pool only - no gym access except the locker rooms/bathrooms/showers. During the winter months, there is a dome over the pool and the air temps are kept at 72-75. Water temps are currently at 80, but they are about to put in a geothermal heat system to keep the temperature at 81-83. We belonged to this pool for a few summers (I've never been there with the dome on), and we had trouble getting lanes because either the swim team was always there or kids and adults were just hanging out and playing in the lanes. Because of these problems, we decided not to renew our summer membership for the past 2 summers - but they're now under new management. Due to scheduling, I'd only be able to go to this pool before work and after 7pm, since the swim team is there every evening. However, during the summer when the pool is outdoors, the swim team meets in the morning and evening, so the only time available for open swim is after 7:00pm (or during the day, which obviously I can't do). It is 25 yards, 8 lanes. They are working on getting a masters program, and it would be late in the evening (7:30pm-8:30pm). It is $29 per month.

I know that the no brainer seems to be Pool #3, but part of me really wants to do Pool #2. What can I say? I have expensive taste. Will the convenience of Pool #3 make me go more often, or will I go more to Pool #2 because I've spent so much and need to feel like I'm not wasting the money? Despite how close pool #3 is to my house, I am not sure that it would save me much time because I would go to the pool in the morning, then go home and get ready for work, then go back out and head down to work (about 30-35 mins away). With Pools #1 and #2 I would get ready for work at the pool and go straight into the office.

What would you choose?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Is Racing with Someone Faster Than You an Advantage?

Todd and me at the Lehigh Valley Half
Marathon, 2010
Last month, there was a bit of a stir when Paula Radcliffe's marathon world record was stripped from her.  Why? Because she raced with male pacers. Thankfully, Paula also held the second best record, and that was for a race without male pacers, so she retains a world record, just not the one she thought she had.

Before now, I had never really given any thought to elite pacers for marathons, but apparently there are people who pace the lead pack in a marathon so that the runners can remain on an elite pace. Often, they only run part of the race (since someone who can run an elite pace for the whole race should be running with the elites and not as a pacer). Often, there are male pacers for women. The IAAF believes that these male pacers give the ladies an unfair advantage, and therefore the records are no more.

Honestly, I don't know whether I'm on board with the whole thing, since the women got to the finish line on their own two feet. Whether or not a man helped them is rather subjective. I did start to wonder, though, what does this mean to ME?

You see, Todd and I used to run separately, but we do not anymore. Todd had some injury/illness problems in 2009, and ever since he's been out running my races with me at my pace. All of my current PRs at the 10K, 10 Mile, Half Marathon and Marathon distances were run at races with Todd by my side. Does this mean that they're not valid? Answer: of course they're valid because nobody cares about my race times except me. But, on a grander scale, does this mean that I'm facing difficulty and a bad time in New York City, where I'll be running totally alone?
Todd runs behind me at the
Disney Marathon, 2010

The past couple of weeks I've tried to really think about how much Todd being there has helped. I've spent some races saying barely a word to him because I was working so hard. Occasionally, he will run ahead and finish on his own (this is rare, though). I mean, I appreciate him being there, but it's really hard to say if he is making my times better.

This is a big worry for me. I am running New York for time, and I want to have a great race.

What do you think? Have you run with someone who is faster than you? Did they help you achieve a better time?

Friday, October 14, 2011

HBBC and Baltimore

It's that time of year again, time for the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge (HBBC). This is sponsored by Amanda at Run To the Finish, and runs from Nov 19 to Jan 6.  It's an opportunity to gain points for prizes by working out and staying in shape for the holidays. If you're interested, go check it out! I had a ton of fun with it last year.  Look for some posts about it coming up.

In other news, the Baltimore Running Festival is tomorrow. I'm not participating in any of the events, but I do expect to be downtown cheering on runners. So, if you're planning to run, please leave me a comment and I will watch for you!

... and in case you are wondering, there are 23 days left until the New York City Marathon.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Is it OK To Run a Marathon While Pregnant?

Image Credit: Chicago Tribune
As I'm sure you've heard by now, a women named Amber Miller ran the Chicago Marathon on Sunday while 39 weeks pregnant. During the race, she started to feel contractions.  She finished the race, had dinner and then went to the hospital to give birth to a healthy baby girl. Read the full story at the Chicago Tribune. I first heard about this on The Today Show, and to be honest, I thought it was great. I was annoyed that on Today, there was a clip of Amber saying, "Well, I ran two minutes and then walked two minutes, so I ran half and walked half." On my first hearing of the story, it was that quote that rubbed me the wrong way, only because I feel like you've run a marathon, even if you followed the Galloway method.  I point again to Galloway runners who have qualified for Boston. This story ended up being all over the news, and while I had a minor quip about that little quote, holy crap, there was more fallout than that.

Runners World highlighted the story on Monday, and while most of the comments were supportive, some were still misinformed and mean. Click through to the Chicago Tribune story and see hundreds of just horrible, horrible comments. Of course, I've come to expect that from mainstream newspaper websites, but still.

If you're a man, I don't know why you're commenting on this at all, especially if you're not a runner. If you are a woman, shame on you for judging so harshly. I don't know what it is that makes people think that they should have a say in what women do with their bodies and how they parent. I hear so many women judging other women and I've had just about enough of it.

One of the questions that has been asked repeatedly is "What if she had gone into labor at the race and needed immediate medical attention?" Well, at races, immediate medical attention is right there. You're closer to more doctors and EMTs at a race than you would be basically anywhere else besides a hospital. I don't see how this was a problem. Amber had her doctor's permission. She was maintaining a training schedule similar to what she had been doing before her pregnancy, which is generally considered safe. She didn't get pregnant and then decide to run a marathon - this was her 8th marathon and her second pregnancy. I'm certain she knew her body could handle it.  Besides, it's clear she was running slower than her normal pace, coming in at 6:25.

Another question is, "What if she tripped?" I mean, isn't that a risk anywhere? Are women delicate flowers? Should we all just stay inside in our little bubble-wrapped world just so nothing bad will happen? Should we not ride in cars while pregnant because OMG what would happen if there were an accident? Better not take the stairs, you might fall! Oh, and forget the elevator because you might get trapped in there and lose access to medical attention. It's probably best during pregnancy to remain on the ground floor of any buildings. Just in case. And honestly, how often do experienced marathoners even fall during a race? I've been running 6 years, and I've only fallen once. It was not in a race.

I've generally found that women know their bodies and they know what their bodies can handle. If you're a decent athlete, finishing a race in over 6 hours is comfortable. After all, women are told to walk during labor - what if that walking was across a finish line? How cool!

Let's be happy for Amber and her new little girl. I trust that if she had not felt up to completing the race, she would not have done it. I trust that if she was feeling bad, she would have pulled up and not finished. I have faith that she knew what was best for her body and her baby. Let's all just trust each other.

And for heavens sake, women, let's start supporting each other more, ok?

Note: I changed the title of this post because the first title didn't make much sense.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Stuff I Love: Murad Clarifying Body Spray

"Stuff I Love" is a new feature for my blog! It's basically a total rip-off of Jezebel's "Worth It" feature. I'm going to feature products and services that I am totally in love with as a consumer, in the hopes of guiding my readers to new and better things that can solve all of the world's problems.  Or something. Anything mentioned in "Stuff I Love" are products/services that I've purchased with my own money, and have never been asked to review them or paid to do so.

My pimples... I don't like talking about them, as I've found them to be one of the most embarrassing things that I have going on in my life. Still, I wanted to share my story just in case someone else shares my embarrassment and humiliation over constant breakouts (even at my age).

I started having breakouts when I was in about the sixth or seventh grade. What started as a minor phase that all teens go through became a horrible chronic nightmare that has stayed with me to this day. When I was a teenager, I used to look eagerly toward my twenties, when I figured that acne would be a thing of the past. My twenties came and went, and here I am in my thirties still dealing with this problem.

The thing is, face zits are one thing. They're right there for everyone to see, and they're very embarrassing -- and I know, I've had breakouts that have made me want to stay at home, and I've had pimples that were so front and center that I should have just named them. The worst, though, has been the pimples on my back and chest, better known as "bacne." This horrible condition started in the seventh grade. Well, to be honest, how it went was that sometime in the sixth grade, I started getting pimples around my hairline on my forehead. Little by little, they spread, working their way down my face, and not stopping until they were on my back and chest, too.  For some reason, I find them to be a million times more humiliating than any pimples on my face.

I was careful with the bacne. I wore turtlenecks and such. I was careful about v-necks. Still, there was the humiliation of a lifetime one day in seventh grade (or possibly eighth grade) French class, when the kid behind me announced to the class "Kim has zits on her back!"  I remember turning red, and turning around "shh"ing him, as if that would matter. I mean, in total fairness, he should have at least said it in French.

Since then, it's gotten better at times and worse at times. I planned both my prom dress and my wedding dress from my first wedding around my bacne. In fact, I left my veil on during my reception because of it. I use a nice body cleanser (not soap) on my upper back and chest these days, and that has helped tremendously, but they're still there.

So, what have I done to pretty much eradicate this problem?

Murad Acne Clarifying Body Spray. I had my doubts, and the price tag of more than $30 per bottle was a real turnoff at first, but when I finally broke down and bought it, my body breakouts were gone within a week or two. The bottle is great. It sprays upside down, which allows you to get any hard-to-reach places. It feels cool spraying on, which is nice during the summer but might be a little chilly during the winter.

I know it's expensive, and the price point is one that I wouldn't advocate if it weren't for the fact that this stuff works so well. I feel like my bacne is cured which is awesome.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Countdown to NYC: 1 Month!!

My group halfway through our 25 mile run on Oct 1

I am totally on a taper high! Is that real? My group and I finished our 25 mile run on October 1 easily! Seriously, I was amazed at how great it was! This was officially the longest training run I've ever done and the farthest north that I'd ever been on the NCR Trail. You know the crazy thing? Apparently, between mile markers 12 and 13, there is some amazing and beautiful scenery! I really had no idea! There were rapids and waterfalls and it was really a treat to get to see it. What a pleasant surprise.

So, the weather on Saturday was perfect - it was a little cool, but it felt great. It didn't rain! Hooray! I could have done the full 26 miles, but I decided that I wasn't going to do the last mile alone and I'd only be doing it if one person from the group wanted to join me. No one did, so I "only" did 25. Part of me was actually annoyed about it later, and I thought I just should have done it to say I did it. Alas, the moment has passed.

Ever since Saturday, I've been on this crazy post-run high. I'm so happy that all of my long training runs are over! All that's left are a series of short taper runs, and I could not be happier about it.

So, we're one month out from the New York City Marathon. I'm getting excited about the race, and not dreading it like I thought I might. What you see me wearing in the photo above is likely what I'll be wearing for the race, unless it's super chilly. I feel like I'm ready. I feel great. I am excited!

As far as my group goes, I have one person from my group running the Chicago Marathon this weekend, one person running the Baltimore Marathon next weekend, one person running the Richmond Marathon on November 12, and two people running the Marine Corps Marathon on Oct 30. I'm going to go to the races that I can make (Baltimore and Marine Corps) to cheer my group on.  So excited! Just excited all around!

I'm still nervous about what happens before and after the race in New York. I catch the bus to Staten Island between 5:00am and 6:00am and my start time is 10:40am. That's nearly 5 hours of waiting for the race to start! Yikes! I figure I'll wear some warm clothes and sit or lay on the ground. I won't want to use my phone too much out of fear of running the battery down before the race even starts. After the race, I think it's probably going to take a long time to get through the chute and then out, but I think as long as Todd has done his job of getting the car to the Port Authority Garage, I won't have any issues after that.

So, it's taper time and I could not be happier.

I'll leave you with this TERRIFIC video of the New York City marathon course. If you are running, this is an awesome one to check out:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Diving at Paradise Spring

Todd and I love diving in Florida's freshwater springs. Last year, we visited Blue Grotto, Devil's Den, Ginnie Spring and Crystal River. It's easy for us to go down there to dive, thanks to Southwest Airlines' policy of not charging baggage fees and the fact that Todd's parents live in Florida. We had them pick up our tanks and weights for us at the local dive shop and when we were ready to go diving, we were ready.

Diving in Paradise Spring
We headed down the weekend of September 24/25, and we did our diving on Saturday. I hadn't had a ton of time to investigate what spring we should visit, and I'd made an attempt to get together with my sister (who lives in Tampa) at Ginnie Springs, but she wasn't able to meet us. Todd had basically left the decision making up to me, so I settled on Paradise Spring, which is fairly close to Todd's parents house (about a 40 minute drive) and seemed simple enough.  It's not open to snorkelers or swimmers, so we didn't bring any nieces or nephews this time.

Paradise Spring is located just outside of Ocala, and when you go there, you very well might think you are heading to nowhere. To get there, you have to take a dirt road over some railroad tracks, and the only reason you know you're heading the right way is because of signs with dive flags and arrows pointing the way. A mile or two off of the main road, you get to a house with some horses in the yard.

That's right, Paradise Spring is basically a sinkhole in someone's yard. That someone charges $30 per diver, and has you sign waivers and watch a short safety and introductory video in his garage. It's kind of surreal in a way. Then, he points you in the direction of the spring and you're free to dive all you want.

Honestly, I was at first impressed at the facilities given that the spring is where it is. There was a bath house and a few picnic tables and an outdoor shower. Enough for us. Even better, the weatherman had called for tons of rain and storms that day, so it apparently scared the other divers off. There were only four other divers at the spring, and they were on their safety stop when we got in, meaning we had the whole spring to ourselves. Awesome!

Paradise Spring from the surface
I doubt these springs every single time. Every spring we've gone to, I've thought that it would probably suck, and I was ready to up and leave and go to a different spring if this one wasn't nice. Just like always, though, we had a lovely time. The weather was sunny and perfect and the springs in Florida are always 72 degrees. We did two dives, going all the way down to the grim reaper sign on the first, and down to about 60 feet on the second.
Looking up at the surface and steps from inside
the cave

The real draw of Paradise is that there are fossils all over the walls. You can see shells and bones, and sand dollars the size of dinner plates. There is a giant whale bone in one of the walls. The water is clear, but it's silty on the bottom, so there is an opportunity for bad divers to muck up the water (no problem on our visit since there were only 4 other divers and they were all great).

The really interesting thing? The ceiling is visibly charred in many places - covered in soot. This means that at some point, this was a dry cave and it's likely that prehistoric men built fires inside and used this as a place to live or a hideout or something. I found this so incredibly interesting, and I spent much of the dives on the ceiling inspecting the fossils there.

We finished up our dives, and headed back to Todd's parents house, where we spent the rest of the weekend with family (and we also ran 7 miles on Sunday, I have to keep up my training!).  It was a great weekend.

Todd took a ton of photos, and he's only finished processing a few, but I wanted to share them now (and I'll share some more later, as he finishes with them) because I think that these photos are so awesome!

That's me, above the training platform, heading towards the stairs.
Me, below the stairs, swimming into the sunlight
We took a few photos where I was swimming without scuba equipment.
I'm not great a freediving, but I did my best!
If you would like to see more of Todd's spectacular underwater photography (and above water photography for that matter), please go to to check out his portfolio!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stats as of 30 September 2011

September 2010
44.1 miles
9 hours, 29 minutes
Avg Pace: 12:55/mile
Rock & Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 2010: 2:40:17

September 2011
81.5 miles -- 37.4 miles more than in 2010
18 hours, 22 minutes -- 8 hours, 53 minutes longer than in 2010
Avg Pace: 13:32/mile -- 37 seconds slower than in 2010

Year Totals:
511 miles at 13:03 per mile

As this posts, I'll be out on the trail running my very last long training run before the New York City Marathon. My group will be doing 25 or 26 miles (probably 25, but we'll see).  Hopefully, it won't be raining, but it looks like it very well might be. Bleh. So, why so many miles? It's a Galloway method thing - Jeff believes in pushing the wall out as far as possible, and training for endurance for the full length of the race.  Time goal marathoners are actually supposed to do 28-29 miles, but I just can't get my head around that type of mileage.

About September - whew, 81 miles!  That's a lot for me! Last year, I went faster, but I did a lot fewer miles, and since my target race was in September last year, that also ups the pace (and reduced the mileage since I took two runs off after Philly).

I'm so excited about my taper starting! I'm looking forward to this run, not because I want to run 25 miles, but because finishing this run means that I get to start my taper. I cannot wait!! Just typing it now makes me giddy with excitement.

It's coming... the end is near!

UPDATE: I had the totals wrong for this month because I forgot to log my final run!  Updated now!
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