Friday, July 11, 2008

Mupdate #3 (July 10)

I think I'm averaging about once a month with these long-winded running updates. Good thing I save up all my blathering and hit you with it only once in a blue moon, I guess. They're not too bad though, are they?

First, another thank-you to those who have donated to the cause. The little thermometer on my website ( is continuing to rise. And my friend tells me that if I raise $10,000 (yeah right!), I get a bracelet to match the finisher's necklace I'll get for crossing the finish line in SF. Not a bad goal given my love of bling (more on that later) but let's not forget this is not all about me (well, this e-mail is but the run's not really). I also wanted to take a quick moment and say thanks to those who have given good wishes. I know the economy is rough right now but not laughing at me is free and I appreciate all the "Go get 'ems" I've been told since I announced this crazy undertaking. I do know how hard it must be to say that without smirking! And there's one more donation note I wanted to make. To whomever made an anonymous donation: Thank you! You really know how to keep me occupied given that I've been busily attributing it to every Tom, Dick, and Harry I can think of. I know I'll never know who you are but what a lovely gesture (even if it is driving me nuts-- although my dad always says that's not a drive, it's a short putt). So now onward to the rest of the mupdate!

I've been trying to convince the kids to run with me. I'm slow enough that I don't think they'd substantially change my pace. So when I signed up to run in the 10K in my town, I noticed that there was also a kid's fun run. Mind you I paid no attention to how far the fun run was, I just knew that it was set to be run after I finished my race. All the kids agreed that they really wanted to run it. Luckily I didn't take them at their word though as first one and then another bailed out. Only the smallest fry continued to say he'd like to run. Being the supportive and confident mom I am, I said I didn't think he could run a whole mile and suggested that he had to run with me to prove he could before I was going to fork over the money. I thought that would be the end of the conversation but Mr. Persistence actually wanted to run. So after enough nagging on his part (where he inherited that unpleasant trait I'll never know), I laced up my running shoes and took him out. First off, given that he's 6, even my slow pace was too fast so I ended up just slower than a brisk trot. He kept up with me but didn't talk much at all, which is not a normal state of affairs for the family lip-flapper. I asked him several times if he was okay or if we should slow down. He said he was fine and no we didn't have to slow down. So we plugged along in the quiet, with me listening to his feet slapping and watching his hair flop up and down. I was mean enough to take him on a loop in the neighborhood that culminates in a rather long hill (if I have to run in SF, I can't avoid hills and well, my runs are all about me, not about making it easy on the kid). After wondering aloud if a mile was very long for kids with legs as short as his, he seemed pretty pleased to see our driveway. I watched him run into the garage and then continued on my way for the rest of my run. Apparently he went inside, flopped on the couch, and announced that he couldn't feel his legs anymore and when asked where I was, said, "She's still out there killing herself." Good to know I'm instilling the joy and benefits of exercise into my children! Even worse, the fun run was only a quarter mile. And no, T. didn't participate because he was still sleeping off the exhaustion from his kiddie boot camp run with mom.

One of the interesting things about running is all of the cool gadgets you can use while you run. I always figured running was a cheap sport. Sure, you pay a lot for a good pair of shoes (nothing worse than bad shoes for those poor old hips and knees) but other than that, the roads are free, right? If you think this, you are clearly an amateur! I have found the slickest, coolest toys and I just knew I needed them desperately. In addition to the shoes, I also have very expensive socks (SmartWool for anyone who cares) because of course, as the running store is fond of saying, "cotton is rotten." My clothing, when I'm not slumming it (which isn't often), is also fancy-schmancy wicking material. The running bras I like the best are high tech and industrial strength (with no zippers on the front--a definite recipe for disaster). Aside from apparel, I also have the ubiquitous iPod to listening to while running. One that holds the most music is best if you plan to run for hours at a time (but really, what normal person wants to run for hours at one time?!). Of course, if you're me, unlike other people who put inspirational, fast music on their iPods, I put dead slow stuff on there to just match my current pace. No need for speedy cardio-type music that might push me beyond the limits of my capabilities. I'm running for endurance and consistency, right? I have a water belt with 8 small bottles and a pouch to carry that tasty Gu in on the long runs. I will admit the sloshing is a bit distracting but it sure beats going out and making water drops before running (and with my luck, somebody would come along and pick up my carefully stashed waters as litter or something). Finally, I also have a really cool GPS watch with an overall timer and pace clock. So now I know exactly how slow I am going per mile. Could be discouraging for some, but I've mostly accepted my tortoise-like self cheerfully. I admit I do ignore the watch when it beeps at me (unless it is beeping to let me know about a specific distance) since I can't be bothered to slow down or speed up or whatever cockamamie thing it is requesting I do. And thank heaven there are different beeps for distance and for all the other issues it has or I'd have to be looking at it every twenty seconds and I'd be more likely to trip over my own feet than I already am. Let me tell you, I look like a real professional all kitted out in my snazzy gear (wonder what gadgets I'm still missing that I can't possibly run without?). Too bad I not only don't run like a professional but I can't seem to manage my toys well either.

I was out running this morning (and I'm very grateful the rain stopped when it did) when I chanced a glance at the watch only to see that it was asking me questions. Now it had never done such a thing before and I'd totally ignored the unfamiliar beep it had made so I'm not sure exactly when it started chastising me during the run but it had to be fairly near the beginning. First it told me that it is having trouble tracking me on GPS (must be because of that blazing speed I possess). I randomly pushed a button to make such unimportant information disappear. But then it asked me if I had moved hundreds of miles from where I started. Given I'd only gone about a mile, I pushed the button for no. Then it wanted to know what the date was. Once I got all of that entered in (running all the while, I might add), it chirped at me to let me know I'd run 485 miles in just under 12 minutes. Darn I'm quick! Ok, so I haven't mastered the watch (I suspect that heavy cloud cover, combined with lots of tree overhang on the road confounded the GPS signal--or it could be user error but I prefer to ignore that possibility) but I at least thought I had the iPod down. I had it set to just go ahead and play every song I have on it but apparently that only works if you charge the doggone thing. And when the iPod battery is dead, it just plain old stops. No winding down to warn you, like on a music box. Oh no, it just up and quits in the middle of a word. And I won't share the word--not a part of the song--I uttered when it up and stopped either. Not cute to all of a sudden hear my own tone-deaf self singing along to vanished music. Even worse to listen to my own labored breathing for the following 3-4 miles. I'd say a pox on gadgets but then I'm afraid the next thing to go would be my clothing or my shoes!

Now that we're up north for the summer, I am having to find new runs for the distances my handy-dandy schedule requires each day. I had routes all worked out at home but didn't stop to think that I'd be running lots of long distances up here in the UP. So I'm making good use of the very wonderful internet site If they want to pay me for plugging them, I'd be happy to take it but mostly I just really like the fact that I can plug in my starting point and then draw snazzy little lines down all the streets and it keeps track of the mileage for me. I admit to being easily bored so I'm not willing to find one route and then just run it back and forth until I reach the daily recommended mileage. I need variety and, preferably, as little looping back on my path as little as possible. So I punched in my start and I was amazed at how many roads there are up here that I never knew about--and where some of the roads I did know end up going. I swear I live in a bubble. I've been up here every summer my entire life and I've never noticed some of these roads. Mind you, some of them look perfectly fine on the google map, but they have gates or something across them in reality. Good thing I drive my intended routes before running them or I'd be a bit stymied on the actual run. Actually, I only drive the routes because I need advance warning of hills and other items of interest. If I can't have a cheering section on each tough stretch of road, I need to know that I only have xx number more hills and then I'm finished or xx number more driveways before I can turn off onto another road. Yes, I am a motivational nightmare but it's the little things for me! And if any of you want to be out on the road with your pom-poms, I'll be happy to have you there, even if I do stick my tongue out at you.

I was told that I should check out the races up north while I was gone and true to form, I didn't bother to take that advice. But I managed to stumble into two races anyway, both right in this area and nicely casual so I didn't have to get totally stressed and neurotic about them. The first one benefited the local high school cross-country team and I charitably mentioned to my sister that I was going to run it. It was a 5 mile race and since I've been running 5 miles several days a week, I didn't figure it'd be any big stretch. I smugly thought that since my darling sister had resorted to walking each of the times she'd come with me to run 5 miles, that I would good and show her during the race. Clearly I forgot that she got all of the athletic talent in the family. Either that or she was just toying with me during the runs that didn't count. Actually, I was planning on doing the course twice since that Saturday my schedule (yes, I am that religious about it) called for a 10 mile run. So I told her up front that I was going to run slowly so I could loop the course. She said she was going to run slowly too until the guy starting the race mentioned cookies at the end and medals for the top three finishers in each age group. Then that little rat looked right at me and said, "I want a medal" as she sped off leaving me in her dust. Huh! Brat. To add insult to injury, a family friend popped out of his office when she ran by and yelled for her but headed back inside before slow-as-molasses-in-January me ran past so I had no cheering section at all. I told M. I was terribly offended and thought it was a bit like betting on the sure thing instead of the underdog. No courage at all in that plan. Yes, she beat me to the cookies (and took gold in our age-group to boot). I am pleased to say she only beat me by a couple of minutes but because we aren't competitive in our family at all (HA!), I ran much faster than I should have (as fast as I could, really) so I didn't end up looping the race or getting in my second 5 miles. Ah well. I got the silver medal in our age-group though so I got my own bit of shiny, even if my mileage for the day was off. The following day was a hike and bike 5K and I figured I'd do that too. I even tried to incorporate M.'s advice that I wear something other than a white shirt so I'd be more noticeable (although I figured I wouldn't know anyone on that route). I chose to wear a greenish shirt so I'd stick out. So what color was the t-shirt they gave out for the race and that a good number of people were wearing? Green. I can't win for losing!!! I thought perhaps my sister would be sore from the race the day before since she hasn't been running much at all and maybe I'd manage to beat her this time (see, not competitive at all, am I?) but I was in for a very rude surprise. Not only was she not sore, but she has more than one pace! She ran even faster for that short race than she did for the longer race. I only have one pace--slow. Well, maybe I have two paces: slow and stop. But I definitely don't have fast or faster in my repertoire like she clearly does. So if she beat me in the 5 mile race, she absolutely smoked me on the 5K. Last time I tell her about a race! I'm thinking about seeing if there are any other races going on in this general vicinity but I've now learned not to count on running a race and then running some more to make up mileage. When they tell me there's a finish somewhere, I am officially finished for the day!

So now I'm plugging along most days (no running Monday and Friday as per the holy schedule) with the long runs getting much longer. This Saturday is a 12 miler, bringing me to a total of 29 miles this week. Anyone up in the UP wanting to join me is welcome; just give me a holler. My sister, aka Speed Racer, is leaving this Sunday so I'll be left to chug along all by myself. On the plus side, the iPod should be well and truly charged by the time I have to run without chatting my through the entire thing. Here's hoping this is true, because if not, my mouth will be exhausted after 2-plus hours of non-stop chatter. Not to mention how strange I'll look talking to myself as I trot down the road loaded down with all my gadgets!

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