Monday, June 30, 2008

Finding Focus

Internet! I have a problem.

The distances of my long runs are cranking up. Saturday, I ran 17 miles. (As I was running, I kept thinking I had to do 18, probably since that was one of the big distances I ran in training last year. Then I'd remember, "Oh, I only have to do 17. So no big deal." That goes to show you just how warped your brain gets in marathon training, since you think things like that while 17 miles is no big deal, 18 is somehow a more significant challenge, when actually it'd be tacking on well under 15 minutes to the time on my feet. Also, this is a long parenthentical thought.)

Physically, I felt fine. I continued to develop the world's largest blister on my left foot, but other than that and desperately needing a shower, I was in fine shape.

The problem was, after a while, the running started to feel monotonous. I lost focus, and allowed myself to take walk breaks that I honestly didn't need, just to mix things up a bit.

Does anyone have any advice on how to retain focus on a long run?

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bix at Six Kix

So, Internet, you guys probably have hometown races that you really like running. But I can confidently say*, mine kicks the most heiney-butt. Here in the scenic, and now mostly above water Quad Cities, we have the Bix 7. It's a seven mile race on a challenging, hilly course that attracts elite runners to the point where there are statues of Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit-Samuelson near where the Michelob Ultra will be at the post-race party.

Not only that, but every Thursday on the weeks preceding the race, there is an official Bix at Six training run on the race course. As fate would have it, I was scheduled to do a 7-mile tempo run last night, so I went for it.

Hundreds of people showed up, the streets were blocked off, spectators cheered, water stops were plentiful, and sprinklers cooled us off... again, all for a training run.

It was a great night to be a runner.

Oh, also? I run 7.21 miles (the training course is a little bit farther) in 1:06 something. Woo hoo!

*unless you live in, um, Boston, or something, which totally doesn't count.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Go Running Anyway

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for another edition of Runners’ Lounge’s Take It and Run Thursday. The challenge this week is to complete this statement in 13 words or less:

You are a runner…

Well, that’s easy. I can do it in five.

You are a runner when you go running anyway.

Of course, if you want to know what I mean by that, you’ll have to indulge me in a few extra words. Out here on the Internets, I’ve seen people wondering about whether or not they’re truly a runner. “I’m too slow,” they say. Or, “Well, I’ve never run a marathon, so I don’t think I’m really a runner.”

Think of the woman hauling ass up a hill with a double jogger. She might be running 13 minute miles or slower, but you can’t tell me that woman isn’t a runner. And think about all of the lightning fast sprinters who are about to rock out the 100 in Beijing. Usain Bolt of Jamaica can run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. I don’t think he’s ever run a marathon, but I do believe the dude is a runner.

Being a runner is not about speed or distance; it’s about attitude. You know who I think is not a runner? Anyone who goes running only under ideal circumstances. You are a runner when you go running anyway.

• If you’ve had a lousy day at work and want nothing more than to sit on your couch and eat chips…
• If you’re exhausted from taking care of your kids…
• If it’s pouring rain and blowing wind a million miles an hour…
• If it’s so hot and humid that you have to get up at the crack of dawn to avoid melting on the road…
• If there’s no way you can avoid hills…
• If you didn’t sleep well last night…
• If you’ve got a blister on your foot that’s killing you…
• If you forgot your iPod…
• If you feel fat and slow…
• If it’s snowing and anyone with any sense is bundled up under a blanket…
• If it’s a great Saturday to lie in bed, but you’ve got a 5K to race…
• If you’ve got family in town and everybody looks at you a little cross eyed for lacing up your running shoes…

If you can look any of these excuses in the eye, put on your shoes, and go running anyway, then you are a runner.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Turned Around

Last night's run had all the potential to be a bad one.

For one thing, I was late getting home. I picked up Jack at my mom's house, and things were chaotic. Jack's stuff was scattered all over the place, and I had to find Roary under the computer desk. Why? Because the little man had just fallen and scraped the Charles Dickens out of his knee and elbow. Dr. Mommy and Nurse Grandma had to patch him all up, and by the time I got home, it was 5:45.

In my rush to get out of the house, I forgot my iPod. Fine, I thought. No music. I don't want to turn back to get it because it's starting to rain.

I ran to the track for my Stairs workout - 1200, 1000, 800, 600, 400, 200. And then discovered that I couldn't run there because there was some kind of track meet going on.

What to do? I couldn't go on the track, and I didn't want to leave and go somewhere else to run. There was a long, straight stretch of road in front of the track, where I've started and finished many a road run for cross country practice in high school, so I decided to just do my workout there. Better than nothing.

It ended up being much better than nothing.

Warm-up: 1.82 miles, 18:54, 10:22 pace
1200: 5:56, 7:55 pace
1000: 5:13, 8:17 pace
800: 4:03, 8:08 pace
600: 3:01, 7:59 pace
400: 1:55, 7:43 pace
200: 54:48, 7:00 pace
Cool-down: 1.37 miles, 17:18, 12:38 pace (there was some walking in there)

Just goes to show, you never know when a good run will find you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Jack: MOMMY! I need you.
Me: What for?
Jack: Well, I have two tigers and one Quackers, but nobody to cuddle with!
Me: I'll be right there.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


This morning, Steve told Jack that we are getting ceiling fans installed in our bedroom and in his. The new ceiling fan, Steve said, would help keep Jack cool and comfortable at night. Jack's wee face then lit up, and he said:

And it will blow all of the nightmares out of my room, Daddy! Those nightmares won't be able to stay because they will just fly away.

Sometimes I just want to squish that little guy.

Running's Gateway Drug

In the movie Ratatouille, Remy the gourmand rat’s hero Gusteau lived by a simple philosophy: Anyone can cook. It may take time, patience, and hard work, but Remy learned that anyone – even a lowly rat – can cook.

If Gusteau had been a runner instead of a cook, he’d have been about fifty pounds lighter. No, wait… that’s not where I was going with this. If Gusteau had been a runner, I believe he would have said this:

Anyone can run a 5K.

I saw this philosophy put into practice last Saturday when I ran Race for the Cure. Over 9,000 people woke up early on this beautiful day, put on running shoes, and ran 3.1 miles. There were definitely some serious runners there, but there were also people who I’m sure were competing for the very first time.

Yes, new runners, we experienced veterans can tell that this is your first 5K. Maybe your running shoes are blindingly white and too new, or maybe they’re beat up and have clearly been kicking around your closet for a long time. Maybe you’ve pinned your race number on the back of your shirt, rather than on the front where God intended it. An even clearer sign? You’re wearing the race t-shirt. Veteran runners would not only never wear the shirt before finishing the race, but heavens: it’s cotton!

When I see someone running their very first 5K, I think, “Get behind me, loser. You’re not a real runner.” No, wait, that’s not it. Instead, I rub my hands together like a super villain and say, “You will be mine. Oh, yes. You will be mine.”

That’s because a 5K is the gateway drug to running. It’s how we lure you in. We promise programs that take you not from “a base level of mileage of blah, blah,” but from your couch to a 5K. Many 5K’s are for a good cause. After all, who doesn’t oppose breast cancer or want to support melanoma research? It is no coincidence that 5K’s tend to be flat – no need for pesky hills to potentially scare off any new runners. We want you to soak in the party atmosphere of the race, feel cool in your new t-shirt, discover the free cookies and popsicles waiting for you at the after-party… to say nothing of the awesome sense of accomplishment you get at finishing your first race.

With any luck, just a few of those new runners I saw on Saturday liked their first hit of the gateway drug. Maybe they’ll stick with that first drug, happily running weekend 5K’s… and maybe they’ll move on to the hard stuff. Either way, I’m happy. Runner's Lounge's Take it and Run Thursday wants tips for 5K's, and mine is simple: Anyone can run a 5K, and everyone should try.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say YES!

When I get home from a run, Jack always greets me with, "Did you have a good run, Mommy?" which delights me to no end. Lately, he has been following up that question with, "Did you win?"

One school of thought would be that I should answer thusly:
Sweetie, when I go running, most of the time, it's not a race. What I'm doing is improving my fitness, enjoying the fresh air, and relieving stress so I can be a better mommy. I do have goals, but instead of challenging someone else, I am really challenging myself. And with that, I am always a winner.

However, I prefer this approach:

I mean, come on: did you see anybody finish ahead of me?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Don't Forget

This week, I have officially started my training for the Quad Cities Marathon. My training program is much more challenging this time around, and I am fully counting on logging a PR.

But this weekend? I am skipping my long run of 13 miles. Instead, I am running a 5K. And no, I am not going to just use that 5K as a speed workout. In fact, I plan on turning in what will probably be a Personal Worst for the 5K. I may even take some walk breaks. I could do my long run on Sunday, but I'm not going to.

Saturday is my 11th wedding anniversary. My fabulous, wonderful, supportive, world's greatest running cheerleader husband wants to run Race for the Cure with me to kick off our day of fun. What, am I going to ditch him and race to the finish? No, some things are more important.

Sunday is Father's Day. Steve is such a loving and accomodating husband that he actually said that surely we could spare a few hours for me to get in a run on Sunday. The very fact that he offered that proves to me that he more than deserves a full day of love and attention from me and Jack.

The fact of the matter is, I can go a weekend without a quality run, and I will still be able to finish the marathon - and I suspect, still get my PR.

More importantly, I don't have to do any of this. Running is supposed to be fun; it's not my job. I am not going to win this race, get an age group award, or even qualify for Boston. There are a lot of reasons that I run - stress relief, to challenge myself, to improve my health, to get time to myself, to be able to eat more ice cream, because I love the smell of wet sidewalks on a rainy day...

If I skip a long run to spend a special weekend with my family, I will still get every one of those benefits.

The theme for this week's Take It and Run Thursday is "As you start your marathon (or half marathon) training, don't forget..."

My advice is simple: don't forget why you do this.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Point and Laugh

On Saturday morning, I took Jack to his first real swimming lesson. And by real, I mean, he is really learning how to swim, not just being a happy baby splashing in the water while I sang "Wheels on the Bus."

We arrived at the pool ready to go, and the teacher informed me that I would not be getting in the pool with Jack. I had assumed that I would be, given that (1) he can't swim and (2) he is too short to stand up in the shallow end. Apparently, I was the only parent who made that assumption, which also meant that I was the only adult there wearing a swimming suit.


And to make matters worse, we grown-ups did not get to sit on the side of the pool to watch, but rather had to sit out in the lobby.

You ever feel self-consious in a swimming suit? Well, imagine that you are also the only one who is NOT fully dressed. And that you are not sitting next to a pool.

Since changing into my real clothes was not an option (we needed to be there to watch in case the kidlets should need us), I decided to just adopt the proper attitude. As in, "Yeah, catlickers. I'm wearing my swimming suit. And I look freaking hot, don't I? Go ahead, take a good look. Can you tell I'm a marathoner? By the way, nice shorts. I can see you're really getting your money's worth out of that elastic waistband."

Friday, June 06, 2008


Absolut(ly) Fit just did an asston of memes and gave a random, "whatever, you're tagged if you want to be" tag. Seeing as how this means I wouldn't have to come up with content on my own today, I'm calling myself tagged.

Write your own six-word memoir.

She got things done.

That's right, Internet: I am so efficient that I can do this in just four words. I take an inordinate amount of delight in making lists and crossing things off of them. I multi-task and get more done before 10:00 on Saturday morning than many people do all day. And, at work, my job is to handle project management, which basically boils down to telling other people what to do and when to do it. My unofficial title is The Badger because I badger people to do their work.

Share seven random or weird facts about yourself.

  1. I love to peel things. Chipping paint. Nail polish. Sunburned flesh. If it peels, I cannot resist it.

  2. You know the way snobby people curl their little fingers while drinking tea? Sure you do. Anyway, the pinky fingers on both of my hands are like that pernamently. I was born that way, and they do not straighten. I am pretty sure this is not the only thing keeping me from being a concert pianist.

  3. When I was pregnant, one of my biggest cravings was for ham sandwiches. This should have been my first indication that I was having a boy, because Wasser men love ham.

  4. I am really good at counted cross stitch, but haven't done it in years.

  5. I have a dresser drawer devoted entirely to camisoles.

  6. I write for, and edit, a blog about comic books. Check it out, my friends:The Bad Genious .

  7. I'm 33 years old, but am only on my second car.

And a running one...
1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago? In a word, sporadic. I was 23 ("twenty-three and so tired of life, such a shame to throw it all away...") and foolishly devoted to a job in which I was treated like crap. Working from 8:00 to 10:00 every day (when not hiding in the secret bathroom where I could cry undetected) left little time for running, but every once in a while I'd bust out a 3 miler.
2. What were your best and worst race experiences? I think my best race experience was my recent trisko, the Quad Cities Distance Classic. My expectations were pretty low going into it, considering that I was injured. Then, the weather was terrible - freezing cold with high winds. And yet, I gutted it out and finished with a time of 2:05, which I am very proud of. I think my worst experience was probably last year's Race For the Cure. I have two words for you, which anyone else who has given birth can understand: stress incontinence. Nuff said - in fact, too much said.
3. What are the best and worst pieces of advice you've been given about running? I've gotten lots of good advice in my 20+ years of running. One thing that comes to mind came from my high school cross country coach, the awesomely named Coach Quick. Quick told us that in order to run well, you have to have strong arms. He had us lift weights, which I have always felt made me stronger. I also know that when I get tired, I tend to hunch up my shoulders, so I remember to drop them down and use better form, which makes me less fatigued. Bad advice tends to come from non-runners, who say dumbass things like, "I wouldn't run unless somebody was chasing me." I smile as if I haven't heard that one a thousand times already and secretly feel superior to them.
4. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know. I just did a big pile of random above, so I'll keep this running-related. Um... I always put on mascara before I go running. I may turn into a beet-red sweaty mess, but I will look much cuter and more awake due to the mascara.

If you want to be tagged, you are.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Nobody Does it Better

Amy and Tom, the fine folks behind Runner's Lounge, are celebrating the site's first anniversary by encouraging us to post the best posts of the past year. I've gotten some great feedback from my friend Internet on my post about the last 6.2 miles of my first marathon, and I got a crazy amount of comments when I posted all about my butt.

But to me, Runner's Lounge is not an opportunity to remind everyone of how awesome my butt is (though obviously I'm sure the appreciation of my heiney was part of Tom and Amy's original vision), but rather a way to connect with, and be inspired by other runners. Reading other running blogs has honestly made me a better runner.

You guys are a constant source of inspiration. The Laminator wrote a great post about the way a good run can make any day better. I defy you to read Marathon Dude Bill's race report about Boston and not want to put on your shoes and hit the road. Or check out Kent's Power Climb and marvel at what a total bad-ass he is. And when I read Non-Runner Nancy's recap of her first triathlon, I wanted to put on some red lipstick and nail polish and join her and Amy.

I find myself cheering for my BRFs, like when I read POM/Jessica's triumphant half marathon race report. I gave a big "hell yeah" when one of the other Running Betsys threw down the gauntlet: she set the goal of qualifying for Boston. And when my friend Sandy finishedher very first trisko, I'm sure she heard me yelling "GO SANDY" all the way in Virginia.

I also find myself admiring how brave, strong, and tough my BRFs are. Jessica at 21 Days realized the value of failing. Kate blogged about her struggles with depression and anxiety. And yet another Runner Betsy realized that fear is holding her back. And despite incredibly bad conditions, Tom finished the Chicago marathon like the class act that he is.

Even when you guys are injured, you help me out as a runner. Nibbles saw light at the end of the tunnel when she found a good sports doctor. And the story that Frayed Laces tells about finishing her first marathon with a broken pelvis should be required reading for all runners.

We BRFs can kick up all kinds of righteous indignation on each other's parts. We read about Meg's ridculously competitive friends and Laura's manager's theory that running a marathon is easy, and we are ready to throw down.

Other posts are just instant classics. Chloe Elizabeth's Dear You to the marathon is great reading, and Amy's Running Handicap Calculator is an idea whose time has come. Plus, I've got to love RazZDoodle, a man who hates the treadmill just as much as I do.

Finally, you people crack me up. I loved reading about Vanilla "accidentally" cross dressing, or the time that Topher tried to earn a Garmin by potty training his son. There was the plan Nitmos had to torture marathoners. And of course, there is something special about Marcy's gallery of bathroom shots.

So, let me sing you out. There is of course, Madonna:

Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
No time to hesitate
Those who run seem to have all the fun

But this calls for Carly Simon.
Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as well* as you
Baby, you're the best

*lyrics actually say "good," but that offends me gramatically

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My FIRST Attempts

Since I've officially decided to use FIRST to train for the Quad Cities Marathon, I am going to have to do something I really don't want to do. That is, incorporate cross training into my workout.

I kicked things off on Monday by going to the pool to run some laps. Let me begin by saying that I looked fantastic. I had on my sportiest looking swimming suit - a solid navy blue tankini (Tankini: The Official Swimwear of Moms Trying to be Cute), a new swimming cap, and goggles. I totally looked the part.

Then, I quickly discovered something. You guys, swimming is really catlicking HARD. Who knew you could sweat so much while in an indoor pool? My routine was to swim a lap, gasp for breath for 15 seconds, do a kickboard lap, gasp for breath for 15 seconds, and repeat.

I was almost finished when an old man in a speedo got into the lane next to me. He had hip problems that caused him to limp, but once he got in the pool, he proceeded to completely kick my ass.

Nevertheless, I'll keep at it. I will concede that I see the science behind cross training, and I do want to get to the starting line injury free. And if I have to take out Oldy McSpeedswimmer Tonya Harding style along the way? So be it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Face it, Tiger: You just hit the jackpot.

Two years ago, a miraculous transformation took place. Roary went from being Random Stuffed Cat/Tiger Sitting On The Coffee Table to Jack’s Best Friend – and a valued part of our family. So valued, in fact, that for the second time, we celebrated Roary’s birthday.

I’m happy to say that this year, Roary did not have to help Jack through any surgeries or trips to the emergency room. He did, however, stick with Jack through his the move to Stately Wasser Manor, the transition to his Big Boy Bed, a new school, and potty training. Roary and Jack play together, take naps together, and argue like brothers. When Jack is tired or stressed, he has been known to yell, “Roary! I need you!” And one of my favorite moments ever in my life came on our trip to Disney World. Jack asked Steve how we were able to hear Jiminy Cricket’s voice during the fireworks. Steve said that it was magic. Jack pointed up in the sky and said, “Look, Roary: Magic.”


Jack’s understanding of Roary’s importance has deepened in this past year. About a month ago, I heard Jack’s panicked yell from the bathroom. Acting purely on instinct, I found myself rapidly removing a pile of sodden orange fur from the toilet – Jack dropped Roary as it was flushing.

It was quite a while before Jack found the humor in that situation. He clung to Roary (who I’d secretly swapped for a clean, dry model) and thanked me for rescuing him. “Roary, you could have been lost,” he said tearfully. “You’re part of our family.”

Amazingly, that family has grown. Steve and Jack went to Barnes and Noble last week and found a selection of Roaries, who Jack immediately decided were Roary’s family and should read books with them. When it came time to put the tigers away and say goodbye to them, Jack started to move slowly. He replaced all of the tigers but one.
“Daddy,” he said, “I really want to take this tiger home with us. She is Roary’s mommy and Roary needs his mommy. And then she would be part of our family too.”
Steve listened carefully, and he could tell that Jack was being completely sincere. He was not trying to score a new tiger, so much as he was looking out for his friend. Sure enough, when Jack came home, he held Roary’s mommy over his head and announced, “Ta-da! This is Roary’s mommy and she is part of our family now and her name is Susie!” The Roary and Susie hugged and kissed.

A little while later, Jack grew pensive. He realized that Susie still had her whiskers, but that Roary’s are long gone. It made him sad to think that his friend was missing his whiskers. So, I explained to Jack that he had loved Roary’s whiskers off, and that is what happens to friends who are special to us. I showed him Rexa, who was my special dinosaur when I was a little girl, and the place under her chin where I rubbed off all of the green. I told him that it doesn’t hurt Rexa, just like the missing whiskers don’t hurt Roary, because it reminds them of how much we love them. This made Jack feel better – so much better, in fact, that the next day he removed Susie’s whiskers so that he would know she was loved, too.

We celebrated Roary’s birthday like a family: with cupcakes (marble, so they’d be striped like Roary) with orange icing (Roary’s favorite color) that we decorate with jungle animal candies and black icing stripes. I don’t recommend the black icing, but I do recommend spending a birthday with loved ones.

Happy birthday, Roary, and welcome to the family, Susie.