Thursday, October 30, 2008

If I Could Turn Back Time

This week's Take It and Run Thursday challenges us runners to "Choose Your Superpower." As a comic book fan, obviously, this is something I've given some thought to. If I were a superhero, my powers would definitely include flight (because why be a superhero if you can't fly), my costume would be red and would include pants (so no one got a free show while I was flying overhead) and would have a cape because that would look cool rippling in the wind.

But, for practical purposes, I am a mom, which means that I am already a superhero. See? Look at me as Elasticgirl last Hallowwn:

As a mom, my superpowers include the ability to find lost objects (Jack, Roary is on the couch in the living room, under the Mickey Mouse blanket, and Steve, the honey mustard salad dressing is in the door of the fridge, second shelf, in the back, towards the left), cure boo boos,
make Roary's tail tiny, create a healthy meal out of whatever random stuff we have in the house, remember when Jack's homework is due, not to mention the whole bit about working full time, training for marathons, going on dates with my husband, and still having time for lightsaber battle-fights.

Maybe I don't need super powers... but I could use a little magic.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, my girl Hermione uses a magic necklace called a Time Turner. The necklace has an hourglass, and for each time you turn it, you go back in time an hour. Hermione, overachiever that she is, uses it so that she can take more classes.

If I had a Time Turner of my own, I'd use it so that I had just a little more time in every day. If I was out running, a twist of the necklace would give me the time to turn a five mile run into a ten mile run without sacrificing any time doing the other things I have to do. I'd be able to give myself a little extra time on nights that I'm scrambling to get dinner on the table. Or, on weekends, to take a nap or see a movie. Everything would be just a little bit easier.

Also, I could still fly.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hitting the Dirt

I'm happy to report that after over a week without running (the longest I've gone without being injured in I don't know how long), I am back at it again.

On Monday, I went out for a casual almost 4-mile run. I took it easy at a 10:00 pace and felt great - I definitely had a lot more in me, but I didn't want to push it too hard. I was happy just to be running.

In the time I was away, the weather got much, much colder. It was time for a long-sleeved shirt, tights, jacket, hat, and gloves. I swear to Yoda, I saw a couple of snowflakes while I was out! Can anybody recommend some good cold weather socks? My toesies definitely get cold.

Today, I'm going for a miles TBD trail run at Blackhawk State Park. You guys, trail running is really hard! Those of you who have run long races and training runs on trails have my respect. I'll be out there working my butt off, heart pounding, trying not to fall down a cliff, and Paula The Garmin will notify me that I am, in fact, crawling along.

The thing is, though, that although I'd be much faster on the road or on the track, I would not be surrounded by breath-quickening beauty every step of my run. I wouldn't have the fun challenge of jumping over tree roots and climbing steep hills. Plus I wouldn't have the excuse to wear my super cool new green trail shoes!

My series of November cross country races starts on Sunday with the Governor's Cross Country race. How awesome is it going to be? Let's review the race application again, shall we?

"Weather conditions can make the course very difficult. Be prepared to get wet, muddy, slip, fall, and laugh at yourself. "

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Week of Magic

The boys and I are back from Disney World. I didn't run the entire time, yet managed to hold onto my sanity because, really, when you are experiencing wall to wall fun, a little time without running is okay.

Jack met every single princess in Disney World.

Cinderella (at the castle!)...

The Little Mermaid...

He and Princess Jasmine bonded because they both have tigers. We also met Sleeping Beauty and Belle. He loved the princesses, and...

They loved him, too.

There were a million little moments that were special and fun. Jack danced with Sully in a parade...

Clowned around with Daddy on the teacup ride...

and visited the Muppets with me.

But the Serious Awesome came when he was chosen for Jedi Training at the Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios. I was beside myself with excitement, and you can see how happy he was.

The Jedi Master led them through a series of lightsaber drills, and then they got to put them into practice with a battle-fight (as Jack would put it) with Darth Vader. Now, the other kids had been training to battle-fight Vader for about three minutes, but Jack has been preparing for this for literally half his life. He ditched the prescribed routine and just unleashed his wee Jedi fury on Vader. And it was awesome.

After defeating Vader, all of the kids got certificates declaring them to be official Jedi. That certificate is probably Jack's most treasured posession.

We ended our vacation by going to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, dressed, naturally, as "Star Wars Guys." Jack was Anakin, Steve was Luke, and I was Princess Leia. Let me tell you, in no way were we humoring Jack by dressing up as Star Wars characters; Steve and I were giddy with excitement at it.

I loved being Princess Leia. People complimented my costume all night, and according to Steve, lots of guys were checking me out.

Because there were fewer people at the party than during the usual Disney World hours, it was a great chance to see characters. We met Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty again, this time with Prince Charming and Prince Phillip. Both of them were amused by the fact that Cinderella's wicked stepsister Anastasia had kissed Jack.

We then went to the next room, where we met characters from Alice in Wonderland. Alice and her friends were hilarious, adding a level of chaos to the proceedings that was completely in character. The Queen of Hearts demanded that Jack bow, but he didn't know how. Alice grabbed Jack by the arm and busted into the princess room, demanding that one of the princes teach him how to bow properly to the Queen. Prince Charming obliged.

We are already planning to go back next year.

Friday, October 17, 2008

See You Next Week

Internet, I'm out of here! The boys and I leave for Disney World tomorrow. Yay!

Nothing But a Number

The Laminator just rocked out a 1:25:44 half marathon, and the blinding speed has him in an introspective mood. Laminator muses:

On the other hand, I couldn’t stop wondering if 1:25:44 really will be my best half ever, forever.

Internet, we may not like it, but the fact of the matter is, we are all getting older. And as we get older, we will eventually get slower.

Now, I'm not saying that all runners over the age of 29 should just pack it in. There are plenty of fantastic athletes who are not spring chickens. We all saw the way that Constantina Dita-Tomescu rocked out the Olympic marathon in Bejing at the age of 37. And Dara Torres may not be a runner, but she is an inspiration, swimming amazing times against athletes much younger than she is. What I am saying is that although we runners are healthier, sexier, and more overall awesome than everyone else in the universe, we are not immune to the aging process.

The key, as I see it, is to look at your running career not as one big volume, but to break it down into different phases.

Many of my Blogging Running Friends (BRF's) discovered running in adulthood. Not me. I ran my first 5K when I was 10 years old. I ran cross country and track all through high school., then rediscovered running after I turned 30 and had Jack.

I am incredibly proud of the athlete that I am today, and of all that I have accomplished. But I am definitely slower than I used to be. My 5K PR at the moment is 25:13, which is an 8:something average mile pace (I don't feel like doing the math exactly). When I was running varsity cross country, if I had finished a mile in 8:something, I would have died of shame. Miles started with 6 or maybe 7, not 8.

I am working hard and improving my speed all the time, but I don't think I will ever be as fast as I used to be.

But I'm completely okay with that.

The fact of the matter is, I am a completely different person now than I was when I was 17. I weigh about the same as I did then (don't hate me; I worked for it), but I have padding where I didn't before and muscle definition that I didn't before. I look at the world differently - less selfishly, more patiently, and a lot less seriously.

A common piece of advice given to runners is "Run your own race." I keep those words of wisdom in mind. I shouldn't be preoccupied with the shadow of my 17 year old self any more than I should be with the other runners on the course.

We race not just against the clock, not just against the other runners, but against inertia. No matter how slow you might be, every run is a victory against complacency. That poem about "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go and doesn't suit me" is a cliche now. Instead, think of this one:

When I am an old woman, I shall wear running shoes
And enter races that I have not a prayer of winning
And I will race them as fast as I can
Never apologizing for my lack of speed

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Say It!

Always on the lookout for inspiration, our friends at Runner's Lounge have dedicated this week's Take It and Run Thursday to running-related sayings and quotes. Friends, I have them for all occasions.

To Relish The Challenge:
"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." -John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy may not have been talking about running, but this statement could easily be applied to what we runners do in training. We choose to tackle the challenge of a difficult run or a long race not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Because in doing something that is challenging, we discover the best in ourselves.

Running legend Emil Zatopek would agree.
"If you want to win something, run 100 meters. If you want to experience something, run a marathon." -Emil Zatopek

We do not run marathons because we hope to cross the finish line first (at least nobody I know does). We run marathons because of the full experience - the good and the bad - of training, of preparation, of the joyous miles at the beginning, the tedious miles in the middle, and the incredibly difficult miles at the end.

When I ran my last marathon, I was struck by the fact that every other person out on the course with me that day, from the elite runners who were so far ahead that I never saw them, to the people working their hardest at a walk-run strategy to finish, were experiencing a journey. Each and every one of them had my respect.

To Feel Stronger:

Pretty soon I am going to have to break down and buy this t-shirt. I don't feel like it's completely true, because Internet, sometimes I do get really catlicking tired. But I don't quit, because when I get tired, I get tough.

Or, as the great poet Eminem would say,
"'Cause sometimes you feel tired,
feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse." -Eminem

During really tough moments, I will find this song ("'Til I Collapse") on my iPod, because with Eminem rapping these words at me, I would be completely ashamed if I quit.

To Feel the Joy:
“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable.” -Roger Bannister

I may sit at my desk all day at work, but when I go out for a run, I am free. I am flying.

Madonna puts it more succinctly.
"Time goes by so slowly for those who wait. No time to hesitate. Those who run seem to have all the fun." -Madonna, "Hung Up."

And let's not overlook The Redheaded Stranger.
"On the road again. Going places that I've never been. Seeing things that I may never see again. I can't wait to get on the road again." --Willie Nelson

When I'm out running, I see the world in a way I would never see from the comforts of my couch. I explore my town on foot, seeing the change of the seasons, seeing people out working on their yards, seeing the river flow past me. Yesterday, I did a trail run, and I swear to Yoda I saw a wolf. Opening my eyes to the bigger world around me makes every difference in my outlook, and it wouldn't happen if I weren't running.

To Feel Special:
My friend Felicia told me about going to the starting line of a marathon with her dad. He surveyed the crowd and said:
"You don't see these people lined up at the Old Country Buffet."

While the rest of the world is sitting on the couch eating junk food, we are working hard, getting leaner, stronger, and tougher. We are special. We are different.

To Do Something Extraordinary:
Ever since I was a kid, these lyrics have resonated with me:
"Have you been half asleep? And have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same
I've heard it too many times to ignore it
It's something that I'm s'posed to be...
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers, and me." -Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams (Made famous, of course, by Kermit T. Frog)

I am called to do something different, something special. Every time I lace up my shoes and face the challenge, I am chasing that rainbow. I am chasing my dreams.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Who wants to hear six random facts about me?

I knew you'd be excited, Internet!

1. I am totally afraid of bats. Seriously, they freak me out big time. The evil beady little eyes, the noise, the way they swoop down on you. Oh, sweet Yoda, I cannot deal with bats. I will not go into any tourist destination with the words "Caves" or "Caverns" in it because I am sure they are chock-full of bats. Also, the summer after I graduated from high school, my mom's house had a bat problem for a while - we are talking bats hanging off the crown molding, people - and I seriously was about to move out.

2. At least 50 times in my life (seriously), someone has asked the question, "Hey, Betsy - you'd probably know this. What is the name of those guys in the balcony on The Muppet Show?"

And, duh, of course I know. Statler and Waldorf. I love, love, love the Muppets and take a tremendous amount of pride in the fact that Jack does, too.

3. I love all autumn squash. When it's in season, I will buy squash at random, whatever looks interesting, because it always tastes great to me. I like it with butter, brown sugar, and raisins.

4. I am famous for my desserts. I make a cheesecake that weighs about eight pounds, chocolate chip cookies that once got me a job, and delightful pumpkin cake roll, to name just a few.

5. The fictional characters I most relate to are Lisa Simpson and Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books.

6. Despite the propensity for endurance running and the toughness therin, I am a fainter. I've fainted after giving blood, during a golf lesson on a hot day, and once on the Metro, in which I collapsed, landed on my face, and got a black eye (I did get a seat after that move). I can come very close to fainting if I haven't eaten in a while or if I stand up too fast. I am a delicate flower.

Consider yourself tagged if you're looking for material, catlickers.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

My Hero

Jack and I went to the zoo on Saturday and, of course, rode the train. As we passed the Australia section, Jack got a bit panicky. A few months ago when he and I saw the lorikeets, I was feeding one of the birds from a cup of nectar and the feathered bastard bit my finger. That's not the kind of thing Jack forgets. He moved closer to me and put his arms around me. Then, he said, "I am protecting you from those birds so that one doesn't bite your finger again, Mommy."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

The topic of this week's Take It and Run Thursday is "Signs you would love to see when running a race." It's great when spectators bring signs to a race, and it really can lift your spirits when you need it.

There are some general signs that I've always liked -
  • You're All Kenyan to Me

  • Your Feet Hurt Because You're Kicking So Much Ass

  • or even a simple


  • are all cool.

    I really like signs that are personal. When my brother ran his first marathon, we made signs for him. Andy is a very tenacious person. One of his many accomplishments is that in 1992, he was the Doughnut Eating King of Moline High School (a fact that is on his resume to this day). Andy ate a ridiculous amount of doughnuts in a very short period of time. He was so focused and so determined that my cheer for him was simply, "Eat the doughnut, Andy!"

    How could my marathon sign say anything else but, "RUN THE MARATHON, ANDY!"

    During my marathon two weeks ago, I saw a woman holding a sign that said, "I Have Faith In You, Mom!" The sign wasn't for me, but the sentiment made me feel great. It brought to mind all of the people who have faith in me to finish my race. A "Way to Go, Bob!" sign makes me think, "Yeah, way to go, Bob. And way to go all of us. This is great!"

    Spectators should know that even if the sign they've made is personal for the runner they're watching, it really can make a difference to all of the runners out there on the course.

    Just ask my mom - she came to the marathon with a sign that said, "GO BETSY!" on it in huge letters. As fate would have it, another woman named Betsy (alas, not this Betsy or this one) was running close to me for much of the race. Every time she saw my mom, she'd yell, "Hey, I'm Betsy, too! Hold up the sign!"

    Every runner on the race course is going through their own journey, but we have many experiences in common. A race sign held aloft by a loving spectator may be intended for just one person, but will resonate with many. It will remind them of all the hard work they've done, all of the people who have supported them, and can give them a little extra strength to "RUN THE MARATHON!"

    Wednesday, October 08, 2008


    Oh, Internet, you have forced my hand.

    On my recent post Marathon vs. Childbirth, several commentators noted that the fact that childbirth is harder than a marathon gives you all the more reason to stick to marathons, rather than babies.

    I didn't want to do this, but as I said, you forced my hand.

    Tuesday, October 07, 2008


    The boys and I were hanging out reading the Sunday paper, and I handed Jack the Toys R Us ad. There were Star Wars toys on the cover, so I thought he'd be pleased. Instead, he found this image quite disturbing:

    Jack marched is little self over to Steve, wielding the paper, a look of annoyance and confusion on his face. "Daddy," he demanded, "What's this all about?" Steve said that it was an ad for toys, and didn't they look cool? "No, no, no," Jack explained. "This kid is being a Stormtrooper, and he is holding a lightsaber and Stormtroopers do not have lightsabers!"

    Steve had to agree that this was true.

    Jack was determined to find a reasonable explanation for this strange phenomenon. Finally, he recalled that one time (in one of the prequels), Obi-Wan was dressed like a Stormtrooper, but considering that he is a Jedi, he did have his lightsaber. "That must be it," Steve quickly agreed, hoping to calm Jack down.

    "But, Daddy! This Stormtrooper's lightsaber is red. Obi-Wan doesn't have a red lightsaber." I tried to open the door for another possibility, reminding Jack that when Luke pretended to be a Stormtrooper in Star Wars, he surely brought his lightsaber with him. (What, he was going to leave it on the Falcon? I don't think so.)

    Jack sighed. "Mommy, this Stormtrooper's lightsaber is red. Obi-Wan and Luke don't have red lightsabers; only Sith Lords have red lightsabers."

    The kid has a point.

    Monday, October 06, 2008

    Marathon vs. Childbirth

    The always fabulous Marcy is gearing up for her first marathon and poses the eternal question:

    Does running a marathon hurt as much as childbirth?

    It's a comparison I've encountered more than once. And seeing as how I've done both things, I feel qualified to tackle this one.

    Preparation: No doubt about it, training for a marathon can be a bitch. Track workouts, tempo runs, and long runs can create a host of pain, from cramping, sore knees, shin splints, sunburn, blisters, missing toenails, and chafing. You're out in all kinds of weather, dragging yourself out of bed at ridiculous times of day. On the other hand, being pregnant isn't exactly a picnic, either. There's the first trimester, which was marked for me as three months of alternating dry heaves and crushing fatigue. I felt like absolute hell, but I didn't look pregnant yet, so I was just some crazy chick gagging at the scent of anti-bacterial soap. Then, in the second trimester, all of a sudden none of my clothes fit me, I was constantly kicked in the ribs by a freakishly strong baby, and to add insult to injury, developed stretch marks on just about every part of my body. But that was just a warm-up for the third trimester, in which I had restless leg syndrome, pain in my sciatic nerve, a constant pressure on my tailbone, a sore lower back, and well hello, my old friend fatigue! I'd love to sleep, but this kid keeps squirming around all night long. And if there was any other doubt, marathon training takes 18 weeks, pregnancy takes 40. Worse: Childbirth

    Hero Factor Compare and contrast: "Wow, a marathon! I could never do that!" versus, "Oh, you're planning on an epidural? Well, I had an unmedicated water birth surrounded by three generations of women in my family. But I'm sure that will be nice for you." Worse: Childbirth

    Anticipation: The weeks leading up to a marathon are tough. You're stressed out, poring over the course map, worrying about the weather, wondering about what to wear, thinking you might not be able to finish. But the weeks leading up to having a baby include people telling you how gigantic you are (thanks), feeling like hell, and realizing that there is absolutely no way you can back out of this ridiculous endeavor. Plus, you know exactly when your marathon is going to start, so at least you can be prepared. That baby will show up whenever he damned well feels like it. Worse: Childbirth

    Pain: During my worst ever pain in a marathon, I felt uncomfortable to the point where I needed a walk break. During my worst ever pain in childbirth, I curled up into a tiny ball in bed, silently turning purple until it was over, unable to walk or talk. Sure, you can get drugs for the childbirth, and let me tell you, they work. But my longest marathon was less than five hours. In contrast, I started having labor pains on December 22, only to have the actual child on December 24. Worse: Childbirth

    Recovery: I bounced back from both the marathons and the childbirth pretty equally. After the marathons, I took Advil for a couple of days, took some time off from running, and was fine. The baby-having was a little more dramatic, since I had a C-section. On Christmas of 2004, I was unable to move my legs for much of the day, and the pain I experienced the first time I tried to walk to the bathroom was probably the worst I have ever experienced. But by the next day, I was feeling pretty good, to the point where I never bothered to fill my prescription for pain meds. Worse: Childbirth, but only slightly

    Swag Because I have a fabulous husband, I score jewelry after both giving birth and finishing marathons, so it's a draw there, provided you were smart enough to marry a good guy. But other than that? Finisher's medal vs. beautiful new baby? Worse: Marathon, easily.

    So, there you go - having a baby is way more painful than running a silly little marathon. Marcy's got two kids, so homegirl has nothing to worry about. And men, you can forgive us if we smile a bit indulgently when you talk about how much it hurt when you bonked.

    On the Road Again

    "On the road again
    Goin' places that I've never been
    Seein' things that I may never see again,
    And I can't wait to get on the road again."
    --Willie Nelson

    Oh, bliss! After a week of marathon recovery, I am indeed on the road again. On Friday I did, as Steve put it, "a gentleman's three." That is, I ran three miles on a flat course at a very relaxed pace of 10:00 miles. It felt fantastic - the weather was perfect, it was great to be out running again, and I had absolutely no pains or twinges bothering me.

    Therefore, on Sunday, I was able to officially roll out Cross Country Season. I ran two miles from Stately Wasser Manor, crossed a beautiful little bridge, and hit the trails on Sylvan Island. Sylvan Island is quiet little island in the Mississippi, with both easy to run trails and some that are a lot more rustic. I saw some people fishing, and one guy out walking his dog, and that was it... probably because about 10 minutes after I left the house, it started raining.

    The rain just made the scenery all the more idyllic. When I was running under the canopy of trees, the rain barely touched me. But then, I'd burst out of the woods, be on the bank of the river, and the rain would be pouring. Awesome.

    The other fun thing about cross country season is that I can be a bit more laid-back about my training. I don't feel like I have to hit certain distances. Yesterday, I was aiming to run around 8 miles and would up with 7.76. During marathon or trisko season, I'd have run up and down the street to make it to 8 miles, but yesterday, I just happily headed inside, satisfied I'd had a good time.

    Ooh, and also?

    I just splurged on thse:

    Can't wait until they come in the mail!

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Like Water Off a Duck's Back

    This week's
    Take It and Run Thursday is about life lessons learned from running. I am truly grateful to running for all it has taught me about myself and believe that this lifestyle makes me a better person, both physically and mentally. But today, I'll focus on just one lesson that running has taught me:

    This, too, shall pass.

    Life throws us a lot of challenges. When you're having a hard time, hearing someone spout a cliche like "This, too, shall pass," provides absolutely no comfort, at least to me. But through my running, I have come to truly believe this little phrase, because I have lived it.

    Sometimes, those challenges come through the running itself. About a month ago, I was doing 3200 repeats on the track. On one of the middle ones, I felt like absolute hell. It was hot, I was tired, and every bit of me screamed to pack it in and just go home. The absolute only reason I didn't stop to take a walk break - in a two mile run that I should be able to do in my sleep - was because there were other people at the track and it would have been embarassing.

    I suffered through it, did my rest interval, and after that, much to my surprise, I felt absolutely fine. All I needed was a little bit of time, and that problem that seemed insurmountable was gone. And that is just one example of something that has happened in my running more times than I can count. This, too, shall pass.

    When life's challenges come from something other than running, I always know that I have a surefire way to make myself feel better. I put on my running shoes, hit the round, and within half a mile, whatever I was so upset about no longer feels like such a big deal. Knowing that all it will take is a few minutes of running to feel better makes those challenges seem a lot smaller.

    Just a few days ago at work, I had an encounter with someone that made me so angry that my hands were literally shaking. There was a time in my not-so-distant past in which I would have stewed over that and let it ruin my entire day. Not so this time. Even though I knew I couldn't go running (I was still sore from the marathon and it would have been a championship dumb idea), I knew from all of my experiences with running that I would be able to put it out of my mind, to let it wash away like water off a duck's back. That this, too, shall pass. Sure enough, one hug from Jack later and I wasn't even thinking about the thing that had been taking up so much space in my head.

    This, too, shall pass.

    Wednesday, October 01, 2008

    What's Next?

    Thank you to all of you beautiful, talented readers for your kind comments on my race report. I know that you are all on the edge of your seats dying to know what my next running adventure will be. Just like last year, I am compelled to quote song lyrics from "Once More, With Feeling," my favorite ever episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    "Where do we go from here?
    Where do we go from here?
    The battle's done, and we kind of won,
    So we sound our victory che-er
    Where do we go from here?"
    --Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Once More... With Feeling"

    First things first - I'm taking the week off to recover. Extra thanks go to Sandy who talked me down from the ledge yesterday when I was stressed out and wanted to go running.

    But after that...

    It's cross country season, babies! I have three races scheduled for November, all of which are on grassy, dirty, muddy, hilly cross country courses! I remember after the Bix last summer, Tom and I agreed that cross country was way more fun than track, and I have decided to re-live it.

    I'll be following a modified version of FIRST's 5K training program, since two of my three races will be four miles. Saturdays will be long runs, probably between 8 and 10 miles, and including trails wherever possible. Tuesdays, I'm on the track. But on Thursdays, instead of tempo runs, I am going to make up some hill workouts. I'll do repeats of hills on the road, but will also hit the park to climb up some steeper dirt hills. It's going to be hard work, but it's going to be fun!

    The race schedule is:

    • November 2: Governor's Cross Country Race ("Weather conditions can make the course very difficult. Be prepared to get wet, muddy, slip, fall, and laugh at yourself. ")

    • November 15: Hawk Hustle ("Along the rolling hills of Black Hawk College")

    • November 22: Living History Farms Off-Road Race ("You must be ready to climb fences, wade through creeks, avoid animals and claw your way to the top of gullies with over 6,000 other runners of questionable senses.")

    It may be time to spring for some trail shoes, my friends.