Posts Tagged ‘Dump Runners Club’

I emailed my friend MT, the voice of Dump Runners Club and one of my Green Mountain Relay teammates, to ask his opinion and analysis on my half-marathon splits. I thought I’d raced poorly since I missed a negative split, and wanted his opinion as to what I could have done differently. I’m sharing the email he sent me, because I think it’s a very helpful way to build a race strategy for a half-marathon. Also, he makes me sound like a racing genius. I pasted my splits so you can see what he’s talking about.



Okay I did some serious analysis. First of all, it was damned near perfect as far as I am concerned. (even if it it didn’t feel that way). As you may remember, I judge a half in 3 phases….the first 5 miles, the second 5 miles and the final 5k. You ran very evenly the entire race. Your first 5 miles averaged 7:53, second 5 was 7:51 and final 5k was 7:54. BTW I assumed the last 1.1 was 1.1 and not 1.25 as your watch showed. I am sure you ran more than the 13.1 distance but that is the race. This is based on Garmin.

Mat(t) Times-

Next, I looked at your splits and determined that you were actually going faster over your last 5k than then what the above shows. So I estimated the last 1.1 based on splits. Then I put the “extra” time evenly divided back into the previous 12 miles. Here are my alternate splits for you, First five miles avg=7:58, second 5 = 7:56 and final 3.1 was 7:40! This is more closely with what the mat times say. Which mean you have a super fast finish and were increasing your pace at every phase of the race.

I think your mat times are what happens and shows why you ran so well. Congrats.


p.s. Sorry if this is confusing

How awesome is that? And look at who was smiling at me from the in-flight magazine on the way home. 

Read Full Post »

I loved it so much, I boldly asked for more.

I’m in town with my family for Thanksgiving, which adds a whole pool of gravy atop my pile of mashed potato gratitude. I suppose you could say that these two runs through Doudy Draw Trail and around El Dorado Springs are the cranberry dressing on my plate of things to be grateful for this year.

Tuesday, I met Green Mountain Relay teammate and host of the podcast Dump Runners Club @runnermatt (MT) and Twitter pal and Saturday Morning Zen blogger @smzrunner (LR) in the lobby of my hotel here in Louisville, CO for a 7-miler through the foothills. LR, a self-proclaimed trail runner, led MT and I up a few miles of climbing, cutting across grassy, yellow hills and through an aromatic pine forest. The trail was that dusty red color I always associate with Colorado, ever since I saw my first concert at Red Rocks Amphitheater in July 1998. The sky was the Platonic ideal of a sky: light blue with white clouds that cast no shadows. The pines stood green, the deer hopped brown, the flatirons and rocky walls rose rusty and silvery. Nature was doing her part; and I did my best to do mine. The altitude made the climb tough for me, but I hung in there and we paused several times so I caught my breath while catching glimpses of “the pretty,” as LR so cutely calls the casually gorgeous landscape of Boulder County.

MT told me about racing a 5k dressed as a gorilla with his daughter, about his work (he’s one of the few people I know who truly loves his profession), and about his plan for Thanksgiving (cherry pie). LR told me about her two children, her profession (career counselor), and her quest to train for her first marathon while managing multiple food intolerances and GI issues. I didn’t do much talking, as I was breathing very hard throughout most of the run. I was content to listen, or to just run by myself. The scenery was such a  switch from what I run through every day in New York City, it was impossible for me to take it all in on just this first run. Often, I regretted not having my camera.

So when LR tweeted that she’d be open to squeezing in another run with me before I left town, I jumped at the chance and asked her to go back to Doudy Draw. I think she was a little surprised; I was thankful she was willing to head back there with me, and could accommodate me in her schedule. And, I was happy to  have some one-on-one time to talk with her, since we have each been through a year of big life changes and could relate to each other. Other things we have in common: we’re both the same age, and in fact our birthdays are only six days apart! I enjoyed her company very much, and felt at ease with her right away (this week was the first time we ever met in person). Once again, Twitter has brought an excellent person into my life! Love when that happens.

What follows are some of the photos I took during that second run up Doudy Draw Trail, through El Dorado Springs, and down El Dorado Springs Drive. I’ll be back to run this trail again, for sure!

Read Full Post »

Hi Matt,

it’s been a while since I’ve given you and your show a proper shout-out on my blog (actually, it’s been a while since I’ve done anything properly on my blog). Yesterday driving over to my house in Pocono Lake, PA, I listened to three back-to-back episodes of your Dump Runners Club podcast, and it brought me back when I first discovered your show, and how the DRC kept me engaged in my training and motivated for my race during my prep for the New York City Marathon in 2008. It was nice to remember back to that time, since that training cycle and race experience remains my best for the marathon to date.  I’m gearing up for what I hope will be a marathon to supplant NYC ’08 as the best, so I can use any kind of positive associations possible.

Your last three episodes were all really strong. Even though you were talking at me, I have some questions and comments. Humor me? So, episode #188… Which half-marathon are you running in May? I was nodding as you were talking about the Boston Marathon hill simulation workout. One of the things that helped me so much to have a positive experience in the New York City Marathon was being familiar with most of the course, and part of my reason for choosing the Empire State Marathon for this Fall (more on that in a separate post) is because Syracuse is close enough that I can get to the course for one of my long runs, to give myself that mental advantage. What you shared about having your gait analyzed by an expert was riveting and so helpful regarding my own efforts with about whole-body fitness and running form. The feedback you were given, about looking at the whole leg instead of just the injured area when treating a sports injury, is amazing and makes so much sense especially in the context of what I’ve learned in Pilates this winter. I thought Pilates class would be all about my core, an hour straight of all different sorts of ab workouts. And while those muscles are constantly engaged (meaning, consciously poised into a specific position), Pilates classes work every single muscle in my body. We do several exercises to strengthen the back and shoulders, and when we exercise the quads, sure as shit the next muscle group we work on are the glues and hammies. Now, no doubt my running form is a wreck compared to yours, but I was encouraged to hear that at least I was on the right track by augmenting my road training with Pilates class. It was interesting that your arm swing compensated for weakness in your glutes–I wonder if my own unsymmetrical arm swing is a result of Betty’s failings. PS thanks for sharing your foot strike video–and I wish your form a return to 2003.

Episode #189 was like candy, I really enjoy your recaps of pro racing. Even if it’s news I already knew about, I like to hear your take on the races and records. I love that many women from our 2008 Women’s Olympic team were all back together on the courses. Oh, and, you casually mention that you are seriously thinking about going to the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston this January 2012. I will be there (I’m staying with @tejasrunnergirl), too! I’ve been planning on this trip for over a year to spectate the trials, since my experiences with the Men’s and Women’s Marathon Trials in 2007/2008 were so exciting and motivational. I haven’t thought about running the half-marathon while there, but I think it’s a great idea, and I just might do it! (Registration opens June 1, 2011.) I’m also going to Eugene, OR for the Track & Field Trials as well.

While you were talking about your training, you suggested that after Boston, you won’t run another marathon for a few years–but then in episode #190 you said that you want to one day run our New York City Marathon. What’s the deal? For purely selfish reasons (it would be so much fun to cheer you on as you run through Queens), I must insist you come run New York as soon as possible.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the new Boston Marathon qualifying standards, since I am hoping to run a qualifying time this year, even though I realize that a qualifying time no longer guarantees there will be a bib for me (is that the short story called The Loneliness of the Not Quite Fast Enough Long Distance Runner?). Mike’s comments in the “Dis and Dat” show about how the new registration process is bullshit made me feel a little validated. The new standards and process are what they are, and if I want to compete in the Boston Marathon by qualifying (which is what I want), then I have to fit into the new protocols. But Mike’s objections to the tiered registration process (especially that if the faster runners don’t register during their exclusive days, they still get priority over slower runners even if they register on the last day) makes complete sense to me. I think that the Boston Marathon brand was a little diluted even before this revamping process. It started the first year that registration closed months before race day–rather than keeping itself separate from the hoi polloi, the BAA was brought down into the muck with the rest of the mob-mentality races.

Other short notes on episode #190: 1) two-week taper, without a doubt. Love it. 2) race directors taking participants for granted, this is a huge reason why I maintain a loose boycott of New York Road Runner races, especially the ones in Central Park. Since I don’t need guaranteed entry to the New York City Marathon, why would I pay upwards of $20 (much more for a half-marathon) to run a loop of the park I can run any day of the year for free? No, thanks! I am the consumer, as you say, and I prefer to support smaller races run by smaller organizations. 3) Andrew Carlson! I’m a fan. 4) La maratona di Roma, I’ve always dreamed about running this marathon since it happens in my favorite country and it falls on my birthday every several years. Imagine the deliciousness of the carbo-loading I could do for that?!

One last thing, your closing comments keep getting drowned out by the exit music. Lower the volume on the tunes, dude.

Looking forward to seeing you when you’re on my coast for the Boston Marathon. I’ll be cheering you at the finish line on the runners’ left side. Will you be wearing all yellow again this year, like a dashing banana? Enjoy the taper, and the tempos.

Your friend,




Read Full Post »


In publishing, we use the ellipsis to knock out the part of review quotes that we don’t want to repeat, or that take away from the essential praise of the critic. The ellipsis gracefully slides over what hasn’t been said. I hope you will all consider the long stretches between blog posts as another way I have chosen to use ellipses here on Pigtails Flying… Things that bum me out: being trapped on a two and a half hour bus ride from Port Authority to Blakeslee, PA and my iPod dies out in the middle of Dump Runners Club podcast episode # 175…  This video makes me laugh with delight every time I click on it. I can barely understand what he’s saying (Eli Gottlieb is talking in Italian) because he’s so literary and sophisticated even in a foreign language, but just the sound of a friend ramble on in my favorite language reminds me of happier days. PS it has nothing to do with running… Husband was interviewed recently by a woman in Sunnyside who has a podcast about neighborhood issues.  This interview is about the neighborhood dog run. PS this has nothing to do with running… I got to spend a bunch of time with author Meg Cabot at the end of July and she wrote about our adventures at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando, FL on her blog. PS this has nothing to do with running… On September 22nd, Regis and Kelly are hosting a 150-yard dash called the High-Heel-a-Thon. No location is given, but I presume it will be held here in New York City. The prizes are pretty serious (a car, cash awards), and there will be heats of 50 yards to narrow the field. I love the hilarious precision of the race rules.

Shoe requirements and restrictions are as follows: minimum heel height of 3 inches; maximum heel circumference of 3 inches; no wedges; no taping shoes to your feet; shoe can not be modified or altered from its original and intended design in any way; no boots; no part of the shoe can extend above the ankle. Shoes will be checked by race officials at the time of registration on the morning of the event and are subject to rejection at the officials’ sole discretion. [Ooh they even worked a pun into the rules! Love it!--PF]

Read Full Post »

It was around midnight when we turned the race over to Van 2 at exchange 18 (still with a lead against our projected finishing times on the worksheet). We were all thoroughly exhausted and so we went immediately to Brandymeyer’s Lodge to catch a shower and a couple hours of sleep. I made MT drive, and then harassed him the entire route from the passenger seat. Watch out for that deer! Should you be driving this fast? Turn here! Even though we use Brandymeyer’s as our Saturday night crash pad every year, I always miss the sign and we end up having to turn around and drive through Weston, VT again in order to find the motel. Once we were in our rooms (girls’ room and boys’ room) JT opted to shower, but I was afraid that a wet head would chill me to the bone—it was very damp and the temperatures had dropped—so instead I tumbled into bed a sweaty mess and proceeded to rest fitfully for the next 2 and a half hours. We awoke in the middle of the night, hastily dressed, pulled all of our Garmins and mobiles out of their chargers, and hit the road to Exchange 24.

Since I was the first runner out of the van, I gobbled a piece of whole wheat bread during the drive to the exchange and fought off pre-race jitters. Why I was feeling nervous I have no idea, but this final leg was stressing me out. It has always been the toughest for me, whether I battle an upset stomach or a spiked heart rate. I had just 2.2 miles to run, the first mile being a yucky little uphill, and the rest being a sloping downhill I could really pound. It was still pretty dark so I was all decked out in my vest, headlamp and blinky light again. Throughout the entire race, whenever we pulled into an exchange, or I started out to race my leg, I would have déjà vu. The familiarity of all the stops along the way was cheering and comforting. I remembered that this final leg was short but nearly impossible to run evenly because of the hill, and I also remembered the delicious solitude of it. The vans take a different route to the exchange, so I would be all alone on that road for 2 miles, until I popped off the dirt road and into town.

Here came JK, tearing in, trying to catch and pass the runner ahead of him (there was one team we were neck-and neck with the entire race; ultimately they beat us by just 5 minutes). At 4:18 AM, I grabbed the rubber bracelet and tore off, determined to catch my skirted nemesis (once again with an escort) who had left the exchange just moments before. And in fact, I passed her within minutes of taking off. As I did so, I asked her to confirm that my blinky light was on and flashing (it was). Good, that way she can watch it get smaller and smaller as I run out of sight. Before I knew it, I was all alone in the darkness, just me and my panting, and I loved it. The air was cool, and I was running as hard as I could—it was my final leg so I had nothing to hold back. I’d been running for about 10 minutes when I heard a cock crow off to the left of me. I regretted it was dark because I was sure that the landscape was picturesque (I ran over a little footbridge, and a burbling creek again; there had to have been barns & gorgeous mountain homes around as well), but the rooster’s crow woke the whole natural neighborhood, and I was instantly serenaded and cheered along by the song of what seemed like a hundred birds. It made me smile, and lifted me up even though I was already feeling pretty grand. I kept giving it my all, and my last mile was a 7:34 which is very fast for me. I had to give myself a small pep talk to keep the effort going for the last bit. I was happy to see my teammates and the exchange and to hear them cheer me in. As soon as I was done I walked in circles, catching my breath. I wasn’t even terribly sweaty, so I hopped quickly into the van and off we drove to collect AC, who also had a short last leg. 2.1 miles ran in 17:29, for an average pace of 8:19. Splits: 9:10, 7:34, 0:44 (7:28 pace).

It was sometime during my van’s final rotation through the course that my mood started to wobble. While I was happy for a rest from racing, and looking forward to an excellent brunch, I was having too much fun and just didn’t want the relay to end. I decided to stay in the moment as best I could. My teammates continued to run strong and proud, even though JT had to slog through a complete downpour. We began urging our teammates to run faster because we were all starved! I may have even told one of my teammates to “pass the fat guy” who was trundling along shirtless (surely that is grounds for a DQ, right? Running shirtless with love handles?) a little bit ahead of him. Whatever it takes to keep people motivated. I washed my hair using bottled water and hotel shampoo bent over behind the van at one of the exchanges and felt like a semi-new woman (my body was still pretty stinky, despite heavy usage of the baby wipes). Matt finished his final leg literally at a dump—that was the site of the van exchange—so he could now add Vermont to his list of places he’d completed a Dump Run. Before we knew it, we were done with our bit of running for the race, and tried not to rub it in too badly to Van 2 as we sped off for brunch.

We ate brunch here. A moment of silence, please, for one of the best breakfasts any of us have ever eaten.

Ultimately, Slow White and the Eleven Dwarves finished in 25:15:30, running a collective, average pace of 7:40 minutes per mile. I only ran one complete mile beneath that average, with my average pace for the relay this year coming in at 8:14. Even though I was one of the slower runners on the team this year, I still ran faster than I did the past two times, and beat all my times from last year (I was Runner #1 in 2009 too) by a nice margin. We finished 6th overall, which is a massive improvement over years past, where we were definite middle-of-the-packers. In even better news, we actually PLACED in our division, coming in second in the Mixed category! Quite an achievement considering we didn’t even know this was a possibility when we started. In retrospect is a good thing, because if I had it in my head throughout the race that we were competing for a ranking, it would have added pressure (at least for me) and dampened my fun. The team had seven vets (4 from 2008, 3 from 2009) and 5 rookies, and I am hoping the team has even more vets next year. A lot can change and happen in a year, but I really hope everyone comes back to race again in 2011.

This year was a much better captaining experience for me. I had a long list of alternates at the ready to avoid that last-minute scrambling for teammates that was so anxiety-inducing. I had some capable helping hands backing me up which eliminated the rest of the pre-race stress of last year. And a few lessons learned last year helped improve “back-end” operations as well as the “in-van” experience. It was great to hear feedback from the team this year about how they liked the stuff we did to try and build team camaraderie, as well as things they would suggest we do differently next year. Unlike last year, this time I took actual written notes so that we can implement the changes for 2011.

After the finish line barbecue offered to all finishers, we hustled back into the van and headed home. I was frustrated by the rush to leave, since I wanted to hang out with Van 2 a little, and also I simply didn’t want the weekend to end. Throughout the trip, I caught myself sighing out loud, I am so happy! And I was. I didn’t want to leave the safe bubble of our van, which so effectively blocked out the pressures of the office and the dull grind of daily life. I would have gladly skimmed along the surface of those Vermont roads, and the surface of reality, for a few hours longer with my trusted companions. If it weren’t for the allure of a long hot shower and a big plate of vegetables waiting for me at home, I don’t know if I could have gotten back into that van at all. In my toast to the team on Friday night, I told them that the Green Mountain Relay means a lot to me—and I wasn’t just saying that. The 2008 GMR was a pivotal moment for me, and revisting the event year after year is both a celebration of my first relay and a terrific new memory for the bank. I’m so thankful that such a great relay exists—small, scenic, socially and environmentally aware—and that each year terrific runners say to me, “Yes, I’ll do this crazy 200-mile race with you!”

Report from 2009 // Report from 2008

AC’s Report, Part 1
AN’s Report
JT’s Report, Part 1

Matt’s Podcast
RJR’s Report
SS’s Report
TK’s Report, Part 1

Read Full Post »

There are two very good reasons I have made the Green Mountain Relay a fixed point on my calendar each year.

  1. The chance to meet and get to know quality people who are also runners.
  2. The chance to run and laugh with runners who are also quality people.

It happens every year. We start out shy and awkward, polite and considerate of everyone’s personal space, since most of the runners hardly know each other. The questions stay in the realm of small talk, where do you live? what’s your job? what was your last race? But then, some time in the middle of the first set of legs, something switches and nearly every boundary falls (I can’t speak for Van 2, but in Van 1 we did keep our nudity contained to the seat farthest back in the van). Jokes get raunchier, questions get more profound, TMI becomes the standard, friendships are formed.  We laugh so hard we snort (okay, I laugh so hard I snort), tears pop out of our eyes, even the most reserved among us let loose belly laughs. Group dynamics take effect and we all find our role within. I, of course, am the OCD den mother, reminding everyone to run on the left side of the road, wear their reflective vests, and tidy up the van.

On our way up, we missed the turn-off that would have veered us to the east of Lake Champlain, and instead continued up up up I-87 North. We didn’t quite cop on until the exit signs started to include the word SORTIE. Immediately stressed-out, I got the vans to the nearest gas station to ask directions. I was envisioning energy-sapping and time-sucking scenarios, like we’d have to go up into Canada and over the top of Lake Champlain to finally get to St Albans, VT where rooms at La Quinta awaited. I hustled into the minimart, spotted a cross-eyed young buck attendant and a swarthy local with a beer belly, and made a beeline. My opening gambit was, Please don’t laugh but we need to get across to Vermont and are hoping there is a bridge or something? Young Buck said, “Just take the boat.” This didn’t even register as it seemed preposterously easy so I repeated myself and said How can we get to Vermont? Swarthy Local replied with a grin, “Yeah you can take the ferry!” Visible relief must have washed over me because they both started chuckling. I got all the info and was jumping up and down with gratitude and excitement. A ferry! I said to Swarthy Local, I am so happy I may hug you. I put out my hand to thank him and asked him his name. Much to my further delight, his name was Jerry. I heard about the ferry from a man named Jerry! The ferry ride was a mellow interlude in a long drive, a chance to get some sunshine, and allowed us to avoid the twisty slow-going back roads of Vermont. We decided this is how we’ll drive to the race every year.

This year’s team was a lot faster than in the past, which meant we got to start at a leisurely 10:30 AM (the slower your team is, the earlier you start, since the race director’s goal is to have all the teams finish within the same 2-4 hour window). The downside to this is that we were running our legs in the blazing sun; it was very warm on Saturday and we all suffered because of it. Once again I was Runner 1 (my legs were rated the easiest out of all 12 runners), so I got to toe the starting line for the team. I worked up a sweat just standing there eyeing the competition, and certainly not because they were so fiercely intimidating.  I tried not to get suckered into a fast start to my 4.5-mile first leg, but I think we all underestimated the heat’s effect.  Right away I dropped two of the other women who were starting with me, but the older woman in some hippie do-rag took the lead early and I focused on maintaining the gap, with the plan to close it and then pass her somewhere between Mile 4 and the exchange. Despite a challenging hill in Mile 3, I managed to keep myself tethered to her, officially passing the old lady with just two-tenths of a mile to go to the exchange. I am happy with my splits and my time, given the heat and my current fitness level. Oh and I also got to run over a covered bridge, that was quite peaceful. It’s like a church under there. (Numbers given are from Little G.) 38:03 over 4.61 miles, for an average pace of 8:15. Splits: 7:54, 8:10, 8:54, 8:23, 4:40 (7:41 pace).

After I finished my leg, I was seriously out of breath. I walked behind a truck plow to spit a bit (I always make a huge mess so best no one sees me slobber) and then drank some water and Gatorade in a shady spot. My teammates were already proving themselves to be super thoughtful — in addition to much tooting and cheering from the roadside, they met me at the finish line with beverages and had laid out my towel and knapsack for me on the sweat seat! I was touched! (The sweat seat is the way back seat in the van where the just-finished runner goes to clean up with baby wipes and change their clothes. By the end of the relay it’s quite damp and stinky.) Then it was time to cheer on the five other runners in our van, supply them with water along the course if they needed it (everyone pretty much did, if only to dump on their heads), and give them the props they deserve at the exchanges. I love this shit, the supporting and the marvelling at splits, the commiseration over the heat, the hills and the competition.  I love how the team naturally comes together to protect our own, and to also turn our wicked sarcasm against the other teams. Oh, in Van 1 at least it quickly became clear that JT, AC and myself would lead the way with the snark and the disparagement. The guys didn’t seem to mind and would pile on too. We finished legs 1 through 6 four minutes ahead of projection–it always feels good to hand off the race to the next van with a relative lead.

We now had about four or so hours to burn before I was up again, so we went to the Ben & Jerry’s factory for some ice cream. It was an appalling display of overweight and out of shape tourists, but we didn’t let that ruin our appetites for sorbet and smoothies. Then we headed straight to the next exchange, where we amused ourselves wondering how a 3-story building got a dent in the third-floor wall and gaping at the runner who finished his leg and then barfed multiple times right in front of the pizza stand. I was feeling pretty poor from that run in the sun, and used the down time to recuperate. I napped in the shade, drank copious amounts of Gatorade and water, and ate a Nutella sandwich. I’d perked up like a watered plant by the time I was set to take the “baton” (a yellow Livestrong bracelet, ugh) from JK, our runner #12. Night had fallen, so I was decked out in my Nana’s reflective vest (which MT miraculously showed me how to make tighter–by tying knots in the waist straps), headlamp for my front, and blinky light for my rear. The night legs are my favorite by far. Even though the beautiful course is obscured (these back roads through Vermont are picturesque in the most authentic way) by the darkness, the night offers up its own gifts. Although the humidity can be a factor, the temperatures are significantly lower and the cool air on my skin is sheer pleasure. Quiet hours are in effect, so there isn’t the noise of van support, which allows me to spiral deeply into my thoughts. The silence of the road is interrupted only by my own heaving breaths, the gurgle of a creek, the hum of the night insects. Towards the last mile, the sun was sufficiently set that the fireflies appeared to escort me the rest of the way to the exchange. At the beginning I passed a skirted female, racing her night leg with a male escort (how gallant), but was otherwise left alone to enjoy the vast solitude.  I began running at 8:31 PM, and completed my 3.89 miles in 31:06, for an average pace of 7:59 (it was a flat route). Splits: 8:19, 7:52, 7:55, 7:58 (7:50 pace).

Pretty much everyone felt good about their night legs. Van 1 passed more than half a dozen other runners on the road, which meant we were eating our way through the slower teams that had started before us–always an encouraging sign. I had excellent company in Van 1, including a minor celebrity, the host of the Dump Runners Club podcast and my friend Matt. Having him in the van was everything I’d hoped it would be: great fun combined with easy camaraderie and some strong race times. Matt gamely let me give him some of the hardest legs of the entire race as Runner #5 (I was Runner #1 and my legs were rated 1 for “Easy,” his were rated 12). He is a talented, speedy runner to begin with; also, Matt not only lives at altitude but he knows how to tackle hills, having successfully raced the Pikes Peak Ascent Half Marathon. Matt brought along his twin brother (MT), who chattered and joked nonstop, keeping us all laughing and alert (the level of humor hovering somewhere around 8th grade). He reminded me of the way my own little brother needles me to the brink of insanity, but then would end up making me laugh. Then, there were JT and AC, or the Snark Twins as I think I shall call them, separated at birth by only about 20 years. JT blogs at Races Like a Girl, and AC blogs at Runnin’ Around Uptown. These women’s feet are as swift as their minds are sharp, and I enjoyed their banter in the van and grit on the course.

Click thru to Part 2

Read Full Post »

It’s been far too long since I’ve made it to Colorado to visit my little brother, his wife and their two wonderful children. I come to visit them, to just merge into their suburban nest for a few days, but inevitably I always revel in other things: the weather (always drier and more hospitable than NYC), the shopping (grocery stores are so spacious, and stocked with designer health foods), and the scenery (really now–a view of the Rockies from their front porch? Hello?).  My niece is nearly 4, and she is just a perfectly verbal creature, stopping me in my tracks with expressions like, “Actually Tia, it’s better if you use the downstairs bathroom” and “I am just so happy to see you!” My nephew is nearly 2, and he is just a little ball of boy energy; I have no idea what to do with him yet. He bangs, he shouts, he demands. When he was 9 months old he just nestled into me, but now he’s all sorts of fiesty so I think I’ll just wait it out and see if I can figure him out when I’m here next, for Mother’s Day (the Title 9k is a tradition with me & the sis-in-law). Endearing herself to me even further (as if she isn’t already the #1 little girl in my heart), this morning my niece said as I got ready to drive to Denver to run with Matt (the voice of the DRC), “I’ll just quickly get dressed and then how about I go for a run with you too?” She said this standing at the top of the steps, gazing at me placidly in her pink pajamas, as if there was no possible way I could refuse such an offer. So I scooped her up, gave her a million kisses and told her one day that’s exactly what we would do.

Then I headed out the door, warmed up the family jalopy, found the country music radio station (yesss!), and peeled out for Denver. I was nervous; Matt is a fast runner and I am an average runner from sea level suddenly trying to do my thing at altitude. Silly me; it was just Matt, my favorite podcaster, running buddy, and teammate for this year’s Green Mountain Relay. He opened his front door and I immediately noticed his Jingle Bells race tee-shirt; I remember when he podcasted his race report on that. I used his bathroom (had been chugging water since my flight took off from Laguardia in the hopes of avoiding altitude dehydration) and smiled to see the copy of Advanced Marathoning and a few back issues of Running Times in the cabinet (it had glass doors, people–I’m not a complete snoop). And so we were off, for 10 miles.

We started off around his development, which is well-known in Denver (I learned from my brother & suster-in-law after the fact). I loved how there was a sandy trail that ran through the neighborhood, just steps from his front door. I loved how when I lifted my chin and looked around, I could see for miles. I loved how there was a nature preserve we could just pop into and swirl around over the trails, and then pop back out for some street running. (Matt was wearing some stylish trail running sneaks; I would have worn them as just regular ole around town sneaks, they looked that good.) I loved how there was a paved rec path that ran along & below the highway, so theoretically you could run into the city without having to deal with the dangerous clusterfucks I must contend with when I run home from work. I loved how Matt didn’t rush me, kept up the conversation, and felt free to disagree. It’s funny and great how we “know” people in common through this wonderful world of online social networking (Joe, Sarah–you both came up).

The only part that I less-than loved was the extra 2 miles we ran. You all know how it works, the mental preparation for the distance. Plus, I am embarrassed to admit, the last two miles were hard! I got a cramp in my side which I blame 100% on the altitude, (aren’t those cramps all about lack of oxygen?) and my lower back started to ache which only meant one thing: I was pushing too hard. But I’ve done it myself–you are running, plotting the route as you go along, and all of a sudden simple mathematics become much more than your brain can process. So I understood about the two extra miles, and as soon as I inhaled that pint glass of blue Gatorade Matt gave me after our run, I was back in form.

Context. That’s what I got this morning when I saw his office where he records his podcast. So now, whenever I listen to the newest episode of the Dump Runners Club, I will always imagine Matt sitting at his big black desk, in front of his giant Mac monitor and silver microphone, waxing philosophical about his training, his racing, and the elites’ performances. And, whenever Matt tweets about one of his tempo runs or long training runs, I’ll be able to imagine him dashing alongside the highway on that dun colored path, or weaving through the trails of his nature preserve as he startles small animals and slow joggers alike.

And I hope, that whenever he reads my blog, Matt will now be able to imagine my pigtails and saucy attitude as I shoulder my way through New York City traffic, chasing down a new marathon PR.

12.38 miles in 1:51:57. Average pace 9:03; slowest mile 9:18; fastest mile 8:49. Damn woman.

Read Full Post »

My hamstring is slowly aching less and less, as I’ve been stretching gently and icing every night. I’m still not allowed to run-in fact when I try and step it up to catch the bus or a light the pain quickly increases. I’ve been trying to think of this non-running time (today is two weeks since I stopped) as all part of the process of becoming a better runner, but I can’t say I’m entirely convinced. 

I’ve been diligently moving through the various emotional stages of injury-recovery. I shall now identify, enumerate and describe.

STAGE 1: Disappointment and Panic. This stage is mostly over, though every few days I do have to tamp down that hyperventilating, teary feeling.

STAGE 2: Irreverence and Exploitation, during which I behave as unhealthily as my conscience will allow. This was primarily expressed as aggressive imbibing and left me with five empty bottles of red wine in as many days (but remarkably, just two corresponding hangovers).

STAGE 3: Keeping on the Sunnyside of Life, in which your faithful heroine decides to make the best of all her additional free time by pursuing other interests, like baking cookies, reading manuscripts, sleeping, and talking to her husband.

STAGE 4: Social Butterfly. I’m in the middle of being rampantly, wantonly social. Can you string four words into a sentence, can you pronounce my name, have you $10 (okay, $15) for a bevvie? If so then I am there. Lunches, dinners, drinks and parties; I’ll even go to the East Village, for chrissakes (where, when I got off the subway at Houston and Second Avenue in my pumps, dress, and made-up face I thought I was going to be reverse-carded. “Ma’am, we see you’re over 27. We’re sorry but you need to move either South of Houston or north of 14th”).

STAGE 5: Check in next week, am still busy being a social butterfly. (Tomorrow I have lunch with an editor, and Girls’ Poker Night with my TNT/Arizona Marathon teammates DT and KW. I’m open to invitations for Saturday, and Sunday is roasted lamb, spaghetti pie and Easter bread with my family. Easter food is my favorite holiday food. Don’t forget the Peeps!!)


On Tuesday, after pointing out that my posture and form could be the culprit of my injury (my pelvis tilts back therefore elongating my hamstring unnecessarily), the physical therapist gave me the go ahead for 20 minutes on the elliptical machine. Good news, because I’d begun to fret over my cardio fitness. So, Wednesday morning I went to the gym before work, unfortunately bearing one of the two aforementioned red wine hangovers. 

I am not a fan of the elliptical machine–I can never figure out if I’m going forward or backwards, I always suspect I could be working harder, and the bouncy thing–I’m just not completely at ease with it. Also, whenever I catch a glimpse of someone really going hard on the elliptical machine–you know, they look like they’re being chased through waist deep water by some carnivorous fish–I always want to laugh at them. There’s an absurdity to such visible effort over what is essentially gliding. Nevertheless, I had doctor’s orders and a heart that wanted to go pitter-patter again.  The elliptical it was. 

When was the last time you all did any sort of exercise for just 20 minutes? It was like bad sex: over before it started. When I stepped off the machine, I seriously debated if I should even bother showering as I’d barely worked up a sweat (don’t worry: I showered). Two plusses: my hamstring didn’t hurt at all, and I listened to the newest episode of the Dump Runners Club podcast, in which Matt gives his most excellent half-marathon race report about how he broke all the rules, felt less-than-great, and still set a new PR for the distance.

Some cool things came in the mail yesterday (yes, the mail is now the highlight of my day). My Dump Runners Club terrycloth headband arrived from Matt. I went straight to the bathroom mirror and tried it on right away. It’s awesome; and hilarious. One day when I can run again I am absolutely going to retro it up and go all Napoleon Dynamite and race a 5-miler or something with teeny shorts and striped tube socks and my NYRR wristband and my DRC headband. And, a late birthday gift from Husband was delivered, too. He bought me a necklace with a charm of a lady running over a “26.2,” where the “point” is my birthstone. Now I have something to wear to make me look pretty when I race, too. 

Even though my hamstring didn’t hurt while I was on the elliptical machine, for the rest of the day it was achier than it had been since Saturday. By the time I left the office, I couldn’t really be comfortably seated and I made my entourage take cabs to and fro because I simply couldn’t hoof it. This recovery is going to be tricky, and I fear I need to start considering if it’s worth it for me to run the London Marathon if it means I’ll aggravate my injury so much that I’ll get seriously sidelined afterwards. I might be jumping the gun; I will just let my body do its thing (with the elliptical, and stretching, and icing) for another week and then consult with my PT and orthopedist. 

P.S. I had to put Little G away in a drawer because every time I saw his blank face on my nightstand I felt both guilty (for abandoning him) and sad (because I don’t need him right now).

Read Full Post »

Talk to Me

I tend to compartmentalize activities throughout the day. I like to answer email for the first hour I’m at my desk. I peck out a blog post during my commute home and call to check-in with the family on Wednesday evenings after Nike Speed. And, I listen to running podcasts while I walk the dog each morning. 

As you know, Matt’s Dump Runners Club podcast is my favorite. (His new format within a two-week cycle is a stroke of genius, and his episodes get better and better.) But recently he tipped me off to a new podcast called turfcasts, thinking I would be interested in Brenn’s vignettes of his marathon training and racing in New York City. Matt hasn’t given me bad advice yet, so I checked out the first episode, “Prologue: Running and Boredom.” In less time than it takes me to run a lap around the East Village Track, I was charmed by its thoughtful NPR-esque presentation. I wanted more, and so I downloaded them all and listened to the first dozen episodes on Wednesday. Matilda was thrilled because it meant she got lots of walks. 

Brenn, the host and narrator of turfcasts, is about my age, ran track growing up in Rochester NY, lives in Brooklyn with his wife, and races for the Central Park Track Club (which means he’s one of the fast, lanky guys in orange we see at local races). He is training for the Big Sur International Marathon, which is the same day as my Flora London Marathon. 

He sets the scene so we’re right there with him, stride for stride; and he has the chops to describe the things about our city that only runners tend to notice or think about. In “When Nature Calls,” Brenn reads the passage which hooked me: 

These observations of dogs, dancers, and silhouettes, pedestrian as they may seem, are more poignant when running, because the mere act of running, like any form of moderate or intense exercise, tilts the perceptual and emotional plane. Observations register as impressions. These impressions provide the color to the run. As for the running part of the run, there are better and worse days, but the basics are always the same: a management of breathing, a negotiation with pain, and a feeling of relief when done. Recalling how one feels during a run is like recalling a day at the office. Recalling what one sees during a run is like recollecting a dream.

After a few episodes, I was lulled by their essayistic quality, and recognized the three separate satisfactions Brenn delivers to his listeners: one guaranteed laugh, at least one nod of recognition, and the “Ah-ha!” that accompanies the oblique, casual poignancy of his conclusions. 

If you run in New York City, if you listen to NPR, if you enjoy being told a story, you will enjoy Brenn’s turfcasts. They are of a manageable length–never longer than 9 minutes. For me, that’s ideal because I rarely have more than 15 minutes of uninterrupted time. 

The writing on this podcast is so good that listening to it is a little bit like training with a faster runner. I’m both inspired and annoyed: Brenn prods me to look at and think about my running more keenly, and he also motivates me to up my game here on PF. 

Brenn on…
the potency of the cheering crowds in the New York City Marathon: “The sirens do call, but not from Manhattan-from Brooklyn. Spectators line several deep along Fourth Avenue….After a silent passing through the Hassidic neighborhood, Hipsterland is raucous.” 
the weather conditions in the 2009 Bronx Half-Marathon: “The wind was strong enough to make drafting a legitimate strategy.” 
his running shoe fetish: “Mimura [Asics’ Japanese master cobbler] compares runners and their shoes to Samurais and their swords. How refreshing and appropriate is this reverent approach. I imagine Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill rewritten.”

Read Full Post »

Missing all sorts of things today… like sleep, my training routine, and Brother, just to name a few. I’ll try and step around this strange-shaped hole today, and hope that drinks with CB and my JJ run tomorrow will fill it in a bit…

My heart goes out to Ansky, who is trying to sort out how to balance his training with the needs of his famly and employer. I’m of little use as far as advice goes, for as Husband will tell you, I kind of go underground when I train. But if any of you, my dear readers, have training/life balance tips for Ansky, please pop on over to Run Ansky Run and help the guy out… I’ve been immersing myself in this album all week long. Thank you MUG for recommending sassy-voiced Adele to me… Here’s a link to a favorite article of mine from the New York Times archive (August 2007). Dovetails [kind of] with Matt’s most recent DRC ‘cast about personal records and personal bests. And also, with my own personal [record] story… Let the Christmas-list writing begin: for those of you who haven’t yet joined the cult of Garmin… More to come on this in early December, but click here to read a bit about the foundation I’m fundraising for as part of my Flora London Marathon experience. Coincidentally, I had a massive crush on the foundation’s founder and namesake for at least a decade… I definitely don’t have a crush on Rachael Ray, but here are some inspiring & funny clips from her show, where she interviews Ryan Reynolds (crushable, but not my type, even though he did run the New York City Marathon this year, raising $100,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation) and MJF makes a surprise appearance (I think I still have a crush)….

Time for me to do some back-scratching… please take a moment to read these bloggers’ reports of their own experiences running the ING New York City Marathon. Races Like a Girl cheered like a girl (sans pom poms and teeny skirt, however) this year… Tea Knee Goes to the UK actually came back to NY to spectate and take photos of the elite women… The Bowery Boys give the history and tour of the race on their New York City history themed podcast… Liz Plosser compares the NYC and Chicago courses in her blog for Time Out Chicago… Guest blogger Susan at rundangerously is faster than I am, but “interntional clandestine nudity” is something we’ve got in common… Run to Live-Live to Run couldn’t wait tog et out of Queens during his marathon, but I won’t hold it against him…The Running Laminator is not only much faster (try, by 50 minutes) than I am, she’s also much wordier and more analytical than I am. Settle in with popcorn and a coke for this four-part, mile-by-mile race report, plus bonus statistical analysis wrap-up. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and fascinating wrap-up… More race reports from other bloggers to come, I just wanted to get this Ellipses up & out before I’m up & out myself.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »