And the world's newest half-marathon finisher is...

I'm trying to figure out how I can get away with wearing my half-marathon shirt and medal to work tomorrow. Sadly, I don't think I can pull it off.

I was really nervous about the half-marathon. The longest I've really run is about 11.5 miles. The last time I tried to do a long run before today, I was less than successful. I was really afraid that I was going to finish with a really slow time which was going to mean I was going to have to do a lot more work to prepare for the marathon.

Team Ortho is pretty well known, at least around here. One of the things they do is have pace groups. The slowest advertised pace group for the marathon was 11:27 miles for a goal of 5hrs. I didn't think I could run that fast for a half-marathon, so I was bummed. But when I got to the starting line today, there was a pacer for 12:00 miles. Sweet! I'd like to take this moment to thank Kristen, you were a great pacer for the first 9 miles of the race.

In my pace group I met a few people who were running the half-marathon so I ran the last few miles with them. (Thanks here to Dan and Sandy. It was nice to meet you both!)

My favorite thing about training for the marathon and doing all this stuff along the way is that I'm continually reminded that it's not possible to run alone: even if I'm the only one in the race, all of you who've taken an interest in this are with me.

Today, Jenna and Beth cheered (really loud) for me at mile 9 and then after the turn around, gave me sour patch kids, water, and helped me up one of the hills by running with me. (I really can't say enough about how helpful that was. It meant a lot that you were there.) And then, I knew after they "dropped me off" at the water stop, I knew I only had less than a 5k to go to see Amanda and Kelly who were waiting at the finish line for me. (Oddly, they had food for me too.)

The course, mostly along the West River Parkway, is gorgeous. For those of you who don't live around here, the course runs right along the Mississippi River. The catch: it's not flat. Coming out of downtown, the course goes down hill, and then up hill for a mile. The nice thing is that we had that long down hill with just a mile or two to go. But then, that's right, we had to go back up in the last half mile. Wow. Check out the map and elevation chart here. I was so happy to see the finish line. And all those people cheering for me (well for everyone, but mostly me). I believe you can check results at the main web site. My bib number is 4985.

After the race, Amanda and Kelly treated me to an awesome breakfast of carbs Corn Pancakes at Maria's.

I came home and got in my pool. My presence was also required at the YWCA (one last visit to get my discount for good behavior) so I sat in their hot tub too. Now I'm sitting here thanking all of you. I seriously couldn't do this alone and I'm grateful for all of your support.


When it got warmer, running got harder

The thing about Minneapolis, for those of you who don't live here, is that was have awesome running weather for much of the year. And then the weather gets like it is now, and I loose all sense of reason and running ability.

I'd been up to 10 miles before the weather turned hot and humid. Today, I thought I was going to die after running about 7. I technically made it 10. I walked the last 3. So, that was my last long run before the half marathon on Sunday. We'll see if I do any better in race conditions.

It's a little bit discouraging to suddenly not be able to run. But I haven't lost all hope yet. I think I'll try some mid distance runs to build my stamina back up. I'm sure by August, (when I will no doubt be waking up at 5am to run), I'll have this heat thing licked. Then I'll spend all of October and November trying to teach my body to stop sweating so I can run outside in the winter without fear of loosing limbs.

Memorial Day Weekend was a pretty chill weekend for me. I laid around the house, ran a little, and laid around some more. I actually only have a 3 day week ahead of me too. I have Friday off. I plan on picking up my race packet down town that day and resting up for Sunday. Which means more chilling to bring in the month of June.


A Covert Reminder of High School

Some of you reading this will know I went to Walnut Hills, a very unusual high school. I took several advanced placement courses there, including AP English. Another person who went to my school was the son of cartoonist Jim Borgman. Mr Borgman, among other things has a comic strip called "Zits" about a high school student. He has said that he does get ideas for the strip from his own family, including his son. And it took me no time at all to take the reference in this strip, seen here on May 19. Know why? Because I had almost this same exact assignment as part of my AP English Class.

I think mine was "literary analysis of the minor characters in Huck Finn", but it was no less ridiculous for a 25 page paper. Thanks again Ms Mahin, I'm just happy I didn't have to take English when I got to college.


Still running

I'm am still running. And the donations for Bolder Options are still coming in. Thanks to all who have donated or are about to make a donation. My long runs are at 10 miles. I can't believe I run this far. I really can't believe there will be a time when I do more than one run per week that long.

I'm also still having bed bug issues. Or maybe not. It's not entirely clear.

Friday morning, I woke up with several bites on my arm that could only have been from bed bugs. (B@st$rds!) It was way too early in the morning so I freaked out but I didn't have a whole lot of energy to put into it. Instead I went next door to feed my neighbors cat. I put the old cat food down the garbage disposal which promptly backed up and flooded the sink. (It's too early in the morning for this.) It took several minutes of me staring at the sink, turning the disposal on and off, staring at the sink, imagining my neighbors reaction to a sink full of old cat food and water, staring at the sink, trying the regular side of the sink, thinking of how to fix this, and staring at the sink. Finally, I decided I had to reach into the disposal (it was off, calm down) to feel what was clogging it up.

Yeah, the cat food clogged up the collar of the disposal so nothing could get down it. Once I loosened the gunk, we were all good. That just left me with several bites on my arm. I ignored them and went to my 7:30am meeting. (I told you it was early.) When I got back home I called our property manager.

Has anyone ever had their apartment inspected? For bed bugs? Repeatedly? There is no privacy. There are no secrets. Those stains on the carpet or sheets? That stuff you keep under your bed because you don't want to think about it? Underwear drawer? It's all fair game. For the number of guys messing with my bed and rifling through my underwear, I should be much happier. Well, the first inspection which took about fifteen minutes didn't find any bugs. So they called the exterminators while I went to work.

The exterminators had to peel back my carpet from the wall to find the bugs. It's not clear exactly which wall it was. And they sprayed. And I have no further information. It's been five days. Nothing. I washed my bed clothes (for the billionth time) but haven't done anything else. I'm not sure if I have to. Remember all the work I had to do the first time? For now, I'm ignoring the issue. I'm sure I'll keep you informed as updates become available.


For those of you that are new to the blog, Welcome and for the returners and long time readers, as always, great to see you. From time to time, I like to let you know what I've seen on the internet. It's important because some of it probably reminds me of you.


My Runs are Entering Double Digit Mileage

To the runners (or those with similar knowledge) reading this blog:
1. Please explain gel packs to me. Is this something that I would like? At what distance do I need to start taking gel packs with me in addition to water?
2. Please explain a "hydration strategy" for long runs. How much water should I be drinking when I stop? How often should I stop for water or Gatorade? Is there a frequency that's too often to stop for liquids?

I ran 10 miles this morning. I ran from my house, around Lake Harriet, (quickly becoming one of my favorite lakes for the view of the sailboats, band shell and downtown Minneapolis), and back home. If you're in town here, Minnehaha Parkway and Minnehaha Creek and pleasantly and surprsingly green. The trees are coming out. And the wild violets are in such full bloom they look like a carpet in some spots. For those of you not in Minneapolis, this is my running route.

Lake Harriet Bandshell. Photo from here.

The first time I ran it, I made it to the lake and around part of it before suffering, um, distress. I walked the rest of the way. The second time I definitely made it around the lake before I started walking. Eventually I started adding miles to the run home, first running to Nicollet, then to the expressway, then to a little farther. Today I ran all the way back to Chicago Ave and then ran intervals (this is how I add miles to the long run) the rest of the way.

Today, at the Portland Ave stoplight another runner and I were waiting to cross the street. She turned to me and said, "you must be doing a long run, I saw you running when I was taking my daughter to school." Sweet!

I just purchased a Fuel Belt after getting thirsty on my runs, needing calories on my runs, and seeing a lot of other runners with this particular product. (Although Amazon only had them in black. I'm feeling like I missed out.) After one run, I'm prepared to declare the thing a winner. I read the reviews pretty carefully before I bought it and they were all pretty much right. The belt is tight (it's not too small, it's supposed to be that way) but doesn't rub on clothing. Two hands are required to get the bottles out of and into the belt, but I'm always walking while I'm drinking so it's not inconvenient. The bottles do not leak. It's very nice to have both juice (I didn't have any Gatorade today) and regular water on a run. I could tell having fluids while I'm running makes a big difference. I felt better during the run and not as tired when I stopped.


A beautiful day at the park

Today, the first Sunday in May, was the annual MayDay parade at Powderhorn Park. The first year I lived in Minnesota, it was snowing on the day of the parade. Most of the time, it's nice weather like this. The theme this year had to do with finding richness in nature (since we can't seem to locate it in our economy). In that vain there were several "piggy bank" pig floats. We all joked that the floats were clearly conceptualized before the H1N1 influenza (yes, that means Swine Flue) outbreak. Talk about unlucky timing.
For those of you in Minnesota who've never been (why?), and those of you not in Minnesota, the parade does not have a corporate sponsor. In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater is the main sponsor with some help from the Park Board and neighborhood associations. It's also used as a way to welcome Spring (yes, Spring just started here) to Minnesota. So, between the puppets and the actors and all the symbolism of spring and life, the parade and festival tends to gather a rather, um, eclectic crowd. Want proof?
Proof 1: The guy wearing a turtle shell around his neck. (Is it odd that I know that's a red-eared-slider shell?)

Proof 2: The guy in the pink hat. (Yes, that is a dude.) I wonder if this is a friend of Kathleen's (who I did not see) with the whole Easter Bonnet thing. I'll have to see if I can find his picture on her page.

Proof 3: In all fairness, this guy was on the "Sun God" (if you'd been to the parade, you'd know what I'm talking about) float and so does not look this way all the time (probably).

Proof 4: Also, I believe this had some role in the parade. Up close, it looks like a lot of ties. (I missed the symbolism because I didn't see it in the parade earlier.)

Proof 5: Cutest. Thing. Ever. (Look at the size of that phone...)


Liz, where have you been?

Where have I been? The short answer to that question is under the weather. I went in to work on Friday and was sent home after the first meeting of the day. I didn't fight it. I came back, drank ten gallons of liquids and slept all day.

On Thursday morning, I learned it's much harder to run with a cold than I expected. Thursday morning I ran with Robin and Heather. Beth thought it would be fun to wrench her back out earlier in the week apparently and so was unable to join us. Robin and Heather said I started out too fast (I find that hard to believe), but by the end of the run, I nearly thought I was going to die. While it may have had something to do with the speed at which we started, I think it also had a lot to do with a cold doing nasty things to my airways.

Obviously I skipped running on Friday. I did go for a four mile run today. I think I mentioned last week, but it's fun that I can think, "oh, hold on, I'll be right over, I just need to run 4 miles first". This is the first time in my life I've ever felt like that. It feels great. (Amanda, thanks again for deciding to run a 5k one summer).

On the news I was seeing that this is the Flying Pig weekend in Cincinnati. There's another marathon I'd like to run. I am trying to figure out if I could do long runs in the winter up here so I'd be trained to run it next year. Ha, just think. I could run the Cincinnati marathon in the beginning of May and come back to Minneapolis and run the Minneapolis Team Ortho marathon at the end of May next year. (I just want to point out, there was a time not so long ago when I had trouble believing I was going to finish just one marathon. Now I believe it at least enough that I've started planning for marathons after that. Wow.)

In other news, I helped Kelly and Eric move this weekend. And by helped I mean cleaned up mice poop in addition to other things. I love their new house. Especially the basement which is ginormous. It even has a cave. (Neither Kelly nor I love the cave. If it had a lot more light it would be ok, but then it wouldn't be a cave.) Also, the May Day parade is tomorrow. It's only a few blocks from my house so some people from work are coming here to park. (Why yes, I will spend the rest of the evening making sure my condo is clean just in case they actually come inside.)

I'm not sure if people have started to receive the letters I sent out Wednesday night, but if you have and that's what lead you to the blog today, Welcome and Come back often!