Sunday, November 30, 2008

Critters and yucky weather

Sagwa begging for some turkey day treats! Sagwa loves people food and will sit and meow pitifully until we feed her. Because we are suckers, it takes about 2 mew's before she gets some treats.
Powder Puff scolding us for some reason (I think because we are not giving out lots of tasty Thanksgiving Day leftovers). Puffi is a very amusing and yet demanding cat. I would suggest she is the decision maker in our household (which several telemarketers may be able to attest to since we will put the reciever to her ear when they call and ask for Mr or Ms. Massie---Tristan and I are both Dr. Massie, so Puffie fits Ms. Massie--and she rules our household:-)

Yesterday Tristan and I went for a small hike at Lake Frank in Rockville MD (one town over from where we live). Lake Frank is part of the Rock Creek Park system which starts at Lake Needwood, goes by the National Zoo and ends at the Potomac River in Georgetown. It was a beautiful day Saturday.

Today, the weather is miserable. It is rainy, about 35-40 degrees and gloomy. On a positive note, I was able to change out my summer and winter cloths. Now I just have to hope that it is not 70 or 80 degree's in the near future. Although I did keep out some warm weather clothing (and even packed some) for our upcoming trips to
*Death Valley/Las Vegas Marathon
*Disney Goofy Marathon
*Arizona Rock n Roll Marathon and
*Mardi Gras Marathon.
I am optimistic all of these marathons will be run in 60 or 70 degree temperatures!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Working in a ghost office and an e-spam incident from Tuesday

Today I had to work. It is not a Federal Holiday and I refuse to take a personal day to shop on the day after Thanksgiving. So I was one of about 6 people in my office. I had high hopes of accomplishing lots but in reality did not do so. I have a presentation to give on Monday but did not get much of it done. I also have several template letters I need to complete for a conference I am co-organizing next September, but again I did not get much of this done either.

Throughout the day I kept waiting for something exciting to happen. For example, a few days ago a "random" subset of the organization I work for (~1000 people) were sent an e-mail providing an update about some new initiative (think Dilbert initiatives!). There was no preamble to this message and it was not very clear the goal of the commication. I noticed my husband was on the e-list so I quickly e-mailed him predicting that an e-uproar would occur. Within 15 minutes of recieving the initial e-mail someone used the "reply to all" feature and suggested the e-mail was not appropriate for them. Pretty soon, there were about 20 more e-mails using the reply to all suggesting the e-mail was not appropriate to them.

I sent Tristan an e-mail predicting someone would request people stop using reply to all in suggesting the intial e-mail was incorrect. Soon enough there was a response requesting others not reply to all. A string of about 25 e-mails asking for others to stop using "reply to all" then ensued. It was getting out of hand! Then two people asked to be kept on the e-list because

Person 1: was lonely and liked e-mail
Person 2: wanted to be kept in the loop

Person 2 was e-attacked for trying to stay in the loop (Person 1 was not but Tristan thinks this person was being sarcastic). Then there were responses to these responses

So for those of you keeping track there were 30 e-mails suggesting the person is not appropriate for the first e-mail, then there are 25 e-mails requesting others not reply to all, then there is new demographic complaining about the folks who are replying to all asking others not to reply to all. There were about 10 e-mails to this effect. By the end of the day, there were over 100 e-mails related to this.

This went on for 3 hours!!!

It cracked me up. Sadly I think I lost every bet I made against Tristan related to this escalating nonsense. He expected people to respond quicker and more frequently and he did not even have to enter the fray to ensure his numbers were met!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008! (& a few more JFK 50 miler pictures)

A few more JFK 50 miler pictures and a time to give Thanks!

Gliding my feet (because I don't have winter Drymax socks...actually I am not sure if they make maximum protection socks for winter)

Diet Mountain Dew, the Beverage of Champions, right?? Mountain Dew really should sponsor me because I pound this stuff like a champ!
Excited(?) about Weverton cliffs...okay not very excited about the prospect of the cliffs, but excited that they signify the end of the AT! And I have not fallen, Wahoo!!!

With the Bridge by Harpers Ferry. What a pretty day for a 50 miler (well at least at this time...pretty quickly the winds really picked up and clouds came in. But on a positive note, it never rained, hailed or lighteninged!)

Runners along the road heading into Williamsport. Again it is a really beautiful day and the sunset was spectacular. All it needed was to be about 40 degree's warmer and less wind and I would have been REALLY happy!

It's Thanksgiving and because I just ran the 50 miler I can eat whatever I want today!

To start my day, I volunteered at the Bethesda Turkey Chase. I pondered participating in the 2 mile walk or the 10 km run, but decided to simply volunteer then walk the course backwards cheering runners. I had a cowbell and gave the runners what they wanted (More Cowbell!) After walking 2 miles backwards on the course cheering on runners I was happy when I saw the volunteer bus picking up course marshalls--I wimped out and took it back.

After finishing volunteering/cheering, I met up with Tristan and Gilligan at the Fractured Prune for hot donuts. We got a dozen , YUM!

And that starts my list of things I am thankful for:
1) Hot Donuts, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Potbellies Ice Cream Sandwiches
2) A great family
3) Sweet critters (who are well behaved most of the time:-) By the way, I don't mean sweet=tasty!!!!
4) My health including the ability to run for distances I cannot even imagine
5) Many great friends
6) Lots of laughter (and reasons to laugh)
7) That I didn't get killed by lightening in the Vermont 100!
8) To live in a country where I am free and can participate in the political process
9) A roof over my head, food on my plate and everything I might need in life
Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Pictures from JKF 50

Here are more pictures from my JFK 50 miler adventure!
Taking a moment to enjoy an aid station. But boy, do I look COLD! The beverage I am holding is likely to have either a sheen of ice on the top or the beverage probably has a consistency of a slurpee. Next year perhaps I will bring some Turkey with me on the run (Wild Turkey that is)
Cindy sure is bundled up isn't she? Just so you know, my Reston Runners T-shirt was down most of the time, but at aid stations I had to put my 2 outer gloves in my pocket. This entailed exposing my midrife (well it would have had it not been below freezing!)

With my friend from the Coast Guard who I ran this with several years ago. He is such a great guy! I consider this race a reunion of sorts with him and several others from the Coast Guard!
With my friend/fellow runner Marcy (last year Cindy and Imelda crewed for both her and I). She is really fast (well at least compared to me)

With Anne Lundblad, last years top female finisher! This year she did not run because of coming off an injury but she supported her husband who came in first. She is really nice!

NOTE: I think in the future I need to ask the people who are taking my picture if I look presentable. Nearly every picture of me has some component that could land me on the front page of the Enquirer with the caption "What not to wear!" In my defense with the sub-arctic temperatures I was barely comfortable during much of the race and at several points I was freezing.

My husband and I used to watch this cable show "Man vs. Wild" on the Discover Channel. The host, Bear Gryllis would go on these wilderness survival adventures in which he would teach us vital skills. One of his mantra's was the importance of staying warm. His suggestion to do this was do a set of "Push-ups". If this is an optimal way to get warm, I really think I should have done alot of pushups during this years race!

In our household sometimes Tristan complains it is too cold. My advice to him is similar to my parents advice to me when I was growing up (they said "put on a sweater"--but that is so 70's!). Now, I tell Tristan to do some Push Ups! Of course when I am cold, I just nudge the thermostat up to a warmer temperature:-)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

More pictures and a link to my race experience article

Cindy, my crew and Helen the crew organizer from Reston Runners prior to the JFK 50 miler start. It is bitterly cold at this time (as per the bank clock it was below 19 degree's in the valley)
Here I am above Weverton cliffs on the Appalachian Trail. You can see runners passing me while I take my self portrait. I just really did not want to run down the 18 switchbacks...the bane of my existance!

I am about to get on the C&O Canal but for some reason I decide I should choke myself (notice my hand is around my neck). It is pretty amusing what I am doing to myself in some of my self portraits. Sadly I do not always take a glance to see if my pictures are okay and sometimes I cannot see the details. Once they are on my computer well after the fact I realize my errors!

Here I am along the Towpath on my way to Harpers Ferry. The rapids behind me are class I/II rapids that Tristan and I have going tubing down (which is lots of fun in the the winter I imagine it would not be quite as fun!)

I am so excited about not getting reflective wear. I have to take a picture of me taunting the volunteers! Just kidding, I just mentioned to them my excitement about not being stuck wearing the "vest of shame" which I have worn the last 3 years! I think the one young lady is a bit puzzled by my antics.

I have written an article about my JFK 50 miler experience. It took me longer to write my experience than to run the race (but what else was I going to do Sunday's not like my legs were ready for more than a few steps!). Uou can read my 11 page disertation here. Seriously it is long. In fact my friends at the Reston Runners entitled it "JFK 50 mile: The race is not long and neither is my article". They crack me up!

I love this race and hope my article gives you all a glimpse into my experience. I laughed, I cried, I was angry, I was sad, but in the end I finished. It was good times!

I truly am indebted to so many people who helped me in this ultra as well as previous ultra's. Most of all my sister was a great crew. I will miss her next year when she runs the race. She always attended to my needs, offered positive words of encouragement, kept my spirits up and even ran with me for a bit on occasion (even with a hurt paw).

Cindy hates cold weather as much as I do, yet she was out there at every aid station I asked her to be (all I requested was Gathland, Weverton and 38 special). She even showed up at Antietam where she crewed for both Tristan and I. I will miss her as my crew for JFK. Hopefully she doesn't bail on crewing for me at Umstead or Vermont 100. I really will have to make sure I look very ill, unhappy and pained at my next ultra's to stop all my crew from joinining me on the course:-)

Alas, I love ultra's. I think they allow us to test ourselves, push our boundaries past any thing we think is possible and give us an amazing sense of satisfaction at the end. There is no other experience that is quite as fulfilling. I am already to sign up for another one (although considering I am already in Umstead and Vermont 100 there is little more that I could possible impulsively sign up for isn't there??)

Monday, November 24, 2008

JFK 50 miler story: Why I ran so fast in my last miles

JFK 50 miler is my favorite 50 miler.  Unfortunately it is also my least favorite 50 miler.  But this emotional ambiguity is part of the ultra experience.  I have not done any other 50 miler distance races; however, I do find JFK to be lots of fun.

During JFK this year I was lucky enough to have a great time and share lots of laughs and just really enjoy myself.  Unfortunately by not faking misery and unhappiness I have now lost another crew member (first it was Tristan-although he sort of kept getting fired and now my sister says she is retired from crewing and will be running next year).  This really sucks!  Now I have to break in a new crew next year.  Although I heard a rumor I may get Imelda back as my crew (and she is organized and really helpful).

Well, Cindy might have been getting close to getting fired because she ended up missing my finish.  Apparently I have a problem with suddenly speeding up at the end of races.  I thought this was only a problem in marathons, but apparently I can pretend a bear is chasing me and start running faster at the end of 50 milers.  In the last 6 miles I was passed by only 6 people and passed about 15 people (including my friend from the last several years: Don Meyer who I feel terrible about passing, he is so nice and funny and quite the character).  I also went from running 15 minute miles to sub-10 minute miles.  

Although my burst of speed at the end was slightly precipitated by giving my half zip thick shirt to a runner who was clearly hypothermic.  I had seen her running at mile 27 or so when this runner passed me.  Unfortunately right after we passed the mile 46 aid station, I ran up behind her and observed her gait was really bad (staggering a bit all over the road with completely straight was not good).  The first year I ran JFK I had a similar issue and was very cold.  But this year with high temperatures in the mid-30's at best was not a good year to be slowing down.  And at this point the temperature was dropping precipitiously as the sun was slowly setting.  I asked her if she was okay but the poor young lady was just crying.  She said she was in alot of pain.  There was nothing I could do about that.  But she was shivering.  I said I would go get help and started running ahead.  But after about 50 feet I realized I would probably warm up, so I turned around and jogged back to her.  I took off my half zip thick shirt and gave it to her and started running to get help.  I finally got to the next aid station (they were spaced about 1.5 miles apart) and found someone to help me.  I told the first spectator I saw that there was a girl was in really bad shape about 800 meters back.  It was easy to describe her because my shirt and jacket were an ensemble.  By the time I made it to the aid station about 200 meters further on, the volunteers were able to confirm medical was on the way to help her.   By this time I realized I needed to keep moving to make sure I did not get chilled.    So I learned a bit about myself during this race.  I learned that if I am highly motivated that I can run alot faster for alot further than I thought.  I also confirmed that there is nothing wrong with having too many layers or too many back ups. 

Some more photos of JFK 50 in 2008

With my sister/crew, Cindy before the start. It appears we are both addicted to caffiene since she has a bottle of starbucks frapaccino and I have my usual Diet Mountain Dew (the beverage of champions). I have decided to embrace this addiction for the time being!

I guess I have to multi-task in this race. Photographer, Runner and Sign's no wonder why it takes me nearly 12 hours to finish this race!
Sitting next to the sign is alot easier...but getting up is a doozy!

Hanging with the little dogs (okay others might not think Border Collies are little dogs but compared to Gilligan, this dog is tiny!) He was really sweet and very soft.

At about mile 46 with a cow. Just a little past this section, there is another field of cows with only a small wire (electrified perhaps?) separating runners from cows. Here you can see a big rock fence which was comforting (although perhaps cows are more docile than horses in Williamsport).

Here are a few more pictures from JFK 50 miler this past Saturday. For some reason I can only post 5 pictures at a time. With 300 pictures (of which 200 are pretty good), this could take some time:-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Short recap of JFK 50 miler

Tammy along the Appalachian Trail about mile 15
Tammy and Cindy (my sister: the BEST crew ever!). Also the best pacer ever, but this year due to recent foot surgery could only run bits and pieces of the race with me.

Tammy and the mile 46 horse. I think this might have been the horse that bit me last year, thus you will notice I am not that close to the fence or putting my hand too close to the horses mouth

Tammy getting her medal!

Post race...I really think the person who designed this race course is sick, you finish right next to a cemetary!!! I guess it's easier for the race director to just abandon runners who have used every ounce of energy right in the cemetary (by the way this photo nearly killed me...well getting up after it did, but I guess I'll do anything for a humourous photo!)

Saturday I ran my 4th JFK 50 miler. It is my favorite 50 miler! It is a challenging course that starts with about 17 miles on the Appalachian Trail, continues with 26 miles on the C&O canal and finishes with 8 miles along backcountry roads in Western Maryland.

This year, my sister crewed from me and Tristan (my husband) ran the race. I started at the 5 a.m. early start, while Tristan took the normal 7 a.m. start. Tristan beat me by 20 minutes in 11 hours and 20 minutes, while I PR'd with a time of 11 hours and 40 minutes. It was a bitterly cold day (for runners, crew, volunteers and anyone outside), but at least there was no rain and the entire course was dry (although there was a dusting of snow on the Appalachian Trail at points).

I had a great race and am looking forward to sending in my check next year!

Friday, November 21, 2008

JFK50 miler Bound

At the start with the other 5 a.m. Reston Runner starters and the crew. Although I do not live in Reston, this organization graciously has adopted me a member from the wrong side of the river:-)

My Crew from 2007: Imelda, Cindy and Tristan in Boonsboro near the start line. Notice everyone is bundled up. A different picture of the bank at Boonsboro shows it was 22 degrees last year at the start (which is balmy compared to the 13 degrees it was in 2006!)
With my sister, Cindy at about mile 42 along the Potomac River. She agreed to pace me from mile 38 for 6 miles. Unfortunately due to a math error on my part (next aid station at mile 46, she was committed for 8 miles, then she kindly agreed to get me to the finish because there's not much difference between 8 and 12 miles!)

Feeding a horse while approaching Williamsport (the finish). Warning: This horse bit me right before this picture was taken... I don't think I will pet it this year! I believe I have now survived a year, so on a positive note, it did not have rabies.

With my friend Richard, from the Niagara Ultra 50 km race in Canada. We ran bits of the JFK together although ultimately he beat me by about 30 minutes. At one point Richard was in the Guiness Book of World Records for fastest time in doing 7 marathons on 7 continents. I hear he is starting to think about trying to set the recorrd for doing 7 ultramarathons on 7 continents now that they have an ultra in Antarctica..crazy, eh??

Today I will be traveling to Hagerstown in preparation of JFK 5o miler. By the way it is a bit over 50 milers. Ultramarathons tend to be over the stated distance. As a statistician I can understand this lack of precision would suggest the margin of error for ultra-marathons is pretty significant (+/- 1 mile at JFK, but +/- 3 miles for VT100!). My last 3 JFK's I have run in: 12:27, 13:07 and 11:49. Clearly I have alot of variability. My first year I actually injured my leg pretty badly with a fall on the AT (Appalachian Trail). The next year I was really conservative and got with a group that was going very slowly on the AT. Last year I got into the top 25% of runners getting on the AT and ran and walked it appropriately and then at the end my sister paced me the last 12 miles keeping me moving when I was too lazy to want to. I have no idea what my time will be this year, but it would be nice to break 12 hours.

I am mentally and physically ready. Last night I packed my bags and my drop bag that my sister Cindy will carry from place to place. I am really lucky to have a great sister. This year because of a recent foot surgery she will not pace me, but will cheer me on at the various aid stations. She is always enthusiastic and encouraging and I would give her an A+ for both pacing and crewing (and for sistering:-).

Last year I had a great time at the JFK 50 miler and was able to catch up with lots of friends and meet lots of new friends. This year I know many other runners. I know many of the Reston Runners including my friend Peter who I have run over 10 races concurrently (always finishing within minutes of each other but never together, as well as Emmy who carpooled with Tristan and I during the VT100 from the crazy hotel to the start line, I think Wayne, Monica who I ran a bit of Richmond, the 5 hour pacers from Richmond, Leo Lightener who I was lucky enough to run about 15 miles of JFK50 my first time 3 years ago and lots of others.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Demands on my Crew (from Vermont 100--but appropriate for JFK 50)

In preparing for JFK50, I have been going through my files. One of my files is a word document I printed up for my crew (Tristan) this past summer. He did not take any of the suggestions, but hopefully my sister Cindy (my AWESOME JFK 50 miler crew for the second year in a row) will read this and at least implement some of the suggestions. Also I think it does highlight some of the general needs of runners so please feel free to copy and send it to others:-)

List for Crewing Vermont 100:

At the start, you will go ahead on the course to the runner’s left hand side about 2-400 meters from the start. Make yourself obvious with blinky whistle, cowbell etc....go nuts! I will be glowey as well.

As you move from Handler stop to Handler stop:
1) Park car after the aid station if you are driving the same road we are running. BUT regardless of where the car is, make sure you are ahead of the aid station to meet runner before aid station to start chatting about runners needs. This can just be 50 or 100 feet ahead of aid station (just to get a little away from the crowd).
2) While waiting, you can walk backwards along course or you can sit in Camp Chair and read or chat with others.
3) You can leave drop bag unattended on camp chair near aid station, it should be relatively safe, but make sure chair is covered with stuff (towel, bag, books, etc to discourage squatters).

Each time you see your runner, you should inquire about overall health and quality of life (it probably sucks!). Here are the questions you should ask explicitly each time runner is seen:

Check waterbottle and refill with water if not completely full
How are you feeling?
Do you need anything?
Do you have snacks or need to put some in your bag?
Do you have a supply of medications or need some?
How are your feet?
Do you need to apply some glide anywhere?
Do you need to do any preventive blister care? Glide, Talcum Powder or Shoes/Socks?

Do you need to remove/give me any layers?
Do want to give me your headlamp/flashlight?

Do you want to take out your contacts and put on glasses?
Do you want to give me your CAMERA, Sunglasses, Visor/Hat?
Do you need to grab or put on any layers?
Do you need a headlamp? What about Flashlight?

In the morning, your goal is to encourage runner to get rid of stuff including
Long sleeve shirt, pants, and other layers
Headlamp/Flashlight/light equipment
And check on supply of food, beverage, and medication

In the afternoon/evening your goal is to encourage runner to take layers and either put them on or carry them, as well as take some light/headlamp stuff
Long sleeve shirt, pants
Also, I should give you sunglasses, camera and hat/visor

Prep sneakers so they are ready for her to put on at mile 57 and 62, loosen laces, get out Glide and towel, pull out bag of socks and gaiters (just pull to top, don’t expose to elements at mile 57 particularly since shoe change it is likely change will occur at 62)

When runner comes in after you ask previous questions, you can think about giving a brief summary of what you did all day or what is going on in race (where people are in front of runner: 400 feet, 100 feet, etc.).

When you are waiting for runner at mile 21, 57 and 62 you can go through bag and familiarize yourself with stuff in it. Yellow bag in Boston Backpack has items listed on side.

You can suggest playing some music, especially if runner is changing socks, shoes, dirty girl gaiter etc. which is time consuming. SHOE changing involves re-gliding and putting on new pair of gaiters.

You can rub runner’s back/shoulders if she is sitting down performing tasks.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Richmond Marathon

Tammy and Stonewall Jackson Monument (on Monument Avenue)

Partaking in a refreshing beverage

Am I sticking my finger in a socket because my hair is all over the place...really it is just really strong wind!

Richmond Marathon is a fun marathon. It is a bit hilly but certainly the hills are manageable. The marathon showcases the best of the city including going by many historic sites. There is a section along the James River, a section that goes by many monuments (oddly enough named Monument Avenue:-), and several sections that go through different neighborhoods.

I may be a bit biased because I lived in Richmond for several years while earning my PhD, but I do think the city hosts one of the friendliest marathons I have run and it is just the right size. When there are lines, they are short (2-3 people) and there are lots of aid stations with water, gatorade and gels. Three times along the course there are "party zones" which have lots of food, bands and lots of spectators.

My Richmond marathon this year started with a chance meeting with my friend Lauri. We caught up about upcoming marathons. We both will be heading to Death Valley/Las Vegas for a double (two marathons in two days) in December. Lauri is really nice and hysterically funny. We started the marathon together (with my Garmin which was a trouble-maker). We ran for about a mile together then our paces diverged. I heard the weather was going to deteriorate over the course race and I was concerned about getting stuck in a thunderstorm. As I moved along, I ran into a friend from last year: Debbie. She has a daughter who is working on her PharmD at VCU. Debbie traveled in from Houston to run the marathon. Since she lived in Houston, I asked about how her household fared during hurricane Ike. She mentioned they had no power for 2+ week. That makes the challenge of running a 100 miler sound pretty easy (at least I knew when the end was and chose to enter the race). We also talked about other races and she mentioned she has done a few half marathons during the past year. I learned I should definitely not sign up for the Houston marathon because it follows a course in which a majority is concrete. Yuk! It was great to catch up with her and hopefully I will be able to see her again next year (which by the way I did sign up when the registration was $50).

After moving forward again, I ran with a variety of runners from different teams and training groups. Many were first timers and some were very overdressed. Sadly the weather forecast suggested that the high would be 65 with torrential rain. My father-in-law suggested that the high was 75 degrees. As I ran through the neighborhoods I caught up with my friend Larry. Larry is closing in on his 100th marathon this year. Last year he ran 74 marathons during the year. Saturday Larry had run a marathon in the mid-west and Monday he was going to run a marathon in Texas. He is a running machine!

We chatted about a variety of races, what we had done since our last marathon together (Vermont City) and upcoming events. Larry is really nice and upbeat and just an amazing athlete. I hope when I am in my 50's or 60's I am as healthy and fit as Larry!

Pretty soon, I was at the first party zone. I had to pay attention because I knew Tristan and his Dad were going to be there. So far there was no bad weather and in fact the sun was peaking out. I gave some stuff to Tristan because it was starting to get warmer. I also took my first pit stop in the Starbucks at the River Road shopping center. I love potties with running water! I then rejoined the race. Crossing the James River was beautiful, but the weather was starting to pick up. I hoped it was not a sign of things to come (Vermont 100 milers storm of the century started with wind). Running along the river in the James River Park system I thought about how Gilligan's first swims were here. We lived about 5 miles from Pony Pasture a park along the river, that has free unsupervised swimming. As I continued on, I caught up with Larry; we continued catching up. Unfortunately during my brief visit with Tristan and his dad, Tristan mentioned that lightening and thunder might arrive at about 2 p.m. I was highly motived to get moving to get off the course and particularly to get across the James River at mile 17.

The next section "the southside" had a bunch of rolling hills. It was moderately tough, but certainly manageable. Pretty soon, I heard my name and there were Tristan and my father in law. I gave a brief hug and kiss, gave my coat (hoping that the weather would hold) and continued on. The next few miles I was moving up slowly. Aid stations were every two miles so that kept the race moving. About mile 15, I saw a familiar gait. It was my friend Belinda (from Umstead--50 miles on occasion behind her I was very familiar with her gait). She was running with a friend. We caught up for a while which was really nice. We had all run Baltimore and met there. Somehow the Baltimore marathon has irritated a bunch of us, but my lack of time due to the issues with my chip antenae apparently takes the cake.

My first half marathon took me about 2:40 or so; however, knowing I needed to be finished and in the car by 2 p.m. thus needed to pick up the pace. At mile 16 I stumbled on the 5 hour pacers. They seemed to be alone and suggested the folks they were pacing had abandoned them to go faster. I joined them and chatted on and off for the next 10 miles. The pacers were brothers from Richmond. One (Matt, perhaps) is planning to run JFK 50 this weekend. I was glad I am not the only person cramming one week before JFK! They were both very nice and good company. As I was getting closer to the finish, I came across my friend Monica from Umstead. She seemed to be struggling a bit because of the heat. We chatted about races, life in general and just jogged along to the finish. Monica is very happy and upbeat was good company. Monica also is running JFK next weekend. She is starting at 7 a.m.; however, she has run JFK numerous times and typically finishes within 10 hours or less. Monica is really lucky because she really likes running in cold weather and at this point, Saturday: JFK 50 miler day is predicted to start in the upper 20's and have a high of the upper 30's. This is going to be a challenge for me but at least based on the current weather it is not supposed to be windy!

Finishing the Richmond Marathon in just under 5 hours, I was very happy with my run. I had accomplished my goal of finishing the race healthy and happy. After finishing, I started walking the course backwards to cheer on my friends. First I saw my friend Belinda and Katmom. I cheered them on and took a side picture of them in the finishing stretch. Then after I run backwards 1 mile, I caught up to my friend Lauri. I jogged with her back to the finish line and caught up with her. She seemed in good spirits and really enjoyed the Richmond Marathon. We got to the finish line and I ran around and was able to join her after the medal area. We chatted a bit more and discussed briefly Death Valley and Las Vegas. She had to get home and I wanted to continue stretching my legs so I again ran backwards. I ran in to Debbie and Larry and cheered both on. Finally, the weather started looking really omimous. It was time to get back to the car and head home.

Before getting home we stopped at my sisters, I grabbed a quick shower and then went to an organizational meeting with the Reston Runners for the JFK 50 miler. It was time to get ready for my big event: JFK 50 miler. At this meeting I caught up with lots of other running friends. It was a great day for me! Running, friends and food...what more can one ask for?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The start of my Richmond Marathon experience: Mis-adventures with my Garmin

Garmen 405 at the start...notice the upper runner is already 1/2 bar ahead of me. But also notice I have not even gotten over the starting line

My garmen at the science museum about 1 mile into the race. You can notice the "competitor" at the top is now out of the screen (I told you it cheats!)

I had a great time at the Richmond Marathon yesterday. It was a perfect running day in my world (warm). Although the weather was predicted to be a high of 65-69 with torrential rain and thunder/lightening, the weather that occurred was mid-70's, sunny at points and a bit windy. During my run there was no rain and thank goodness no thunder/lightening.
As with my last several marathons I ran into many friends along the way. I guess approaching my 50th marathon I now know a alot of compulsive marathoners!

Getting ready for the marathon was pretty easy. We stayed the night at my father-in-laws which is about 25 minutes from the starting line. Also, I no longer have to spend extensive amounts of time and effort gliding my feet (thanks to Drymax socks!), so all I really have to do is put in my contacts and glide my potential chafing hot spots (along any seams, around my waist where my fanny pack sits, at the edges of my sports bra and seamless underpants...). In reality getting my contacts in is more traumatic and time consuming then gliding. I have astigmatism so my contacts have alot of "body" (they are not flimsy like my husbands) and it is better if the bottom of my contacts are at the bottom of my eyes (otherwise my vision is really blurry and it takes a long time for decent vision to occur), so I have to be fairly precise how I insert them and I have to hold my eye open REALLY wide. Each time I put in my contacts I feel like a battle has occurred because my eye really wants to close. It's almost as bad as getting a pill in a cat!

After Tristan dropped me off near the start, I wandered slowly to the start line. Even though I had just used the potty before leaving the house, I had to make a porta potty pit stop. On line I saw my friend Lauri in a different line. We chatted as we eached moved forward. I got to the front of the line and went into the porta potty but it had no toilet paper. I have standards, and this was not acceptable (well at least at the beginning of races I have standards!). After 4 attempts at finding one with toilet paper, I finally found one. After I finished my business, I meandered over to the start line. I brough my new Garmen 405 to see how it worked and tried to set it up just to determine my pace. I had some problems and could not figure out what to do (perhaps this was a function of not reading the directions!) Lauri spotted me and wandered over. I explained my dilemma and she could offer no words of wisdom. We continued our chat about upcoming races, how we were feeling and just caught up. I tried to figure out my watch but was unable to do so. I think she found it pretty humorous that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing but geniunely wanted to use my watch/GPS to document my progress during the race. I was getting pretty frustrated (stupid thing kept beeping at me taunting me with it's unwillingness to just start at the beginning of my race and stop at the end and tell me my pace along the way). At some point my watch seemed to suggest it would keep track of my run for 3 miles. THREE miles...this was a marathon I yelled at my watch (as if it cared!). My Garmin hates me (seriously I know it does). It has created an "avatar/competitor" who keeps ahead of me and now it will only let me run 3 miles...aargh!!

The starting gun goes off and we start moving forward. How am I supposed to know what is going on during this race. My trusty Timex would not be giving me this grief. With it all I do is hit the start, the stop and if I want to see the actual time during the race, press the lower right button. Garmen and I are now having a battle of the wills because it will do none of this. And my timex is in the car with Tristan. The other competitors are moving forward, so Lauri and I wander towards the start line. I mumble about my continued difficulties with my watch/GPS. She laughs. I cross the start line and plan to hit the start/stop button. But no...Garmin had started before we got across the start line (see above picture). I am telling you, my Garmen totally cheats! Not only does my competitor runner (who I can't decide what name to use..I'm currently oscillating between Jamie and Cindy because both my friend Jamie and my sister Cindy are so much faster then I). Oh, then I take a moment to take a picture and my guy (the lower one on the watch screen) leans over and bends down. My garmin "runner girl" is so lazy! In fact within 1 mile, my competitor disappears off the screen.

After crossing the start line I still have a dilemma. My watch thinks I am doing a 3 mile training run! I am not. But no matter how many times I tap my watch, it does not get it. I try tapping it harder. This does not work. I look around for someone who has a Garmin 405, but see no one. I see a few runners with 305's and decide they might have some advice. Well, I chat with this lady Amanda who looks like she know's what she is doing (she appears to be coaching some runners and is talking about the importance of walk breaks). I ask her about her 305, but it sounds like her watch is more idiot proof then mine. Although she does mention in the training mode, if you hit menu you can change distance. This is a step in the right direction. I do these steps but can only move the tens digit. 13 miles, 23 miles, 33 miles. Okay, I will run 33 miles (really I will run 26 miles then bail from the run). But at least my watch will not abruptly stop at mile 3. Okay, watch issues resolved, now it's time to run this race.

More Photos from Richmond Marathon 2008

Tristan and his dad at Party Zone #1 by the Hugeunot Bridge

Tammy running along River Road along the James River (this where Gilligan, our dog, learned to swim!)
Tammy and Stonewall Jackson Monument (taken to humor my husband Tristan who is a Southerner and thus a) refers to the Civil war as the "War of Northern Agression" and b) suggests it is not over...I'm from the North and if memory serves me correctly, it's called the Civil War and we won.

Tammy and a spectating St Bernard-he was really cute but a bit slobbery.

My friend Belinda and Katmom. I have run with Belinda at Umstead, Delaware and Baltimore. I met Katmom at Baltimore. Belinda was only supposed to run 6 miles of Richmond, but ended up getting coerced into running 15 miles!

I will write a comprehensive summary of my experience later today or tommorrow but since I am incapable of getting more that 5 pictures within each blog post, I am trying to post my pictures slowly.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Richmond Marathon:Starter Photos

Tammy and Laurie (from 24 hour race, Harrisburg, Delaware, Richmond 1007, Disney Goofy, George Washington Birthday, B&A Trail, many races!) after the finish

Tammy and Monica (from Umstead 100) after the finish.

Tammy, Tristan and Tristan's Dad at the first party zone by the Hugeunot Bridge

Tammy and Luna, a Bernese Mountain dog at mile 19. My second Berner of the day!

I ran the Richmond Marathon today. I had a great time. I was worried about the weather (rain and storms were predicted). But in fact it was a beautiful day for a marathon!
I will write more later because I had an awesome day!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why I hate winter--almost getting squashed!

Two days ago I almost bit the dust.  I was running from work to the pool in the afternoon.  In the summer this is a manageable feat.  Regardless of when I finally accomplish all my tasks at work and leave I can run in the light and get to the pool.  Well, Wednesday my workday did not go smoothly (too much work, too little time and no desk...the saga of my office move on Sept 26th continues to this day!)

Well, I planned to leave the office at 4 p.m.  At 4 p.m. a minor crisis occurred which I thought I could address within 15 minutes.  Well, 45 minutes later I finally was able to leave with a clear conscience.  This was good because like I said in my first sentence I almost bit the dust.  

I was running down a major road on the sidewalk, obeying traffic signals and being extra cautious of cars.  Unfortunately by starting my jog at 4:45, I ended up running while it was getting dark fast and a slight mist/rain had started.  I get about 3/4 mile from my work and was passing by a bunch of strip malls with several exits.  As I approach each exit I check for cars.  As I start crossing one a car rounds the bend quickly.  This driver seems to  have no intention of stopping.  I step right while I am jogging to put a little distance between us.  Bad Move!!  I step on a grate.  And it is wet and seems to have a slight angle.  I start slipping into 355 (Rockville Pike).  Cars are approaching in the direction I am facing.  The car to my right is still not stopping.  Now luckily I do get off the grate, get back onto the access drive and miss getting hit by this drive by several inches.  

It scared me pretty badly.  I am not sure how long it will be before I try to jog to/from work again because I really do not want to die or get hit.  Luckily in this incident I did not fall, during my slip I did not twist or mangle my legs, ankles or knees but easily could have.   

Well, ultimately I get to the pool (first time since Sept :-(  I have tried 3 times but failed miserable all three times (once the pool would not open for 10 minutes and I decided to bail, once I realized I forgot towel and once it was too cold and windy...I can understand why people end up failing at running because I feel the same way about swimming, I leap excitedly on any excuse I can to not do it.

I get to the pool and because I ran in my triathlon gear, I was able to pretty quickly start swimming laps.  I am REALLY bad at swimming (okay I am really bad at pretty much every sport except perhaps hiking).  I get in the slowest lap lane.  There are two kids who are getting coached, a fairly competent gentleman and myself.  One of the two kids is pretty good but gets yelled at because he is not reaching far enough, tilting his head too far or some other problems.  The other kid is flailing about creating a splash zone of about 15 feet (seriously this kid was splashing in every direction with GUSTO!). Each time I pass these kids I try to move away in the lap lane or else swim under water (for some reason getting splashed really bothers me but fully immersed is perfectly okay).  

After a few minutes another child and parent come into the lap lane.  The mother clearly wants to stay relatively dry (at least hair, face and glasses).  This is futile.  After a few laps we form a lap bond and everytime our paths cross with splashy kid we kind of smile and shrug.  She's clearly in the slow lane because he son is new to swimming, I am in it because I am incompetent.  Guess the splashing is my penance for not trying harder to improve.  Well, another two kids an their coach come into my lane.  Again there is one who is competent and one who flails wildly.  Just a few moments later another kid comes into the lane.  This kid is like micheal phelps.  He starts by doing the butterfly, then a perfect crawl...and he is moving.  

If you are keeping count: in a lap lane that should fit about 4-5 people (because it is a larger lap lane), there are now 10 people.  Competent adult swimmer gives up in frustration.  The other 9 of us remaining continue swimming.  There is a bit of gridlock now and again.   What we do not know is that our psuedo-equalibrium is about to be completely wrecked by a kid who makes all the previous splashers look like novices and zig-zags across the lane as he swims laps.  I find this whole situation quite humorous.  I swim a few more laps zigzagging, trying to avoid getting to splashed and being intimidated by the child who is about 8 and looks like a future Olympian.  I think I need to take swimming lessons so I can graduate to the next lap lane!  

Then again, after my near squashing, I am just happy that I survived to run, swim, hike, bike, live another day.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Celebrating Veterans Day with a hike up Sugarloaf Mountain and a new Garmin Forerunner 405 with Heart Rate Monitor!

Gilligan at Sugarloaf Mountain (behind him is Frederick MD)

Tammy and Gilligan at one of the overlooks at Sugarloaf Mountain
Gilligan at the top of Sugarloaf Mountain (with the Monacacy River and Potomac River in the background)

Gilligan taking a moment to enjoy "Green Park", a small local park that is about 300 meters from our townhouse

Gillligan enjoying the fall folliage at Green Park (he is so cute, isn't he?)

Today my husband and I had the day off. The one benefit of being a federal employee is the 10 Federal holidays off each year. This includes Veterans Day.

Because it was a beautiful day (about 50 degrees and sunny), Tristan and I decided to go for a short-moderate length hike. We packed up Gilligan and headed for our hike. Although I had run up and down Sugarloaf numerous times this spring and summer, I had not hiked Sugarloaf since last spring (having seen Tristan's pictures of rattlesnakes on the top of Sugarloaf I elect not to go there during rattlesnake season).

Our hike was about 4 miles long and lasted about 2 hours. Gilligan grudgingly came along (although he was better than a hike a few weeks ago when it was warmer). He tended to stay about 50 feet behind us. I assume he was hoping we would impulsively turn around and go back to the car or thinks somehow if he hangs back long enough we will go get the car and pick him up mid-hike.

After our hike was over we came home and Tristan headed ot Old Rag for a post hike mountain climb (I think he is training for next summers 6 day expedition up Mt Rainier). While Tristan was hiking, I went for a short jog. My primary purpose of my jog was to get to my local running store, Fleet Feet Gaithersburg. A few weeks ago they ordered a Garmen 405 Heart Rate Monitor. I have about $1000 in a flexible spending account (FSA) that I need to spend by March 15th because it is a use or lose account (in reality based on a negative experience last year, I want to meet the Dec. 31rst pseudo-deadline). Because of the heart rate monitor component, I can get re-imbursed from this account. Last year Tristan got a polar altimeter with a heart rate monitor from Fleet Feet which he has found useful. My Garmen 405 only cost $350, so I still have to get some other items, I'm thinking a new pair of glasses or two as well as stocking up on over-the-counter drugs I use and tend to give away during races (pepto, ibuprofen, tums, etc.)

I jogged home using my new Garmin Forerunner. Overall, I liked it (I learned what I thought was a 1 mile trip from our house to the running store is 1.97 I am really bad at guessing distances!) But, unfortunately I hit the start button while I was still chatting with my friends at Fleet Feet. Thus, when I started jogging home, the "pacer" on the watch was well ahead of me. The runner kept taunting me that I was 0.9 miles behind and 9:26 minutes behind the pacer. My pacer clearly cheated!!!

After getting back home I took Gilligan for a small walk. I took some pictures of him with the fall folliage. In the spirit of full transparency most of my pictures of him include him upside down goofing around. But I think the pictures you see above highlight the few times when Gilligan was behaving and looking serious:-) I guess it's a tough job to be a Bernese Mountain Dog!