Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Mom passed away on Memorial Day, therefore no "Road Trip"

My mom passed away at 6:15 a.m. on Memorial Day. It is very sad to know that 4 months ago she was essentially the picture of health, 4 weeks ago she was just a bit confused (she had a car accident in mid-Feb that was a confusing time for everyone because we could never figure out the timing or what happened) and now she is no longer here.

Having visited her last week was good because my sister and I were able to reminesce to her about all the fun times we had. When I went to school at University of Central Florida and worked at Disney World my mom would come down frequently and after I graduated she would occasionally go to Florida for the winter including several seasons at Disney. I could also talk about all the hikes and travels we took.

I also told a few stories about my grandfather whom she and I lived with at the house she grew up for about 1 year (my Junior year of high school). My sister and my aunt had no idea how inappropriately my uncles, mom and I acted at my grandfathers funeral (there was a solemn rembrance part at the beginning but then it degenerated). In fact my uncles, mom and I ended up nearly dying of hysterics because of the ministers bizzare speech pattern. I had pointed this out several months previously after my grandfather had his original stroke. Then during the service the minister would enunciate about every 4th word. Apparently my Aunt had heard of our antics but never knew what had set us all off.

I think while we all loved my grandfather dearly, it was the kind of funeral party that he would have hoped for. I know my mom will want to be remembered as the vibrant, active, energetic, compassionate, caring, free spirited person she was. She was a great mom and I loved her. I will miss her dearly.

As a teacher (I know it's not chapter 11, but it is some chapter for at risk students) she definitely was a positive influence. She always believed in people and always saw the glass as half full. I have never met a more optimistic or positive person. She really firmly saw the good and opportunity in everyone. And she really appreciated the small things. A beautiful sunrise, a chat over a cup of coffee sharing information with campers, a hike or many other small treats others might take for granted were appreciated and shared with others.

I am finding it hard to believe within 4 weeks she degenerated so quickly. I try to emulate her spirit and take comfort that she suffered minimally and did not spend an extensive period of time in an environment she would not have been happy within, but it is still hard.

I do wish I could have said some final goodbyes when she was still alert and responsive but hopefully as an angel she knows how much I cared about her and how wonderful a parent she was to me. If I was to guess, I would say my mom lived a life without regrets. She saw so much, met so many people and just really made this world a better place.

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Mom's status and heading to Vermont

My sister and I spent the last several days with my mom at Parkland Hospital in Dallas TX.  It was really tough.  Last time I saw her was a Rocky Raccoon 50 miler when we gave each other a final goodbye hug.  This time I could give her a hug but it was not reciprocated.  In some ways she looks just the same as Feb, but in other ways, she looks dramatically different.  She is now just skin and bones.  Before she was slender but now she is very gaunt.  

Her pain is supposed to be managed but it did seem sometimes she was distressed.  Dr. Batiste, her Doctor is now going to keep her on maintenance morphine as well as Adavin.  Her Doctor/neurologist, Dr. Batiste was such a kind and caring doctor.  He interacted with her during a brief period when she was a bit loopy but had not had her catastrophic stroke.  Evidently she really impressed him with her stories of trips and escapades.  I think she also must have impressed upon him her desire to live a full and active life because he mentioned her zest for life and quest for adventure.  

I am now heading to VT to run the Vermont City marathon.  When I get back, I will have a 6 hour turnaround to fly back down to Dallas if my mom is still around.  I am conflicted about this because I want her to be in peace (and at times when Cindy I were there it did not seem she was) but I also want to see her one last time and take her on our little adventure (or at least somehow make it so she can visit with her cat one last time).  

Perhaps in a future post when it is not quite as painful, I will write about the fiasco that getting her into hospice has been.  What I perceived as a simple action apparently is a complex bureaucratic nightmare.  And sadly my mom does not have the time to wait for the many forms, authorizations and certifications that are needed.  

My mom would say this is a learning experience and I certainly would be happy to provide my observation and opinion via an e-mail (which can be linked via my profile within this blog).  

Please continue to keep my mom in your thoughts and prayers....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

On my way to Texas for Mom visit #1 and a brief update about Delaware Marathon

Today I am on my way to Texas to see my mom. I ultimately decided to fly down with my sister to see my mom and ensure our planned trip next week will be as comfortable as possible for my mom.

Sadly this means I have not exactly prepared for my mom's journey back to Pocohontas State Park and subsequently our house, however, this is more aligned with my mom's philosophy. She did not typically plan ahead (while I am a super planner with lists, agenda's and life plans for a long time in the future).

This past weekend I ran the Delaware Marathon. Three years ago my mom and I traveled to the Delaware Marathon within a few weeks of her first stroke so I could run with Dean Karnazes. My mom volunteered and had a GREAT time with his family while I ran the race.

On Sunday I was able to call and talk to her. She mumbled a little when I talked about being in the marathon. Many times during marathons she would call me. I would always answer my phone during marathons...but my mom would be funny and update me on all sorts of stuff. At some point I would have to remind her that I was running a marathon and probably should focus on running.

This week is going to be pretty challenging for me. Cindy (my sister) and I fly back to MD/VA on Thursday, I pack up for VT and fly to VT super early Friday morning. I also have to pack for our road trip from Texas since I will have about 7 hours at BWI during the end of my VT trip and the flight to start my mom's road trip.

Please keep her in your thoughts...Tammy

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Friday: Bike to Work Day and my mom's Status (no Hospice yet, but some plans that would make her happy)...Please keep her in your thoughts

My sister and Mom at the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon. They moved around the course to see me at lots of places. I think my mom really enjoyed this day because she got to hang out with Cindy for several hours as they waited for me to move slowly along the course.
At "Take your Bike to Work Day", where I won a Tour de Cure biking shirt. This is a really cool event that I am looking forward to participating in. It is mid-June and starts at Reston Town Center, where my sister lives.

With my new friend Bill(?) and my friend Sandy from work enjoying the treats, comraderie and pitstop of "Take your bike to work Day".

Getting ready to continue my journey to work

Friday I partook in "Take your Bike to Work Day" (or as others call it Bike to work day). This is one of the highlights of my year (Umstead 100, VT100, Rocky 50, MCM, JFK50 and of course free scoop day are on this list:-) I have done this for the past 5 years. Some years I meet up with friends, others I end up seeing friends and other years I make friends.

This year I did not meet up with anyone but was pleased to see my friend Sandy from work (who has done several centuries as well as several national and international bike tours...she is hard core!) as well as meet several of her biking friends. I know Sandy from FDA-CBER's mentoring program (she is someone elses mentor) and because occasionally she will bike up alongside me as I am running home from work and she is biking home from work.

On my way to one of the pit stops a nice gentleman (I think his name was Bill) ended up being at the same red traffic light. He was really nice and we started chatting at the light and ended up biking about 2 miles to one of the pit stops I was stopping at (Fallsgrove then I moved onto Rockville). Our 2 miles just flew because we were just chatting about biking, running, hiking and life in general. We biked together because he had only a vague impression about where the pit stop was. I knew where it was and at one point thought he would move faster than me, so alerted him that the pit stop is a bit obscure. But then we ended up just hanging together chatting.
I told him I had biked to work virtually every year and in fact I think every year I have won a raffle. One year it was because I was waiting for a friend and for each drawing they would give out a new set of raffle tickets. By the end I was hard pressed to carry my new bike pack, gloves, lock... Last year I won a krytonite lock. Since I already had one, I gave it to Tristan. considering my bike was stolen in Oct, I should have kept it for myself and used it!

This year my streak continued. I won a "Tour de Cure" bike shirt. This event which raises awareness and is a fundraiser for research related to Diabetes is coming up on June 14th in Reston and for sure I will be attending and participating. I may try to both volunteer and bike at this event.

The rest of my day was spent trying to tie up a few items at work and then waiting for my sister who just arrived back in town from a class.

Oddly enough my mom has recovered a very tiny bit. My sister came to my office and we were able to talk to her together. Apparently my mom was trying to talk and look at the phone.We are still planning to utilize hospice care for the time being, but in fact now it sounds like she will have days or even possibly weeks left (guess doctor's might not know as much as I thought...I thought 3 days without saline was a death sentence but learned people who are not active can survive for up to 3 weeks!!!).

Well, this has led to a slight change in plans in that we have the Saline drip re-instated and my sister will be using one of my frequent flyer passes to fly to Texas on the first available flight, next Tuesday. I go to VT to run while Tristan goes to visit his family in CA (my mom would want this--particularly Tristan visiting his family because he hasn't seen his mom in nearly a year). Then almost immediately (6 hours later!) we take a one way flight to Texas. With my big strong husband's help, we will drive my mom back to Pocohontas State Park, her favorite park, then to our house all along the way seeing all sorts of sights.

I think my mom will like this road trip in the making.

We might even drop in on Tristan's relatives in NC who my mom met and really liked. She of course would support visiting all sorts of people on what may go down in our family's history as: "Mom's Celebration of Life Tour 2009".

My only fear is that we will get pulled over in some state and the transport of a barely responsive adult will yield questions and perhaps some misadventures. But that would probably only make my mom laugh harder from heaven.

While others may want to die with grace and dignity in their own home/bedroom, my mom's home was travels, the great outdoors and adventures. And I don't think anyone would use the word grace to describe her. Maybe: goofy, happy go lucky, adventureous, kind, sweet, funny, carefree come to mind, loved a great practical joke (or just jokes in general); but not grace.
She wanted to live out her 200 year plan and clearly this is a bit unrealistic but we will show her a good time on the trip back from Texas..biggest ball of twine, here we come!

By re-instituting saline she may be able to have a few more weeks of life based on Friday's talk with her doctors. In this time if a miracle is to occur, she will have to dig deeper than any of us...otherwise, she will be able to peacefully drift off with her cat: Pocohontas and either my sister, Tristan or I with her.

I am going to pray that she is able to pass peacefully during our adventure or else somehow taunts science and recovers in a way that will enable her to live her life fully in a way that she wanted.

The logistics of this trip are still being worked out. I know we will need to purchase a wheelchair, ensure she has adequate palliative medication, and figure out how to ensure she will be comfortable as well as decide do we drive 20 hours straight to get to VA (as per mapquest) or stay overnight at a hotel. This question of course we will answer during the trip based on safety but of course we could just pre-arrange a hotel (or even try to find/arrange a hospice for one night at the mid-way point).

Last night when I talked to my Aunt Carol we were able to joke that my mom would probably think this trip was the best thing ever. My mom loved to live life on the seat of her pants never knowing what adventure was around the bend. And I expect if she does survive the next 2 weeks, this will be quite an adventure!

Finally, if any of you have contacts or suggestions for Hospice Care in about Knoxville Tennesse (halfway point), please contact me via this blog or by e-mail.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My mom is to be moved to Hospice care tommorrow

With my mom at Blue Springs State Park...one of her favorite parks. She really loved the manatee's that would frequent the park. She campground hosted at this park and enjoyed it immensely.
With my mom this past fall at the Baltimore Marathon. We had girl's weekend out at this race and had lots of fun crashing at one of my co-workers house (thanks Cara) in Baltimore so we could explore the inner harbor. Although my mom didn't run, I think really enjoyed the energy of races and the positive feeling that runners and spectators share during marathons.

At Disney World several years ago around the holidays. My mom loved Disney World and like I, her favorite park was EPCOT, but she also enjoyed various aspects of the other parks including the shows, people watching and all the fun activities.

With Mom at Great Falls a few years ago during a drought. My mom was always up for sightseeing at a variety of state and national parks....in fact she frequently mentioned that she was on a 200 year plan to get to see all of them!

Two years ago my cousin got married in New York. The whole Wood family converged, so here is her younger brother, Peter on the left and Paul on the right...yup her parents named them Peter Paul and Margie:-) But this was before Peter, Paul and Mary, so I guess perhaps they should get a little kickback!
My mom had fun at this wedding because she met all sorts of nice people. She loved to meet new people because they all became defined as "friends"...I guess if you read my blog, you notice I have this same definition/naming strategy.

I thought the other day's conversation was hard. But I was way wrong...it is like saying mile 75 is tough in a 100 mile race. That is only a sneak preview. But ultimately the day ended with a bit of peace.

My mom's neurologist says she initially had a stroke on Tuesday morning with 55 mL of fluid (I think blood) observed within a CT scan. It has expanded over time to 75 mL. She is really not responsive and is basically not functional. I know she would not want a life like this. She would want to be on a hike, at a national park, enjoying a picnic or just goofing around.

My sister, aunt and I were able to have a teleconference to discuss plans. We decided no more testing, interventions or herioc resucitation efforts. This is what is clearly written in my mom's living will and what she always expressed as her desire to live a life fully and completely without regret and having seen and done as much as physically possible.

She was very famous for her "200 year plan". She wanted to visit all the countries national parks, state parks and other highlights. She did not accomplish this, but she did stay at many places as a camp host and/or volunteer. The National parks include: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Acadia, Everglades...and many state parks including Blue Springs (FL), Pocohontas (VA), Douthat (VA), Parker (TX), Toriah (FL). She really enjoyed the outdoors and was definitely a "people person", ready to befriend everybody!

She lived in a motor home and had a HUGE Ford F-150 truck which enabled these travels (I know because after her last stroke we drove down to Florida together--kind of like a college road trip except neither of us were in college).
When she moved from place to place she would explore locations on the way or off the beaten path. She has been to nearly every state in America. I think her only deficiency is Alaska since she did live in Hawaii before my sister or I were born.

In addition to her travels all over America, she also had several stints working at Disney World. She loved the premise of working at the "happiest place" on earth because she was always so happy. It was a place she fit in. She also is a bit goofy (kind of like the rest of our family), so again she fit right in!

While I know the decision to allow her to die peacefully in the way she wanted, is really hard (in fact I haven't really slept the last few nights). I know that she clearly expressed that she would never want to live a life in which she could not explore, meet new friends (because everyone is friend to her) and savor the journey of life.
My mom will be going to hospice care tommorrow. It is a bit unclear if she will be going to an inpatient hospice or if she will be going to my Aunt's house. In either case she will be with her cat, Pocohontas. My sister and I joked that she loved that cat more then us, but I think it might be true. It's okay, that cat pretty much spent every second of every day with my mom for the last 10+ years. I don't mind the cat being her #1 son/daughter (funny story, for the last 10 years my mom was told this cat was a girl, then last fall the cat was diagnosed with diabetes, had some scan and it was found the cat was a male!!! Either her veterinarians were a bit sloppy or my mom has a hemaphredic cat:-)

Finally, I think the following link provides a wonderful video on my friend Jamie Donaldsons blog that would really please my mom. My mom always wanted to see, do and experience life to the fullest and this video by Ultra Runner Matt Hart really captures this essence!
I will miss her so much. I hope she knows how much I love her.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Please Keep My Mom in your thoughts: She's in the ICU

My mom has been in the hospital for over 2.5 weeks. Prior to this she was in the hospital for a bit of time in Febuary. Several years ago she had a stroke and recovered well enough to be functional. But in February she had a moderately significant event and was quite confused and seems to have been struggling to become functional again. Then while I was in Denver she took a turn for the worse (unbeknownst to me thanks to a protective older sister) and was hospitalized. Now her prognosis is not good.

With my mom and Dean K. (one of both of our hero's--he is so nice, encouraging and down to earth!) during his 50 marathons in 50 days. I ran the Delaware Marathon with Dean and my mom volunteered during that race...it was a great race for her to volunteer because she got to see runners over and over...and since it was right after her initial stroke I got to see her every hour or two.
With my mom during the Marine Corps Marathon. She has seen me run this marathon many times (even the year of her stroke when she was out of the hospital less than 1 week). She is tough!

With my mom during JFK 50 miler. Again this was just about 1 month after her stroke, but with another friend of mine, she was able to crew for me. She has always been there for me during my running events.

At the Disney Marathon with my sister and Mom. We are a goofy lot...my sister is drinking a beer, my mom is sporting the goofy hat and I am hanging out with them!!
My mom always enjoys going to races to meet people, watch runners and feel the energy. While she does not run, she always was happy to volunteer and cheer on everyone.

With my mom at Rocky Raccoon this past Feb. It was so nice to see her and hang out briefly before and after the race. I impulsively decided to run this race since she was in Texas, the race got lots of praise and I knew during the race I would have 3 laps (with several places) to see her. I broke my previous 50 mile time by over an hour and she was so excited for me.

This past week she did hear of my ~4 hour marathon at Frederick and I think she was really excited/proud.

About 2.5 weeks ago my mom declined rapidly and went to the hospital because she started having seizures and at one point was obtunded (essentially asleep and unresponsive). During the beginning of this episode I was in Denver and big my sister protected me from a situation in which I could do nothing. Now because this episode has been sort of improving and declining since February it is hard to figure out what if anything I could do in Texas that I can or cannot do in Maryland (and my worst fear would be to be in flight when something catastrophic happened).
Over the course of last week she improved a bit but continued to sporadically incoherant, seemed to be hallucinating a bit and was still quite confused about the reality we are all supposed to be in. Earlier this week she was stablized and we were starting to consider nursing home/rehabilitation options. That was until this morning.

The doctor called me about 7 a.m. at work and indicated she had taken a dramatic turn for the worse and is now essentially unresponsive and was moved to the ICU. A CT scan revealed another hemaerhagic stroke.
This was the worst conversation of my adult life.
She is now somewhat stabilized (as the Dr's put it they cannot predict if she has minutes, hours, days, weeks, years or decades left of life). But because I have medical power of attorney I was queried for some potential end of life decisions. I know my mom has always been clear about wanting a DNR (Do Not Resucitate), but this is something that is hard to consider. But I stated her wishes. I also clearly stated that if something happened to my mom that she would want her organs harvested or her body used for science (well, the warranty would be up...so what else could you do with it??). I also suggested I imagine my mom is already thinking of haunting me for this stint in the hospital because I think she would much rather be outside hiking, visiting a park, chatting with people rather then stuck in a hospital room. But this was a very painful conversation.

I hope that she is strong and pulls through this. In the meantime I would be really grateful if you sent some positive wishes (or prayers) her way in case she can feel these.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Some Hillwork and dog-grooming: How I spent my weekend

Gilligan's new summer 'do. Of particular interest should be the random bald patches. I think it makes him look very tough.... particularly considering the beautiful bright pink collar he is now sporting (upon closer inspection you may notice Gilligan supports Breast Cancer Research... or else he is embracing his inner "Gillian").

Gilligan is very fond of lying down. This bodes well for his once yearly extreme makeover: Canine Edition because all he has to do is stay still for his fur cut. It is a little unclear if it is better to shave or let Berners have their long fur for the summer, but having short fur makes it easy to hose him down when it gets really hot. So currently we (really I) shave him once a year. I really need to stop talking in plural because a) it gives my husband way too much credit and b) it suggests I may have a split personality, neither of whom actually contribute greatly in the completion of many tasks:-)

As I may have mentioned in previous posts, Gilligan is lazy. In fact he failed the Canine Good Citizen test because he would not continue to sit upon being given the command "sit"...in fact he would sit then lie down after about 5 seconds. I still don't get why him being immobile lying down is such an offense. Nor does he, but we now console ourselves by eating lots of ice cream...especially on Thursdays:-)

The azalea's were in full bloom at Sugarloaf Mountain this past weekend when Tristan, Gilligan and I went there for some hillwork. The azalea's were just spectacular and made running up the hill go so much faster. The first half mile up has no azalea's but then there are frequent flowers for the remainder of the hill. And the colors were all so vibrant: Red, purple, pink, white, coral....

Another "pack" of azalea's along the road. This time doing hillwork at Sugarloaf is the first time I have actively had to pay attention for cars. The last few times, there were 5-10 cars tops, but this time I would guess 50 cars, 20 bikes and a few runners. I guess spring/summer is now here in full force.
Luckily the road to the top is one way, so I pretty much just have to pay attention for cars passing me when I am going up and then when I come down I worry at some more blind curves that although the posted limit is 25 mph cars seem to go about 45-50 mph.

This past weekend was pretty uneventful. I did not have a marathon, a business trip or pretty much anything on my calendar. And since I donated blood I was a little hesitant to run to long or too far.

So Saturday Tristan, Gilligan and I all packed into blue-ey for a road trip to Sugarloaf Mountain. Gilligan and Tristan hiked all around the mountain while I ran up and down for 3 repetitions. I was pretty proud of this in my blood deficient state. It took me about 1 hour 45 minutes which was a little slower then usual, but I was kind of goofing off during the run. On my first rep, I ran into about 5 runners that looked reallly tough (one had a Montrail shirt on and the others all had trail running shoes and hydration packs). In fact after I finished, Tristan asked about these runners and I said I saw them. But I mentioned I didn't exchange anything more than a "huff, puff, huff, puff,.... Hello, ...huff, puff, huff puff". This is because at the time I was going up the mountian and either the altitude or lack of extra iron sort of had me winded.

Well, Tristan apparently talked to these runners and learned one was running MMT100 next weekend (hmmm, not sure I would be doing Sugarloaf the week before a 100, but that's just sissy Tammy speaking--although a week before Javelina 100 I have Marine Corps Marathon, so perhaps I should stop being so hypocritical).

Tristan apparently discussed ultra-running with these folks and apparently they saw me, and somehow connected Tristan to me. At some point their conversation turned to my name and Tristan mentioned it (Tammy Massie in case you see me as google blogger : 7299086143790529567). To which they responded..."we've heard of her". I am not sure if I should be alarmed or flattered. If I am becoming "famous" in the MD ultra community I will have to start earning my fame and that will put all sorts of pressure on me. I really like my current philosophy regarding ultramarathoning that I have heard so eloquently put by L. Simpson

"Set the bar low, then start digging".

Saturday afternoon was spent bathing the dog (well at least that is how Gilligan and I spent the afternoon). Initially this bath was a stopgap for his yearly shaving to be done in June. But then Sunday turned into a beautiful day so I decided both he and I would be happiest if it was done in pleasant weather.

In fact my calendar is full the next three weekends with a trip to my Aunt's in NJ and the Delaware Marathon next weekend, a trip to Burlington VT for the Vermont City Marathon with a friend/co-worker, Ann and finally hopefully a coaching certification class (professional coaching, not athletic coaching) through Saturday and the Bob Potts Marathon on Sunday the following weekend.

Thus realizing our next window for opportunity for this 2-3 hour task, I got out the scissors, nipped a bunch of mats, then escalated to the shaver. I would give myself a "C" for the quality of Gilligan's current 'do. I think he has some bald patches (the razor attachment would get snagged, fall off then I would give him a buzz cut, until I finally realized the attachment was off). And he sort of has a mohawk thing going on-this I have no easy explanation except perhaps all of the cool dogs have a mohawk.

I would however give myself a tip because it is hard work to shave a 120 lb dog with long fur. I have never tested how volumnous he is but I would guess easily 30 gallons or so. To give you a sense about how much fur I shaved, currently we have a town provided recyclable container that is filled with his fur. What's even worse is that we are not sure what to do with it. Is it recycleable, trash, compost???

I am lucky Gilligan is pretty agreeable to being bathed and shaved. Sporadically he would wander off in to another area in our fenced backyard, but it is a tiny backyard, so I could easily walk over and remind him of our goal for the day. Also, for his shaving he could just lie down stoically while I ruined his coiff.

At the end of his shaving ordeal, I saved the best for last. Gilligan likes to regularly change his collar. It gives him freedom of expression. He has two collars that were ready to be in play: a Ben and Jerry's collar and a Breast Cancer awareness that is bright pink. Since May is breast cancer awareness. He choose to show his support by sporting a new Breast Cancer Awareness Collar. Now all he needs is the "Feel your Boobies" T-shirt and his ensemble would be complete.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Agenda for Today: Donating Blood and Carmen's Italian Ice for Gelato (because it's half price day:-)

Sporting my pink pressure bandage...oddly enough, the technician tried to give me a lime green pressure bandage since my outfit was lime green with khaki's. Since I did not want to have a monochromatic lime green outfit I asked for pink to create a more "springy" ensemble.

Tristan showing Gilligan how to eat a Gelato. Or is it taunting Gilligan with his Gelato? Gilligan is a big fan of any ice cream or italian ice, or any other treat for that matter...during the summer on lucky weeks he can go to Carvel for buy one get one free Wednesday, Brusters for Bring your own banana get a half price banana split Thursday and the 8th of the month for half price Gelato at Carmen's Italian Ice. And don't think Tristan and I aren't excited about these economical but tasty treats!

Today I have a full schedule of activities including my regular workday as well as several "extra-curricular activities".

In the morning I will successfully lose 1 lb the easy way...donating blood. Since I am a universal donor (O-neg), I try to regularly donate blood. But to a certain extent I have to be a bit cautious about not donating too close, before or after, a significant endurance event (50 miles or greater). I am over a month away from Umstead 100 and two months before VT100 and this weekend I have no marathon (because the one time I donated on a Friday and ran on a Sunday I felt a little peaked).

I expect this will go relatively smoothly and easily. Sometimes they blow up veins but in fact this hasn't happened in the past few years (so maybe it was just an awkward stage my veins were going through). I do know they are not happy about how pitiful my veins are and I tend to get a cluster of techs who all swarm me and click their tongues about pathetic veins. But ultimately with my encouragement some relatively experienced hematologist will just jab me with gusto successfully.

As a post-donation treat, Tristan and I have our evening mapped out. We will be going to Carmen's Italian Ice in Rockville where on the 8th of every month they have half price Gelato. For those of you fortunate enough (or is unfortunate, because the traffic is a nightmare) to live in the DC area, this treat is well worth a car trip:-)

Of course Gilligan will be joining us! This means that for two day's in a row, Gilligan will have ice cream. Last night (of course) we went to Bruster's for Bring your own Banana half price Banana split night. Gilligan is a lucky dog:-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Some Retractions and Corrections: Bad Results for this past weekends 5 km race and Great Urban Race

The clock as I am approaching the finish at the White Oak Classic...anyone else see that it says 24:11??? Yeah, apparently it's a mirage (at least based on a prelimary printout of the timing/ranking of runners). On a postive note regardless of time, I still came in 3rd in my gender/age category
Taking some time to eat an ice cream by a bronze sign. Note: we are not just loitering in this picture. The bronze sign was a clue we had to photograph (with us sitting on the bench) and the ice cream was a challenge we had to accomplish (we had to bring a popsicle stick back with us to the finish line). But clearly we should not have gotten so comfortable and relaxed in this picture but should have made it an action sitting shot to save some time). You will see in a few moments why this picture illustrated our failure and demise at the Great Urban Race (GUR) so well!

So it is late in the evening for me, but it is with a heavy heart that I have two pieces of bad news about my recent events. No, they did not test me for caffiene and find I had more than the legal limit (is there a legal limit for caffiene?? Because if there is, perhaps I have violated it. But alas I love the Diet Dew).

It has to do with my 5 km time on Friday and the Great Urban Race on Saturday.

If you inspect the above picture you will see my "finishers shot" (the picture I take as I finish a race). It says 24:11. Thus I publicly announced this was my finish time. Well apparently the unofficial race report that my husband had gotten ahold of suggest my time is 25:11. This is still respectable and a PR since getting hit by the car. But it is not 24:11!!! On a positive note, breaking this PR has now become a bit easier to do.

Now for the second bit of bad news. Tristan and I competed in the Great Urban Race with expectations of greatness. Hahahahaha!!! Well, okay we thought between the two of us we had two Ph.D.'s had run a few times in DC so had a basic knowledge of the lay of the land and a decent strategy (look at the answers of other competitors and figure out who looked smart and copy off them).
Unfortunately even with glasses my vision is not very good and Tristan had a lame leg so we could not shadow other competitors as well as we hoped (oh yeah and the side trip to Robeks for a smoothie, EMS to check out some mountaineering equipment and Pacers for some running equipment might not have helped in shadowing other competitors...why couldn't any of them take this 40 minute detour??!!!).

Well anyway, today we recieve the official results of the Great Urban Race via e-mail and we DNF'd!!!! What the $#%($#*????

Rereading the rules (because we do not accept defeat in our family), all I see is that we had to be back at the start/finish by 5 p.m. (which we were by most other clocks...see yesterday's post about "Tammy Time Zone" which is slightly off everyone elses time. And the rules suggest you get a 30 minute penalty for every missed clue.

What they do not ever state is that you must finish the race including accumulated penalties within 5 hours. In fact at one point when Tristan and I were about to become Lisa and Bart from the Simpson's pounding each other in Downtown DC (in front of the White House where I'm sure we would not have attracted any attention). We talked about altering our strategy to just bail on the clue finding and take the 30 minute penalty. This was about 3:15 p.m., but we were short 5 clues (of which 2 could be missed even by the GUR regulations). We decided to tough it out and got 2 more clues subsequently but this took us close to 2 hours. Had we known about the 5 p.m. and 5 hour regulation we might have changed our strategy and not DNF'd. I cannot accept a DNF next to my name.

But now I am going to attribute the DNF to Tristan because he really sucked our team down. Yup, that makes me feel better....

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Frederick Marathon During the Rain: Mile 7 to Finish

Even though I am taking the picture, I don't even attempt to make eye contact with the camera. And this is only about 3 miles into the rain. Little did I know I had 16 more miles of rain to go!

Oh yeah, and doesn't appearing to eat the poncho tie just add to the character of this picture???

On the outside I am smiling but on the inside I am enraged!!! But this gives a clearer picturer of my "Maid of the Mist" poncho, which got positive comments (I think I could have earned some serious $$ selling it and sneers from other "serious" runners). I think I am part cat because I really hate being rained on--in fact as the race progressed and I got colder and wetter, I regretted not taking and wearing my gortex jacket, pants, hat and sealskinz waterproof socks. But alas my Maid of the Mist Poncho worked reasonable well for a few miles and I definitely was a bit dryer and more protected than most of the runners (I think there was 1 other relay runner and one other marathoner I observed with a poncho).

You can notice this picture is taken under the a bridge. The gentleman who took it struggled with my camera and was apologetic when I leaped at him during this photo (because I did not want him to change settings not because I was in a hurry...I was under a bridge so there was no rain:-). My camera is really finicky and has about 15 different buttons that can be pressed in a variety of configurations. But I have no idea what any of them do except the de-giggler (it lets me take decent pictures while moving) and the forced flash. Occasionally people mess with me and my camera which actually creates some problems because I have no idea how to reset my camera back to the default!

Crossing the Monocacy River about mile 17. At this point I did not even attempt to smile or act happy. This was a REALLY long uphill on the out section and seemed to be only a small decline on the way back. And for some reason both ways on this section the wind was at runners face. What's up with that???

For just a few minutes by mile 24 the rain slowed a bit. I decided to try to get a better picture of me with a cow. But in my goal of having a decent picture, I forgot to take off my hat which might have made for a better picture or might have exposed a terrible case of hat head (which by the way in addition to a strong dislike of rain, I also hate wearing hats...but the only way to prevent my glasses from getting too foggy/murky I had to wear my old Frederick Marathon hat). When getting ready in the morning I thought about wearing my contacts but decided the 10-15 minute challenge of putting them in was just too much.

My experience at the Frederick Marathon this year was fine until the rains arrived between mile 7 and 8. The first few miles it was relatively warm and dry. But about mile 7/8 (between 7 and 8 not 7/8ths!) a few droplets fell on my head (and other runners). Initially the runners were a bit confused about the liquid falling on our head. When the rain first started I was in a chatty group that had a few people asking if it was raining or if someone was spitting. Someone fessed up to spitting which led to a few groans.

But soon it was apparent the rain had arrived. And within a few moments of the first few drops, a pretty steady and heavy rain started. Throughout the rest of the race, the rain was moderately hard with sporadic torrential downpours. I was glad I had chosen to bring my poncho and was also happy that I had grabbed a baseball cap. The combination of hat and poncho kept the rain off my head and away from my glasses for the most part. Or perhaps I should quantify this to say this combination was better than 99.99% of the other runners strategies because in reality even with my well in advance planning last June when partaking in the Maid of the Mist boat tour in Niagara Falls Canada, I still ended up pretty wet and my glasses did need to be wiped (unsuccessfully) numerous times throughout the course.

Throughout the race I was moving pretty quickly. I really wanted to beat the rain. But when that became clearly impossible, I decided I wanted to get out of the rain as fast as I could. As I moved quicker and quicker I eventually caught up to the 4:15 pace group. These runners were alot of fun and included several of my friends from JFK 50. In fact as I joined and then drifted on ahead of this group I heard the words "Remember VT100". This was a pretty surreal experience because I was wondering a) why "god" had a male voice b) how it was that VT100 was being brought up during this challenging race and c) if this bodes well or poorly for VT100. At last I realized it was some of my faster friends from JFK50 who I was catching up to in my quest for the finish line sooner rather than later (sorry in my rain/water induced confusion I have no idea of my friends names...can people start wearing their names on their shirts please!!!).

As I ran with my friends and the 4:15 pace group I chatted briefly with one of the pace leaders. Of course I come from the lazy school of running so my first question was, "I have never been this fast in a marathon before but I am curious, does the 4:15 pace group use walk breaks?" Well, I learned that they do not. In fact I think a bunch of the runners and pacers were laughing at my question. In fact and I am quoting directly here the pace leader exclaimed: "No, we do not take walk breaks, we in fact charge $20 for walk breaks". Eek, this was not good. This is a tough crowd. The kind my parents warned me about. But I was game, so I clarified, "Do you charge a one time fee of $20 or do you have to pay $20 per walking incident". Apparently it was per "incident". Of course I needed more information so I asked, "Do they take credit card or could I run up a tab and pay after the race?". Apparently it is a cash based operation (racket I would say) that must be paid up front. As this conversation continued a runner in this pack split off and headed to a safeway or walmart we passed. I commented to the pace leader, "That's going to cost her a bundle isn't it?" and continued with, "but it would be so worth it to have running water with a toilet, a starbucks and perhaps some yummy treats".

I continued to chat with the pace group for a bit, but I was feeling pretty good and figured I could continue moving forward at a slightly faster pace then this group (and have I mentioned how much I hate rain and I wanted to get out of it???) so I scampered on.
For the remainder of the race, I was moving forward passing people and occasionally getting passed. It seemed most of the folks that passed me were relay runners and although I dropped from 275th to 307 from mile 13 to mile 20, I certainly do not remember being passed by 30+ runners. By the same token, I also apparently improved from 307 to 238 from mile 20 to mile 26.2, but I surely would have remembered passing nearly 70 runners (trust me I did not...maybe I passed 15-20 tops).
From mile 7/8 to about mile 13 I remember being in crowds of people. But I knew once I hit the halfway point, it would be less crowded. But because of the moderate to heavy downpours, most runners were not talking. And in fact for me it became a little tedious to talk because my poncho made a fair amount of rustling. And of course the rain was fairly heavy. During this section I was able to keep relatively dry but I was starting to get chilled. I basically willed myself not to look at the finish line when we passed within 100 meters of it. It was kind of depressing to know I was so close to warmth, dryness, all my clothing and even my car. But alas what doesn't freeze us to death makes us stronger (or something like that).
During the second half of the marathon, the hills are really tough! You climb up a signficant hill that has all sorts of "false" summits. I recalled from last year how long the hill was (~1.5 miles) and how once you reach the top and turn into the neighborhoods you still have several more rolling hills just for kicks and giggles! Since I had sucessfully gotten away from the 4:15 pace group, I walked with wild abandon. During the hills I would jog, then walk, then jog then walk until I got to the top. Oddly enough I did not find the hills to be too bad. It must have been all my sugarloaf mountian training as well as our recent trip to Colorado. My ability to hit the hills nonchalantly bodes well for VT100 which essentially is pure hills!

As the rain become heavier, there were fewer spectators along the course. Sporadically on the roads that were open to cars, there would be enthusiastic people in the cars cheering, honking or clanging cowbells which I liked. In the residential areas I really liked and found highly amusing the residents cowering in their garage cheering enthusiastically. They were pretty funny and I appreciated their commitment to cheer on the runners.

Oddly enough, one of the bright spots of the second half of the race (for me) was the idling cars alongside the course. Many vehicles spewed out warm exhaust fumes that made me feel warm and dizzy. For a few moments I was warm and could pretend to forget my troubles. But soon enough my carbon monoxide/fume enduced fog would lift and I would remember I was slowly freezing to death. For the first time ever I also loved having the idling relay buses close to the course because their exhaust was warm and toasty! In fact a few times I changed my pace to be closer to cars that were spewing excessive warm exhaust.

During this race I found the miles went so much faster than some of my previous marathons. I guess 8-9-10 minute miles will do that. It actually became hard for me to remember where I was and how many miles I had to go. And this was not entirely due to the exhaust I so enjoyed!
Unfortunately this race did not have any clocks at any of the mile markers so realistically I had no idea of my pace, but I could sporadically look at my watch and figure out I was running 8:30-10:30 miles throughout the race. I kept my breathing constant (I was never out of breath and whenever given the opportunity to chat with another runner, spectator or to cheer on a runner facing in my direciton) I was able to easily talk. My legs never felt tired but they sure felt cold once the rain started. In fact I struggled bending my knee's effectively and had to keep rearranging my poncho to keep my knee's as warm and dry as possible. This was a fruitless effort on my part but I guess it kept me occupied.
Finally I passed the 25 mile marker. My watch suggested it was just about 11:33 ("real people" time...really my watch read 11:39, but that is because I have it set 9 minutes fast). At this time I realized I had a strong chance of breaking 4 hours 17 minutes (my previous PR) and likely could break 4 hours 10 minutes. I picked up the pace a little and started chatting with a runner who I was about to pass. I decided it would make the mile go faster if I was with someone, so I had decided that the first person who I passed who responded to my chattiness was going to accompany me to the finish. This nice young lady and I chatted and commented about the suckiness of the weather, how our feet were wet, how we wanted to be done with this stupid 26.2 mile race (why couldn't we have signed up for the half??) and other random comments. Pretty soon we were approaching mile 26. As we passed mile 26, we just had a little to go. She actually was able to speed up a bit more than I, but there were a few divets and potholes which I did not want to stumble on. After we finished she came up to me and suggested that while my pace may have challenged her a bit, I really made her last mile go super fast. I know she made my last mile go really fast. And it was nice to have some company to keep my mind off how tough the conditions for the race were.
After I finished I slowly made my way back to the gear check area. After about 15 minutes of trying to figure out how best to get warm and stay warm, I headed back out onto the course to cheer on fellow runners who had gutted it through the rain for longer than I. Initially I placed myself under the mile 13 signage (hey it was sort of under cover and blocked from the wind) but I got alot of weird looks and I think I scared the heebeejeebies out of a few runners. So I then placed myself at the corner right after the mile 26 sign. I knew my friends from JFK50 were going to come in and I was lucky enough to see them and wish them luck at Capon Valley 50 km this weekend. I saw some friends I made during the early part of the race (pre-rain). And about 5 hours into the marathon, I saw my friend Peter finish.
I stayed at my place at mile 26 until I started shivering profusely. Upon realizing I might be about to get pneumonia or swine flu, I decided I should go to my car and try to warm up. As I was pulling my car to closer to the mile 26 corner, I saw Peter. I was able to get my packet from him then parked my car at my "corner" and continued cheering on runners. In fact in the car I found several cow-bells so I could even cheer more effectively. When I spotted a runner I woudl get out of the car and cheer enthusiastically, then would return to the car awaiting the next runners. About 6 hours after the race started, the final runners completed the race (right in front of a long line of police and parks and recreation cars).
Overall, I had a great race. I definitely do not enjoy running in the rain. Nor do I enjoy hills. But through this experience I was challenged and made it through victoriously.
Unfortunately my streak of 64 marathon or greater distance events without rain was broken at this event. However, my new "statistic" is that out of 65 marathon or greater distance events all have started in relatively good weather (ie no rain) and at least I have made it 7 or 8 miles with no rain.
For those of you who disagree with this statistic, "Tough luck"! It's my statistic and if I want to morph it to show what I want, I can because I'm a professional statistician!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Frederick Marathon Race Report: Before the Rain (Start to mile 7/8)

Before the race, getting ready to cross the start line (notice there are very few runners straggling across the start line). As usual I was loitering before the start and was not present when the "GO" announcement was made.

A few moments after crossing the start line I found a nice person to take my picture. Here you can see a few runners who crossed the start line after me (we were assured the start line would remain open until 15 minutes after the start--I took advantage of this lenient start policy)

During the race, I was in a large pack of runners for the majority of the first 5 or 6 miles.

The course goes by some large houses in residential streets. Many of the residents came out to cheer on the runners which was nice. As the rains came, alot of residents could sit under the porches or in their garages to cheer on the runners which was still greatly appreciated by me!

At the "Wal-mart" express runners had the option to get all sorts of treats and beverages. Sadly this is when the rain started (with gusto I might add) which meant some treats were a bit water logged. But in concept I think this was a good idea. And hopefully next year the weather will be more favorable for this treat zone.

This past Sunday, the Frederick Marathon took me 4 hours, 9 minutes and 9 seconds (chip time) to complete. This finish time was a ~9 minute PR compared to my previous Marathon PR which I set at the Delaware Marathon last year.

The Frederick Marathon is a nice small local marathon which I have run several times. This was my third time running the marathon. I also have run the half marathon 1 time. I ran the old course of the marathon 4 years ago. Three years ago I ran the half marathon and subsequently the last two years I ran the full marathon as my "come back" marathon after Umstead 100.

Previously the Frederick marathon was considerably less hilly; however, in my opinion the course was not as interesting. There are still a few sections that go through business parks however, these are portions are relatively short.

Sunday was predicted to be a nasty day weatherwise. I would agree it lived up to the hype. However it was nice that the first 6-7 miles of my race it was pretty dry and barely misting. The temperature started at 61 degree's but in fact the temperature dropped to the mid-50's.

I got up about 4 a.m. to get ready for the race. I was able to get ready pretty quickly and head out the door. It was nice to sleep in my own bed but a bummer that now races are starting earlier and earlier. While I am not overly fond of the bitterly cold weather at the George Washington Birthday in Feb, it sure is nice to sleep in for a 9:30 a.m. start time for the early starters!

After an uneventful drive in torrential rain to the race, I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at Frederick where there was no rain. After a 800 meter walk to the start, I wandered around aimlessly looking for my friend Peter. Ultimately I found him and got my packet. I then had to make up my mind what clothing I wanted to wear or carry during the race. This became quite a challenge since I had no idea what the weather would bring. I think I chose wisely having my long sleeve shirt, a poncho, a trash bag and my usual outfit. Unfortunately even with all of these layers, I was not able to stay dry, but I know I was dryer then most other runners.

After deciding on my outfit, I placed all the other items in my gear bag and gave it to the nice and helpful volunteers. I then got on line for the porta potties. Of course at this time the race started. But I was not worried because the race used chip timing.

As I started the race, I decided I wanted to run moderately fast in an attempt to beat the rain. Sadly beating the rain did not happen, but not for lack of trying on my part. I took a few pictures before the start line and few after the start line and then it was time for me to run "with purpose". I did not have my garmin because of the predicted rain and I did not set my watch. Thus throughout the race I had no idea what my pace or time was. It was a bit unfortunate that even at the halfway point there was no clock thus I did not really have any sense as to what kind of race I was having.

Running along I was passing participants who were definitely walking, then jogging quite slowly. About 1-2 miles into the race I caught up to my friend Peter. His goal was to run a sub-5 hour marathon and achieved this goal with a few minutes to spare...way to go Peter!

This year the marathon/half marathon/relay appeared to allow headphones therefore I was hard pressed to find anyone who was interested in chatting throughout the entire race. I find this very puzzling because if runners are just going to race without interacting with others, why not just jog alone on a nicer day? I chatted with a few runners but felt like I was an imposition particularly to those who had headsets. I find having a runner to chat with definitely makes time fly considerably faster then even music so I kept up an internal dialogue which worked well until the fight at mile 8...just kidding it worked out fine.

The first 7-8 miles of this course travels through a variety of old neighborhoods in downtown Frederick. The course twists and turns through residential and commercial districts. Since it is May, it is really green here in MD and thus all along the course many tree's, flowers and shrubs were in bloom making it a very beautiful course. For the first 7-8 miles I was able to appreciate these sights and smells. Before the rains, there were large crowds along the route and the spectators were very enthusiastic. Unfortunately once the rains came (and most of the runners peeled off to complete the half marathon), the crowds dwindled. But the volunteers continued to be out for the runners and were super enthusiastic!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A PR at the Frederick Marathon in an unsuccesful attempt to beat the rain

With my friend Serge Arbona from Umstead 100. In 2007, Serge (the winner) and I ran a bit of the race together during a small bit of the loop course. I believe he might have been taking a slight break and I was pushing myself because he was good company. He is a really nice person and an extraordinary runner frequently coming in first in ultra's and top 5 in shorter events.

My friend Peter along the course in Frederick. Peter was so kind to get my packet so I could compete (albeit fail miserable in the Great Urban Race yesterday). Peter is a great friend who I have spent many hours on the run with. He was definitely a mentor to me during my first few JFK50 milers. Peter recently joined the Marathon Maniacs and is now living out the philosophy of running marathons in excess:-) and will be going to several events that I will be running as well. He is training up for a 24 hour race in Philly this summer (I think it is the same weekend at VT100)

Running along the course before the rains start. In fact during this segment of the race I was pretty happy because it was just about the right temperature. Unfortunately from about mile 7 on, it was raining (and frequently downpouring). I heard a rumor that at some point there might have been some sleet or hail. I could believe it!

After the finish. You will notice I was wearing my preferred outfit, which I put on once the rain started. I REALLY hate rain and getting wet. I would suggest my upper body was dry until about mile 20, but my legs got wet almost immediately when the rain started. And my feet were damp by mile 15 but squishing by mile 23. The last few miles even I was not even trying to avoid puddles (and I am queen of the puddle avoiders!)

After a tough race I deserve a dozen donuts. Frederick Marathon is conveniently located about 1 mile from a Fractured Prune Donut Shop. And even better, it is on the route I drive home, thus I had to make a pilgrimage for some donuts. I am about halfway through my dozen and am feeling a heart attack coming on:-)

Today I ran the Frederick Marathon for the 3rd time. Last year my time was about 5 hours. But this year I decided I needed to get some speed training and initially there was no rain and I had hoped to go quickly enough to finish before the predicted rain. This did not happen.

My friend Peter W who stayed with us at the Disney Marathon picked up my packet. I was fortunate enough to run into him about 30 minutes before the race start and got my chip and bib. We chatted breifly and I was happy for him because the temperature was not going to be too hot, which I believe is his desired running weather.

While chatting with Peter, I was able to see my friend Serge A. from Umstead 100. Serge is so nice (in fact in 2007 we spent 10-15 minutes pacing each other until his 10 minute miles were too hard for me). We caught up briefly about upcoming events. When I said my next 100 was VT100 for the second time, he mentioned when he ran VT100, he beat the horses. I sadly was passed by the horses about 10-20 miles in but mentioned I did not find it too stressful and liked the horses.

Ultimately I had to cut my conversations short because I had to deal with checking my gear. I spent alot of time debating what to bring and what to leave. It was a bit chilly (61 degree's and not raining) but rain was predicted. By the time I finished it was 56 degree's and raining very hard.

But I did try to run really fast (for me) in attempt to potentially beat the rain. Ultimately finished the race in ~4:15 gun time. As usual I have no idea of my chip time because I was in the ladies room when the runners were told to "GO!". But now the marathon results have been posted and it was 4:09:09!!! A sub-4:10 marathon, WAHOO!

Since I am tired, I will write more about this race later this week. Now I need another victory donut!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

From "medaling" to coming in about dead last: My Day with Tristan at The Great Urban Race

Team "Massie Maniacal Monsters" at the start of the Great Urban Race. Little did we know how badly we stunk at this scavenger hunt/race at this time.
Tristan and I posing "Lady and the Tramp" style at the Rosslyn Ledo Pizza. I am glad Tristan and I were married because it would have weirded me out to do this with a friend or other relative...

Tristan shooting a basket at the ESPN Zone in DC. (we actually had to figure out a crytograph to determine this clue). Even though we are mathematicians I would give us a "C" on how long it took us to do this.

This is how many bedrooms (19) in the White house would be unoccupied based on a crazy equation in which we needed to figure out prime numbers, the ages of the Obama kid's, the number of rooms in the White House and some other facts.

Tristan and I in front of the Spider sculpture. This clue was a word scramble we had to figure out.

Today Tristan and I competed in the "Great Urban Race" in DC. This is a race similar to the amazing race involving some puzzles and a scavenger hunt throughout DC and northern Virginia.

This is the first time Tristan and I competed in this event and I believe we may have placed last or nearly last. The time limit was 5 hours and we arrived back in just about 5 hours with several tasks not completed and several wrong answers. But we had alot of fun!

While we were allowed to phone friends, use a blackberry or even use internet access, Tristan and I decided to be old school (or else you can read this as we are cheap and weaklings so did not bring our Mac laptop computer nor did we pre-arrange for any friends/relatives to be home to help us). Realistically most of my friends out out running, exploring or just doing stuff on Saturdays. As for family, my sister is in Fiji, my dad typically hikes on weekends, Tristan's dad may not be as computer savvy as others and both Tristan and I were participating in this activity. Perhaps next year we will need to leave one of us home as the "phone a friend".

Alas we were able to figure out some puzzles but not all. And Tristan is still nursing a small knee injury from his recent climb up Mt Elbert so as we moved from place to place we pretty much walked. This was okay with me because I was not wearing my sports bra (and I would have started complaining like my sister at Umstead if we really did start running alot) and I have the Frederick Marathon tommorrow. Oh yeah in addition to walking while going from place to place, we had a few personalized pit stops that definitely extended our finishing time. We went to EMS to see if there were any good deals on hiking/climbing equipment for Tristan's benefit as he prepares for a summit climb up Mt Rainier and for my benefit we went to a local running store. We also had a smoothy mid-race which was a bit off course (oh yeah and availed us to a "private" bathroom").

The tasks we were able to do included getting a picture of us looking like Lady and the tramp at Ledo's Pizza and Pasta, we have a picture with the answer to a crazy math equation in front of the White House, we did some aerobic exercises at a fitness center including sit ups, push ups, squats and punches and even a picture of Tristan scoring a point at the ESPN zone. During our 5 hour journey we walked and used the DC Metro system to get to a variety of places. It was alot of fun and we met alot of nice people. I think next year we would need to improve our strategy--I think my sister would be a good asset to our team because she is really tech savvy and would yell at us if we tried to be slow.

I will insert pictures from this event tommorrow...because I am doing Frederick Marathon tommorrow (leaving my house about 4:15 a.m.), my camera is already packed and asleep!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The FDA White Oak Classic 5 km Run

Today I ran the FDA White Oak Classic 5 km race. Typically my performance in this race is nothing short of abysmal.

But today something clicked and I had a decent race. My husband speculates it was the "oxygen rich" Maryland air. Although I think it might have been the fact I keep having running friends who suggest in order to speed up my times for the marathon, 50 km, 50 miler and 100 miler I need to actually do some speed work.

So I stepped up to the plate and ran 5 km in about 24:10!

In fact based on this suprising burst of "speed" in running this 5 km in about 24:10 (a PR of ~4 minutes since resuming running after being hit by a car in 1995--my college/HS PR is 21-22 minutes), I was the 3rd place female for 35-39 year olds. This completely stunned me!

With my friend Bobby G. from Virginia Happy Trails Running Club (VHRTC). Bobby came in 3rd place overall male. I on the other hand finished 3rd in my age/gender category. We both recieved the same medal but he also won a bobble-head and a bottle of motor oil.

With my "crew" Tristan who kind of again failed at crewing...this may have been influenced by my prediction of 27 minutes (because I was going to run my heart out), but regardless of my ability to run a consistent pattern, he should have been at the finish line cheering everyone on.

With my friend Angela from CVM. I have run many races with Angela including Marine Corps Marathon...she is my running mentor and gave me lots of great advice when I was getting into marathoning.

With my friend Feng. Several months ago when I was doing hill training at Sugarloaf Mtn, Feng is the young lady Gilligan and I ran into. She has volunteered at the White Oak Classic every year and does a GREAT job with the other volunteers passing out water.

With my friend Val. Several years ago, I ran a bit of the Rockville Twilighter with Val (we ran with my friend Ann who is going to VT City Marathon with me). In fact we ran into Val as she was running opposite the runners trying to catch up with us like a Salmon! She is so sweet.

At one point along the course someone suggested to me and a young lady close by that we were 11th and 12th place female. Of course I thought this spectator was joking. In fact considering many of us in the FDA are in our 30's-50's and females may be slightly more represented I was going to be pleased with a top 30th (age/gender) placement and a placement of about 150.

During the race I was shocked to see one of my Virginia Happy Trails Running friends: Bobby G. running through the woods at White Oak. It truly is a small world...and I guess we now both know where the other person works:-) Bobbie placed 3rd male/person OVERALL which was super impressive!!! So he has speed and endurance.
Next year based on this performance I will be a seeded runner for the first time in my life...maybe I can break 24 minutes (or perhaps 23 minutes, particularly if the race is further from Umstead 100 or the Cherry Creek Sneak 5 miler:-)

"This bag is a disaster", comments from a TSA agent

I am not the neatest person ever. I am very organized but in my own sort of demented way.

Back in March I even posted my 100 mile packing list to the dismay of a friend who was running the 50 mile at Umstead (I would never suggest my 100 mile list is appropriate for a 50 miler because I could probably jettison 2 or 3 items from my 50+ item list!!!!).

Well, on my way to Denver my carry on bag was identically packed with electronic gadgets, more power cords then the average Home Depot and lots of stuff that I really have no idea when or where I might need it but I am too lazy to jettison it.

In fact other then knowing the items in my bag do not include sharp objects or liquids (and all items were placed in the bag by me), I would be pretty hard pressed to know exactly what is in my bag. What is even worse is that it is a triathlon back pack with about 7 side pockets, pockets within pockets, dry pockets and did I mention I have two gallon ziploc bags filled with electronics items including power cords (hey when you take as many pictures as I do you need multiple docking stations for different camera's, of course for running I need my Garmins, a spare alarm clock is good, several powercords are essential so I can challenge the circuit breakers in hotels by plugging all my electronics in, etc.)

My carry on bag may be the bane of TSA personnel's existance. In fact many times my bag gets X-rayed several times from several different angles. This is fine by me because many time it has food so hopefully it is irradiating any potential e-coli or samonella! But usually the TSA agent just send it back through somewhat discretely.

Well this time the TSA agent loudly exclaims "THIS BAG IS A DISASTER!" Now it is obvious to all around me it is my bag for several reasons.

1) the guy in front of my got snagged for wearing a belt and he and his stuff got taken to the closer scrutiny section.
2) the guy behind me got snagged for carrying keys and change in his pocket so had to head back through the person scanner
3) my bag is mostly pink with a little black so clearly belonged to a female.

My bag takes it's next spin around the Xray and the lady continues maligning my poor bag. It's not my bags fault I really stink at packing. She again exclaims, "This bag is a disaster". And my bag takes one more spin through the Xray. Finally it makes it through and no contraband is identified and we are reunited.

As this is going down, I recall last summer when my husband and I had gone through TSA together with the same bag and same issues. Sadly my bag headed back to the Xray for a second time, and in that case the polite TSA screener asked if he could just look through. I said this was fine with me. After about 5 minutes (and only about halfway through the various pockets), Tristan speculates I broke this poor guys spirit and the TSA agent suggested he did not see anything. So I was free to move on with my stuff.

A few months later at BWI they have started playing a little movie about how to pack and seamlessly get through security. Tristan suggested this movie was made for my benefit. It uses as a counterexample a person with a bag that is bursting at the seams and is in dissarray. In my defense since I broke the guy's spirit last summer, I have ziploc'd most of my stuff in my backpack so they can easily grab the clear plastic bag and take a glance at all the stuff inside about 6 times and by the end have only a few items and extra pockets to search.

I wish in my position I could blurt out, "This is a disaster", when someone did something poorly. But in my position we are clearly instructed that we must be diplomatic.