Sunday, March 30, 2014

The story of the incredible *shrinking* towels

When we were married in 2000, we received numerous towels as gifts.  We got so many that we have not really had to buy another in these last 14 years.

Turns out these towels are pretty magical.

Over the years I have had lots of opportunities to dry off with these specific towels, and like any woman I'd perform the trick where you wrap the towel around your chest and tuck the end in to make a post bath coverup. 

And... over these years these same towels stopped stretching so far around me, eventually performing pretty poorly as a coverup. Clearly, the towels had shrunk, you know, with numerous washings of course.

We ended up with a couple of larger towels as gifts here and there and the incredible shrinking towel problem was far from my mind.  I had my luxurious, fluffy bath sheet to wrap around me.  It performed quite nicely, thank you very much.

Now once in a while, the bath sheet is in the wash and I have had to make do with a 'regular' towel.

This type of event is precisely what led me to discover the phenomenon of the "incredible growing bath towels".  These same towels that have sneakily gotten smaller and smaller over the years decided to switch things up and get bigger.  Big enough to wrap around me and perform their old duty as a post bath coverup.  Pure magic.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Enter the 10K

I have ran many races in my nearly four years of running.  My first year I got a little crazy and attempted to run one race per month.  That habit lasted from August to January as I realized I really did not feel the need to pay to run.  I was going to run anyway, plus I had signed up for my first half that May, so I changed my focus to training for the longer race.

In those years, I have ran countless 5Ks, one 15K, and four half marathons.  I had yet to do a 10K.  It's funny as most weekends over the years have included a 6 mile long run, if not longer!  So I have known that I could run the 6.2 miles of a 10K, I just hadn't ever completed one.

I was signed up for one this past December, but due to the snow and wintry conditions the organizers cancelled the distance but not the race.  By the time we showed up for the race they offered the option to do the 10K yet again but I was with other people and we had consigned ourselves to the 5K and left it at that (and boy was I glad -- that race was down on a bike path next the river in a valley, there was NOTHING to look at and it was one of the most boring races I have ever done.  So glad I did not double the distance I had to run!!!)

This absence of 10K appearances changed two weekends ago when I was in my hometown of Plymouth, Michigan to celebrate my Mom's 70th birthday.  We decided to make a girls weekend and do the St. Patricks Day race there all together; my mom, my two sisters, my cousin and myself. My oldest sister and my mom were planning on the 5K (it would have been Mom's first race); my cousin, my middle sister and I had planned on the 10K.  

Turns out the weather was against us AGAIN.  It was WICKEDLY cold.  Bitter.  I believe the windchill at race time was 5 degrees (or was it -5?).  I am a outdoor winter runner and all I can tell you is this: it was too cold even for me!

Well, I am not sure if I was crazy or determined, but I did it anyway. (as did my cousin and my sister signed up for the 10K).  I could not bear the thought of driving all the way up to MI and then not participating in the race, really how often am I going to get to run in my hometown? We ran straight from the park downtown into the neighborhood I grew up in and wove up and back on the streets I rode my bike on and past houses I used to babysit in!  

I finally completed a 10K, even if it was miserably cold!  I ran my first 10 K in 1:09:42, which was such a pleasant surprise.  Most of the time I think it is going to take me much longer to complete a race than it does.  I think it's a good habit of my brain to do this to me, as I am not stressing out about how long  it is taking and I am happy when I cross the finish.  I ran the whole distance which was as much about my sheer determination (I just don't like to walk during a race- I mentally have a terrible time restarting my run) as it is about my desire to stay warm.  I kept wanting to gently remind those around me that their bodies would be warmer if they continued to run, but I didn't.  I kept very quiet during this race, I think I had lots to reflect on as I finally ran on streets I know intimately.  So many memories flooded me as I crossed Ann Arbor trail on Evergreen (I walked to school in that general direction for 9 years of my schooling), and then crossing Main Street with cars stopped waiting for the runners to come through.  Finishing the race next to my beloved Penn Theatre and seeing my time a whole 10 minutes faster than I expected is a memory I won't soon forget.

I was so grateful that we stashed our coats and some fleece pants in my sister's car that we parked downtown.  I was so cold after I finished that I dashed into Panera hoping to wait for my sister and her friend there and warm up a bit.  It was so crowded that I decided to put on my extra clothes and walk the 5 or so blocks back to my mom's.  I was freezing but very glad I got out there and did it.

So I can now add a 10K to my running resume.  Chances are that 1:09:42 will remain my PR for the distance for quite some time considering my history for signing up for races.  I've got a bigger fish to fry.

pre race photo at my mom's house.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

new short(er) update

It's all gone!!!

Well, not really.

While I feel like it is all gone, most people's reactions have included the phrase "it's still pretty long",

On Friday I went to the Locks of Love event at my daughter's school and had the stylists in training (yep they were students... no, they weren't very good yet...  poor Ks hair!) cut 10 inches off of my hair.  I would not allow them to do anything else, preferring to trust my hair to a stylist trained in cutting curly hair.  

I had my Devacurl cut yesterday afternoon, and I will say this: it was indeed different.  First of all, the stylist cut my hair dry.  Then she washed it via the "no-poo" method.  She then put gel in my dripping wet hair (this was the part I could not seem to wrap my brain around on my own) and then gently squeezed the moisture out of my hair.  I got to sit under a hair dryer and watch the most insane video ever -- it was a product video showing a stylist creating the craziest hairstyles.  It was mesmerizing.  After my hair was dry, the stylist showed me how to finish styling my curls.  The picture above shows my hair the next day, and although I am not ready to commit to using $20/bottle no-poo, conditioner and gel (yes that is $60 total), I really like how my hair turned out.

But this blog is not about hair cutting techniques, it is about running.  And while the story of the cut is interesting to me, I bet you might be wondering about its effect on my running. Today I got up nice and early like I normally do and I went for a run with RP, and this morning I did not have to wrangle my hair.   

No ponytail-ing, no braiding, I just got up and went!

Ahhhhhhhh, the FREEDOM!!!  

I could really get used to this.

Friday, February 21, 2014

it's been a while...let me tell you about my hair.

Yes, yes - it's been a while since I posted.  I suppose there is lots to share, and I may get around to it or ... I may not.  Our desktop computer died and had to go in for service throwing off my momentum.

What, you may ask, has brought back my mojo?  My hair.

You see, I have rather long hair.  Noticeably long, and curly.  In fact it is the longest my hair has ever been (and the curly thing is a pretty new development) I am not sure why I grew it so long, I guess I got lazy to go to the salon and also was a touch curious how long I could grow it.

Having really long hair is a strange phenomenon.  Practical strangers begin to act possessive of it.  Acquaintances will give you unsolicited advice concerning it.  Some will tell you to never cut it, while others feel the need to tell you that you should cut it all off and donate it.  Everyone has an opinion.

Well, if you've paid attention to the title of the blog, you may have noticed that I intend to train for a  marathon this year.  This will require a bit of running.  I typically like to shower after I run, you know, out of consideration for the people around me.  That hair you see up there... it's a lot of work.  
Showering for me involves the delicate process of untangling my hair, washing it carefully, and then allowing to it air dry for a while... time time time!  And when I plan on spending more time out there running I will have less time to mess with my hair.

So today, I am cutting it off.

Now wait a minute!  I didn't say I was cutting it all off!  Calm down, friend.

There is a Locks of Love event at my daughter's school and I am heading there this afternoon to donate 10 inches of my hair to them.  My 12 y.o is donating her hair as well.  It should be a bit of a freeing experience.  (my 6 y.o. wants in on the action... we'll see if hers is long enough to donate)

So when you see me next, don't be too surprised to see less hair.  Feel free to even tell me my hair makes me look fast.  (that's the kind of compliment we runners just love.)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

inspiration #2

Last night I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen in a while.  She and I share a love of running so we began to catch each other up on our training and goals.

I shared with her that I was training for a my first marathon this fall and she also had her first planned for this fall..

While this exchange is nothing but ordinary, some history on this friend and you will see just how extraordinary it is and why she is another inspiration to me.

This friend, I will call her L, had a stroke just two and a half years ago (late summer of of '11).  L is not very old and the stroke took everyone by surprise - she had no risk factors.  It was a shock, and despite suffering initial one side paralysis, L's recovery was very good.

In fact within the year she was back to running and I bumped into her at the Air Force Half Marathon in September if 2012 (a little over a year past stoke at the time).  We ran together for many miles until she pulled away around mile 10 and ended up beating me!  We even have couple of very cool race pics together.

So when she told me last night that she was planning to run her first marathon last night, I was truly inspired.  She told me that she knew her time would not be great, but if she can survive a stroke and still run - she was happy with any time!

She is one awesome lady and I am blessed to know her.

So I am adding her to my list.  L you are amazing!

Friday, January 24, 2014

First time for everything

I had the most amazing thing happen the other day.

I touched my toes.

No big deal right?

Wrong!  My entire life I have been UNABLE to touch my toes!  Regardless if size, age, etc - I just couldn't bend that way.  (Okay- I could touch them, but I would have to bend my knees quite a bit, it was embarassing!)

But now I can!

What I am talking about here is standing straight up, bending over at the waist and being able to touch, nay GRAB my toes!!!

All I can figure is the difference is that I have been working out regularly and have strengthened nearly every part of me, including the ever evasive core,

So now as I head back to Yoga class for the first time in a long time, I am excited to bring my new ability with me.  I may just end up touching my toes- just for fun!

Monday, January 20, 2014


I was just looking at my blog, and looked at my miles this year counter, it reads 20 miles ytd. (and we are only in the beginning of the fourth week of the year)

I realized that even though it seems low to me, it's actually pretty impressive.  Sure I know quite a bit of people who cover that distance on a Saturday, but I also know a bunch of people who have said to me that they could not even imagine running 1 mile.  I need to celebrate my accomplishments and keep in mind that what may have seemed impossible 4 years ago is now completely doable.

What is crazier still?   Later this year, I will run 20 miles as my long run in my training..... and after that?  26.2 miles.  I got this.

a small time away from the blog and running

I have been a touch absent from my blog this week.   I don't have a great reason, but I do have an-it's-easy-to-understand reason: our desktop computer died.

And why is this a valid excuse (for me)?  Well, have you have tried to type something longwinded on an iPad?  In itself this is not a terrible task, unless you want to navigate inside said longwinded blog post!  Enough excuses.

I have also been a touch absent from my running this week as well.   I don't have a great excuse either, but I think I had a valid reason to take a little break.  My double runs last Tuesday left my right knee feeling a little inflamed, and when I ran on Thursday morning it began to ache after 1.5 miles.  I switched to walking to give my knee a break.   I ended up taking Saturday off due to scheduling conflicts, and I feel that this extra rest may have been good for my knee.

I have always been warned by more experienced runners to be cautious with injury and I really do not want to risk an injury this year!  I think it is very hard for most runners (myself included) to take a break and not feel like you are being lazy.  I know as well as the next guy that the minute I start writing excuses for myself, I can start writing one each time I don't want to get out of bed when my alarm goes off at 4:50am.   I do, however, have a 3.5 year history of getting out there and running every week rain, snow or shine.  That track record keeps me in it for the long haul, I have built my running up for so long.  I don't want to take an extended break and have to start all over again!

That being said, sometimes a break of a couple of days does do me some good.  It breaks up the monotony of the alarm going off so early and gets me ready to do it again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

a reminder and a goal

Yesterday I double dipped.

No, I did not indulge in two scoops of ice cream.  I ran twice in one day.  I did not have to, I just chose my own crazy.

Why crazy?  Crazy because I haven't been running a lot lately, just maintenance miles.  Maintenance for me is three miles three times a week.

So yesterday I ran three miles at 5:30 am, and three miles at 6pm.  Why?  There were two reasons.  The first being that I run regularly with RP in the morning and we have been missing a few runs here or there due to illness, weather or schedule conflicts.  Nothing serious, just enough to mess with the regularity of our schedule and I want desperately to get back to our normal, predictable routine.  The second being I was asked to fill in for a coach at the Tuesday night running group yesterday and I love running with that group so I said yes knowing that I would end up double dipping.

Though not in my regular repertoire, double dipping is not all that uncommon.  Many runners will run twice in a day to break up longer mileages in their training.  I plan to do it myself as my weekday mileages get higher in my marathon training.  I just do not recommend doing a lot if you are not used to it, you need to work up to higher mileages slowly and not go out and run ten miles if you haven't even run one before.  There is so much good advice out there about buliding up your mileage slowly to prevent injury.

And my body last night reminded me of that.  While I did not struggle to run either time, I suffered the niggling fear that I may have injured myself yesterday.  After I got home last night my right knee 
was a touch sore.  I ran the equivalent of last weeks weekly mileage on one day.  I should not have done that, I know this.  I intend to let that feeling in my knee last night serve as the reminder to not let my desire to do great things this year to overpower the wisdom I have gathered over the years about training.

As a result, I took it easy on my legs this morning at my workout. No need to make matter worse.  And no more heroic jumps in mileage!

I have begun to look into training plans.  We have about 36 weeks until the marathon, and most training plans are roughly 18 weeks long.  I have a good amount of time to investigate and figure out what I want to do and I intend to use it wisely.  I want to fit my marathon training into my life instead of fitting my life into my training. This lead me to look up some marathon training books at the library.  I found a great promise in the intro of the invitingly titled book, The non runner's marathon guide for women: "... this book offers advice on how to avoid death while training for a marathon.". 

All right, you hooked me, that is my new goal:

I want to avoid death as I train for this marathon.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

trying to find some motivation...

I have fighting my alarm since 4:50am.  It beeps, I shut it off.  It beeps again, I shut it off again.  And on went the cycle until 5:30 when I decided I needed to get up if I am to meet RP at 6:30 (we got out late on the weekend).

I start checking the weather as our plans and consequently my running outfit depends on the weather. We had already decided to run inside if it was raining, outside if not.  This is a most important step as the indoor track can reach near sauna levels of hot (not truly, but hot enough!).

Then I notice I have a text from RP, she is not feeling well and cannot run this morning.

Motivation derailed.

I want to run, I do.  It is so much easier though to get my behind out the door when I am meeting someone.  The thought of running alone indoors or going to the store for run group added to the possibility of running in the rain just has me wanting to just return to bed.

But skipping my run and going back to bed will do me no good.  I know this, I live this.

So what is a girl to do?  I looked for a bit at some online running motivation, most I have read before and some of it I find to be terribly cheesy.  One resonated more than others:

"there will be a day when you cannot do this, today is not that day"

Time to get dressed.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


This morning I got up and met RP at the indoor track again.  We both felt like we could use an indoor run as the roads are still a little questionable and we are still a little bit cold.  We did 3 miles at 5:30am.

Not too long after I got home this morning I checked my FB account and saw postings of my cousin Sara who is at Walt Disney World with my sister, Andrea and two of their friends.  They are there for Marathon weekend and Sara and her friend are taking on the crazy, unproven... DOPEY CHALLENGE.  If you haven't heard of it, the Dopey Challenge is running all four races offered during the WDW Marathon weekend.  So these ladies ran a 5K today, will run a 10K tomorrow, a Half Marathon on Saturday and a Marathon on Sunday.  Yes, yes I know its sounds crazy!  Crazy or not, I am excited for them.

They also inspire me.  A ton.

Sara is a dedicated wife and mom to two awesome kiddos.  She puts her best into everything and it shows.  Her race times rock, and I aspire to someday be able to post times like hers.  She made me smile when she told me about signing up for the Dopey Challenge.  She told me she was all excited to get signed up and then as soon as she logged off it was an immediate "What did I just agree to do?!?"  I think I would have felt the same way.

Andrea is well, amazing.  She had tried about five years ago to get me to do a half marathon with her.  I said "Yeah, sure. Why not?"  Then I did nothing.  I never signed up for the race. That year it wasn't meant to be, as Andrea ended having a rare type of heart attack in March (the race was in May).  She was not able to run at that point.  She has since returned to running although she does face limitations as a result of that heart attack.  She puts so much heart and soul into her running - she made her goal of running 13 races in 2013.  We ended up running that half marathon that she encouraged me to run in, this year.  It was awesome.

So they are at WDW attempting the never before attempted (at least not by anyone I know) Dopey Challenge (A is doing 5K, 10K and half - she is calling it a Dopey Trifecta).  I am on pins and needles waiting to hear all about it.  I don't think I could be more excited about someone else running a race!  Go girls!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Back at it!

We here in Ohio (and most of the country) just experienced some of the coldest weather in a very long time.  They were calling it a Polar Vortex and the media was reporting that today that very vortex was moving away back up north where it belongs.  And now we are celebrating temperatures of 11 degrees at 8 am.

I believe in running outdoors in most conditions.  Most.  I don't however believe in running outside when the wind chill and ambient temperature are low enough to turn a pot of boiling water tossed in the air into a mini snow storm.  (google it there are some awesome videos out there!) So, the last time I ran was Saturday and the last time I worked out was Friday morning.

This lead to a weather induced hiatus.  I tried my best to not leave the house under any circumstances for the past two days.  My children were off of school (they were supposed to start back from winter break on Monday), and so I have had an extended rest period.

Today, the weather warmed up and the windchill was up to 0 degrees Fahrenheit and school was back its normal programming schedule.  So today I went back to the gym!  I add the exclamation point because if you had asked me last night or even this morning when I woke up I didn't want to go.

You see, I learned this a long time ago in Physics class, a body at rest wants to stay at rest and a body in motion wants to stay in motion unless a force acts upon it.  My motion stopped abruptly after my run on Saturday morning and I had to really convince myself to put on my workout clothes and head to the gym.  I double and triple checked if school was delayed (which would mean that WP and I would not meet) and the weather status before I got dressed.  Thankfully I had a force acting upon me and that was knowing that WP would be there.

I share all this because I know how easy it is for anyone to get derailed, especially when starting a new habit (a good, this will change me for the better habit).  You can get derailed, but you CAN get back at it.  Sometimes it helps to have a few fail safes installed.  And its important to know what fail safe method will motivate you.  I have a couple: 

1.  I hate spending money - if I have spent money on something such as a gym membership I will guilt myself into making the most of it.
2.  I hate going back on my word - if I have promised WP I will be there, then I will be there.

and as a bonus, I now have the evidence of how far I have come by going to workout 3 mornings a week for a year - my strength has increased, my muscle tone has improved to the point you can see muscles when I flex, and my stamina has increased.  I wish I could give you nominal proof, but I can only give my personal observations which is really all I need.

So today I was back at the gym and it felt great.  I was a little rusty but I still felt strong and we got it done.

Friday, January 3, 2014

starting the year off with a ...................bang.

I finally got my first run of 2014 in early this morning.

I never quite got my last in of 2013 at least not the one I thought it would be.

Turns out I missed my traditional last day of the year/last run of the year due to being sick.  I am not often sick and typically I will run anyway.  This cold had my number and I decided to skip my last run in favor of saving up some energy for our NYE festivities at our friend's place.

I am not sorry.  I had a great time on NYE and I have learned that after nearly four years a small little unscheduled break from running will not unravel all of the good work I have put into it.

So I missed a run on December 31st, I missed a run on January 1st too.  And if you are counting I did not run on the 2nd either (it was FRIGIDLY cold however, so yeah I wasn't going to run in that).

So when RP said she could run this morning, but we should do it inside, I agreed enthusiastically.

I find my response a touch out of character for myself because 1) Friday is my workout day, not a running day and 2) I HATE running inside on the blooming indoor track!  Not that its a bad indoor track, it is actually quite nice.  (I am the lucky girl who lives in community whose AWESOME parks and rec department puts an indoor track in the HS basketball arena and allows residents to use it for free.)

But when it is terribly cold, and you haven't run in 6 days, you agree to run indoors on your workout day BEFORE meeting your workout partner (WP) for an early morning workout.

Uh huh.  Early morning and that means I met RP for 3 miles at 5:30, had a little downtime and then met WP at 6:30... thankfully at the same facility!

Sure my year started out with a slow burning fuse... and BANG!  Now I feel like Wonder Woman.

(and yes, that is my first attempt at a homemade running costume--Ghost and Goblins 2011)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

I am not alone...

Yes, I revealed that I will be embarking on a big huge training journey.  But have no fear!  I am not on this journey alone.

I will have the amazing support of my husband, Don, my 3 wonderful children and countless supportive friends and family members.  For you all, I am most grateful.

But that is not all! 

I have been blessed beyond measure by the gifts of great friendships since moving to the state of Ohio in 2006.  One of my first friends here has been a great supporter and we eventually became running partners.  It took me a while to catch up to her speed (over a YEAR!!!), but I eventually built up endurance and strength and now we are well matched to run together.

I won't share her name, as she tends to keep a low profile online, but I will call her "RP" (for running partner, - you know).

When I started to talk about my full marathon dreams with RP, I was astonished to hear her tell me "Okay, let's do it!".  She helped me to pick our race too.  I wasn't asking her to join me (she's pretty busy and this training will get time intense eventually), though I welcome having her along for the journey. 

I should not have been so surprised as she jumped in to join me for my first half (it was hers too!), and has been there with me for 3 of the 4 that I have ran so far.

I am blessed, I know this.  I not only have the opportunity to realize this dream, I get to keep great company along the way.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

On my way.... to 26.2?

I have a goal.  It's not a resolution (yes, yes it is January 1st), but a GOAL.

I plan to train for a full marathon this year.

Why?  I am not quite sure to tell you the truth.  I'll take a stab at it though.

I started my running journey in June of 2010.  I signed up for a couch to 5K program at my local independent running store, and have not stopped running on a regular basis since.  That first year was a interesting one.  I was pretty overweight, I was not very active and then on a whim I was meeting up with other newbies (and a few repeat offenders- trust me the nicest kind) twice weekly to go through the program.  We made it through and I ran the graduation 5K very slowly... but I ran the ENTIRE distance.  I am not sure I had ever been prouder of myself.

After the programs completion, a couple of the ladies I met in this program agreed to meet and continue to run together.  As with any new routine these accountability partners I gained were priceless, they kept me coming back each week.  They were also trouble (in the best way)... someone suggested we try a half marathon in May.  When you go from complete slackertude to being able to run a 5K, you begin to believe that you are a superhero... that YOU can do anything!  So, due to the peer pressure in the best possible way, I had a goal and I worked towards it.

That May, at the Cincinnati Flying Pig, I completed my first ever half marathon and I had yet to log an entire first year of running!  I was sore, proud and empowered.  But I was NEVER going to do that again.

Well, I won't bore you with the details, but I was wrong.  I did it again.  3 more times to be exact.
2nd: Cincinnati Flying Pig 1/2 May 2012
3rd: Air Force 1/2 Marathon (Dayton) September 2012
4th: Cap City 1/2 Marathon (Columbus) May 2013, followed by the first leg of the FP Marathon relay the next day in Cincy.

First half marathon, I ran and walked and suffered a ghastly time, but each time after that I have improved and since that first one I have ran each race from the start line to the finish line.  I am not saying that is what I expect out of any of you, it was a personal goal.. and a personal achievement I am very proud of.

So now why the FULL MARATHON?  I can only share that sometime late last summer/fall I began to  feel like I was finally ready.  It could be that one of my best running pals from that first group of runners, Tammy, ran her first 26.2 this past October and I think watching her train and prepare helped me to believe that I might be able to do it too.  I was so thrilled and excited for her the night before she left for the race.  All I know is the idea started to haunt me, I could not let it lie.

I started looking around for my ideal first full.  I toyed with the Glass City in Toledo... but that is in April and my weekly mileage is not where I need it to be in order to be ready for that distance in 4 months.  I found the Wineglass in New York in October and it appealed to me for many reasons.  
1) A smaller race-- (I hate crowds)
2) An area of the country I haven't seen and would like to see
3) Far enough out on the calendar that I have time to ramp up my mileage to get properly trained.
4) A point to point course.  This race does not fold back on itself!

Goal: train for my first full marathon at the Wineglass in New York.  This should be fun!