Sunday, December 27, 2009

Chasing Lions Half Marathon

NOTE:  Yes, I'm behind.  I've had this in draft mode for more than two weeks.  Sorry!  I promise to be better about posting in the future.  I'm also going to be better about running, so I have more meaningful running content to post. Really!  

so, the "don't call it a comeback plan" was supposed to include running the Half at White Rock today.  I absolutely despise the full course there, because you spend ten miles running around that hideous lake, with downtown so little and far away.  But the half course is pretty much an out and back on the relatively new Katy Trail ("relatively new" meaning since I quit driving to Dallas every day three years ago), so I thought it might be a good goal race for the return to distance running.

Except that I didn't sign up in time.  A combination of a lack of training, not a lot of confidence going into December and the need to wait for payday to sign up led me to miss the registration window, as the race was closed at 20,000 total runners.  So I needed to find an alternate.  I found a race about two hours south in Temple, the Scott & White Chasing Lions Half Marathon.  Scott & White is the same organization that benefits from the Miracle Match marathon in Waco (the hardest hilliest marathon I've ever done), the day before White Rock, so I decided I could drive down for the day and do this race.  Not only was the race small enough that I could sign up the day of the event, but it was also less than half the registration fee.

After the Turkey Trot 10K on Thanksgiving, I ended up doing a 10K on the spur of the moment last weekend and really enjoyed it.  I averaged exactly a 10:00 mile for that race, and so while I didn't have the distance base that I had hoped, I was feeling strong enough that I thought I could work it out after that 10K.  So I announced the intention on FaceBook, knowing that once I did that I would HAVE to follow through.

When I left the house at 5:30, it was misty and cold, and it wasn't expected to get any drier or warmer as I headed south.  I had pretty good success in the previous week's race with a layering strategy to keep warm at the start, and the weather then was a low of 27 that morning (OK, you northerners, you can back off - 27 is FRIGID for us Texans!).  So I figured I would be OK with the same plan, even in the rain.  The top layer I chose is a skiwear layer that repels water pretty nicely, and it served me well in my long run last week, too.

The drive down was good, even though it was drizzly and messy the whole way.  But I had plenty of time, so I wasn't rushing at all.  I had loaded up the iPod with all kinds of good songs that nobody else in my family likes to listen to, so I was jamming the whole way down. I stopped in West, Texas at this little truck stop/bakery place that has amazing kolaches and cinnamon rolls and such to refill on water and grab something to eat.  I had planned to have oatmeal from Starbucks somewhere in Ft. Worth, but it was on the wrong side of the road, so I went a little further than I planned before stopping. Ended up having an oatmeal cookie with nuts that had about the right ratio of carbs and protein in it, and grabbed a muffin for later, too.

When I arrived at the race site, the tent was up and there were a few people milling about.  It was colder than it was when I left home, though, and still pretty misty.  I knew it was going to be the same kind of weather as my last long run the Sunday before, but I knew I was dressed OK for it and it was just going to be a matter of keeping going, one foot in front of the other, until I reached the finish line.

I registered, got my goodie bag and headed back to the car to relax for a bit.  I still had about an hour before the start, and I needed to get out of the cold and warm up some, too.  About 20 minutes before the race, I got in line for the porta-potty and started getting ready for it.  I knew I could handle the distance, it was just a matter of how much I would slow down from the first ten miles to the last three.  I also had to be sure not to psych myself out with the course - it was this weird figure-eight loop that we had to do twice, so the mile markers were funky - we saw the mile 7 marker well before we saw the mile 2 marker.  I don't usually do loops in my training, because I'm not that disciplined - if I'm near the ending point, I'll bail and call it a day even if I'm only halfway done, because, well, my car is right over there, see?  Yeah, so that part made me nervous.

But before I knew it, it was time to line up and go.  I couldn't really tell how big the field of women 40-44 was since the little dots they put on our bibs were so small.  But I was really more concerned with getting started so that I wouldn't be so darn cold!  We received a few instructions about the course and were off.

The first half mile or so was through a slightly muddy pathway, and then we were on the paved trail.  Apparently, the city of Temple has spent a good amount of money improving the path and the surrounding park, and from the part I saw, it was money well spent. We ran on it for a while, then were soon on a sidewalk next to a fairly busy road.  This was the longest part of the course, and we were on it for a good few miles.  We could see the mile markers for the second loop as well as for the first loop, and that was a little disconcerting, to think that we'd have to go this route again eventually.  The weather was misty and cold, but it didn't feel so cold once we got moving. I was wearing wool ski socks, so my feet were in fairly good shape, and I kept my gloves on until about mile 3.

I had run a small 10K at the local university the weekend before, and had fallen into a rookie trap of pinning my race number through my bottom layer as well as my top layer.  It took longer than it should have for me to extricate myself from it when I warmed up, and I was able to keep from making the same mistake this time, so when I hit the first turnaround at mile 3, I was fairly smooth at removing the top layer while not breaking stride.  However, the time saved there was burned when I took a slight detour to the restrooms at a local park right off the route - I had miscalculated my water intake and it was a welcome sight, especially since I never did see any port-o-potties on the course.  I lost about three minutes, but it made a difference as I was able to keep running comfortably in that department for the rest of the race.

Before I knew it, we were back at the start of the loop, and it was time for the second six miles of the course.  I was still feeling pretty good, but a hot spot on the bottom of my left  foot was beginning to develop. Besides that, I was doing OK.  I knew the last three miles would be tough, given that my longest run to date was 10 miles the week before. But, I also knew that I would finish, it was just a matter of how much I would slow down.  By now, I had stowed my gloves in my waistband, had the top layer off and was in a comfortable stride.  The second loop seemed to go by pretty quickly, at least until the mile 11 mark.  That was when the mile markers seemed to get further and further apart!  The hot spot on my foot was making itself very well-known by now, but I dared not stop and check it out.  I could tell I was slowing down, and actually walked across the streets when I came to them and through the water stops, but didn't give myself permission to walk any other time.

The last stretch was through the park, and I knew as soon as I hit mile 12 that I was nearly home.  I still felt OK, although I knew I was slowing down, and I was just determined to finish out strongly.  The return trip through the muddy path was a little dicey, as it was much more chewed up now, but seeing the finish line up ahead gave me the energy I needed to power through.  The clock read 2:20 as I neared it, which is about 10 minutes off my PR for the half, but actually faster than I expected for this race, given the lack of training and distance prep.  And, that did include the time at the pit stop, which I usually don't do in races, so I was fine with it. After they handed me my medal I walked over to the little tent for refreshments.  All the bananas were gone, and there was one sad little grape in the bowl, but I did get a few orange slices and some yummy trial sizes of clif bar, luna bar and a full-size powerbar.  I had to get home for an afternoon hockey game, so I changed shoes (thank goodness for Crocs!), put on a dry shirt, and headed north on I-35 (sadly, I noticed when I got home that I'd lost one of my gloves.  Wah, I loved those gloves!!).

All in all, I was pretty pleased with the effort.  It did reinforce that I need to do whatever is necessary to ramp up the training sufficiently for Cowtown.  I will not go in unprepared for that race. It's not as much fun in the late going when you haven't put the miles in, and I am not going to do that again.  I don't want to struggle to finish like I did at that race, not ever again.  Especially not when I'm in New York City.  So, yeah.  More to come on that later.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fort Worth Turkey Trot

So I was really excited to run this year's Fort Worth Turkey Trot, because the little one had said he wanted to run it with me.  He said he was all set for the 5K, so my plan was to run the 5K at his pace, doing 3-2 running/walking breaks, then queue up to run the 10K, giving me 'round about 9 miles for the day.  That would have been a perfect weekday run for the training plan I'm using... Oh, yeah, that.  The training plan I'm supposed to be following - the one that I've essentially neglected because work hours are crazy and because of this wicked cough that will. not. go. away.  As late as Tuesday I really thought this was still a workable plan. But then, neither the Elder Child nor the husband wanted to get up early to hang with him while I ran, and I'm not comfortable having him unsupervised in a crowd of 20,000 runners and spectators while I run for an hour.  So I was still trying to figure out how to make this work.  Then last night, the boy decided that he'd rather spend the night with Grandpa and sleep in than wake up at o-dark-thirty and run in the cold, so I had my answer.  I'd skip the 5K and just do the 10K on my own.

I knew it was going to be a tough run, because I've only made 3 workouts in the last two weeks.  Those have been good, but the volume is just not enough, especially not since I'm supposed to be ramping up to a half in three weeks.  Um, yeah... Anyway, I decided that I would just go out and have fun, and not worry about my time.  I wouldn't set my watch, I wouldn't even look at it.  I'd just run.

I didn't leave the house until past 7:15, since I've always left so early and then I sit around in the cold and do nothing.  This time, I figured I'd get as much sleep as possible, knowing the race didn't start until 9:00.  I stopped for batteries for the compact camera, and got to the race area about 7:45.  I parked in a different spot than usual because traffic was crazy-go-nuts, so I found a lot in a neighborhood off to the side and walked about half a mile to the start.

I have to say, I love this race, and I love that so many people come out to run/walk this thing, but the registration for this is always a disaster.  They just aren't organized well.  I'm sure it's hard to get so many volunteers and such lined up for the late registration, and I'm sure it would help if more people signed up ahead of time (yeah, OK, that would be ME, but whatever!), but race-day sign-ups always make my head hurt and make the process analyst in me cringe.  In any case, I got signed up, wandered over to see the first 5K runners come in, and then walked over to the start.  I grabbed some curb and chilled in the sunshine until it was time to start.

The start was delayed a few minutes because the 5K walkers were still on the course, so we didn't start until about five minutes after 9:00.  The course was also changed somewhat from years past, since there is construction in the area and we had to work around it.  It ended up that we did a lot of switchbacks through the neighborhood, and for most of the race I had no idea which direction I was headed or exactly where I was.  No matter, though, right?  Just keep moving.  I will admit I looked at my watch when we passed the 5K mark, and it read 9:35, so I was about on pace for a 30-minute or so 5K split. I was happy with that considering the hills in the first half of the course, and the fact that the first mile seemed really, really, really long.  After that, I started really questioning why I did this, and I could feel myself slowing down a bit.  Mostly because there were crazy hills on the new route - not steep ones, just a lot of gradual risers that would have been OK if not for my cough and the whole having trouble breathing thing.  I will say, though, that even if I was slow, I did not walk, not even on the hills.  And then suddenly, I started feeling good again, and I was enjoying myself, and having fun again.  Cool.

I finished in about 1:06, which is definitely slower than last year, but a better time if I had sat it out altogether. I really was focused on getting out there and having a good time, and I think I did that.  I caught up with some buddies from the Cowtown training group, so that was good, and then I came home and got ready for Thanksgiving dinner with the fam.  All in all, it was an enjoyable morning, and as usual, I was thankful for being healthy enough, cough or not, to be out there running around.  The only glitch to the day is that I wandered around the neighborhood for about 10 minutes after the race because I forgot where I parked.  Yeah, I'm a smart cookie, I tell ya!!

the Jackalope is REAL thing, people!

I don't know if I trust this guy...

The men's 5K winner - came in about 16 and something, I think. 

My own two feet, before the start of the 10K.  

Maybe it was oxygen deprivation from the hills, but I found this sign behind the water stop hilarious!

bucket o'chips at the finish

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009


work is crazy. I've got a cold. I haven't run since Saturday. Bleargh.

kinda glad I haven't actually paid for White Rock yet, 'cause I'm not sure I'm ready for a half. Haven't done more than 8 miles yet and it's less than a month away. Sigh.

I haven't given up on it, I'm just not sure how I'm going to pull it out and not have a miserable day. Argh.

Good news? I bought a scale with my birthday gift card (whee! HB to me...) and it shows I'm down three pounds from the end of the summer when I had my girl-parts adjusted. Hey, I take the good news wherever I can get it.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

it would probably be better for me

if I could put down the candy corn. I guess it was a bad idea to put the jar in my office, in easy reach whenever the learning curve for the new job stresses me out. It's much faster to satisfy the sugar craving with a small handful of these than to go into the boy's room and dig through the Halloween bag (don't even pretend I'm the only one who does that... I'm not the only who does that, right??). It's a bad habit, and I need to do a better job of resisting the temptation.

I am doing better at getting the regular runs in, although I was hoping to start a streak for November. Late evening at the computer on Monday and then an unplanned trip to College Night last night conspired to keep me from running those nights, but I have been able to maintain a better semblance of a routine, which is a good thing. I'm still miserably slow, but I'm OK with that for now. Considering the year that I've had, I'm ok with just getting the mileage in. I'm like those baseball players that are interviewed on TV, "I'm just happy to be here, I want to stay within myself and do the best I can for the team." Yep, that's me, just happy to be here.

Speaking of baseball, Go Yankees! I opted out of baseball a few years ago (still don't like A-Fraud/A-Roid, whatever) but found myself watching the World Series this year and rooting for the Bronx Bombers and slipping back into the sport just like that. And it has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with Johnny Damon. Nothing. Really. ;)

Saturday ORN - 4.99 miles in 48:51
Sunday ORN - 8.25 miles in 1:25ish
Tuesday ORN - 4 miles, 42:00
Thursday ORN - 4 miles, 41:20

Friday, October 30, 2009

working on it

now that I'm home from travelling and working out of the front room, I'm trying to sort out what a regular day looks like for me, so that I can best figure out where to slot in the ME time that is so critical for my well-being. The biggest challenge is that every day looks different from the one before - between the kids' evening activities (hockey, scouts and golf for the older one, scouts and gymnastics for the little one) and school work (A and B days at the high school that make NO sense to me), there's something new every day. And of course the fact that I'm still on this huge learning curve with the new job and the new processes doesn't make things easier there, either. I guess the biggest blessing at this point is that Hub is still in his job search, so he's a little more flexible than he ultimately will be, but that of course brings its' own special challenges with it. Ahem. Anyhoo, it all comes down to NOW being the time that I need to establish the pattern of when I work out and when I fit in my runs so that it continues to be priority for me.

I still want to restart the Insanity workouts, and will likely do that next week. As much as I'd love to be able to do them with my husband, the reality is that we're on different body clocks much of the time. I'm ready to work out as soon as I wake up, and really can't eat much before an intense cardio session, whereas he needs to wake up more gradually and isn't ready for a workout until after a meal and usually right when I need to be working. So we'll have to do it independently or it won't really happen. We'll still challenge each other to get it done and to make sure our eating is on plan, but we won't have the same schedule each day.

It also seems lately like the 5:30-6:30 PM start time is what's been working for me in terms of my runs around the neighborhood. On my birthday earlier this week I fit in a 40-minute jaunt before we left for the movie, and last night I ran a quick 5K to the park before I had to be back for gymnastics with the boy. The weather is just right for that kind of a workout now, but soon it will be dark even at 6:00ish, even after DST kicks in. So I know I'm going to have to adjust. Which means probably I won't get to watch the morning news and kick around for a while after the kids get off to school. Ah, well, it's not fun if you know what to expect, right? All I know is that I'm doing the White Rock Half in mid-December and will definitely do the Cowtown Half at the end of February. The White Rock will not have a time goal attached to it, but it would be nice if I saw some noticeable speed increases between then and Cowtown. I guess to get there I'll need to do some work then, huh? Which means I should get my arse off the computer and out for a run!

ORN: Tuesday, 10/27 - 3.9 miles, 40:00
Thursday, 10/29 - 3.1 miles, 30:58

Monday, October 26, 2009

Nothing Bad Happens at the top of Thanksgiving Mountain

that's my philosophy. So when I saw a road sign off the main road leading back to the resort on Saturday morning, I had to take a detour. I could have gone straight back to the hotel and met up with the girls for brunch without taking the road up the hill. I could have called it good, with about a three-mile out and back run, kinda rolling, but really mostly flat. I could have. But, when you're on vacation, and you're out running in glorious early morning Texas Hill Country air, and you're celebrating lifelong friendships and a new decade, it's tough to ignore a signpost that says Thanksgiving Road. So I turned.

The path was a two-lane street, very lightly traveled at that time of the day. Lots of scrub and nopalitos along the sides of the road, and the further I got from the main road, the steeper it got. Still, I managed to keep up with a run, a slow run, but I was running nonetheless. And then I came to a cross-roads, and I could have turned around there, and called it good. But something made me want to turn left, toward the Catholic church that I knew had to be at the top of the road. And the road got narrower and a little steeper. And then there was another turn, back toward the main road, but still climbing upward. It wasn't Colorado steep, but it sure as heck wasn't Suburbia South flat. And, then, when I got to the end of that road, I found the church, and more importantly, I found this:

And I realized, that, yes, I was right to have taken that detour. Sometimes, when you take the right road, even if it wasn't in the plan, even if it's not as easy a path as you were hoping for, if you put out the effort, and you do the work, at the end of the road, you get rewarded. And was I ever rewarded.

It was a glorious little surprise in my morning workout, and it reminded me of the reasons that I run, and it reminded me of just how lucky I am. And if that weren't enough, on my way back down the hill, toward the main road, I was greeted by a deer, who emerged from the scrub about 20 yards in front of me and stood there for a moment, blinking and nodding at me before running across the road and into the outcropping on the other side. Talk about a way cool start to the day!

Saturday ORN: 5 miles, :49 total time (I KNOW!!)
Sunday ORN: 7.6 miles, 1:22 running time.

Four weeks before Turkey Trot 10K, six weeks before the White Rock Half. I'm ready to get ready. Bring it!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Well, phoo

so much for the best-laid plans of mice & men, huh? I knew I wasn't going to get in my 6-miler yesterday, and I was OK with that. I just was hoping I'd get to make it up today, and that didn't happen, either.

I woke up in a panic at 4:30 AM Scotland time, convinced by some hideous dream that my Longhorns had lost the Texas-ou football game (in overtime, no less), so I had to get out of bed and check ESPN. Luckily, we pulled it out with a very ugly win, but a win nonetheless. After that, I had a hard time going back to sleep, but it was too early to go running outside - even I'm not nuts to go out in the streets in a strange town at 5:00 AM. At home, yeah, and in NYC, yeah, and even in Boulder I'd go out, but not here. Besides, I had to be ready to catch the bus to the City Centre by 8:00, which meant I had to forage for breakfast by 7:30.

Turns out, nothing around here opens until 8:30 or 9:00 am on Sundays, not even the Starbucks! It was odd to walk down the street to all the coffee shops, advertising breakfast specials in their windows, no less! and finding them shuttered, with no signs of life in them at all. I ended up getting a container of yogurt and a pack of shortbread at the Scottish equivalent of a 7-11 across the street from the hotel (Sidebar: I could LIVE on shortbread for the rest of my life. Yes, that life would be short and artery-clogged from all the BUTTER, but dang, that stuff is good, even the off-brand stuff I found at the psuedo-7-11!). The bus came right on time, and I hopped on and paid my fare for the short ride downtown. I took the subway to the same spot the day before, but the subway doesn't run until 10:00 am on Sundays - again with the sleeping in! I jumped off a few blocks early and walked to the tour meeting point, which was a good thing, since it was noticeably chillier than the previous day, plus it was grey and semi-drizzly. As I've told a few folks, that is a good thing - gave the tour of the Scottish castle and lochs a nice Braveheart feel!

I got a chance to walk more in the castle itself (plus climbing stairs and such), plus around the little village that we stopped in for lunch. The food here, shortbread aside, is a bit odd and too heavy for me - the deli counter at the sandwich place is crowded with strange meats and fishes in odd sauces, and there's lots of Indian-influenced menu items, too, along with the heavily fried standard of fish and chips, of course. I did have haggis last night at dinner, along with neeps and tatties, which while they sound nasty (and a little naughty, actually), are among the best things I've had in a while! I'll definitely be having haggis again before I leave for home! I've been mostly subsisting on yogurt and shortbread or scones for breakfast, ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh fruit for lunch, and a fairly light dinner from room service. I am trying to be adventurous, but sometimes you gotta stick with what you know, OK?

Anyway, the castle and loch outing was great, but wiped me out to the point where I couldn't get out of bed this morning. I snoozed the alarm too much and didn't have a chance to go out before work like I'd planned. I always forget how hard it is to go out at the end of the day. And with a ton of stuff to do still tonight before I turn in, I best sign off now so that I can get it done and hit the hay, so tomorrow I can be sure to get a few miles in. Or, I'll be saying "phoo" again this time tomorrow.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Loving the Run

Maybe it's because the scenery is so awesome here. Maybe because I'm not worried about my pace. Maybe because I'm 4500 miles from home and I know nobody is waiting for me to get back, or nobody is mildly irritated that I woke up at o-dark-thirty. Or maybe, and I like to think that this is the real reason, maybe I'm finally getting the hang of this running thing again.

Ran a 4 mile loop around the hotel and neighborhoods nearby the university. Besides the amazing display of colors on the leaves all around (remember, y'all, I'm from Texas, we have 1.4 days of fall here, and I might have missed it already) and the near-perfect temps, the other thing that was remarkable was the absolute cleanliness of the streets and neighborhoods. Even the "car parks" are free of litter. All in all, it makes for a lovely afternoon run.

Planning on waking up whenever tomorrow morning and going for a 4-5 mile run along the paths here, then heading to the cathedral and the Necropolis before loitering around the shopping areas in the city center. Sunday, if I can make it work, I plan to take a tour to Loch Lomond and the Stirling Castle. I figure I don't know when I'll be back to see all this again, so I best take advantage of it. That might mean that I need to juggle my long run or maybe split the miles between Monday morning and Monday night. If so, so be it. I have a feeling that I will find a way to make it happen, since not taking advantage of this place would be a tragedy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I have run, really, I have

not as much as I want to, but more than I had been. Am in Scotland for the next nine days, doing a last-hurrah consulting gig before I switch roles once and for all. It is going to be fun, I think, if not a little intense. I will have a chance to do some sightseeing this weekend, and I do plan on exploring the area around the hotel on foot tomorrow morning before work. I was very happy to see a few joggers around when I was on the way back from grabbing dinner (except my body thinks it is lunchtime), so I feel like I will be in good company tomorrow morning.

I do plan on taking lots of photos while here, and per usual, the running workouts will be quasi-logged on Twitter, so you'll be able to see them up there in the top right corner, even if you don't get the Twitter thing. I myself have finally come to a sort of strategy for using Twitter, FB and this blog, I think. I tend to think of them as three separate channels for the ramblings from my brain - Twitter I keep to only quick and dirty ORNs, which may or not also qualify for the FB status updates, although most of the status updates there tend to be very random and not workout-related, depending on the kind of day I'm having, and then here is where I do my other deep thinking, as it were. It makes sense for me, although it may end up that I don't post here as often as I used to because a lot of the little daily blurbs end up on FB. Does anyone else feel that same pull between these two media? Are we having a flashback to Video Killed the Radio Star, except that it's Facebook killed the Blogger?

Anyway, perhaps this post is a case in point! I don't have much else to say here today since what I'm doing at this moment doesn't really relate to my journey toward Iron (or the next marathon, or 5K for that matter). But tomorrow, it will! Because I will run tomorrow, I will!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Overshare warning - proceed at your own risk

so, I've always tried to keep a modicum of modesty around here, not discussing bodily functions too much, just because, well, ewww. It's bad enough I live with three boys and have to deal with all that comes with that. And there are some reproductive functions, that while perfectly human and normal, hit pretty close to very personal decisions that I never particularly wanted to share with the interwebs.

But lately, those functions have interfered mightily with what I do write about on here, which is my running and my fitness, and my attempt to become something more than what I am, not just athletically but emotionally and in my day to day life. So I had to take matters into my own hands because, well, we just can't have that. I've suffered from fibroids for a really long time, probably as long as I've had a monthly cycle, now that I think about it. What I knew as a normal cycle isn't really normal, and thanks to people who are less uptight about sharing their information on the internet, I know that now. For a long time, I controlled them with birth control pills, but when I hit 35 a few years ago, I knew that I didn't really want to be on them much longer, especially not with the history of stroke and heart disease in my family. But I also knew that I was done having kids - I have the most perfect kids imaginable and had also been advised that my body just couldn't handle another pregnancy, not when my blood pressure zoomed to 220/150 in my last few weeks with both boys. So we had to do something else.

That something else was an IUD, which despite many reports of people having horrendous issues with them, I actually tolerated really well and rather enjoyed because it made my cycles non-existent. That meant I didnt' have to deal with the annoyances and issues related to all that, which was great for my training as well as for my general moods and disposition, as well as those around me. It was a double-bonus in that it did its primary job of keeping me from popping out three more kids and managed the fibroid issues. So it seemed like it was all working out fabulously, but still, nothing that I really discussed with a lot of folks besides a couple of my closest friends.

But then, I noticed the weight. And I've mentioned it a time or two. Or three. or four... and how it keeps creeping up, despite logging every calorie in and keeping meticulous records. And how, even after running 100 miles in a month, like in June of this year, I don't lose any weight, no I gain weight. And how when my friend and I were getting ready for AvonWalk last year, and we walked the same amount in training, but then I would run in addition to that, and she lost 10 pounds and I gained five.

In the past five years, I've had the metabolism tested, I've had the thyroid tested, I've had consults with nutritionists (none of which understood the demands of marathon running, sadly), and I've even consulted weight loss doctors through UT Southwestern. And nobody had any answers, except for my primary care doctor, who suggested that I might actually be waking up in the middle of the night and eating without realizing it, unwittingly sabotaging my efforts. This was after he suggested that I start walking 20 minutes a day, three times a week (he did not have an answer when I asked whether I should do that before or after my 10-mile mid-week run). And with all the stuff going on in my life, with job changes, the house, the kids, etc., etc., I just haven't addressed it lately except for keeping up the mileage and making sure that I eat somewhat reasonably. But now, it's time to get it fixed.

The more I read about the particular IUD I had, the more I realized that having hormones directly released into my body like that was probably not a good thing. And there was enough anecdotal evidence to connect it to not only my weight gain but my ongoing acne issues, too. So we made the decision to pull it out and go with something else so that I could be free of any artificial hormones. But that decision alone wouldn't resolve the fibroid issues, or the fact that my body paid me back for all those years without a cycle by foisting one monster never-ending one on me once i had the device yanked. That was NOT fun, let me tell you. So I called my doctor and discussed the alternatives with him, and decided that while I really wanted all the troublesome girl parts yanked out nine years ago, 40 is probably still too young for a full hysterectomy. So we went with the uterine ablation coupled with a tubal ligation, figuring that the ablation was a less-invasive option. I had that done this week, which means I can't run for a week, although I can start walking tomorrow. The surgery itself was pretty uneventful - it was done outpatient, with general anesthesia, and laparoscopically, so the incision is tiny and barely noticable. My most troublesome side effect was the shoulder pain from the gas they used to inflate my abdomen for the ligation, but that has pretty much abated as of yesterday afternoon.

It might be a couple of months before I find out for sure how effective it was at treating the fibroids, but hopefully I'll see some movement on the scales and with the acne once the hormones are all out of my system. And that means that I can get back to the business of running without feeling like I'm carrying an extra toddler around, and of actually looking somewhat like an athlete. We shall see.

So, there. apologies if it's an overshare, but I'm amazed at how often i look back at these entries to remind myself of what I've been through, so I kind of needed to write it all down, for posterity's sake. Plus, if I actually see some kind of benefits to going hormone-free, then you can be sure I'll be shouting that from the rooftops.

Training notes, ORNs and progress toward the goal of the White Rock Half will resume as soon as I'm given clearance to run again. I should only miss one long run, so if all goes well I will be back on track lickety-split.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

need shoes

I think I need new shoes. I got the pair that I'm wearing about four months ago, a few weeks before the Bolder Boulder, so they have about 300 miles on them.** I think they might have a few miles left in them if a) I was 30 pounds lighter or b) the shoes weren't flats without a lot of padding in them to start with. But as it is, I felt a twinge in my left foot while on the treadmill tonight, and I really can't figure out why else that might be happening. It's like that old Nike ad in reverse - it's gotta be the shoes, right? Right? 'cause I can't handle an injury on top of everything else.

I've really enjoyed these shoes, even though they're flats and I expected to have a hard time adjusting to them. I can tell you that my knee hasn't been clicking and grinding like it used to when I wear these shoes, and I haven't had the pain under the kneecap like I did for, oh, the last three years. Of course, July and August were pretty low-mileage months with all the trauma and drama going on around here, so that might have contributed to the pain-free knee, too. Except that June was a 100-mile month, with the June challenge and all, and even when I hit a 29-mile week, which I don't do unless I'm in major marathon training mode, I didn't have any pain anywhere, especially not in my foot.

The thing is, I tried to order the shoes a couple of weeks ago. Went right back out to and looked them up, ready to just hit "Buy" and then wait for the magic UPS guy a few days later. But the Sauconys that I am wearing, that have been really good for my knee, that are a nice non-girly aqua blue, are out of stock in my size. Because they run small, so "my size" is an Amazonian size 11 (Hey, perhaps I should try And I told them to send me an email when they get them back in stock in my size, but haven't heard from them yet. But we may have to get drastic here, if there is pain involved. I need to cut that sh!t off at the pass and make it stop. There are a couple of other health issues going on right now, that thankfully are being addressed (girl issues, if you must know, and we'll leave it at that), but that may have me out of commission for a couple of days in the next few weeks. Shouldn't be too major, though, not like a foot injury might be, or could be, if I don't cut that sh!t off and quick.

So, I need to shop around some more and see if I can find another outlet with the Saucony Kilkennys, and I might have to resort to the fugly red and black models, or heaven forfend the pink ones. Bleagh. We've already tried the pink shoes this year, and I'd rather not do that again, actually. oooh, look, they're in YELLOW!!! But only in size 9, dangit. Nothing for bigfoot betty here. Sigh.

anyway, I guess I best log off and start shoe shopping. Need to get this under control, and the sooner the better. And, I get to go home tomorrow, too, so I'm needing to get to bed so tomorrow will come sooner!!

**NOTE: I actually verified the anal-retentive running log and they have 323.2 miles on them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

back in the groove

ran at the hotel today, nothing spectacular. Just a few miles of hills. it was crazy-humid, even in the AC - by the time I was halfway done, I felt like I'd been hanging out in the sauna instead of on the treadmill. Plan is to do another four-five tomorrow after my training session, and then maybe get a couple in on the morning Friday before the last full day of sessions. Then Saturday is SWAT, of course, unless the weather is uncooperative again.

Sunday will be a long run, as I have decided that the first "comeback" race will be the White Rock Half Marathon in December. I've done the full three times there, but never the half, and the route was re-done last year to include the Katy Trail, so it should be a nice event. I know I can handle the distance, and there is enough time before then (about eleven-twelve weeks) to ramp up the mileage from my current long run of 5-6 miles safely and even maybe focus on some speedwork. And I should be able to still resume the Shaun T Insanity workouts once I get back to the regular routine after this week's travel, too, so hopefully I'll see some benefits to that along the way, too.

The hope is that by getting ready for a half in December I'll be in good shape to transition the training to a late spring full. I still really want to do Oklahoma City, so I'm going to keep that one in my sights. I can't really commit to it just yet, though, until I get a few more months of this work-from-home thing and know exactly what my "free" time will look like. I love the idea of doing the Love the Half challenge again, but I need to stretch beyond that comfort zone, so I think I'm going to aim for the full instead.

anyhoo, I've got a few more small projects to wrap up tonight here at the hotel before tucking in for the night, so I need to boogie, but I did want to update with both the ORN and the new goal. Carry on!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I'm in serious need of a reboot right now. And watching all the excitement over the athletes who are toeing the line at IM Wisconsin tomorrow is making me wistful for the path I was on ages ago, and making me wonder when it's all going to come together for me. I know I consciously put my Iron aspirations on hold a few months ago (yeah, considering I've only got two sprints under my belt, a couple of seasons ago at that, they are definitely far down the road for me), but I need to start working my way back to where I can move toward that goal again. Right now, I'm not even facing the right direction.

I know I just need to start again, and get in the pool, and get back on the bicycle, and for good gravy's sake, just go out for a run more than once a week. But it's harder than I thought it would be now that I'm home again. There is so much that I have to catch up on, that I have to fix, that has been neglected for so long while I was out being Ms. Road Warrior. I'm taking care of a few health issues that have reared their head again, and trying to figure out if they've been the cause of my weight battles, or at least a contributing factor. I'm trying to get the boys set in some semblance of a schedule and figure out what "normal" means to us now. And I need to not be so worried about the end game and the long-term goal, but just worry about today, this week, this month. And I'm trying really hard not to get discouraged when only two pairs of my jeans button properly, and when the drawers full of clothes I wore my first few marathon seasons won't even slide up past my hips anymore. I need to just get out there and do it. Shut the f$#@$ up and run, for goodness' sake. Just do it. All that.

But it's hard. And when someone asked me today if I was doing a 5K in Dallas next weekend, I had to say no, I'm not really running right now. I'm not training for anything at the moment. Not that I can't do a 5K, I can, but I'm just not feeling it. I'm not feeling anything right now as far as setting goals for myself with races or tris or anything, except maybe I'm feeling overwhelmed. And this is worse that when I was just starting out, because I feel like I should be able to do a half-mary without too much effort, or I should be able to do a late fall marathon or a spring full, but I know right now that I can't. Because I'm just not there. And I need to get over it, and get over feeling bad that I can't do it, and instead get my butt in gear so that I can get there, get myself to where I can do it.

I need a reboot.

I'll be glued to the web tomorrow afternoon, watching the finish line at IM Wisconsin. I'll be wishing all the athletes godspeed and safety and that tomorrow is their day. And I'll use it as a chance to reboot, and re-energize, and re-commit. One day, my Iron friends, one day, I WILL be there with you. I can't tell you exactly when it will happen for me, but I haven't given up on it. It's not a matter of IF I do Ironman, it's a matter of WHEN. There's a ton of work to do before then, but I've got to start, to REstart, sometime. And there's no time like the present. Now is when I turn around and start moving in that direction again. Now is when I reboot.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


haven't worked out (at all) in four days now. And the running is non-existent in more than a week. Feeling like a little salt on me would make me dissolve into a gooey mess (not too far away from a gooey mess as it is). A combination of crazy allergy attack Friday night/Saturday/Sunday, the hockey tourney, and ensuing collateral damage have sucked the wind out of my motivation.

Will need to restart Shaun T's Insanity at week 1. Just when I was getting the hang of those suicides. It's going to hurt all over again. Hell, damn, crap. Sigh.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Clavicle Redux

So, at the end of the season last summer, Elder Child had a bit of a run-in with the boards, resulting in a broken collarbone and about six weeks off the ice. He managed to make it through the summer season this year without any injuries, and worked his butt off all spring to make it onto the Dallas Stars Selects travel team. He didn't get to go to hockey camp in Michigan as planned because of his grandma's funeral, so that was a bummer, but we got through it.

He's playing with a coach he's had before, who's a great motivator, a good instructor and a good friend, too. He's played with many kids that he's been on teams with in the past, and he was really looking forward to a great year. The start of the season was kicked off by a tournament this weekend, so they were fired up and ready. Unfortunately, they lost their first game, even though they played well and seemed to be clicking as a team. And the second game was Saturday night. My brother and his family were in town for a wedding, so they had a chance to come out to the rink for the game, too. We settled into the stands and were getting into a great game when it happened. Again. Yep, slammed into the boards, just like last year. Slow to get up, just like last year. Not getting back onto the ice, yep, just like last year. Maybe it's just a stinger... maybe he just got the wind knocked out of him... Nope, it's broken again. Crap.

A couple of hours at the ER and a few x-rays later, it was confirmed. Same exact spot as last year, but this time it's bent a little more. And of course, because it's a holiday weekend, we have to wait until Tuesday morning for the visit to the orthopedist to see if he needs to have a pin put in or if we just let it heal on its own. Yay.

The good news? The boys rallied to win the rest of their games this weekend, and ended up winning the Bantam A championship. The Boy got to sit on the bench in his jersey and helmet and cheer the team on in the last two games and got his medal, too. It's going to be a great year, it will be. We just have to wait 6-8 weeks before we can fully participate again.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

At least I didn't cry

er, um, at least I didn't cry as much during the first workout as I did when we did the fit test... There were some points in last night's Cardio Plyometrics that I spent face down, flat on the floor, working up the energy to do one more set of 4 pushups, 4 counts of running in plank position, then hopping up to a full stand. My lungs were burning, my heart pounding, and every muscle in my thighs (hammies, quads and all those little ones along the inside of the thighs) were trembling. It was awesome!

Currently waiting for the husband to return from morning car line so we can do the next video. Can't do it tonight since there is hockey, so we have to do it before the day gets started (before the soreness from last night sets in) or it won't happen.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's a Proven Fact

that I blog more when a) I have two seconds to rub together, and b) I have my Garmin handy to give me data and feedback on my running. Without the empirical data, I feel like I don't have anything to say about my activity, and since it's been AWOL for so long, and things have been covered in crazy around here, the blogging has been near-to-non-existent. Hopefully since we uncovered the Garmin deep in the center console of the Pontiac and have cut out the weekly airplane commute I will have more to say around here.

Today ended up being a good run of 7.5 miles, with a little more on the end to walk it off and cool down before reaching the front door. I didn't have any goals for today's run except to go longer than I did last week, which was 5.75. I still haven't isolated a goal race for the fall, although I'm thinking hard about it. But I want to be prepared in case the goal race ends up being an early spring marathon, so I need to be pumping up the mileage just as a preemptive strike. Also, I know I want to do the Love the Half series again and those are starting up soon, so I need to work my way back to that distance at a minimum.

Anyway, today's run was an easy effort, with the intention as I said to go only a little longer than last week. I am going to have to get used to the streets around the house again, since that is going to be my playground from here on out. No more runs in Boulder, or Denver, or any other place. So I took the long loop north and west of my house. It hits two parks on the way, so i had a chance to stop for water and didn't have to carry my own. The Elder Child and hubby left at 6:45 for a Scout event, and TDP DinoBoy is with his godmother, so I really had the morning and wasn't in too much of a rush to get out the door except to beat the sun, which I knew was going to be relentless this morning without any clouds for respite. I left a little after 7:00 so it was light out but still mostly cool in the shade.

I had the Garmin and the iPod, but I tried not to pay attention to the timings of my laps. Tried, but failed. I know there's a lot going on that would make my overall times slower (hello, 170s...) but it's still tough to see 10:40s and 10:45s on the Garmin when I used to see 10:15 and on occasion even 10:05 for longer runs. But I'm not going to worry about it, really. I'm going to just get the distances done for the meanwhile, and focus on nutrition and on the other program that we've started (the other program, with Shaun T, who made me cry yesterday morning when my glutes seized up every time I tried to stand up), and let my fitness grow through the fall. I'm thinking my times will speed up naturally if I start dropping weight using these intervals.

anyhoo, splits from today are below for posterity. Not sure what happened there at Mile 6 -- I had to wait at a light forever, so I'm thinking the autopause didn't engage, or I have no idea. There's no reason that lap should be so glacial when the rest are more or less averaging about a 10:45. Eh, no worries, right?

Mile 1: 10:42
Mile 2: 10:54
Mile 3: 10:44
Mile 4: 10:22
Mile 5: 11:07 - uphill climb here, plus I slowed down to talk to some cyclists
Mile 6: 10:48
Mile 7: 11:54 - wtf?
Mile .5: 5:22 (10:45 pace)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Big Changes

More details to follow as soon as everything is finalized. For now, the executive summary is that I am no longer traveling! I get to work from home 100%, with only a few short, scheduled trips each year. This is AMAZING news, and it was definitely part of the long-term plan, but I didn't expect it to happen so soon.

This is going to have an impact on everything in my life, the least of which is my activity, running schedule, eating, etc. I will, ostensibly, at least, have the ability to join a running group again, and actually participate in the weekday runs (ie. SPEED workouts!). I will, ostensibly, also have the opportunity to get into the pool on a regular basis. I will, ostensibly, have more freedom in my schedule by eliminating the 6-7 hours I spend weekly getting to-from the airport and between the cities where I work and live.

For now, though, I leave you with the current project around these parts, which was (painfully and very humblingly) previewed today, but officially begins on Monday, as a joint venture/challenge between me and the Hubby:

The Next Big Thing

I. Cannot. Wait!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Celebrating 15 Years of "The Look"

So, my mom does this thing when she goes to weddings. She says she has a way to tell if a marriage is going to work or not by seeing if the newlywed couple has "The Look." The ceremony is unimportant -- yes, it's nice and all the right readings are done, and the words are said, "Love is patient, blah, blah, blah..." That's not what's critical. The first kiss is nice, and you can tell a lot about the couple by the kind of kiss it is -- prim and properly chaste or open-mouthed and kinda skanky-hungry for church -- but that's not what foretells the future. No, the moment of truth, according to my mother (who has been married for 46 years, by the way) is at the reception. She waits until the bride and groom have their first dance, and then she watches.

During that first dance, my mother watches to see where the bride's eyes land when the music starts. She watches to see where the groom looks. If the rest of the room disappears when they look into each others' eyes during that first dance, they have it. They have "The Look." The Look that says that no matter what comes next, it all comes down to the two of them. Nothing else and nobody else matters. Nothing else in the world exists -- there is nothing in the world at that moment besides the two of them, locked in step with each other at the beginning of their lives together.

My husband has never been comfortable dancing, and while I spent many a night in clubs dancing to 80s music, we never really danced together when we were dating. It just wasn't something we did; it wasn't our thing. We had more fun at the ballpark, at the movies, at the hockey rink, or just hanging out with friends. But, on our wedding day, after the ceremony, first kiss, and pronouncement of us as husband and wife, after the sweltering open-air convertible drive across town (complete with horns honking and people cheering and waving to us on the streets of Arlington), after the mariachis finished playing, we did dance. And we gazed at each other during that dance, and the entire universe melted away. When the song was over, I looked at my mother, and she had tears in her eyes. I didn't even have to ask. I could tell by her reaction, that, yes, we had The Look.

In the 15 years since that first dance, we've had our share of ups and downs. Sometimes it seems that there are more downs than ups. Sometimes, things are going swimmingly and then we get knocked down with a harsh reality. Most days, though, we just mosey along and have a pretty normal, pretty satisfying life. But throughout it all, up, down or happily in the middle, we've always known that at the end of the day, we have each other. We have the life we've built, with each other and for each other, and that is all that matters. We have our home and our family, and he has me and I have him.

And sometimes, not often, but sometimes, we dance together.

Happy Anniversary to my husband of 15 years. You are my love, my life, my soul and my heart.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

rough patch

hey there! kinda had a sucky week. I won't go into it here again, 'cause it will likely make me re-live it and make me sad and gloomy Gus all over again. I'm trying to work through it, the only way I know how, one day at a time. and every now and again take stock of the blessings in my life instead of on the trials.

I have decided that I need a race to work toward, though. Without one, I'm kind of floating, flittering, not targeted or focused. So that's the goal for this week, to sort through and determine what kind of race I want to do -- do I want to work on speed and try to beat my 10K pr? do I want to brave the water again and try to do a late-season sprint tri? do I want to do another marathon? and if so? when and where? so many questions, so many things to consider.

Meanwhile, I'm running when I can and walking when I can and (as usual) trying to watch what I eat. and I'm just doing what I need to get through one day and to the next one. It's going to get easier sooner or later, it just has to, and I just have to hold tight until it does.

ORN -- 5.78 miles in 1:01:39 -- felt slow and sluggish even though it really wasn't. It was just so hot by the time I left that the sun was beating down on me and making me feel slow.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thirteen


So, with all the recent happenings at Casa de Skatemom, I have come to a startling realization that we aren't in control of how much time we have on this earth. Fatalistic? Maybe. But being the "cup is half-full" type of gal I am (the kind that I'm sure makes my pessimist hubby half-full of crazy most days), I am taking this realization and instead of hiding under the table, I am making a list. A list of places I'd love to take my kids before they fly away to their own little lives. And I intend to make that list of dreams actionable (yeah, I hate that corporate-speak, too, but it seems to fit here) by setting a plan, a schedule, a way To Make It Happen. For now, though, I'm just working on getting the list together (in alphabetical order). Suggestions and commentary are welcome!

1. Alaska - catch a salmon to grill on a cedar plank
2. Arizona/Utah - camping/cycling
3. Aspen - winter skiing redux, with less anxiety and more fun
4. Boston - Fenway Park & American history tour
5. Carolinas/Outer Banks - family beach week
6. Cozumel - diving/snorkeling/margaritas
7. Destin - family beach week
8. Grand Canyon - rafting and hiking and being Brady
9. New York City/upstate - new NY ballparks and Hall of Fame
10. Orlando - theme parks redux
11. San Diego - visiting the zoo and the Bat
12. Spain - tapas and tilting at windmills!
13. Washington, DC/Williamsburg, VA - museum/history tour

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun!

Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

View More Thursday Thirteen Participants

Friday, July 17, 2009

so, yeah...

so last time on this station, we were contemplating what comes next in the plan for me...what I could take on to stretch myself, and challenge myself physically, and somehow, slowly, start me back on track for that big goal of mine that I have been avoiding lately... and then, well, life hit me. It hit full on, hard.

It hit all of us in my family last month, when my mother-in-law got sick and ended up in the hospital unexpectedly. Then it hit even harder when she passed away less than three weeks later. Stage Four stomach cancer was the official cause of death. But strangely, we really don't feel like we ever had a chance to fight the cancer, since her system was so weakened by it by the time it was diagnosed that she never stabilized enough for us to come up with a treatment plan or strategy. Ultimately, it was too late for her. Our only solace is that we had enough time with her to tell her we loved her, to thank her for all that she had done for us, and in the end, she didn't suffer, she wasn't in pain, and she knew that she was loved.

And now, our lives are in an upheaval, and the least of my worries are the extra 30 pounds I've been trying to drop for the last three years. If only that was the biggest thing on my mind right now. My kids are devastated, my husband is at a total loss, and my father-in-law is adrift without his partner of nearly 43 years, although we all acknowledge that he doesn't fully realize it yet. And my biggest support system is gone. I've always maintained that I can't do the job that I have without her, and now that she is no longer a part of our lives, I'm not sure how to move forward. My most major concern is keeping everyone balanced, allowing and encouraging them to grieve as they need, to but not letting it overshadow their entirety. We have to honor her at the same time that we move forward.

So my priorities have shifted, to say the least. And after running every day in June, I didn't run for the first two weeks of July. There was too much to think about, too much to do, too much to coordinate with her in the hospital, and family members coming in from out of town, and the kids worried about her but not really wanting to see her with tubes and wires and IV drips attached to her, preferring instead to remember her as she was a few short weeks earlier, and as she will be in their memories. She wanted us to go on our trip to Austin even though she was in the hospital, because she wanted her boys to have a good vacation. And I didn't make it a priority to run while we were down there because I needed to take a break. And when we got back, things had progressed to where there wasn't a chance to go out, or if I had the chance, I didn't take it because I needed to be with my boys or with my husband. And that was the right thing to do at that time.

But on the day after my mother-in-law died, I woke up and needed to go for a run. I needed to clear my head, and process what had just happened and what comes next. And it obviously didn't solve all the problems, but it gave me a little bit of strength to face the day ahead, and a little bit of solace to think about her and all that she had done for me and my kids and my husband in her life.

So what now? I'm not sure. I know traveling for work is going to get tougher. I know it's going to be rough to figure out the next steps. I know I need to focus on what's important, and re-examine and re-evaluate. But I also know that on that list of what's important to me is my running, and my fitness and my health. I need to do that for myself, and for my family. It's all I know how to do right now.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Now what?

So, I was able to complete the June running streak. Ended up with 102 miles for the month, which is more than I've done since February, which was the marathon month, and January, which was the long-run lead-up to the marathon. I'm on the home laptop, so I don't have my stats for the first six months of the year handy, but will post those as soon as I can. I'm doing pretty well, esp compared with last year's dismal performances overall -- I was very disappointed in my mileage for the year last year.

But now what? I didn't come up with July streak idea in time for yesterday, so I took it as a very-much-needed rest day. And today wasn't much better, so for the first time in a very long time (three months? four?), I've gone two consecutive days without any kind of physical exertion at all. And I've had ice cream on both of those days, too. Talk about falling off the wagon. But I'm just extraordinarily unmotivated right now. Doing a swim streak doesn't seem to make sense to me since I would be doing a whole lot of flailing. I *thought* I was a pretty decent swimmer (for someone who didn't know how to swim six months prior) before Danskin two years ago, but after the flipout in the lake, I realize how much I don't know about swimming. I know I suck on the bicycle, but could get better with more miles in the saddle. Tough to do that without a bicycle, though. I know, wah, wah, what a sad story. I know, suck it up and deal and get in the water already. Yeah, I know what I need to do. I'm just having a hard time making it happen. Which is stupid, since making it happen is my specialty. It may not be pretty in the end, but I do make it happen. So what's the problem? If I only knew, and if it could only be solved by hitting the streets, or jumping in the water, or climbing aboard a trusty bicycle. Maybe it can be... and I just need to do it.

Anyway.... got a longish weekend with the boys planned, but not as long as we'd wanted. We'll need to make the most of it, though, and hope that it's good enough to spend some time together and have a couple of days' worth of fun. And maybe by the end of it, I'll have figured out what I need to do to get motivated again for the next big thing, whatever that might be....

Remember to raise the flag this weekend, and celebrate the greatness of the USA. Happy Fourth, folks!! Be safe and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A week to go

So, it appears that I have one week to go in this little self-challenge I set out for myself. In re-reading my archives, I discovered that the last time I tried to do this was in October, and the house thing was what derailed me, and I never got quite back into the swing of things. Luckily, I was deep into marathon training by then, so I had an overall plan to keep me accountable. But I just could never get back to the daily activity thing once I broke the streak. So it's a good thing when I can keep it up.

So now I'm trying to think of what other challenges I can put myself up to for July. July will be tough, since we have a short little family trip scheduled over the Fourth weekend. We won't have a chance to come back up to the mountains like I'd wanted to, even though I will be working in Boulder through August, so I decided we had to do something to get out of town so we don't kill each other. So we're taking a jaunt down to the Austin area, to take the kids to some of the old reliable attractions that we surprisingly never got a chance to do while we were students and lived down there. We're going to the Round Rock Express baseball game on Thursday, then will spend Friday in Austin at Barton Springs and then down at the Congress Ave. bridge watching the bats at dusk. Should be pretty cool. On Saturday we're going to head to the Natural Bridge Caverns and the safari next door down in the New Braunfels area, and then try to spend some time Sunday either tubing on the Guadalupe or at Schlitterbahn. We're playing it loose and free, and are only scheduling a couple of things each day. Mostly, we just want to spend some time together as a family, without me being gone, and without all the distractions and running around that we usually do. It won't be a big summer vacation like we had last year, but it will hopefully be fun nonetheless. Gotta use those hotel points somehow!

Anyway, if you have any ideas for streaks for July and August, let me know. I'm game for almost anything that will get me stronger, faster, leaner and more studly!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New Shoes!

No, I don't have new shoes to show off -- the Saucony Kilkennys have been working out great so far. But, you might get new shoes if you get yourself over to Steve in a Speedo and sign up for his drawing. He's got a $75 gift certificate to give away, courtesy of So go over and drop him a comment. And if you win, make sure you show off your new shoes to everyone!! Good luck!

Friday, June 19, 2009


I'm a runner without a race. A plane without a flight plan. An obsessively compulsive like-to-have-things-mapped-out planner without a blueprint for how to get to somewhere, even though I don't know where that is. Without an entry into NYC for this fall (and lacking the time and energy to take on the fundraising that would be required for a charity entry), I am at a loss. The whole idea behind the June streak was to keep me motivated, so that I don't turn into a lifeless blob on the couch. That's precisely what happens when I don't have a goal in mind. I went into kind of a funk (OK, it was more than "kind of a funk," it was an all-out pre-mid-life crisis) last week, realizing that the NYC marathon was more than jut a goal race, it was a way to mark my birthday, my 40th birthday, and without it, I was facing turning 40 without a spectacular way to celebrate it.

It has a lot to do with the current state of affairs around here right now, too. The economy and the house situation have me feeling stuck, and I'm no longer satisfied with the idea of having to leave my home every week to earn a paycheck. Don't get me wrong, I love my job, I just wish I didn't have to leave my family to get it done. And while i am grateful for the warm safe home I am in now, the plan was to have been in a different house by now, and we all know how that worked out. So being in limbo about the house and the career, and being tired from the constant travel, and then not having a big race for the fall all combined to make me, oh I don't know, melt down. Thankfully, I have some very great girlfriends who helped talk me down and I have a good perspective on things now. Still don't feel in control of jack-squat, but I have a better perspective on it all.

One of the things we talked about is alternative ways to celebrate the birthday. I'd wanted to do a three-day Texas Hill Country bicycle tour last fall, right around mid-October, but decided not to pursue it because of the impending house deal going on at the time. But looking at it now, it seems like about the perfect way for me to stretch myself physically, which was what the marathon was going to be, and to do something new and fun at the same time. It was a women's only tour, with three days of riding, with different ride length/difficulty options for each day and spa services/gourmet meals in the afternoon and evenings. It would be great to get me comfortable with longer distances and also give me the active kind of get-away that I really enjoy. The only problem is that the link from last year is no longer active, and I haven't found another company that is organizing one for this fall yet.

So, that's the goal now -- a bicycle tour through Central Texas, for a couple of days in mid-late October. I'll have to work out logistics, whether it's with a tour company or with a riding club from that area or solo. But that's OK -- planning and logistics are my specialty. I'll have to get ready for it, too, which probably means that the July-August-Sept streaks will be centered around some sort of riding/spinning/exercycling activity instead of running (I'll still be getting my run on, don't you worry about that!). I'll need a new bicycle, but having the goal will give me the reason to either save the money for a new one or make the time to do the research/hunting for a quality used one. No, it's not the NYC marathon, but it might end up being exactly what I'm looking for. How's that song go? "You can't always get you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Week One Down

June streaking is going well so far. Only one day where I had trouble fitting it into the day, and that was yesterday when we started out the morning with a stint at the lake for clean-up day with TDP DinoBoy. We had to head out pretty early, so unless I was up at 5:00 to get the run in, I'd have to postpone it to later in the day. The cleanup itself ended up being quite a workout since there was a lot of crouching in the undergrowth alone the shore picking up bottles, styrofoam and cigarette lighters that ended up on the island in the middle of the lake. Such a shame that so much junk ends up there --anything that goes down the storm drains ends up on the shore of that lake. So, here's my PSA for the day: No more styrofoam! No more plastic bottles! No more! I know a couple of hours picking that stuff up will make us both think twice about using either of those things.

Anyway, after that, we went to visit an aunt on the south end of town who was having a garage sale. It was actually a pretty pleasant morning, so we sat outside on her driveway for a while and caught up on things. Then it was home for lunch, some reading and a nap in the heat of the day before heading to hockey. Then dinner and waiting for the sun to go down. There is a balance here in Texas about how dark it has to get to be cool enough to run outside vs. how dark it is before it's not really safe to run outside. You basically have a window of about half an hour in that gloaming period. So I waited for that and headed out for a quick dash around the neighborhood. I didn't make it for a full three miles, but I at least did the minimum of two, so I was happy with it. And it reminded me that I have to be up early to hit the road while I'm home, or else be prepared to go to the gym and hit the treadmill. I was reminded of that again today, when I slept in until 7:00 and wasn't ready to hit the streets until 7:30. By the time I got done with 5-plus miles, it was steaming hot and the sun was blazing pretty intensely. so, yeah, I've got to get up early now that it's summer. That, or melt into a little puddle on the sidewalk!

So, there's week one in the books. Let's see how week two goes!

Friday, June 05, 2009

streaky streak streak

The longer I go on consecutive days, the easier it gets. I haven't topped more than 3.5 miles a day yet, but that's about all I have time for in the mornings before work. The plan is to get a few longer runs in on Saturday and Sunday. I haven't been paying much attention to the paces of my runs yet, although they are hovering around 10:40 or so in CO and right at 10:00 at home in Texas. After a couple more weeks I will start focusing more on the speed -- for now, I'm just trying to re-establish the habit and make myself accountable so that I get back into the groove of running with no excuses made, no "I'll do it tomorrows" even when there's not a big goal race on the calendar.

The longer I do this, the easier it gets. I like that!

Thursday, June 04, 2009


no, I'm not taking over Chocolate Friday from Jon, I'm just sad that for the third year in a row, I did NOT get picked for the NYC marathon lottery. Which means I have to find another way to celebrate turning 40 this fall. Fortunately, it also means I get in for sure next year. But still, I was hoping to do something spectacular for the 4-oh milestone, and NYC Marathon has spectacular written all over it. So now what?

I guess the other part of this is that I'm going to need to get on the bicycle again. And in the pool. yippee...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

wow, has it been that long??

sheesh, I'm hideous at updating the blog lately. It just seems like it's the same song, different verse, y'know, so there's not too much interesting going on. Still hitting the road to Colorado every week, still trying to drop those same last 30 (+/-) pounds I've been trying to lose for the last three years, still trying to run faster, but frankly not seeing much progress anywhere. Hell, it's all I can do most weeks to get a good 20 miles of slow jogs and walking to pick up dinner.

So, to combat all that, we're streaking again. June has 30 days in it, and I've run two of 'em so far. I need to throw in some weight training and continue with the push-ups (re-starting week 2 for the third time now, ahem) and situps (not as consistent, but can definitely rock about 50+ in a day no problem -- the muscles are good under all the layers of 8-year-old baby fat...).

It seems like the only time I get any traction at all on my weight is when I log 25-30 miles a week, so getting at least 3 miles a day in while traveling and then a few longer runs on the weekends will hopefully get me there (5-7 tops right now is what counts as long). I'm also being conscientious about what I put in my mouth, and tracking calories and fat grams again. I hate to be anal-retentive about things, but lately I've been horrified by photos of me (Bolder Boulder* race photos a perfect case in point, random snapshots another) and frustrated by how my clothes fit. So it's time to be conscious about it again, at least for a couple of weeks. It's not a diet, it's more of a budget of calories, and knowing that I need to be aware of what I eat and how much. I hate it, but it ain't happening any other way, so here we go again.

I will hopefully hear about my lottery entry into NYC Marathon in the next few days, which will give me a goal to work toward. I tend to need some kind of goal race in my future or I end up being, what's the word, I don't know... LAZY!? If I don't get into NYC, I will throw myself wholeheartedly back into triathlon and aim to get two sprints and an Olympic in by October. Which would necessitate getting into the water... and on a bicycle... Neither of which I've done purposefully for more than a year. Yeah, I'm really hoping I get into NYC...

I need to get back into triathlon in any case, just because I really feel more like an athlete when I'm doing the swimming and the cycling in addition to the running. Any maniac can run a marathon -- it takes a special kind of crazy to do triathlon! And again, while I've put the Ironman goal on hold for the immediate future (as in, ain't gonna happen before 40, which is this fall, btw. EEEP!), it's not permanently gone, so I need to be moving in that direction eventually. I haven't been in the financial situation to be able to take the TI workshop as I planned, and I really feel that I need that or something similar before I jump back into the water for longer distances. My swimming is so atrocious that I am afraid of building up bad habits if I spend too much time unassisted and uncoached. But I need to be able to build up the stamina and confidence to swim 600-800 yards in open water in the next four months, so that's the goal there.

And the bicycle thing has an economic aspect to it, too. The Toys 'r Us thing from two summers ago is not fit for riding even around the neighborhood (one of the brake levers is toast and the alignment is just.not.right..) and yet, I don't have even $200 to put down toward a used entry-level road bike right now. I've been checking Craig's list and ebay, but haven't had the time in my three days at home to scout the bike shops for trade-ins or even the goodwill stores or pawnshops. Plus, there's the whole fit thing to deal with. And I get extremely intimidated walking into a real bicycle shop because I'm such a total newb. You could sell me the Brooklyn Bridge if you said it would get me to ride 15 mph.

So I'm a little underprepared to dive back in, and if my first two sprint triathlons two summers ago taught me anything, it's how superbly not ready I was for them. I think I'll have a lot more fun if I can get everything lined up beforehand, right? But at the same time, I don't want to go into analysis paralysis and wait for the perfect alignment of stars, sun and moon before I get back into the pool. Sometimes, you gotta just take a deep breath and jump right in. So there.

I'm also trying to do the Twitter thing. Feel free to ask to follow me (txskatemom) -- I'm still not sure how it all works. But I'm hoping that it will be another tool for me to use re: accountability with the streak and the eating.

*re: Bolder Boulder 10K over Memorial Day -- I owe a race report and photos from that. It was awe.some. I have a draft started but haven't had a chance to get back to it. Soon enough, folks, soon enough. The blogging will come back with the streaking, I think. It usually does. thanks for sticking it out with me while I get my schtuff in a pile over here!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hey there!

Been offline for a while (OK, total lie, I've been on FB and working, and keeping up with everyone else's blogs on Google Reader) but haven't had much to say around here. I've been busy getting this one a year older, although I have a hard time believing it:

He was thrilled with his hockey-centric birthday gifts (new stick, Sid the Kid jersey from the Winter Classic, new skates -- still too big but ready for him when he needs them, and enough moolah to procure a new helmet) and unlike the birthday when he turned five and dismissed everyone after cake and presents, he seemed genuinely engaged in hanging out with his family at the gathering. At 14, he is definitely attitudinal, sassy and too smart for his own good. But with the flip of a switch, he is also still very sweet and affectionate and good-natured and most amazingly is still willing to sit with me on the couch and watch cooking shows. He alternately fills me with wonder and kills me with his 14-ness.

NOTE: I drafted this the weekend of his party, before his actual birthday, but Blogger wouldn't let me upload the photo and I hadn't had a chance to re-try until today.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Biggest Loser recap

So, I haven't blogged in a while, but that's because I was on a crazy-go-nuts trip this week that took me from DFW to DC, then back to DFW (where I at least got to have a leisurely dinner with TDP DinoBoy and Hubby) before heading back to Denver/Boulder for the rest of the work week. Craziness. But I was able to get one great run in mid-week, although I wish I'd had the energy to have more than one. There just wasn't enough time to fit in five flights, airport time and 40 hours of work and some semblance of sleep into four and a half days. Plus there was a crazy-go-nuts drive on Monday evening that should have been FIVE MINUTES down a big thick road (on the map it looked big and thick) but ended up as a 90-minute rain-soaked drive around DC peppered with signs to Maryland, homeless people knocking on my window, and a notable lack of street signs. On the upside, I did see the New Zealand Embassy!

Yeah, and in the midst of that, I also missed out on The Biggest Loser finale, since I was 32,000 feet above West Texas and in a cab while it was on the air. I thought about doing a self-imposed media blackout on it until I could get home and watch it on the DVR, but thought that might be impossible, so I just gave up early Wednesday and googled it. I was not completely surprised that Helen won, but I was a little taken aback by exactly how thin she was. At 117 pounds, she is just above the "underweight" category on the BMI scale. She has lost more than half of her original weight. And while I'm happy for her, I have to say that in reading her follow-up interviews, you can see how she was able to do it:

I would get up at 4:30 every morning and hit the gym two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and two hours in the evening. In between, of course, I ate plenty of good food and got rest. It paid off.

Some of the other articles I've read mentioned that she didn't go back to work (she had left her job before going to the Ranch), and hired three different trainers. Her kids are older (like the daughter that went to the ranch with her) so they don't require attention or shuttling to and fro for their activities. She also said that she didn't go out with her friends during the time she was home after leaving the last weigh-in -- if they wanted to see her, they had to meet her at the gym. Sounds pretty intense.

Again, I'm not knocking her. I'm glad she was able to get this under control. But I think it's fairly obvious that this is NOT a realistic lifestyle, either for her to maintain long term, or for anyone else with a job, a family, and daily responsibilities. Could I fit six hours of training into each day? Maybe, but not with this job, and not with having to cook, clean, chase homework around, and drive kids to hockey and gymnastics. Would it take six hours a day for me to look like that? Maybe not. Am I willing to try? Not so much. Balance, people, balance.

I imagine that when I get to the point in a few years where I am actively training for long-distance triathlon (still on my radar despite not actually being on a bicycle in several months) that I might hit two or three hours of training a day, with more on the weekends for the long runs and long rides. But one of the reasons I put that off for now is that I can't dedicate that much time to training. Not when my kids are still home and needing my attention, and not when I'm only home three days a week to give them that attention as it is. So does that mean that I've given up on losing weight and getting into fighting shape in addition to my running and whatever tri-training I can get this summer? Absolutely not. All I'm saying is that I need to have some balance, and as much as I love to see the great dramatic results from TBL, I know they are not at all realistic for me to emulate. But it does make for good TV.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Park Run

OK, I have to say that the parks here in Colorado do not bear a close resemblance to the parks in my neighborhood. There is a HUGE park not even a mile from the hotel, and I mean HUGE - 740 acres and 25 miles of trails huge! I ran around part of the periphery of it, and didn't even come close to scratching the surface. I am so sad that I ran the opposite direction toward the gym yesterday instead of looking on a stupid map and seeing this expanse of green there so close by.

Anyway, I had a great run there and really challenged myself with all the inclines and trails. These were real trails, as in NOT PAVED! and even though you could see the phone & electric poles and wires (thankfully -- they were part of what kept directionally challenged me on track when the trees obscured the view of Pike's Peak), there really was a feeling of being totally removed from people. I don't get that at Craven's or at Stovall (no offense, South A, really, I love my suburban home... I do!). So it was just a lot of fun, and this place is just perfect for running. I am just sad that I'm only here for another day and won't have another chance for an afternoon run out there. Wah.

From Drop Box

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

running again

wow. there is even less oxygen here in Colorado Springs (6035 feet) than there is in Boulder (5430 feet). But I still made it to the gym to run today, because I'm bound and determined to be ready to have fun at the Bolder Boulder in three weeks. And I won't have a lot of fun if I'm huffing and puffing and flipping out from the hills and gasping for breath because I've squandered my high-altitude training days during the week. So it's back to work for me. I ran a 10K in my neighborhood Sunday afternoon, even though I didn't feel like it. I came in about 1:03, which is a pretty good pace, esp since I was taking it pretty easy. I fully expect to add about 20-30 second per mile to compensate for the altitude, so pretty much anything under about 70 minutes would be a good run for me. I'm really looking forward to it -- it's supposed to be a blast and I'm excited to have the chance to run it. I registered today and when I get to Boulder next week I'll pick up my packet with three shirts (tee, long-sleeved tech shirt, short-sleeved tech shirt) and a pair of Crocs (never had any before, but something tells me I may come to love them).

I was terribly dismayed to log into my sit ups logger today and find that it was MARCH since I last logged a sit ups workout. I was not dismayed, however, to find out that I was able to pick up right where I left off, with Day 3 of Week 2. So that was a little sliver of good news. With push-ups, um, yeah, not so good. We'll be starting Week 1 all over again. I WILL finish, and I am determined to get to where I can do several good-form pushups without dying. I will. That is all there is to it.

So that's what going on at Casa de Skatemom these days. I've got to shift focus once the 10K is over and get back on the bike and jump back into the swim of things. This is going to be intimidating for me, but it must be done. It WILL be done. I won't be fast at either one, but I've never let that stop me before!

Friday, May 01, 2009

New Shoes

Sticking with Saucony, but going with something a bit flatter. Don't know if this will help me run faster, or get stronger, but we'll give it a try. I'll let you know how they work out once I get 'em. I've heard many nice things about, so we'll see if their customer service needs to be put to the test if they don't work out for me.

didn't run much this week -- just had too much going on with a difficult flight on Monday making me arrive at the office more than three hours late. I felt like I had to play catch-up for the rest of the time in CO. I did walk some on Monday, to and from the Whole Foods, and I ran during The Biggest Loser, but that was it. I'm headed out to the gym here in a bit to hit the incline treadmill, but I have to wait until the iPod is recharged so I don't die of boredom. I'm hoping I can get in two more runs over the weekend and maybe get a streak going for May. Maybe. We shall see.

anyway, gotta go. There is much gnashing of teeth because I won't surrender the laptop. Apparently there is much Mafia Wars to be played... heh....

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top Ten List

Greyhound just made his list of the top ten reasons a middle-aged man should run. Here's mine of why nearly-40-year-old moms should run:

10. because there's no better excuse to buy new shoes every month and a half

9. because shopping at expos when you're not a runner makes you feel like a poser

8. because the annual doctor's visits takes so much less time when they can't find anything wrong with you

7. because, otherwise, buying that much BodyGlide is kinda gross

6. because your kids will think it's normal for mom to be sweatier than they are

5. because you get the world to yourself at 5:00 am (OK, sometimes you have to share with the garbageman, the newspaper guy, and the other runners in your neighborhood, but still)

4. because there's no better way to see the places to which you travel than on foot, during a run

3. because you can outrun most, if not all, of the other 2nd grade moms in the school 5K

2. because they told you that you can't, or you shouldn't, or that you're crazy to

1. because you can

Sunday, April 26, 2009

podium finish!

I came in second place! I wasn't even going to do this race, since I'm supposed to be about mile 16 by now. But since I was around, I thought sure, why not? Never mind that I haven't done any 5Ks on my own in a long while -- any races of that distance in the last two or three years have been with one or the other of the boys, at their pace. I've been doing 10Ks, which I love, since you go out hard but can't give too much or you burn out before the end, and of course, the half and full distances. So it was going to be a change for me to do a 5K.

Elder Child was volunteering as part of his Scout troop, so we had to be at the race site (at TDP DinoBoy's school) by 6:30ish. TDP DinoBoy chose not to participate since he had a retreat at school starting at 9:00, and the 5K started at 8:30. He could have done the mile run, but he wanted to do the full instead, so he opted to sleep in (is this my kid or what? Not even worth getting out of bed for a mere mile!!). I dropped the older one off and then turned back to the 'bucks on the corner for my oatmeal breakfast, since I had about an hour to kill before the first race.

After a bit it was time to head over for registration. I drove the route to get an idea of the elevation changes (which were gradual, but definitely there was an incline at mile 2 and a couple of rollers toward the end of mile 3 right before turning toward the finish). I parked at the remote lot about half a block away, then got there in time for the flag raising, pledge of allegiance and opening prayer (it's a Catholic school, so we get to do that), then it was time for the one mile run. A lot of the kids and families I know were out there, so it was fun to see the kids running and having a good time. Before long, it was time for the 5K group to line up.

This was an inaugural race, so nobody really knew how many people would show up. I was evaluating the field and trying to figure out how many of the women there were in my age group, and if they were, how many might be faster than me. In actuality, I wasn't concerned with whether I won in my age group, but only that I came in faster than the other 2nd grade moms!! It had been threatening rain all morning, and right before the start, it did start to sprinkle a bit, but just enough to make it steamier. There was a little bit of a wind, so we knew it was not going to be an easy go. The race coordinator gave us instructions, which basically were "Turn right," but he also told us that it was a challenging course, and he warned us about the uphill at mile 2. And then we were off.

I had a hard time catching my breath at the outset, and the humidity made it tough to find a groove. I was pretty well established in a good pace by the first half-mile though, and the wind kept us a little cooler. At the first mile marker, I was surprised to see that I had clocked a 9:28. The second mile was uphill almost immediately, and it was tough to maintain that pace. I also stopped at the water stop for a cup of water to drink and a cup to douse myself. That immediately brought some relief, as the humidity was starting to take a toll on me. We turned the corner again and immediately hit another hill. Bleagh. But, by now, we knew the worst of the elevation was behind us, and we also knew that we were past the half-way point. I hit the 2nd mile marker and was pleased to see another sub-10:00 split, although it was slower than the first one at 9:53. I was definitely starting to fade by the time I made the last turn into the final stretch. I could hear someone coming up behind me, but was determined not to let them catch me. We hit a downhill about then, and I cranked it up. I kept hearing Grace Lazenby's voice in my head, telling me to keep my shoulders back, head up, just a little more, just a little more. I don't know who was behind me, only that they didn't catch me. I pulled away right before we hit the last big incline leading to the school, and I knew they weren't going to catch me then. We had the very last turn toward the finish and I was thrilled to see 29 and change on the timer. I knew I wouldn't make sub-30, but I had gone into the race expecting 31 and something since I knew the hills were going to be a factor. But when I crossed at 30:38 on my watch, I was very happy with the result.

I hung around for a while, talked to some of the other parents I saw, and got a breakfast taco. I wasn't sure where I'd come in, though, since I saw some pretty strong women in front of me, and I could only guess at their ages. I had to get home to make ice cream for last night's dinner club, though, so I left while they were still picking up the course. I didn't think anything more about it until this morning, when we picked up the paper and flipped through the results in the back of the sports section. Check that out! I placed second in my age group! Who knew?! I went online to check out the full results and saw that of 90 female entrants, I came in 24th overall, which is the first time I've come in the top third. I also came in 51st among all 146 finishers, so I barely missed top third there. So I'm pretty jazzed. Almost worth the headache I had later in the day from going out too fast and not re-hydrating enough! But mostly, I was pleased to have run hard and finished well.

Today is looking like a serious lazy day as far as family stuff goes. Hockey was postponed to Wednesday, so we really just have laundry and groceries to do. But I am going to try to hit the TM for some hills, just so I don't feel like a total slug.