Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wide Awake & Dreaming




Julie has laid out the narcoleptic experience from beginning to end. From mysterious symptoms, diagnosis, meds management, lost hope for a 'fix' to finding a way to best live with such a little-known disorder, Julie shows what it is like to live with narcolepsy.

Narcolepsy is so under diagnosed, that narcoleptics have trouble finding others to learn from and share experiences and non-effected people know little to nothing about it. This book is a wonderful source to hear another's story as well as for non-effected persons to learn about such a fascinating disorder.

Julie writes a compelling story in plain language. A must read for sure!

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Guess a Girl Can't Live on Running Alone

Today I did my first yoga class. It was harder than it looks (as I expected). Through the whole class I kept thinking, this is going to be so good for my running!

Yep, I'll have to do another one! :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Running With Rocks in My Shoes

So I came in from my run tonight and my shoes sounded like tap shoes on the floor. I looked and there was a big 'ol rock wedged in the heel of my shoe. Wonder how long that was there!

Monday, November 12, 2012

A Guest Post from My Friend Amy K.

This is my friend Amy and her "Goofy" husband Chris:
They are two of our friends who've kindly endured about three years of listening to me and Kris talk nothing but running, and racing and our addiction to endorphins. They are kind and patient people. Which is just one reason why we love them.

Amy is the person who introduced me to the Zombies, Run! game. Yeah, she's the one responsible for starting my obsession!  And now she is using the Zombies, Run! 5k training app to train for her first ever 5k! WOOT! (I have the honor of running the 5k with her).

I am so excited for my friend to join the world of racing and expect her to find the same excitement I do in training for and completing an event.  It's hard and sometimes often it hurts. But we love it and it's too hard to describe why. We just tell our friends they have to do it to understand it. Amy is the first of our friends to try it.  And she's starting to understand it. Read on!


While I was out running today, I think I had an epiphany.

For those of you who don't know, I'm training for my first 5K, which I plan on doing on December 9. I am doing a training program called Zombies, 5K, that is a "couch to 5K" training mixed with zombie chases and an interesting story.

My training today started with a 10 minute warmup, followed by interevals of one minute running, one minute walking, and knee lifts. I was in the middle of the first run, and really miserable. My head was down, I was staring at the ground, gasping for breath, counting the seconds until I could stop running. In fact, I could barely lift my feet up. All I could think was "there's no way I can do this -- there's no way I can go through 5 more weeks of training, and the thought of actually RUNNING a 5K is a joke." And then I started thinking about why I was doing this. Why was I putting myself through this misery?

It's a good question. I've had people assume I was doing this to lose weight. And, while that seems to be a side benefit (as evidenced by my jeans that won't stay on without help), that wasn't my goal. It's not for the physical fitness aspect, either, although that seems to be a prerequisite. At first, I thought I was just doing this because the app was kind of cool, and I figured it would be something to do, but the more I thought about it, that really wasn't it either. And then I realized the real reason I'm out there doing this. I dream about running. Not daydreams, but dreams at night. I regularly dream of running, effortlessly. And it feels GOOD in my dreams. It doesn't hurt, I'm not gasping for air, I'm just running. It feels so good in my dreams, I want that feeling in reality, while I'm awake.

All of this passed through my mind in the time it took me to finish the run, walk for a minute, and do my knee lifts. When it was time to run again, I didn't look down, I raised my head. I didn't count the seconds, I lip-synced to the music that was playing. I didn't grimace in pain and stress, I grinned with joy. And I RAN. At the end of the 60 seconds, yes, I was gasping for air (like always). My muscles screamed at me (like always). But the difference was, I felt good.

My pace was still slow, but I'm okay with that. Approaching it with joy made me realize why there are so many crazy people who do this. I am clearly not built for running. I'm seriously overweight. I've got asthma, and some gnarly arthritis in my knees, but, damn it, I'm going to run.

I'm still not getting those elusive endorphins, though.

Don't worry Amy, the endorphins will come later. :) Run on Girl! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Spooky Halloween Run

First, this is Trooper our "Bat Cat". That was his costume for Halloween. It's too bad we weren't home for the trick or treaters this year because I think they would've really gotten a kick out of him. :)

We weren't home that night because we were out running. 


Kris took Kenai: 

I took Heather: 

Kris and I got a late start. It was good and dark except the moon was almost full. I didn't need a headlamp. But I did wish I had a flasher for Heather. 

So we all started at the same point. But Kris and Kenai took a southern route; Heather and I started running north. There's a bike trail that runs along the boundary of a park. I like running around the park at night. It's quiet and cool; and tonight, it was eerie. 

This was the same trail Heather and I was on when we ran into a skunk! I kept my eyes peeled. As we ran down the path, I noticed the baseball field lights were off. No games tonight. No one else on the path, no one in the park. It was Halloween after all. Everyone was giving candy or getting candy. It was so peaceful. But I was starting to wish I had brought my pepper spray and stun gun. (Yes, usually, when I run at night I run armed).

Now those of you who know me, know I've been playing this running game Zombies, Run! It's a role playing game you play while you are out running. There are character actors and realistic sound effects. And for imaginative people like me, you can just get lost in the game. Oh yeah, and zombies chase you. 

So here I am running in the peace and quiet with my dog. And I start thinking about the zombies. And I remember it's Halloween. And my imagination starts to get active. 

I kept an eye on Heather because she can spot things before I do. She was absolutely unbothered. 
Soon we had to turn off the path and run through some woods to get into the park. This was the spookiest part. The trees make weird shadows and I felt like Heather and I were the only ones around for miles. And like I said, my imagination was having fun!

You know, the only way the zombies get you is either by cornering you some place where there is no exit, or hiding somewhere and surprising you. Otherwise, you can always out run them. 
As I'm mulling this over in my head, we make the turn off into the woods and Heather is still calm as a cucumber. We run through the trees and immediately I see a shadow of a zombie behind a tree to my left! I quickly turn to confront it and... nothing there. I turn back to the trail and I see several shadows to my right. I spin, and... I just see trees. 

It is creepy! But I laugh to myself because there is nothing I'd rather do than run in the peace and quiet with my dog and have my own little "Haunted Run". Besides, the weather was wonderful! Cool and misty with light fog hanging on everything. 

At another point, we run back out of the park and onto a road that runs along the outskirts of a neighborhood. As we ran by I looked down one of the side streets and see the trick or treaters crossing the street back and forth in their cute little costumes. 

We kept running. 

As we were circling back toward our starting point, I realized I needed more mileage. So we made a detour to the airport. There are more trees and a big empty field on the south side. We ran up to the runway fence where we took a break and watch the runway lights while I caught my breath. I let Heather off the leash and let her explore. 

She ran down into a nearby ditch and my imagination saw her running back up with a zombie arm in her mouth. I shook my head and called her. She trotted right up out of the ditch without anything in her mouth and started running right at my side. We ran through the big empty field on our way back to the car, both of us free spirits. Halloween spirits perhaps. :)

We made it back to the car just before Kris and Kenai came running in from the trail we started on. Kris had had just as nice of run as I did. Though he report no zombies on his route. 

The time changed this weekend. I'll be doing most my runs at night. I'll be running with my Zombies, Run! game. I have a feeling I'll be running faster than my average pace though. You know; to keep ahead of the zombies! :) 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My new shoes were in at GH Sports and the day before I was going up there to pick them up, my Garmin died. It served me (pretty well) for five years.

Now that I have GPS on my phone, I only needed a watch to do my intervals.

I got an Timex Ironman 50. It is so much smaller than my Garmin and a fraction of the weight! So weird.

But the weirdest thing of all? It actually tells time! Strange.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Common Misconceptions About Running


Below is a guest post from my running enthusiast husband Kris. You can see more of his thoughts and many of his amazing photos at: kmadaus.org. Enjoy!

Running is a funny sport. It almost feels odd to call it a sport because it is so simple. You just put one foot in front of the other. Many, many times. There’s not really a lot of skill involved. I have been a runner for a little less than five years. When I started, I never in my life suspected I would ever be a runner. Now, in less than five years, I am running almost daily, I have run in four marathons, I have run thousands of miles, and I am more surprised than anyone about it.
I have seen my own misconceptions about running dissolve slowly over time, and it becomes so obvious any time I am talking to a non-runner. Many of these misconceptions are so embedded in people’s minds. It almost makes me sad because they have shut themselves out of a sport that has brought me so much happiness. Here are a handful of them to ponder.

“I can’t run. My body is not built for running.”

This is usually incorrect, no matter what size or shape you are. I realize there is a stereotype that runners are tall and slender. I realize that I fit that stereotype. But I know many runners that do not. It doesn’t matter. Unless you have some major physical limitation, you are built to be a runner. All human are. There is evidence to suggest that early humans were persistence hunters. Humans were not as fast as a deer, for example. They would follow that for miles until the deer got too tired to continue. The humans persisted until they caught the deer or else they would not have had food to eat. If you were not a runner, you did not survive. We all evolved as runners. Read the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall to learn more. It is a very entertaining book.

“I can’t run. The last time I ran, I didn’t even make it one mile.”

Incorrect. True, you may not have made it even one mile the last time you tried, but you were doing it wrong. I guarantee it because I was doing it wrong too. You don’t start off by running one mile. You start off my running for maybe one minute then walking one or two minutes. You build up from there. I was a pretty fit person five years ago before I started running. I could run one mile, but I was in pain. So I started of very, very slow. Everybody has to start off slow. You need a plan when you start running.
In addition to a plan, you need to learn about pace. Proper pace is critical in running, whether you are a beginner or an expert. Most people start off by running way too fast. When somebody can’t make it one mile without feeling like they are dying from suffocation, it is always due to improper pace. The rule of thumb is you should be able to hold a conversation with somebody while you are running. If you can’t do that because you are breathing too hard, you are running too fast. In the beginning, that usually means you have to do a bit of walking. But don’t worry! That will change if you continue with your plan.

“I can’t run. My knees can’t take the pounding.”

Incorrect. Once again, this probably has to do with improper form. You should never be “pounding” your knees when you are running.
When I started running, I was under the impression that I had weak knees. What I found over the years is that I never took the time to exercise the muscles that support the knees. Instead, I would go out to climb a Sierra peak, literally pounding my knees for 10–15 miles when I did not properly strengthen the proper muscles. The plan I used when I started running was specifically geared toward injury prevention. (Check out “The Beginning Runners Handbook” for more details.) What I found during my first year is that running actually eliminated my knee problems as long as I followed the plan. I was able to climb Sierra peaks without any knee pain at all – the first time ever.
Essentially, this means you need to increase your mileage gradually – about 10% per week – and build rest weeks into your plan. This allows for the leg muscles to be pushed hard and then spend some time recovering. It is a tried and true plan for strength training. It will not only save your knees, but it will make you stronger all around. If you go from running five miles one week to running ten miles the next week, you will have problems. Once again, it is best to pick a goal and follow a plan to get there.

“I can’t run. It’s just too boring.”

Untrue. I have only heard this comment from people who spend most of their time indoors. The best part about running is that you can get outside and experience the world. I would never recommend anyone run on a treadmill because that is boring. When you get outside, you get to meet new people, breathe fresh air, see wild animals, play in the rain, watch the sunrise, listen to music, explore new places, smell the world you live in, and many other things. It is great!
Just in the last three days of running, I ran a trail through a historic mission, saw a bobcat, climbed an unnamed peak, spent time with my dogs, ran barefoot, saw a huge owl, took some photos, ran in the dark under a (almost) full moon, listened to a couple of good podcasts, and watched a beautiful sunset. If I had stayed at home and watched TV, I would have missed out on life. You gain more appreciation for the world you live in when you run. You see and feel things that you would never see driving in a car, and you can stop to get a better look any time you want. It is anything but boring!

“I can’t run. I don’t have the time.”

Not true. Everybody has the same amount of time. You choose how you use it. If you are really honest with yourself, you will probably find that much of your time goes toward disposable things like checking your Facebook status, watching TV, oversleeping on a weekend, playing video games, or taking on projects for other people. Before you know it, these low priority items end up feeling like an obligation when they are not. The truth is that you can choose how you want to spend your time. You just have to find out what is most important to you and sacrifice the rest.
Some people have certain preconceptions in their mind about time and running. Here are some:
  • I get home after dark, so I can’t run.
  • I have kids to take care of, so I can’t run.
  • It’s raining outside, so I can’t run.
  • I made plans with so-and-so, and I can’t break that commitment.
  • Running takes a lot of time that I don’t have.
The list could go on and on, but none of these things are true. Here’s why:
  • It’s easy and fun to run in the dark. You could always get a headlamp if you need one. They are inexpensive.
  • Kids can take part in your running. They can ride bikes next to you as you run. You spouse can take the kids on your run days. Many options are out there for those that really want to find them.
  • Running in the rain is one of the most rewarding experiences. You get to throw away all of society’s limitations and just get wet! Shoes will dry. Run free! Enjoy!
  • Commitments with people are fine, but you have to make a commitment to yourself. If you are following a plan to reach your first 10k, marathon, or half marathon, is that important to you? If your friends are true friends, they will understand and support you in your training. If not, screw them. You can probably meet them after your run anyway, and who knows? You might even be able to talk them into joining you.
  • Running doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You can spend 30 minutes a day three days a week running. That’s better than nothing. Can you spare three 30 minute intervals per week? You should be able to. If not, look honestly at how you spend your time. You are sure to find places to cut.
Running is not for everyone, but it fits most people better than they think. It might fit you. If you are not interested in running, try biking, swimming, hiking, kayaking, or anything else that gets you outside. There is a long list of the benefits of an active lifestyle. Just don’t let these common misconceptions hold you back. Running can change your life. Literally.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Working Out on the Road


So I was away from home on business and I HATE being away from home because it always wreaks havoc with my workouts. 

You see, I CAN NOT work out in the morning. I have tried and tried to run in the morning  and I have crappy work outs and just hate it. Ok, I LOVE the quietness of the morning and running when things are cool and there is no one else out there except a couple other runners. But other than that, I HATE it. 

Ok, back to my business trip. Even though my knee isn’t 100% rehabbed yet, recent life events drive me to get back to running or crumble into deep depths of depression. I hate depression worse than running in the morning. So I started half-marathon training this week, the week I leave for a business trip. 

The problem with business trips is that, as previously established, I do not work out in the morning. Which only leaves after work to work out. However, my travel companions always want to go out to dinner soon after returning from work. Further, the dinner place is usually a sit-down that has big food. After drinks, dinner and conversation, we don’t get back from the hotel until late and we’re stuffed to the gills. No way I’m running after that. 

I could skip the dinner with the crew. But then you get tagged as “anti-social”. Besides, you miss the really important work ‘updates’ if you don’t go to those outings. And, trying local restaurants is a happy perk of business travel. Really, do I want to miss that? 

This week, I was traveling with our finance guy Chuck. I love traveling with Chuck. He’s a great travel companion. Thank goodness because the trips we’ve been on together usually involve a car ride lasting, at minimum, six hours! That’s a long time to be in a car with someone. 

But Chuck is easy going, plays old rock on the radio and sings to it sometimes. Carefree happy guy. Even after driving for seven hours with me in the car he’s still happy-go-lucky. Which proves he’s a good guy. Or on really good meds. Whatever. 

So as we left our meeting today I asked Chuck, “What’s the plan for dinner? Did you want to go early?” (I was hoping to get back to the hotel early and settle in for the night). 
He replied, “Well, I’d like to get a workout in first.” 

Yes!

Now everyone who’s stayed in a hotel even once knows most hotel gyms are pitiful! You’re lucky if there is one treadmill and a stationary bike. So I worried we’d both be in the gym staring at one treadmill wondering which method of combat to use to decide who gets to use it. 

Hotel Gym Pictures, Images and Photos

I would just run outside except it was 101 degrees at 4pm and there were three wildfires in full force nearby making the air quality unhealthy. So I asked Chuck what kind of workout he wanted. “Do you need the treadmill?” 

“No. I’ll jump on the elliptical.” 

Sweet. 

So I changed into my workout clothes as fast as possible and hoped no one else was in the gym. I’d be bummed if someone else was on the treadmill because I wasn’t about to bogart the elliptical from Chuck and if a treadmill wasn’t available I wasn’t going to get a workout. 

When I made it to the gym, Chuck was already on the elliptical. No one was on the treadmill. Sweet! But it was being maintenanced. Damn! But then I saw there was a second treadmill. Sweet!

So I jumped on the empty treadmill and I did a good warm up. Just as I started picking up speed, the maintenance guy walked up to me and said, “Um excuse me. I need to check this next. It’ll just take a few minutes.” 

“Is that one up and running?” I asked looking at the one he was just working on.

“No. Sorry. It needs some more work. But it’ll just take a few minutes for me to look at this machine.”

My mother told me not to judge a book by its cover and I should have listened. The maintenance guy looked fit like he worked out regularly. And because he maintenances workout machines I assumed he used them too. I thought he’d understand endorphin addicted athlete humor.

“You’re a brave man. Interrupting a person mid-workout. We get cranky when our endorphins are interrupted.”

“Yeah well, my kids get cranky when I get home late.”

Oops! My funny joke wasn’t so funny was it? 

So I jumped off the treadmill and said, “No problem. I’ll just run the stairs for a bit.”

“Thanks. It’ll only be about 10 minutes.”

I quickly realized the stairwells were not air conditioned! OMG! It was like a sauna in there! The gym was on the first floor. So I ran up the four flights of stairs then power walked through the top floor to the stair well on the other side of the building. At least the hallways were cool. I only managed two sweeps before I couldn’t take the heat any more. I hoped ten minutes had passed already and headed back to the gym to finish my date with the treadmill. 

I had a terrible thought on my way back to the gym; what if someone else came in while I was gone and jumped on the treadmill before me!? I’d have to wait longer! Chuck would be done with his work out before me too. OH! So help me, if someone bogarts my machine there will be hell to pay! ARGH!

I burst into the gym and there is a NEW GUY standing there! The maintenance guy was still bent over one of the machines working on it. I looked at the new guy. I looked at the machines. One was not being used and the maintenance guy was working on the other. Were they both down now??

I looked at the new guy again. He looked at me. 

“He won’t let me get on the machine.”

“What?”

The new guy pointed at the maintenance guy, “He told me you were coming back and he wouldn’t let me get on the machine.”

I looked at the maintenance guy bent over a machine. He looked up, “Oh. You’re back.” He gestured to the other machine. “It’s ready to go. I told him not to get on it because you’d be right back.” 

“Oh thank you so much!” I said to the maintenance guy. I looked at the new guy, “Thank you. I only have 15 minutes left.”

I jumped on MY machine that the maintenance guy SAVED for me. Thanks to the maintenance guy, I had a great workout and road a great endorphin high for the rest of the night. 

I hope he got home on time and had a lovely night with his kids. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mayor's Half Marathon FINISH - Part 8



Once I get to the last 5k in any race, I know I’ll make it in. I always say, “You can suffer through 5 kilometers of anything.”

I was hot and tired and sore. But not 24 miles into  a marathon sore. I knew I’d make it in. But I was ready to be done and I knew we had ‘the last nasty hill’ between me and the finish. 

In the last  mile of the half and full courses, there is a very steep, long hill. It’s mean actually. It’s the steepest hill I remember on any of my races. That includes San Francisco! I always knew I would walk it. Especially injured. I kept thinking about the full marathoners and how tired they would be when they hit that hill. It made feel better about the job ahead of me. 

I hit the hill and wow! It was a serious butt burner! The half and full courses merged right at the base of the hill. So both groups intermingled on the way up. Many of the full marathoners continued to run up the hill. More power to them! They looked whipped! I call the last 10k of a marathon the “Zombie Zone”. Most of us look like the walking dead at that point. 

I tried to keep a good pace on the hill knowing this was the last big push I had to do. Unless of course the girl in blue has been gaining on me. I hadn’t seen her behind me. But you just don’t know. You have to stay alert. 

I was delighted when, near the top, I saw a kind neighbor had tied the end of their garden hose to the top of a ladder with the nozzle pointed down like a street side shower. There was no one manning it, no energetic kids running around. But it was nice of them to do for the runners just the same. 

I stepped right under the spray and stood there until I was once again soaked. It felt great!!! An on-course coach was nearby and asked how I was doing. I seemed to be one of the few who were partaking of the water. And I bet she hadn’t seen someone actually stand under it for several seconds like I was. 

“Doing good coach! I’m lovin’ this shower! A few more seconds here and I think I’ll make it in!”

I always try sound especially chipper when talking to the on-course coaches. I have this idea that they worry more about us heavy athletes and I want to be sure they don’t try to pull me off the course. I think my fear is totally unfounded and kind of silly. But it got in my head during my first marathon season and it stuck. 

I know a lot of people are surprised that I do marathons. I’m short, fat and old. But I’m sure the coaches have seen people of all shapes and sizes finish all sorts of distances. Further more, I’m sure they’ve seen heavy well-trained athletes fare better on long course than some skinny athletes. I know the hang up about being pulled is only in my head. And that’s the thing with marathoning, you win or lose (finish or not) mostly because of your mental rather than physical make up. 

Ok, back to the race. That hill kept going! I moved over to the side because I was really slowing down! I kept looking behind me for the girl in blue. I figured if she hasn’t caught up to me yet, this hill would be as hard on her as it was on me. So I felt confident I was going to beat her in for sure now. 

The spectators were wonderful at this point in the race. They knew we were on reserves and clawing our way to the high school where we would come onto the track and run to the finish. So they were cheering their hearts out! 

I kept looking for the track. But I saw the high school campus first. I prayed, “Please let the track be close. Please don’t let it be on the other side of the campus!” I was SO ready to be done! 

I saw the track at least a quarter mile away. But I noticed you didn’t have to run a whole lap on the track to get to the finish. Which meant I had less than half a mile to make it in! Yeah!!! I could do that! 

But I walked most of it. I was pretty much out of juice. (If the girl in blue showed up, I’d be done for!) I have  a ‘thing’ where I HAVE to run across the finish. It’s just a tradition for me. So I made a deal with myself. I’d walk until I hit the track. But once on the track, I’d run, no matter how slow I had to go. 

I hit the track and stepped it up. I love the sound of the crowd! It’s so great to be coming in off a long course and have all these strangers cheering you on! You know you have worked hard and aren’t quite done yet. Then you hear the roar of the crowd and hear them yelling, “GO! GO” “You can do this!” “Good job!!” “You’re there!” 

I just can’t tell you how buoyed my spirit gets sharing that experience with perfect strangers who care enough about what you are doing to encourage you like that! It boosts my faith in humanity and we all need that from time to time. The cheers of the crowd always carries me into the finish like I am being delivered on downy wings! That’s a tough feat after running so many miles!! :) 

I looked for Kris as I headed to the finish. I crossed the finishing mats and turned to look behind me. I expected to see the girl in blue. I was sure she couldn’t be too far behind. But I didn’t see her anywhere. I had beat her to the finish with time to spare! I may have had more time in front of her than I realized and I could have taken it a little easier. But endurance running isn’t about taking it easy. I’ll forever be grateful to the girl in blue for pushing me and keeping me striding! 

Below is video proof of my finish. Start looking for me after you see the half naked man running by! :) 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Race to the Finish Line: Mayor’s Marathon Part 7



I much prefer to follow a target and pass in the last half mile of a race. The pressure is so much greater being in front and hoping they aren't going to pass you. But that’s what so fun about racing. You don’t know what’s going to happen and you have to continually think on the fly and adjust as you go. 

So I knew the girl in blue was behind me and I suspected she has targeted me as I had targeted her and would be pushing to pass me at some point also. So I had to keep my lead over her or else I was going to have a very hard time over coming her in the last stretch. I was getting tired and I was afraid I would start slowing too and she’d get the jump on me. And I may not have enough 'juice' left in the last half mile to over take her again. And it was getting hot!

I knew Kris was going to try to meet me at around mile 10 and I was looking forward to seeing him. I was getting tired and the day was getting hot! I knew heat slows me down. I hope it had the same effect on the girl in blue. 

At least we were now running on a multi-purpose trail through a nice wooden area. The scenery was great! Up ahead a saw a couple little kids running around on the trail squealing and throwing water. Then I noticed the trail was wet up ahead. As I drew closer, I saw that it was ‘raining’. 

There was a man sitting in a lawn chair holding a hose. He had it pointing toward the runners but aimed over their heads and such that the water would only fall on half the trail so runners had plenty of room to move over and avoid the spray. His kids had little dixie cups in their hands and were filling the cups and throwing the water on runners as they came by. 

The little boy was especially excited and was actually chasing down the runners and throwing water on them. I could hear his dad as I approached, 

“Hey! Don’t throw water on anyone unless they say it’s ok. Ask first and if they say, “Ok” then you can get them wet. Not everyone wants that.”

What a good dad. But I definitely wanted the water!! In fact I ran straight into the spray of the hose and headed right for him! I was trying to get where the water pressure was strongest. I was hot and the water felt great! But I think I scared the guy as I must have looked like I was going to run him over the way I was headed straight for him. 

I was also worried he would turn the hose away from me thinking no one would want to get that drenched! So I yelled, “Thank you so much!! That is awesome! Oh this feels great!” As I ran toward him so he would keep the water coming on strong!

He did. By the time I ran past him and his hose, water was dripping from my clothes and hair and skin. I couldn’t get any wetter. But his son threw a dixie cup worth on me anyway. Just for good measure! I said, "Thanks Man!"
Planes flew over our heads at around mile 9 as the trail was next to the runway where they took off. 

The water evaporated way too fast and I felt myself heating up again. But my attention to my discomfort was diverted when rounding a bend I saw a group of people bent at the waist and peering into the brush across a little bog. WILDLIFE!!!

“What is it?” I whispered to one of the group. 

“There’s a baby moose.”

‘Oooo!!!’ I thought, ‘a BABY moose! Even better!’ and looked in the direction everyone was looking. I saw nothing. 

“Where?” I whispered again.

“Right there,” my new friend was pointing, “See the big bushy bush on the other side of the bog and then there is that little open space in the branches? When the baby flicks its ear, you can see the ear. But you can’t really see it unless it moves.”

So I watched and waited for an ear flick. I saw it! I think. It did look like there was a flash of movement in the opening of the branches. But what it was I couldn’t be sure. So if any one asks, it was a baby moose. 

Off I went up the trail. I was hoping the girl in blue would also stop to see the moose yet hang out there longer than I did. I’m sure she was right behind me. 

Mile nine mile marker and I thought, “Only one more mile until I see Kris.” Then I started climbing a hill. 

It wasn’t a bad hill. But a hill none the less. I was hot. I was tired. I was sore. But I was also determined. I powered up that hill remembering the girl in blue had been strong on the earlier hills. So I needed to be sure not to loose ground here. As I rounded a corner I heard shutters clicking and looked up to see Kris shooting pictures of me. 

“Why are the photographers ALWAYS at the top of a hill???? No fair! You want to get us looking are worst don’t you!”

Kris stood up grinning. That’s when I saw right behind him was one of the course’s official photographers. See! I told you! It never fails! Any photographers out there reading this; can you please tell me why you insist on lying in wait at the tops of hills for us? It can’t be a flattering picture. So why do it? Is the light that much better shooting downhill? Let me know. 

I couldn’t help but feel a little smug knowing I had my own personal on-course photographer! :) He followed me to the next water stop. It was a cute Polynesian themed stopped.  I love Polynesia. Pineapples, coconuts, palm trees, pristine beaches... But my favorite thing was that they were handing out wet sponges! Yeah!! 

Did I mention it was hot? I grabbed a sponge and decided just to put it under my hat and let it sit there until it dried out. It felt sooooo good! The initial coolness of the sponge touching my head was invigorating! Then when I put my hat back on, it squished a bunch of water out of the sponge that ran down my sweaty back. It was so cold it was shocking! Oh! Heaven! It gave me a nice boost which I needed as I still had another 5k to go!

Thursday, August 16, 2012



Kris made a video of the photos he took in Alaska. As usual, he did a great job. Please enjoy. :)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Big Girl Athletes! We're fit! Olympian Speaks! Click here for article.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Strong!



Love this exchange. Forward to 1:35 to see interview with professional athlete Cheryl Haworth.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Where is THAT Girl!! Mayor's Marathon Part 6

I did not see the girl in blue for a long time! I thought I had lost her. I figured to catch her, she would have to take a long break at one of the rest stops or I'd have to hope she went out too fast in the beginning and would gradually run out of steam at the end. As it turned out, she did the latter.

We were at about mile eight and a half when I finally spotted her! She was way ahead of me still. We were on a bike path along the ocean side and going through a beautiful park land. I realized rather quickly, she was slowing down! Woo hoo! Here was my chance!!


I still had to be careful. We were still five miles out. That would be plenty of time for to catch me again if I sped up at this point to pass her and then ran out of steam myself at mile 11. She could totally rally and pass me on the finishing stretch if that happened. 


So instead of passing her now. I vowed to keep her in sight and follow behind. Then I would over take her in the last half mile and come in ahead of her. 


That was the plan. 


But as I followed behind, she kept slowing. I realized I was going to have to pass her. Which is ok as long as she doesn't rally. So the pressure was back on to stay in front of her. 


As I passed, I gave a little greeting about how nice the weather was. She turned to look at me and I was stunned!! This was the first time I really saw her face and she was just so pretty!!! Her eyes were so big and blue and her perky ponytail was just bouncing behind her. She smiled back at me and I melted at the sweetness like sugar in the rain! Such a totally barbie cutie! 


I must come in before now! My ego demanded it! (Ego is such a b/tch!)


So I pumped my arms and kept pressing forward hoping my steam would hold out!  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

On the Trail - Mayor's Marathon Part 5


I love running on trail. I also love racing because in the back of the pack you meet so many nice people. The ones in the back of the pack are slow. We are not in any hurry! And so it is common for people to talk to you as you go by. Some of them go further than the quick greeting like "beautiful day eh?" or "Keep it up!"
I was running at a good clip and did not want to stop to chat. As I passed a man he saw my team singlet and asked, "Where are you from?" I, as chipperly as I could, replied "Santa Maria. In California."
He kept talking. I didn't want to seem rude and not reply. But I did not want to stop to chat. The girl in blue was God-knows how far ahead. I already had to knock down to the half course from the full; I did not want to suffer another disappointment in not coming in before the girl in blue. So I saw only one option.
I ran backwards.   

This way, I could keep running in the right direction and chat a little with the guy thus preserving the camaraderie and friendliness known to us "back of the pack-ers".
It's really stupid to run backwards. Especially on a trail with uneven surface as well as rocks and such. But I was also hoping that my running backwards would also cue the guy into the fact I wanted to keep moving. It helped. He asked a couple more questions which I answered cheerfully. Then I was able to gracefully turn around and kept moving forward. 
Something scared me though. I still hadn't caught sight of the girl in blue. "Damn!" I thought, "She's probably a 'dirty girl'". (A dirty girl (or boy) is someone who likes to run on dirt.) This was bad news for me. Some runners don't like trails and actually slow down on dirt. The fact that I love trail running was a small advantage I had in this race. But if the girl in blue is also a trail runner, it didn't matter. Crap!
It was afraid to push my pace because I knew the critical factor would come down to who had enough juice in their tank at the end. Especially because I knew the toughest hill on the courses was in the last mile. I needed to be sure to get to the top of that hill first if I was going to have a chance at beating her. And I would need juice to tackle that hill. Ugh! I wasn't sure what I should do. 
So I just made sure I pumped my arms and checked my form to try to be as efficient as I could. Then I made sure my pace stayed just where I could keep it up without running out of breath. The only other thing left to do was to keep scanning ahead praying I'd see a flash of blue!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012



Introducing Kenai. Heather's new sister we just adopted. You can tell she's going to be a great little runner!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mayor's Marathon Part 4 - Where is the girl in blue???


So, I knew I had my work cut out for me in trying to catch the girl in blue.  I knew if I ran too fast at this point in the race, I would burn out and lose any lead I gained late in the race. So now the plan was to keep her in sight and try to make small gains on the hills if I could. 

I knew I couldn't fly on the downhills which is often a strategy in my races because I'm pretty good staying in control during high speed downhills. But fast downhills are horrible for your knees. So I knew I couldn't use that weapon in this race. 

Luckily, there was a hefty hill climbing away from the last rest stop. I noticed the girl in blue slows on the hills. So I tried to see if I could gain some feet on her there. As luck would have it, she stopped to retie her shoe at the top of the hill. Yeah! Oh, that didn't take her long. She's off again and I barely gained anything on her!

How far in are we? Halfway? Almost. Six and a half miles is a long way to go to keep her in sight without making a mistake on pacing and lose her all together. But that also meant there was a long time to reel her in slowly and, if she doesn't pace herself right, I had a good chance she'll slow down in the end giving me a chance to over take her as long as I don't use up all my juice before then. 

And it's getting hot! Why is it so hot in Alaska? It's near the North Pole for godness sakes! That can sap my energy. But it's likely to sap hers too. So maybe that isn't such a factor, unless she is visiting from Arizona or some other place where heat is the norm. I hope that wasn't the case and tried to hold on to my current pace.
Soon we made a 90 degree turn directly into a head wind! Ahhh it felt so good. This may be the only time I've been happy to be running into a head wind! It felt great. However, we weren't running into a head wind for long as the route turned again into a wooded area. 
Which got me thinking about the mosquitos. And when I ran passed the next rest stop and a volunteer was wearing a beekeepers hat with netting completely covering her head and neck, I knew I was in hostile mosquito territory. 

I fished the herbal insect repellant I had bought after Kris and my first trek into the Alaska wilderness out of my fuel belt and sprayed it over every inch of exposed skin I could reach while running. I know Mosquitos sometimes bite through clothes and didn't know what to do about that. I just hoped the smell of the repellent would be enough to keep them away from me.

I did really well over this piece as we were now running on trail and fire road. I usually do well on dirt. So I tried to make up a little distance here since I had actually lost sight of the girl in blue. She was no where to be seen. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Go Girl Go!


Race Goals (Mayor's Marathon Part 3)

Step One: Catch up to her


That was the first goal I had for the Mayor’s Hal Marathon race. But the gal in the bright blue top did not make that easy! Shortly after I decided my goal in the race was to come in ahead of her, we hit a hill. I do ok on hills. And I was able to pass her almost right away. I thought, “Step one. Check.”
Then, after the loooong slow climb was over and I had been on the flat for only a few yards, a see a flash of blue out of the corner of my eye and I see she’s passing me! 


And so it began. The game of Leap Frog. 


This happens in every race. Over the first couple miles, all the racers sort of fall into position. Everyone spreads out and the field is sorted by pace. While racers may change their pace over the course, you’ll always find a few people that you basically run the whole race with because you are so closely matched and may have similar race plans. Often, you’ll leap frog. You’ll pass them, then later, they’ll pass you and so on and so forth over the whole race course. 


In this race, this actually happened with a few runners. But more on that later. 


So step one, wasn’t quite accomplished. So I kept plugging. 


Working over the course, I was worried  that when we hit the park I’d be eaten by those monster mosquitos that made such a meal of me only two days before. But  I didn’t really notice them. Perhaps because Kris wasn’t there to smack me when they landed on me! But I felt like I got through that piece relatively unmolested. 















Then we headed toward the airport. I was not excited to run the perimeter of the airport. I figured it would be ugly and industrial. While on the left, there was a big ugly airport, watching the planes take off and land was pretty interesting. Besides, on the right was beautiful woods! I kept well distracted by the airplanes on my left and watching for wildlife on the right. Not bad. 


Back at mile two, I realized I needed a potty break. I should have made one more pit stop back at the starting area after waiting an hour and half for us to be sent off. But I didn’t want to miss the start. So here I was, running over three miles of the course with my legs crossed. 


That’s horrible running form! Plus, you look like a serious dork. So I was thrilled when I saw the rest stop at mile five had porta-potties. I hated to take the time off the course. That would give the girl in the blue shirt a big lead on me. But I really didn’t have a choice. So I vered off the course and saw that one of the two johns was in use. So I started to take off my fuel belt. 

I NEVER take my belt into johns with me. It's too hard to be sure it doesn't touch anything in there. Ew. Someone came up behind me. It was the girl in the blue shirt! (Or as I call her in my head 'La Belle  Feme Bleu'). Yeah! She's taking a break too! Phew! 

I told her to go ahead and take the john in front of me as I was still working on my fuel belt and I didn't want her to have to wait when there was a free loo. Come to find out, that was a big mistake. Because as I came out of my john later and I got back on the course, I saw La Belle Feme Bleu was almost half a mile ahead!! 


Saturday, June 30, 2012

And the Race is On! (Mayor's Marathon Part 2)


They're off!

I was pretty excited about this race because not only was there not an early start for the slow runners, but the regular start time wasn’t until nine! We could ‘sleep in’. Except our group always is the first to the start line. So we were delivered to the starting area an hour and a half before race start.

I could have taken a nap! Which is usually a good thing for a narcoleptic. However, I had been feeling pretty good. I had read that natural sunlight helps narcoleptics stay alert and feeling good. Since there is basically 24 hours of sunlight this time of year in Alaska, I wondered if my narcolepsy would do better up there. It did! I didn’t have to take any meds since the second day of our trip. Yeah!!

So we had time to take some pre-race pictures with my team mate Lori (aka Crab Girl). 

Our other teammate was already on the full course. Her name is Barbara. She’s around my age and doing full marathons. Yep. She’s a bad ass.
Me, Bad Ass Barbara, Lori, Crab Girl

So I’m waiting for the starting gun and I notice there are no timing mats. What’s the deal? I have to start way in the back because of my pace. So it’ll take me a couple minutes to get across the start line after the gun goes off. If there aren’t timing mats to detect when my timing chip crosses the mat, my finishing time will be in “gun time”. I hate gun time.

So we took off…without timing mats.
Waving 'bye' to Kris. I'd see him later on the course.

The route was fun. First through neighborhoods where I met an Alaskan runner. I asked her how they trained through the winter. She told me that they just go out and run in boots. Holy cow! Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t run in weather less than 45 degrees. She trains in sub-zero weather. Damn.

Out of the neighborhood, we turned onto Northern Lights Blvd and headed to Earthquake Park. At the park a nice lady was holding this sign just for me! 

Heading out of the park I caught sight of this beautifully bright blue top. It belonged to a buxom blonde. I noticed she was doing run/walk intervals like I do. So I made her my ‘pacer’.  I made three goals for the race: 1) catch up to her 2) pass her 3) stay ahead of her. 

The race was on. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cruisin'

Just real quick. I haven't had time to post about the race yet. Kris and I spent all day on a little boat on the Alaskan ocean. We saw SO MUCH wildlife! Pictures to come soon. (I hope. It all depends on how fast Kris can get them processed and ready to post).

A funny thing happened on the boat. I mentioned having narcolepsy (it actually fit into the conversation) to the deck hand who promptly replied, "Funny, I have Insomnia." So we started talking about how the 20+ hours of daily sunlight effected our sleep disorders. Both of us report doing better in Alaska. I haven't taken any meds since the second day we arrived and have needed less naps!! Sweet!

He said we should move here but I don't know that I could take the winters! Their summers are like California's winters except with more rain and colder temps! No thanks! But I've loved the visit.

We spent the WHOLE day on the boat and even while I'm typing this back at the condo, my hubby and I can still feel the boat swaying and rising up and down. I'm not looking forward to going to bed tonight. It's no fair having bed spins when you hadn't even been drinking!

And here is proof I finished the Half Marathon:
video

Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm Back! (Mayor's Marathon Part 1)



Sorry for the hiatus especially during race weekend. Our team was put up in the Hilton which doesn't have free internet. I'd pay for it but it was ridiculously priced. Besides, I had very little time to be in the room anyway.

So now, the team has left and we've moved to a condo for the remainder of our vacation. We're still super busy trying to see the sights in the few days we have. But this is good news for you as this will keep my posts short. I know I sometimes have pretty long posts. What can I say? I write like I talk.

So let me give you a brief update on the race and I'll post more details and pictures in additional posts.

First, it was super easy to switch to the half course at the expo. I was worried there wouldn't be any spots for me and I'd have to suffer through the full course and tear my body up or suffer a DNF (Did not finish). Either way, there was going to be suffering going on if I couldn't switch.

But the super-friendly helpers switched me over right away with no fuss. That part was easy. However, the second I turned away from the table, tears immediately rose up in my eyes. I was so sad! I've never had to give up a race I trained for. I've done two other marathons and it went the way it was suposed to: train your heart out, race your heart out, take a break to recover, then repeat cycle.

It didn't work out that way this season and I was so disappointed. My injuries were no where near healed enough for the full. So I knew I was making the right decision. But it was still really hard. I also wondered how much it was going to hurt doing the half course as the last training run we did was only eight miles and pain was setting in at mile six. Bummer.

My husband seeing my tears, put his arm around me, squeezed and gave me a pep talk, reassuring me I was doing the right thing.

So during this race I was thrilled that the pain didn't start setting in until about mile 10 and it wasn't too bad. WOOT! The down side is that it appears I didn't do enough cardio cross-training as I was trying to recoup my injuries because I could barely run! I'd start running and I'd run out of breath way too soon. I'd slow down but I couldn't run slow enough and still keep my breath. So I walk almost all of it.

I HATE walking. It's so boring! And it takes forever! But if I'm on a course, I will finish it. Period. So walk I did. And when I came in, Kris said I looked a lot better than most of the racers coming off the half course.

That still didn't make me question my decision to switch to the half. There's no way I could have gone another 13.1 miles. Besides, I wanted to end with my legs still attached to my body so I could enjoy the rest of my vacation. And I did. Mission accomplished.

I'll give you the highlights of the course in my next post and I'll tell you the significance of this athlete in the bright blue top and why I could only get a shot of her from the back.

Until then, keep moving!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Five and a Half Months of Training Down the Drain



I won’t be running the Mayor’s Marathon in Alaska next week. That’s the bad news. After five and a half months of training, I have three over-use injuries. 

Count ‘em; three
Plantar Facitis 
Patellar Tendonitis
Achilles Tendonitis



On top of that, my ankle I sprained at the beginning of the season is hurting again.  Not cool. 

I’ve spent the last several weeks trying to cut back and recover. But so far, each time I try running again, my body complains loudly. And it’s obvious if I run the marathon I risk not finishing or if I do finish, I think my injuries will be much worse. I do not want to spend the next six months off running to recover from multiple injuries. So after lots of consideration and consternation, I decided it was not wise to run the full marathon. That sucks!


However, our team manager told me I can still switch to the half marathon. Thank God! That means I can still earn a medal without tearing up my body... as much. Theoretically speaking I should be able to finish a half and the recovery period should be much shorter even going in with injuries. That is if I take it easy and not push it during the race. 


That’s hard. You get wrapped up in the excitement and energy of the race. I always find myself trying for a PR (personal record) in a race no matter what I tell myself at the beginning. 

But Alaska will be different. Really it will. My plan is to take in as much of the crowd and sights as I can. The race sight said there is a lot of wildlife to be seen on the route. Like bald eagles and moose. I think the bald eagles will leave me alone and I can probably out-run a moose. (I’ve never seen a moose run). But if I see a grizzly I’m going to have to play dead. I couldn’t out-run one of those! 


So I plan to stop and take a lot of pictures and just make it fun. 


I have never had to step down from a marathon and it sucks to have worked for so long only not to be able to run the race. But I have to think long term. I have to keep the bigger picture in mind. I always say, “The point is not to kill yourself. The point is to live to run another day.” 

Besides, the goal of my running is to raise funds for cancer research. The length of my race doesn’t change that. After race weekend I’ll fill you in on how  much we raised! Thank you all. Please send me good thoughts for a good race for all the runners this Saturday! 


PS. If you’d like to help me fund cancer research you can still make a donation by clicking the “Donate Now” button. Every little bit makes a big difference!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Rock and A Hard Place


I am in between a rock and a hard place. 

After starting this marathon season with injuries, I managed to over-train in the last quarter  of the training cycle. That resulted in me missing the 18 mile training run as well as the 20 mile training run. Not good. So basically the farthest I have ran in training is 16 miles. And not very well. The 16 miler really kicked my butt and that’s when my coaches told me to take a break.  They said I needed time to let my body re-coop and I had trained enough that missing the 20 would not jeopardize my chance of finishing the marathon. 

I totally agree. However, after taking a week off and doing a ten mile run rather than the full 20, I still had trouble keeping on top of the training schedule. Not only did I still feel sore when running. But the week after I took a week off, my narcolepsy decided to flare up. I mean like a huge super-nasty solar-sized flare that knocks out whole power grids on earth. Which makes sense as it totally knocked out my power. 

Yep. I have narcolepsy. I was diagnosed back in September. But I haven’t blogged about it until now for several reasons. First, marathon training takes up a lot of time.   Second, and primarily, I haven’t wrapped my head around it. Very little research has been done in sleep disorders. Especially when compared to the research on well-known/publicized disorders. Not even my sleep doctor or neurologist could tell me that much about it. 

No one’s 100% sure of the cause. However, the theory currently in the lead is that it’s an auto-immune deficiency that causes the body to kill off brain cells near the hypothalamus that regulate sleep. 

Incidentally, studies have shown that a high percentage of narcoleptics are over weight and don’t respond well to dieting. The theory on this is that the area that is damaged contain cells that regulates weight. So “HA HA!” It’s not my fault I’m fat!. Ok, the jury is still out on the fat theory. But still, it’s fun to say that.  

So since the diagnosis, a lot of things are making sense now. In fact, it’s apparent I’ve had narcolepsy since I was a kid. But there is still a TON of things I’m still trying to figure out. The main thing is how to best manage it.

But all that for another time. It’s Sunday evening, I have a ton to do and I’m really really tired. 

Oh. I do have to mention one thing before I end here; In my research into best practices for managing narcolepsy symptoms a specific diet was suggested. That diet?.......VEGETARIAN!

HA! So all you well-meaning(?) friends, family and strangers who have been worried about my vegetarianism can ......... oh, sorry. Fell asleep there. 

Good night!