Saturday, June 29, 2013

Overheard: For Posterity

Kid: Hey, Dad. Thanks for letting me clean up the cat puke.

For the record- he's only three and a half. We usually scream for him to avoid the cat puke. Actually, thinking about it now, cat puke seems to be one of the constants in that kid's life. The cat is always puking, and we're always yelling for him to NOT STEP IN THE CAT PUKE! And to STAY AWAY FROM THE CAT PUKE!

So this morning it was fun for him to actually help us out and (with supervision) clean up the cat puke. When he thanked Stephan for this indulgence, he wanted me to blog about it so we remember forever the time our kid thanked us for cleaning up cat puke.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Stop Running


Yeah, I know. That's insane. Crazy. Who on Earth would ever Stop Running?

Uh, me, I guess.

What's the deal? A doctor (man, these doctors) looked at me and explained that the circulation/blood/heat issues I'm having aren't going away and we've changed everything else except the running. So now it's time to change the running. She says that I need to walk every day for 30 minutes. I'm supposed to resist the urge to break into a run, and not take any days off. Less of a 'streak' and more of a 'smear'.

This means that the 1/2 marathon I've signed up for (and raised $800+ for the American Cancer Society for) is off the books this year. I'm still going to the event, still suiting up and possibly wearing the bib around, but I'm not running it.
Have you seen the shirt that says:

FDL (finished dead last)
is better than
DNF (did not finish)
is better than
DNS (did not start)

I'm not starting this one. And it sucks. It sucks just typing these words and making it official. Plus, this is stressful. And how do we handle stress? Apparently, with a 2 mile, 30 minute walk.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Why is it (and my parent-readers may be able to answer this) that the child you are laying next to will NOT fall asleep, until you, yourself, fall asleep first? Is sleeping like yawning, in that, when you see someone yawn, you join in the yawn too?

And then, how do they stay so silently asleep while you (the assumed parent) wake up with a start, drool plastering your hair to your face, to dizzily pick yourself off the floor and stumble into your own bed?

(Wait... I think I'm referring to myself in the second person again. Dang.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013


Internet, it's been a rough few weeks. In a totally safe way I got totally wasted last night. That's not the story.

The story is: I was laying on the floor with Sawyer watching a movie on the small DVD player. The computer was sitting on the footstool of the rocking chair/glider. Stephan came in and laid down with us. It was nice.

Until I realized Sawyer was rocking the stool with his foot, making the DVD player slide back and forth. Talk about spinning the room!! Stephan busted out laughing and said it would be a good blog story.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ragnar: The Third Run

Saturday, 1:04pm - leg #29

I sent this email at 6:45am: "About 2.5 or 3 hours until my last run. I'm tired. I hardly slept and I feel like I haven't eaten a meal in days. If I see one more goddamn bagel I'm going to throw it at someone. 

The team is one hour behind schedule. Not just because of me... They added three miles to leg #7, and some of the runners are feeling really sick. 

We are not really in danger of being kicked off the course yet. 

Even with last night's awesome 3.9 run, the 5.5 seems SO long. It's longer than I usually go at home, and not having a clue where I'm going to turn next makes every half mile seem excruciating. That attitude isn't going to help. So maybe the lakefront and sunshine will boost my spirits."

The directions for this last run were simple: turn right. Run 5.5 miles. Arrive at exchange. I'm guessing the temperature was about 70 degrees. I was warned that there was no shade on this trail. I studied the elevation chart and didn't see a single blip. I was definitely exhausted, but I had also focused intensely on hydrating over the last few hours. One last pee, and off I went.

I imagined I was turning right out of my own driveway. I pictured every landmark around my house. I didn't look up- I stared right at the ground and imagined I was home. I turned up the music and sang- out loud- to myself.

Mile 1 - 11:26
Mile 2 - 11:14
Mile 3 - 11:24
Mile 4 - 11:23
Mile 5 - .... ok. Admission. At about 4.5 miles into the run I saw a bicycle stopped by a runner along the side of the trail. He called out to me, "Hey! Are you part of this race? Can you call somebody? This guy needs help."

One of our runners had just dropped water off with me, so I yelled for him to get over here. Did he have a phone? Yes? Perfect. Help this guy. During that whole exchange I stood calmly still, loving the justification for a small rest.

Mile 5 - 12:45

And done. My van had circled around to help the guy and pick up our runner. I had time to sit in the grass and cry. I was done. It was done. I wasn't thrilled with my time, but at least I hadn't bailed. And actually, considering how this whole thing started, finishing on my feet was a pretty amazing accomplishment.

I sent this email at 8pm that night while in a bathtub drinking a glass of wine (I passed out asleep in the tub shortly after sending the email which had the subject line of "Delusional"), "Seriously. I haven't slept since 12:30am on Friday morning. But I need to email you so I don't forget... we need to photoshop one of our runner's heads onto Darth Vader's body with the caption, "Darth Vegan". I might need your help with that. 

Stephan is now imposing a 24 hour phone shutdown for me. I'll talk to you on Monday."

Leg 29 miles: 5.5
Leg 29 time: 1 hour 04 minutes
Leg 29 pace: 11:41 per mile

Total Miles: 16.1
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Average pace: 11:30 per mile

Katherine, Teddy, Amy, Alex, Stephan, Helen, Charlie, Ashley, Diana, Kristin, Me, Matt

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ragnar: The Second Run

Saturday, 1:45am - leg #17

I sent this email after letting the disappointment of the first run wear off, "I'm fine. Our van is resting now. Stephan kicked m-fing ass and ran his 10 miles in 8 minute-miles- a full minute per mile faster than predicted. We have until 10:50pm to rest before we start again. This run is only 3.2 miles for me. And it's much cooler. Like 50 degrees. 

Problems: I was so upset I'm having a hard time eating anything. I also should be sleeping right now like everyone else... but I'm too nervous. 

Good things: we went around and talked to like 100 people [about DetermiNation], and gave out like 50+ "In Memory of" ribbons, and got names and emails from 10 people so far. Our goal is 50 so we are 20% there.  

Ok. Trying to sleep again. Love you!"

Finally, the heat of the day subsided. One runner tells me not to be fooled, running still warms you up quickly. Just before the last exchange I opened a can of ravioli and downed it, "like a hobo," without a spoon, straight out of the can. It's the closest thing I'd had to a meal since the 6:00am McDonalds burritos. Since then it's been trail mix and bagels. For good measure I chow down on a Snickers bar. You know, for the sugar.

Before getting to the exchange I bury my head in Stephan's chest and let more tears loose. Why did I sign up for this? How did I totally forget that I'm not a strong runner? 10:30 minute miles?? Only on my best day. Why did I think this would be ok?

Stephan knows what to say, "Shut up and go run."

So I do. I try to think about what makes running so easy when I'm at home: singing along to music, knowing my landmarks, thinking about everything EXCEPT how many miles are left. It works, although I don't have the speed I'm used to, at least I never crash.

Mile one takes exactly 11:00 minutes. It's pitch dark, so there isn't anything for me to look at. The 11 minutes doesn't bother me. I just have to keep on my feet.

Mile two is 11:04. Fine. Great. Whatever. Just keep singing. Only two runners have passed me so far.

Mile three ends after only 10:53. I calculate it- I'm now just under an 11 minute-per-mile pace. Great. Awesome. I win. The run is over before I know it. I sprint to the exchange and toss the baton casually at Stephan.

I write this email at 5:45am, "Night run went much better. Very cold (45 deg) so getting to the start was painful. But the path was good, lots of trees. Some hills, but not too bad. A few people passed me. But mostly I was just singing along to good music and focusing on the road right in front of me. I pretended to be running at home and pictured where along my street I would be. 

Anyway, the run was good. Right at 11 minutes-per-mile. I run one more time this morning and then we're done!"

Leg 17 miles: 3.78
Leg 17 time: 41:04
Leg 17 pace: 10:50 per mile

Total miles: 10.65
Total time: 2 hours, 1 minute
Average pace: 11:25 per mile

Ragnar: The First Run

Friday, 2:30pm - leg #5

Everything is ready. Everyone is accounted for. We have all our gear. Our second van is en route. Now all that's left for me to do is tie on my shoes and go for my own run. This is the fun part. This is the easy part. It's time to do what I do best: run!!

Runner #4 cruises into the exchange (in a church parking lot) with his Vibrams slapping the sidewalk. It's a little warm: 75 degrees or so. But the street is tree-lined and there is a nice breeze. The crowd is amazing. I know I start out a little too fast. But with 6.2 miles ahead of me, I have plenty of time to slow down. I turn a corner into a subdivision where the homeowners have chalked encouragement along the street. This is amazing. This is the run I've needed.

Mile 1 is over in 10:16. Crap. Too fast. Gotta slow down.
Mile 2 is over in 10:29. Still too fast.

And then a right turn out of suburbia, and into a field. It's a cow field. And it's up hill. Now there are no trees. Heat comes in waves off of the blacktop. Up a hill. Down a hill. Up another hill. I get passed by a runner. "Good job, runner!" And another. And another.

[In Ragnar, passing a runner is called a 'kill'. The more kills a team has, the more it is winning.]

Mile 3 finishes in 10:49. I can't keep up this pace.
Mile 4 ends after 11:32. I stop to walk. I can't do this. I think there are 2.2 miles to go. But it's too hot. I can't walk 2.2. I need to get to my team. I haven't seen another runner in a while. I can't do this. There is supposed to be a water station coming up... I try to walk briskly to the station....

Mile 5 is mercifully over in 12:25. There was no water station. My team senses that something is wrong and looks for me in the van. Amy throws a bottle of water out the window and asks if I'm ok. Sure. Yes. I'm fine. It's just hot. I'm ok. Keep going. I'll see you at the exchange.

Mile 6 is over in 12:26. I am walking and sobbing at the same time. Stephan, with his sixth sense for my misery, left the exchange early and headed in my direction. He met me about a mile away from the exchange [runners hand-off at little corrals that are supervised by volunteers]. No one else knew he left early. The volunteers didn't notice. He looked at me and knew something was wrong. I peeled off the slap-bracelet that was our baton, pushed it into his chest and said, simply, "Run." He wanted to walk me back to the van to make sure I was ok. I felt like I'd wasted enough of the team's time. He could make up the difference if he left NOW and ran hard.

I thought the run was a 6.2 so I had set my Nike+ to finish after the 10k. I was wrong. The actual distance was 6.87. A person can do a lot of crying and wallowing in 0.67 of a mile. I finished the leg in 1 hour and 20 minutes- 15 minutes slower than expected. My team was confused when they saw me sobbing and trudging in by myself. I told them I sent Stephan ahead and we needed to leave right away.

Someone offered their arm in support but I didn't take it. I was silent for a long time. My silence seemed to weigh down the whole van. My mind was reeling. I had failed. I let down my team. I hadn't trained properly- or at all- for the hills, or the heat, or the actual distance. I sent the following email to a friend:

"I'm crying in the back of the van. I just finished my first run, 6.5 miles. I bonked, crashed, had to walk a lot because of the heat. Stephan was worried about me and started running early to find me. This is a terrible feeling. My pace was like 11:30 when it was supposed to be 10:30. It can only get better from here on, right??!?!"

Total miles: 6.87
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Average pace: 11:44 per mile

Monday, June 10, 2013

Rag-nar: First Run... The Real Story

I'm writing this story first so it gets tucked into the rest of the stories because it's embarrassing. I've thought about simply ignoring this part of the experience; however, if I've learned one thing from blogging (and existing in general), it's that the harder a thing is to talk about, the more it will help other people when you say it out loud. So here it goes:

My period started on Tuesday before the race on Friday. I assumed that by Friday it wouldn't be a factor in the race. So when the 6.5 mile run started my brain wasn't thinking, "Am I wearing enough protection to deal with the worse-case-scenario?" The answer to that question was a loud, resounding, "NO!"

About 2 miles into the run I started feeling that familiar feeling that things are not dry. And when that feeling started coming faster and more often, I started to get worried that I wasn't prepared for this. I was in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing to do about it. I started to actually hope that I was really peeing myself, instead of bleeding. You know, because at least urine is clear.

Yep, folks. That's about as bad as it could get. When I got back to the van I grabbed a towel (white, of course) and sat on it until we reached the next exchange. I hurried out and grabbed as many baby wipes as I could, and a fresh set of clothes. Indeed, I was having an obvious problem.

So there is my cautionary tale. Always be prepared. Be over-prepared. Because you do NOT want to be that runner. Trust me.

Rag..... whatever

It's 2am and I can't sleep. I thought about starting to blog the Ragnar experience, but I'm still run-over.

Yes. Run-over. You read it here first. When I walked into work today the majority of coworkers believed I was hungover. When I tried to explain the 199 miles in 30 hours with 0 hours of sleep, they just stared blankly. And invented the word RunOver.

I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


22 hours until the starting line. Packed. Organized. Ready.

I remember the night before the Nashville Marathon in 2011. It was my first ever race. I had no idea what to expect. Two years later I'm much more confident hitting a starting line (or a giant coral). But this is such a different animal. The prep is very different. I'm not carb-loading tonight. It's not a distance thing. It's not even a time thing. It's a coordination thing.

I used to joke that completing a marathon was less of an endurance-accomplishment and more of a scheduling-accomplishment with a baby and a husband. This race is amazing. I'm going to bawl like a toddler when we all get across the finish line.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


(That one's bad. Sorry)

Here's why I keep making a big deal about pacing in a Ragnar... Madison to Chicago is 196 miles. If the actual team pace is 1 minute-per-mile different than estimated, that's a 3+ hour difference in finishing time. So if you say you're going to start at noon and finish at 6:20pm the next day (for instance), and the team pace is 1 minute-per-mile slower than projected... Yes. That's almost 10pm.

Even the other way- if you say you're starting at 8am and finishing at 4:20 (well within the guidelines) but you're 90 seconds-per-mile faster... yup. You're getting there before noon. And just imagine the headache of the race director maintaining a finish line for 10+ hours. Crazy, right??

So, let's say you're training for this puppy, and you've told your team captain a pace that you're pretty confident you'll hit. But there's life, right? So let's pretend (totally pretending) that you get... oh, I don't know... bronchitis two weeks before race weekend. And let's say you totally have to stop running to get healthy. And let's also say that when you DO get back on your feet, your lungs feel like you've inhaled glass.

~~~~~~Insert Reality Here~~~~~

I was trying to finish a 4 mile run in 11 minute-miles or faster. I was hitting 11:10's for the first three but it sucked. The final mile was painful. I never got to zone out. Each step and breath was a conscious choice. Some people might applaude my mindfulness, but I was thinking about the other 11 runners who were counting on me to hit my pace. And my mantra became:

Katherine. Alex. Amy. Teddy. Me. Stephan. Kristin. Matt. Ashley. Charlie. Diana. Helen.

I just started chanting my teammates names in the order that they're running. It got me to finish the last mile (in 11:45, not awesome). I have three days until the race. I'm staying positive and knowing that I'll make it. The race adrenaline will kick in. My body will remember how to do this.

It's just such a different race when it isn't entirely "your" race. I'm responsible for more than just moving my body the requisite amount of miles. It isn't just my pace, my choice, my own brain and body against itself. Now there are other people involved. People I hope I don't let down.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Overheard: Post Run

[guest-authored by Stephan!!]

Me: How was your 10 mile Ragnar training run, honey?

Him: Uh. It kinda sucked. But then, you know, I started thinking about things.

Me: Yeah? Like that you're mad I signed you up for this? And listed your pace 30 seconds faster than it really is?

Him: No. Well, maybe. But no. I started thinking how we're running this thing for DetermiNation. And I thought of how many of my friends and family that cancer has come for.  So, I thought of getting the word out and making all this money for D-nation and turning loose an army of super smart geeks that will end up punching cancer in the eff'in mouth.  I thought, 'Hey cancer, we're coming for you.'

That got me through the last 3.