Thursday, May 31, 2007


In my celebratory post about Jordin Sparks' American Idol win, I discussed the views of an anti-obesity advocate who felt that Jordin was of the wrong body type to be given "Idol" status for American youth.

I mistakenly attributed these remarks to
Geneen Roth, an author, lecturer, and advocate who promotes overcoming eating disorders through self-acceptance. Actually I was puzzled about this, because what I have just described was what I thought Geneen Roth was about, not ever "Someone's too fat."

The remarks were made in fact by
MeMe Roth, an anti-obesity vocal.

Thank you to
Miss Rachel for calling my attention to this mistake, and my apology for any negative impressions taken to Geneen Roth's excellent work in the area of eating disorders.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Remember "All in the Family?" Remember the episode in which Michael and Gloria had their baby? Michael was so excited during the birth, he could hardly contain himself. When Gloria finally finished pushing out little Joey, Michael was dancing up and down, enthusing, "That was wonderful! That was so wonderful! Oh, Gloria, when do you want to have another one?"

Gloria shot him a baleful look and said, "Not now, Michael, I have a headache."

That's how I feel now after finishing (yes, I finished) the Vermont City Marathon today. My hips and low back (sacrum and coccys) hurt so much I felt like I was having back labor. Except I've never had back labor, which is probably worse.

I don't want to think about Boston. I don't want to think about an ultra. I don't want to think about running at all.

I feel like maybe I'd just gone through my umteenth labor (my 23rd, I guess, since this was my 23rd marathon), and after maybe 28 hours of hard fruitless labor had a c-section delivering my 23rd son, and now I'm in bed on pain medicines that don't work and my husband says, "So do you want to try again for a girl?"

I don't want to try again for a girl. Not now. Maybe not ever.

I ran the last 10 miles or more with a wonderful lady named Elisha, running her first-ever marathon, at age 38, and she kept saying, "I can't believe I'm really doing this, I can't believe it's finally here." She talked and talked and talked. We were having about the same desire to run and walk so we stayed together. She was about the only redeeming feature of my last 10 miles. She kept me going. Thank you, Elisha, if you read this! You rock! And congratulations!

Then I hopped into my truck and drove 4 hours home to New Hampshire.

As for my time.... remember I walked a lot. I was hurting. s. bad. 5:22. Not my slowest ever but one of the bottom 4.

Except..... it hurt a lot and I stuck it out for over 5 hours. That's gotta count for something.

Don't ask me about Boston. I don't want to think about it.

I want to think about hiking. Not running.

After I go to bed for about 10 hours.

Saturday, May 26, 2007


Yes, I'm going to the Vermont City Marathon after all. I'm looking forward to seeing some of Vermont for the first time ever; to the foot-tour around Burlington and the surrounding area, to the expo; to sharing the excitement of marathon day with 3000 other runners. I'm meeting Rachelle, the friend of a friend of a friend, you know, one of those friends we all have that we haven't met yet -- she's my age (more or less, within 10 years or so) and runs my pace (more or less, within half an hour or so for the marathon) and is there alone (except for me.) We've got each other's cell phone numbers. We're going to start together and stay together for however long it feels right.

I'm running only to experience a marathon once again, to see the spectators, to explore a new area, to high-five kids, pet dogs, thank volunteers and traffic officers, smile, raise my arms and cheer when people call my name, and generally have fun for 5 or 6 hours.

Because the running part... we'll just have to see how that goes. I have not run for 2 weeks. My last run was 10 miles of running and 6 of walking. 2 weeks prior, 20-turned-16. Three weeks before that, 18 miles. Two weeks before that, 16. So I've had 3 16's and an 18 sandwiched in. The last three weeks of training included 10 days of 10 miles every other day, and a week of 8 miles every other day. But only 16-mile long runs, and, as I said, no running at all the past 2 weeks. I've been moving, definitely: hard physical labor at my new campground job, and, oh yeah, 4 miles of mountain climbing day before yesterday. I still feel the down-trip in my quads a little, even though I tried to take the brunt of it on my upper body via hiking poles. Oh well, maybe that'll dissipate by tomorrow and I'll have stronger quads.

Anyway, I'm off.... soon's I get out of my pj's and throw my gym bag into the truck. Wish me luck!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I guess it didn't take a whole lot of prophetic talent, but a couple months ago, when I first posted about what I considered Jordin Sparks' incredible talent, she was still somewhat of a dark horse. I truly didn't, at that time, expect her to win. Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones were still ahead of her, and of course there was Blake, but I thought she had the most overall potential and most-deeply-implanted sheer giftedness of the bunch.

It's kind of ridiculous, maybe, for a 55-year-old woman to care at all about such a pop-fad show. But it's not the show I care about. I enjoy hearing gifted singers. I enjoy it when one stands out in a crowd. I enjoy it when a new talent is discovered.

I enjoy it when a deserving person succeeds. I would have been happy to have Melinda win; in fact, I was shocked when she was voted off. Even so, I had a soft spot for little Jordin.

She's not really "little" -- in fact, she is quite a large girl. I'm guessing close to 6 feet and she's no beanpole. I was watching Fox News yesterday, and Meme Roth, an anti-obesity advocate, was being allowed to voice what I considered an outrageous opinion: That for Jordin to win American Idol would be a "nightmare" for American youth, because Jordin is overweight. She felt that for an "overweight" girl to be named an "idol" would only reinforce young people's overconsumption of soda pop, fast food and TV.


Jordin's not willowy. She's a big girl, no two ways about it. She's done some work as a plus-size model. But she's not morbidly obese or anything... a little overweight, yeah, but not "fat."

And if she is....

Contest-followers saw a beautiful young woman with guts, courage, a great talent, and delightful personality, and voted her in.

Good call, viewing public.


Note: This post has been edited to correct erroneous crediting of remarks about Jordin Sparks' body type to the wrong spokesperson. Explanation is given in a subsequent post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Yup, another post about American Idol. Back in March I said Jordin Sparks was a great talent. She was, however, too young to win, I said; not experienced enough to outstrip her two female rivals, Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones.

Well, she's outstripped them. In what I considered a true upset last week, Melinda was voted off, which left Blake and Jordin as the two finalists.

Tomorrow night we will see which America goes for: gloss, or greatness.

Blake is a performer. He has talent for entertaining. He can do that beatboxing thing, he can dance. He can even sing a little. I find him mildly amusing but I wouldn't be able to stay interested for a whole concert. He can catch my attention but not hold it. I think his performances are sort of shallow. Do a funny dance, make a funny noise, smile for the camera.

Jordin.... the last few weeks, during her heartfelt renditions, I have felt riveted. Last week I was so drawn into her reprise of "I Who Have Nothing" that I had an ache in my throat and tension in my core. I felt what the girl in this song was feeling. This singer evokes a gut-level emotional response, which believe is the mark of a true artist, whether singer, painter, writer, photographer, storyteller, player of an instrument.... there are so many venues for art.

If I feel mildly amused by Blake's bee-bopping around, is that an emotion? I don't think so. He leaves me pretty unchanged.

Jordin's vocals cause a change in me and leave me just a little bit different.

As opposed to indifferent after Blake's.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


I'm just not running now until the Vermont City Marathon. Maybe an hour or so on Sunday, a week before the race. I don't usually run during the week before a marathon anyway. It's my unorthodox taper method, that works for me.

Just as I
suspected.... my sore buttocks/low-back/hip muscles are not a running injury, they're a sitting injury aggravated by running. This is a good article about it.

My Achilles/ankle pain.... that's a running injury.

Does anyone know anyone else who's running this marathon that I could look forward to meeting? I feel depressed about this race. I'm injured, I'm overweight, running is uncomfortable and tiring, I've given up my time goal (4:30), I don't know anyone there.... I feel like I'm dreading it more than looking forward to it. It hardly seems worth going. Wish I could get up about it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Another 20-miler DNF'd.

Again I made it for 16.... walking the last 6. I just gave out for running. I tried various combinations of running and walking, and finally just walking. I felt heavy and stiff and tired and sore.

My Vermont City Marathon, in 2 weeks, may be in danger.

Well, in the last 6 weeks or so, I've done 3 16-milers and an 18-miler (that was just before we left Winchester, 4 weeks ago.) I've run marathons on less long-running than that.

I hurt. I can't seem to shake my nagging Achilles and butt/lower back issues. My whole lower sacrum aches when I run more than a few miles. Walking doesn't hurt either set of miseries.

After years of running marathons, I realize that, two weeks out, there is nothing I can do to increase my fitness. What I'm going to do is taper sharply, run minimally, go hiking with my husband (who won't be up for more than probably 5 miles at first), maybe go biking. I've finished my marathon training on a bike before.

Just plain rest my running mechanisms and let my hips and heel try to get better.

I must be getting old or something.

But it was a gorgeous run. I haven't seen skies this blue since Arizona.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


In Chocorua, New Hampshire, taken on my run today.

The famous Mount Chocorua, from across Chororua Lake. Here is a gallery of painted and photographic renditions of the mountain by various artists.

Journey's swimming beach at mile 4.5 of today's run (I got wet there, too.... it was a really hot day)

Another mountain view

I know you can't read the sign. It says:

Tamworth Fire Department
Chocorua Station

I hope it's not a big fire.

My run:
8 miles, 1:26 moving time, about 2:00 total time (stops for Journey to drink and swim; taking pictures; walking a little every half-mile since it was 85*F which I'm not used to.)

P.S. I love my new camera phone, never had one before. I've been carrying a phone, camera, and GPS (when I don't know my distance.) Bless Race Ready shorts. Now I'm down to just the camera phone and GPS.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Somewhere between Deep Creek Lake, MD and Chocorua, NH.

Somewhere in Pennsylvania. Walpallen, or something like that... one of those inimitable Pennsylvania town-names. Just off the intersection of I-81 and I-80 but definitely off the beaten track. We were on I-81 North, turned briefly onto I-801-West, onto some country sideroads, drove and drove and drove and finally ended up at Moyer's Grove Campground, directed here by Trailer Life and Woodall's Campground Directory, neither of which made mention of closer and more-easily-accessible campgrounds we passed, but we had reservations here, and, people of word that we are, we stuck it out and came here. Tomorrow night, we'll camp somewhere in Massachusetts; the next night, hopefully, at our new digs in New Hampshire.

This is a true red-neck hillbilly trailer-trash campground. The kind I really dig for a night or two. The shower house and laundromat is in the basement of the campground owners. The laundromat costs $1.00 for a washing machine, $.75 for a dryer, half the price of higher-end campgrounds, so I'm washing clothes. Clean underwear and running clothes will materialize two days sooner than expected. I'll take a shower here, too. Our own shower is filled with my sentimental houseplants, and, according to Woodall's, the next campground has PAY SHOWERS (of all the nerve...) so this looks like a good bet.

I'm practicing, you see, taking what's available, rehearsing for navigating the Appalachian Trail. Somewhere in my future.

I had these big ideas of doing it in 2008. That was until a couple days ago. I took 4-yr-old Abbie with me (the Goodwill Shopping Trip) to see her Great-Grandma, my mother. My mother's IQ is about 170 and her ability to navigate life is about -170. She has trouble getting around physically and doesn't sweat the small stuff.

But the small stuff piling up, and either I'm going to need to stay home and help her, or hire someone nearly full-time.

Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


I took Abbie along when I went to look for new jeans at the Goodwill Store (why spend $30+ on jeans when I can get perfectly good ones, worn just the way I like them, for $6 at Goodwill?)

While I was going through the jeans on the racks, I heard a door, probably the fitting room door, open and close. Didn't think much about it until I heard Abbie, a little ways off and from inside somewhere, call, "Gamma! Me!" ("Grandma! Come see me!") My mind clicked -- I knew who had gone into the fitting room. Turns out that while I was looking through the jeans, she had snagged a bikini off a low rack, taken it to the fitting room, closed the door, and tried it on.

She dug the sunglasses on the rack next to the cash register, too. Perfect with her Harley shirt. Biker chick!!

This child is a trip. What a character! We'll miss her when we go to New Hampshire.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Subtitle: Stuff that goes in the storage sections in my door of the truck when we travel.
  1. Travel atlas
  2. Computer-printed directions to planned campgrounds en route
  3. "Next Exit" -- a book that literally describes amenities and facilities at every exit on every interstate highway in the U.S.
  4. Cloud identification/interpretation book (I like it, and it comes in handy)
  5. Reading glasses
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Pen and writing tablet
  8. Scissors
  9. Pocket pack Kleenex
  10. Wet wipes singles
  11. Paper napkins
  12. Drinking straws
  13. Plastic bags (for trash, and dog poop pick-up at rest stops)
  14. Hairbrush, ponytail holders
  15. Lip gloss
  16. Hand lotion
  17. Nail clipper and emery board
  18. Band-aids
  19. Dog snacks
  20. Personal-size battery-powered fan
  21. Camera
  22. Water bottle

The "dog snacks" -- Tootsie Pops. Yeah, I know, sugar, chocolate, gonna rot my dog's teeth and poison her. She only gets one towards the end of a long trip, when, right around the 4-hour mark, she starts looking longingly out the windshield from the back seat, and lays her chin on Steve's shoulder, clearly asking, "Are we there yet????" She lies on the back seat, holds the stick between her paws and licks the pop. It takes about 10 licks to get to the center.... because after that many licks, she can't stand it anymore and --- CRUNCH!!!


We're getting ready to move on. With weekend activities pressing down, we're starting to dismantle our portable home tomorrow, including our satellite dish, which we're giving to our son and his wife. We'll have wi-fi and cable TV at our campground in NH, so we won't need the dish.

What this means in practical terms is that we won't have internet access till who knows when. We'll probably get to our new NH digs Thursday. Maybe Wednesday, but if so we won't be set up till Thursday.

Here's our new campground,
Chocorua Camping Village, and here's the 10-day forecast for the area. Remember, I gotta get in that 20-miler next weekend :-/ Friday and Saturday look best.

With packing up stuff tomorrow, a day trip with family to
Cabela's on Sunday (2 hrs each way but Steve and I will be getting backpacking equipment for the White Mountains, yay!), and on the road Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I don't know when I'll be running. All I have to do any of those days is go out the door, but I never feel like it after riding in the truck for 5 or so hours. I just feel like a lump. Maybe it will be good to take a rest week.... I've had two "build" weeks with my 10+miles-every-other-day routine, followed by yesterday's aborted long run. In fact, from last Friday thru yesterday (7 days) I've run 49 miles, an all-time record for me. My previous high-mileage-week PR was back in the 1980's, 47 miles including speedwork, tempo, recovery runs, and a long run; it was my peak week before tapering for my all-time PR marathon, Marine Corps Marathon 1989, finish time 3:50.

However, that's not going to happen this month at the
Vermont City Marathon. I mean, I wasn't even 40 yet when I ran that 3:50. It was not a Boston Qualifier. I needed 3:40 at that time. I wasn't trying for it. It hadn't occurred to me.


Journey and me, ready to run. The rope is to give her extra length for swimming. I have a retractable leash, but it's heavy to carry.

I set out for 20 miles yesterday, not sure of the route I'd take after completing my usual 10.5-mile loop. Maybe that was my first mistake, not having a plan. 2 loops for a total of 21 miles? One loop followed by 2 5-mile out-and-backs? One loop followed by one 10-mile out-and-back? I had all kinds of possibilities in mind. Stopping wasn't one of them, but having no concrete plan left the door open a crack for temptation to sneak in.

I stopped at home after the first loop, b/c I was cold, and hungry, and covered with sand from one of Journey's "shakes" after swimming, and it's supposed to be good for mental fortitude to stop and then go back out there. I got a longsleeved shirt and a sandwich, washed the sand off my legs (it was sticking to my vaseline, totally negating the intended purpose of the vaseline), re-lubed my feet, took some Tylenol, changed my socks. Rehearsing for an ultra for the first time, as well as a marathon for the 23rd time.

~Sigh~ The stop killed me.
~Sigh~ The longsleeved shirt wasn't enough.

As soon as I set out I could tell I had stiffened up. I jogged slowly but didn't loosen up. I stuck walk breaks in, walking hills per ultra-running strategy. It wasn't hard to start running after each of those, but my speed was gone. So was my energy. I thought, if I turn around at 2.5 for the 5-mile out-and-back, I'll never go out for the next one. So I'll keep going till the turnaround for the 10-mile out-and-back. But when I got there, I couldn't stand the thought of retracing in reverse the hills I'd just navigated. So I kept going, doing my original 10.5-mile Lake Loop in reverse.

Mistake. Out there on open roadway, along the lake shore, not protected by forest, I got cold again. Really cold. Headwind coming at me off the whitecapped lake... after a mile or so, it was getting the better of me. It was feeling like IM Florida.

If it had been a real event, I probably could have toughed it out for the remaining 4 or 5 miles, which shows it was probably more mental than physical, but I pulled out my cell phone, called my husband, and said, "Can you come get me? I'm freezing cold, I can't run like this." Kept jogging towards where he would meet me, and in about 10 minutes he was there. He had the heat cranked up in the truck. Journey and I jumped in and we went home. I ended up with 16 miles.

I wasn't shivering, which also shows more mental than physical. I took a hot shower and had some hot soup and put on heavy sweats and lay on the sofa snoozing for awhile with a soft, purring cat lying warm and heavy on my chest. Mmmmm.

I probably could have made it. I'd have turned out of the wind in another couple miles. I didn't want to. After IM Florida, I don't ever, ever want to run cold again ever. For a while, after that one, I couldn't even eat ice cream. I'd start and then give the rest to Steve, because it was making me cold inside. I don't ever want to be cold again.

So I'll have to take better precautions against getting cold. I still have another weekend left for doing the 20-miler. It will be in New Hampshire. I'll make sure I'm dressed adequately.

Seen along the way:

These born-organized people have their Christmas decorations out already :-D

One of oodles of mountain creeks

Thursday, May 03, 2007


I must read a zillion training plans in books, magazines, and on websites.

I bookmark them. My books are full of ribbons and Post-It notes.My "
Favorites" sidebar has folders within folders within folders. I Xerox them. I write them down. I copy them onto spreadsheets in Microsoft Works.

I save the paper ones in my paper files, one of those fancy-schmancy two-tone vinyl expandable deals with umpteen separate filing compartments and an external buckle and carrying handle.

I save the downloaded and spreadsheeted ones in a gajillion separate folders in a master folder in "
My Documents" called "Ellie's Stuff."

Within "Ellie's Stuff" I have:

  • Running Stuff
  • Training Stuff
  • Marathon Stuff
  • Triathlon Stuff
  • Bike Stuff
  • Swimming Stuff
  • Ironman Stuff
  • Ultramarathon Stuff
  • Food Stuff
  • Other People's Stuff (stuff others have posted somewhere that I've copied to my own files)
  • Just Stuff (stuff that's relevant but doesn't fit exactly into any of the other stuff)

I save all this stuff, because I'm going to refer to it as I train according to all of it.

And then I do my own thing anyway.

For instance:

Nowhere have I found a suggestion to run 10 miles every other day, then just double that on the appointed day for a 20-miler. It takes so much less space, on paper (like, none), in my computer, and in my mind, than the M-T-W-T-F-S-S plans that go 6-4-XT-8-rest-10-rest , over which I've labored on paper, in Works, on the road, and in my head.

The 10+ (actually more like 10.5) miles every other day has been working gorgeously for me. Today we'll see what doubling it does.

I'm formulating my own plan as I go along, writing it as I accomplish it. Kind of like my life.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


4-year-old Abbie spent the night with us last night. I read her two favorite bedtime books, "I Am A Bunny" and "Goodnight Moon," and then Grandpa lay on the fold-out couch with her and sang her to sleep. This is our established bedtime routine when she has a sleepover here.

For readers who don't know, Abbie has Down Syndrome. She understands and remembers everything but doesn't talk well. She uses American Sign Language.

In the night I woke to to crashes of thunder and explosions of lightning, rain (or hail?) pounding on our camper roof. I opened the bedroom door and Abbie was sitting bolt upright on the couch, wailing with each flash and crash. I lay down with her and talked about how cozy it was inside with the storm outside; she murmured "Yeah," and slept again.

This morning she woke up to get ready for preschool. I was fixing her toast and she said, "Gamma," and made some kind of sign, shaking her fists. I told her I didn't understand. She shook her fists again and pointed out the window and I remembered the sign for "thunder" from last summer. "Oh, THUNDER!" She beamed and nodded, "Yeah!!" Then, the sign for "scared." "You were scared of the storm?" Solemn nod, "Yeah." A happy smile: "Gamma!" "Grandma came and stayed with you?" Satisfied nod: "Yeah." Signed "sleep." Then she said happily, "Away!" and gestured with her hand flying towards the window.

There was thunder, and I was scared, and Grandma came and stayed with me, and I went to sleep, and the storm went away.

I love it. It makes my heart beat faster to send this.



Tuesday, May 01, 2007


.... that make you wonder why on earth you keep running?

Today's 10+ miler was not one of those.

Today's run was one of the ones that reminds you.

I felt light. I felt free. I felt easy. I wasn't tired. My injuries were only a little sore. I didn't walk at all. My only rests were the minute-or-so stops for Journey to get a drink and quick dip in the lake -- 4 such stops. I cut another 2 minutes off my time. In the 4 times I have done this loop in the last 8 days, my time has dropped from 2:01 to 1:46. That's a drop in mile-pace from 11:33 to 10:10. Another 30 seconds off over the course of the rest of the spring and the summer, and I could possibly have my Boston Qualifier after all, despite my ultra.

(Possibly. We're talking 26.2 miles there, not 10.5.)

After my first running of this loop a week ago, I was hobbling. I could hardly get up and down the 2 steps in our camper from living area to bed/bathroom area. I moaned, groaned, and grunted with each step. I couldn't bend over to untie my shoes. This improved each time until today I am not stiff at all. My Achilles and ankle do not hurt (I should mention that I got heavy-duty massage therapy of that area yesterday.) My left hamstring, very sore yesterday and a little sore this morning, never got more than a little sore, and is staying at that level still, an hour after finishing.

I have never in my entire running career tried such a stunt as running 10 miles every other day. I think it's the best routine I've ever followed. My endurance is increasing, my fatigue and stiffness are decreasing. I'm not walking even the hills. Except for the one on which Journey always, always finds something she has to stop suddenly and sniff. She stops so abruptly that I get yanked at the other end of the leash. This spoils my momentum for the rest of the hill and I have to walk whatever is left of it. Today, however, I only walked a couple steps to regroup and then resumed my jog up the hill.

Next running day is Thursday, then Saturday. I was going to do my pre-marathon 20-miler on Saturday, but we will be packing up our camper that day to leave. So I think I am going to do the 20 on Thursday, and another 10 on Saturday. Still debating whether to do a 20-mile out-and-back, or 2 laps of the Lake Loop which I am coming to know so very well, or 4 5-mile out-and-backs or 5 4-mile out-and-backs, to test my mental toughness for the ultra.

I am feeling like such a fine runner this week!! I seem to have hit on the perfect plan, finally. At least for now.