Sunday, December 30, 2007


Granddaughter Abbie, thrilled with one of her Christmas presents from her firefighter-paramedic daddy.
She'll also put on her nurse's scrubs and her real stethoscope and pretty darn near give you a complete physical. We sent her a doctor's kit for Christmas.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


19-mile long run today, training for Austin.

When things started feeling like they were getting a little less comfortable (which often starts about 8 miles into my run), I started the mind games. I also took 3 Excedrin tablets, to be at their peak a couple hours later. (3 Excedrin have 750mg of acetaminophen, less than 2 Extra-Strength; 500mg of aspirin, less than 2 regular; and about 190mg caffeine, nice little hit.)

Then I started the math. 19 miles was the plan. At 9 miles, feeling just a tad tired with 10 miles to go, "If I feel this good 16 miles into the marathon, I'll be in good shape." I turned onto a road I haven't run before, to add a couple of needed miles, and encountered some hills. Stress I hadn't counted on, but they were actually kind of a relief, using different muscles. At 11 miles, it was, "If I had 8 miles to go in the marathon, I'd be at mile 18, and I'm feeling pretty darn good for 18 miles, looking forward to that 20-mile mark." Then I had to make a pit stop (sacrificed my bandana for the cause) and it was a little hard to get going again after that, quads had tightened up (don't ask, let's just move on...) and I thought, "Well, if I don't have a bad patch till I've got less than 8 miles to go, I'll be doing pretty darn well."

And so it went. At 13 miles, only 6 to go, I'm at the 20-mile mark. I figure I was using my right brain (the philosopher side) for these calculations, but with math being a left-brain function, I had to keep swatting away reality: "You're not at 20 miles, you're only at the halfway mark, you just passed 13 miles. If you feel like this at the half, you're in trouble." SHUT UP, LEFT BRAIN!!!! If I don't feel any worse than this with just 10K to go I'll be in great shape. Keep on going, don't slow down.

Except I had to stop. Traffic light at a crossing. Long wait. First the eastbounders got to go. Then the right-turn lanes. Then the westbounders. Then the left-turn lanes. I looked for a crossing gap but none appeared. And during this stop, in fact a few moments after I stopped, I began to feel like shit.

Light-headed, short of breath, nauseous, anxious, "I'm going to pass out, I'm going to have a heart attack." I knew what this was, physiologically: Same amount of blood going to my heart and lungs even though my legs and arms weren't pumping it out as fast, temporary overload. Knowing that, though, didn't make me feel any better, and when I finally got my crossing signal, I could no more run than I could bench press a couple hundred pounds. I was pretty sure that, if I could start running again, things would even out, and I told myself that, but the mind game didn't work, I just couldn't bring myself to run, and I walked about half of mile 16 and pondered calling my husband to come and get me. "You wanna DNF? Is that what you want?" Nope, I sure don't.

Right Brain encouraged me to walk to the next stoplight, walk across, then start running again and not walk again till I was done. And at mile 17 I thought, "If I feel like this at mile 23, that'll be pretty normal, the last 3 miles or so are always a struggle, don't slow down unless you're dying, which you're not." I could see, far ahead, the intersection close to our lane, and I imagined that I was seeing and hearing the finish line up there. That helped. Except it was a mirage because when I reached the intersection I was not at my finish but had that diabolical 0.2 miles left till our lane. That's OK. The last 0.2 is always a cruel trick of irony.

Right Brain pondered going PAST 19 miles to 19.2, just to make it realistic.

Left Brain said, "The hell you will."

Left Brain won. I hit mile 19 and my stopwatch just as I reached our gravel driveway, which I can't run anyway (large, ankle-twist-potential gravel.) So I walked the 0.25-mile driveway as my cooldown. Thinking, "If I feel like this at the end of the marathon, I'll be OK, and I'll be happy, and I'll sure be glad to stop running."

3 hours, 33 minutes. Average pace 11:13/mile. Sure don't know how I can run 26.2 miles faster than that but there's that race-day adrenalin to help out a person's Right Brain.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Grandkids

Our French daughter, Cecile, who was our exchange student 10 years ago and was our daughter for that year and has been ever since, is a mother. She bore a son, Hevan, on December 12.
We have another grandchild on the way. Our son Jon and his wife Jamie are expecting a daughter in May. Almost-5-year-old Abbie has volunteered that she wants to name the baby Sarah. I think that would be beautiful. The same enduring, never-out-of-style type of classic name as Abigail, with the classic surname Hamilton. And it would be lovely for Abbie to get to be the one who suggested her sister's name.
Abbie goes to school with a Sarah, and an Ella, and about three Lindsay's, but she wants to name the baby Sarah. "I like it."
So, until further notice, I'll call the new granddaughter Sarah. I don't have a picture of her yet.
Because of Sarah, I am doing the SavageMan Half-Iron Triathlon next year, instead of hiking the Appalachian Trail. Because of Sarah, my friend Sally (whose name, of course, is Sarah), who has thought she was too old at 60+ to hike the AT, has another year to think about it, and is thinking she wants very much to go with me after all. She called me a couple weeks ago and was extremely excited to find out I've put it off for a year, because she can't go in 2008 but is getting very worked up about doing it in 2009.
Because of Sarah, life is different. Life is better.


Well. Today at Barnes & Noble I decided to get the latest issue of Triathlete Magazine, the first I've bought since I was training for IMFL, just because I'm tentatively dipping my toes into considering myself a triathlete again, being as how I'm training for a marathon AND bike-commuting to work AND planning on doing (conquering) SavageMan in September.

Well. I hope you don't have to be of Triathlete Magazine caliber to be a triathlete.

The only thing in the whole issue that panders to the likes of me, athletically and economically, is chocolate milk as a recovery drink.

Money, money, money. Pay up front for your Kona slot, or to register for next year's IM-wherever. Even though you're already broke from this year's registration and training season.

Reviews on new gear..... not stuff you're likely to find at Goodwill.

Bikes that cost my year's income.

Kona, Kona, Kona. The Only True Triathlon In The World. M-Dot. M-Dot. M-Dot.

OK, I did an M-Dot race. I also did an ultra-distance triathlon (same distance as Ironman, different nomenclature) that was not M-Dot. I did the non-M-Dot race first. Was I an IronMan after that race? I did it an hour and 20 minutes faster than my M-Dot race. Did that mean anything?

Ironman is a brand-name. M-Dot is a trademark.

Am I more of a nose-blower if I use Kleenex than if I use Wal-Mart's Great Value Facial Tissues?

Am I less of an athlete because I have only one pair of tri shorts (that I got on eBay, one not-even-noticeable hole in left leg above hem) and wash them by hand every night and dry them above the electric heater in preparation for the next day's ride?

Am I a less-able triathlete if I have an $1800 Trek 2100 bike than someone who has a Cervelo XXX with internal hydration system and disc wheels? And have never bought a new set of wheels worth as much as or more than my bike?

How about if I've worn the same pair of bike shoes for the last 3 years?

How about if my Bento Box (from eBay) is ripped and torn but still serviceable so I don't buy a new one?

How about if I don't go to New Zealand for an Ironman race because I can't afford a ticket to New Zealand (even if I could afford another M-Dot registration?)

How about if I have to decide whether to register for the Austin Marathon out of my current paycheck and get new running shoes out of the next one, or vice versa, because I can't do both out of one paycheck and still buy groceries? Am I still an athlete?

How about if my energy drink is cold sweet tea instead of InfinIT?

I don't know, this whole issue just pissed me off. I think I'll go back to reading Backpacker (which also pisses me off..... $6000 on gear to go hike the Appalachian Trail where you pretend to live on nothing for 6 months, see what it's like to be homeless, although you can go home any time.... suppose you take practically NOTHING with you to live on nothing. Are you still a hiker???)

Essentials are:
For running: Running shoes and some kind of synthetic socks. I've been very happy lately with Danskin Now socks from Wal-Mart, $3.99 for 2 pairs. (There is a large contingent of runners who maintain that running shoes and socks are unncecessary and even deleterious.)

For biking: bike, biking shoes, helmet, sunglasses (from Wal-Mart.) I have a pair of tri shorts but in college and when I was a kid I rode in my jeans. No helmet, either.... it wasn't heard of.

For swimming: swimsuit, goggles. Maybe a wetsuit. Maybe I'm a traitor to myself because I own TWO wetsuits, a sleeveless one and a long-sleeved one. I should sell one. If you have two coats and your neighbor has none...

For hiking/backpacking: some kind of decent shoes, sleeping bag, shelter, water + drinking vessel, food, and some kind of pack to put it all in. And just go. Just hit the trail.

I'm tired of stuff and paying money for stuff that advertisers advertise to make you want to buy so they can make more money.

I'm tired of hearing about Kona. I'm tired of reading about gear I can never aspire to have. I'm tired of reading about achievements I can never aspire to achieve.

I wanna talk about ME.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Scale, BMI, and, hopefully, my marathon time at Austin in February.

After I set up my ticker, up above, I logged an initial loss of a couple pounds, then neglected it when I regained them plus 4 more. I didn't resume updating it till I'd re-lost below that initial loss. I was too embarrassed about the gain to re-do my starting point. This wasn't fair to me, since it didn't show how much I'd actually lost.

So now I've reset my starting point to reflect that high point. As of this morning, my total loss is 14 pounds. My BMI is below 25 in I don't know how many years.

This could pay off at the marathon, especially if I can take off another pound a week or so before then (8 weeks left.)

No secret formula involved. I'm just not eating as much. I eat breakfast -- lately nonfat plain yogurt mixed with uncooked oatmeal, fruit, half a scoop of protein powder and a little sugar. Lunch is a PBJ sandwich; not the most nutritious entry, but on whole-wheat bread it has some merit. I think the kicker has been the hours I work at the daycare center, and the 16-mile hilly bike trip there 3 days a week. I'm eating my PBJ about noon (before I leave, or after I get there if I've ridden my bike) and then not till 7pm. I don't keep snacks at work and I've discovered nothing bad happens if I get hungry and stay hungry until I get home. Then I eat a regular dinner, but it's late enough so that I don't go into post-dinner grazing mode, if I go to bed early. If I'm hungry at bedtime a glass of milk fixes it.

Gosh, eating less helps weight loss. Who knew?

Sunday, December 16, 2007


17 miles today, working up to the Austin Marathon. I didn't feel like going. I made myself. I didn't feel like continuing. I made myself.

My body never felt bad -- it was my mind. About this point in marathon-training I always think, "Why am I doing this? Again? It sucks!"

Debating whether to go do my planned run today, I felt like today was make-it-or-break it day: If I did not do today's run, I was calling off the marathon.

I did the run.

My Achilles tendons, ailing for nearly a year, crippling me at the Vermont City Marathon in May, and bothering me all summer even just walking around, have healed up. I only got a couple of very short complaints from the right one; the left one was quiet.

No pain across my hips and sacrum like in Vermont; that, too, continued to bother me for months but has stopped now.

No quad pain, even though this was a big problem just 2 weeks ago on a 15-miler. Today I popped 3 Excedrin an hour into my run, figuring it would be starting to kick in about the time I started to ache, and at its peak in my last few miles. Whether this made the difference or whether it was just a pain-free run, I can't say for sure.

My body never felt bad. It was my mind. It was all in my head. There's been some splash recently about how the perceived need to slow down or stop is coming from the brain and not the body. The brain is trying to keep the body from doing exactly what we're training it to do: extend its limits. The brain is thinking there may be distance yet to cover and says, "If you keep this up you're going to be tired. You better quit while you're ahead." But the body has no awareness of miles to come; it only lives in the present (although past minutes or hours affect how it feels in the present.) So you can tell your brain to shut up and your body to keep going. The advice I've read (and I'm not going to hunt up a link; my connection is slow tonight -- I've seen it in a number of places recently, Runner's World being one of them) says, pay attention to your body, and if there's no medical reason to stop or slow down (like chest pain or respiratory distress or unmistakeable musculoskeletal trauma), then keep on going and don't slow down.

So I kept going (although checking my splits afterwards I see I did slow down, even though I didn't feel like I was) and even picked up the pace the last tenth of each mile and kept saying, "I'm training my brain. I'm training my brain. I'm training my brain."

I think my brain needs the training even more than my body does.

If you're going through hell
Keep on going, don't slow down
If you're scared, don't show it
You might get out
Before the devil even knows you're there.
Rodney Atkins

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Well, I like commuting. I'm glad for the "excuse" to ride 16 rolling-t0 hilly miles 3 days a week, I'm gaining some fame for same at the daycare center "You ride 16 MILES to work??? I couldn't ride 16 FEET."

Some things have taken some practice to get the knack. Like getting from the right-lane bike lane across two right-turn lanes into a left-turn lane. Takes a couple over-shoulder glances, a rearview mirror, a good signal with my bright-red bike-gloved hand, and some quick pedaling. Then I wait right smack in the middle of the lane in line with the cars, to make sure they see me and don't try to squish past me. I try to remember to gear down before stopping at a light, to make acceleration faster when it turns green.

The one VERY BIG KILLER HILL in my last mile, well, it gets easier each time. Only on one day have I weenied out and walked it, and that was after having done a 4-mile tempo run before changing clothes and jumping on the bike. I thought as I approached the hill, gosh, I ran hard, I'm a little tired, maybe I'll walk some of the hill..... and I knew right there I was screwed. If I even let myself THINK I might walk.... I might as well just get off and walk, because it's over.

So now I don't think whether I might walk. Today I did a combo of 8 pedal strokes standing and 8 sitting. That made the hill go a little faster but also got me winded. I've got a cold, though, so maybe after it's gone the stand-and-pedal system won't whup me.

Fiberjoy made an interesting comment about my orange-hunting-vest-wrapped backpack -- but, hokey as it may look, I'm keeping it! I think I'm a lot more visible with a blaze-orange humpback than I would be with my plain maroon backpack on my maroon bike, even with a lime-green jersey, which isn't bright day-glo Safety Green, just humdrum lime green. If I look weird and someone takes a second look, that second look may be what keeps me from getting pushed into the ditch, or into the next traffic lane.

And Kent added a good comment, too. Gosh, two new visitors to one post, gotta love it!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


At the work-camping facility where we're working (in addition to both our outside jobs, Steve as an RV repairman and me at the daycare center), there are exotic pets. Several days a week, it's my job to feed them.

I wish I'd already taken pictures of them, but I haven't yet. I'll have to lift some from the internet.

We have a small herd of capybaras, including 3 babies less than a week old,
and, of all things, living in an atrium, a two-toed sloth (picture above.)
These critters are spoiled rotten.
The capy's, 3 males and 2 females are named Bob, Bob, Bob, Daisy, and Daisy. The new babies aren't named yet.
The sloth is named..... Her Majesty.
Twice a day, Her Majesty gets:
3 baby carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 apple, cut into thin strips
1/4 cucumber, cut into thin strips
1/4 zucchini, cut into thin strips
1/4 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
4-5 thin strips raw sweet potat0
2 thin strips acorn squash
2 thin strips pumpkin
2-3 thin strips hard pear
2 thin slices mango
If I would eat that twice a day, I'd be totally healthy and have no weight problem, I'm sure.
The capybaras get, divided among the 5 adults (the babies haven't been factored in yet, they're still nursing and the mom keeps them more or less sequestered from the herd, foraging):
One large bunch leaf lettuce
One large head cabbage
2 ears fresh corn (which I only buy for Steve and myself when it's 5/$1)
1 stalk broccoli
1.5 apples (the other half goes to a couple of dwarf goats)
1 carrot
Steve and I do not eat that well in terms of fresh produce.
We should. The other day, I thought, I like mangoes, and I never buy them because they're expensive. But that damned sloth gets them, and I decided, what the hell, I'm buying myself a mango. It was damn good, too.

Sunday, December 09, 2007


A fellow daycare worker has this bumber sticker on her car.

I think it's awesome.

Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

I'm in.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Steve's Beer Prize

Something rattled in Steve's beer bottle when he poured it. He'd had it in the freezer and thought it was ice. But it still rattled long after it should have thawed. It was just a little too large to shake out. So he broke the bottle out of curiosity and the possibility that it was a million-dollar prize or something.

Whatever it is, it's plastic. Doesn't appear to be worth anything....


This is my commuting backpack, dressed in its Wal-Mart hunting vest, which I've had for years for running during hunting season. It gives me 2 extra pockets, one of which I use for a sandwich, where it doesn't get crushed. And it seems to make me visible -- so far, drivers have been very polite to me.

I took my bike in to the shop b/c my gears were slipping and my rear shifter was tricky, like sluggish.... doesn't click right away. Sometimes it takes a couple of tries, including downshifting my front gears and then upshifting and trying again.

They replaced my gear cables, which were rusted, and tuned everything up.

My bike FLOATS now. It's amazing. I'm cruising up hills in my middle gears.

Which is good because that's all I can use.... my rear shifter needs to be replaced, kaput, and I've gotta wait till next payday. The mechanic tried irrigating and lubing it to no avail, and after that treatment it's slightly more sluggish than it was before. Very hard shift up. So for today's commute I kept it in the middle rear gear and just used my triple chainring as a three-speed. And it worked. The bike, as I said, floated. I only had to shift down lower (still the lowest granny gear) for the fiercest longest hill. And I managed to get it back into the middle gear after reaching the top.

Other than the broken gear shift, the bike rides like a dream.

Commuting by bike is cool. I like it. I've got the hang of moving to the left turn lane from the right side of the road. It takes me about 1:15-1:20 to cover the 16 miles, with waits at stoplights sometimes lasting 5 minutes. I haven't had to try it in rain yet, but that will come. I've got my Marmot Precip rain gear I got for hiking the AT. I'll need to get a rainproof pack cover.

In my pack, I take:
Baby wipes
Sweatshirt (I get cold after riding)
Electric hairbrush/dryer combo gizmo

It takes me 15 minutes to put myself back together, and then I give myself 15 minutes for lunch (sandwich and cold sweet tea, my cheapskate energy drink,) and I'm ready to roll with the babies.