Sunday, January 27, 2008


No more 20-milers, if I don't want to do them. I accomplished one today (sort of surprised me: first, that I made it for 20 miles, and second, that it wasn't half bad.) If I make the Austin Marathon my last one, I'll never have to run a 20-mile training run again.


Austin will give me 24 marathons. I might have to do one more to round it up to 25.

Or not.

The 20 miles took me 4 hours, including stops at traffic lights, stretch breaks, and a horrendous (horrendous) pit stop. I knew there was a gas station a quarter-mile ahead but I also became mightily aware I wasn't going to make it that far. I dove down into a culvert. I was in view of houses' second-story windows but didn't see anyone peeking as I anxiously kept scanning them. The stop itself took a long time, complete with cramping. Sorry so graphic, but runners will relate.

My Achilles tendons and hips started to hurt at mile 8, and I took 2 aspirins and 2 X-strength Tylenol, and the pain never got any worse. When all that wore off after my finish, I took two Aleve. I am such a pain-pill junkie...

My Timex Ironman watch battery has taken 5 years of licking and quit ticking. So I had no lap counter or any way to stop timing at pauses, only my total time.

I ran/walked a 2-mile/2-minute pattern, drinking water every 2 miles and taking a gel and a salt tablet every 4. This worked so well I think I'll use it as my marathon strategy in 3 weeks.

Anyway.... my 20-miler is over. I set out to do 16-18 and not only ended up doing 20, I ran an extra .2 to simulate that demonic .2 after passing mile 26 on race day. If I don't want to I never have to do another 20-miler. I may be done with marathoning.

But I've said that before.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Following a link on Nancy's blog, I found out that professional triathlete Amanda Lovato is running a half marathon in Austin this weekend.

Hmmm, could be a good training run and I wouldn't be alone and so bored. It's the 3M Half Marathon, one of a series of prep races leading up to the Austin Marathon on Feb. 17.

I should have known.

Raceday registration (the only option left) is $90. So typical here, Deep In The Heart of Excess.

I need new running shoes more. Or a new pair of bike shorts to ease up the saddle pressure that contributes to the ache in my lower pelvic bones when I run.

What I'm planning instead, and maybe I won't be alone, who knows, is to drive to the marathon finish, run the last 9 or 10 miles backwards, then turn around and run back to the finish. Then I'll have run the last miles of the marathon and feel encouraged when I come to familiar landmarks. This was helpful to me the 5 times I ran the Columbus Marathon. "Oh, yeah, I know this place, I know where I am, I know what's ahead, I can do this!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Tomorrow is a bike-commute day. Predicted high temp: 53*F. At the time of my commute: 40-something. Wind-chill factor: 30-something. Cloudy but not raining.

Main issue: Stay warm. I can do that.

Today I got up to feed the livestock at 8, then worked till 10 spreading mulch, then ran with Journey from 10:30 till 11:25, then showered/shampooed, made and ate homemade chicken-noodle soup and was on the road to daycare at 12:50, handling toddlers and all their issues (poop, toys, snacks, fights, biting) till 6:00. Stopped at the supermarket and bought steak and wine, came home and enjoyed both watching American Idol, checking in with my classical-cellist-turned-country-fiddler mom by phone about who was good and who was lousy. Called granddaughter Abbie and talked about her baby sister, expected birth date May 22, 2008, whom Abbie refers to by name as Sarah as if there were no question, Sarah is already her sister, she just hasn't come out of Mommy yet. They'd better name that baby Sarah.

My mother is much better. Still doing her 4 X day nebulizer treatments with Pulmo-Cort and Albuterol. Bronchitis takes a long time to get over, especially when you're pushing 90.

I told her also to make sure she drinks more water (6 oz. per hour), eats green and/or orange vegetables with her microwave meals, and since she's feeling so much better, it's time to start walking on her treadmill again, starting with 2 minutes a couple times a day.

Yeah, my almost-87-yr-old mother has a dreadmill. Wish I had one.

What else? Oh, yeah, I'm being harrassed at work to produce my high-school diploma, which is (I think) in a safe-deposit box in a bank in Maryland. I'll give them a copy of my R.N. license .... normally, you're not given an R.N. license unless you've finished high school.

It's the first time since June 2, 1969 that I've been asked to produce a high-school diploma for employment. I feel affronted.

I'm going to bed. I drank too much port to care about much of anything.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Or maybe it's just on vacation.

I think, after the Austin Marathon, I'll take a vacation from marathons. It's the training, the long runs. I just don't feel into it.

I needed 18 or 20 miles today, since I bailed on last week's attempt. Well, last week I made it 10 miles. Today, I made it for a half-marathon. My own, not a "real" one with other runners and a t-shirt. I set out planning 18 or 20 but got to a place where I knew if I hung a left I'd come out on our road and could just loop back home, so I did.

I think I planned a training season that was too long and peaked too early. Normally, I just increase my long run by 2 miles every 2 weeks up to one 20-miler 2 weeks before the race, and by race day I'm ready for the next step-up, and then it's over. This time, I've been following a 17-week plan that increases to 24 miles.

I ain't runnin' no 24 miles in training. At the start of the program, I thought I would, but I forgot how much I hate long training runs.

Anyway, after 13.1 miles, physically I could easily have kept on going. I could even have done the distance again, probably. Mentally I was dead.

Well, the marathon is 4 weeks away. If I do 16 miles next weekend and then taper, I'll finish the marathon, I'll give my borderline injuries a chance to subside, and I'll be off the hook.

My mother stayed 2 days/nights in the hospital, by the way, and is home doing her own nebulizer treatments 4 times a day, getting a few visits a week from a home-health nurse, and recovering slowly. Bronchitis/pneumonia take a lot out of anyone, especially someone who's a couple months shy of 87 years old.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Where we're workcamping, most of our work is, essentially, gardening: a lot of hole-digging and shrub-planting. Six senior-citizen couples.

So one day we were getting together to start, and in the tool shed I saw half a dozen new garden hoes. I picked them all up, took them outside, and said to the older fella who was standing outside,

"Hey, Dave.... did someone go out and get you guys a bunch of hoes?"

Poor old Dave didn't get it. "Yeah, they work better than those shovels for some of the work," he answered, with a totally straight, honest face. Nope, he didn't get it.

As opposed to one of the other fellas, who saw me heading toward the planting site with a hoe and yelled,

"Hey Ellie.... you goin' ho'in'?"

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Better to DNF a 20-mile training run than the marathon.

My Achilles tendons were pulling again. And my lower hip bones were starting to hurt they way they did in the Vermont Marathon. This was an hour *after* I'd taken 3 Excedrin.

And before I started, I'd talked to our son in Maryland, and he was taking my mother (who's 86) to the ER. And around mile 8 he called and said she was being admitted with pneumonia.

And when I got to the end of my first 10-mile loop, I just didn't have what it took to do another go-around. Not with my feet and hips already acting up. And not if I was supposed to stop at the grocery store afterwards to pick up some things. And not if I want to fit in another 20-miler somewhere in the next couple weeks and still make the marathon.

I had set my watch to beep every 25 minutes, and each time I walked a little while drinking from my Camelbak, and every other time I took electrolytes and an Accel Gel. I'm pleased to report that despite some walks and a couple stops (pit stop, phone call) I was able to keep an even pace, running each 25-minute segment in exactly 25 minutes ;-P

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sub 1-hour!

Progress continues!

I'm now using my commute as training, not just commuting.

15.87 miles over rolling (long) hills with some slow upgrades as well as fast downgrades. And you know about the Monster Hill.

Yesterday I did the whole trip in 59:57 (rode the hill), and was I ever thrilled! Average speed 15.9mph. WOOT!! Previous record was 15.7 average, but that was with a tailwind.

I've been working on leg strength by keeping my gears higher on the uphills. Yeah, I'm gear-mashing, but it's not like I have to save my legs for the run. I'm working on making the hills harder and making it up them. SavageMan is coming.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


OK, enough theology for awhile. It's been interesting and it's made me think and re-evaluate and re-firm and confirm what I believe.

But now let's talk about the bike.

Specifically about this Monster Hill near the end of my bike commute.

I've ridden it a few times, walked it more. But today...

I not only rode the hill, I rode it in my MIDDLE chainring!! Not my small one! My lowest rear gear, yeah, but NOT my little bitty granny chainring.

This has been my goal for the whole winter: to ride that hill not in my granny gear. I only half-expected to do it by the end of the winter. And here I've done it not even halfway through January.

Guess my next goal will be to click up that rear gear one notch.

SavageMan is 8-1/2 months away....

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


In her comment on my post "I Misunderstood," Nancy gave a link to the NAS recommendation that public school science classes focus on evolution as the basis of modern biology, and exclude references to a Creator or a pattern of "intelligent design."

Although I am a Christian, and a fairly right-wing one, too, I happen to agree, pretty much in line with this rationale from the recommendation:

"The report stated that the idea of evolution can be fully compatible with religious faith. 'Science and religion are different ways of understanding the world. Needlessly placing them in opposition reduces the potential of each to contribute to a better future', said the report."

This is in line with what I said a couple posts back about trying to prove God's power, or existence, scientifically..... it can't be done in quanitifiable, measurable terms(although I personally feel that the the evolution of the natural world is its own evidence of God and of His power.)

"... teaching creationist ideas in science classes confuses students about what constitutes science and what does not, according to the report's authors."

This works for me, too. Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.

Science is science and religion is religion, and although I find each in the other and believe each enhances and explains the other, not everyone wants to mix them, and I would never presume to present my view as absolute truth. I'd get arguments even from my own church.


I had to move the runner back a pawprint or two, since I gained back some weight over the holidays. Bummer. Things are looking down for the marathon. The question, as always: which do I want more?

There's no way I'll be at my goal weight by Feb. 17. But it would be nice to be at about 125. That's only 7 pounds away. Think I can/should do that in just under 6 weeks?


When I can't find my keys and then see them in some unlikely place, how do I know that's not God walking with me and reminding me where I was when I absent-mindedly put them down? "Ellie, you forgot your glasses, wellllll, whaddaya know, there are your keys!"

When I'm backing out of a parking space and discover I missed, by half an inch, scraping a smaller vehicle beside me that I didn't see parked there because it's below my line of vision in the truck, how do I know that wasn't God steering my awkward truck at an angle I couldn't have managed if I'd tried? "Let me give you a hand here, there's a little car down there you don't see..."

When I'm mulling over a problem and suddenly the answer is so clear I wonder why I didn't think of it before, how do I know that isn't God saying, "OK, Ellie, here's an idea...."

When I'm fixing myself a snack I know will not help my hopes for training or weight, and I make a false move and it falls on the floor and gets covered with dog hair, how do I know that wasn't God getting my attention and reminding me, because He really is interested in my smallest concerns? "Hey, Ellie.... you're not even hungry, why are you fixing that?" A little crude in His method, maybe, but not impossible. Everything is possible with God :-)

We keep looking for evidence in lofty places, in unexplainable medical cures and partings of the seas.

How about in the little things of minute-to-minute life that hint that He is always with us?

I'm not saying all those little coincidences ARE God.... I'm just saying, how can we know they're NOT?

Monday, January 07, 2008


The JREF challenge, linked to via Nancy's post, did not ask for evidence of the existence of God, but for evidence of supernatural power. I misunderstood this when I read her post, but when I followed the link I got it clarified for myself.


It got me to thinking about the existence of God (although I think "existence" is a state that He somehow transcends) and what the evidence is.

I do not think evidence of God is found in the "supernatural" but in the natural.

I find no conflict between science and religion. The study of science and natural laws, the development of the human mind leading to new discoveries, new abilities, new medicines, new treatments, new technology, is the study of God's world.

I find no conflict between the "theories" of creation and evolution. I don't think there could be one without the other.

In fact, in the astounding evolution of the natural world as it is now and as it continues to evolve, I find the greatest evidence of God's power.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Hmmm. My very dear good friend Nancy has posted about an interesting challenge at her blog today. She didn't originate the project; she's passing on the links to join in.

The challenge is to prove the existence of God. Or of any kind of supernatural and/or paranormal entities or powers.

I'm not getting in on the action, because I can't prove the existence of God, although I believe with all my heart.

The point I want to make is, neither can anyone absolutely prove He does not. This is why I don't believe in atheism. I don't believe anyone can be truly an atheist because no one can say with absolute certainty that there is no God, knowing without doubt that they are right.

The most anyone can claim is agnosticism.... uncertainty as to the existence of God.

Because it can't be proven. Either way.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Remember my Purple Heart Plant that froze in Michigan in late October? My Ironman Plant? That had only a few little tentative sprigs surviving under the dead, frozen branches?

It's alive again.

It's my reminder never to give up hope. When I'm discouraged or overwhelmed or can't figure out an answer.... some green sprig in me will survive and grow.

When we came to this place, near Austin, I couldn't imagine where I was going to run to train for the marathon. No road looked likely and I thought I'd have to drive 10 miles to go running. I did not like this place. But I've found great running roads and a job I love and I have this great bike commute to work and it's all going so much better than I'd pictured at first.

And my plant is growing and growing to remind me.... hope should never be considered dead, even if it seems frozen.

If you look closely, you'll see that part of this plant is -- a different kind of plant.

That's my sweet potato plant. Back last fall, when we went to Winchester, VA, the immediate area didn't look good for running or biking, and I figured the campground job with its work schedule would spell the end of my Ironman training. It turned out better than I could have imagined. Not only did I find a great pool, great running routes, and wonderful biking, but the campground manager asked for a copy of my training schedule and arranged my whole work schedule (and therefore everyone else's as well) around it. And, after IMFL, I joined the Shenandoah Valley Runner's Club and did some fun winter races.

I expected nothing and got everything.

During that winter, I went to see if there were any useable sweet potatoes in the basket for supper, and found that one of them was shriveled up but had inch-long sprouts on one end. I saw an inedible sweet potato and got a lovely plant. It became my "Expect-something-where-you-don't-expect-it" plant and I planted it into the same pot with my Purple Heart Ironman Plant. It, too, froze back to nearly nothing in the frost. I really didn't expect it to grow back at all. I grieved for it.

But there it is, shooting up.

In everything give thanks.