Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Focus?

The marathon is only 18 days away and this was my part of a conversation I had with a friend today.

"We're doing speed work today. You should come, it will be fun!"

"There is nothing more I can do to gain anything for the marathon now, so Tri season has begun! Hooray!"

What is going on in my head??

-- Was it the T3 Boys team sighting on Sunday?
-- Is it the discussion of who, what, when, where and how around my triathlon training that I've been discussing of late?
-- Was it the cleaning of my closet and hanging all my tri tops together?
-- Does the fact that I WILLINGLY did swimming drills ALONE on Monday play into it?

How is it that today I'm looking past the marathon? WTH?

Yet, I can't bring myself to order a Finisher's Jacket for the Rogue Distance challenge. I can't order it, if I haven't finished it. It just seems like bad juju to me....

This is why

We love Jason's Deli!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Run Your Race (3M Race Report)

It was weird preparing for 3M. Oddly, I wasn't really that nervous. It wasn't my A race this year and after pounding out 20 and 22 milers, throwing down at 13.1 seemed like not a big deal. Wow...what a difference a year makes!

The night before I had my typical pre-race and long run meal (Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill) and set my alarm EARLY so that I could get my breakfast in (and out) before the race started at 7am.

I didn't even stress about the weather...I really didn't care if it was cold since I've FINALLY figured out appropriate gear...and because the shouldn't be any rain. Phew.

I did dig out the 3M race plan that Sisson did last year and reviewed that while perusing the race course handout from the packet. Visualization. Another BIG lesson I've learned this year..and OH so helpful. If you don't do this, I HIGHLY recommend you start! It may seem kinda kooky, but holy shit, does it work!

I also reviewed my pace chart. Now, my MGP is 8:35 (which gives me a 3:45 -- which I think is VERY respectable for a VIRGIN Marathoner!), so my HMGP is 8:04. I can't really tell you the last time I ran HMGP, so I was a little concerned that I might have some trouble dialing into that. But I had my watch and the mile markers, so I'd just make it work.

However, after sharing the fact that my MGP was set based upon my initial time trial at the beginning of the season (which would be the 8:35/M = 3:45) and not the IBM 10-K (where I had a great race and PR'd which would then make MGP 8:21/M = 3:38) with a certain someone and then being chided, no, called out for be a chicken and not aggressive, I made a super-secret inside HMGP of 7:44, which is what I thought the HMGP would be for the 8:21 MGP. (You bastard, you know who you are...)

So, I figured worst case is that I hit the 8:04/M...best case 7:44/M. Right? CHECK! I'm on it.

After lining up in the corrall SANS by usual pace buddies (Nick was sick, lost Jonathan when I made a final potty stop before lining up and couldn't find Michael), I realized I was going to be on my own on this one. Dang. Oh well, here we go.

The gun went off and we started our shuffle through the start. There was a gaggle of T3 big boys up ahead including my friend Noah. They were looking strong, so I decided to hang with them for awhile. Besides, it was nice eye candy. Turns out a bunch of them are training for IMAZ and they had already run 9 before the race, so they were just finishing off at their long run pace.

According to the plan, miles 1-2 are supposed to be for just kinda getting going and getting through the masses. That's pretty much what happened for me.

Mile 1: 8:49 (dang traffic - I'm going to need to make up some time)
Mile 2: 7:59 (better)

After leaving the T3 boys around mile 2, I knew the plan called for settling into race pace and being conservative over the next two miles.

Mile 3: 7:37 (a little fast, but I still need to make up for Mile 1)
Mile 4: 7:44 (nailed it...nice)

Between miles 3 and 4, one of my favorite blog lurkers was there cheering me on as she yelled, "Run your race, Dionn, Run Your RACE!" I thought to myself. Yes, today it is my race. I'm going to follow my plan and race my race! And just after that as I was looking ahead, I noticed a form that I've seen on many occasions now running ahead of me. It's a blonde, ponytail wearing gal who is really, really fit. She's got great form and is always, always ahead of me. I was feeling good this day and thought, hmmmmm, maybe this is the day I catch her. I was encouraged that I'd actually caught up to her since I didn't see her at the start, so I thought, well then, I must be going a little faster than her if I've caught her at this point. Though it was quite early in the race, so I figured I would just hang with her and then since I'm a kicker, take her at the end.

Besides, you know me...there's always got to be some kind of backstory to a race for me. Keeps my mind occupied..

I thought to myself, the warm up is now officially over. It is time to get to work.

The Sirens of Spicewood Springs were calling me, but I knew the state of my knees would be disasterous if I pounded too hard on the downhills and Sisson highly advised against doing anything faster than 10-15 seconds faster than HMGP on this section, so I tried to be good. But I also wanted to keep up with my friend. Turns out her name is Lisa as she was cheered often by her friends along the way.

Mile 5: 7:05 (oops..Lisa was really hauling ass...)
Mile 6: 7:58 (gu and water stop...)

Between miles 5 and 6, I let Lisa pull away from me a little. After the 7:05 I began to think that maybe she was just warming up before and now she was going to start picking up her pace...after all she ALWAYS beats me. I didn't want to blow up before the hill section, so I backed off....however, I kept her in my sights. I was thinking if I did it right, by the time I got through mile 10, I'd be ready to hawk her down again...that was my plan. That's how I was going to roll.

But now comes the "work" part of the race. I knew miles 7-10 were where the race was won or lost. This is where you can tell, who's been training and who's been slacking. Burnet and North Loop. Bring it.

I was FIRED UP to be greeted by a HUGE cheering section on Burnet of Shorey, Krissy, Wiley, and Triscuit! Wow! Was that so much fun! It put a fantastic smile on my face and on my heart and really got me pumped up. THANKS YOU GUYS!!!

It was so great, that a guy who was running near me said, "hey, I want your cheering section!" I responded, "Yea, they're great, huh?!" Smiling, smiling, smiling.

The hills were gradual and rolling and just kept thinking to myself, press, press, press. Meaning press the chest forward, lean into the hill and keep the cadence up. I hugged the cones on the left hand side and just kept going...passing a few people, getting passed by others. But running my own race.

Mile 7: 8:05
Mile 8: 7:39
Mile 9: 7:41
Mile 10: 7:51

Now, comes the fun part. Nothing but a 5k now. As usual, my thoughts went back to triathlon and I thought about just hopping of my bike and getting ready for the run portion in a sprint distance and how I can push, push, push. I thought of Ms. Lord coming into transition behind me. I thought of Lisa. Wait..where is Lisa? Scanning, scanning, scanning. I was so focused on the hills, my breathing, my form that I'd lost Lisa! Where the hell is she? I'm looking ahead and can't see her anywhere...I moved sideways a little so I can look between more people and I can't find her. Dammit. I'm going to have to really push to catch her if I can't even see her!!

And then I looked directly to my right. There she was!!! I was dead even with her! SWEET! And then I listened. She was breathing...hard. Not loud like a loud breather, but hard like "crap this hurts" hard. A sly grin threatened to break across my face. I recalled a running article that talked about race strategies and about when to pass and essentially how to break someone's spirit when you do it. I thought to myself...hmmmm...I just might be able to take her today. I was feeling strong and ready to embrace the last 5k and the gifts it had to offer.

So, I looked straight ahead, pressed with my chest and started running harder. I only put a little distance on her. I just wanted to be a little in front, not far...I didn't want to tempt her to come get me or anything. I could hear her pick up her pace and settle in behind me. I wasn't going to turn around and acknowledge that I knew she was there (per the instructions in this article that I had read...I gotta find that thing again, it was awesome..), give her some sort of hope that I might be worried about her....just kept going forward.

Mile 11: 7:24

On campus, Lisa ran by some others of her friends and they yelled for her, "Yea Lisa!". She said hi back...with labored breath. "Want a gu?" they asked. "YES!" she replied.

What?? Taking a gu with only 2 miles left? She must be really hurting...would it even kick in before the finish? Or maybe just mentally knowing it was on board was going to help her finish. Even so, I knew she was in trouble. And that meant an opportunity for me. So I pressed a little more and picked up my pace. Nothing but a 2-mile time trial now. Let's do this thing, D!

Mile 12: 7:18

Hell yes! I'm feeling good, feeling strong...let's keep it up. She's not going to catch me now!

Mile 13: 7:13

I could see the finish, time to let it all hang out. Ran by the Rogue contingent to yells and screams from the left hand side. Felt their support surge me forward. A few feet further heard yells and screams from the Almands and Brightons on the right and that spurred me on even more.

Sprinted through the finish and clicked my watch: 1:41:11 !!! HELL YES!!!! WOOOT!!!

That's a 7:43 people! Hit my inside goal and everything! YES!!!!! WOOO HOOO!

Not sure if Evil called my name or not...even when he does, he butchers the hell out of it. But oh well....grabbed my medal, some water and started the celebration! Yes!!

Turns out after reviewing my McMillan pace chart, using my IBM 10-K pace as the key, my HMGP should've actually been 7:55, not 7:44! What? Sweet! I'm sure I would've been closer to that on a different course as we know 3M is faster than most.....nonetheless, I am FIRED UP!!

Thanks to everyone on Team D...you know I could never do this crazy stuff without each and every one of y'all. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

3M Reflection

Before I post this year's 3M race report, I thought it would be interesting to dig up last year's race report. It is always cool to have a consistent landmark to see how far you've come in a year. Here's how it went down in '07:

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Hooray! I did it! I've officially raced my first running race...the key word here being "raced". Since I don't consider myself a runner, but rather a triathlete cross-training in the winter, I've usually only participated in running races just to finish.

However, these past 5 months of training with Rogue and Coach Joey have really shown me that even non-runners can run! :) At the end of the day, it's really a mental-thing. (Check out this great book called, Women Who Run -- it was very inspiring and enlightening!!)

Anyway, as many others did as well, I had a really fun race at the 3M. The course felt fast, but again, I'm not sure if that was some cognitive dissonance kicking in after all the brainwashing from everyone saying that the course is the fastest around. :)

It began on a cold, dark morning...well actually the night before as I agonized over what to wear (no...not a fashion-statement kind of agony, but a warmth-thing), I finally settled in on some tights, a fitted tank top, a long-sleeve tech Rogue shirt and a throw-away sweatshirt. Topped it off with my trusty hat, ear band and gloves. Layed it out and said that was it…no more agonizing, I’m just gonna go with what I’ve got. Period.

So I get to the race and try to follow the Rogue instructions. I hit the bathroom, drop my gear, get ready for warm ups. Do warm-ups with a frigid wind in our face on the way out…what a way to wake up. Oy. The mile felt good…only because I had actually warmed up and didn’t feel chilly anymore. Did some drills. Didn’t roll an ankle. So far, so good. Hit the potty again. Check. As I was leaving to go get into the corral, I had the small whisper in the back of my head…maybe just one more trip to the bathroom, I’ve got time..the lines had cleared, everyone was at the start already. No, I’ll be fine..Elaine’s waiting on me and she’s got great pace, I definitely want to run with her if I’m gonna make my time. I’m fine, I’m fine!

So we hustle up to the start…there are people, people and tons of people. You can feel the electricity in the air…the nervous glances as runners size each other up….check out each other’s choice of clothes…second guess their own selection..shake it off…nervously laugh as someone’s heart monitor continues to beep…

I spot the 2:00 informal pace leader. Perfect. First goal is to finish under 2:00. (Last 3M, my time was 2:13). I tell Elaine that worst case is that we keep that sign just in front of us, but ideally they need to be behind us. Great, she says. We’re on board with the game plan.
The gun goes off and we start! Well not really, we kind of shuffle into the corral. Unfortunately, we were on the edge so as the funnel grew smaller the 2:00 sign got farther and farther ahead of us. By the time we actually crossed the start and started running, it was some distance away. I could see the sign, but it was small. Gotta get closer…but (following the Rogue Rules) I didn’t want to go out too fast, worry about pace and jostling through the people. So, Elaine, Shorey and I picked our way over the first two miles…weaving in and out of folks, dodging walkers and slower runners and giggling as guys came sprinting out from behind trees and wishing it were just as easy for us to take care of business.

Mile 1 pace 9:15. Definitely slow, but considering the traffic..not bad. Let’s pick it up. Mile 2….9:03. Gaining ground on the 2:00 sign. Good. Still a lot of people. I’m definitely warm. Toss the sweatshirt…I hope it goes to a good home…it was a good sweatshirt.

Turn the corner to Jollyville…I’m remaining calm and using the downhill in a controlled manner (per Rogue Rules) and getting ready to settle into our pace. We’ve got the 2:00 sign and passed them. Good. I want it in my rear view mirror the whole time. Mile 3 pace 8:42…closer to where we should be…I’ve only got one more mile to lock into my goal pace (per Rogue Rules – PRR for short).

Turn onto Spicewood Springs. Mile 4 pace 8:34. I’ll take it and just before the “lull of the Sirens of the Spicewood Springs Decent”. All of a sudden… an image forms in my head. I blame the years of latin in high school and the infatuation with greek mythology combined with Steve’s use of “Sirens”. It’s the mythological Sirens…and they are singing to me “The Sirens of Spicewood Springs Decent is here…inside my mind” (sung to the tune of the famous line from Phantom of the Opera – go figure.) I smile inwardly and wonder if anyone else can hear it. I peak over at Elaine, she’s focused on the road ahead, so I’m pretty sure it is my inner dialog having a good time. Mile 5 – 8:19. Ok…PRR (per Rogue Rules) I’m allowed 15-20 per mile faster. Perfect (My HMGP is 8:38). I’ll take it. I’m in the zone. Watch out now!

And then trouble starts….what the heck is that rumbling in my tummy….oh lord. I really should’ve gone one more time. Crap! (Pointed choice of words). Ok…mile 6 has a pottie stop, I can make it to there. I tell Elaine bravely..”Go on without me..you’ll do great!” Like I’m going down with the ship or something. (The world is my stage and everyone else is the audience. Oy.) She says ok and presses on. Mile 6…8:37 pace. Where the hell is the damn potty? Keep going. It’s gotta be at the relay point which is up ahead. Ok. No problem.

Relay point…long bathroom line. Looks like other runners have my same problem. But, I am not wrecking my pace…I can make it to mile 8. I’ve been silently running just behind Elaine this whole time and I pull along side…she says “Great you found a potty and your back!” I tell her unfortunately I haven’t gone yet. “Oh.” Exactly. Mile 7 8:39. I’m locked and loaded. Potty troubles have been pushed to the back of my mind as I think about the dreaded miles 7-10.
First issue at hand is that I need to get a gel down. It’s now or never. I didn’t want to stop at the water stop to take it so my plan is to work the gel down from mile 7.5 – 8 and get water at 8 to wash it down. So, now I’m focusing on running, breathing, ripping the packet with chilly hands and trying to get my gel down without getting chocolate gu all over me. I manage to get it down and then my potty issue resurfaces. But bonus! Just ahead are three potties with only 1 other person in line. It was a sign. I check my watch and I’m about 7:55 into the split and not quite at the mile marker. I take a gut check and tell myself, “Fine. Take this potty break and then there are NO excuses as to why you shouldn’t be at HMGP or better for the rest of this race, hills or no.” I make a mental deal with myself and pull off the road into the line. Elaine continues on…I was never to see here again that day, but I know she finished strong…because I checked her time later at home. ;)

So after a two minute break, I’m back on the road. Hit mile 8 water stop. Manage to get some water down without drenching too much of my clothing. Mile 8 – 10:37. Ok…that includes the 2-minute break…so I feel good about that pace. Now….it’s time to focus on this hillacious stretch. Keeping with the Rogue Rules, I get my game face on and tell myself…”This is where the race is won or lost. This is why you run 8 when the workout calls for 6-8. That girl ahead of you..she only did 6…go get her.” And then the opening credits scene from “Fame” the TV show starts to play with Debbie Allen banging her stick on the wooden floor…telling her pupils…”You want to Dance? THIS is where you start paying…” (or something like that). So I dig deep, commit to the race and plow through the dreaded hilly section of Burnet and North Loop. Dig, dig, dig. I keep going. Steve promised that if I can just make it to 10 the rest of the race will take care of itself. Big arms, little legs, big arms, little legs. I’m running on the edge of the cones and passing people up the hill. I imagine I’m on my bike and I’m gearing down and keeping my cadence up. Dig, dig, dig. Mile 9…8:02. There’s a water stop ahead. But I remember reading something that says in a Half, anything after mile 8 isn’t going to help you. I’ve got everything on board that’s going to be on board. This is it….work with what cha got sister! Mile 10….8:37. Sweet!

Turn the corner onto Duval…I’m heading home! Nothing but a 5k now! I’m feeling good, was conservative before and have got gas in the tank left to burn. Let’s roll with the downhills and bring this baby home strong. Mile 11….8:23. Rocking baby! Mile 12…8:15. Just one little mile left. This is like that workout that we ran 10 and then went to the track and ran one mile hard. I did it then…let’s do it again now. Mile 13…8:09. Let’s get the hell off this course and bring this baby home. I dig down and find a kick to sprint at the end…I hear Joey yelling from the side “Go Dionn!” I started to smile but then suddenly had a vision of me tripping on a rock and flying, flailing and falling to the ground 1 foot shy of the finish with the cameras snapping all around me like the paparrazi catching Britany Spears exiting a car pantiless – so instead I keep focused ahead voraciously scanning the ground for any protruding bag or foot from the well-wishers crowding the finish.

And then I’m across! It’s done! I check my watch 1:54…I mentally subtract the 2-minute potty break and I rejoice! I did it! Long live McMillan! I was not a believer, but now I have drunk the Kool-aid and will follow the pace charts to the end of time.

Many thanks to Coach Joey and my running friends Julie, Kelly, Shorey, Elaine and Nannette! You guys rock and made the training so much fun. I couldn’t have done it without you all! HOORAY!

While I know my time does not set any land speed records…it was a significant moment for me. My first running race that I actually raced. Improved my PR at 3M by 20 minutes. I’ve got a long way to go to keep up with the Laurens, Carolyns and Ramseys of the world, but I’ll just take it one step at a time. :)

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hmmmm...

A good friend sent this to me today....said it reminded her of me.

It just works on so many levels....

Friday, January 25, 2008

What does it all mean??

Yesterday, I had a surprised-filled day. I connected with not ONE but TWO friends I hadn't heard or seen in years!!

First, I ran into Paige Walcott (well, that's her maiden name at any rate)...an old, old friend of mine from 6th grade! (Yes, she was in Shorey and my elementary school!) Paige and I had been through many adventures from Bobbie Rider's 6th grade class, to Porter Junior High Cheerleaders, to Johnston High Freshman Tumblers to Varsity Cheerleaders. We've lost touch since graduation, but the minute I walked into Chipotle I recognized her in an instant! She looks exactly the same..cute button nose, freckles and all smiles. We chatted for a bit and am looking forward to catching up even more at our reunion this fall.

Then, I was working in my office (yes, I actually work from time to time...STFU) and I received a call listed as Private. I went ahead and answered and to my surprise it was my good friend Leah! Leah and I met when we were Warrior Girls back in the early 90's. (I had AWESOME big hair back then!)

It is funny that we ended up to be such great friends because theoretically we should've been arch rivals. Me and Stanford student, her--Berkeley. But more importantly, when we auditioned for the team, we essentially were vying for the same spot. (Most pro dance teams usually try to have not just awesome dancers, but basically something for everyone in terms of looks, you know? sad, but true.) We're both about the same height, same skin tone (she's bi-racial, I'm just, well, light), long hair. Both gymnasts. The list goes on and on. The first time we met it was like one of those, look them up and down, size them up kind of a moment and we both were like, shit -- I'm looking at a freakin mirror! Fortunately for us, there was room on the team for the two of us and what could've been the beginning of a lifelong rivalry turned into a lifelong friendship.

We have since been bridesmaids in each other's weddings, travelled together with our families (we took an awesome vacation to Atlantis -- that place freakin' rocks!), hung out in California and Texas at each other's homes and been confidants and sounding boards to each other ever since. I love her like a sister, you know?

And she's the kind of friend that even if we don't speak for months, when we do see each other, it is like a day hasn't gone by in between. It's awesome.

And then I got the word that a friend's father passed away after a long battle and I thought about how truly precious everyday and every person is.

And then I received the following quote which was a devotional message that Coach Bear Bryant kept in his wallet:

"This is the beginning of a new day. God has given me this day to use as I will. I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is very important because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving something in its place I have traded for it. I want it to be a gain, not loss -- good, not evil. Success, not failure in order that I shall not forget the price I paid for it."

Connections with old friends, passing of love ones, reminders of the importance of each day.... I swear, someone is trying to tell me something.....

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Glory Days

wow..the power of the internet!

Check out #15.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Friends..


...gotta love 'em!


Thank you Walrus, Kmo and E for a fantastic evening of fun and frivolity! Just what the doc ordered!!
...although I still would like to see that movie you know....I know, I'm a dork...

I Have A Dream

August 28, 1963 Washington, D. C.

.....

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed - we hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain and the crooked places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning "My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!" And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that.

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every tenement and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Double Deuce -- Check!!

WOOT!

22-miler. CHECK!

Wow. What a morning! Yes, it was cold...but thank goodness, NO PRECIPITATION! (My no-rain dance last night must've worked.)

It began like any other morning...scratch that, no it didn't. I had to wake up at the double ass crack of dawn (4am) to get my breakfast in (and out) before the run started at the ass crack of dawn....5:45am. It was weird as I was thinking about where I was last week at that time....on my way to bed, not getting out of it! Go figure.

It did begin like any other long run though. My just-in-time arrival meant that I would not have the opportunity to hit the restroom one last time before my pace group headed out. (Dang it...I need to leave about 5 minutes earlier...someone remind me next time please!)

I found my steady eddie pace boys, Driver, Rabbit, Johnathan and Michael. Everyone was bundled up and ready to roll. Our pacers were the same couple from the Georgetown 20-miler so I knew we were going to be in great shape. Those two are AWESOME!

We started the run with a 4-mile warmup this time before heading into our MGP of 8:35 for the remainder of the run.

However, by mile 2, I realized I had one layer on too many (tight racer-back shirt, LG long sleeve bike jersey (I know, I know.... it just works for me, so I keep rolling with it), and my pink thin fleece jacket --- what? I was cold.). So I said a fond farewell to my $7 pink purchase from target and left it at the rock. I hope someone wears it with pride.

Before I knew it, we were at the end of Lake Austin Blvd, turning right and heading into our first section of hills. The pacers announce, OK time for MGP. Nick and I look at each other....oh great...let's pick it up on the hills....lovely.

We pick 'em up and put 'em down following our pacers like ducklings to a swan. When they stopped for water, we stopped for water. When they picked it up on the down hills, we picked it up on the downhills. The little 3:45 sign was like a homing beacon for me. I just kept it near me the whole time.

5, 10, 15 - click, click, click. Driver was his usual chatty self. You can always tell when his GU kicks in. Michael would surge ahead from time to time, but we'd eventually reel him back in.

Our group of about 15 was perfect. Folks would rotate around, sometimes pulling in the front, sometimes getting pulled from the back. Good conversation and funny stories were told and kept everyone's mind occupied as the miles rolled on.

The hardest parts were starting after stopping for water since we would have to wait in line for water and such. My knees would totally protest, but would quickly warm up again, thank goodness.

The weather turned out to be perfect. Not too cold, no rain, beautiful sunrise.

At one point, we were running along and this fantastic form went whizzing by us. I was like, damn, that chick looks great! She turned around to talk to her running partner and then I realized, OF COURSE...Desiree Ficker. She's awesome. 'Nough said.

It was great running the course as our pacers and other marathon veterans were telling us race strategies and stories about various points along the way. I tried to take mental notes.

Wiley came running by as the faster pace groups began to overtake us and I was once again blinded by the light reflecting from his legs. (j/k Wiley, you know we love you.) We oggled Desiree as she went by again. At one point, Wiley had a pit stop and then caught back up to us, giddy with excitement. "Guess who came into the bathroom behind me?" his face beaming. "Des?" I responded. "YES! I told her congratulations for South Africa!" In case you've been living under a rock, Des picked up the win at the 70.3 race there. "I talked to Desiree!" Wiley was so cute. "See you at the finish!" and he was off once more. I giggled and kept running. Sometimes it's the simpler things in life that can make you happy. One shouldn't overlook those moments.

As we turned right to head down the street in front of the capital, our pacers said, "Ok, whatever you've got left in the tank....let it ride!"

On race day it would be a sprint to 8th street from there, but we knew we had to make it all the way back to the annex...but we picked it up anyway. Driver and I have made good time on that stretch before so we were in very familiar territory so we just let it fly.

We were moving along at a pretty good clip (for us) all the way down Congress and decided to just go straight across the Congress bridge and come into the annex the back way. We headed across the bridge and Michael and Driver starting slowing a bit. I chided them from behind, "Nick -- Michael -- let's go boys!" They cursed me under their breath (yes, I could hear y'all!) and we picked it up some more.

We turned into the parking lot by the Chamber and I told Nick, "Ok, let's go!" and we sprinted the last 100 meters or so.

HELL YA! It felt GREAT!!!

Our pacer came up behind us and said..."NICE FINISH! 7:35 pace since the Capital!"

WOOOT!!!!!!!!

High fives all around!

Turns out our pace after the 4-mile warm up was 8:25!!!!! (Partly due to the last bit I'm sure...but still!!) I was so fired up!!!

The good news is that my knees aren't bothering me...much...right now...
The bad news is my left calf/achilles is talking to me a bit....but nothing a good massage and a bit of rest won't cure I think!

I know anything can happen on race day. And my performance today does not guarantee anything on 2/17...but damn it felt good today. Even if I crash and burn at the marathon, I still feel great about running my first 22-miler!

YEA! Now, let's drink!

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's Official!

I know, I know....I've been talking about it and training for it since October. I've worn holes in my shoes and busted my knee for it. I've been called crazy and insane by "normal" people for it.

Yet, still I resisted. Something about making that final confirmation....it's serious business, you know?

At the "gentle" reminder from some friends, seeing the "85% Full" in print, and the sheer thought of having serious, serious FOMO issues...... I did it.

I registered for the AT&T Marathon on 2/17/08!

AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

That means I have (as of this writing) 29 days, 16 hours, 22 minutes and 48 seconds to be ready.
WTF??

Alright, which one of you put me up to this?? Because you are headed for a MAJOR TIMEOUT!

...somebody save me.....please.....


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mr. Mischievous

So, I'm chilling out at home with the little man getting ready for the day and he asks, "Mommy, can I have a lollipop?" (We have those little dum-dum suckers).

It's 9:30 in the morning. "No, Devon, you may not have candy this early in the day. But if you'd like a snack, you may have some yogurt or graham crackers, which do you choose?"

Fit gets thrown. The boy is high drama. I have no idea where he gets that from.

Finally says, "Ok, I have yogurt." He marches off to the garage refrigerator where I keep the drinkable yogurts on a low shelf that he can reach.

"Ok, mommy's going to take a shower while you have a snack, ok?"

"Ok, mommy." He settles into a Nick Jr. show and his yogurt. Or so I thought.

I finish my shower and come back into the living room to find this:

A plastic champagne flute and... a lollipop!

"DEVON!"

He just smiles up at me..tongue all green.

And then I'm thinking...wait...how the heck did he get that. The lollipops are on TOP of the REFRIGERATOR!

I go into the kitchen and find this:

Little stinker. I guess I need to find a new spot to put treats. Hmpf.


Monday, January 14, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Wow! What a wonderful weekend in Vegas with my big sis, Traci!

You know what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but here are a few lessons gleaned:

- Vegas rocks for girls. It can be very expensive for boys. Between paying to get in, paying for drinks, gambling, etc.... In fact, some places won't even let you in if you don't have ladies in tow. Sorry about that fellas. But two gals walk up to a club...would you ladies like to come in? Sure! Here ya go. Thanks!

- There is a line between hot and comfortable, the key is to maximize the first while maintaining a certain threshold in the other. This applies to shoes and clothes among other things.

- Rules are good for commanding chaos. With some simple, base level rules you can go ahead, expect the unexpected and roll with it.

- Attitude is key. Act like you know what you are doing and no one will question you.

- All hail black out drapes.

- Know your limits. Respect your limits. It will be better for you and everyone around you if you do. Please.

- 3 nights in Vegas is puh-len-ty.

:)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Physics - Part Deaux

Where the head goes, the body will follow.

It's a basic principle, but, oh so, applicable in many ways.

For instance, in learning a full-twisting back flip (aka a "full"). So that's a back flip in the layout position (imagine you are lying on the ground on your back, legs straight and flat out -- but instead you are in the air like that) with a 360-degree twist in it before your feet hit the ground again.

The prep (unless you are doing a standing full where you just jump from a complete standstill into the air backwards and do it, which I could NEVER do) is a round-off backhandspring and then you throw the back full on the end.

So, if you start out facing North, let's say, you do your roundoff and backhandspring which turns you 180 degrees so you are now facing South but with northward momentum. (make sense? stay with me...). Now comes the tricky part.

Through both arms up, parallel to your body, but stopping them when the are directly straight up and down, tight to your ears. This combined with the punch of the floor from your legs gives you your vertical force. Now, first inclination is that, hey - I'm doing a back flip so I'm going to look back with my head. DON'T DO IT! Where the head goes the body will follow. Throw your head back and you will take a swan dive straight back into the ground, my friend. (Been there, done that -- hurts like a son of a bitch). To keep your vertical momentum going, you have to keep your head in line with your body, in a mostly neutral position, but with your chin tucked to your chest...this keeps your core tight and straight and keeps the flight plan on track.

To initiate the back flip rotation, all it takes is a small pull with the toes and the abs, like you are in the roman chair doing a leg lift, you know? You don't have to pull alot, you already have a ton of backward momentum from the roundoff backhandspring, so you just need a little bitty bit. Too much and you end up whipping over to quickly, over rotate and find yourself doing a one and a quarter...flat ass on your back on the ground. (Been there, done that -- hurts like a son of a bitch).

Now the fun part, and it's all in the head. When you first learn fulls, you usually start with a late full -- doing the twist after you are at least upside down in the air and on your way down -- versus an early full -- doing the twist on the way up into the apex of the flip. To initiate the 360 axial rotation, all you do is look for it.

The principle is simple. Where the head goes, the body will follow. Turn your head, your body will turn. Yep, that's it. Just turn your head. I was an outside twister, so I would look over my right shoulder, HARD. The keys here are OVER and RIGHT. If you look down and to the right, guess what happens? Exactly, flight plan follows the head and you become a human drill into the ground. (Been there, done that -- hurts like a son of a bitch).

The harder the snap, the quicker the twist. When your body gets to 270 degrees, you should see the front again, where you started your twist. That's where you want your body to stop, so once you see it, set your head there (quit looking over your shoulder) and your body will slow the rotation and stop (with a little core help also..). There's your full twist. To help with rotation, you can also simply take your left arm (away from the touchdown position it was in..) and punch across your body towards your armpit (they same arm that your head is looking over). This will speed up your spin too.

Need a double twist? Punch and look harder, do one rev on the way up, one on the way down.

Now, applying that to running. A fellow engineer, uber-geek, gear-whore, physics-taking dork running friend of mine was discussing the physics of running. And we talked about head and upper body position as it relates to gaining speed while running. I tend to be a straight up and down runner which isn't exactly conducive to speed. A simple press of the head and chest (keeping the head neutral of course..no looking down...) causes you to lean forward just a bit...and guess what, the rest of your body will follow....the legs will catch up...you go faster! Where the head goes, the body will follow.

I knew this intuitively, because personally the difference between jogging and running for me is usually my body position. I jog straight up, when I want to run hard, I lean forward. Fact: when I lean forward and run, it is 7:30's or less. I distinctly remember running the IBM 10K that way. I just kept thinking lean, lean, lean.

I'd kinda forgotten about that as lately so much focus has been on the distance and not speed. (Dang is it hard to work on both at the same time...sigh...).

I practiced that yesterday during my run. I just kept thinking, where my head goes, my body will follow..lean, lean. And guess what? Banged out my first every sub-7 mile during mile 3! 6:49 to be exact! WOOT!

The principles are all the same. Look backward, you will go backward. Look forward, you will go forward. Look down, you will go down. Look up, you will go up. And every now and then, you may need a little extra umph to get you to turn.

Where the head goes, the body will follow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Friction

I don't like it. In most cases, it isn't a good thing.

In my knee it causes inflammation. In my shoes it causes blisters. In life, well....it's complicated, right?

Take sliding friction for instance -- when two solid surfaces slide against each other -- it is really good at opposing the movement of the objects and eventually causes them to stop moving. When you are trying to move forward, sliding friction is not good. But the funny thing about sliding friction is that it isn't caused by the roughness of the surfaces, but by chemical bonding between the surfaces. Huh, chemistry.

And if memory serves me correctly (which it may not but bear with me), isn't it friction that changes energy generated from motion into thermal energy....heat?

So we've got two forces in opposition generating heat. hmmm. But if the friction is too high, both forces come to a rest. No movement. No thermal energy. Not good.

However, rolling frictional force is less than kinetic (sliding) frictional force. So when sliding is too tough and everything just stops, try rolling instead. Hence the ever popular use of ball bearings...( I love Fletch).

So, sometimes, I guess you have to just roll with it.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

I'm baaaaaaack!

YEA! I am SO excited! WOOT! (cheerleader jump)

Today was our Georgetown 20-miler. And as many of you know, I've been somewhat sidelined with a knee injury...well, not an injury per se, but pain in the knee...more like a pain in my ass actually.

Regardless, I've had to take it easy for the last couple of weeks, which wasn't too bad since it coincided with the holidays and truth be told, I probably wouldn't have been as diligent about getting in my mileage during that time anyway, so it all kinda worked out.

And I would be remiss if I did not thank all those who helped, gave PT suggestions, encouraged me to take it easy, and/or gave me good drugs: Dr. Jack, Panther, JJ, Wiley, K-mo, E. You guys rock! Thanks for supporting Team D! :)

ANYWAY, today was the first real test of the knee doing the distance I should be doing according to my training plan for the marathon. 20 miles with around 18 at MGP. That's what the plan said, so that's what I was going to do.

After performing my usual morning rituals (which have for the most part eliminated my bathroom issues thank goodness! -- knock on wood, of course), I set out for the great pacific northwest....well, Georgetown actually.

It was a BEAUTIFUL morning! Not cold at all with a little humidity. Ahhhhh, yes. (I am a tropical people after all...)

Found my faithful pace boys, Nick and Michael, located our pacer and started picking them up and putting them down.

We thought we were going to warm up a couple miles and then ease into our MGP, but we quickly realized that our pacer was serious and he was going MGP from the get go. We swiftly conferred and decided to bow up and hit it! We figured we'd keep up the pace for as long as we could and if we had to ease it back at the end, then so be it.

It was a good group of about 8 or 10. I looked around at the bodies and thought, yea, I want my legs to look good like these people, I've got to keep up. We paused at all the water stops just long enough to grab a quick drink and then we moved on. The knee warmed up after about 3-4 miles and didn't really talk to me much after that, so I was thankful.

The miles just clicked by. One turned into five. Five into Ten. Saw JJ and Triscuit on the dam before the turnaround. They looked strong and fast. Damn.

After we turned, it was great to see others out there working hard, Gina, Banana, Kelly -- everybody working their paces. I loved it! This is why out and backs are fun, if you ask me...

Ten turned to Twelve. I thought to myself. Holy shit, I think I might be able to make it!

I was feeling a blister on my right foot, but kept thinking, thank god it's not my knee, I'll take it!

Twelve turned to Fourteen. Checked the internal gas gauge. Ok, if this were an olympic tri, I would have finished my swim and just have gotten off my bike. Am I more, less or equally tired as that right now? Less or equal, I'm good. More? That would suck. I checked...LESS! SWEET! Kept going on pace.

Fourteen turned to Seventeen. Ok, if this were a sprint tri, I'm just now getting off the bike. Where's the gas gauge at now? Imagine Ms. Lord pulling in right behind me in transition. Is she going to catch me? Nope, not today my friend, not to-day. Kept going on pace.

Eighteen. Nothing but a two-mile time trial to go, right? Right. Kept on pace.

Nineteen. Our pacer pulls off and tells us to empty the tank. WOOT! The fearsome threesome picks up the pace and brings this bad boy home STRONG!

Total Time: 2:51:33
Pace: 8:34/M

MGP: 8:35
Marathon Goal Time: 3:45

HELL YEA!!!! WOOOT!!!!

Afterwards, it was great to sit in the sun and pow-wow with Triscuit and Gina as we tailgated between the police station and the church. What an awesome start to the weekend! Thanks, Austin!