30 May 2012

Sort of like a fairytale...only not. (Entry for Oiselle's Totally Trials Contest)

One of my favorite running buddies and I are throwing our combined hat into the ring and entering the Oiselle Totally Trials contest, the winners of which will get to see the last three days of the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon. The grand prize includes not just tickets to the events but airfare, lodging, and a post-race bash DJ'ed by MC Hammer. The whole concept just feels too legit to quit. "F*CK YEAH!!!" was RoseRunner's response when I asked if she was interested. Good to know we're on the same page.

Part of the contest asks us what we want to see and who we want to meet if we were to win. Our answers:  

  • We'd both like to meet the oldest female competitor. 
  • We both like the relays because it isn't always about a superstar...it is about being a part of something. 
  • We also both like the long jump because it is akin to flying.  
  • I really admire the javelin throwers because I have actually tried to throw a javelin and have felt the challenges of the combination of coordination, explosiveness, and total body strength.
And without further ado, here is our story...

Once upon a time...

...and they lived happily ever after...
...in Hammer pants.

*If you're confused as to why I chose the background music... well, did you forget that MC Hammer will be the DJ at the post-race bash? And since major memories are sparked when I hear it, and both RoseRunner and I have lived in his hometown, it became necessary to use it.*

28 May 2012

Olympic Trials... and Whatever Happened to Carl Lewis?

There is a contest going on right now...and you know how I love a good contest. First, there was the one where I defeated Charo and Darth Vader. And remember the humiliating contest that won me $300 to lululemon. And let's not forget Nuun and Hood to Coast.

Anyway...the new contest...

Oiselle (a women's running apparel company) will award a trip to the Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon to the team of two women who somehow convince them they are worthy or interesting enough or maybe just know how to behave in public (ut-oh...I think that might eliminate me right off the bat).

Well, I want to go. And my companion and I have until tomorrow (Tuesday, May 29) at midnight to pull it together. It might happen. And it might not. If you're a woman reading this and want to go to the Track and Field Trials, you should totally enter. Yes, you have to be a woman to enter.

In my search for inspiration, I found this gem of a video. Touted as being "so bad good it hurts." Yep...it does...

Are you cringing?

Have you ever been to an Olympic Trials event in any sport? What did you think?
–I went to the Olympic Trials for rowing in 1988 and 1992. It was a lot of fun, mostly because I had a lot of friends participating. And they were only about an hour away from where I was living at the time. I always liked it the most when the very deserving underdog prevailed...not to say that all the athletes weren't necessarily deserving. In 1992, one of my friend's was DQ'ed for doping violations. His boat wasn't the winning boat so fortunately his teammates weren't affected, but he was barred from competition for a couple of years. He didn't care so much for a couple of reasons: 1) he was 'old' and it was his swan song regatta and 2) he felt it was kind of bullshit because it was due to a standard dose of over-the-counter cough medicine. He was super sick and took Robitussin containing a banned substance (one type of Robitussin contained something illegal and another didn't...but he was pretty delirious and just took whatever was in front of him). 

26 May 2012

My husband is away, and I'm allowing my children to stay up too late watching movies with inappropriate language...

...because I wanted to mess around with PicMonkey and make some frivolous collages.

Collages of myself.

Not even collages of my super cute kids.

What a narcissist.

Top, L to R: Canadian Henley Sr. Lwt. 2x 1989, MRA 4x practice 1997. 
Middle, L to R: Canadian Henley Sr. Lwt. 2x 1989, PanAm Games w/ Fidel Castro 1991, People Magazine 1991. 
Bottom, L to R: Head of the Charles Lwt. 4+ 1990, Lake Merritt Sprints 1x 2001.

Clockwise from top left: CIM 1996, HTC 2011, Moeser 2012, my hallway 2012, waterfront parking lot 2012, CIM 1997.

I really should have been washing dishes or tidying toys or something else, but this was far more mindless. Sometimes mindless is good.

The movie? Men In Black. I had forgotten how many 'bad' words there are in that movie.


We did have the talk about not using those words ourselves, especially within earshot of small children (like Miss C and friends at school and their siblings) and people in positions of authority (like parents and teachers). Those instructions may or may not be recalled by Q-man...he's the loose cannon in the bunch. Time will tell.

If you want to make some of your own collages...narcissistic or otherwise...this PicMonkey link is pretty awesome. They are super easy to make and upload easily onto your blog :)

This is about as close to 'crafty' as this mommy gets.

Do you ever do 'crafty' things? Any plans for the looooong weekend? 
– my big weekend plans revolve around entertaining myself and my children, weathering their spats, reheating pizza, wiping butts, and monitoring the kids' use of 'language' learned while I was slacking tonight. 

25 May 2012

The Idiot and the Labyrinth

Ever since our filming adventure/striptease run, RoseRunner and I have been talking about getting together again for some radical hill running. She's way faster than I am, but I'm willing excited to do nasty inclines others tend to shy away from. Or maybe it's my scintillating conversation that has attracted her to me. Quite possibly, it's a kind of bonding over hip issues. Or maybe she enjoys the feeling of superiority one gets when one hangs out with an idiot (see comment #64).

When she read about my long run the weekend before last, she emailed me promptly..."When can we do this?" We decided on today. 

Unfortunately, my ill-fated Bay to Breakers run-from-hell-with-a-wooden-leg put a damper on things. While my calf is no longer seized up, my Achilles tendon on that left side still feels 'crunchy.' Or maybe 'crackly' is a better word. I was so bummed to email her that I needed to bail on our Thursday rundate :( 

Her reply... 

We don't have to run.

She said this. Really.

We don't have to run.

Imagine that.

She presented me with a list of possibilities, and we settled on a hike. Because she is so nice and I know she just returned from a killer hiking vacation to Zion National Park, I took her somewhere special.

The Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve is one of the many fabulous open spaces in the East Bay Regional Parks system. Located in the Oakland hills, it contains a network of trails and old roads...and a labyrinth located in an old quarry. 

If you're ever in the area and are looking for a free and interesting outing, hiking down to the labyrinth is a great option. The trail is not too challenging...even young children can do it (but it takes about 42 times longer with kids). Getting from the parking lot to the labyrinth is about a mile of rolling hills on some paved but mostly rocky dirt road. There are real bathrooms and trail maps at the parking lot in addition to a water fountain. 

View of the labyrinth from an overlook at the side of the dirt road...

...and on the other side – technology! 
I've never seen such a collection of satellites!

In the center of the labyrinth, people leave offerings.

Some of it looks like trash...I wonder if some of it actually is trash...
or if the trashy stuff holds some deeper meaning other than being too lazy to pack it out.

Obviously, Cinderella is not trash. But that water bottle in front of her... it's full.
Perhaps it was left as an offering to rain gods...or to slake the thirst of a weary traveler.

Rainbow puffball.
Definitely not trash.
Random tissue under rock behind it? Hmmmm....

I know this picture sucks. The cigarette butt is in the shadow.
I'm thinking it was some smoking-labyrinth-walker's last ciggy before quitting.
After walking the peaceful, meditative path smoking that last cigarette, the smoker placed the finished butt in the offering cache in the hopes the quitting would be for good. Maybe.

A strange little illustration of a crowned fox flanked by hounds wearing animal hats (are they pig hats?) somewhat obscured by a hand-written note saying I don't know what, both anchored into the 'altar' by an empty glass bottle...all of significance to someone. Or not.

RoseRunner and I talked about this.
Is the fact that the money is still there a testament to the sacredness of the space? 
Or that one dollar is not worth stealing from an altar? 
What if it had been a twenty? She said, "It wouldn't be there."
I'm inclined to agree, but what do I know? I am an idiot.

We left an offering...well, she did. 
A stick of gum.

After wandering around the labyrinth and speculating on the altar contents and how awesome the regional park system is, we meandered up and around and over some more trails...

...where we discovered another labyrinth!!!

A baby one :)

We were again struck by the beauty of where we are fortunate enough to live and get to run and hike...

Look at all those roads and trails!

And how perfect our weather is for being out of doors...

Did you really just take my picture? Shit. 
The sun's all in my eyes and I'm making a weird face...
you are such an idiot.

And then we walked back to the parking lot on a different trail...

Lined with poison oak...beware!

And we saw lots and lots of large dog families....meaning they were large dogs AND lots of dogs in each group. "If you have one dog, you have five" became the refrain. Not exaggerating.

We made it back to our cars and kept thanking each other for being so flexible and okay with hiking instead of running. It started to feel almost like Chip 'n' Dale, the overly-accommodating chipmunks...but in a good way.

And we made plans for running killer hills again :)

21 May 2012

2012 Zazzle Bay to Breakers Race Recap: The good, the bad and the ugly...times 3

**Warning: there is a photo of a naked person in this post. 
'Parts' have been pixelated and are small, but I'm warning you anyway**
Update: The person in the photo found my blog while searching the internet for naked 
Bay to Breakers photos and has left a comment.

It's a cable car :)

The Lead-Up

The Good

My training has been going so well for the past several weeks. I've been consistent and diligent. My cardio base is getting really solid. I've put in some amazing hill runs with the idea of going into Bay to Breakers feeling like the Hayes Street Hill ain't no big thang. This was accomplished :)

The Bad

My left calf was feeling sore and super tight for a few days but only during running and walking down stairs. I had to extra-minimize the amount of running I was doing. No amount of rolling, Sticking, icing, or massage seemed to be making a difference, but I kept doing those things anyway. Additionally, something had been feeling 'off' in my mid-back and hip/pelvis. Things were feeling inflamed. I chalked this up to hormones...because they are a great scapegoat.

The Ugly

Awesomely, there was no lead-up ugly :)

The Day Before   

The Good

This year's expo was easy to get to on public transportation with a three-year old, easy to find, easy to navigate and appeared more interesting than last year's by a long stretch. But I didn't do any exploring.

Happy girl on her first trip on BART

The Bad

By the time I found the bib pick-up area, my number on the board and the line for my number, aforementioned three-year old was pretty done. Granted it was lunch time, so no expo exploration other than a quick trip to the Nuun booth to say 'hello.' The meltdown began as I tried to exit the premises. Must touch all the balloon sculptures. Cannot walk. Carry me, mommy. Somehow we made it back to the BART station in one piece. But the trains were loud...

sooooo loud, mommy

The Ugly

Transferring trains was most upsetting. She didn't want to get off the train even though we were going to get on another one. She let the world know she was not happy with this arrangement by cleaning the floor of the platform with her body while hollering, "don't wanna get off! don't wanna get off! let me onnnnn! let me onnnnn!" It would have been comical...but it wasn't.

But I had the bib, we made it home, we got lunch and were able to relax. Whew.

And the next day was...

Race Day!!!

The Good

Things were great right off the bat! Of course, because of the title, you know they didn't stay that way.

I didn't oversleep. My pre-race prep at home went off without a hitch. Parking at the train station was easy. I was on time for the train and even ran into some good friends while waiting :)

Nothing like seeing costumed runners at the crack of dawn waiting for the train!

I got a boo-hisssss for looking like a 'serious runner.' I assured the hecklers that it was, indeed, a costume. And anyway I had the samurai hair-do and a sparkly headband on... the combo = costume. At least to me it does.

I was so busy chatting with my buddies that I didn't take anymore awesome costume pics...but there weren't a whole lot this year anyway, or so it seemed. However, right as we parted for our respective corrals, I had the first naked runner sighting...

You can biggify this if you really want to...but I did pixelate the 'parts' 
...nothing we haven't seen before...
fortunately, this year was not as cold as last.

There were LOTS of naked guys this year as compared to last...probably a function of the nicer weather. But there were very few women despite the mild temperatures, just LOTS of guys.

The scene at the start was your typical giant race starting line zoo...

I tried taking pictures but was having a hard time with the camera...as evidenced by the next two photos...

I put the camera away with the intention of taking it back out after the Hayes Street Hill. Also, as I mentioned before, there just didn't appear to be that many cool costumes at this point, which might have been due to the fact that I was in Corral A and with the faster runners. Or maybe I was just oblivious.

Best Points of the Day:  I felt amazing going up the big Hill. I wasn't fast, but I was strong and steady. I credit this to all the Moesers I've been running. To top things off, my hip was feeling GREAT. When I crested the hill ahead of my previous time while feeling fantastic, I had high hopes for improving on last year's finish. 

Shortly after I flew down the short descent from the summit that precedes a mile or so of fairly flat terrain, I felt that sense of elation and optimism quickly fade.

The Bad

Within moments of hitting the 'flat' stretch right around the 3-mile mark, the stiffness I've been having in my left calf flared with a vengeance. I kept thinking it would loosen up, but by Mile 4 the stick of rebar that had implanted itself in my lower leg extended all the way up and into my hamstring. I stopped to the side and attempted to stretch and massage it out...to no avail.

It felt better to run than to walk...so that was good :P but every time I tried to push my HR over 145, the wooden deadness of my leg would transform into shooting, searing pain from my Achilles tendon up to just under my buttcheek. I kept things slow and steady and every so often made an effort to crank it up a notch... but it just wasn't happening. My struggle to survive superseded the desire to photo any more of the event...big-time blogger let-down :(

I should have worn a pirate costume because I felt like this guy. 
He even has the wooden leg on the same side.

The Ugly

Running downhill and witnessing everyone around me open it up and blow by me as if I were standing still felt so lonely

Also, this is when I saw all the naked men's butts. Butts, butts and more butts. Lots of butts. 

Feeling fit and powerless is really frustrating. Finishing a race and not feeling tired just flat-out pissed me off.

And the kicker...

Getting passed by goddamned Gumby at the finish line was quite the tragi-comic moment. About this piece of the experience, I am rendered speechless. 

I'm borrowing this photo from rachelhop.com. She took it last year. If I had seen Gumby right there behind me...well, it wouldn't have made any difference. I was already stumping along as best I could :(

The finish stats are as follows:

Time.... 1:14:01  (9:56 pace)    4 minutes slower than last year 

In the top 22% of overall finishers, top 11% of all female finishers, and top 11% of women in my age group. Not as good as last year...which does bum me out a little...but it could have been worse. Finishing upright and with no residual injury is always a good thing. And it was kind of fun...sort of. If running with a wooden leg is ever fun.

And look what they gave me for my efforts...

I started laughing so hard.

And no, I didn't drink it.

18 May 2012

Friday Four...From the Gym

Things have been super hectic on pretty much every single front in my life lately. Pick an arena and there is tumult, chaos or extreme busy-ness. I did take Monday off of working out...and after 15 days with no rest days, I needed it and enjoyed it.

Just to keep you up-to-date on one of these arenas, here are five things from this week's gym-world...

1.  The Coroner of Munchkinland works out at my gym.

On second thought...he might actually be a descendant of Jules Léotard...

Maybe not...maybe those guys each had a kid who had a kid together who is the guy at my gym. Anyway, I don't know how he maintains that awesome 'stache set up when sweating hard...either lots of wax orrrrrrr he doesn't sweat that hard. Maybe Munchkins don't sweat? Anyway...sorry for not having a real picture that I took myself. I tried...really. He walked by me several times, and I had the camera at the ready, but every single time he passed by, he turned his head away. I wasn't comfortable going up to him and saying Hey! can I get a picture of you to post on the internet, drawing attention to your facial hair sculpturalities? Well, actually, I would have but by the time I finished my workout, he was gone. Next time.

2.  No climbing this week. Bay to Breakers is Sunday. Sometimes the climbing gets my alignment torqued and then running is painful and dangerous. I wouldn't have time for an adjustment (or the moo-lah for one), so I'm not going to risk it.

3.  #heavybreathing. Still doing it. In fact... during last night's very intense cardio session I couldn't help but notice some confusion or consternation going on next to me. The heavily made-up chick

think:  Tammy Faye

about to get on the machine to my right was balking. She and her male companion (who actually bore a slight resemblance to Jim) began to engage in an animated discussion which I could hear none of...thanks to Trisha Yearwood screaming "She's in Love with the Boy," the blood pounding in my ears at a rate of 158 BPM, and, no doubt, my own heavy breathing. Seems she really didn't want to be next to me :P And they really wanted to be next to each other. I watched them strong-arm sweet-talk the chick one over from the machine to my left into taking the one right next to me. She also appeared visibly concerned but got zoned into her own workout enough to not be too bothered by whatever objectionable things I was doing.

4.  Out of the 15 elliptical machines, I now have a favorite. Is that weird? I keep thinking I should give myself a mental challenge by using other ellipticals and, at first, I did. I rotated every workout so I wouldn't get 'stuck' on one in particular. Well...that plan didn't work. And I've managed to acquire an affinity for a particular StairMaster, too. I won't hang out waiting if my faves are occupied, and I won't shoot daggers with my eyes at someone using them, but I do heave a heavy sigh of disappointment if they are not available...and then move on. Anyone else do this? Why do we do these things to ourselves?

Okay...so that's it from gym-world.

As mentioned above, this Sunday is the 101st running of the Bay to Breakers, and I will be there. I realized that I may not have registered...in which case I won't be there. I can't seem to find my confirmation email, and haven't received any sort of alert in the mail. Ugh. I am getting nervous that I will schlepp my sorry self over to the the lame-o expo and find nothing. Guess I'd better get cracking on that confirmation email search! What would you do it that happened to you? Or are you far too organized to ever do something so ...ummmmm... dumb?

Wishing much speediness and perfect weather to all racers this weekend! And lots of fun, laughter and good times to all :)

15 May 2012

It felt like a really long, hard week...again.

This girl's smile celebrating her first popsicle made it all worthwhile.

I'm not as cute as she is.
I spent a lot of time looking like this...

 A lot of time...see? 
Different day... really.
You can tell it's later in the week because 
the bags under my eyes are markedly more pronounced.

Here's what happened...

Monday:  The previous week had taken its toll...I was exhausted and had a migraine. My birthday run the day before in the hot sun and getting lost and all that was an extra-exhausting way to finish out what had already been a solid training week. I had a climbing date Monday evening and decided to hit the elliptical for 30 min @ HR 130-140 first.  30 min cardio + 90 min climbing = 120 min.

Tuesday:  I still had a migraine but had "hills" on my schedule. Following my morning stint as preschool chauffeur/chaperone, I somehow rallied that evening to tackle my first-ever Double Moeser...

Look... it's a camel!
each hump a 700+ climb, total distance was 4 miles

Honestly, I don't know how I did this one, but did it I did. 4 mi running = 52 min.

Wednesday:  Revisiting 100 minutes of exciting cardio @ HR 130-140, changing the scenery by going from one machine to another...you know...so I wouldn't get bored. 30 min elliptical/20 min StairMaster x 2 = 100 min.

Thursday:  Utterly spent myself mentally and physically in a one-hour climbing session during which I managed to complete two 5.10c routes that seriously kicked my butt in every way. Instead of having the courage to tackle the tempo run on my schedule, I reluctantly dragged my bike out of the garage when I got home to make an attempt at some small cardio something and ended up enjoying 40 minutes of a gorgeous day while easy-pedaling on a flat trail just enough to break a sweat and loosen up my tired legs. 60 min climbing + 40 min bike = 100 min.

Friday:  Tempo time. Having a very full day with a preschooler in tow and then dealing with a kid being picked up from the airport while all the other kids needed to be put to bed kind of put a damper on my excitement for the tempo workout. Once I realized that I wouldn't be able to start it until 9 p.m., I decided that I would see how it worked on the elliptical...sooooo radical, I know. HR supposed to be Zone 4...I am new to all this HR stuff. Zone 4 for me used to be 175-185, I think. So I went into the workout thinking that was what I needed to hit. So. F*cking. Stupid. Thankfully, I decided early on to just do what I could with the workout and not dwell on the numbers. I spent the whole 33 minutes of the tempo part just under 160. Which, it turns out, is actually what it should have been for a 49 year old woman! Go, me :) Need to remember that I am not 28 anymore.  43 min cardio = 43 min.

Saturday:  Not sure exactly why I wanted to 'go long' on this workout...long wasn't on the schedule. I had a climbing date and so was already at the gym. I had the window of time free of responsibility. I took advantage of it. 90 min climbing + 30 elliptical/20 SM/30 elliptical @ HR 130-140 = 170 min.

Sunday:  Long Run time.

That incline should look familiar...you just saw it twice on Tuesday.

One of the hardest runs I've ever done, primarily because I was not in the headspace to tackle it. It had been a very difficult 18 hours leading up to the moment I walked out the door. Thankfully, I took it slow and followed the HR format...holding it to 130-140 (it did jump into the 150's on that uphill and slip down into the 120's on some of the downhill). I forgot to turn on my garmin for the first little over half-mile. The run was intended to be 9.7, but I started 45 minutes later than intended and it was getting dark. I ran through neighborhoods I've never run through (only driven) before.

– Hello, Mr. Drug Dealer lurking under the freeway overpass...oh, I'm sorry... I mean Mr. Drug User. Sorry...I got you confused with your supplier there at the end of the dark tunnel :P

It was kind of freaky...not so awesome coming upon someone while he's shooting up. And by then I was tired. The guy with the loaded shopping cart and the loaded pants (yes, you're understanding that correctly) ranting to himself and waving his arms wildly cinched it. I made the call.

Hi, honey...

Ten minutes later I was safely ensconced in my minivan with my husband at the wheel, driving back to suburban Shangri-La and my awesome pink carpeting. I was and am beyond fine with "just" 7.9 miles.

Later this week I want to share a bit more information about my "revolutionary training plan for invalids." I am really fortunate to have a friend who was interested in creating this with me. My primary objectives for the training cycle involve minimizing ouchy pain (as opposed to the beneficial pain of hard work) and feeling solid about my training. I hope to feel confident and strong as I head into my next few races. We'll see how it goes.

12 May 2012


Have we got ladybugs!

I mentioned the other day that my lovely Gertrude Jekyll rosebush was suffering an awful aphid infestation which I planned to solve with ladybugs. We've done this before...gone to the local garden center and purchased a bucket of the cute red insects, released them into our yard, and watched them devour the aphids that were thick as thieves on the succulent, tender rose buds and shoots.

Yesterday was the day. After school, we went and bought our little bucket o' bugs. We watered the garden and waited until dusk. We opened the bucket and sprinkled the buggy contents around the bottom of the afflicted shrub. It was cool and darkish, and the ladybugs were very sluggish. As they were not very entertaining, we all went inside.

This morning at around 9, I mentioned the ladybugs.

The backdoor flew open and 3 excited kids ran out and over to the rose...whereupon they began shrieking with delight! Ladybugs in and amongst the petals...

Ladybugs clustering in the rose's foliage...

And visiting the neighboring strawberry...

We believe some were mating...and some were chasing to mate...

And the dianthus...

They loved the dianthus. 

As of this evening, there is absolutely NO sign of aphids on these plants :)

Go, ladybugs!


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