“I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage.”– Erma Bombeck

1. Miss Flannery turned 14 years old on Friday!


She has retired as a bookstore dog, and is now a lady of leisure. Except for having lost her hearing, she is in good health. (And being deaf might actually be a blessing as she no longer freaks out every time there is a thunderstorm.)

For 12 years, she has been my constant companion and is really as obedient and loyal as dogs come. Happy Birthday, Miss Flannery! May your days be filled with bacon, belly rubbings, and Tobi staying out of your business.

2. As soon as I saw that an Aqua Vapor store was opening in Easley with their grand opening today, I knew where we were spending the weekend. Seeing as it is right beside a gun and tactical supply store, I figured Ben would think he was experiencing the rapture.
Besides the random kiosk in the mall, I have never been to a place that sold e-cigarettes and all their accoutrements. Aqua Vapor was packed out with people, but there were several clerks on hand. They seemed pretty knowledgeable and were very efficient even with the crowds. (I hope they will offer classes or something for beginners because there is such a steep learning curve. Not that I personally use one, but Ben has been for a number of years now.)

3. This morning was the Reedy River 10k and I was unable to run it due to my injury. Le sigh.
Although, it evidently was a beast of a hilly course. Other runners have been cracking me up on the local track club’s Facebook page.

Runner 1: I’m sorry about what I said to you right after the race this morning.
The Event Director: No problem. We aim to pain.
Runner 2: To hurt is to live; and I felt very alive this morning!

So, maybe sleeping in this morning wasn’t such a bad thing.

4. Ben sent me this saying it was how he runs:


Personally, I don’t know why he would be ashamed. Stopping at a garden party for orange juice sounds WAY more logical than finishing a marathon.

5. Although, I haven’t been able to run I still have been able to keep up with my workouts. (I’ve been doing the row machine instead of running.) However, I’m not really leaning out any. In fact, since October I think I’ve been losing and gaining the exact same 5 pounds. I get my workouts in and do a good job with that about 98% of the time. (I workout a lot, up to 10-15 hours a week. I have been doing this for over a year and a half, but progress has still been painfully slow.)


With my eating though, it’s about 80% on target.  I was doing fantastic until I started running (in October) and I just became ravenously hungry. At that point, I became less strict with eating clean. It’s not as if I’ve been eating horribly but, obviously, something isn’t working. I read Tosca Reno’s series a little over a year ago, and the thing I remember the most was her formula for success:

bodybeautifulI see variations of this frequently, but a lot of times they leave out the 10% genetics component. I have a syndrome which makes it difficult to lose weight. (And because life is so funny the symptoms of this syndrome drastically improve when I lose weight. Thanks, body!) Usually, I take my medicine for it and don’t think about it. However, I must be right at the tipping point because there was one week near the end of January where all of a sudden my symptoms drastically improved! My main problem is with my skin and it was just miraculous how clear it suddenly was. Oh! I was in heaven. Then, I injured my foot and there was snow and my skin went back to normal (and my pants are now feeling a titch tighter.)

For March, my goal is to eat clean 100% of the time. I have rearranged my priority to be diet. (Although I’m certainly going to stick to the same training schedule. However, if I have to take a “rest day” at the gym in order to prepare my food for the week then that is what I’m going to do.) I’m still in awe of people who can fit all of their weekly food prep into one afternoon or one day. It took the entire weekend (except for the trip to Aqua Vapor), and I am exhausted. I do feel incredibly prepared for this week though, and confident in my ability to stick with the food plan.

I’m also excited because I came across several new recipes. And except for the one for ranch dressing – which tasted like dirt – they all have been delicious. I will probably start posting some here so I don’t forget about them. My recommended recipe of this week comes from Natalie Hodson, and it is her Artichoke Rosemary Chicken. It is a one dish recipe (my favorite) Here is a picture taken from her blog:


“I got kicked out of ballet class because I pulled a groin muscle. It wasn’t mine.” – Rita Rudner

1. By Valentine’s Day afternoon, the ice and snow had melted enough that the roads were clear so it was safe to go to work. However, that night there was an earthquake. It was a 4.1 on the Richter Scale which means absolutely nothing to me.

To translate it in terms I do know: A lady in Woodruff called Fox News with a front line report. She was in her recliner with her dog (a Boxer) sitting in her husband’s recliner, and ALL OF A SUDDEN, the double-wide started shaking back and forth. She was scared and all shook up — literally.

Another news station, showed a man’s security camera’s footage of the quake. You can see a car slightly bouncing in the driveway. Afterwards, the man pointed out a hairline crack in his driveway while talking about the damage the quake had caused.


2. My Saucony Cortana 3s have officially been retired. RIP:


October 2013 – February 2014

These beauties carried me through two half marathons, a multitude of shorter races, a lot of training miles, and all my gym workouts. I was hoping to eek another month out of them but the havoc they were wreaking on my feet became unbearable. They were my go-to road running shoes. My local running store cuts the soles of shoes to make them more flexible so with that and a little bit of arch support these were wonderful when they were in their prime. I would totally buy them again, but my eye wandered and my loyalty wavered.

3. Oh yes! I was wooed by a pretty new young thing. I have moved onward and upward to a pair of ON Cloudsurfers:


They look white in this picture but they’re gray with orange trim.

I am super excited about these. Due to the way they are designed, I think it will be nigh impossible for me to heel strike in these bad boys. My feet are constantly in pain and throbbing so it was a bit breathtaking to slip these on and have all the pain instantly dissipate – just by standing in them. My fingers are crossed that they will feel the same once I get them out on the road.

4. Yeah, I haven’t actually run yet in my new running shoes.

It’s been 2 weeks since I pulled/tore my adductor muscle, and I still cannot run or even walk without a limp. I’m thinking my 10k race next weekend will be a no-go, but I’m still holding out hope. In the meantime, I’ve switched to a more weight lifting focused routine which I really enjoy. On Monday, I did a chest/tri workout. The first thing it called for was 3 sets of 12 pushups with a minute between each set. I haven’t been doing pushups in my chest workout recently, and the last time I did I couldn’t get through the entire set without having to switch to my knees. However, this time I did it! Standard (on my toes) full pushups with correct form (no half-assing it and only going part of the way down to the ground.)

36 of them!


5. I’m still looking for a challenging Spring event/race that takes place well after tax season (preferably in May.)  I’m seriously considering doing my first trail race with the “Bearwallow Beast.” I mean – just the name alone makes this one sound like a winner. I love hiking so  I think I would really enjoy trail running (if I don’t injure myself.) One of my New Year’s Resolutions for this year was to learn how to love hills, and what better way than running up a mountain? Everything needs love, even nasty loathsome repulsive hills. .

Ben: “It has an elevation gain of over 1,400 feet? in just 3 miles? I bet that’s how it got its name, because by the end you look like a bear wallering up that mountain.”


A picture of the start of the single track where the trail begins it steep ascent. This was taken from the event’s facebook page.

(It actually got its name because there’s a mountain spring which forms several watering holes. Apparently, like pigs, bears like to wallow and these watering holes are prime wallowing real estate.  But thank you for the visual, Ben.)

The fastest times last year on this course were 23-27 minutes for the fellas and 32-35 minutes for the ladies.  In the normal 5ks I run, the winner usually runs the race in 15 minutes so this one definitely sounds like it’s a toughie.

But, on the bright side, there is a festival afterward! And I’ve already convinced one other sucker to run it with me! And the race is in the afternoon – score! Each race entry comes with a ticket for a free beer. Not that I will use that, but in my experience, that’s a sign the after-party will be amusing to attend.

I’m not familiar with this hike even though it’s relatively close to where I grew up. Evidently, it’s on private land but there is now a conservation easement on the mountain along with a fantastic new trail. Once my leg heals, I’m going to drag Ben hiking here just to see what I’m in for. And so he can come up with more vivid comparisons of what I’m going to look like while trying to do this.



Bearwallow Mountain. At least my death will be a pretty one.

“I believe Ayn Rand’s first love poem went: Roses are red/ violets are blue/ finish this poem yourself / you dependent parasite” — Stephen Colbert

1. Because we and everyone we know still has power, I’m seeing this snow as a blessing in disguise as it will give me plenty of time to rest my leg. I worked on Monday, and I had no idea how much I walk – and even run – around the office. Over a year ago, we moved to a building with double the square footage which is great. Except for when I’m on the other side of the office and I hear someone say, “Where’s Laura?”

On Monday, I tried to hurry my shuffle but it only caused me to scream out in pain. Funnily enough, agonizing shrieks echoing the hallways are NOT what clients want to hear as they meet with their accountant about their tax returns. Go figure.

2. Of course, while walking the dogs I slipped on an icy patch and injured myself even worse. So blessings are wasted on me.

3. I saw this dismissal video from a Durham, NC school and it made me realize how old I am:

If I were younger, I wouldn’t find this nearly as funny. Would I?

4. I realize I stopped my race reviews after the Tryon Half Marathon which was back in October. I ran five races after that one so I’m a bit behind – whoopsie.

The following one was the 8K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. You might look at this picture from the starting line, which I find rather hilarious, and think it’s the runners on the right who look as if they’re trying to break their spine while stretching that are the crazy ones. However, it was in the low 20s when this picture was taken (and felt even colder due to the wind) so I can assure you that it’s the half naked fellows who are the insane ones.


This was my first Turkey Trot and I about froze my giblets off.  It was also the first time where there was going to be someone else I knew running. (I only know one local runner, and that is my trainer who is the one who got me into this crazy thing.) I was super excited, even though he runs 6 minute miles so I knew we would only be starting together. However, it was so packed I never saw him – either at the start or the finish line.

Later, when I talked to him I said, “What? You didn’t see me? I was dressed like a Turkey!” (Note: I was not dressed like a turkey.) He was silent for a moment and then said, “Are you serious? Because I passed a turkey…”

Thus, when the race’s website posted this picture of him about to pass someone dressed as a turkey I had to laugh:turkeypassing


This race was really fun. I ran at an aggressive pace for me, and near the end it got to me so I slowed down. Or, at least, I tried to slow down when a lady yelled at me, “Oh, no you don’t! I’m pacing with you! You’re keeping me going!” Thus, I picked up the pace and started running again. We ended up finishing together and I talked to her some after we were done. Her verbally nudging me meant a lot as I wanted so badly to ease up and not push through as hard as I was going. However, with her encouraging me, I was able to finish with a much faster pace than what my goal had been. Yay for other runners who are bossy!

5.  For Valentine’s Day I asked Ben if he would do the Savage Race with me again in October (if he felt well.) He agreed and I’m pretty excited as I had a lot of fun last time. Ben was not so impressed, and had been dragging his feet about doing another one. Afterward, we received an e-mail from the race that read: “Here it is – your Savage Race Georgia 2013 Finisher Badge! So shove this badge in your friends’ digital faces to show them how much of a bad ass you really are.” Ben thought that was a titch overboard commenting, “It’s not like we took a boat tour through the Mekong Delta in 1968.”

I definitely get where he’s coming from as whenever I think about doing a Tough Mudder I come to the same conclusion as the author of this amusing article:

“That’s not to say that it isn’t extremely hard either. Tough Mudder is 12 miles, a good chunk of which is uphill and the obstacles are sometimes excruciating. From swimming underneath barrels in a lake of snowmelt to crawling through water in complete darkness while being shocked by hanging wires, it’s vicious.

But what separates it from, say, climbing a mountain or trekking across a desert is that it is not a test of ability or of the mental fortitude necessary to push your body through the agony of effort. It’s just three hours of horrible things happening to you for a few seconds at a time. In other words, it’s carefully orchestrated harassment. Each obstacle is about the pageantry first and in a distant second is your own ability to power through it because it’s about the story you tell later rather than the experience itself …

And that’s exactly why I felt like an idiot by the end. I went in with the confused notion that any experience that is awful was also good for me. Suffering is always supposed to have rewards in the end, and even if those rewards are sometimes vague, I can at least chalk it up to a rounding of character. But Tough Mudder offers a window dressing version of personal betterment without much behind it.

I don’t mean to insult anyone who loves the challenge of Tough Mudder because I will certainly admit that it kicked my ass. But it was painful like torture is painful.”

However, not all obstacle courses races are created equally. There are several various kinds and they all have different feels. I am pretty sure that participating in a Spartan race would get on my nerves because they’re so rule oriented. (Which sounds odd since I am a rule oriented person. However, I bristle when I feel as if I’m being needlessly policed.) The Warrior Dash and the local mud run around here seem too easy and as if the only purpose is to get muddy. I have absolutely no interest in doing a tough mudder, and not just because of this obstacle:


Although, no.

However, the Savage is a perfect fit for me. At almost 7 very hilly miles and 25 obstacles, it’s challenging. I finished tired but not wanting to die. (Note: I finish a half marathon wanting to die. Or at the very least wanting to kill someone.)

Yet, it doesn’t feel like torture and that I’m just doing it because I hate myself. (If I had to do several versions of the obstacle I pictured above that is how I would feel – as if I just didn’t like myself anymore. And no one likes me more than I do.) There were enough obstacles which were mentally challenging (the Colon Blow) that I felt as if it really pushed me beyond what I would generally be comfortable with, but not so many that it became extraneous. Or that were so unsettling that I just wanted to curl in a fetal position and cry.

In other words, I’m happy Ben is willing to do the Savage with me again.

6. A couple of funny Valentines I’ve seen around the web:


(Because I kept overhearing people talk about how they had to “choke” gels down, I thought they would taste terrible. Then, I had a Salted Caramel Gu. They are ah-mazing. And if you’re running when it’s colder outside they’re even better when they’re naturally chilled.)

enhanced-buzz-10718-1390719758-1Literary AND creepy! What a combination!

“The south has been crippled by a winter storm – or as they call it, the weather of northern aggression.” — Stephen Colbert

1.  This was the line at Publix yesterday:
I couldn’t see the cashier when I got into line, but I was happy to later discover it was my one friend who works there. She commented that based on the customers’ behavior and what they were buying that it wasn’t a winter storm which will last a couple of days, but the apocalypse where we will be housebound for at least a month.


I looked at my cart like, “That’s it! I’m just overreacting. It’s not as if I would really eat that much in a week! Excuse me while I now avoid eye contact.”

2. Ben’s brother, posted this weather forecast on ye ole Facebook. I relished an opportunity for it finally to be appropriate for me to tell someone that I was sorry they were F-ed.


(I’m in A1, but Ben’s family is in the F zone. I can handle snow, but ice is impossible.)

3. Last Saturday was the 37th annual Green Valley Road Race. I was excited to participate in such an old local race. Actually, I was just excited that it was older than me (barely.) There was a 10 miler & a 5 miler (well, 8k.) When the race first started in the 70s, those running the 5 miler would all hop up in the back of a pickup truck which would take them to the halfway point of the 10 miler. They would then run back from there. Thankfully, the world has advanced and the 8K is now on a separate course so I wasn’t forced to ride in the back of a pickup with a bunch of strangers.


I’ve been training for this one for a month. Either running the course itself (which is essentially hill work) or doing speed work (in the form of 5k races). My goal was to run sub 9 minute miles which was an aggressive goal given how challenging and hilly the course is, but I thought I had a good chance based on my training runs. I was quite excited and thought I would place in my age group. (I won in my age group at one of the 5ks in January. It was FANTASTIC, and I decided I need to do it more often.)

Anyway, I was really looking forward to this one. So, it was a bit of a disappointment that it ended at mile 3 with me in tears begging a stranger – who I didn’t think looked like she would kill me – for a ride back to my car. Whether the tears were from the pain of running on a torn adductor muscle or from the pain of having to slow to such a crawl that I was passed by a pair of SPEED WALKERS dressed in MATCHING RIDICULOUS OUTFITS, I’ll let you decide. Sigh.

I’m not as inconsolable as I was about it on Saturday, but I am still down about how it turned out. I just worked up the courage to look at the race results and I would have placed first in my age division even if I had just run at my “easy” training pace. Double sigh! The injury didn’t even happen when I was running. (I don’t know when it happened. As soon as I started my warm up right before the race, I felt as if I had been kicked between the legs. It was painful. I thought maybe it would go away or ease up. After two miles and the first two hills, I realized that was an incorrect assumption full of agony and regret.)

4. I’m following the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation.) Well, actually I guess I’m just RIC-ing it as I don’t even know how you could comfortably elevate your pelvic area and still have any self respect left. Hopefully, it will all be better by my 10k on March 1st. I must AVENGE myself! I mean – Speed walkers. SPEED WALKERS. THE INDIGNITY OF IT ALL.

5. When I finally got home it was an ordeal because I couldn’t actually get out of my car by myself. (I couldn’t stand up or walk.) Ben had to hoist me out. Our wedding vows definitely did not mention extracting your spouse from her vehicle as she is sobbing uncontrollably at a ridiculously early hour on a Saturday morning. But it’s too late for a refund now, sucker!

When I finally got inside, I tried to contact someone from the race to let them know I wouldn’t be finishing and not to worry about me. However, there wasn’t any contact information listed on the website. So, I figured they had all my contact numbers from when I registered if they needed to follow up. They never did which makes me think twice about the safety of my racing. Someone started (as I picked up my bib which was only available the morning of the race) but never finished and no questions are asked. Hmm.

I always figured there were plenty of people around and it was okay. But by that third mile I had to slow down so much I was out there by myself. I tried asking another female runner for help but I was gasping so much all I got out was, “I’m hurt.” She responded along the lines of, “No pain, no gain!” and wobbled passed me without a second glance.  Finally, I was able to get help but it was after a half mile of barely being able to walk and wondering if I was going to have to start crawling.

The whole experience left me feeling uneasy. I ordered a Road ID which makes me feel a bit better. It’s like this:


except for the motivational motto at the bottom of mine reads, “Suck it up, buttercup!” But only because they don’t allow expletives and DAMN THOSE SMUG SPEED WALKERS.

“When people tell me I’m going to regret that in the morning, I sleep in until noon because I’m a problem solver.”

1. A young man I know made the statement, “I remember it like it was yesterday” and my first thought was, “You’re 23. It basically was yesterday.”

Soooooo, I guess this means I’ve started the steep descent into becoming a bitter old woman. I just need to learn to stomach coffee so I can cradle a huge mug of it while waddling around work each morning, darkening the doorways of my co-workers’ offices as I take long sips between telling them my opinion on subjects they never asked me about. While I’m at it, I might as well stock up on some horridly bright lipstick which I can apply to where I approximate my lips to be rather than where they actually are.

Now that I think about it, I might already have the bitter part down pat. And, as my sister points out, I might have the old part worked out as well.

The Dirty Hippie: So what are you up to? Besides running. I don’t care about that.
The Dirty Hippie: Are they performing in wheelchairs? I mean they were old when you were in high school. They must be keepers of the crypt status now.



Whatever, hater. The Pixies were fantastic!

And there wasn’t a walker or a cane in sight. How brave of them to play so fast & easy with their hip health at their advanced age.

3. I just love this video of the time lapse of a guy who taught himself how to dance over the course of a year:


“I hope this video inspires you to do things that you really want to do. The things that makes you feel good and happy while doing it. With one year you can make a huge change in your life if you step out from your comfort zone and begin to act.”

4. The “Couch to 5k” program is fantastic because it has helped a lot of people become active through a solid and steady schedule. However, it subtly planted the idea in my head that a 5k would be something I would have to work months at in order to be able to do. When I was able to run that distance in my first week of starting to run I thought, “If I could do this in 1 week. What could I do in one year?” At that point, I promised myself that I would stick with running – even though I hated ever single second of it – for one year. If I still loathed it at that point, I could move on. Until then, I would work really hard at it to see how it could better me. (So for those of you, like the dirty hippie, who can’t wait until I quit it so I’ll stop talking about it – you have until October for that to even be a chance.)

It took a little over four months of regularly running until I actually began to enjoy it. Before it was kind of like:
221ILRamethyst_largeThen, one afternoon just a couple of weeks ago I was running an errand for work and it was a beautiful day. I was shocked when I thought, “I wish I were running.” Then, I was even more stunned when I realized it was true. At some point during those four months, I began to really enjoy it. I still don’t love every single moment of it, and I prefer races to training but it’s growing on me. I won’t have an awesome video showing a time lapse but I could probably cobble up some pictures. I know I have one from my first race where I’m heel striking and over-striding. I bet you can’t wait for that slide show!

My goal is to be able to finish a half marathon while looking gorgeous and put together like this girl in the black who was in the finishing stretch of the Tryon Half Marathon back in October:

tryon half

And not like the girl in the gray (who, granted, still looks better than I do in 99% of my race photos. I’m glad they are all terrible of me since they are all SO EXPENSIVE to purchase.)

Speaking of race pictures, I ran one this past weekend and the race photographer snapped & posted this awesome picture

hero5k9I don’t know who these boys are, but I love how high off the ground their feet are!


5. We have been watching a lot of Sons of Anarchy at my house. In fact, we just finished watching all six seasons over the span of a couple of weeks, and we’re ready for the 7th to be out already. One of the side effects of this – besides wanting to accessorize with more leather – is that I now want this:


Personally, I think it would make the perfect group shirt for an Obstacle Course Race team. Ben commented that you can’t wear a shirt like that without being fast though. So my goal for 2014 is to become fast enough that I can legitimately wear this shirt in a race. That – and to be able to get at least halfway across the formidable Sawtooth!

Tryon Half Marathon

You can tell that I came up with my own half marathon training schedule since most don’t include an actual half marathon race less than a month before the one you’re training for.

After the Spinx Run Fest, I discovered how much more I enjoy races than long runs by myself. I kept setting out for my 9 or 10 mile long run of the week, and not being able to finish it because of things I didn’t plan for. (Like, oh I don’t know, there being a Homecoming game at the University whose campus I run on.) I signed up for a couple of local running clubs hoping that would help, and even went out to scout a couple of favorite running spots in the area.

I was really excited about Lake Summit which is just across the state line in Tuxedo, North Carolina. I did some research on-line and saw that it’s this 10 mile loop on a dirt road that goes around a scenic look lake that is surrounded by multi-million dollar homes. The Greenville Track Club lists it as one of their training venues for their elite members saying:

“One of the favorite venues of Furman University’s distance runners for Sunday Long Runs, the 9.7 mile route circles around the recreational lake covering some paved, but mostly dirt surfaces…Tuxedo is approximately 2000 feet elevation and offers some spectacular views of the lake and surrounding hills and foliage.”


It looked gorgeous, and sounded perfect. However, I have watched way too many crime shows to go running in a strange remote place by myself. Thus, Ben and I drove out there to check it out first. No. No way. No way in hell would I ever run there. My first thought was, “This seems like a good place to get murdered.” Ben agreed that it had a very creepy feel to it. As soon as we returned home, I looked it up on-line and found that 4 people have been murdered there. Although the idea that I might be stabbed at any moment might really help with my speed work, I decided to keep looking for other alternatives.

While searching for different options, I came across the Tryon Half Marathon. Tryon is also in Western North Carolina and only a 45 minute drive. This half marathon would be 75% on a dirt road, along some beautiful looking valleys and rivers. Plus, it would be on the small side with about 250 participants. I figured it would be a good excuse to spend the night at a quaint Inn and then I could treat it as a long training run rather than a race.

On Friday night, Ben and I headed up and stopped by Harmon Field (where the race would begin and end) to pick up my race packet. As soon as I saw it, I knew I was going to be in for a good run. Everything is so picturesque in this town!

harmon field

We stayed at the 1906 Pine Crest Inn. It seemed pleasant from the pictures on-line, and THANKFULLY this time the experience matched the photographs.


While making reservations, I was asked if we wanted to eat supper there as well. Once I discovered they would be able to accommodate to Ben’s many food allergies (gluten, dairy, soy) we planned on that. I thought there would just be options for Ben, but they actually catered an entire menu just for him. It was so good that I don’t even care if it involved some voodoo black magic to make quinoa not only edible but taste delicious!

Evidently, their restaurant is usually packed but there is a lull right before Thanksgiving so we had the dining room to ourselves which is probably a good thing since we rarely go out:

Ben gave me some very encouraging advice along the lines of, “Just do your best and if your best sucks, then I guess you just suck. And you’re going to have to learn to deal with it. I’ve been doing it my whole life.”

After that little pep talk, we retired to our room which had a cozy fireplace AND an awesome jetted tub. At some point, I did wonder whose idea it was to leave this to go out into the cold to run:

Since this was in the mountains, I was worried that it was going to be even colder than the 32 degrees start at the Spinx Run Fest. Thankfully, it was much warmer (in the forties). Plus, since it was such a small race I was able to park close to the starting line. After using the bathroom, I stashed my coat in the car and bounced my way toward the starting line.

2013 tryon half start

2013 tryon half1
This is around mile 4-5, and this was the road we ran on for most of the time. It was an out and back course with the first half being downhill which was a bit of a pain for the second half. Overall though, it was just a really beautiful country run:

2013 tryon half3

Before this one, I had never run more than 8 miles consecutively so I was a bit worried about my ability to finish. I knew I could do it, but I didn’t know if I could do it without walking. A little more than 8 miles in, another runner came up to me and asked if I minded if he ran with me for a while. I told him that was fine as long as he realized this was all new territory to me and I might keel over at any moment, hahanotreallyjokinghaha. I also let him know that I had just run my first mile in September so I might not be the best person to run with, but he soldiered on.

From that point on this really did turn from a race to just a very fun long run. My pace slowed down by about 2 minutes a mile, but it was just so enjoyable that I didn’t care. My new running partner was a retired Ultra Marathoner who had also run more than 15 marathons. He instantly corrected my running form (which, evidently, gets a little slack when I’m tired) and I was AMAZED that I didn’t hurt at all the following week. No twinges in my hips, knees, or aches in my shoulders. He did bark at me a few times, “Chin up!” which was a little unsettling but more than worth it for the lack of aches.

Of course, he also felt the need to tell everyone that we passed that I had just run my first mile two months ago. This is when I discovered that when I’m really exhausted – I don’t get embarrassed! It was like running with a very proud grandpa.

The run was pretty perfect and with the exception of walking through a couple of the water stations, I ran the entire thing. There were only a few negatives which I hope to get worked out before my “real” first half marathon race in 3 weeks:

1. Either I tied my shoes too tight or my feet were swelling too much for my shoes to handle, but I had a lot of foot pain during the run. After several tries of retying my shoes, I finally got it right and I was good from thereon out. However, before I fixed it it was dreadfully painful. I ended up with a huge bruise on the top of my feet, and this was the only thing that hurt me the following week. I really love my shoes otherwise, but I don’t know how to fix this. Any ideas? These are the shoes I was wearing:
sauco651372_246527_jb1Saucony Cortana 3


2. As soon as I stopped running, I felt terrible. I noticed everyone else was smiling and laughing whereas I just wanted to cry. There was this delicious looking breakfast spread for all of the runners, and as soon as I walked close to the building where it was being held I had to turn away. I LOVE breakfast, but the smell of food was too much. I hobbled to my car (without saying goodbye to my new running buddy because he had already entered where the food was being served and I knew I wouldn’t make it through the doorway without getting sick) and drove back to the Inn while feeling very shaky about it.

I have never had any problems with depression, but I just felt despair. It worked itself out in an hour, but it really worried me how much I just wanted to sob. (I was able to get in the jetted tub for a few minutes before we had to check out so that helped the physical pain.) After talking to some more experienced runners, I’ve been told that crashing is normal but it really weirded me out. Logically, I was happy because I had just run longer than I had ever ran before, it was a beautiful day, and I had had a lot of fun. But that’s now how I felt. Thankfully, by the time we got back home I was back to normal and with a new shirt and medal to show for my pain:

tyronhalfmarathon 001 half

(These are my favorites yet! I love the design.)

Spinx Run Fest Review

A lot of the half marathon preparation plans suggest running a 10k sometime during your training so you have an idea of what to expect on race day. Thus, I decided to run the Spinx Run Festival’s inaugural 10k as my inaugural race. It’s a very picturesque course through downtown, including Main Street and two different parks. You complete the race by doing a lap around the inside track at Greenville Drive stadium and crossing the finish line behind home plate to a roaring crowd as “Eye of the Tiger” plays over the loudspeaker. (The last two things are not explicitly stated in the promotional materials but I think it’s safe to say that they are IMPLIED.)

This took place in late October on a Saturday morning. (There was also a marathon and a half marathon that same morning and the starts were staggered about 15 minutes apart. Much of the 10k course was the same route as the half marathon course.) I haven’t run enough yet to hit “the wall” but I thought that day might be the day it would happen. With it being 32 degrees out, I was worried I might discover that mine was within a foot of the starting line.

10k start 2

Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who came with me and so I was able to remain cozy in my jacket and pullover until seconds before we started. Then, I handed my coat to him and by a mile into the race I was longing to feel cold again. Right after we started, there was a Lil’ Pumpkin kids run which Ben said was hilarious to watch.

10k kids

The 10k course was really fun to run, with the exception of a brutal hill near Cleveland Park. I have not incorporated a lot of hill training into my runs, and that just knocked the life out of me. I didn’t stop running going up it, but at times it felt as if I might not always actually be moving myself forward. After this bit, we wound through another park and I was rounding a curve when I heard it. IT! The first few beats of “Eye of the Tiger.” There were two girls standing blasting “Eye of the Tiger” on a stereo at their feet. It was the most awesome thing ever! Even if it didn’t happen as I was crossing the finish line, it did certain propel me for the last stretch of the race – including another blasted hill.


And here I am about to cross the finish line behind home plate at Fluor Stadium. Ben captured this one, and it may be my favorite picture of me – especially since you can’t tell there is a 80 year old woman wearing some kind of afghan shawl who is hot on my heels. And in case you’re doubting the veracity of that statement, here is proof of it from one of the official race pictures:

See her there in the background? I guess it was probably a jacket she had tied around her race but it looked like a blanket. Either way, that Golden Girl gave me a run for my money.


At least I got my medal! (Which oddly enough is the exact same medal that those who ran the half marathon and the marathon received as well.)

10k 017 half

I also realized that running a race is 100000x better than a long run by myself. I don’t have to plan the course! Someone else takes care of supplying with me water! I can’t reroute halfway through to take the lazy way out just because I hate the hills on the course! And as you can tell almost all these pluses are because they promote me to be lazy (except the last one. It keeps me honest.)

I still hate running, but I actually had fun FOR ONCE during this race. I’m very happy that Spinx’s Run Fest decided to have a 10k this year, and I hope they continue to do so. (Because I would like to run this next year and there is no way I want to conquer that hill during a half marathon.)

Nobody makes me bleed my own blood – nobody!

THIS is actually a real thing that is going on at the college nearby. I want to win a trophy, but I REALLY want that tank top. And the chance to nail some of the local college kids in the head. I have 8 years of pent up anger over the ridiculous behavior of my neighbors that I would like to unleash in a fury of sweat and balls.

2. Although one of my current neighbors has named their wireless network “Winter(net) is Coming!” I would spare them from my rage. Maybe.

3.  The official race video for last Saturday is up and I’m in it! For all of two seconds! (Seconds 49 & 50 you can see me coming over the 8 foot wall with 2 other ladies. I’m the one in the back in the purple.) This was the second obstacle after the ice bath so I was still drenched but starting to warm up.

4. Speaking of the Savage, how long does it take to recover from such foolishness? I ran 3 miles on Wednesday, did what I thought was a regular workout on Thursday, and then worked out today. However, on Friday my legs felt as if I did a HEAVY leg day the day before when I really wasn’t working them at all. I had trouble sitting and standing.

On Friday afternoon, I went to pick up some packages from my apartment’s office. The guy set the two boxes on the floor while checking to make sure there wasn’t a third. When there wasn’t he indicated I could get the two he had put on the floor. I just stared at them, and finally he picked them up for me.  This is what the Savage has done to me. A week ago I could run 7 miles without a problem. Today, I can’t bend over and touch my toes.

5. Although, I’m a glutton for punishment as I have signed up for my first half marathon that is in two months. Before then, I need to make a shirt along these lines for myself:

943624_473159092780523_334317841_nWell, that and actually work up to running 13 miles. Eeep!

Fifty Shades of Clay

Before I get into the nitty gritty of completing the Savage,  I thought I would start with a serene picture of the natural beauty from the morning of the race:

And the course looked nice too:

It took place on a beautiful horse farm in Dallas, Georgia. The course was just under 7 miles and had 25 obstacles with a lot of the running taking place on really steep trails.

savagemap 002savagesign

Our wave started at 10:20 in the morning, and by that time it was already miserably hot. So I MISTAKENLY thought that the ice bath – which is the very first obstacle – would be refreshing. And it was! Until I had to go all the way under, which you are required to do in order to get under a wooden partition in the middle. Once my head was submerged I was so cold I lost some of my muscle control. There was no ladder  – you just kind of hoisted yourself out. Then, there was a wooden ladder off the back you climbed down. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem. However, my feet kept slipping and I couldn’t get my hands to grab where I meant to so I almost fell several times. I thought, “If I’m already almost injuring myself on the first obstacle, THERE MIGHT BE A PROBLEM.”

Plus, it was exacerbated by the fact that my husband was beside me splashing around happily like a seal incessantly barking, “This isn’t cold!” as he giddily poured handfuls of water over his face. At some point he grabbed a HUGE chunk of ice the size of his head. I don’t know if you’ve met Ben, but he has a very large head. My teeth were chattering too much to be able to tell him to shut up already. (And as I type that sentence it suddenly occurs to me why Ben always keeps our home so cold.)

Some of the more memorable obstacles:

The Colon Blow 5000:

colonblow This was the worst one for me, although if you don’t have a problem with tight places it would have most likely been a breeze. First off, the stench alone was enough to induce a panic attack. You start off by a low crawl through the nastiest smelling mud into these small tunnels which are NOT corrugated on the inside (so there is no grip). First, you go up hill. Then you go through a different tunnel down hill. On this one, I was very thankful that Ben was there. He waited for me at the top of his first tunnel, which was beside mine, and talked me through it. (He also gave me the very helpful advice to go through the downhill tunnel feet first instead of head first. Not only was it easier to make it through but I would not have wanted to in head first into the fetor.)

As soon as I got in the first tunnel I tried to go up, and instead of making progress I just slid down. I started to panic and thought, “Ok, I’m just going to get out and skip this obstacle.” Then, I remembered that putrid smelling mud I would have to go back through so I just slowly started to inch up. (The tunnels were not big enough for me to crawl on my hands and knees. Or maybe they were if I had enough patience to kind of wiggle around enough to make it work. However, that just made me panic more so I gave up and just slowly inched up on my stomach.) What really made it the worst was this is where I suffered my only calf cramp of the race, and it was debilitating. It just seized my leg and I couldn’t move. It happened at the end of the tunnels so I was flailing around in this muck like a crippled pig. Here is to hoping no one got a picture of that!

The only good part of this is that the tunnels were not nearly as long as the looked. However, I do think that this is one of the obstacles which I will be able to do MUCH faster next time. It was mentally much worse than it was physically.


The Sawtooth:

sawtoothsawtooth 2


The infamous incline and decline monkey bars. I wore gloves specifically to have a better grip here, and it didn’t help AT ALL. (I’m still glad I wore gloves because they were useful overall and protected my hands, but they were useless on this obstacle and on the rope on the Colossus.) My goal was to just make it halfway across. (I dream big.) That didn’t happen. I dropped immediately which I was fine with, but next time I vow to get further.


The Nutt Smasher:

NuttSmasherNutt Smasher


Our team was not as talented as the one in the bottom picture or, to be honest, this team oriented. (SOME of my team members motto was, “Leave the Weak Without Hesitation!”) However, it is a nice thought. This balance beam doesn’t look that difficult, but it was too darn wobbly for me.




In other races this one is called “Electroshock Therapy.” It’s a low crawl under barb wire which turns into a low crawl underneath live wires hooked up to car batteries. Not pictured is the pack of men standing there yelling at you to hurry up and go through because otherwise people hesitate and back up the line. I decided just to plunge through this one because it would be worse the more I thought about it. I got zapped once, and it hurt. However, it didn’t knock me out which is what I was worried about. In the following promo video for the race on the same course from earlier this year, they show footage of this obstacle and in the background you can see a guy just laying there passed out from the shock. (It’s 57 seconds in.)

The New Obstacle:



This was the first time for this obstacle at any savage race. You can’t tell from this picture but this was going up hill and quite the incline. We had just gotten out of the lake so we were all soaked and moved quite fast up the slippery liner. It was pretty fun, although at this point I was too tired to work out any strategy on how to do an obstacle I hadn’t seen before. So I “cheated” by looking over to see how one of my teammates was doing it and just followed their form. (He was using his feet in the net as well as his hands.) That helped my speed but what REALLY helped my speed was when a HUGE guy started below me as I was more than halfway done. I just grabbed the net at the same time he did and as he jerked it to pull himself up it shot me up the hill. I repaid the favor by waiting for him to get finished and warning him not to smack his head on the huge piece of wood that was at the very top of this obstacle. (Hopefully, they’ll fix that design flaw in the future.)


The Colossus:


This beast is 40 feet high. No picture adequately shows how TALL it is. Or how slippery it is. Or how when you grab the rope there is no grip – just muddy water pouring out of it. Or how if there is no one at the top to help you up it is nearly impossible to use just the rope to get up.  Or how brutal it is to slide down the thing on your face. Sigh.

The Colossus (back side):


The back side of the Colossus is an AWESOME water slide. Again the picture doesn’t do justice on just how steep it is. At the top it goes straight down, and according to the race’s website you get up to 32 mph on this thing. It was BY FAR the most fun obstacle. Plus, it basically spit you out onto the finish line.

Overall, this was a really amazing and well organized race. People were SO nice to each other, helping others over various obstacles. I guess it was the shared adversity of all being in it together. I left the event feeling much better about humanity and the kindness of strangers. (The people I knew, on the other hand… Well, I’m going to have to add their souls to my prayer list.)

My race goals were:
1. To do it in 2.5 hours or less: SUCCESS! I plan to do it again in the spring and my new goal time is 1.5 hours. Surely, I can cut my time by an hour. Surely!

2. To be able to do all of those walls by myself. (Not the huge colossus wall but the smaller ones that they line up one right after another.) FAILURE! I did some of them on my own but the last couple I needed help on. This will be a goal again for the next race.

3. No injuries! SUCCESS! Unless you count bruising as an injury. Then, I’m a FAILURE! A bruised, ugly, hurting, and very swollen failure!

savage' 001

4. Not to end up like this girl:


Much to everyone’s delight – Success! We can’t all look like the Coppertone Baby all grown up, and I wouldn’t have been nearly as pretty as a picture as this lady.

5. To get my medal and rub it in someone’s – anyone’s – face: Success!


Suck it!

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” –CS Lewis

And sometimes, Mr. Lewis, you fall and bust your butt. Which is why you should never let go of the past — it might be the only thing holding you up.

Or maybe I’m just not the kind of person meant for analogies.

I survived my entire childhood without any spills on the monkey bars. Mostly, because I wouldn’t have touched them except under threat of bodily harm since I knew that is how it was going to end anyway. To say I wasn’t an athletic child would be an understatement. There is no way I would have not broken a wrist. Even as a 7 year old, I was smart enough to know that. But let us not quibble over my luck as a youth. My point is that I can no longer claim the same spotless record for my thirties.

In a month I will be attempting this, along with some other obstacles and a quick 6 mile jog:

Don’t ask me why. It’s a combination of peer pressure (Ben is doing it) and principle. (I have to go with him and I would have to PAY to be a spectator which is the lamest thing I can imagine so why not pay to do the actual thing?)

In my preparation, in addition to googling to see if anyone has ever died doing this*, I’ve been playing around with the monkey bars at my gym. I haven’t had much luck because my hands slip instantly. However, this weekend I found a pair of gloves that are incredibly grippy and I just knew I would be able to glide across the bars like a veritable … I don’t know. Monkey? Bar Ballerina? 8 year old?

Either way, it actually helped tremendously. I was able to do much better than I ever have in the past. However, in mid-swing my hand slipped part way out of the glove. This was on the hand that was supporting myself so down I fell. I’ve fallen plenty of times, but I always knew it was coming. Not only did I not know it was coming but I fell horizontally with no hope of landing on my feet. I came down on my right side – with my hip taking the brunt of the fall and it hurt. The bars are pretty high at our gym and the floor is in no way soft. Afterward, I ran a mile. I was suppose to run 5, but my body was threatening to call DSS on me so I ended up throwing in the towel and spending the rest of the afternoon floating in the pool.

*Why, yes, someone has died while doing an obstacle course race. Please don’t tell my mom that.