Pi Day, celebrating the number (not the Romulan starship)

14 03 2015

blog griffIn the mid 24th Century, the Romulan starship Pi, a Griffin class scout ship, crash landed on the planet Galorndon Core during a covert mission after sending out a distress signal from the Neutral Zone which was answered by Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise (TNG: “The Enemy“).  What followed on that occasion was the usual drama, interspecies conflict, life-or-death struggles and moral quandary one has come to know and love from Star Trek, none of which is being celebrated today.  This is merely a bit of Trekkie trivia I could not ignore when posting on 3/14/15, known in 21st Century culture as “Pi Day” and heralded by race directors everywhere as a chance to hold a 3.1415k race.

blog shirt

The local middle school near my home had just such a race this morning and despite the fact that I have a cold, there was no way I was going to miss it.  Not only is it my first outdoor race in Illinois of the 2015 season but it is also the first race ever which was so close to my home that I could walk there.

Pi the number is a mathematical constant which represents the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter and is estimated to be over 13.3 trillion digits when spelled out completely.  However, geeks worldwide are today at exactly 9:26:53 AM celebrating the first ten:  3.141592653.

March 14, which coincidentally is also Albert Einstein’s birthday, has been celebrated as Pi Day since established as a holiday in 1988 by a San Francisco physicist named Larry Shaw, also known as the Prince of Pi (not to be confused with the Larry Shaw who directed an episode of the TNG series).  I’m sure the prince must be a Star Trek fan as are good geeks everywhere.   But I digress….

It was a beautiful springlike morning of 40 something Fahrenheit with just enough of a chill to mandate a cheapie pair of gloves and some long sleeves when we all lined up at the local middle school.  In a parking lot amidst a few lingering mounds of dirty snow beneath a homemade sign an estimated 480 of us gathered together to celebrate Pi in the only way runners know how (by blocking traffic and pissing off drivers as we stride several abreast in one long parade oblivious to all else but our feet and our MP3 players).

blog start

The sky was blue and the crowd simmered with excitement as the air horn sounded and off we went: parents, kids, stroller moms, old people, fat people, speedsters, walkers and me.  Like I said, I have a cold.  I didn’t expect to rack up impressive numbers and I most certainly didn’t.  After the first half mile, I started to cough and thus ended up taking it pretty easy.  I’d jog a while, walk a while and even tried a few little sprints but my lungs weren’t up to the task.  It was still fun though and the 3.1415 miles went pretty fast.   At the end we were rewarded with Hostess fruit pies and slices of pizza pie, just to stretch the pi(e) theme a little further.blog garmin

So the first local race of the season is done and, given the one mile walk to and from the race, I’ve already logged well over 5 miles on my pedometer with much of the day ahead of me yet.  And now it’s on to all the other cool stuff one can do on a temperate Saturday such as this.  I even made up a little poem in my head while I was walking back from the race:

The snow is melted; the bitter chill is gone.
This is my happy morning song.
The sun is shining and I’ve had a 5k run.
I can play in the garden while the day is still young.
What a contented old runner am I
As happy as a fat kid eating pie.

(OK, I’ll keep my day job.  LOL)

 

 





Two months, two races, one winter: done

10 03 2015

vwIn the Star Trek original series there is an episode called The Savage Curtain in which Kirk and Spock are manipulated into fighting a “good vs. evil” battle so this interesting creature named Yarnek could observe and thus understand what seemed to be a purely human concept.  When the good guys won, Yarnek concluded that “evil runs off when forcibly confronted.”

As an arthritic runner, I have long regarded winter as more evil than good (although the gardener in me deems it a necessary evil) and I’ve eagerly anticipated its retreat when forcibly confronted by spring.  I used to stop running entirely during the coldest months, venturing out only during the occasional warm-up when temps might climb near 40, but always felt my fitness level suffered too much from the lull.  One year ago with plans for a spring marathon, I ran all winter long going as far as 10 miles on the treadmill but ended up overtraining myself into an injury that nixed the marathon plans.  So this year, I decided to concentrate on shorter distances, flat terrain and a 50-50 split between running/cardio and weight training over the winter in hopes of emerging fit and ready to run injury-free through the next 9 months.

At the end of January, I attended a business conference in San Diego and ran The Super Run 5k in South Shores Park near Sea World.  Leaving behind mounds of snow and biting winds to run amidst these beautiful floral vistas was pure pleasure.

Even though the day was overcast, it was a beautiful outing.

Even though the day was overcast, it was a beautiful outing.

What a great way to escape the evil clutches of winter!

Surrounded by flowers and warm breezes, I took it slow and jogged along happily.

Surrounded by flowers and warm breezes, I took it slow and jogged along happily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shirt, bib and medal.

Shirt, bib and medal.

And then I got on the last flight out of town before a blizzard cancelled all travel into Chicago. What can I say?  This is the reason I don’t run outdoors around my house in the winter.

AND THEN I CAME HOME TO THIS.

WHAT I CAME HOME TO.

So my next race was a virtual 5k called the Puppy Love Run which I did on a hotel treadmill during a weekend trip to a nearby town.  The run, which was held during Valentine’s Day week,  raised money for an animal protection society.   A virtual race is the only kind you’ll find me doing in Illinois in February.  Some of the local crazies do the Frosty 5 Miler each year but I’m not planning to join them any time too soon.

But now that it is March, the snow is melting and single digit temps have followed Old Man Winter over the hill.  With the usual unbridled glee, I will in fact this weekend return to the roads and leave the treadmill behind.puppy love bib

I’m really looking forward to that.

Winter leaves when forcibly confronted by Spring but I am the one who runs off.  Off down the road I go.

I’m ready.

Next up:
A 3.1415 miler on Pi Day 3/14/15.
Penguin in the Park 5k on 3/28/15.
And an old favorite:  The Rockdale Rambling 10k on 4/11/15.
Then the year’s first half marathon.

I’m so ready!





To the Genesis Planet we send him

28 02 2015

spock

with heavy hearts and much love.





2015 = 282.95 days on the Klingon calendar

20 01 2015

klingonFrom Strauchius at http://atavachron.wikidot.com/calendars:klingon-calendar:

“The Klingon day “jaj” lasts 1.29 Earth days, or 30 hours, 57 minutes and 36 seconds.
A Klingon year “DIS” lasts 440.125 Klingon days, or 567.76 Earth days.”

I cannot imagine a 30 hour day!  Geesh.  My jobs would surely have me working even longer.  But maybe with 30 hours in a day, somewhere I might find a marathon with a long-enough time limit that I could finish it even if I walked.   LOL   However there will be no marathon for me this year on any calendar, Terran or Klingon.  I’m not even going to consider it.  I am calling 2015 my “year to get stuff out of the way” lifewise and “back to basics” athleticwise, neither of which includes running 26.2 miles.

Lifewise, the first thing to jettison out the hatch is a boards recertification exam.  Family doctors who want to be board-certified (translation: “any one who wants a decent job”) have to take the medical board exams every 10 years, and I’m doing that in April (which means studying instead of training for events in my spare time).  Since you are required to know all sorts of minutiae about things you may never see in your daily practice, cracking the books like a medical student is what you have to do.  But the good news is: this will be the last board exam I ever take.  When it comes due again in 2025, I will be 69 years old and probably only working part-time someplace that doesn’t care if I’m board-certified or not.

“Back to Basics” in my athletic life means tabling the Ahab-like obsession with distance and working toward greater all-around fitness in an effort to avoid injuries.  I realized last fall (while rehabbing yet another repetitive strain Achilles issue) that I had given up all else in favor of running, and that was surely what contributed to the physical faltering. Since it’s never healthy to be unidimensional, I returned to serious strength training and aerobic conditioning along with eating a higher protein diet.  Oddly enough, my endurance didn’t suffer and I even lost some weight in the process.  So the new year will include shorter races but more biking, lifting, aerobics and the dreaded stretching after each workout.  I will see where that takes me before I try again to slay the white whale labeled 26.2.26.2

2015’s preliminary plans include the following as of this writing:

January  —  Super Run 5k (in San Diego during a board review conference I am attending)
February  —  Puppy Love Virtual 5k (a fundraiser for animals)
March  —  Penguin in the Park 5k (another chance to hobnob with John the Penguin Bingham)
April  —  MORE Fitness Women’s Half Marathon (in New York City to celebrate completing the board exam)
May  —  Soldier Field 10 Miler (this year’s “race with the cousins” in Chicago)
June  —  at least one 5 or 10k somewhere with my running club and maybe more
Fall/winter  —  possibly a multi-state outing in the fall with the gang from MainlyMarathons.com but definitely a December half on the gulf coast within driving distance of New Orleans (tentatively The Holiday Half Marathon in Point Clear, Alabama)

MoonJoggers 2015I will post reports and most likely photos from all of them as each one occurs, and will seriously try not to let months go by before that happens.  I’m really a pretty rotten blogger when it comes to consistency but I do try.

I also signed on with the Moon Joggers again this year and have thus earned my first bib and medal already without even having put foot to pavement yet (although I have done many many treadmill miles).

So that’s it for now.  I’ll holler back later with a report on the San Diego 5k.

In the meantime as they say on Qo’noS:  “qet pagh Hegh” (run or die)!.

 

 

Photo Credits:
Klingon Emblem – http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Klingon_Empire?file=Klingon_Empire_logo.png
Moby Dick – From http://wallpapersinhq.com/images/big/moby_dick-195639.jpg
Moon Jogger stuff – Me

 





Better Late Than Never: Closing out 2014

11 01 2015

Like I said in my last post, the Achilles tendonitis reared its ugly head (as it is wont to do on an annual basis) and my fall plans got curtailed.  My original plan was that a trio of half marathons  —  Wichita Fire, Rock-n-Roll Savannah and Rock-n-Roll San Antonio  — would complete a half dozen half marathons for the year.  But I probably overextended myself doing the Wa Du Shuda in July which would have brought it to 7.  And I am now certain I didn’t stretch enough (as I am wont to do on an all-too-regular basis) and ended up limping instead.  Oddly enough, the pain began in September and there wasn’t any discrete event that started it.  I just noticed a soreness that worsened over time and took months to rehab again.  Feh!  And I now repeat my favorite lament:   It sucks to get old.  But it sure beats the alternative.  And since it’s way too late to have died young, I’ll continue to learn my lessons and keep going.

So here’s how my fall running season went:  I dumbed down from the 1/2 to the 5k in Wichita, did half of the 1/2 in Savannah ( slinking off the course as it fortuitously looped past my hotel during Mile Six) and did the whole 13.1 in San Antonio unfortunately walking most of it.  Rehab continues as of this writing but I’m getting there.  And hopefully, having finally mended my ways, I will stay recovered this time.

I don’t have much to say about Wichita.  I didn’t take any photos.  I was in severe pain the entire time and to this day I don’t know why I didn’t cancel the trip and save the money.  Obsessive 50-State Racer Syndrome?  Maybe.  I might have invented a new disease with that trip.

Savannah was much better.  The city reminded me of New Orleans (second home of my heart) in some locations and that gave me such a welcome feeling.  I also stopped by the studio of my most favorite ever fitness video trainer, Tracie Long, and took a cardio/weights class.  I’ve been doing her workouts since the days of The FIRM in the 1990s, and it was pure joy to do a workout live and in person with her.  Even though I didn’t run the entire half marathon, I had a wonderful weekend because of that experience alone.  And hopefully two days of good calorie burn offset some of the fried chicken, grits and cobbler that I could not help but enjoy while I was back IMG_0596in the South.

Then the Rock-n-Roll half in San Antonio put the smile back on my face.  Even though I decided to walk the entire thing to avoid reinjury, I did throw in a little running when I was just so overcome with energy that I couldn’t help it.  Sometimes a good song on my iPod makes me break out into a run and, caution or not, I can’t fight the feeling.

The San Anton weekend was memorable because it was John The Penguin’s last outing prior to retirement and there was a special goodbye session at the expo featuring a lot of big names in running.  At one point, I turned IMG_0637around to find Meb Keflezighi sitting behind me in the audience.  I about fainted!  My cell phone camera did not capture a very good image, but I did snap a pic of him onstage with John after presenting him a plaque which outlined all of the wonderful things John has done to bring running to the common person.  It was an emotional moment and I think the photo sums it up.

The race itself was a fun one.  It was the typical uber-crowded R-n-R event well stocked with amenities and live music at every mile.  The weather was a bit cool and overcast but in the low 50s, perfect weather for racing really.  Since I walked most of it instead of running, I was able to take a few photos here and there of people and things that struck my fancy.

cheering section

Best sideline cheering section!

Coolest sign.

Coolest sign.

So 2014 ended with my having done very few races once again because of the work schedule that continues to eat up two weekends a month.  I did run more half marathons in any one year than I have ever done before (five) and I pushed my number of “states raced in” to 24.  Other than the two injuries (foot tendonitis in May and Achilles in September), it was quite the enjoyable year and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I reported miles all year to the Moon Joggers and earned slightly under 600 for the Voyage to Venus mission which granted me the rank of Cadet.  My husband said we now have proof that I’m a Space Cadet.  LOL

The BEST THING about 2014’s running though was that I finally gained entry into that cadre of crazies that I’ve been trying to join for two years:  The Half Fanatics.  It’s a related organization to the Marathon Maniacs and you have to do a certain number of races within a specified (and somewhat short) length of time in order to get in.  My spring schedule qualified me and so I joined.  The running kind is the type of fanatic I am happy and proud to be!

2014 Medals and the Best Prize of All

2014 Medals and the Best Prize of All

2014’s racing bibs: once again too few but each a fond recollection.





Race Report Summer 2014: Wa Du Shuda Half Marathon, New Lisbon, WI

7 12 2014

STILL CATCHING UP WITH RACE REPORTS:

Summer 2014 was a cool one with temps well below average in my little corner of the world.  Because I don’t enjoy running in extremes of weather, I do a half marathon or two before July 1 and then pretty much call it quits until fall (except for the occasional evening 5k).    This year the weather was nice and, looking for something to do in mid-July, I signed up at the last minute for a small half-marathon in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, a town in the center of the state.  When you have problems with impulse control and a belief there is no such condition as “too much of a good thing”, you sometimes do things without really thinking.

So I perused my favorite race website runningintheusa.com, checked the weather forecast, picked an event, signed up, arranged a hotel and only then investigated the race a bit further.  Looking over results from previous years I discovered there are usually less than 50 entrants in the half and every single one of them runs a lot faster than me. FACE PALM!

facepalm

That’s right Captain Picard, I am one dumb bunny.

Noting that, I dashed off an email to the race director saying I would likely be finishing in 3:15 to 3:20 and offering to withdraw if it posed a problem in keeping the course open.  She responded that it would not be an issue, and stated I was most welcome to join them.  So I stayed in it.

Now as anyone who knows me (or any one of the 10 people who actually read this blog) is aware, finishing dead stinking last in a race is one of my phobias.  I have done it before and it was so exquisitely painful that I have gone to great lengths since then to avoid it.  But here I was pretty much volunteering to be the last runner.  OK, I figured, I’ll make it my job for that day and act like it doesn’t matter.

Race Day arrived, a refreshingly cool and sunny mid July morning, and I lined up with the rest of the runners on east Bridge Street in New Lisbon.  While waiting for the gun to sound, I struck up a conversation with another racer and at some point sheepishly mentioned that I’m very slow and would be coming in last.  She and I shared a laugh about it, the race started and then we took off  —  all 45 of us.10527371_740226889373948_2840779356376855337_n

As the course wound on through greenery and gently rolling hills, I soon got absorbed in the experience and stopped thinking about time, pace, standing or any of that other competitive stuff.  It was just me and the road in harmonious union  —   the whole zen thing I love about running.

There were not a lot of aid stops but there was a table or two, each with a porta-potty nearby, somewhere along the route.  No bands, entertainers or any of the other glitz you pay $85 entrance fees for, but it was a nice race with a very reasonable price.  Closing in on the end, there wasn’t even anyone following closely behind me like they usually do when you’re bringing up the rear.  A police officer in a car showed up every couple of miles or so but he would always give me a smile and a wave which was quite pleasant.  I was really enjoying myself.

10557396_740232466040057_3242062456647479942_nMaybe 12 miles along, the route left the countryside and the end  approached.  Padding down the paved streets of the town, I began to anticipate the usual scene that greets a back-of-the-packer like myself:  winners already home bound bearing trophies, volunteers taking down banners, tables being folded, maybe a couple of bananas waiting in a box along with a few water bottles for me and the other slowpokes.  Honestly, I’m used to it and it doesn’t bother me any more.  It’s like living in a shabby house.  Perhaps others are unimpressed, but we who dwell there call it home.
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Instead, as I turn the corner off the bridge and cross the finish line, there are DOZENS OF PEOPLE flanking the sidelines smiling and applauding.  I’m like “What?  Who? Me?” as they stand there doing the slow clap reserved for The Unlikely Hero Who Manages to Survive Against All Odds.  With beaming faces full of respect, admiration and awe they all stare at me as I gaze back with my frozen smile and wonder how I ended up in the Twilight Zone.

Then two people with cameras jump in front of me and take my picture.  Now I’m certain I must have dropped dead back there on the road someplace and this is Heaven.

Finally the lady I talked to at the start of the race comes running up saying “YOU DID IT!  Even after the accident!”  And I start looking around.  “What accident?” I say, “I didn’t see an accident.”  “No,” she responds, “YOUR accident.  They told me everyone was waiting for the last runner because she was in a car accident and never supposed to walk again but ran the race today.”  And it hits me like a lightning bolt.  Oh no, they think I’m this Miracle Woman!  Holy cow, I’d better get the hell out of here before they find out I’m not.  So I smile back at her and say “I’m sorry, they were mistaken, that’s not me,” and rush to my car like the devil was chasing me so I can haul ass out of town.final finish article

A few days later when I checked online for the results and any information in the local papers about the race I found an article about the real Miracle Woman who must have been somewhere behind me the whole time.  God bless her.  She did have a terrible accident and, against all odds, had survived to run a half-marathon.  Her triumph over adversity and pain was well worth all the glory and my fervent hope both then and now was that every one of those people waited for her after I fled the scene.  I wish I’d remained myself just to tell her how awesome she is.

So the race I planned to come in last ended up with me not being last after all.  And when the time keepers reported my finish (no timing chips), they somehow duplicated the stats of the previous runner which made me look way faster.  It was a day for strange twists of fate.  Go figure.

Photo Credits:  Art Slater and Brittany Slater

NEXT UP:
The Achilles tendon rears its ugly head and alters my fall plans.
An old story retold.





2014 Spring Race Reports (Part 2): The Sandhills Half Marathon a/k/a the BEST race of 2014

3 12 2014

Yes, here it is December and I’m just now writing about a race I did in June.  Hey, at least it’s the same year.  Anyway, the BEST RACE OF 2014 and one I highly recommend to any marathoner (if you wake up early enough on registration day because it always sells out) is the Sandhills Marathon and half in Valentine, Nebraska.

BrookeKaczorStartingScene

Being a 50-state racer I’ve made a hobby out of traveling to “destination races” all over the country, and each year I try to pick a unique smaller race as a counterpoint to the huge Rock-n-Roll type affairs that I often do as well.  I don’t remember exactly how I found this one but I’m really glad I did.

The races are held in the summer in a sparsely populated corner of Nebraska where it is said  —  and I believe  —  that cows outnumber human spectators on the sidelines.  It is a small but surprisingly well-appointed race featuring probably less than 200 runners that winds through the sandhills, “a region of mixed-grass prairie on grass-stabilized sand dunes in north central Nebraska covering just over one quarter of the state” (per Wikipedia).  The area is desolate and beautiful, and excellent for running.  I read about in online somewhere in 2013 and immediately became intrigued so I made sure I was awake the moment registration opened (New Year’s Eve possibly?) and I signed up.  The race sold out within 24 hours.  I will always consider myself lucky for having run it.

I flew into Omaha and drove across the state for maybe 5 hours until I reached the small town of Valentine,  where packet pickup was held in a western wear store.

photo 2 (4)

It was raining that day and the weather was cool but the forecast for race day was for dry skies and wind.photo 1 (4)

I wandered around town for a little while looking for a place to eat because I had missed the pre race pasta dinner and then settled on eating at the restaurant bar of the Motel Raine where I’d booked a room, which turned out to be an excellent choice because they had an awesome brisket sandwich.  I took a pass on the Mountain Oysters which were also on the menu.  :)

After dinner, going through my packet, I raised my eyebrows more than once at a few of the cautions like “don’t pick up a snake if you find one on the ground.”  The trip was getting more interesting by the minute, I mused.

photo 5 (2)

Soon enough night fell and eventually the sun rose to find me already on my way down a highway to the corner of Brownlee Road and Highway 97 where runners were to converge for the start of the race.  We pulled off the road into a cow pasture where we parked and boarded buses that took us to the starting point of the race.VictoriaDietzSchoolBus

We milled around near the start for a while jumping up and down and trying to warm ourselves on what was an uncharacteristically chilly morning of maybe 47 degrees or so, until the guy with the shotgun showed up and fired it into the air to signal the beginning of the festivities.

IMG_0015

And then off we went.

Down along the road past hills and grassy pastures the runners galloped, a human herd in stampede, for their own amusement as well as that of their equine and bovine spectators.VictoriaDietzGroupRunning

Slow as I am, eventually the crowd thinned out and I found myself at the back of it with only my own footfalls and the beautiful vista to behold.  I’m not someone who thrives on crowd support or cheering hordes urging me on.  I’m just happy to be free to step along in a place I might not have gone before.  And I love those moments in a race when I’m not worried about where I am in the pack or what my finishing time might be but am merely enjoying a chance to run alone amidst nature’s beauty.  This race had a lot of that!  I think that’s why I loved it so much.  And, despite what the name may imply, it was not overly hilly or sandy or especially difficult in any way.  And I didn’t see any snakes.  It was simply quiet and beautiful as the following pictures demonstrate:

JodyGreenSoloRunner

A solitary runner on a long road……sandhills spectators

As horses without a care in the world ignore us as we pass by…..

While a lone cow on a hill goes about its daily routine.VictoriaDietzCow

That was the beauty and charm of the day.  It made the wind and cold weather seem less of a bother because it was such a treat to be a part of this majestic scene for a morning.

Now I can hear people saying already “ok that’s nice but where are the amenities out here so far from the beaten path?”  Well there were tables, some manned and some not, every several miles and they were stocked with bottles of water, sports drink and snacks.  There was also the most unique and interesting bathroom idea I’ve ever seen:  the travelling porta potty.  A very nice man hitched up 2 portajohns to a truck and drove them the length of the race, stopping here and there for as long as people needed him.  MichaelMuehlingPortaPottyYou could flag him down if you saw him but regardless he would eventually show up at a water stop and stay for a while before he moved on.  You never felt like you were without relief in the form of a beverage or a bathroom.

As you can see from the course map, the full marathon wound along down this blacktop road through some towns in pretty much a linear northwest to southeast direction.  The half- marathoners were bussed to the midway point and had their own startline, so everyone finished around the same time and place.sandhills

By the time we got to the end there was a full swing party and barbecue going with music and beer and a whole lot of merriment.  They were grilling big old hamburgers and offered those along with the usual bananas, bagels and other carby post race fare.  Everyone was friendly and congratulatory, and I felt like it had been almost a visit with friends of friends rather than a day spent with strangers.

As I crossed the finish line they handed me a horseshoe in lieu of a medal (for completing the half; you get a spur for the full) and directed me toward the party.  I ate and drank and celebrated with all the runners then headed for my car to drive back towards Omaha and a flight the next morning back to home.

I really enjoyed the Sandhills Half Marathon even though the day was chilly and the wind bit a little more than I’d like.  I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a small unique race amidst nature’s peaceful scenery and with a lot of nice people.

The swag was nice too:  an orange cotton shirt and the horseshoe I’ve since hung on a ribbon.  Along with a treasure trove of memories to cherish.

photo 1The Sandhills Half Marathon sure did leave me smiling a whole bunch that day and I smile again every time I remember it.  I don’t say that about every race but I will always say it about this one.

photo 2

PHOTO CREDITS TO:

Brooke Kaczor, Andy Pollock, Jody Green, Victoria Dietz, Michael Muehling

 

 

Next up:

An unexpected race.
The one I knew I’d finish last.

MORE LATER………..

 

 








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