No temporal anomaly — it really is August already.

2 08 2019

temporal anomaly

Unlike the many instances in Star Trek, we have not been thrown forward in time even though it feels like it.  Due to a long extremely wet, cool and grey spring, I find myself staring autumn in the face with the distinct sensation of summer just having arrived as Part 2 of my three-phase outdoor athletic season also comes to an end.

When I started 2019, the strategy was for a spring half-marathon, summer duathlon and autumn weekend of  “obstacle course race and second half-marathon” as my major projects.  Being an older and fatter runner, I tend to get overuse issues if I concentrate on just running all the time so I’ve added some other sports to the mix in an attempt to mitigate that.  This is the first year of many I’ve managed to stay injury-free and so I think this is the way to go hence forward.  The spring half builds an endurance base, then cutting back on distance and adding in biking for the summer maintains fitness and builds leg strength without as much pounding on the pavement as running alone.  Following the duathlon, resuming distance running while increasing upper body strength work with lifting, carrying and climbing seems like it should add agility to the mix and close out the year without having worn my legs ragged like I’ve done before.  Throughout the whole season, corework and flexibility are also required although I admit to neglecting them more than I should.  I mean I do have to eat, sleep, work and keep up a household too.

It’s hard to believe I’m already approaching Duathlon Weekend though because I feel like summer just started!  Yet here we are again where temporal anomalies seem to be the theme of the year.

I started the season late because of the awful crazy weather and some poorly timed bouts of colds and flu on the weekends of my usual winter races.  February’s annual 1:00 pm Winterfest 5k found me accidentally napping through it, and then for the Irishfest 5k in early March I had influenza, so I didn’t really start running regularly until almost April.  Other than a couple of virtual races I did on warm weather vacations, my first actual race of the year was the No Foolin’ 5k which is always held right around April 1.  As luck would have it, instead of the usual above-freezing early spring climate, we ended up with a dead-of-winter throwback to 24 degrees Fahrenheit the morning of the race.  I did okay though.  I hauled ass to get it over with quickly and finished with a smile.

No Foolin 5k



I had no idea that temporal anomalies would be the theme of the year, yet the next race followed the same pattern.  Having gotten from 3.1 to 5.5 miles through the training plan over the following two weeks, the 6.2 mile Champion of Trees 10k at Morton Arboretum on April 14 was my next distance effort.  But wouldn’t you know it, Mother Nature decided to bounce us back in time to winter again with a freak blizzard that blew through just as the race was starting with a few small wet flakes.

By Mile 5 it was icy with white-out visibility and slow, tough, miserable going.


But I finished.  Freezing, exhausted, wet and slow as hell, I finished.  Not knowing where I was or how to get back to my car probably had as much to do with it as mental and physical stamina, but that doesn’t count.  There’s something about thinking “I can’t take this another minute” yet still continuing that always makes me feel good.  Self-torture for self-satisfaction.  Weird, I know.  But other runners get it because we all do this.

Having built a base of 6.2 miles, I needed to get to 10 miles a mere six weeks later and then a half-marathon two weeks after that, but figured I could do it by running three or four times a week with a long run every 10 days or so.  It would be intense but if I could well prepared for the 10-miler, I could easily jump up to 13.1 without any problems.  And that would have worked if it hadn’t rained almost every day for the next two months.

OLD AGE SELFIEI managed enough interval, tempo and foundation runs between Easter and Memorial Day but only a seven and then an 8-mile long run before the next big event — the Soldier Field 10-Mile in Chicago.  On that day, oddly enough, it was not cool and rainy at all even though yet another round of thunderstorms had been predicted for the morning.  Just like the 10k day, we encountered another temporal jump when the weather plunged us into hot, muggy, sunny summer as the race took off.  But just like before, I slogged on and got it done — slow, ugly and plodding again the theme — but I finished.  I was so happy about it, I even made a meme of myself.

By the time the year’s first half-marathon arrived, we were back to cool cloudy days again and mercifully so.  The Wonder Woman Half Marathon in Gurnee Illinois was a joyous event where, unlike every other race I’d done thus far, the weather was my friend and I enjoyed just about every step.  Being dressed up like a super hero among hundreds of women of all ages, shapes and sizes was so much fun.  For that one day, we were all Wonder Women.

Commemorative Photo-WCAK0012

The weather being what it was, I managed a better pace than for the 10k or the 10 miler and, although I can’t say it was effortless, it was certainly much easier.

spring paces

Wonder finish

This particular half was their inaugural outing for Illinois.  There were some glitches at packet pickup with registration bar codes not being scannable and extra swag not readily available so that took a little longer than expected but it went off well otherwise.  There were plenty of porta-potties and ample water on the course, and the route was not at all difficult.  At one point we ran through Six Flags Great America which was really entertaining and we may have passed some extra bathrooms there too (but I didn’t have to go at that point so I wasn’t on the lookout).   It would have been nice to have more than bananas and water at the finish but that doesn’t really matter much.  I’m sure I am just spoiled by doing small local races with lots of food at the end.  Overall, it was a fun event that I’d do it again some time.  Oh, and they gave the course photos away for free!

And thus ended Phase One of the 2019 annual plan.  An injury-free endurance base was built, and I was ready to cut distance to a maximum of about 5 miles while building biking up to 15 miles with hills and heat added to the agenda as I prepared for the August 4 duathlon which awaits me in a mere two days.

I’ll be back with the Phase Two run down next post, including the “three races in three days in three states” weekend and the actual duathlon which will have all transpired in the interim.

Until then,





“All good things…” Closing out 2016.

23 01 2017

all-good-thingsThe final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation was called “All Good Things…” and involved a temporal anomaly (gosh, how I love those things!) which caused Captain Picard to jump back and forth through time from past to present to future, while simultaneously saving humanity (because that’s all in a day’s work on Star Trek).  It was a fitting finale for a wonderful series, and came to mind immediately when I thought about a blog entry closing out what was a wonderful running year for me.

I certainly didn’t save mankind but I did finally conquer the 26.2 mile beast that was eluding me for years, saved myself from another disappointment and prevented it from frustrating my efforts past, present and future.  Running that full marathon, in 86 degree sun and heat no less, on October 29, 2016 in the high altitude of Las Cruces, New Mexico, allowed me to prove to myself that I did have it in me all along. And even better, it is an endurance milestone I will never worry about again.

I also remember 2016 as the year I won some age-group awards for the first time, three of them in fact, and achieved my fastest 5k time yet.  That was a complete shocker.  The marathon I’d struggled and grieved and sweated over.  Getting old and entering the 60-64 age group happened without any effort on my behalf.  Everybody tries to get a little faster because you’re always competing with your own last best time, and I will do so again this year, but I never thought of slow chubby Me as an age-group winner.  What a nice surprise!

I think this past year may also be one in which I ran the most races ever, since becoming a runner in 2008.  It is certainly the one in which I finally was able to run enough with a club I joined to actually meet people and earn a circuit award.  I even volunteered at a race for the first time.  And as much as I wanted that 26.2 with every fiber of my being and wished some day to be able to run faster, the best part of 2016 was feeling like I had finally joined a community of runners.


So, like Picard jumping through time, I was able to look back and smile on those early days of uncertainty and struggling at the back of the pack and wondering if I could run a 10k or a 10 miler or a half-marathon some day and whisper to that person “oh yes, you will.”  And the next time I’m running long and feeling tired or weak or uninspired, I will be able to repeat to myself “oh yes, you can.”  And when I’m 80 or 90 years old and looking back over a life spent striving for goals and always seeking to get just a little bit better at everything, I will be able to remember “oh yes, you did.”


Next up: 2017 plans and training

T-Minus 5 days and counting…

24 10 2016


Today is Monday, October 24, and the marathon is Saturday.  I’ve made it through the training without injury and I feel like my body is as ready as it’s going to be.  Short of some core work and stretching, one more strength training session and a couple more little tune-up runs, I’m done.

I remember reading a quote way back in 2009 when I was training for my first 10k and so worried that I’d only run 4 consecutive miles prior to the event.  It said something like “it’s better to be 10% under-trained than 1% over-trained.”  I found that to be true when I rocked that 10k and crossed the finish line feeling like I had just won the Olympic Marathon (despite my poky 13:01 pace).  I feel like the only aspect in which I may be under-trained is cross-training because that is what I have neglected when time ran short.  But I don’t think it will make a difference in my ability to finish.

As you can see from my calendar on the Garmin website:
october-runningsince last posting on the day of my 21 miler, I have run as little as 1.35 miles and as far as 10 long slow miles (along with a whole bunch of dog walking).  I’ve done intervals, slow runs and speed work as well as casual no-specific-strategy runs.  I was going to do a 5k at “average effort” a couple of weeks ago but ambition overcame me and I hauled ass instead.  I ended up with another age group award and a new PR.  The weather was nice and it was a beautiful location.  Sometimes that just spurs you on, and off you go.


So October 2016 will probably be a big month when I look back on it, featuring a 5k PR and my first marathon, but something else pretty awesome also happened.  I’m in the cover photo on the latest newsletter for my running club!  How cool is that?!


However, this trifecta of running “firsts” will only be complete when I cross that 26.2 mile finish line on Saturday.

Hurry up 5 days!  Let’s get this thing done!

More later….

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 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.



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!